Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Pairing Pistachios (with tart cherries, olive oil popcorn & red wine)

“We received free pistachio samples from the Pistachio Health Institute mentioned in this post. By posting this pairing we are entering a contest sponsored by Pistachio Health Institute and are eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. We were not compensated for our time.”

There are some foods that make our jobs so easy. As registered dietitians, we’re all about encouraging lifestyle habits that promote a healthy heart, brain, and body. But, at the end of the day, if food doesn’t taste good, people (including ourselves!) aren’t going to eat it.

That’s why we love in-shell pistachios.

In-shell pistachios are one of those foods that are hard not to love. I remember when I was in elementary school and my mom would pack in-shell pistachios in my lunchbox, I felt like I hit the goldmine. I would sit outside with my friends at lunchtime and we would carefully pull off all of those delicate shells and savor each delicious bite.

 Today, I still view pistachios as such a treat – but, it turns out they’re something I can feel so good about snacking on.  A one-ounce serving of pistachios equals approximately 49 nuts which is more nuts per serving than any other snack nuts – that’s great news for the pistachio-lovers around the world!  Recent research from Harvard University and published in New England Journal of Medicine also suggests that the benefits of snacking on nuts go up as the number of servings goes up, too. Bottom line: more nuts, more benefits! This is why Lisa and I like to recommend a daily handful of nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a healthy diet.

 To make our pistachio-eating experience even more delicious and good for our hearts, brains, and bodies, we incorporate the principles of the Mediterranean diet. We add some whole grains, dried fruit, and of course, red wine.

This is our pairing:

 in-shell pistachios  + unsweetened dried cherries + air-popped olive oil popcorn 
+ a glass of red wine (we chose a California Cabernet)

 This combination makes for such an enjoyable snack – and when you keep the pistachios in their shell, it helps to slow you down and be more mindful of what and how much you’re eating.

Our recipe for Olive Oil Popcorn


2 – 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
½ cup organic popcorn
½ teaspoon fine sea salt


  1. Heat a heavy-duty pot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Place the oil, popcorn and salt in the pot.
  2.  When the popcorn begins to pot, cover tightly with a lid and cook, shaking the pot every few seconds, until the kernels stop popping.  Remove the lid. 
  3. Taste and add more salt, if necessary.  Let sit for a few minutes, until cool. 

Enjoy, preferably with those you love.


  1. Gotta try this popcorn! you had some great lunch boxes!

  2. Aw, thanks Serena! Lunch boxes filled with pistachios are the best ;)