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THE MAGNIFICENT CASHEW–MYSTERIOUS & DANGEROUS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 7, 2017

Many people who experience allergic reactions after eating cashews have wondered what makes cashews so darned allergenic. Urushiol oil in the cashew shells is partly responsible and is also present in the other members of the cashew family: mangoes, pistachios, poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac.

The mango is less of an allergy problem than cashews, because the urushiol oil is mainly in the skin of the fruit that can easily be peeled while wearing gloves to avoid contact with the oil. The oil is also in the shells of pistachios, while the oil in poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac is found within the leaves.

The bigger issue with cashews is the caustic oils within the cashew shells that are released during processing. Harvesting cashews is a complex process few people in the developed world encounter. The details are shocking and very concerning and may explain what makes cashews an allergy issue for sensitive people. And as they say, “the devil is in the details” — and those details are not all positive.

Most nuts can be harvested and shelled with ease without causing toxic oils to flow from their shells, but cashews are unique in every way, from their strange growing habit to the harvesting and shelling processes The challenge for those

DYWPKB Cashew nuts growing on a tree This extraordinary nut grows outside the fruit

harvesting cashews is avoiding the caustic oils trapped between the two shells that protect the cashew nuts.

When consumers buy and enjoy cashews, they rarely, if ever, consider the struggles some workers experience when processing the nuts. Workers harvesting cashews earn a meager few dollars a day and many suffer from their effort because cashews, unlike any other nuts, pose real harvesting challenges.

The cashew nut, which is actually a seed, grows in a most unusual way–it simply hangs from the bottom of the fruit of the cashew tree known as cashew apple. The apple fruit itself hangs from a woody stem on a branch.

Native to Brazil, the cashew tree spread to India and East Africa by Portuguese missionaries in the 1600s. Today, India, Latin America, Africa, Vietnam, and other tropical areas throughout Southeast Asia are productive cashew regions.

In its raw form, the cashew nut is soft, white, and mealy, but when roasted, it turns a light beige color and becomes firm and intensely rich in flavor. Cashews are never sold in the shell because of the toxic residues that require careful processing to extract the nut safely.

The cashew harvesting challenge

Unlike any other tree nut, the cashew nut is a harvesting nightmare. The nut itself is encased in a shell consisting of two very tough layers–the hard outer shell and a thin, reddish skin that clings to the nut. Between those layers is the caustic substance, known as shell oil or anacardic acid and its byproducts, cardanol and urushiol. These oils contain toxic and allergenic substances that can cause burns and blisters on unprotected hands. If eaten raw, the untreated cashew causes burns on the tongue and throat.

The task of harvesting the cashew nuts frequently falls to poor, indigenous people who harvest by hand and work for pennies a day without protective gloves or goggles. For safe harvesting, workers ought to wear protective gear like gloves and goggles and avoid prolonged contact with the cashew oils or sap to prevent burning and blistering of the hands and fingers. Sadly, these precautions are seldom heeded.

The harvesting process

When the cashew fruit and nuts are fully ripened, they may fall to the ground or can be taken off the tree with a twist of the wrist. To extract the nut, the unshelled cashews are first sun-dried for several days. At this stage, the nuts can be stored for up to two years before processing.

The next step is roasting the nuts in their shells, a process that takes place outdoors to dissipate the toxic fumes and to avoid physical contact with the toxic oils that could be dangerous in enclosed areas.

Conducting the roasting outdoors makes good sense, but the roasting process emits a considerable amount of smoke that releases urushiol oil into the air. Inhaling this toxic shell oil fumes often causes irritation to the throat and lungs that can even be life-threatening to some people.

To protect the eyes from the noxious fumes, workers would benefit from wearing goggles that offer some protection. Unfortunately, the workers are rarely given such protection.

Often, crudely assembled roasting pans are covered with a lid or the nuts are covered with a layer of sand in the pans to prevent the heated shell oil from spitting out liquid. After roasting for 10 to 20 minutes, workers wash the nuts with soap and water with unprotected hands. Rarely are gloves provided, and shell oil residues may still be present on the nut.

In some regions the cashews are haphazardly grilled over a fire in a tin can filled with leaves and covered to avoid the sap exploding and hitting people with the black sticky substance. However, occasionally the sap does spew out and leaves marks on the skin that stays for days. The sap also stains clothing permanently. Sometimes workers suffer permanent damage from burns on the hands from the caustic oils.

During the roasting process, the high heat frequently opens the cashew shells, causing them to release the toxic oils. Sometimes these hot oils catch fire, tossing the dangerous fumes into the air, causing burns to the eyes and mucous membranes of the mouth, throat, and skin of nearby workers.

Cracking the nuts

After roasting, in some regions, the nuts are covered with ash or sawdust to absorb and remove any of the oils remaining in the shells. Then, the nuts are then ready to crack open, a process usually done by hand. In India, some workers use mallets to crack the shells and wire remove the nuts. Modern processing by machine, such as using centrifugal force to crack the nuts, makes this step faster, but the cost is prohibitive for many of the poor cashew farmers.

Following the shelling and washing process, the nuts are then placed on open racks or in ovens to dry the testa, the thin, paper-like skins that cling to the nuts. Making the testa dry and brittle makes it easier to remove the skins. Drying the nuts also helps to extend the shelf life of the cashews and prevents them from becoming rancid.

The skins are then removed by hand, sometimes with bamboo knives.

Roasting and packaging

The final step in the processing cycle is roasting the nut kernels to remove any remaining traces of shell oil residues that can cause skin eruptions or contact dermatitis similar to poison ivy. The nuts are then graded, separated for quality, and packaged and packed for export.

When American consumers see beautiful, jumbo size cashews in an attractive store display, they never see the suffering that brings those delicious nuts to market. Time Magazine wrote an article about “blood cashews,” describing workers in Vietnam who harvest cashews in forced labor camps where they are frequently beaten and tortured with electric shocks.

Understanding the labor-intensive process involved in cashew harvesting and the dangerous challenges of processing the nuts, makes it easy to see why the nuts are never sold in the shell.

 

Cashew Tree Byproducts

Those who might think the caustic shell oil had no value and is simply discarded may be surprised to learn that very caustic, blackish liquid is used in the automotive industry to make brake linings and clutch disks, items that can withstand friction and heat resistance. The liquid is essential in many other products like acid-resistant paints, resins, varnishes, enamels, black lacquers, and mouldings.

In some regions, the liquid is also used medicinally to treat leprosy, elephantiasis, psoriasis, ringworm, warts, and corns.

Because the wood of the cashew tree is insect repellent, it is used for bookcases and packing crates.

A resinous, sticky gum, referred to as Cashew Tree Latex, from the cashew tree can be used in place of gum Arabic, often used as glue for paper and book bindings. The gum can also act as a binding agent in the pharmaceutical industry for capsules and pills, a food stabilizer for juices, and in the production of cosmetics.

Indigenous people use every part of the cashew tree to create natural medicines or insect repellant. Everything from the leaves, bark, gum, wood, juice, and roots are put to good use. Even the testa, the paper-like skins covering the cashews, are used as cattle feed.

