Jumbo mixed nuts in a red tin.

What Are the Healthiest Nuts for Snacking?

On December 22, 1944, during the Battle of the Bulge, the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division was under siege in the Belgian town of Bastogne by multiple German armored units. The German commander issued an ultimatum to the Americans: surrender or be annihilated. Army General Anthony McAuliffe dispatched a one-word response: “NUTS!” read more

Unshelled and Shelled Pistachios in red Swiss Colony tins.

Are Pistachio Nuts Good for You? (and Other Pistachio Facts)

Are pistachios good for you? Where do pistachios come from? For National Pistachio Day, learn the health benefits of pistachios and other pistachio facts.

February 26 is National Pistachio Day…and we think any excuse to eat these incredible nuts is a good thing. So let’s crack a few and explore some interesting pistachio facts.

First of all, the pistachio (pronounced pi-STASH-ee-oh or pi-STAH-shee-oh) isn’t really a nut; it is a drupe (stone fruit) related to the mango. The edible part is the seed. The small, fleshy fruits grow in clusters; when they ripen, they dry and crack open. Bear in mind, however, that even though pistachios are not botanically considered nuts, they do trigger reactions in people allergic to tree nuts, like cashews (to which they are also related).

 

Where Do Pistachios Come From?

Originating in the Middle East, pistachios have been eaten for at least 9,000 years, and were mentioned in the Bible (Genesis 43:11). According to Muslim legend, the pistachio was one of the foods brought to earth by Adam. Pistachio trees were believed to have been planted in the famous Hanging Gardens of Babylon. And pistachios were introduced to Italy by the Roman emperor Vitellius in the first century A.D.

California grows more than 550 million pounds of pistachios, making the U.S. the world’s second-leading producer after Iran.

Due to the shape of its partially opened shell, the pistachio is known as the “smiling nut” in Iran, and the “happy nut” in China. It is a symbol of health, happiness and good fortune, and is often given as a gift during the Chinese New Year.

Are Pistachio Nuts Good for You?

The United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) agrees that “Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 ounces (42.5 g) 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.”

Health Benefits of Pistachios

One serving (1 ounce/49 nuts) contains 160 calories and 6 grams of protein, about the same as an egg. Pistachios provide fiber and protein to help keep you feeling fuller longer, and are one of the lowest in fat and calories and highest in protein and potassium of all tree nuts. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database, pistachios provide more than 30 different vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. The green and purple hues come from antioxidants.

Why Are Pistachios Red? read more

Patriotic popcorn tin filled with butter, cheese and caramel popcorn, and a clear bowl filled with mixed popcorn.

National Popcorn Day (Actually, There Are Three of Them)

When is Popcorn Day? Take your pick—there are three of them! Learn popcorn facts, and even how to make caramel popcorn. It’s not just for movies.

Is popcorn America’s favorite snack? Not even close. (According to one study, candy is #1; another says the top three are chips, chocolate and cheese.) Of course, American moviegoers would dispute this, as popcorn is the overwhelming choice for munching along with motion pictures…and they’re willing to pay exorbitant amounts for it.

Clearly popcorn is popular (no pun intended), as there are no fewer than three “holidays” dedicated to it:

January 19 is National Popcorn Day

March 9 is Popcorn Lover’s Day

April 7 is Caramel Popcorn Day

As a Wisconsin-based company, we think popcorn is pretty important, too; after all, Wisconsin grows a lot of it. We may not be the biggest popcorn producer—Nebraska, Indiana, Illinois, Ohio and Missouri are the top five—but we like to think we grow the best. So now that we have plenty of special occasions promoting popcorn, let’s explore some facts about this unique snack.

Popcorn Facts

Popcorn (Zea mays everta), a member of the grass family, is one of six types of maize (corn). The others are sweet, dent (field corn), flour, pod, and flint. Of the six types, popcorn is the only one that pops.

Like the other types of corn, popcorn is a whole grain, consisting of a germ, endosperm, and pericarp (hull).

Why does popcorn pop?

Each hard kernel is filled with soft starch with a small drop of water at the center. Under heat, the drop of water expands, and the pressure causes the starch to explode, bursting the hard shell. Popcorn has a thicker hull than other types of corn, which is what allows enough pressure to build up to create the explosion.

Is popcorn bad for you? read more

Two glasses of iced coffee with straws on a wooden table.

How to Make Iced Coffee and Cold-Brew Coffee

Cold-brew coffee is the newest coffee trend…and iced coffee is pretty awesome, too. There’s a difference between the two, and they’re both easy to make.

Remember when cold coffee was a bad thing? A beverage that’s supposed to be served hot succumbs to room temperature, and something—notably flavor—gets lost in the translation. Of course, the same is true for warm beer or soda. Maybe the problem is that middle ground of room temperature: not too hot, not too cold, and certainly not just right. Because while we would not recommend hot beer or orange juice, some normally hot beverages are delicious served cold. Iced tea has been a favorite for decades, and in recent years iced coffee has all but overtaken it in popularity.

