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Many American children get introduced to pistachios via a shiny serving of smooth green pudding with small islands of slightly softened or mushy nuts. Kids either love or revile this dish. For Mediterranean children, however, pistachios are a diet staple. It’s hard to question a dessert built from honey-drizzled layers of phyllo dough packed with pistachio or almond paste and aromatic spices.

If you didn’t exactly embrace pistachios as a youth, it may be time to reconsider their merits. The pistachio is a great source of fiber. It is full of vitamins and minerals such as carotenes, iron and oleic acid, as well as antioxidants, which can promote a healthy heart and reduce diabetes risk.

Eat pistachios straight out of the shell, like peanuts, as a tasty snack. Add them to salads for a nutty bite, or toss them on a scoop of low-fat ice cream or bowl of Greek yogurt for a “crunch punch.” Pistachios can also be a key ingredient in a satisfying pesto. And you can grind them into flour for use in desserts and breads, benefiting those who suffer from gluten allergies.

Still not convinced? Marvel at the versatility of this little nut. While the kernels contribute to healthy and tasty foods, the oil can be extracted to act as a
carrier (oil) for aromatherapy, massage lotions and natural cosmetics. Is anyone up for some spa time?

Or, of course, you can make that green dessert—just add a few fresh pistachio nuts. And since you are the adult, you can be the one to lick the spoon.

Fast Facts

  • To retain freshness, buy light-colored pistachios in the shell, rather than processed, dyed or shelled nuts. Shell the nuts before eating them!
  • Store pistachios in a cool, dark place, optimally in a sealed container.
  • Refrigerate for up to 3 months.
  • Freeze for up to 1 year.

Warning: If you are allergic to peanuts and/or other tree nuts, consult your doctor before eating or working with pistachios or their oils; they can trigger a similar allergic reaction.

One ounce of pistachios contains 13 grams (g) fat; 8 g carbohydrate; 3 g dietary fiber;
2 g sugar and 6 g protein. As with other plant-based foods, there is no cholesterol.

—Susan Wuesthoff

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