(BPT) – When hosting a big game day party, you plan the food, TV location, seating arrangements and decorations for your big game-watching party. In the same fashion, Ted Harper, the team sports dietitian of the New England Patriots, meticulously plans the diets of his team members to maximize each player’s performance and recovery.
While your guests probably aren’t experiencing the same hard hits as the players on the field, everyone still needs a healthy diet to battle the stresses of everyday life and cheer their favorite team on to victory. According to Harper, a big part of one’s nutrition plan should be mindful snacking habits.
“One very easy way to improve your overall nutrition is to replace some or all of your not-so-wise snacks like chips, cheese flavored crackers, sugary fruit snacks, pre-made snack cakes, cookies, soda or candy, with something that still tastes good, but is full of healthy nutrients,” says Harper. “Pistachios are one of the best recommendations I can make, because they’re packed with many important nutrients and because they are very versatile.”
Pistachios contain potassium, calcium, magnesium and phosphorus, which can contribute to a lower risk of heart disease. They’re also a great snack to help with weight management and may help lower blood pressure and prevent hypertension, according to studies.
People who eat a handful of nuts daily have a 20 percent lower death rate, according to a 30-year research project published in the New England Journal of Medicine, the largest study of its kind. In addition, other supporting studies showed people who eat nuts regularly tend to remain leaner due to an association with reduced waist sizes and less weight gain throughout the course of life, compared to individuals who don’t regularly eat nuts.
“Not only do pistachios contain fiber and protein, but a study showed that people tend to eat less when they snack on in-shell pistachios,” Harper says. “Cracking open each nut slows down your consumption, and the empty shells serve as an unconscious visual reminder of how much you’ve eaten.”
Not only are they great for snacks, pistachios are a good addition to many other delicious recipes you already have on hand. “They can be incorporated into smoothies or used to top off oatmeal or a salad,” Harper says.
For a dazzling game day snack, try this tasty pistachio recipe from Chef Ben Berryhill.
Pistachio Poblano Chile Mole with Tortillas
1 onion, peeled and rough chop
2 thick corn tortillas, cut into 1/2 pieces
4 tomatoes, remove stems and seeds
5 garlic cloves, minced
1 bunch cilantro, remove stems
3 cups chicken stock or broth
1/2 cup whole roasted pistachios, ground
3 roasted poblano chilies, peeled and seeded
Salt, to taste
1/4 cup crema fresca or Mexican crema
1 ounce cotija cheese, peeled or grated
In a 2-quart sauce pot, saute onions and tortilla pieces until they are lightly browned. Add tomato, garlic, and cilantro and saute until wilted and fragrant. Add stock or broth and ground pistachios, then simmer and stir for 20 minutes. Remove from heat and allow to cool. In a blender, combine sauce and cleaned poblanos. Puree until smooth and season with salt to taste. Heat and serve in a warm ceramic bowl. Garnish with crema and cotija cheese. Serve with warm, thick corn tortillas.