The misery of cashew allergies

Tree nuts, like walnuts, almonds, and pecans, contain proteins that cause allergic, and sometimes life-threatening reactions in sensitive people. Cashews, however, contain fewer of the allergenic substances than other tree nuts, yet the allergic reactions they cause can result in intensely itchy welts on the body and numbness around the mouth, lips, and tongue. Allergic reactions can differ from person to person and can be particularly distressing from cashews that were not harvested and processed with extreme care.

While some people never experience allergic reactions from consuming cashews, others who are more sensitive suffer miserably, often not realizing what is causing their problem.

I want to share some of the allergic reactions people have shared on this blog. It may be helpful to know others are experiencing similar reactions from consuming cashews:

  • Itchy rashes over large areas of the chest, back, and legs
  • Large patches of red welts or hives over the body
  • A chapped feeling on the lips
  • Numbness of the lips and mouth area
  • Calloused fingers
  • Pale stools
  • Stomach bloating
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Stomach irritation
  • Blisters on the skin

Though these reactions are annoying and uncomfortable, they are not life-threatening.

Severe Reactions

Really sensitive people may even react to small traces of nut residues left on equipment during food processing. People who experience life-threatening reactions like anaphylactic shock know they need to avoid nuts completely and be on the alert to also avoid products like nut oils used in home products or body care cosmetics. Even foods processed in facilities that may have traces of nuts should be avoided.

Some people have thought cooking or heating nuts might reduce their allergenic properties, but heating does not offer this benefit. The allergenic proteins remain in the nuts even after cooking.

Interesting Tidbits

Cashew trees were so valued in Mozambique that during a household census people were asked if they had a cashew tree on their property.

In some of the areas where cashews are grown, cashew shoots are eaten as fresh salad.

Bolo polana, a cake made of finely ground cashews and mashed potatoes is a favorite in Mozambique and South Africa.

Cashew milk is frequently a substitute or alternative for dairy products used in some areas of Africa.

Kaju barfi is an Indian dessert made from finely ground cashews, sugar, cardamom, butter, and saffron and cooked to form firm dough. It is then rolled out and cut into diamond shapes.

Turrones de kasuy, a dessert similar to marzipan, is made from cashews, or kasuy, the Tagalog word for cashew. The confection is a specialty that comes from the province of Pampanga in the Philippines.

Fresh cashew apple fruits taste sweet and juicy and are fragrant but can leave the tongue and lips feeling unpleasant. For that reason, they are usually boiled and strained and boiled repeatedly.

Some varieties of mangoes can cause blisters on the skin. Sensitive people will find it helpful to wear protective gloves when peeling fresh mangoes.

The cashew kernel, or nut, contains 21% vegetable protein, comparable to the proteins in milk, eggs, and meat.

Cashew Apple Uses

The cashew apple is rich in vitamin C and could be considered an economical product. The apples can be dried, canned as a preserve, eaten fresh from the tree, and squeezed to enjoy as a juice. Brazilians make jam from the cashew apple as well as soft drinks and alcoholic beverages.

In West Africa, the juice is fermented to make cashew wine, but other countries throughout Asia and Latin America where the cashew tree is prolific enjoy cashew wine as well. The wine typically varies in alcoholic content from 6 to 12 percent.

References:

Agriculture Nigeria. “Cashew Production.” http://agriculturenigeria.com/farming-production/crop-production/cash-crops/cashew

Azeez, O.S. Production of Gum from Cashew Tree Latex, Chemical Engineering Department, Federal University of Technology, Minna, Niger State, Nigeria http://lejpt.academicdirect.org/A07/17_22.htm

‘Blood cashews'” the toxic truth about your favorite nut. The Telegraph. Bee Wilson, May 4, 2015. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/foodanddrinknews/11577928/Blood-cashews-the-toxic-truth-about-your-favourite-nut.html

Cashew Harvesting: Learn When And How To Harvest Cashews. Gardening Know How. Liz Baessler. December 29. 2015. http://www.gardeningknowhow.com/edible/nut-trees/cashew/how-to-harvest-cashews.htm

Cashew. Wikipedia. July 13, 2016. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cashew http://www.fao.org/3/a-ac306e.pdf

Azam-Ali, S.H, and E.C. JudgeSmall-scale cashew nut processing. Schumacher Centre for Technology and Development. Burton on Dunsmore, Rigby, Warwickshire, UK, FAO, 2001

Enclyclopedia Britannica https://www.britannica.com/plant/cashew. Department of Agriculture. http://www.nda.agric.za/docs/Infopaks/cashew.htm

Let’s Talk Agric – Developing Agriculture in Africa. Friday, May 5, 2017 http://www.letstalkagric.com/agribusiness/cashew-nuts-need-know-cashew-farming

Turrones de Casoy. About Filipino Food. http://aboutfilipinofood.com/turrones-de-kasoy/

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WARNING: PRETTY PINK PEPPERCORNS CAN BE DANGEROUS!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 19, 2014

Pink peppercorns, appealing and innocent-looking pink berries, can have the same serious, 105_5_11_13life-threatening allergenic potential for anyone who suffers from a tree nut allergy. People who avoid eating nuts because of tree-nut allergies may also want to avoid pink peppercorns. Pink peppercorns are members of the cashew family (Anacardiaceae) that includes cashews, pistachios, mangoes, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac.

Thanks to the conscientious effort of Christina who writes Christina’s Cucina blog, I now have important allergenic information to share.

The serious side of pink peppercorns
Christina brought this critical allergen to my attention because her young daughter experienced 4490858102_603b6eef7a_zanaphylaxis, a life-threatening episode, after eating a food containing pink peppercorn seasoning. Because the child had a serious tree-nut allergy, the family made conscious efforts to avoid all nuts. A restaurant meal containing seasoning that included pink peppercorns brought on the anaphylactic episode. Fortunately, nature played a prominent role in her recovery, causing the child to vomit and expel the toxic substance.

However, the family was puzzled about the food that caused the severe reaction. After extensive research, Christina learned about the connection of this seasoning ingredient to the cashew family and confirmed that the chef at the restaurant had used pink peppercorns.

Because of her concern for others with nut allergies, Christina contacted Penzeys Spices and asked that a warning be placed on the labels of any of the spice blends containing pink peppercorns. The company complied and now has warnings on containers that include “pink pepperberries.” Penzeys Spices also includes the warning in their popular spice catalog.

Still concerned, Christina contacted Trader Joe’s and requested they label pink peppercorn as a tree nut, because of its relationship to the cashew family. Trader Joe’s responded as follows:

“The FDA has very strict guidelines for top 8 allergen labeling and we cannot place a warning for non-top 8 allergens on our product labeling. Pink peppercorns are not considered a top 8 allergen by the FDA and therefore we cannot include this in an allergen statement for our products. However, we will also be sure to share your comments and specific concerns with the appropriate parties within our Quality Assurance and Buying Teams for further review and consideration in the
future”

Pink peppercorns receive the guilty verdict
Others with tree-nut allergies have innocently encountered pink peppercorns, resulting in anaphylaxis and an emergency trip to the hospital. A 26-year old woman developed anaphylaxis after eating pink peppercorn seasoning. She had a tree nut allergy and experienced previous life-threatening episodes after eating cashews unknowingly. Cashews can be hidden in prepared foods and restaurant meals in unexpected foods like creamy sauces. The occurrence was a mystery until she learned about the relationship of pink peppercorns to the cashew-mango family. This incident was reported in The World Allergy Organization Journal Feb 2012; 5(Suppl 2) S152. Published online Feb. 17, 2012 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512604/

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Researchers at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons Department of Allergy and Immunology, reported on the case of the 26-year old woman mentioned above. They concluded, “This is the first reported case of a patient developing anaphylaxis after pink pepper ingestion. Patients with tree nut allergies may need to be educated regarding this potential allergen.” The researchers also noted there is potential for cross-reactivity among different members of the Anacardiaceae family.

