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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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NUT MILKS ARE NOT APPROPRIATE BABY FORMULA!!!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 12, 2013

Over the years posting nut information on this blog, I’ve noticed the items that receive the most response are those that discuss nut allergies and some of the allergic reactions people have experienced from consuming nuts.

I usually address these by replying to comments people post on the blog. However, I recently received an email from a concerned Mom of a 13-month-old boy. This caring mom was breast-feeding her son for 9 months until she became pregnant and lost her milk supply.

Apparently, she turned to a cow’s milk formula and became concerned when her son developed a nasty diaper rash that would never clear up. She suspected the child may have an intolerance and sensitivity to dairy and began preparing various nut milks for him, one day making almond milk, almondmilkw:pitcheranother hazelnut, or macadamia milk using 1 to 2 cups of nuts to 4 cups of water.

She read my blog post on Brazil nuts and the many many comments people wrote in discussing their unpleasant reactions caused by the nuts and decided Brazil nuts were not a good idea for nut milk. I totally agree with that decision.

almondmilk bottleWanting to be sure her son was getting enough of the proper fats and nutrition in his diet, she began to question whether nut milks in general were an appropriate substitute for baby formula. She was adamant she did not want to return to cow’s milk formula and asked me if I had any resources she could research for proper baby/toddler diets.

Because this issue is so important to the healthy growth of her young child, I knew I was not qualified to address this with the wisdom it needed. I turned to my friend Vesanto Melina, MS, RD who kindly answered my call for help.

Articles180Here’s what Vesanto wrote:

“This family should definitely be using fortified nondairy milks–not nut milks for their little boy.

Fortified soymilk or infant formula are the only cow’s milk alternatives recommended before age 2
as these have enough calcium and vitamin D (and other nutrients) which nut milks made from nuts do not.

She should not be afraid of soy; the anti-soy hype comes from the dairy industry-related folks and is unfounded.

If she is concerned and does not want to use soy or dairy I could do a consultation with her
and figure out some options that work and are entirely nutritionally adequate for her son.”

If you or anyone you know might be struggling with a similar issue, registered dietician Vesanto Melina would be happy to consult and can be reached at her website Nutrispeak.

Some parents of infants may have read articles about soy that suggest it is an unhealthful food. Addressing this topic, Julieanna Hever, MS, RD, CPT, writes in her book The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Plant-Based Nutrition, “The media have propagated concerns about soy’s effect on Julieanna Heverhormones. You may have heard how soy consumption decreases fertility or gives a male ‘man-boobs.’ But no solid evidence supports these assertions.

“Similarly, fears circulated that soy-based infant formulas led to problems with sexual development, brain function, immunity, and future reproduction. No conclusive evidence supports these claims, either. Most experts are confident in recommending soy-based formulas.”

Because of its purity, several vegan moms recommend Baby’s Own Organic soy formula made for babies 1 year or older. This formula contains no GMOs and is the only formula that does not contain corn syrup, also called glucose syrup. It also does not contain ingredients like organic palm olein oil or hexane processed DHA.

Nutritional Comparison Chart -Soy Pediatric Formula is an excellent chart comparing the nutritional profile of several soy formulas with human breast milk and cow’s milk.

The important issue with nut milks is they do not contain the proper balance of nutrients to takealmonds & glass the place of breast milk or properly designed soy formulas.

Becoming Vegan bookIn their book Becoming Vegan, authors Brenda Davis and Vesanto Melina, both registered dieticians write, “The rationale for using formula in the 12-24 month period is that commercial formulas are modeled after breast milk and thus include most of the nutrients provided by breast milk (with the exception of long-chain omega-3 fatty acids) in amounts that are especially suited to the growth and development needs of infants.”

Most parents are aware that for feeding infants, there is no true replacement for the many benefits of breast milk. Dr. McDougallJohn McDougall, MD, extolls the virtues of breastfeeding in his Dr. McDougall’s Moments video, calling it the best and safest food for babies. In his video, he tells his audience that breast milk is always the perfect temperature, it’s clean, comforting, and is always free.

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Improving the Digestibility and Absorption of Nuts

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on August 27, 2012


I’m delighted to add this guest post by a person who knows nuts like few of us do. Jerry Henkin is a nut grower from New York. As a member of the Northern Nut Growers Association (NNGA) he takes an active role as their librarian and works to build and maintain the organization’s holdings. Jerry is also Vice-President of the New York Nut Grower’s Association (NYNGA).

