The subtle nuance of pistachios makes this a protein shake for grown-up palates.
By Amanda Burrill, MS
It’s all coming back to me now: sweltering childhood summers slurping up the runny bits of my ice cream cone. I was obsessed with ordering pistachio, its pale green — probably artificial — color, the chewy chunks of nut, the extra creaminess of it. What was this flavor that none of the other kids understood?
Fast-forward several years, and I am still into pistachios, with a culinary education and nutrition knowledge that backs up my prepubescent inklings. Compared to other nuts, pistachios are loaded with antioxidants, beta-carotene, B vitamins, vitamin E, and lutein. By weight, they are lower in calories that other nuts, and the subtle flavor is just delightful.
This blend of nuts, banana, and vanilla has a super thick, smooth, old-timey milk shake consistency that’ll have you thinking you’re having an epic creamy-ass cheat. If you haven’t played with pistachios in your culinary pursuits — sprinkled on salads, crusted around your salmon, stuffed inside your roasted chicken — tossing them into your smoothie is a perfect way to introduce your tongue to their easygoing flavor.
I like to say, “I only drink my calories if they come in a protein shake or wine glass.” So in the heat of summer, I’ll be drinking this outside while reminiscing about milk shakes from years gone by. This creamy, tasty protein smoothie is the milk shake for grown-ups.
¼ cup unsalted pistachios
6 oz. almond milk
½ frozen banana
½ cup spinach
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
½ vanilla bean seeds or ¼ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 teaspoon hemp hearts
One handful ice
Total: 380 calories, 24 g carbs, 34 g protein, 18 g fat, 6 g fiber
Combine all ingredients in a blender, beginning with the liquid to avoid sticky protein-powder and nut clumps. Blend until smooth.
Most nuts are considered “nutritionally dense,” and these are no exception. By weight they are high in protein, dietary fiber, the aforementioned vitamins, and for this shake’s purposes, fatty acids. Almost all the fat in these little guys are monounsaturated and polyunsaturated, both known for beneficial effects on health by lowering total cholesterol, increasing HDL (good) cholesterol, and lowering the risk of heart disease. They also increase the release of hormones that help regulate glucose metabolism and increase insulin, both of which lower blood sugar.
I used to plow them as a baby, and I’ll be mashing on them with my gums when I’m a geriatric. Bananas are truly a culinary and nutritional gift. One of the nutritional benefits is cardiovascular health related to the whopping potassium content. Potassium is an essential mineral known for maintaining normal blood pressure and heart function. And for us athletes, it’s long been known that bananas are a gastronomically low-risk energy boost that also combats muscle cramping. Freezing bananas doesn’t boost nutrition, but it certainly enhances the thick and creamy quotient when you toss them in your smoothie.
These are the seeds of the hemp plant, from the same species as marijuana. In reality, hemp seeds only contain trace amounts of THC, so you won’t get high, and this superfood is perfectly legal in every state. They are packed with nutrients like healthy fats, minerals, and by weight, more than 25 percent of their calories are from high-quality protein, blowing chia and flax seeds (they come in around 17 percent protein) out of the park.