Some people are so sensitive to tree nuts and, especially peanuts, that even touching nuts or inhaling in their presence may be serious. The allergenic substance in the pink peppercorns may be urushiol, an oily substance present in some members of the Anacardiaceae family. With mangoes, urushiol is found in the skin, while it is the shell that clings tightly to the cashew nut that contains the allergen. In poison ivy, poison oak, and poison sumac, urushiol is an oleoresin present in the sap. This oil can cause allergenic reactions rather quickly.

In his revised and updated book On Food and Cooking; The Science and Lore of the Kitchen, author Harold McGee writes about pink peppercorns, “The tree is in the cashew and mango family, which also includes poison ivy and poison oak, and its brittle, peppercorn-sized fruits contain cardanol, an irritating phenolic compound that limits its usefulness in foods.”

Share this important message
The Food Allergy Research & Education organization advises that people with a tree nut allergy be prepared with emergency medication in case of anaphylaxis. They suggest having an epinephrine auto-injector like an EpiPen, Auvi-Q or Adrenaclick on hand at all times.

I’m aware that knowing this information could save your life or the life of someone you know. If you suffer from a tree nut allergy or know someone who does, I urge you to share this information and encourage others to read the ingredient labels carefully when purchasing spice blends to avoid these highly allergenic pink berries. Even if you’ve been using a product for a long time and think you’re familiar with the ingredients, read the label anyway. Manufacturers make changes in their formulations from time to time and are required to list new ingredients on their labels.

Families with young children with severe nut allergies need to take special precaution to make sure their foods are free of the entire family of nuts and related foods like pink peppercorns, and sometimes even sesame and sunflower seeds, which have properties similar to tree nuts.

Ask specifically about nut-containing ingredients at restaurants, friends’ and relatives’ homes, and daycare centers to prevent tragic life-threatening episodes. I know it’s a time-eater, but packing your child’s school lunches could be lifesaving. For those times when your child eats at the school cafeteria, I also think it’s important to ask about all the ingredients in prepared school lunches.

Teachers and day-care workers may find invaluable help at AllergyReady.com, a website that offers a free version of their program called How to C.A.R.E. for Students with Food Allergies, an online course.

About pink peppercorns
Research about pink peppercorns reveals they are not actually part of the Southeast Asian black pepper family at all, but are often included in colorful peppercorn blends that feature white, black, green, and pink whole pepper berries. Pink peppercorns offer a milder hint of spice than black pepper and have a delicate, sweet, fruity flavor due to sugar content. These peppercorns also add attractive color and appealing flavor to pepper blends and seasoning mixtures.

Members of the Anacardiaceae (cashew) family and natives of South America, these pink berries grow in clusters on a tree known by many names: Brazilian pepper, Peruvian pepper, Peruvian mastic tree, Baies Rose, California pepper tree, American pepper tree, Florida Holly, Christmasberry, and peppercorn tree. Though there are two tree varieties that produce these berries, the berries themselves are quite similar.

Brazilian peppercornsThe Brazillian pepper tree, introduced into Florida in the 1800s and also known as Florida Holly and Christmasberry, is scientifically classified as Schinus terebinthifolius. The tree grows more like a tall shrub, up to 33 feet high, with broader, alternating leaves than its cousin, the Peruvian pepper tree and is considered an invasive pest. Peppercorns from this variety may owe its toxicity to its content of urushiol oil allergens and phenolic cardanol.

The Peruvian pepper tree, also called Peruvian mastic tree and Baies Rose, is classified schinus-mollescientifically as Shinus molle, and is commonly listed as the California pepper tree because it thrives so well in California’s hot climate with very little water. This variety grows quite tall, up to 40 feet, and resembles a weeping willow with elongated narrow leaves that cascade downward, giving a delicate lacy appearance. This variety is common in Southern California and other warm climates like Hawaii. Shinus molle is the variety of pepper tree that grows on the French island of Reunion. Much of the pink peppercorns that the U.S. imported came from this island. This variety may or may not contain urushiol oils.

The University of California lists Schinus terebinthifolius and Schinus molle as minor toxic garden plants that may cause illness like vomiting or diarrhea.

The bright pink berries have many names also: Christmas berries, rose berries, false pepper, pink peppercorns, pink pepperberries, pink berries, and rose baises.

A culinary delight with a dangerous edge
Innovative chefs are always searching for the next food ingredient to thrill the foodies who love a new trend. But they never considered the possibility that an unassuming ingredient like pink peppercorns could be a risky flavoring choice. Several years ago, pink peppercorns became the trendy gems of innovative chefs who would crush them and add them to gourmet dishes to add a sweet, peppery taste and appealing pink color. Bold chefs used them to garnish canapés, flavor ice cream, and add zest to chocolate.

A number of craft beer brewers suggest adding pink peppercorns in small quantities when brewing beer or ale to add a sweet, fruity quality, resulting in flavors similar to golden raisins, plums, or juniper berries. Sometimes brewers combine the pink peppercorns with other herbs or spices to appeal to those who appreciate unique beers. These fruity style beers are known as Saison or Lambic.

Peru 2Many ancient cultures actively brewed beer, but it was the Incas who recognized the flavor potential of adding pink peppercorns to their beer. Predating the Incas were the Wari tribe from southern Peru who used their native foods to brew beer–fermented corn and pink peppercorns.

The F.D.A. weighs in
Writing in The New York Times Home & Garden section, on March 31, 1982, Marian Burros reported the Food and Drug Administration (F.D.A.) took action to halt imports of pink peppercorns from France because of concern they may cause serious toxic reactions. Under the food-additive amendment to the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, it became illegal to import pink peppercorns. The law did not affect any supplies of pink peppercorns already in the U.S., and none were recalled because the F.D.A. declared it lacked financial means to issue a recall and did not consider them life-threatening.

A University of Michigan herbal consultant explained that pink peppercorns, Schinus terebinthifolius, are related to poison ivy and can cause the same unpleasant symptoms people Braz6experience when exposed: swollen eyelids, shortness of breath, violent headaches, chest pains, sore throat, hoarseness, diarrhea, hemorrhoids, and upset stomach. Apparently, some birds that ingest the peppercorns can experience intoxication. After learning this information, the F.D.A. issued the following statement:

“While it is not known how many berries are required to cause adverse effects, experts advise against eating the pink or red peppercorns.”

The article mentions the French government’s claim that pink peppercorns grown on their soil under different conditions do not cause any of the troublesome reactions. The F.D.A. said they would maintain the ban until they were given proof by the French government that the imported peppercorns would not cause harm. “No one is able to tell us the exact ingredient that is causing the problem,” said F.D.A.s’ John Taylor III, Director of the Office of Regulatory Affairs.

