Chilled Pistachio Yogurt Soup


Here’s your sip of summer. 

Chilled Pistachio Soup - With the delicate flavors of hibiscus, mint and dill. Recipe:

A summer soup should be cool and bright, with flavors that pop with every spoonful. But, like everything in life, you’ve got to keep it interesting.

Just like this Chilled Pistachio Yogurt Soup. Dried hibiscus petals, lightly toasted pistachios and a handful of the season’s freshest herbs give this Greek yogurt soup a refreshing lift that is alarmingly addicting. Really.

The accoutrements on the side are a little extra bit of fun… they enhance what’s already in the soup.

Proof positive: The words summer and soup are not an oxymoron.

How to Peel Pistachios


Lilia writes: In your recipe for Pistachio Soup, you say the pistachios should be “shelled, peeled and chopped.” Well, I shelled them, but it took too long to peel them so I gave up and ate them. Is there an easier way?

One of my favorite food stories is when London’s Marks and Spencer department store began selling pistachios for first time in the early 1960’s. As pistachios were new to many customers,  M&S included instructions telling shoppers how to peel pistachios before eating. Many did not read the instructions.

PistachiosThere was a serious lack of instruction in my recipe… apologies. Removing the shell is easy (and seems obvious) compared to getting rid of the pistachio’s thin protective skin. This skin is edible, but it’s usually removed in recipes to make the dish look nicer.

Here’s how to remove the skin:
1. Shell the nuts and place in a bowl.
2. Boil two cups of water for every cup of pistachio.
3. Pour the boiling water over the nuts and let them stand 2 to 3 minutes. Drain.
4. Spoon the nuts onto the top half of a clean dishtowel laid out on a cutting board or counter.
5. Fold the bottom half of the dishtowel over the nuts and give them a good rub. The nut should slip right out of their skins.

I am always happy when I get comments that help make my recipes better. Thanks Lilia!


Kitchen Think: Don’t Let Those Snacks Attack!


Do you eat between meals? C’mon, be honest…  


A few years ago all you read about was how important it was to eat a lot of “little meals” throughout the day, rather than the three squares most of us were used to.

But what’s the difference between “little meals,” “grazing” and “snacking?” It all has to do with what  you’re eating.

We eat almost twice the number of snacks we did 30 years ago. According to the USDA’s Agriculture Research Service, back then fruit was the snack of choice. Now? Think about it. What was the last thing you popped in your mouth?

And while we’re talking about the last thing you ate, riddle me this, Batman… were you even hungry? Or were you just engaged in mindless eating– eating something just because it was available or you were bored? On average, women 20 years or older eat 624 empty calories every day… men about 923 empty calories per day.

I know I mindlessly eat.  I catch myself opening the pantry and reaching for a handful of almonds: (almonds=good thing, handful=bad thing) just because I walked by and thought about it. This kind of snacking isn’t planned, you do it without thinking… like eating the leftovers off your kids’ plates or “evening up” the brownies (or lasagna) in the pan.

So here’s the deal… you need to try to snack only when you’re hungry (and you need to teach you kids this lesson, too).Try to eat healthier snacks… in serving-size portions. And don’t skip meals… that starts the vicious cycle.

Here are a couple of suggestions. Pistachios in the shell are a great snack. One ounce has 161 calories and you get about 50 of them in a serving size (enough to keep you busy for at least a little while). If you have a sweet tooth, like me, those Jell-O sugar-free gelatin snack paks ARE only 10 calories. But remember only eat one… it’s a snack, not a meal!

Look, snacking is easy. Doing it the right way is hard… but you can do it. Stock up on the good stuff and keep the bad stuff out of your kitchen… and put your mind to it!

I’m Christina Chavez

I was a TV journalist for many years, but with a house full of kids I decided to come off the road, go to culinary school and follow my passion for cooking. Mama’s High Strung is all about food… everything from creative recipe ideas to some really cool kitchen gadgets and cooking tips. I live in Chicago, but I love to travel and write about my food discoveries! You can reach me by email: