A staple of the Mediterranean diet, pistachios have become a go-to snack for those looking to eat a little healthier. While any nut is welcome in a healthy diet, pistachios score major points for their substantial portion size. According to the USDA’s nutrition database, you can dig into 49 individual kernels for just 159 calories. Most other varieties only offer about half that amount.
Calories aside, these nuts also taste great, have a fantastic crunch, and are packed with heart-healthy fats and a decent dose of protein. Relegating them to the land of in-between-meal eats is starting to seem silly. Get more pistachios in your diet with these five recipes.
1. Avocado Toast with Chile Flakes and Crushed Pistachios
The blogosphere went crazy a few years ago when healthy eaters realized smashing some avocado on a toasted piece of bread was both healthy and delicious. While the hype might be silly, it’s still a great way to make a great breakfast in hardly any time. We particularly like this version with spicy chile flakes and pistachios from The Bitten Word. The hardest part is finding a ripe avocado.
Foods rich in unsaturated fats have gotten the green light for their ability to help out your heart, and pistachios might be one of the best. One 2015 review found nut consumption can lower blood pressure, and the results were best with pistachios.
- 2 slices whole-wheat or multi-grain bread
- 1 avocado, halved and pitted
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- Crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons chopped pistachios
Directions: Toast bread, then use a spoon to scoop an avocado half over each slice of toast. Smash and spread avocado to coat entire surface, then drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and red pepper flakes. Finish with pistachios and serve.
2. Curry-Roasted Pistachios
Plain pistachios taste great, but they get even better when you add a sweet and spicy coating. We especially like this version from The Kitchn because the method is really simple. Just heat all the glaze ingredients on the stove until they’re combined, toss the mixture with some raw pistachios, then bake them for about 25 minutes. If you can’t find brown rice syrup, maple syrup or honey will work just as well.
Though some folks still worry such a calorie-dense snack might be a diet disaster, the research doesn’t support these fears. One study published in The Journal of the American College of Nutrition compared the difference between snacking on pistachios and pretzels, finding the nuts didn’t contribute to weight gain. Just make sure you’re monitoring your portion size.
- 1 tablespoon brown rice syrup
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon lime juice
- 1 tablespoon unsalted, mild curry powder
- ½ teaspoon sea salt
- ⅛ teaspoon cayenne pepper
- Zest of 1 lime
- 1½ cups raw, shelled pistachios or 3 cups unshelled pistachios
- 1 tablespoon cane sugar
Directions: Preheat oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit. In a small saucepan, combine syrup, oil, lime, juice, curry powder, salt, cayenne, and lime zest. Set over low heat and stir until everything is melted and combined.
Place pistachios in a large bowls and add curry mixture. Toss with a spatula to coat, then spread on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Roast for about 25 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until coating looks dry and nuts are toasted.
Remove from oven and sprinkle with sugar. Let cool completely. Keep stored in an airtight container at room temperature.
3. Chicken, Feta, and Pistachio Salad
Give your next salad a delicious makeover with this recipe from Martha Stewart’s Everyday Food. It’s packed with savory chicken, sweet oranges, salty cheese, and crunchy pistachios for a meal that hits just about every flavor and texture you could want in a meal. You can even use purchased rotisserie chicken to speed things up.
Sticking to healthy food is probably the best defense against developing diabetes later in life, so this salad is a smart choice. The pistachios might give it even more of an edge. According to research published in Diabetes Care, diets rich in pistachios can help keep insulin and glucose levels low, and may even reverse metabolic issues for those on the brink of diabetes.