NNGA held their annual meeting where Jerry gave a presentation based on his well-researched article below. He was generous enough to allow me to share the article on the NutGourmet Blog. You can contact Jerry at sproutnut@aol.com

Nut Nutrition: Improving the Digestibility and Absorption of Nuts by Soaking
By Jerry Henkin, NYNGA Vice President
August, 20, 2012

As growers of nut trees, we seek to produce the best nuts we can grow for consumption by people. There is also an interest among farmers who raise livestock, especially sustainable agriculture and permaculture practitioners, in using nuts as forage for animals. All of us should know about the healthful qualities of nuts for our own well being. We should eagerly share this information with others when promoting nuts.

Since the inception of the Northern Nut Growers Association in 1910, only 1% of the articles in the Annual Report and The Nutshell magazine have dealt with the nutritional aspect of nuts. Though I am not a professional nutritionist, I have learned a great deal from studying scientific reports on nutrition that deal with nuts from NNGA literature and from the following organizations: The Food and Research Program, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada; Loma Linda University; the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University; the University of Scranton; Children’s Hospital, Oakland Research Institute; Penn State University; the University of Missouri; and the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University. I wish to thank Dr. Barry Kendler, a Professor of Nutrition at the University of Bridgeport, in Connecticut, who has helped me organize my presentation on nut nutrition.

I want to tell you what I learned about the health benefits of nuts and then describe a simple technique to increase the nutritional value of nuts by soaking and drying them.

Nuts are highly nutritious

Raw nut kernels (without salt, and not roasted in fatty oils, or “honey roasted”) are excellent sources of fiber, proteins, and the`” good fats” (monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats). They contain an abundance of antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals. Since each kind of nut has a different percentage of these healthful ingredients, it’s a good idea to eat a variety of nuts: pistachios, different species of walnuts, macadamia nuts, almonds, pecans, hickory nuts, pine nuts, hazelnuts, and chestnuts. Acorns are edible, as well; those of you who attended last year’s meeting in Utah heard Howard Manning speak about the tradition of the Native Americans in California leaching acorns to remove the tannic acid. They then pound the nuts into a meal.

Nuts are concentrated energy foods. Mountain climbers, Arctic explorers, and average hikers carry a portable sack of nuts and dried fruits along with water. Captain Reid Stowe took in-shell hickory nuts on his record-breaking 1,000 day sea voyage. (I should know because I supplied them to him along with mung beans for sprouting.) While nuts are high in calories, just eating a handful – about 2 ounces, or roughly 1/4 cup – 5 days out of the week is sufficient to bring you the health benefits that nuts can offer. Nuts do need to be chewed thoroughly for their healthful properties to be used by the body. They should not be eaten after a heavy meal because that could lead to weight gain. Nor should a bowlful of kernels be left on the coffee table in front of the TV during the football season.

Lifestyle plays a role in health
Eating nuts is not a guarantee of good health: some of the other factors that come into play are our genetic inheritance; the amount of exercise we do; our lifestyle choices and stress level; and the negative factors like smoking and being overweight. But the scientific studies cited at the end of this article indicate the health benefits that can accrue from a regular diet of nuts: They strengthen the immune system, lower cholesterol, and protect the body from viral invasion and tumor growth. They can lower the risk of colon, breast, and prostate cancers. Moreover, eating nuts on a regular basis has been shown to reduce the risk of Type II diabetes. They can lower stress levels. Nuts also reduce the risk of high blood pressure which can lead to cardiovascular diseases. Walnuts and pecans, especially, which are high in antioxidants, reduce the damage caused by free radicals. Almonds and peanuts should be eaten with their skins because they, too, contain high levels of antioxidants. Nuts may even play a role in maintaining healthy sexual function in men.

Chestnuts have special health benefits
Chestnuts, unlike other nuts, are a significant source of Vitamin C. They are also rich in vitamin B6, Thiamin, Riboflavin, Folate, and Niacin. Chestnuts have the highest percentage of carbohydrates which has given them the nickname, “the runner’s nut” because they increase the body’s ability to cope with stress. An article in the NNGA Annual Report in 1987, by G.P. Abide, describes how to make chestnut chips as a commercial product. Chestnut flour is another value-added product. Mr. Abide advises nut growers to “be in line with current consumer trends favoring healthful foods.” How much more true that advice is now than 25 years ago.

