Best Uses for Cashews in the Paleo Diet

Best Uses for Cashews in the Paleo Diet

Modeled on the diet of prehistoric humans, the paleo diet is a popular way of eating today for a variety of reasons, from health to weight loss. Those who choose to eat paleo eat food similar to what may have been eaten in the Paleolithic era, approximately 2.5 million to 10,000 years ago. This includes primarily lean meats, fish, fruits, vegetables, nuts, and seeds, which could all be found through hunting and gathering. While this may seem restrictive to some, there are a variety of creative and delicious ways to adhere to this diet with a few staple ingredients. The use of salted cashews can supplement this diet in a variety of ways while keeping meals varied and delicious.

Below are some of our favorite ways to use cashews like our ancestors may have!

Cashew as a Snack

On their own, raw cashews make a great snack. Whether you prefer them roasted, in a trail mix, or just classic salted cashews, they are always handy for a quick bite. Because of their unique, creamy taste, cashews can be made salty or sweet depending on your taste. Nearly any seasoning or topping can be used to enhance the natural flavor.

For those with a sweet tooth, classic honey roasted cashews are always a favorite, though you can also toast them in a mix of cashew and cinnamon for a cereal-like crunch.

If savory is more your style, try tossing some cashews in with a mix of Indian spices such as cumin or curry powder. You can even use cayenne for a spicy version!
Consider creating a summer trail mix, utilizing cashews, dried cranberries, shredded coconut, dairy-free chocolate chips, raw pumpkin seeds, and good quality sea salt.

Cashews as Dip

While cashews on their own may not make a great dip, they can be used as a primary ingredient to create numerous delicious dips. These are perfect for poolside snacking, game-time snacks, or just a quick afternoon pick-me-up. Eating all the fresh vegetables within a paleo diet is good for you, but it can get a little boring a times, so having tasty dips to mix it up is a perfect way to keep life tasty and interesting. We love munching on cucumbers, tomatoes, radishes, and celery with sweet potato and cashew dip. Try this recipe with a veggie spread this week:

Sweet Potatoes and salted cashews dip

  • 1 large orange sweet potato
  • 5 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • ¼ cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup salted cashews
  • 1.5 tsp coriander/cilantro
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • ¾ tsp paprika

Cashews as Dairy Substitute

The paleo diet avoids foods that became popular as a result of farming and industrialization, which often means dairy products are out of the question. Luckily, paleo followers can make a quick substitute for popular dairy products with cashews as the base, thanks to the creamy texture of the nut.

Cashews can be turned into milk, butter, or even cream products that mimic cream cheese or sour cream. Basically, all of these recipes involve soaking cashews until they are soft and blending them with water, stopping when you reach the texture of the product you want to mimic. From there, the possibilities are endless.

Cashew milk makes a great liquid for smoothies, while cashew butter is often used in baking (or eaten right off the spoon!)
Some nights we really want to tuck into a bowl of fettucine Alfredo! Life with zoodles and creamy cashew and tomato sauce brings that comfort food home when you really need it. Here is a recipe for the next time that craving hits:

  • 2 tsp avocado
  • 2 tsp salted cashews
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 2 14 oz. cans crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup coconut cream
  • 2 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 1/12 tsp sea salt and black pepper

Cashews as Part of a Meal

Even outside of the paleo diet, many cuisines globally use cashews as a way to add flavor and texture to meals. This is particularly popular in Asian cuisines, including Indian and Chinese meals. If you are whipping up a stir fry made of clean, fresh meat and vegetables, cashews are a great way to add a crunch without going outside the bounds of your diet.

One popular dish is cashew chicken, where cashews are added in equal parts to the meat, allowing them to become a centerpiece. The cashews soak up some of the sauce from cooking while maintaining their crunch, and many people say they take the place of the rice that would otherwise be served with a dish like this.

These nutrient-rich nuts are also capable of transforming main dishes like fish and seafood with exceptional flavor and texture. Try dinner for 4 using cod fillets and a creamy cashew sauce. Take a bite out of this recipe tonight:

  • 1 tsp chives/minced
  • 1 tbsp fresh thyme
  • 2 garlic cloves/minced
  • 1 shallot/minced
  • The zest of a ½ a lemon
  • ¾ cup of coconut milk
  • sea salt and freshly ground pepper

In Baking

It’s true that our ancestors in the Paleolithic era didn’t have the ability to bake, but today it’s the ingredients that count. While you can’t whip up a box cake mix and call it Paleo, you don’t have to give up sweets and treats altogether. With the right substitutions, you can bake something and have the best of both worlds.

Cashew butter or milk are commonly used in baking, as is cashew flour. This is essentially just cashews ground up so finely they have the texture of flour and work as a substitute in baking. You can also add the nuts as a garnish or mixed into a batter for a crunch. From there, you can enjoy everything from cakes to caramel bars.

Natural and Safe Cashews

If you are adhering to a strict diet like the Paleo diet, you are clearly paying attention to what you put into your body and want to make sure the ingredients you choose are healthy and natural. While cashews are an excellent addition to this diet, be cautious as some store-bought cashews can be heavily processed or contain preservatives that defeat the purpose. Look for salted cashews like those from Beyond the Nut, with no preservatives or extra ingredients and made using ethical labor practices.