Raw cashews just blew my mind

Ok, so for any of my readers this post might be a little unexpected. Traditionally all Baking Bac...


Ok, so for any of my readers this post might be a little unexpected. Traditionally all Baking Backwards recipes have been totally nut-free. This has been for the sake of my tree-nut allergy readers and for myself. Up until about two months ago I was bumbling my way through life under the impression that I had a potentially severe tree-nut allergy. I was first diagnosed with this allergy several years ago and it was a major shock and very disappointing. I had been going through a very rough health patch (lots of asthma attacks and strong medications) and was experiencing what seemed like constant allergic reactions when eating. I decided a scratch test and some blood work was needed and it revealed that I was allergic to almost everything I ate regularly, including tree nuts (but not peanuts which are legumes). Being a bit of a spaz, I promptly hid myself away from all the nutty goodness in the world and stayed hidden (except when I was unaware of nuts being in something fed to me) for the past few years. What changed was that I got a lot healthier. I blame my husband who taught me how to alkalize and encouraged me to clean up my diet even more than I thought it was already. 

Several odd moments occurred in the past few years with my "food allergies" where I accidentally ate something but had no discernible reaction, at most just a little freakout upon realization that I ate something I was meant to avoid. This prompted my husband to suggest, "maybe your allergies went away? Maybe your immune system was down at the time and they weren't true allergies?" So, I had a follow-up allergy test a few months ago. Though I still test positive for a soy-allergy, I no longer test positive for tree nuts! I have a very overly cautious allergist who suggested that I may still want to avoid them because there was history of a reaction. But he also mentioned that if I was feeling brave enough to try them, it was really up to me to take the risk. So this past month I decided to be brave. Having so many food allergies and sensitivities has helped me grow my Baking Backwards audience but has also left me on what I fear my be a nutritionally deficient diet for quite awhile. The prospect of adding new fat and protein sources into the mix was too tempting to pass up. So I started small. I bought a container of almond milk. I drank a little bit every day for a week and didn't seem to be troubled by it. I was still nervous to advance to whole nuts but was also really not enjoying the taste of my store-bought almond milk, so last weekend, after a month of hesitation, I bought a tub of fresh roasted almond butter and ate it...um...almost all of it actually! That stuff is great, but I still prefer peanut butter. Anyways, I overdid it a little to say the least and though I felt fine that day, I felt quite queasy the next day. Here's the thing. Almonds have never agreed with me much. Even when I ate them a lot a few years ago, more than a few always made my stomach hurt. So I decided to do another test, a different nut. Enter the cashew. 

Oh how I adored cashews. They were my go-to nut for many many years. Raw, roasted, salted, sweetened, chocolate-covered -- I loved them every which way. I decided I should try them again. Why? Because I was scared to. Cashews were one of the nuts I ate regularly when I first tested positive for a tree-nut allergy. Just the thought of them brought back shudder-inducing memories. But we cannot live our lives in fear of the unknown! And since I never died from eating them before, and I no longer test positive for them as an allergy, I dove in head first with the purchase of a small bag of raw cashews. My husband warned me not overdo it after my almond overload incident. He encouraged me to try just 1 and stop and see how I felt the next day. I did (such restraint!) and I was ok! So, the next day I grabbed a little courage in one hand and a handful of raw cashews in the other. Woo, no problem at all! After that I started to eat them a little every day and so far so good.

The fact that I can now eat raw cashews makes me so happy. As a limited vegan (up until this month I was soy-free, gluten-free, nut-free), I feel like a blind person with restored sight. Let me expand on that -- raw cashews feature in so many vegan recipes today. They're used for creating rich and creamy sauces, milk-like drinks, cream substitutes and even ice creams and cheesecakes! 


My husband was super supportive of me last week and to thank him I helped make him dinner the other night. He was in the mood for pasta so I decided that a homemade and stupidly delicious cashew cream sauce was in order. 


This sauce does not disappoint! It tastes so much like a real cream sauce I don't know where it's been all my recently vegan life -- oh ya, off limits. Though many recipes for cashew sauces are easily found online, I made mine a little more pure than the ones I found on the web. The majority of the sauce is just raw organic cashews and filtered water. Unlike many other recipes, this sauce involves no cheesy nutritional yeast. I try to limit my yeast intake. Turns out that nutritional yeast isn't necessary at all! If you can eat raw cashews, I really recommend this sauce. It's the closest thing I've had to a creamy alfredo sauce since becoming vegan and is actually really healthy too! If you're more of a tomato sauce person, try blending in some roma tomatoes for a nice variation on this white sauce. I hope you like it.


PS: If you suspect your own allergies may have vanished, get checked out and if it seems that you are ok to yuor doctor, I hope you try to eat the food again! I don't think all food allergies are a life sentence. Our bodies change constantly, so it's worth waiting a little and then revisiting the issue.



Raw Cashew Cream Sauce
(vegan, gluten-free, grain-free, paleo, yeast-free)

 
Makes 1-2 servings
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews
  • 1 1/2 cups water
  • Pinch salt
  • Dash chili powder
  • 1 tbsp evoo
  • Clove of garlic
  • Squeeze of lemon
  • Dash cinnamon
  • ½ cup reserved pasta cooking water (if using this as pasta sauce)
Blend all ingredients together on high in a high speed blender until creamy and smooth. Pour into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir and reduce to simmer until the sauce is thick enough for your personal preference. The longer you boil/simmer, the thicker the sauce will be. Serve hot on pasta or vegetables.

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