We need to advise our customers and friends who eat nuts to store them in the refrigerator, and not leave them out on the kitchen table with a cracker and a pick, as inviting as that might sound. Nuts in the shell maintain their flavor longest. Most nuts can be stored in the freezer for years.

Some words of caution about eating nuts: There may be insect larvae within the shell. Also, nut kernels may turn rancid after a period of time if improperly stored. The oils within the kernel will spoil, causing the kernels to look yellowish and waxy. So look at the nuts you’ve just cracked out of the shell for insect infestation; feel them and smell them for signs of rancidity. If you’re cracking out nuts instead of buying the nuts already shelled, make sure to eliminate all shell materials – black walnut fragments can crack a tooth; tiny shell pieces can lodge in between teeth.

Nut allergies can be serious

A very small percentage of the population of the United States is allergic to tree nuts and/or peanuts. Some people can die if they consume even minute quantities which might have been added as an ingredient to other food products. In 1964 George Borgstrom wrote an article in the Annual Report calling for nut breeders to develop cultivars that would eliminate the allergens that cause such severe reactions in some people. To my knowledge, no one has taken up this challenge. Please let the NNGA know if this breeding work has been done.

Nuts enhance the dining experience
Now for the delicious part: nuts enhance the flavor and texture in bland foods like chicken, cabbage, salad, green beans, vegetable soup, waffles, pancakes, and muffins. While vegetarian restaurants have long served simple dishes using nuts, elegant restaurants have recently been offering pistachio crusted salmon, hazelnut stroganoff, and chocolate-chestnut trifle. Nuts can be added to milkshakes and made into nut milks and nut butters. The Native Americans of Virginia pounded hickory nuts into a paste, soaked them in water, and then used the “cream” as a delicacy. They also fermented this mixture to make a liquor.

Nuts are a food staple
Dr. John Harvey Kellogg, a major contributor to nut research in the early 20th Century, pointed out that nuts have double the nutritive value of lean meat, pound for pound. Yet the land required to produce nuts kernels is half that required to raise livestock. Kellogg believed that nuts should be a food staple, and not just a snack. He used nuts extensively as meals to his patients at the Battle Creek Sanitarium in Michigan. In an age of horrible practices in meat slaughterhouses and packing plants, Kellogg said in 1916 that “the nut is sweeter, cleaner, healthier, and cheaper than any possible source of animal product.”

Marion Nestle, a noted nutrition activist, has continued Kellogg’s vision of a world where people eat healthy food. She said that one in seven people on the Earth in 2012 is hungry. She feels that the global food crisis will continue in the U.S. and abroad in cost, volatility, and availability.

In her books, Nestle links malnutrition and hunger with social problems. One approach, she believes is to encourage food co-ops as an alternative to “Big Food” because they are community-based and value-based. Therefore, they must sell clean, healthy, nutritious food. Here is all the more reason, I believe, to plant and care for nut trees now, so that we will have a supply of one kind of healthy food in the future. J. Russell Smith was one of the most outspoken proponents of this idea, which he advocated in his book Tree Crops, A Permanent Agriculture.

Soaking nuts enhances their nutrition
I’m now going to describe a simple method to increase the nutritional value of nuts which everyone can do as long as they have access to clean water. Barbara Mendez, a licensed pharmacist and nutritional consultant, and Zel Allen, the author of several books on healthy eating, have both written articles on the health benefits of soaking nuts. The process calls for soaking raw nut kernels in water for several hours. The kernels should be the freshest you can find. The soaking period varies from 7 to 12 hours, depending upon the density of the kernel, but cashews should be soaked for no more than 6 hours.

After soaking the kernels, use a paper towel to pat them dry. Then, to return the kernels to their natural crispiness, dry them in one of several ways:

1. Roast them in the oven, or a counter-top toaster oven, at 150° to 170° F. for 15 to 20 minutes
2. Place them in a pan and let them dry over the pilot light of a stove for 12 to 24 hours, depending upon how long you have soaked the nuts
3. Use a food dehydrator set at 118° F. for about 7 hours.

