Friday, September 24, 2010

Name: Pistachio
Genre: Nut
Nickname: The Green Almond

Pistachios are the coolest nuts on the planet. They come in traffic light colors: red, green & beige (which is kind of like yellow). As a kid, I remember going to this particular mall in Fayetteville with my mom. This mall has a snack stand in the middle and my mom would buy loads of pistachios in bright red shells. She'd eat them on the way home, her fingers stained red. It was always so fascinating to me but, simultaneously, I think I was afraid of them. For a while I thought they were dipped in blood.

It wasn't until I was older that I actually tried pistachios. The ones that I tried were green and it took a few years for me to make the connection between one of my favorite nuts and the red things that my mom would eat. Although I love pistachios and frequently buy them, I've not actually ever eaten a red one. I may have had the occasional one or two as a kid, but I've not consciously purchased a packet of red-dyed pistachios. Partly because their existence is pretty rare these days and partly because I'm still a little weirded out by them!

Pistachios have been traced back to 6760 BC as part of people's diets. Pistachios appeared in Nebuchadnezzar's Hanging Gardens in Babylon and were favored by the Queen of Sheba for their aphrodisiac properties. Pistachios, which are native to the deserts of Afhganistan, Iran and Syria, made their way around the world via the Silk Road, a complex system of trading dating back to antiquity. Pistachios were dyed red to enhance the appearance of the nut. Nuts were damaged and soiled due to harvesting, so to hide these imperfections, manufacturers and growers artificially dyed the nuts. Today, red pistachios are on the decline because harvesting is done using machines which cause less damage to the nuts.

Pistachios are often eaten as a snack, mixed with other nuts, in salads, desserts, main courses. They're practically everywhere. Their nutty, slightly sweet flavor enhances most dishes and makes them a favorite addition.
Appetizer: Pistachio-stuffed Mushrooms
Main: Sweet Glazed Pork Roast with Pistachios
Side: Garden Vegetable Pistachio Potato Salad
Dessert: Pistachio Crusted Pears in Wine Sauce

Nutrition & Health
1 cup of Pistachios contains:
669 calories
57 grams of fat
498 mg of sodium
33 g carbohydrates
26 g protein
6% vitamin A
5% vitamin C
14% calcium
29% iron

Because pistachios contain no cholesterol, they are good for your heart!They are also an excellent source of B6, copper and manganese, potassium, phosphorous and magnesium. Pistachios pack a punch when it comes to antioxidants & they can help improve your vision & make you regular, since they are a good source of fiber.

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