In the plant-based pantry, nuts are absolute powerhouses. They are small but mighty, providing healthy fats, fibre, protein, and a satisfying crunch. They are equally as delicious when enjoyed on their own as a snack, or turned into a sauce, spread, dip, salad topper, crust, or baked good.
The options are endless when it comes to this plant-based essential. One nut in particular is pretty special. This is the nut that can make a make a ‘cream of any vegetable soup’ or silky smooth pasta sauce without any cream.
This special nut is the cashew, the highlight of today’s deep dive. The food and nutrition world has a good reason to love cashews, and today we will look at all the reasons why. We’ll explore the health benefits of cashews and how to use them in savory and sweet dishes.
Health Benefits of Cashews
Like all nuts, there are lots of health benefits of cashews. Cashews provide protein and fat in a small package, making them a perfect on the go snack to get you through between meals. This fat, fibre, protein combo is perfect for keeping blood sugars stable. These 3 nutrient help slow down the absorption of carbohydrates, thus preventing a spike in blood sugars.
Cashews also provide essential minerals like calcium, phosphorous, potassium, and magnesium. Their impressive lipid profile has been shown to reduce LDL cholesterol (often called ‘bad’ cholesterol) and triglycerides while raising HDL cholesterol (often called ‘good’ cholesterol).
Nut consumption has been linked to protection against heart disease, lowering blood pressure and inflammation. Pretty impressive for such a small food. With all these health benefits of cashews in mind, it’s no wonder that nutrition professionals recommend adding nuts to your daily diet. That can be both more creative and easier than you think!
Using Cashews in Savory Dishes
When you think of creamy dishes, you may not look to nuts, but here is a trick:
Soaking cashews in hot water for a half hour can completely change the texture to be soft enough to blend into a smooth paste. Strain the cashews and blend in a blender or food processor with whatever flavorings you like (like garlic, herbs, spices or lemon).
Now you have a smooth delicious ‘cream’ to use as the base of a sauce for pasta, soup, a dip, or a salad dressing. Use this to create the base of endless kitchen creations! Add some nutritional yeast and you’re well on your way to a plant-based Caesar salad or cheese sauce.
Cashews soaked and drained this way can also be added to pureed soups. This step provides the necessary creamy texture in a cream of mushroom or broccoli soup without the cream. Add the cashews to the blender with the rest of the ingredients and give it a whirl, then watch the magic happen. As a bonus, the nutty flavor enhances the umami qualities of whatever dish you are cooking.
The easiest way to treat cashews is equally great, and that’s on their own, as is! Pair them with dried fruit and other nuts or seeds for a crunchy energy boosting trail mix or salad topper.
Using Cashews in Sweet Dishes
You can use the same cashew cream described above with sweeter flavors instead, like lemon, vanilla, cocoa, or maple syrup. Sweet dishes welcome the nutty flavour and creamy texture of cashews just as much as savory dishes do. Cashews are often used as the base for vegan cheeses, so they make a great base for plant-based cheesecakes as well.
If you are a peanut butter fan, you will love spreading cashew butter on toast. Like any nut butter, you can buy or make this yourself. Lightly toast the cashews, then blend them until they release their natural oils and create a butter. This spread is a great way to add a healthy boost of fats to your morning smoothie.
After all these ideas, I hope you are inspired to get cooking and baking with cashews! Let us know how you use cashews in your kitchen. Comment below, or share your favorite cashew recipes with us on social media!
The content of this article is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Edible IQ urges you to seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding any medical condition. Edible IQ advises you to never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on the Website.
If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or local emergency service immediately. Edible IQ does not recommend or endorse any specific tests, physicians, products, procedures, opinions, or other information that may be mentioned on the website. Edible IQ does not guarantee the accuracy of information on the Website and reliance on any information provided by Edible IQ is solely at your own risk.