Be Good to Your Heart on National Pistachio Day!

PHOTO: THINKSTOCK/FPWING

February is Heart Month, so it’s fitting that we finish up the month celebrating National Pistachio Day on Sunday. The pistachio packs a nutritional punch when it comes to being good to your heart. 

Along with the other tree nuts, science shows that pistachios boast a healthy serving of heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, and they also contain phytochemicals that serve as antioxidants and lutein to further protect your heart. They also have some potassium, which can help manage blood pressure. With a serving of a whopping 49 nuts for 160 calories, these make a great, filling treat on their own or as part of heart-healthy recipes.

I have made nut butters, but never thought to try pistachios until I came across a small business making simple nut butters and absolutely fell in love with their pistachio butter. That’s what inspired me to try making my own at home, which I used in the Chocolate Pistachio Butter Pretzels recipe below. But pistachios don’t just work as a sweet treat — their versatility allows them to complement savory dishes as well. 

Both of the recipes below are great to take to a party, and they each feature pistachios alongside other heart-healthy ingredients like salmon and dark chocolate.


Pistachio Salmon Salad

Makes about 10 1-tablespoon portions

Ingredients

  • 1 5-ounce can skinless, boneless salmon, drained
  • 2 tablespoons mayonnaise, or light mayo if preferred
  • 1 teaspoon fiesta-style lime seasoning
  • ¼ cup shelled pistachios
  • Flat pretzels or similar crackers

Directions

  1. Empty drained salmon into a small mixing bowl. Add mayonnaise and stir until salmon is coated.
  2. Add in seasoning and stir thoroughly.
  3. Place pistachios in a plastic bag and crush using a mallet or similar. Keep in small pieces rather than fully crushed for crunch. Add to salmon and stir thoroughly.
  4. Using a tablespoon, place 1 spoonful on each pretzel or cracker. Top with a pistachio for garnish.

Chocolate Pistachio Butter Pretzels

Makes 12 pretzels

Ingredients

  • 1 cup shelled pistachios
  • ½ cup dark chocolate chips
  • Flat pretzels or similar

Directions

  1. Place pistachios in a food processor and process until the nuts form a paste. You may need to stop it and scrape down the sides of the food processor bowl. Keep going until you reach desired consistency.
  2. Spread a layer of pistachio butter on each of the pretzels and place on a small baking tray lined with foil for easy clean up.
  3. Place chocolate chips in a small microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 30 seconds and stir. Continue at 15-second increments, stirring between, until all of the chocolate has melted.
  4. Drizzle or place a dollop of chocolate on top of each nut-buttered pretzel. Place in refrigerator to chill for 30 minutes or longer if desired.
Melinda Boyd, MPH, MHR, RD on Twitter
Melinda Boyd, MPH, MHR, RD
Melinda Boyd, MPH, MHR, RD, is a registered dietitian and military spouse living in Japan. She is co-author of Train Your Brain to Get Thin, and blogs at NutrFoodTrvl.blogspot.com. Follow her on Twitter.