Healthy Watergate Salad

A healthy watergate salad that’s still sweet, fluffy and delicious, but instead of instant pudding mix and marshmallows, we’re using Greek yogurt, coconut whip and real pistachios.

Watergate salad was one of my favorite things to eat growing up. My mom would make it every year for Easter and for summer cookouts.

Bowl of healthy watergate salad topped with chopped pistachios. Two spoons and extra pistachios are around the bowl.

If you didn’t grow up in the south you might be wondering what the heck watergate salad is, so let me fill you in real fast.

What is Watergate Salad?

This “salad” goes by a lot of names… I’ve always known it as Watergate Salad but apparently, it’s also known as Pistachio Delight, Shut The Gate Salad, Green Goop, Green Fluff or Green Stuff. Lots of official names. 😉 Traditionally it’s made from pistachio pudding mix, canned pineapple, whipped cream, crushed pecans and marshmallows.

How is This a Salad?

I don’t know if this is a southern thing or just old school, but we had so many dessert salads growing up! My mom always made watergate salad and my grandma would make something called strawberry pretzel salad which has a pretzel and butter crust, a layer of whipped cream and cream cheese, all topped with strawberry jello.

And apparently there’s a “salad” called Candy Bar Salad with apples, whipped cream and snickers (so delicious but…?!). Need a walk down memory lane? Check out this round up! LOL!

Bowl of healthy watergate salad with a gold spoon in the salad. Salad topped with chopped pistachios.

Making Watergate Salad With Real Food Ingredients

My mom used to make watergate salad “healthy” by using fat-free Cool Whip and sugar-free pistachio pudding mix. I recently looked at the ingredient lists for these items and immediately decided I needed to find a way to make watergate salad with real food ingredients. They were scary!

The sugar-free pistachio pudding mix has aspartame and food dyes while Cool Whip has corn syrup as the first ingredient and hydrogenated vegetable oil as the third. No thanks! Here’s how I made this version healthier:

  • I really wanted to use fresh pineapple but when I tested the recipe with it, something always tasted off so I’m using canned crushed pineapple (that’s packed in juice not syrup) for the recipe. The flavor is perfect and it brings a familiar texture to the dish as well.
  • Instead of the pudding mix, I opted to use vanilla Greek yogurt (I like Siggi’s) blended with spinach for the green color and a little almond extract. And of course, for the pistachio flavor I’m using chopped pistachios!
  • For the whipped cream, I recommend using frozen coconut whipped cream. I tried making the recipe with homemade coconut whip several times, but none of those batches turned out. The homemade coconut cream separated and became thick. Plus, I found that the store-bought coconut whipped cream added the best fluff and sweetness, making this healthier watergate salad more similar to the real deal. I recommend using the SoDelicious Coco Whip.
  • At first, I skipped the marshmallows all together, but in a couple test batches I added chopped dates to replace the marshmallows and I really liked the substitution. The dates are optional for the recipe, but I think they are fun addition if you want to find surprise bites of soft and sweet throughout the “salad.”

Close up photo of a spoonful of healthy watergate salad, topped with chopped pistachios.

Ingredients in Healthy Watergate Salad

  • Canned crushed pineapple (packed in juice)
  • Vanilla Greek yogurt
  • Spinach
  • Almond Extract
  • Pistachios
  • Coconut whipped topping
  • Medjool dates (optional)

If you’re like me and grew up with this salad, I hope you like this healthier version. I can’t wait to hear what you think!

If you make this healthy watergate salad, please be sure to leave a comment and star rating letting me know how it turns out for you! Your feedback is super helpful for the EBF team and other EBF readers. 

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Watergate Salad


  • Author: Brittany Mullins
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Total Time: 10 minutes
  • Yield: 8 1x

Description

A healthy watergate salad that’s still sweet, fluffy and delicious, but instead of instant pudding mix and marshmallows, we’re using Greek yogurt, coconut whip and real pistachios.


Scale

Ingredients

  • 220 oz cans of crushed pineapple, drained
  • 3 cups frozen coconut whip, thawed
  • 1/2 cup chopped pistachios
  • 1/2 cup granola (I used almond honey granola)
  • 1 cup vanilla Greek yogurt (or coconut milk yogurt)
  • 1/2 cup baby spinach
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • 4 medjool dates, chopped (optional)

Instructions

  1. Add vanilla Greek yogurt, almond extract and spinach to a blender and blend until spinach is completely chopped and the mixture is green.
  2. Add drained pineapple, coconut whipped topping, pistachios and granola into a large bowl. Pour green Greek yogurt mixture over top and toss to combine. Add chopped dates if using.
  3. Place mixture in the fridge for 2-3 hours to chill before serving.

  • Category: Dessert
  • Method: Blend
  • Cuisine: American

Nutrition

  • Serving Size: 1/8 of recipe
  • Calories: 251
  • Sugar: 31g
  • Fat: 9g
  • Carbohydrates: 43g
  • Fiber: 3g
  • Protein: 6g

Keywords: healthy watergate salad

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    4 comments
  1. I was stoked when i seen you re-vamped this old school recipe that I remember from my grandmas house lol. And let me say that it has all the flavors I remember and so much more! Another amazing one Brittany!

  2. Yum, I love that this is a healthier version that is certainly not short on flavor! Will be sure to try this recipe at some point this summer; it sounds great!

  3. Very nice. I don’t eat sugar, so even this recipe is too much for me. However, I appreciate the thoughtfulness of the way you have redone this recipe. Aslo, for migraine sufferers like me, the medjool dates are a trigger. I would use dried plums, chopped. Thank you again for what you do! Blessings as you venture into motherhood!

  4. I grew up in Texas and have never heard of this, but my mom used to make the strawberry pretzel salad. What a blast from the past! You should try to recreate using real food ingredients!

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