Taylor recognized the berries from the trees grown in the U.S. and those grown on the Ile de Reunion, a French island near Madagascar, were the same species but may have different volatile oils that made the French berries problem-free.

The New York Times article said the F.D.A. proposed the French government send an affirmation that stated the pink peppercorns were “generally recognized as safe.” Until then, the ban would remain in place.

Wikipedia mentions the ban was lifted but does not provide a date or any statement from the F.D.A. Because it may be difficult to determine which variety of the pink berries are contained in seasoning mixtures, or whether variety matters, I would advise anyone with a nut allergy to avoid pink peppercorns completely.

References:
“422 A Rare Case of Food-induced Anaphylaxis to Pink Peppercorns.”
U.S. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health from
The World Allergy Organization Journal Feb 2012; 5(Suppl 2) S152. Published online Feb. 17, 2012 at 10.1097/01.WOX.0000412185.17758.4f http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3512604/

“Brazilian Pepper-tree, Schinus terebinthifolius.”
University of Florida IFAS Extension http://edis.ifas.ufl.edu/fw037

Burros, Marian. “F.D.A. AND FRENCH DISAGREE ON PINK PEPPERCORN’S EFFECTS.” New York Times. Home & Garden, March 31, 1982. http://www.nytimes.com/1982/03/31/garden/fda-and-french-disagree-on-pink-peppercorn-s-effects.html

“Is it okay to eat the pink pepper corns out of my yard?”
Fluther.com http://www.fluther.com/145572/is-it-okay-to-eat-the-pink-pepper-corns-out-of/

McIlroy, Anne. “Ancient empire built on beer.” November 15, 2005. Globe and Mail. Organissimo. http://www.organissimo.org/forum/index.php?/topic/23318-ancient-empire-built-on-beer/

“Pink Peppercorns.” Clove Garden. http://www.clovegarden.com/ingred/cw_pprpz.html

“Spice Guide Entry For: Pink Pepper (Shinus terebinthifolius).”
Celtnet Recipes http://www.celtnet.org.uk/recipes/spice-entry.php?term=Pink%20Pepper

“Toxic Plants (by scientific name).”
University of California Safe and Poisonous Garden Plants. http://ucanr.edu/sites/poisonous_safe_plants/Toxic_Plants_by_Scientific_Name_685/

“Tree Nut Allergies.” FARE: Food Allergy Research & Education.
About Food Allergies. http://www.foodallergy.org/allergens/tree-nut-allergy

“What’s The Deal With Green, Black, White, and Pink Peppercorns?” the kitchn. http://www.thekitchn.com/whats-the-deal-with-green-blac-93231

“When to Use Your EpiPen Auto-Injector.” EpiPen. https://www.epipen.com/en/about-epipen/when-to-use-epipen?

“Pink peppercorn.” Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. February 2, 2014. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pink_peppercorn

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OPEN SESAME!–DIVA OF THE PATTY PAN

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on February 25, 2013

Like me, you’ve probably rediscovered an old favorite recipe that had somehow gotten lost and ended up at the bottom of a pile of papers you keep meaning to tackle. Well, actually, this little gem of a recipe didn’t end up in a pile because it’s one of the recipes in my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet. But it did kind of get lost between files in a hidden corner of my memory.

An upcoming visit from my friends Vesanto and Cam from Vancouver triggered my memory to bring up that file and I’m thrilled to share this flavor-filled recipe that’s never failed to get raves. I love recipes that can be prepared in advance and still taste great when you serve them a day or two later. This one’s a winner in every way.

The recipe is a unique take on a nut-filled patty that tastes great tucked into a pita, piled into a giant sandwich, enjoyed as an open-faced sandwich, or relished all by its delicious little self. You can even eat the patties cold, right from the fridge and find them perfectly flavorful.

Although the sesame seeds remain on the top and bottom of the patties, they successfully impart their definitive flavor that oozes sesame with each delicious bite. Versatility works great with this recipe–you can vary the nuts and vary the grain. It’s an excellent recipe to fall back on when you have 2 cups of leftover cooked grains. I like the patties with a little dollop Tofu Sour Cream, but you can shmear with any of your favorite toppings.

SESAME NUT PATTIES

Yield: Makes about 12 to 15 two-inch pattiessesame nut patties

1/2 cup hulled sesame seeds

1 cup walnuts
2/3 cup cashews
1/3 cup pistachios

1/4 cup water
1 tablespoon psyllium husks

1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon soy sauce
3/4 teaspoon chili powder
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme

2 cups cooked wild rice

1. Lightly oil a large rimmed baking sheet or line it with parchment. Put the sesame seeds in a medium shallow bowl and set aside.

2. Grind the walnuts, cashews, and pistachios to a coarse meal in a food processor, and leave them in the processor.

3. Combine the water and psyllium husks in a small cup or bowl and stir well to moisten. Set aside for 1 minute to thicken, then add to the processor.

4. Add the soy sauce, chili powder, oregano, nutmeg, and thyme to the processor. Process briefly until all the ingredients are well combined.

5. Add the wild rice and pulse and process until it is well incorporated. If needed, add 1 to 3 tablespoons of water to moisten the mixture.

6. Form the mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls, place them on the baking sheet, and flatten slightly with your hand. When all the patty mixture is formed, dip each of the patties into the sesame seeds, covering both sides. Place them back on the baking sheet.

7. Shortly before serving, place the baking sheet under a preheated broiler, about 3 inches from the heat source. Watching carefully, broil for about 1 to 3 minutes, or until the sesame seeds are golden. Turn the patties over with a spatula and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, or until golden. Serve with Tofu Sour Cream or your favorite sauce.

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POTATO SOUP FOR THE QUEEN’S TASTE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 26, 2012

A simple homemade potato soup is a long-time family favorite in my home. But sometimes I just want to step outside the box and explore creative ways to serve the same delicious favorite with a bit of a tweak to give it a fresh lift. With the addition of a few root vegetables and spoonful or two of some lively seasonings, the sleepy little potato wakes up fully refreshed and ready to impress everyone who pokes a curious finger into the soup pot.

And if the Queen wants to step into the kitchen for a taste, I will welcome her with a curtsy and hand her my one and only silver spoon.

Of course, I know that’s not likely to happen, but it was a fun thought to imagine what I might do if a royal figure dropped in while I was cooking up something so tasty it would evoke an enthusiastic response. More likely is that it’s just a great idea to have a flavorful pot of soup on hand during the busy holiday season that’s just ahead. We’re often so busy we don’t have time to spend preparing fussy meals. That’s when a nourishing, flavor-infused, homemade soup is so welcome and so satisfying.

ROOT FOR POTATO SOUP

Yield: 6 servings

2 large carrots, peeled and diced
2 medium onions, diced
1 large parsnip, peeled and diced
1 large turnip, peeled and diced
1 head garlic, minced or crushed
5 to 7 cups water, divided

3 pounds potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch cubes

1/4 cup white miso
2 tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon garlic powder
Pepper to taste
Pinch cayenne

Garnish
2 tablespoons coarsely chopped peanuts
Ground sumac or paprika

1. Combine the carrots, onions, parsnip, turnip, garlic, and 2 cups of the water in an 8 to 10-quart stockpot. Cook and stir over high heat, stirring frequently, for about 15 to 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are softened. Add increments of 1/4 to 1/2 cups water as needed to cook the vegetables and prevent burning.

