In all honesty, I had never really heard of or made cashew cream until recently. But WOW, since trying it and realizing how incredibly easy it is to make, we now use it in so many things. It literally has 3 ingredients (if water is considered an ingredient) and takes 5 minutes of hands-on time.
Cashew cream can be a great dairy-free substitute for things that are generally highly processed including:
- alfredo sauce or other cream-based sauces
- cheese sauces
- coffee creamer
Since trying to cut out more dairy from our diet and transition to more plant-based items, this has been a great substitute (and comes with a powerhouse of nutrients as well).
So far, we have made dairy-free Creamed Spinach and one of our ALL TIME favorites, Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken ‘Pasta’.
I like to make it on the thicker side (about the consistency of alfredo sauce) and thin it out if needed for the specific recipe I’m making. For example, when I make my Creamy Sun-Dried Tomato Chicken ‘Pasta’, I add the thick cashew cream and thin it out with leftover Chicken Broth (that we usually have on standby in the freezer).
(This picture shows apple cider vinegar and lemon juice since we added these to the Creamed Spinach recipe, but generally we just use water + cashews + sea salt for straight cashew cream).
Why soak the cashews?
1.) It softens the cashews enough to blend them into a smooth, creamy sauce
2.) it helps neutralize the anti-nutrient known as phytic acid that is naturally occurring in nuts and seeds, and happens to be very high in cashews
3.) It improves the digestibility of nuts, which can be very hard on the digestive system.
4.) It makes the wonderful nutrients in nuts more available and absorbable to our body
Nutrition Benefits of Cashew Cream
1.5 cup of cashew cream (containing about 2/3 cup of cashews) has about:
- 44 grams of healthy fat (mostly monounsaturated)
- 3.3 grams of fiber
- 18 gram of protein (woah!)
- High levels of iron, magnesium, zinc, copper, phosphorus, and manganese.
Which cashews to Buy
- Raw Most roasted cashews are done with rancid oils (ie soybean, canola, etc.) so go for raw. Also, the roasting process can kill many of the health benefits of cashews if not done properly.
- Unsalted It’s best to use a mineral-dense sea salt when soaking them yourself
- Organic Not necessary, but ideal.
Best place to buy?
You can generally find raw cashews in the bulk bin at your local store, although in most conventional stores they’re often not Organic, and sometimes they’re salted. It just varies by store. I have found the best quality and price online at these two places:
- Raw, Organic, Unsalted Cashews ($11.95/lb)
- if you are a Thrive Market member- Raw, Organic, Unsalted Cashews are $10.99/pound
- 2 cups raw unsalted cashews
- 3 cup filtered water (plus more for soaking)
- 1.5 teaspoons sea salt
- ) Pour cashews, water, and sea salt in a large mason jar or glass container until water covers all of the cashews about 1-2 inches. Cover and set aside on the counter to allow them to soak a minimum of 6 hours (or overnight).
- ) After they soak, drain and rinse cashews thoroughly in a mesh strainer to get salt solution off.
- ) Pour cashews in a high-powered blender and add another 1 cup of fresh filtered water. Blend on high speed for about 1 minute until it reaches a smooth texture. Pour back in the mason jar or other storage container.
- ) Store in the refrigerator for 4-5 days and freeze for up to 6 months.