Archeologists believe that pistachios were used as food as early as 6000 BCE. Celebrate this ancient and healthy nut on February 26, Pistachio Day.
Also known as National Pistachio Day or World Pistachio Day, this unofficial holiday encourages people to add pistachios to their daily diets and take advantage of their health benefits.
Called the happy nut in China and the smiling nut in Iran, pistachios are native to the Middle East and Central Asia.
Food historians believe that the pistachio tree reached Greece along with Alexander the Great's army. Traders introduced the nut to the rest of the European continent, where it was initially used as an expensive addition to food and baked goods.
Dyed Red to Hide Flaws
In the United States, the nut was introduced by Middle Eastern immigrants during the late 19th century. Even though, the country now produces most of the world's pistachio crops, along with Iran, Turkey and Syria, the nut wasn't grown commercially there until the mid 20th century.
In the initial days of their commercial productions, pistachio shells were dyed red or green by the growers. This was to hide the marks and dents made on the shell during harvesting. Today, with mechanical harvesting procedures, there is no reason to dye the shells anymore.
Full of Nutrients
Pistachios are a rich source of proteins, fiber and vitamin B. Research indicates that adding the nut to one's daily diet may reduce the risk of heart disease.
The nut is used in many cuisines around the world. In the Middle East, it is one of the main ingredients in many types of sweets including baklava and halva. In Italy, it is used to make spumoni and pistachio gelato – the Italian versions of icecream.
How to Celebrate?
Add pistachios to every meal of the day. Start with adding it to your breakfast cereal, substitute peanut butter with pistachio butter for your lunch sandwich, have a pistachio crusted pork chop for dinner and finish the day off with a scoop or two of pistachio ice cream or pistachio cake.
Did You Know…
…that the Jylgyndy Forest Reserve in Kyrgyzstan was created to conserve the pistachio plant?