2. Add the potatoes and the remaining 5 cups of water, cover the pot, and bring to a boil over high heat. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer about 8 to 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are very tender.
3. Using a slotted spoon, transfer 1 to 2 cups of the potatoes and vegetables to a small bowl. Using an immersion blender in the stockpot or a regular blender, process the soup until it becomes a smooth, creamy puree. Then, return the chunky vegetables to the soup pot.
4. Add the miso, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, salt, garlic powder, pepper, and cayenne and mix well. Adjust the seasonings, if needed.
5. Ladle the soup into bowls and garnish each bowl with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and ground sumac.

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APPLES, ROOT VEGETABLES, & STRAWBERRY ICE CREAM MAKE CANADIAN THANKSGIVING IRRESISTIBLE AND MEMORABLE

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 7, 2012

Tami Noyes and hubby have been vegan since 2004 but welcome all diners to their table. When Tami started testing recipes for cookbook authors, she fell in love with vegan cuisine and is now the author of two beautiful cookbooks. American Vegan Kitchen is packed with familiar comfort foods we turn to for everyday dining pleasure. Her new book, just published is Vegan Sandwiches Save the Day! Tami considers sandwiches the best thing since sliced bread! When she’s not in the kitchen, Tami spends time blogging at Vegan Appetite.

As the fall colors build and the leaves fall, our taste-buds turn to apples and cinnamon. Made with mostly whole grain, this cake is a healthier alternative than some others. The addition of cashews creates a rich and delicate cake batter. We enjoy this lightly spiced apple-dotted cake for breakfast, an afternoon snack, or for dessert. For even more indulgence, top with maple frosting after cooling.

APPLE CAKE
Yield: 1 (6-inch) cake

3/4 cup nondairy milk
2 tablespoons cashew pieces
2 tablespoons nondairy vanilla yogurt
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 tablespoon ground flax seed
1 teaspoon maple extract
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
120 g (1 cup) whole wheat pastry flour
60 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 teaspoons cornstarch
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
3/4 cup peeled, diced apple

Spray a 6-inch cake pan with nonstick cooking spray. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

Combine the milk, cashews, yogurt, oil, flax seed, and extracts in a blender and process until completely smooth.

Combine the remaining ingredients in a medium bowl. Whisk. Pour the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients and stir together. Pour the mixture into the prepared cake pan. Bake the cake for 45 to 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes, then remove the cake from the pan and let cool on a wire rack. Garnish with powdered sugar if desired.

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Author of more than 20 cookbooks (many best sellers), Robin Robertson has been vegan since 1988. She was a chef and caterer and presently consults and contributes a regular column to VegNews Magazine. She has been a contributing editor and columnist for Vegetarian Times and contributed to numerous magazines. Bold flavors and global cuisine is her passion as well as writing and teaching about healthy plant-based cuisine. Her newest cookbook Fresh from the Vegan Slow Cooker has just been released. Visit Robin Robertson’s Global Vegan Kitchen for more awesome website and a peek at her library of cookbooks. The following recipe is from Robin’s new Vegan Slow Cooker book.

MAPLE-DIJON GLAZED ROOT VEGETABLES

This dish is ideal for Thanksgiving dinner – or anytime. I like to use more carrots because they’re popular and colorful, with a lesser amount of turnips and parsnips, but you can change the ratio however you like.

Slow Cooker Size: 4-quart
Cook Time: 6 to 8 hours on Low
{gluten-free}
{soy-free}

4 large carrots, cut into 1-inch chunks
1 medium turnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
1 large parsnip, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
4 shallots, halved
1 tablespoon olive oil
3 tablespoons maple syrup
2 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
Salt and freshly ground black pepper

1. Lightly oil the insert of the slow cooker. Combine the carrots, turnip, parsnip, and shallots in the cooker.
2. In a small bowl, combine the oil, maple syrup, water, and mustard in a cup, stirring to blend, then pour it over the vegetables. Season with salt and pepper to taste and stir to combine.
3. Cover and cook on Low for 6 to 8 hours, or until the vegetables are soft. Stir once about halfway through the cooking time, if possible. Serves 4

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Debra Walton subscribes to the Hippocrates mantra to let food be our medicine. She holds a nursing degree, but though she is the mom of 5 “awesome children” and granny to 9 little ones, she is working on furthering her education seeking degrees in Health, Healing, and Nutrition. Debra follows a plant-based diet and teaches food preparation and nutrition to spread the word about the health benefits of a vegan lifestyle. Look for more delicious recipes on Debra’s delightful blog The Health Seeker’s Kitchen.

TENDER GREEN BEAN WITH MUSHROOM & LEMON PEEL

Serves 6 as a side dish.

Sauté:
1 Portabello Mushroom, diced
2 tab. yellow onion diced
1/4 tsp. oregano
1 tsp. olive oil
salt & pepper

Steam:
1 lb. fresh tender green beans
1/4 cup water

Sauce:
Juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tab.Vegenaise
1/8 tsp. dried dill
Rind of 1 lemon (I use a lemon zester to make long thin slices)

Cook mushroom, onions and oregano in olive oil and season with salt & pepper. Cook until mushrooms look soft and turn color. Remove from pan.

Add 1/4 cup water to pan you cooked mushroom in. Add green beans and simmer with lid on until water has disappeared. Remove green beans and put in bowl.

Mix sauce well and stir into green beans. Add mushroom mixture.
Add rind of lemon to green beans and mix. Enjoy.

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NON-DAIRY RAW STRAWBERRY BANANA ICE CREAM

Ingredients:
Cashew cream (recipe below)
14 regular pitted dates (soak in water until soft and reserve 1/4 c. water)
1/2 cup fresh squeezed orange juice (about 1 very large orange)
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 2 large lemons)
1 cup sliced bananas (about 2 small)
1 1/2 cups frozen strawberries (keep frozen)

Cashew Cream
1 1/2 cups raw cashews (soak in water for 2-4 hours)
1/2 cup water

Drain soak water and place cashews in blender. Add 1/2 cup water and blend until smooth.

Directions:
1.) Make cashew cream and leave in blender.
2.) Drain dates reserving 1/4 cup liquid and add both to cashew cream. Blend until smooth.
3.) Add remaining ingredients to blender and blend until smooth.
4.) Put ice cream in Cuisinart ice cream maker. In about 10 minutes ice cream will be ready to eat or put in freezer for an additional hour for a more firm texture.
5.) You can also pour ice cream into a container and freeze until ready.
6.) Enjoy!!

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Posted in Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Side Dishes, Vegan Desserts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

MOUTH-WATERING MAIN DISHES FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 6, 2012

Guest host Kathy Hester brings scrumptious slow cooker main dishes to the Thanksgiving table that can be prepared without last minute stress. Kathy blogs at The Healthy Slow Cooker where you can find tasty, from-scratch recipes and helpful advice on choosing just the right slow cooker for you. Kathy is the author of The Vegan Slow Cooker Book and when she’s not cooking, she develops recipes and does free-lance writing for several blogs like One Green Planet as well as magazines. Look for her new, not yet published cookbook The Great Vegan Bean Book.
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Every family seems to have a special recipe for sweet potato casserole. This one is less sweet than the sticky sweet casserole of my youth. It skips the caramel and marshmallow sometimes included. You could add vegan versions of both in if you really want to. After all, any day is a holiday when you get to eat sweet potato casserole!