- ½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachios
- ¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided
- ¼ cup white wine vinegar
- Salt and pepper
- 4 (4-ounce) chicken cutlets
- 1 teaspoon ground coriander
- 1 head romaine, coarsely chopped
- ½ cup packed fresh parsley
- 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
- 4 ounces feta, crumbled
- 2 navel oranges, peeled, halved, and thinly sliced
Directions: In a medium skillet, toast pistachios over medium heat, tossing frequently, until lightly golden and fragrant, about 7 minutes. Transfer to a plate and let cool. In a large bowl, combine ¼ cup oil with vinegar. Season with salt and pepper and whisk to combine. Set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a skillet set over medium heat. Season chicken with salt, pepper, and coriander. Working in batches, cook chicken, turning once, until cooked through, 2 to 3 minutes per side. Transfer to a cutting board and let rest briefly. Thinly slice chicken crosswise.
Add romaine, parsley, scallions, and pistachios to dressing bowl and toss to combine. Divide among plates or bowls. Top each serving with chicken, feta, and oranges. Serve.
4. Orange- and Pistachio-Crusted Pork Tenderloin
Lean pork tenderloin gets a huge dose of flavor in this dish from Eating Well thanks to a coating made from orange marmalade and chopped pistachios. If that weren’t enough, this recipe also includes a side of green beans and whole grains. This means you’ll have a healthy, complete meal in under an hour.
While most of us are trying to load up on veggies and whole grains to benefit our digestive systems, we might want to add pistachios to the list. One small study published in the British Journal of Nutrition found those who ate pistachios benefited from a positive change in gut bacteria.
- 3 cups water
- ½ cup pearl barley
- ½ cup wild rice
- ¾ teaspoon salt, divided
- ⅓ cup shelled pistachios, toasted
- 2 large garlic cloves
- ½ teaspoon pepper, divided
- 1 (1-pound) pork tenderloin, trimmed
- 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 3 tablespoons orange marmalade
- 1½ pounds green beans, trimmed
- 2 teaspoons lemon zest
Directions: In a large saucepan, combine water, barley, rice, and ¼ teaspoon salt. Bring to a boil, cover, reduce to a simmer, and cook until tender, about 35 to 45 minutes. Drain.
Meanwhile, position oven racks in center and bottom-third positions. Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. In a mini food processor or using a knife, chop pistachios and garlic until finely chopped.
Season pork with ¼ teaspoon each of salt and pepper. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large, ovenproof skillet set over medium-high heat. Cook until browned on all sides, about 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat, then brush top of tenderloin with marmalade. Top with pistachio mixture, pressing to adhere. Transfer pan to center of oven and roast until an instant-read thermometer inserted in to the thickest portion of the pork registers 145 degrees Fahrenheit, about 12 to 16 minutes. Remove from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before slicing.
Meanwhile, toss green beans with remaining oil, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet and roast on lower rack until tender-crisp and beginning to brown, about 10 minutes. Serve pork with grains and green beans.
5. Roasted Pineapple with Honey and Pistachio
Dessert is often where people slip up in the nutrition department, but this doesn’t have to be the case. Instead of reaching for processed cakes and cookies, try this vibrant pineapple dish from Bon Appétit. The roasted fruit gets even more flavorful with a honey syrup, a hint of tangy crème fraîche, and sprinkling of toasted pistachios. At 283 calories per serving, this is one dessert that won’t leave you feeling sluggish.
- ½ cup packed dark brown sugar
- ½ cup orange juice
- 3 tablespoons honey
- 1 medium pineapple, peeled, cored, and cut lengthwise into 8 wedges
- ¼ cup crème fraîche or yogurt
- ⅓ cup natural unsalted pistachios, coarsely chopped
- 2 tablespoons torn fresh mint
Directions: Preheat oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine brown sugar, juice, and honey in a large bowl and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add pineapple and toss to coat. Let sit, turning occasionally, for 10 minutes to marinate. Transfer pineapple to prepared baking sheet, flat-side down. Reserve marinade.
Roast pineapple for 15 minutes. Flip pieces over and brush with reserved marinade. Continue to roast until tender and caramelized, about 10 to 15 minutes longer. Drizzle with remaining marinade and let cool slightly.
Divide pineapple among plates. Spoon a dollop of crème fraîche over each serving. Garnish with nuts and mint. Serve at once.
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