During this period, the kernels increase their antioxidant and phytochemical capacity because soaking releases some enzyme inhibitors. This makes the nuts easier to digest. Tannins are removed from walnuts, making them taste sweeter. Soaking nut kernels also allows the body to absorb and use this food, instead of passing kernel pieces rapidly through the body. In effect, you are maximizing the nutritional value of your food when you follow this process. Note that this method reconstitutes nuts whose moisture levels have been previously reduced. They are therefore best eaten within two days.

After you’ve done this for a while, you’ll know the best soaking and drying times for nuts. Since each batch of nuts is different, don’t be afraid to experiment with the soaking and drying times to produce the healthiest and most delicious nuts you can.

List of Sources
Abide, G.P., et al., “Chestnut Chips: A Possible Option for Chestnut Processing”, NNGA (Northern Nut Growers Association) Annual Report 78:12 – 14, (1987)
Allen, Zel, The Nut Gourmet, Nourishing Nuts for Every Occasion, Book Publishing Co, 256 pages, 2006, especially “Amazing Health benefits in a Nutshell”, pp. 16 – 19
Allen, Zel, “Nuts – the Delicious Path to Good Health”, The Nutshell, Volume 62, Number 3, September, 2008, p. 16
Allen, Zel, “To Soak or Not to Soak – It’s a Nutty Question”, MNGA (Michigan Nut Growers Association) News, Fall, 2011, pp. 7 – 8
Bixby, Willard G. [NNGA President], “Resolution Adopted by the NNGA, Inc.”, September 14, 1929, NNGA Annual Report 20:158 – 159 (1929)
http://bodyecology.com/articles/how_to_eat_and_not_eat_almonds.php, “How to Eat and Not Eat Almonds”, November 9, 2006
Borgstrom, George, “Nuts in Human Food – A Critical Appraisal”, NNGA Annual Report 55:60 – 64 (1964)
Cajorie, F.A., “The Nutritive Value of Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 10:80 – 87 (1919)
Cao (Tsao), Roon, “Nutritional Data from Heartnuts”, NNGA Annual Report 98 (2007)
Chen, C.Y. and Blumberg, J.B., “Phytochemical Composition of Nuts”, Asia Pacific Journal of Clinical Nutrition, 2008:17 Supplement 1:329 – 332
Chestnut, V.K., “Primitive Manufacture and Use of Acorn Meal”, NNGA Annual Report 8:43 – 45 (1917)
Downs, Albert A., “Trees and Food from Acorns”, NNGA Annual Report 40:177 – 179 (1949)
Greiner, Lois, “Marketing Naturally Nutritious Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 77:10 – 12 (1986)
Higdon, Jane (2005), [update, Drake, Victoria J., 2009], “Nuts”, Linus Pauling Institute, Oregon State University, 2012
International Nut Tree Council, “Go Nuts Go Healthy”, 11 pages, 2001
Kellogg, J.H., “Advent of Nuts into the Nation’s List of Staple Foods”, NNGA Annual Report 8:46 – 58 (1917)
Kellogg, J.H., “The Food Value of Nuts”, NNGA Annual Report 7:101 – 113 (1916)
Kellogg, J.H., “More Nuts, Less Meat”, NNGA Annual Report 21:57 – 65 (1930)
Kellogg, J.H., “Nuts Need as Supplementary Foods”, NNGA Annual Report 11:83 – 92 (1920)
Kendall, C.W., et al., “Nuts, Metabolic Syndrome and Diabetes”, British Journal of Nutrition, 2010 August; 104(4)
Kendler, Barry S., “The American Diet and the Need for Dietary Supplementation”, Nutritional Perspectives: Journal of the Council on Nutrition of the American Chiropractic Association, October 2010
King, J.C, et al, “Tree Nuts and Peanuts as Components of a Healthy Diet”, Journal of Nutrition , 2008 September; 138(9):1736S-1740S
Li, L, et al. “Fatty Acid Profiles, Tocopherol Contents, and Antioxidant Activities of Heartnut (Juglans ailanifolia Var. cordiformis) and Persian Walnut (Juglans regia L.), Journal of Agricultural Food Chemistry, 2007 Februray 21:55(4)
Lombardini, Leonardo, “Phytochemicals and Antioxidants in Pecan”, NNGA Annual Report 99 (2008)
Lovell, John D. and Norton, Julia A., “Food and Horticultural Psychology in Relation to Nut Growing”, NNGA Annual Report 74:119 – 123 (1983)
Malinsky, Alex (aka RawGuru), “ ’C’ is for Chestnut and Vitamin C”, Natural News.com, January 26, 2011
Mendez, Barbara, “Soaking Nuts and Seeds for Maximum Nutrition”, The Nutshell, Volume 66, Number 2, June 2012, pp. 12 – 13
Moree, Shiro, “Health, Nutrition, and Nuts: In a Nutshell”, The Nutshell, Volume 61, Number 1, March, 2007, pp. 24 – 28
Nut Gourmet Blog, May 11, 2011, “Go Nuts Over Antioxidants”, MNGA (Michigan Nut Growers Association) News, Summer, 2011, pp. 11 – 16
Skylles, J. Trevor, “The Nut Crops of Turkey”, NNGA Annual Report 62:70 – 76 (1971)
Smith, J. Russell, Tree Crops, a Permanent Agriculture, The Devin Adair Co., 1953, especially Chapter XV, “Nuts as Human Food”, pp. 202 – 205
Spaccarotella, K.J., et al., “The Effect of Walnut ntake on Factors Relating to Prostate and Vascular Health in Older Men”, Nutrition Journal, 2008 May 2:7:13
Stafford, W.E., “Use of Nuts by the Aboriginal Americans”, NNGA Annual Report, 14:57 – 59 (1923)
Talbert, T.J., “Nut Tree Culture in Missouri”, NNGA Annual Report 41:134 – 135 (1950)
University of California at Berkeley Wellness Letter, “Nuts to You”, The Nutshell, Volume 51, Number 2, June, 1997, pp. 1 – 2
Villarreal J.E., L. Lombardini, and L. Cisneros-Zevallos,” Phytochemical Constituents and Antioxidant Capacity of Different Pecan [Carya illinonensis (Wangenh.) K. Koch] Cultivars”, Food Chem. 102:1241-1249, 2007
Vinson, J.A. and Cai, Y., “Nuts, Especially Walnuts, Have Both Antioxidant Quantity and Efficacy and Exhibit Significant Potential Health Benefits”, Food Function, 2012 February 3; 3(2)
Young, Robert O., “Eating Nuts May Prevent Cancerous Lungs and Prostate”, presented at the American Association for Cancer Research, Frontiers in Cancer Prevention Research Conference, Houston, Texas, December 6 -, 2009; reference: http://ivanhoe.com/channels/p_channelstory.cfm?storyid=23047

