Pistachio Cheesecake

approximately 16 servings.

3 packages Cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cups Sugar, divided
4 Eggs, at room temperature
2 1/2 teaspoons Vanilla, divided
1 1/2 teaspoons Lemon peel, grated
1 cup Sour cream
Shortbread Crumb Pastry (recipe below)
3/4 cup Shelled, roasted/salted American pistachios, chopped


Beat cream cheese and 1 cup sugar until light and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time. Add 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla and lemon peel. Pour cream cheese mixture into Shortbread Crumb Pastry. Bake at 350° F., 30 – 45 minutes or until firm; cool on rack 20 minutes. Combine sour cream, 1/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Spread over top of cheesecake. Continue to bake at 350° F., 15 minutes. Cool 2 hours on rack. Refrigerate at least 8 hours. Remove ring of springform pan. Press pistachios into side of cheesecake and sprinkle pistachios in center of top.

Shortbread Crumb Pastry: Crumble shortbread cookies to equal 1 1/2 cups. Combine with 3 tablespoons melted butter and 2 tablespoons each finely chopped pistachios and sugar; mix well. Pat into bottom of 9-inch pan.

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fun facts

Pistachios, when eaten with high-carbohydrate foods, may result in lower than expected blood sugar levels, an important factor in reducing risk of diabetes.

According to a Penn State University study, it is suggested that pistachios reduce the body's biological response to stress.

One serving of pistachios has as much potassium (300mg, 8%) as an orange (250mg, 7%).

Pistachios are high in phytosterols which may lower cholesterol levels and decrease the risk of heart disease. In animal studies phytosterols have been shown to potentially have anti-cancer properties.

One serving of pistachios is 49 nuts, more than any other tree nut.

Forty-nine pistachios serve up to 20 percent of your Daily Value of B6, about the same as half an avocado.

You can obtain more dietary fiber from a serving of pistachios (3g) than a 1/2 cup of cooked broccoli, and the same amount of dietary fiber as an orange or an apple — approximately 10 percent of the Daily Value.

Just a single serving of pistachios provides you with the same amount of protein in a one-ounce serving of soybeans and can serve as a protein alternative to meat, poultry or beans according to the USDA Food Guide Pyramid.

Pistachios are a naturally cholesterol-free snack and contain just 1.5 grams of saturated fat.

Celebrate the greatness of nuts! October 22 is National Nut Day and February 26 is National Pistachio Day!