HOLIDAY SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE

8 large sweet potatoes, cut in chunks
1 1/2 (355 ml) cups water
1/4 to 1/2 cup (60 top 120 ml)non-dairy milk (plain or vanilla)
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (to taste)
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon allspice
pinch ground cloves

topping:

2 tablespoons (28 g) vegan margarine
3 tablespoons (45 ml) olive oil
3/4 cup (170 g) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (30 g) whole wheat flour (*use gluten-free flour instead)
3 tablespoons (45 ml) non-dairy milk or water
1/2 cup (55 g) pecans, chopped

The night before: Cut sweet potatoes. Make the topping by combining the ingredients and mixing thoroughly. Store topping and sweet potatoes in fridge overnight. Chop pecans and store in a covered bowl, unrefrigerated, overnight.

In the morning: Add sweet potatoes and water to an oiled crock. Cook on low for 6 – 8 hours.

30 to 45 minutes before serving: Turn slow cooker to high. Mash sweet potatoes in crock. Add spices and part of the non-dairy milk. Add the rest of the milk if the potatoes are still too stiff, but leave out if they are runny. Drop spoonfuls of pre-mixed topping. As the topping begins to melt, spread with the back of a spoon across the top to make it more even.

Serve once the topping is melted and the dish is heated throughout.

Yields: 8 servings
Total Prep Time: 15 minutes
Total Cooking Time: 6 to 8 hours
Soy-free, gluten-free

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I seem to be on a streak of ugly but packed-full of flavor recipes this month.

I guess the veggies that are available in January aren’t quite as flashy as some of the summer ones. That, and well, stews aren’t always pretty – but you can’t beat a one dish meal for an easy dinner.

In my next incarnation, I think I’ll add a handful or two of chopped greens to shake things up a bit.

You can really add any veggies you have on hand, too. I’m all about options and using what you have on hand. Yellow lentils instead of red, potato in place of turnip, and even carrot would all work just as good as the listed ingredients.

SLOW COOKER INDIAN SPICED CHICKPEA QUINOA STEW
gluten-free, soy-free

serves 4 to 6

4 to 5 cups water
1 can diced tomatoes (or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen)
1 can chickpeas, rinsed (or 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup red lentils
1/2 cup quinoa, rinsed
1 cup peeled turnip, chopped
1 cup sweet potato, chopped
1/2 cup celery, chopped (about 1 stalk)
1 tablespoon not-chicken bouillon
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt, to taste

The night before: Chop veggies and store in the fridge.

In the morning: Put everything in the slow cooker and cook on low 6 to 9 hours. Taste, re-season if needed (you may not even need the salt if your bouillon is salty.)

This is a good one to make if you are going to be away from the house a little longer than usual. If your slow cooker runs hot add a little extra water if it will be cooking longer than 9 hours.

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Guest Host Carrie Forrest is a graduate student in public health nutrition and the author of the blog Carrie on Vegan. Through her writings, step-by-step photo guides and recipes, Carrie inspires readers to prepare plant-based recipes that are 100% delicious. Carrie firmly believes that superior health is achievable through nutritional excellence and specializes in whole-food, simple recipes that are low in added fats, sugars and salt.
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BUTTERNUT HARVEST STEW

I think fall might be my favorite season. I love the coolness in the air and the transition to warmer clothes. As a homebody, I like the shorter days that force me indoors to cook, read books or just cozy up to the fireplace. What I love most of all about fall is the introduction of fall fruits and vegetables, and butternut squash heads the list. Tips: If you cannot find pumpkin pie spice, use ground cinnamon instead. A medium butternut squash will weigh 2 to 3 pounds.

6 Servings

Ingredients:

1 medium butternut squash

1 large onion

1 cup button mushrooms

4 cloves garlic

¼ cup water

3 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice

1 tablespoon no-salt seasoning

1 tablespoon dried oregano

4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth

1½ cups cooked or canned cannellini beans

Vegan Cream Sauce

Directions:
1. Peel, seed, and cube squash.

2. Chop onion. Slice mushrooms. Mince garlic.

3. In a large pot, bring water to a boil. Add onions and cook for a few minutes over medium heat. Add mushrooms and cook until softened. Add garlic, pumpkin pie spice, no-salt seasoning, and oregano. Stir in butternut squash and vegetable broth. Add water if necessary to cover vegetables.

4. Bring soup to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes or until squash is tender.

5. Rinse and drain beans. Stir into soup and cook just long enough to heat through. Remove from heat. Using a hand immersion blender, process stew to desired consistency. Stir in Vegan Cream Sauce and serve hot.

Non-Dairy Cream Sauce

This sauce is the equivalent of heavy cream and can be stirred into savory soups and stews to add richness and flavor. I love using it in my Harvest Butternut Stew. Tip: I use soy milk in this recipe for an extra creamy texture, but you can substitute your favorite non-dairy milk.

6 servings

Ingredients:

1 cup raw unsalted cashews

2 cups unsweetened non-dairy milk

Directions:
Combine cashews and non-dairy milk in a high-speed blender and process until smooth. Refrigerate for up to 3 days.

Posted in Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Holiday Recipes, Main Dishes, pecans | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

AWESOME RAWSOME TREATS FOR CANADIAN THANKSGIVING!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on October 4, 2012

Avid blogger Lisa Pitman, is a social worker by day, but remains fully engaged in the vegan community during her leisure hours. She holds a Raw Chef Certificate from Matthey Kenney OKC and contributes recipes to One Green Planet and tests recipes for several cookbook authors. She was a vegetarian from childhood and became vegan in her teens. Today she is passionate about her vegan lifestyle, knowing her food choices leave a lighter footprint on the planet. Lisa follows a gluten-free diet also free of refined sugars, oils, and flours. For a taste of more of Lisa’s culinary delights, visit her vibrant blog at Vegan Culinary Crusade .

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I am so happy that vegan food blogs have connected me to amazing people around the world AND has helped me to discover the incredible versatility of the great pumpkin. Seriously, a few years ago I never would have imagined making waffles, pancakes, scones, oatmeal, cheesecake and smoothies with pumpkin. But now it seems like the only way to celebrate the season.

After prepping and baking a couple of pie pumpkins and adding it to everything I could think of, I still had a few cups left of perfect puree.

I planned to freeze the leftovers, but as soon as I thought about using my precious freezer space, I decided to make it worth it by turning the pumpkin into a delicious batch of Chai Pumpkin Ice Cream (recipe below). That’s what you would do, right?

So, I have enjoyed a scoop here and there over the last few weeks but all the pumpkin MoFo posts (I’m looking at you Shellyfish) have inspired me to break out that pumpkin pint and fancy it up.

A spicy, cinnamon, ginger cookie recipe from Sweet Gratitude caught my eye. I knew it would turn my chai pumpkin ice creem into something spectacular.

I weighed out some medjool dates. Then, I combined raw almonds, grated ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla and a pinch of salt, in my food processor.

Until the texture was like a crumbly pie crust. Next I rolled the batter out on a Silpat sheet or wax paper.