Iced Coffee Recipe

Just brew coffee and let it get cold, right? Um, no. That kind of cold coffee is still a bad thing. Fresh-brewed is the key to flavor. So how about brewing coffee and pouring it over ice? You’re getting closer…but remember, that ice is made of water, and water dilutes things. What you need to do is brew a stronger coffee to begin with.

If you’re using a standard drip coffeemaker or French press, it’s simple: just use twice as much coffee when you brew, then pour it over a glass full of ice. But what if you have one of those super-convenient single-serve coffee brewers? Fear not—the same principle applies, and it couldn’t be easier.

Every machine has settings that allow you to choose the size of your cup, and a single-serve pod contains enough ground coffee to brew a pretty sizable mug. (Some frugal folks have been known to hit a lower setting twice in order to brew more coffee than they would get on a higher setting, or even reuse a pod…but unlike chili, coffee is not better the second time around.) So simply brew a stronger (smaller) cup of coffee, then pour it over ice. Voilà—normal-strength iced coffee!

Here are the details:

  • Fill an 8- to 12-ounce glass with ice and place under brewer.
  • Insert your single-serve coffee pod, and select the smallest cup setting. (Some brewers make it super-easy by providing an “iced beverage” setting.)
  • Once your coffee is brewed, you can add a couple of tablespoons of half-and-half or evaporated milk and sugar to taste, or just enjoy it straight up.
  • read more

    Cheese bars and beef logs with slices of cheese and sausage on a marble slicer, with crackers and appetizers.

    Back-to-School Lunches and Snacks

    Back-to-school lunches and high-protein snacks for kids are a snap when you keep meat and cheese on hand, along with fresh veggies and fruits.

    Back to school is an exciting time for parents and kids. Along with the excitement can come a bit of nerves, so help to ease the transition by stocking up on a variety of tasty foods to make back-to-school lunches and after-school snacks that kids will love.

    To keep kids interested in eating well, foods offered should be enjoyable and fun! While there are plenty of over-the-top ways to cut foods into shapes like animals and other designs, kids will mostly appreciate a wide range of food and snack choices found in their lunch box or after-school snack plate. Serve snacks in colorful plates and cups to help brighten the mood.

    High-Protein Snacks

    Be sure to stock up on high-protein snacks for kids to feel full longer. That’s important during the school day, when kids need to stay focused on learning and not on growling stomachs.

    After school, a few bites of high-protein meats and cheeses keep kids from constantly heading to the pantry for sugary snacks that spoil dinner appetites.

    Here’s a quick list of foods that contain protein and are simple for snacks and school lunches:

    • Meat (jerky and meat sticks, any fully cooked meat cut into small chunks with a side of dipping sauce, summer sausage)
    • Fish (like tuna, either plain or mixed into tuna salad and served with crackers or celery sticks)
    • Dairy products (various types of Wisconsin cheese, milk and yogurt)
    • Nuts and peanut butter
    • Hard-boiled eggs

    Other foods that are wholesome additions to a snack or school lunch are:

    • Oatmeal and granola
    • Veggies like steamed edamame, broccoli, baked potatoes, and veggie dips like hummus
    • Whole grains, like mixed brown rice medleys or whole wheat toast

    Back-to-School Lunches

    While brown paper bags still grace the lunchroom, there’s more lunch box variety than ever before. Let kids help pick out lunch containers that they’ll enjoy opening every school day. Containers that have different sections, like the Japanese-style “bento boxes,” are popular. Colors and patterns can coordinate with backpacks or showcase a child’s creative side. Using a lunch box with either multiple containers or compartments helps you see how much variety you can pack into school lunches. Check out a huge variety of school lunch ideas and snacks on Pinterest.

    Craving Crunchy Snacks

    Everyone craves salty or sweet snacks on a regular basis. Keep that in mind when composing a list of snacks and fill-ins for school lunches. In fact, it’s a natural instinct to eat crunchy foods. Our early ancestors knew by trial and error that crunchy foods were fresh.

    Crunch-worthy snacks:

    • Popcorn
    • Apples
    • Pretzels, potato chips, veggie chips, tortilla chips
    • Celery and carrot sticks, bell pepper sticks
    • Mixed nuts
    • Dried banana chips
    • Snack or trail mix
    • Toasted crisps with cheese spreads

    Sweet Cravings

    Kids go crazy for sweet treats. The good news is that, eaten in moderation, sweet snacks can be added to a well-rounded diet. According to an article on WebMD.com, experts say that denying sweets will backfire. Instead, allow sweets a few times a week in limited amounts.

    Portion-controlled sweet snacks are becoming more prevalent and are easy to pop into a school lunch or after-school snack. Super-small desserts like

    Petits Fours read more

    Blueberry crunch bite size granola and blueberries pieces served on a purple plate.

    Healthy Summer Snacks: Ideas for Active Lifestyles

    Looking for healthy summer snack ideas? We’ll help you lighten up for the time of year when you wear less and are more active.

    Ah, summer. It’s the favorite time of year for many—especially kids, of course—and what’s not to like? The days are long, the garden is going gangbusters, the farmers’ markets are in full swing, and there’s a festival going on somewhere every weekend. Everyone’s more active and looking for healthy summer snacks to keep us fueled without weighing us down. When you’re on the go, portability is everything.

    Easy Summer Snacks read more