Pistachio Pesto Potatoes

pesto pistachio potatoes

Disclosure: I received free samples of Wonderful Pistachios mentioned in this post. By posting this recipe I am entering a recipe contest sponsored by Wonderful Pistachios and am eligible to win prizes associated with the contest. I was not compensated for my time.

Happy Heart Month, readers! While we should really be thinking about protecting our tickers all year long, February is a great time for dietitians like myself to bring attention to one of the most powerful risk factors for heart disease and cardiac events – nutrition.

There is unfortunately this perception that a “normal” BMI or body weight means you’re healthy and at lower risk for chronic illnesses, but the truth is, your lifestyle matters more. This is one reason why I preach a non-diet approach to achieving your healthiest self. I’ve seen plenty of individuals who exercise and have a “normal” weight, but still have high blood pressure or high cholesterol due to diet, alcohol intake, smoking, stress or any combination of those factors. On the other hand, I’ve seen many who’s docs have labeled them as “overweight” or even “obese” by BMI and because of their exercise, well-balanced diet, and low stress levels, have fantastic blood work and energy levels and health outcomes.

pistachio pesto potato

Oh, and don’t think your exempt from heart troubles just because you’re an athlete! Even if you’re eating many nourishing whole foods, a lack of adequate energy, protein, or variety will mean poor recovery from all of that extra stress on your heart. You need extra dietary protection!

What Should You Eat More of to Protect Your Heart?

  • Mono and Poly-unsaturated Fats
    • Mono-unsaturated fats are those that are most associated with a reduced risk of heart disease and are very prevalent in the Mediterranean diet.ย  You’ll find them in plant foods like nuts, seeds, olives, avocados and the oils that come from them.
    • The best poly-unsaturated fats are omega-3s. You’ll get them in their most usable form from fish or algae, but seeds, walnuts and avocado also provide some.
  • Fiber
    • While soluble fiber, the kind that dissolves in your gastric juices to form a gel, may keep you feeling full, it also helps regulate blood sugar, remove cholesterol from the body, and feeds your beneficial intestinal bacteria.
  • Protein
    • Well, you may not need more protein, but you likely do need to spread out your intake. Not only do you need adequate protein at lunch and dinner, but Americans need to sneak more into breakfast and snacks. Additionally, eating enough protein won’t protect your most important muscle if you aren’t eating enough calories, too. Your heart is a muscle, isn’t it?
  • Antioxidants
    • Eat a rainbow, we say! The more color in your diet, the more variety of antioxidants you’re obtaining to protect all of your body’s cells, including your heart and vascular system, from outside stressors. The brighter the better!
  • Potassium
    • Sodium catches a lot of heat for impacting blood pressure, but it may not be excess sodium, and rather lack of potassium that’s harming your heart. Eating more whole plant foods is the best solution to getting more of this nutrient. And sorry, one banana only provides 1/9 of your daily requirements!

pistachio pesto

pistachio pesto potatoes

How Can Pistachios Help Fuel Your Health?

I remember snacking on this yummy nut as a young kid with my Dad and it’s often in my pantry. Most Americans, though, lack variety in nut consumption and either consume just peanut products (technically a legume) and almonds. Not only is variety important, but pistachios pack plenty of nutrition to support your body and mind.

  • Wonderful Pistachios refers to these greenish-purplish gems as “The Fit Nut” TM because they are one of the highest protein and fiber nuts. More plant-based protein is always a bonus and as you learned above, fiber is excellent for heart health. Scientific evidence suggests, {but does not prove} that eating 1.5 ounces per day of most nuts, such as pistachios, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol may reduce the risk of heart disease.
  • They’re also referred to as “The Mindful Nut TM” because the leftover shells may provide a visual cue for portions, potentially helping to curb excess intake. One preliminary behavioral study found that participants who consumed in-shell pistachios ate 41-percent fewer calories compared to those who consumed pistachios without the shell, suggesting that empty shells may provide a visual cue for portions, potentially helping curb intake. In my personal opinion, I think removing the shell on your own just slows down the eating process to increase mindfulness as well. You know I’m not advocating you start counting calories, but these types of studies show how mindful and intuitive eating practices help to manage your health.
  • A one ounce serving of pistachios provides just over 300 mg of potassium. Add this to the 450 mg from a banana and you’re on your way to meeting daily needs and supporting blood pressure.
  • Finally, pistachios are also “The Colorful Nut TM”.ย As I mentioned, eating a rainbow or variety of colors from plant foods is essential to consuming adequate phytochemicals. Pistachiosโ€™ green and red-purple hues come from antioxidants.

pistachio potatoes

Eating for Heart Health is Tasty!

I think the annoying low fat craze back in the day should in part be blamed for this perception that eating healthful foods means eating tasteless food and not enjoying it. I find once people increase variety in their diet to include more plants, they actually enjoy food more than they used to since they don’t get sick of eating the same old thing!

This pistachio pesto potato recipe may be one of my top 5 ever. My pistachio stuffed dates are pretty damn good, but Tim made it a point to yell upstairs to me just to tell me how “ridiculous” they were once he tried them. Oh, and please don’t be afraid of potatoes, even if they’re white! Among the mannny nutrients provided is… drumroll… potassium! 8 ounces of golden potatoes provide close to 1000 mg of potassium – yes, that is twice what you get in a banana. Pair that with the flavor, unsaturated fats, fiber, protein, antioxidants and potassium in pistachios, plus anti-bacterial properties of basil and garlic, and more unsaturated fat in olive oil, and you’ve got yourself a delicious and nutritious dish to pair with a lean protein and a serving of veggies.

Get Crackin‘ and enjoy!

Pistachio Pesto Potatoes

Serves 4, Gluten-free, vegan
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 35 minutes
Total: 40 minutes

pesto potatoes (2)

Ingredients

Potatoes

  • 2 lbs baby golden potatoes, rinsed
  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil

Pesto

  • 1/2 Cup plus 1 tablespoon lightly salted and shelled Wonderful Pistachios
  • 2-3 ounces fresh basil
  • 3 large cloves garlic
  • 1/4 Cup olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • Up to 2 tablespoons water

Directions

  • Heat oven to 400 degrees
  • Cut potatoes into bite sized pieces. For a typical baby potato you can quarter them, or cut into eights. For very small potatoes, either halve or leave whole.
  • Toss in 1/2 tablespoon of olive oil and spread over a baking sheet covered in parchment or a silpat.
  • Cook for 20 minutes before stirring and then cook an additional 15 minutes.
  • While potatoes are in the oven, add all pesto ingredients to a food processor*. Blend for 30 seconds, scrape sides of processor, and blend an additional 10 seconds. This resulting pesto should be thick. If mixture is too thick for your liking, add 1-2 tablespoons of water for more of a thin consistency.
  • When potatoes are done, add them to a serving bowl before pouring over the pesto and stirring well.
  • Serve with a lean protein and vegetable.

*I found my Cuisinart food processor was better for this pesto than my Vitamix. Of note, I do not have small blending bowls, only the large container.

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