Then I cut out circles (make sure you have even numbers). And transferred the cookies to a plate covered with wax paper. Put the plate in the freezer to firm up for 30 minutes.

Rolled the “in-between” extra dough into fantastic ginger-almond-date balls.

Assessed the flavour.

Before I started assembling the cookies I let the ice creem soften at room-temperature for 30 minutes (right, so take it out when you put the cookies in). Then I topped half of the cookies with small scoops of chai pumpkin ice creem.

Added the top. Pressed the cookies together and smoothed the sides of the ice creem.

I just kept scooping and squishing until all the cookies were partnered up and hugging some pumpkin.

Then I had to assess the flavour again. Working in quality control in this kitchen is one fantastic job. So, there you have it, raw, vegan pumpkin pie ice creem sandwiches.

CHAI PUMPKIN ICE CREAM

1 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
1 1/2 cup raw cashews, soaked 4 hours and drained
1 1/2 cup water
1 TBSP chai spice (I used Arvinda’s Masala Chai but you could use pumpkin pie spice instead)
2/3 cups agave syrup
2 TBSP maple syrup
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 TBSP lecithin
1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

Combine all of the ingredient, except the coconut oil and lecithin in your blender. Blend until very smooth. Add the lecithin and coconut oil and pulse until incorporated. Chill in your fridge for two hours or in the freezer for 30 minutes. Churn in your ice cream maker for 25 minutes (or in accordance with manufacture’s instructions).
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AUTUMN APPLE CRISP

Over the years I’ve been able to share my passion for apples with my niece and nephews. They can easily recognize JonaGolds and Mutsu’/Crispin and know the “eye to the sky” technique for gently picking each piece of fruit without harming the tree.

Although I am jealous of people who live in places where mangoes grow in their yards and papaya is fresh and fragrant, I am also grateful I live in a city where apple thrive. We have heritage varieties like maiden’s blush, ribston pippin and northern spy.

My favourite treat – apple crisp. I never ask for cake. I just prefer the sweet, apple cinnamon combination. The recipe below is perfect for my celebration as it is both vegan and raw. When you have great ingredients you really don’t want to mess with them.

P.S. I don call adding Vanilla Coconut Bliss messing with anything.

I first tasted this raw version of my favourite treat when Nicole made a cake for our Harvest Brunch. Although I have loved the cooked version for years, this recipe reigned supreme.

RAW APPLE CRISP
adapted from Heathy’s recipe on Sweetly Raw

Serves 4

Crust:
1 cup almonds
1/2 cup walnuts
3 TBSP medjool dates, pitted

In a food processor, pulse the ingredients until they form a coarse meal. Press half of the mixture into single serving ramekins, mini pie plates or springform pans. Reserve the remaining crumble.

Filling:
3 medium apples, cored and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup medjool dates
2 TBSP raisins
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground ginger

In a food processor, puree one apple and the remaining ingredients until smooth. Add the two remaining apples in the food processor and pulse until they break down into small pieces. Do not over blend – you want some apple bits.

Pour the filling onto the prepared crust. Sprinkle the reserved crumble mixture on top. You can enjoy the crisp right away, chill it in the fridge, or warm it in your oven or dehydrator. It is super simple, full of flavour and nutrition – and a great addition to any fall tradition.

Posted in almonds, Canadian Thanksgiving, cashews, Celebrations, Desserts, Holiday Recipes, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

SCIENCE EXPLAINS THE CASHEW AND MANGO DILEMMA

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 22, 2012

Within a few hours after I posted my family’s experience with allergic rashes from consuming mangoes and cashews, I received the comment below. It’s so well explained in scientific terms I thought it important to share in a post rather than a comment.

The information comes from Sandra J. Baker, author of The Poison Oak & Poison Ivy Survival Guide.

Thank you so much Sandra. Your information explains the science behind my husband’s and two sons’ itchy rashes after eating mangoes and cashews. Hopefully, this post and the previous one will benefit others who suffer the misery of itchy skin rashes and haven’t discovered the cause.

Sandra writes:
I can add to your quest for information. Mango, cashew and poison oak, ivy and sumac are all in the family Anacardiaceae. Then poison oak, ivy and sumac join the genus Toxicodendron which contains the allergenic oil urushiol in its resin. But, mango and cashew also have allergenic oils. Mango has resorcinol, and cashew has anacardiol and cardol. All of these allergenic oils have enough similarity that if you are allergic to one, you are probably allergic to the others.

Mangos’ allergenic oil is mostly in the resin canals in the skin (always peel first before eating), and is thought to be somewhat weaker than poison oak/ivys’ oil. Some people are extremely allergic to it, but a mango grower said his workers usually don’t get much of a rash at the beginning of working with the plants. After a while, the sensitivity usually goes away. The oil can migrate from the skin into the flesh, so it is a good idea to stay away from all mango products, even juice if you know you are allergic.

All cashews imported into the US (even those labeled raw) are shelled and cooked a bit beforehand, because that will destroy the allergenic potential of the cashew nut shell oil that is between the honeycombed layers of the shell. (the oil of the cashew itself is harmless). (Poison oak/ivy and sumac oil is highly resistant to heat by the way.

Very seldom, cashews are accidentally imported without being cooked, and may have been contaminated from the shell cracking procedure, Rashes have been documented. This is a much smaller problem than that of mango rashes.

Posted in cashews, Nut Allergies, nut research, Nuts and Health, Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments »

BEWARE THE CASHEW ALLERGY —-AND THE SECRET MANGO CULPRIT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on January 21, 2012

My husband has had a love affair with raw cashews for years and never had an allergic reaction to them. He’s also enjoyed mangoes and eats them with gusto whenever they’re in season. He’s nibbled on a couple of handfuls of cashews almost daily for years—that is, until now. Here’s an account of the surprising tale of the cashew allergy and the sneaky mango offender.

We traveled from our home in Los Angeles to the Philippines to visit our son who has been living and working there. Every day we feasted on the delicious and bountiful tropical fruits like longan, lanzones, jackfruit, pineapples, and the sweetest mangoes, ever.

Almost daily, we were enjoying those succulent mangoes with gusto and had them mainly for breakfast and occasionally for lunch. They were difficult to resist with their ultra silky smooth flesh and practically hairless texture. It was easy to cut into them and munch the flesh right off the mango seed.

One afternoon, my husband concluded his lunch with one of those irresistible mangoes, then, put on his socks and shoes for a fun outing that followed. Within an hour or two, he was scratching at his ankles that began to itch annoyingly. When he rolled his socks down to examine the cause of the itching, he saw a bright, red rashy area that practically encircled his ankles.

An internet search for mango allergy turned up a surprising bit of allergy information. Mangoes can, indeed, cause an itchy rash in sensitive people who handle the peel and eat the area directly under the skin. My husband remembered peeling the mango for lunch and made the connection that the mango residue on his hands came in direct contact with his ankles as he put on his socks. Fortunately, he was able to connect the mango to his itchy rash.

For several months our son had been suffering from an itchy rash that covered the upper portion of his body and his arms, but he could never find the cause. As the rash and itching worsened, he began taking medication to gain relief, but found little success. In an effort to trace the source of the problem, he began experimenting with different laundry detergents, lotions, and body-care items. He also began eliminating common foods known to be allergens, but nothing helped, until my husband’s dramatic mango reaction.