Posted in almonds, Antioxidants in Nuts, chestnuts, Minerals in Nuts, Nut Allergies, Nut Growing, Nut History, Nut Nutrition, Nut Organizations, nut research, Nut Studies, Nuts and Health, peanuts, pecans, Uncategorized, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

CHOCOLATE PASTA SAUCE? A NUTTY IDEA!

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

Combining two dynamically healthful foods–walnuts and chocolate–seemed like a wildly awesome idea, but then, what to do with those two items that end up as a truly original dish — one that almost jumps off the plate and starts to sing.

Walnuts and chocolate already meet up in a ton of cookie, cake, muffin, and dessert recipes. So I had to take that great little duo on a totally new journey into the unknown. That started my crazy little brain thinking about a savory dish, rather than one that’s sweet.

An idea blossoms
I had just bought a big bag of tomatoes and was planning to make a traditional Italian pasta sauce for dinner. Then–click–on went a buzzer. A sizzling idea was arriving! Before long it took shape–and yes–the idea sounded like a possibility–admittedly, a crazy possibility. The idea was so potent I could barely control its compelling tug.

No use fighting the urge, so off I went to the kitchen and began to assemble a delicious, from scratch, homemade pasta sauce with chocolate. Yep, that’s the nearly uncontrollable idea that mentally dragged me into the kitchen and forced me to make pasta sauce with–OMG really?– chocolate.

The traditional pasta sauce itself is actually rather easy and tasty, but not extraordinary. What is exceptional is the addition of chocolate–unsweetened chocolate–the kind one uses in baking. The finishing touch was the coarsely ground walnuts that added not only divine texture, but also a wealth of wholesomeness to the dish.

The ultimate fork test
The scrumptious result was a beautiful, sable-hued pasta sauce with such depth of flavor it simply stood out as irresistibly delicious. Looking at the sauce, no one would ever guess it contained chocolate. Not even tasting the sauce would reveal its secret ingredient. The chocolate is simply hidden within the delectable molecules and oozing with savory richness.

