Zel's Vegan NutGourmet

Zel Allen Goes Nuts for Good Health

WHAT SORT OF NUTTY INDULGENCES WILL 100 CALORIES BUY YOU?

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 21, 2009

Gotta hand it to California pistachio grower Paramount Farms for the savvy way they chose to show off the pistachio by comparing 100 calories of pistachios to other snack foods. Those 100 calories deliver 1.1 ounces of pistachio in the shell, a very satisfying snack that can also rave about its good fats, high fiber, and high protein in addition to its vitamin A, its host of minerals, and its healthy measure of phytosterols.

Not so satisfying is 100 calories of chocolate chip cookie–that adds up to all of 1/2 of a cookie.

Also not too impressive is 100 calories of vanilla ice cream, which amounts to a mere 3 tablespoons. Both would still leave most people craving more.

You could also get 5 Saltine crackers for 100 calories (Oh, goody!) or 1/3 of a candy bar, but you wouldn’t be benefiting from anything good for you with those choices.

That 100 calories will buy you 14 gummy bears, but all you’ll get from those are 22 carbs (and not healthy complex carbohydrates at that) and 14.5 grams of sugar—neither will these rate high on the nutrition scale.

But that quiet little 100-calorie pile of 30 pistachios in the shell has so much more to give. While the other snacks contain less than 1 gram of dietary fiber, pistachios will give you 2 grams.

One ounce of pistachios out of the shell has even more fiber—2.9 grams and 5.75 grams of protein. Imagine, only 1 ounce can supply 5.75 grams of protein. That’s a pretty powerful little pile of nuts.

Packed with Minerals
The mineral content is where nuts really shine and pistachios are very generous. Here’s what 1 ounce will give you:

    30 mg of calcium
    34 mg of magnesium
    139 mg of phosphorus
    291 mg of potassium

Trace Minerals
Even the trace minerals are abundant in pistachios:

    1.11 mg of iron
    0.62 mg of zinc
    0.369 mg of copper
    0.340 mg of manganese
    1 mcg of fluoride
    2 mcg of selenium

Antioxidants
Pistachios even want to share some of their antioxidants with you—good guys that they are (I just love them!).

    Beta carotene 71 mcg
    Lutein + zeaxanthin 398 mcg
    Gamma tocopherol 6.41 mg
    Phytosterols 61 mg
    Campesterol 3 mg
    Beta-sitosterol 56 mg

From past experience and from observing how people behave at a party when they encounter the traditional bowl of nuts on the coffee table, I can predict pretty accurately that whoever is sitting in front of that little nut bowl is going to find those nuts very compelling. So compelling, in fact, that one little handful, about 1 1/2 ounces, will not be enough to satisfy. Within a short time, the nut bowl will be empty. That’s the typical snack addiction that catches people off guard.

So what’s the ideal quantity of nuts one ought to consider in the daily diet? Examining a number of nut studies, I noticed researchers recommend 1 to 3 ounces daily during the research trials.

I confess, that I am also a victim of the nut bowl snack addiction, but I’ve found a great
way to enjoy nuts, pistachios in particular, without getting caught up in their over-consumption.

MY SECRET IS TO PUT NUTS ON THE DAILY MENU BY INCORPORATING THEM INTO TASTY DISHES, RATHER THAN EATING THEM AS A SNACK. Nuts are so much more than a snack, They are wholesome, nutrient-dense food sources that can boost the healthfulness of any dish. If I include between 1/2 cup and 1 cup of nuts in a salad, soup, main dish, side dish, or even dessert, that dish will likely serve 4 to 6 people. That means that even if only 4 people feast on that dish, no one will be consuming more than 2 ounces of nuts at most.

Here’s a tasty way to enjoy pistachios, those wholesome little green wonders that bring us such pleasure:

This flavor-infused, layered vegetable casserole blanketed in a killer, thick, creamy, nut-based sauce is ideal when you need a dish to serve a large group. Like many recipes that include a blend of cooked ingredients, this one tastes even better when prepared a day ahead and reheated. If you take this delicious dish directly from the refrigerator, place it in a cold oven at 350 degrees for 15 to 20 minutes, or until warmed through.

PISTACHIO EGGPLANT NIRVANA

Yield: 6 to 8 servings

2 large eggplants, unpeeled, sliced 1/4-inch thick
2 large onions, thinly sliced, slices cut in half
4 medium tomatoes, sliced 1/4-inch thick
1/2 pound shiitake mushrooms, sliced, stems discarded
1 to 2 teaspoons canola oil

Sauce
1 1/2 cups pumpkin seeds
2/3 cup pistachios
2 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons vanilla flavored soymilk
1/4 cup soy sauce

4 tablespoons cornstarch
4 tablespoons water

1 tablespoon toasted sesame seeds
1 tablespoon black sesame seeds (optional)

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly oil 3 large jellyroll pans. Lightly oil a 9 x 13-inch baking dish and set aside

2. TO PREPARE THE VEGETABLES, arrange the eggplants and onions on two of the baking sheets. It’s perfectly all right if some of the onions overlap, but keep the eggplant slices in a single layer. Place both baking sheets in the oven and roast for 25 to 30 minutes.

3. Arrange the tomatoes on one half of the remaining pan. Toss the mushrooms with the canola oil in a medium bowl and pile them onto the baking sheet with the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes and mushrooms under the broiler, about 3-inches from the heat source. Broil them for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the mushrooms are softened.

4. When the eggplants, onions, tomatoes, and mushrooms are done, set them aside and raise the oven temperature to 400 degrees while preparing the sauce.

5. TO MAKE THE SAUCE, place the pumpkin seeds and pistachios into the food processor and process until finely ground. Transfer them to a 2-quart saucepan and add the soymilk and soy sauce. Bring the mixture to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring well. Adjust the heat as needed to avoid a messy boil-over.

6. Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl or cup and stir to form a smooth runny paste. Add the paste to the gently bubbling sauce, a little at a time, stirring well with a wire whip until the sauce is quite thick, about the consistency of oatmeal.

7. TO ASSEMBLE THE DISH, layer half the eggplant slices on the bottom of the prepared baking dish, followed by half the mushrooms, onions, and tomatoes.

8. Pour half the sauce over the tomatoes. Layer with the remaining eggplant slices, mushrooms, and onions and spoon the remaining sauce over the top. Top the sauce with the remaining tomatoes and sprinkle the sesame seeds over the top.

9. Bake the Pistachio Eggplant Nirvana for 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow it to cool for 10 minutes before cutting into squares.

For more data on the health benefits and nutritional information of pistachios, visit the Pistachio Health website.

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