While we were together, our son also experienced a swelling and numb sensation in his lips and the area around his mouth. That symptom lasted for several days before subsiding. That, too, was mentioned in the research on mango allergy. The research was an aha moment for both my husband and our son who both swore off mangoes.

The rash on my husband’s ankles lasted for three weeks before subsiding. About a week after we returned from our Philippine visit, my husband resumed his handful of cashews and within an hour he began scratching his back. Sure enough, his back was broken out in a bright red rash that looked like slightly raised, individual red pimples–tons of them.

Then came another aha moment. That mango research mentioned the cashew family that includes cashews, pistachios, poison oak, poison ivy, and poison sumac. Now, both mangoes and cashews are off the menu for my husband and our son.

When we mentioned our mango experience to our other son, he told us he also experienced the numbness around his mouth and lips when eating mango. It appears there’s a heredity factor, so beware the cashew allergy and the hidden mango culprit.

Hopefully, my family’s rashy account may help solve a rashy mystery for others.

Posted in cashews, Nut Allergies, Nut Oddities, Nuts and Health, pistachios | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 124 Comments »

CASHEWS ARE IN–MAYO IS OUT!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 10, 2011

Potato salad is THE VENERABLE KING at summertime picnics, potlucks, and barbecues. Recently, though, I’ve noticed people take a pass on this old-time favorite, often saying something like, “Oh, I rarely eat potato salad–it’s not very healthy.” How sad for that wonderful bowl of delicious potato salad that can be transformed into a highly nutritious salad.

Sidestep the mayo, trade it for a highly nutritious cashew sauce instead, and you can still enjoy a delicious serving of potato salad at the barbecue. — Especially a potato salad enhanced with sweet potatoes, broccoli, fresh herbs, and a touch of vegan bacon. In an effort to lose the mayo, I devised an inventive substitute that’s actually good for you.

I just whipped up a combination of raw cashews and water in the blender until the mixture became a smooth and creamy sauce. Then, I slathered it on my yummy potato salad and tossed it all together. It’s really easy. You, too, can cashew up and savor every succulent bite of your awesome picnic or potluck treat.

Mayo vs. Cashew Sauce
What makes my cashew sauce more nutritious than mayonnaise? I actually made a comparison of the ingredients in mayo with those of the cashew sauce. It was a no-brainer–the cashew sauce came out on top, really.

Here’s the deal. Mayonnaise is composed mainly of vegetable oil, thickened with egg yolk, and flavored with a touch of lemon juice and salt. Vegetable oil has no protein, no fiber, no minerals, and no vitamins except for vitamin E. Other than Vitamin E, vegetable oil has no antioxidants, either. Vegetable oil is 100% fat. What it does contain is plenty of calories and fat. How about 120 calories and 14 grams of fat for every tablespoon! Yikes!

Mayo’s egg yolk content adds yet another health concern. If it weren’t for the 215 mg of cholesterol in each egg yolk, eggs might be healthful. But that 215 mg of cholesterol presents a challenge for those who struggle with high cholesterol.

Cashews are a Plus
Here comes the good part. Because they are plant-based, cashews contain zero cholesterol and are packed with protein and fiber. In addition, cashews are a storehouse of minerals including calcium, copper, iron, magnesium, manganese, potassium, selenium, and zinc.

Cashews offer healthy doses of vitamins B1, B2, B3, B5, and B6 in addition to high levels of folate, an important member of the B vitamin family that prevents neural tube defects in pregnant women.

Because I’m always blogging about the awesome antioxidant levels in nuts, I’m delighted to mention that cashews enjoy their share of antioxidants. Cashews are blessed with a variety of antioxidants from the vitamin E family like beta tocopherol, gama, and delta tocopherol. They also have a good measure of lutein and zeaxanthin, antioxidants that help lower the risk of heart disease.

If those little vitamin, mineral, and antioxidant gems from nature aren’t enough to turn you on to Cashew Kissed Potato Salad, here’s one more. Cashews, like all nuts, contain L-arginine. It’s an amino acid most people rarely think about, but they should because it’s so beneficial. Here’s why:

The inner portion of your arteries and blood vessels has a one-cell-thick lining called the endothelium. When you consume foods like nuts that contain L-arginine, the endothelium goes to work manufacturing and releasing nitric oxide. That’s the stuff that relaxes the arteries, allows them to dilate, and provides steady, uninhibited blood flow to and from the heart.

I hope I’ve lured you into at least trying a hearty serving of Cashew Kissed Potato Salad. Besides tasting ultra delicious and looking gorgeous, it’s actually good for you.

Potato Salad Comes to the Table
Typical summer entertaining usually centers on casual, outdoor gatherings that provide plenty of opportunities to share a favorite potluck dish like potato salad, or to invite friends and family over for an afternoon or evening of relaxed dining,

A simple, yet rich cashew sauce gives this potato salad its deliciously light coating and offers a pleasant diversity from the familiar mayonnaise base. When you need to bring more greens into the family meal, consider adding them to favorite dishes you know your family will enjoy. Broccoli and fresh herbs turn this summertime salad into a winning side dish, yet offer a chic, elegant, and irresistible way to boost nutrition.

Choose some old favorites, splash them with a dusting of creativity and plenty of colorful veggies, and you’ll come to the table with an extraordinary new dish. That’s exactly what I’ve done with this recipe for a simple potato salad that sparkles with flavor and nuance.

To make the potato salad super creamy, increase the cashew and water measurement to 3/4 cup each or simply double the amount to 1 cup each.

CASHEW-KISSED POTATO SALAD

Yield: about 8 servings

2 pounds White or Red Rose potatoes, with skin, cut into bite-size pieces
1 pound sweet potatoes or yams, peeled, cut into bite-size pieces

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, divided

1 large broccoli crown, cut into bite-size florets

1 large carrot, shredded
6 strips Lightlife Fakin’ Bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup finely minced fresh parsley
1/2 cup finely minced fresh mint leaves
1/4 cup finely minced fresh basil leaves
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper

1/2 cup raw cashews
1/2 cup water

1. Place the White or Red Rose potatoes and the sweet potatoes into separate 2 to 3-quart saucepans and cover the potatoes with water. Cover the two pans and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium and simmer for 4 to 5 minutes, or just until fork tender. Immediately, drain the water from each pan and add 2 tablespoons of the apple cider vinegar to each pan. Toss well to coat the potatoes, pour out the excess vinegar, and transfer both the white and sweet potatoes to a large bowl.
2. Rinse one of the saucepans briefly, fill it 2/3 full with water, cover, and bring to a boil over high heat. In batches, blanch the broccoli for 1 1/2 minutes, or until just fork tender, but still firm. Use a slotted spoon to remove the florets to a dish to cool. Drain any excess liquid and add the blanched broccoli to the bowl with the potatoes.
3. Add the carrot, Fakin’ Bacon, parsley, mint, basil, salt, and pepper.
4. Combine the cashews and water in the blender and blend on high speed until smooth and creamy. Add the cashew sauce to the potatoes and mix gently with a wooden spoon to coat all the ingredients. Adjust seasonings, if needed, and enjoy immediately or chill and serve later.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, cashews, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

 
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