A friend and I were chatting on Sunday. “Have you ever thought of writing a book on healthy living?” she asked. I laughed and said, No, I didn’t think it would work out anyway. I’m not exactly the poster child for robust health. Yes, I lived, but that was thanks to Divine intervention via an Extremely Skilled Surgeon and an army of medical professionals who have helped me/are helping me along the way.
I do not make health claims for any of my recipes/practices. This theoretical conversation illustrates why:
Friend: Do you seriously eat like that?
Friend: So how’s that working out for ya?
Me: Well… [makes sucking teeth sound]
I was quite healthy before my injury. My blood test numbers were pronounced “perfect” when I got my health screen at work, and I got a full check up at the doctor’s before going to Africa. This was a calculated move on my part – I wanted to tell Mom and Dad that a doctor had said I was A-Okay so they’d feel better about letting me go. BTW my AVM was entirely asymptomatic. There was no way my doc could have known something was growing in my brain unless I went to get my head scanned for something else. Since I never got scanned for anything before the AVM rupture, no one ever knew.
So here I am, in my second year of recovery, writing about cashew cream etc. I also drink juice with lots of fruits and veggies in it and quite like it (Thanks, Mom!), and eat and do lots of other things to give my body the best chance at whatever “peak” performance is for me at this point. Example:
I didn’t fall down yesterday – is that peak performance? (Update 8pm: I did fall – but not on the floor. It was one of those moments when I couldn’t put my left foot down so it was dangling in the air and I hit my head on the doorway because I tipped over. Boo. And I thought I had a clean record for this post.) And I climbed up and down the hill at the S’s house (in lieu of the stairs sans rail) on Wednesday. I was, however, fast asleep when Tanpo brought the garbage and recycling cans in. You win some, you lose some.
Well, it turns out that my “peak performance” eating attempts are interesting to some who have food allergies, or preferences for less wheat/dairy and more natural sources of nutrients. (Spinach Grasshopper cookies, anyone?) I figure if I’m going to put anything in my system I should probably try to make it as benign as possible.
Now I wouldn’t characterize cashew cream as a 100% benign “free” food. It’s simply a non-dairy alternative to sweet or savory cream. People also use the thick part on top of a can of full fat coconut milk to make whipped cream. I’ve never tried this, but I imagine that the coconut taste would lend itself better to sweets/desserts. I’ve found cashew cream, though, to be pretty forgiving – it withstands my half-hearted/non-existent measuring techniques and takes on whatever flavors I throw at it. So here are the instructions and some explanation:
How to make Cashew Cream
- Raw cashews – you’re going to pulverize these so you needn’t spend money on nice full-size cashews. Trader Joe’s sells 8 or 16 oz bags of raw cashew pieces. If your supermarket doesn’t have a cheaper bulk section, this is a nice alternative.
- Water or non-dairy milk for mixing
- Seasonings of your choice. Here are my favorites:
- Sweet: Vanilla, cinnamon, a little almond extract, agave or honey if I’m serving this to “my” babies and want to make it sweeter.
- Savory: splash of lemon juice, salt and pepper, garlic powder, vinegar of your choice, Worcestershire sauce, Italian dressing, whatever – you probably don’t want to add these all at once. Just pick and choose – you’ll end up with something nice and creamy to add to your recipe, or a salad dressing/veggie dip to enjoy on its own.
1. Soak raw cashew pieces. I generally keep mine in the freezer, put them in a Pyrex when I’m ready, cover them with hot water and let them sit for about 3 hours. I’ve read things that give a range of: soak for at least an hour or as long as you can while preparing other ingredients, 3 hours, 8 hours and overnight. I try not to let them soak too long. I’ve gotten tired before and given up on actually making the cashew cream so I’ve drained and frozen my soaked cashews, then defrosted and pulverized them on a later date.
2. Blend them up! Of course I use my Vitamix, but I’ve heard you can use a regular blender or food processor – it just takes longer. I put my cashews and just a little bit of liquid in first to get the blending going. You might have to scrape down the sides or use the tamper. I then add enough liquid to achieve the consistency I want – e.g. pourable vs. not pourable. (Side note: I made a yummy cake with the languishing bananas I mentioned earlier this week. Very thick cashew cream was the base for the frosting. And yes, indeedy, I did frost the cake. Heavily.)
3. Add your seasonings: You can choose to add your seasonings directly into the blender or just scoop out a portion and season it individually. You’re all done now! You can freeze the cashew cream if you don’t eat it all within a few days.