These kidney-shaped nuts are actually the seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple. This fruit comes from the cashew tree native to the northeastern coasts of Brazil. While reading about this nut, I found how they are a master of disguise. These easily split in half like a legume, but they are not. They are a nut that grows on a tree, but are not a tree-nut. So what are they then?… they are drupes! well… the seed of a drupe. Drupes are considered “stone fruits” like peaches and plums. Similarly walnuts, almonds, and pecans are also drupes.
What fascinates me more about cashews is its versatile edible form. It can be grinded into flour, cooked in dishes- especially Asian ones, and used in salads. I like to roast them in olive oil. But the best characteristic of this drupe is that I can grind it and make a cheese-spread with it. Due to its particular flavor, it mimics that of cheese. No other nut (or drupe) can do this. It is necessary to soak cashews for 5-7 hours to activate the enzymes which allows proper digestion. When we soak them, we allow the breaking down of the phytic acid so it can be absorbed properly.
So nuts, seeds and drupes are very special foods because their content of phytic acid helps safeguard them until proper growing conditions are present and germination can occur. Then the enzymes inhibitors prevent the seed from sprouting, so in essence they remain dormant. With this noted, I have learned that eating raw nuts, seeds, or drupes is not always the best way, as the enzymes bind to the nutrients in our body, thus contributing to nutrient deficiencies and digestive system irritation. Additional to this, their content of phytic acid binds to minerals, a process which stops nutrients from being absorbed in our digestive systems.
These amazing nuts have a lower fat content than most other nut, as 82% of their fat is unsaturated fatty acids, and 66% of these are heart-healthy monounsaturated fats (similar to those in olive oil). They are an excellent source of copper and a good source of phosphorus, magnesium, manganese and zinc.
PREP: 5 MINS – COOK: 10 MINS
- 200 grams of cashews (soaked from 5-7 hours)
- 2 Tbsps of garlic paste
- 2 Tbsps of olive oil
- 2 Tbsps of nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp of apple cider vinegar
- 1/2 tsp of Himalayan pink salt
Add the cashews to the food processor with the garlic paste and olive oil. Mix and continue to stir with a spatula so the mix becomes smooth as you continue to blend. Add the nutritional yeast, apple cider and salt (I like to add a bit more). Continue mixing and making the mix even as you remove the excess from the sides of the container. Keep refrigerated for 4-5 days .
These spread is vegan, gluten free, and a plant-based protein. It is very important that we are aware that even though drupes, seeds, and nuts are a great source of protein for those of us who avoid meats, it is necessary that we soak them and activate the best in them before consumption. This spread goes great on crackers, and to replace cheese on any dish. You can also try adding chopped scallions. Stay healthy! Namaste.