In today’s food industry, milk alternatives are not only popular, but also continuing to become more and more common. Instead of the single option of soy milk in the past, there are now a wide range of milk alternatives- rice, coconut, hemp, and many nut varieties. One that you may be hearing about is cashew milk- like it sounds, this alternative is made from pure raw cashews. If that sounds odd at first, it’s really not- cashew milk is delicious, good for you, and easy to both find and make.
What Is Cashew Milk?
Like it sounds, cashew milk is a milk-like substance made from cashews. Rather than being produced by cashews, like traditional cow or goat’s milk, cashew milk is made entirely of cashews and water.
The process for making cashew milk is very straightforward: cashews are removed from their shell and lightly toasted before being soaked in filtered water. Once they’re soft enough, the cashews are ground into a paste and blended with more water. This is then strained to remove any remaining chunks of nut. What we know as “cashew milk” is then the liquid strained from the nut solids (known as pulp).
Some store-bought cashew milk will contain other substances like thickeners, gum, sugar, or salt. Flavors can also be added to make chocolate cashew milk or other varieties which you may also incorporate into cashew-based desserts.
Cashew Milk vs. Cow’s Milk
Cashew milk is obviously not the same as drinking traditional cow’s milk- in many ways, it has advantages. Unlike cow’s milk, cashew milk does not contain any naturally occurring sugars. It does have less protein, but other nutritional benefits make up for this.
In terms of taste, cashew milk has some distinct qualities. It is creamy and rich compared to dairy milk, and it has a rich nuttiness to it. The flavor is more subtle than something like almond milk, but still present. Many people actually prefer the aromatic flavor of cashew milk in recipes like smoothies or oatmeal.
Cashew milk typically has fewer calories, less fat, and less sugar than cow’s milk.
Benefits of Cashew Milk
Cashews themselves contain a wide range of health benefits that are then present in cashew milk. With a range of vitamins and minerals, healthy fats, and antioxidants, cashew milk can add a boost to any recipe. Cashew milk can also be fortified to include calcium, iron, and additional vitamins.
Some of the health benefits of cashew milk include the following.
Strengthen Your Bones
Some versions of cashew milk are fortified with calcium. This is typically enough to make it higher in calcium than cow’s milk, increasing the benefits of the nutrient, like preventing osteoporosis and other conditions linked to calcium deficiency.
Cashew milk can also be fortified with iron, up to 20% of the daily value. Because iron deficiency is linked to anemia, in which the blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells, this iron can act as a supplement for people who need it.
Get Your Nutrients
Even when not fortified, cashews contain magnesium, potassium, fiber, unsaturated fats, protein, and a range of vitamins and minerals. Anything you add cashew milk to will benefit from these nutrients, some of which are not present in cow’s milk.
Improve Your Heart Health
Cashews are known for their high levels of healthy fats, both polyunsaturated and monounsaturated, which are linked to a lower risk of heart disease. Both potassium and magnesium are also linked to the prevention of heart disease. These factors can also help to decrease other risk factors for heart disease, like diabetes and blood pressure.
Keep Your Eyes Healthy
Two of the antioxidants in cashews are lutein and zeaxanthin, both of which are able to prevent cellular damage to the eyes as a result of molecules called free radicals. These can also increase retinal health and reduce the risk of age-related macular degeneration, which can lead to vision loss. A reduced risk of cataracts is also a benefit of lutein and zeaxanthin.
Avoid Blood Clots
One vitamin present in cashew milk is vitamin K, which aids blood clotting. A deficiency in vitamin K can lead to excessive bleeding. People with IBS and other malabsorption issues are particularly likely to be deficient in this important nutrient.
Control Blood Sugar
Certain compounds in cashew milk can promote better control of blood sugar, such as anacardic acid. This can help people with diabetes who struggle with blood sugar levels. Additionally, because cashew milk is free of lactose and has fewer carbs than traditional dairy, which is recommended for those with diabetes.
Get Glowing Skin
Copper is found in large amounts in cashews and cashew milk- because copper plays a large part in the creation of skin proteins, it is optimal for skin health and appearance. Both collagen and elastin are regulated by copper and can help prevent aging and deteriorating skin.
Both antioxidants and zinc, both immunity boosters, are found in cashews. Zinc creates immune cells that fight disease and infection, as well as stopping cell damage as a result of inflammation and disease. By reducing inflammation, this can help boost immunity and prevent a variety of illnesses.
Make Your Own Cashew Milk
Another benefit of cashew milk is that you don’t need a dairy farm to make it your own. All you truly need are two ingredients- you can add more if you choose.
The most important thing to remember when making your own cashew milk is that the quality of your cashews is extremely important. Because they are the main ingredient, better cashews will create better milk. Make sure that you are buying ethically sourced, high-quality cashews that are free of additives and processing.
For every one cup of cashews you have, you will yield about 5 cups of cashew milk. Keep in mind that homemade, fresh cashew milk is good for about 3-4 days in the fridge, so you can adjust your recipe based on how quickly you go through the milk. The below recipe is for 1 cup of cashews- it makes milk that is about equivalent to 2% milk in creaminess, and you can adjust water for a thicker or thinner consistency.
- Soak cashews in water for at least 4 hours, or overnight in the refrigerator. Once done, drain the cashews and rinse until the water is clear.
- Add the cashews and 2 cups of water to a blender. Begin slowly blending and slowly increase the speed until cashews are completely ground down. A high-power blender may accomplish this in two minutes, and an average blender may take longer.
- Add 2 more cups of water. If you would like to add a sweetener (like maple syrup, honey, or agave), about 1 to 2 tablespoons should do. You can also add 2 teaspoons of vanilla extract, some salt, cinnamon, or other flavoring depending on your taste. Blend.
- If you’re not sure about the consistency, you can use cheesecloth or a fine strainer to remove any remaining solids.
- Store in a covered container, refrigerated.
Once you have fresh cashew milk, it can be used like any other milk. It is a refreshing drink, addition to coffee or a smoothie, or an ingredient in baked goods and savory dishes alike.
Beyond the Nut raw cashews make the perfect base for your cashew milk- vegan, gluten-free, GMO-free, and fair trade, they make your cashew milk healthy, ethical, and delicious.