So NutGourmet fans, serve this pasta sauce with gusto–and don’t let the secret out of the bag! It’s ours–just ours, and we’ll keep it that way!

NUTTY CHOCOLATE PASTA SAUCE

Yield: 4 to 5 servings or enough for 1 pound of pasta

3 pounds tomatoes, chopped
1 large onion, diced
1 head garlic, finely minced
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
Freshly ground pepper

1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
1 to 1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 cup coarsely ground walnuts

1.Combine the tomatoes, onion, garlic, olive oil, oregano, and pepper in a large, deep skillet. Cook and stir over medium high heat for about 5 minutes. Decrease the heat to medium and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 15, or until the tomatoes are well broken down and the onions are soft.

2.Add the chocolate and stir continuously for about 2 minutes, or until it is completely melted and thoroughly incorporated. Add salt to taste and cook another 10 minutes to blend the flavors.

3.Just before serving, stir in the walnuts and mix well. Cook another minute and serve.

Note: And don’t forget the Homemade Vegan Parmesan. Scroll down on the page past kale salad recipe.

Posted in Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, Vegan Blogs and Websites, Vegan Websites, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments »

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: , , , , , , , , , , | 15 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: , , , , , , , , , | 116 Comments »

GARLICKY CHESTNUT BUTTER #2

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on December 9, 2011

It must be in my genes to tinker with a recipe. It frustrates my sweet, perplexed husband who tells me the recipe is perfect just the way it is. Still, I tinker, either to improve the flavor, the texture, or the health benefits.

In this case, my effort was to see if I could eliminate the olive oil from the previous posting of Garlicky Chestnut Butter and reduce the fat and calories. My concern was whether the chestnut butter would still retain its awesome flavor?

Mission accomplished with success! In this second version, the process is the same but the oil is gone and replaced by water. The result is a lighter, creamier chestnut butter with wonderful flavor. Of course, the fresh chestnuts I used are naturally sweet. I ordered them from two chestnut growers: Girolami Farms and Correia Chestnut Farm, both located in Northern California.

The recipe is super easy and shows off fresh chestnuts at their best. The chestnut season is very short. Most groceries won’t have them available beyond Christmas or New Years. Next trip to the market, buy some fresh chestnuts, cook them using the step-by-step directions below the chestnut butter recipe, and enjoy a luscious, sweet, buttery spread.

Garlicky Chestnut Butter #2

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

1/3 cup chopped onions
2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 cup water
1 1/4 cups cooked and peeled coarsely chopped chestnuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 small sprig parsley

1. Combine the onions, garlic, thyme, and 1/4 cup of the water in a skillet and cook and stir over medium-high heat for about 3 to 4 minutes or until the onions are softened. Add a few tablespoons of water as needed to prevent burning.

2. Transfer the mixture to the food processor, add the chestnuts, salt, and the remaining 1/4 cup of water and process for 1 or 2 minutes until smooth and creamy. Spoon the Garlicky Chestnut Butter into an attractive serving bowl, garnish with the parsley, and provide a spreading knife.

Posted in Celebrations, chestnuts, Cooking and Peeling Chestnuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

TO SOAK OR NOT TO SOAK—IT’S A NUTTY QUESTION

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on September 7, 2011

I’ve often been asked whether it’s necessary to soak nuts before eating them. Is soaking a waste of time or does the process offer nutritional benefits? I thought it would be helpful to provide both views and let people decide what works best for them.

Frequently raw fooders soak nuts in preparation for assembling a recipe like nut milk, nut butter, or nut cheese. Soaking makes nuts softer and creamier and enhances the texture of many raw dishes. I’ve provided a section in my cookbook, The Nut Gourmet, that covers soaking nuts, but this fun and informative blog gives me the opportunity to share the simple process with anyone searching for this information on the internet.

Soaking nuts offers several health benefits. The simple process of soaking nuts for several hours works like magic to increase their antioxidant and phytochemical capacity because soaking releases some enzyme inhibitors.

Some people have difficulty digesting nuts and eliminate them from their diet. They needn’t miss out on the healthful benefits nuts offer because a few hours of soaking does wonders—Soaking is the prelude to the sprouting process and releases enzymes that inhibit the digestibility of nuts. Soaking nuts also helps to break down their macronutrients. Protein, fats, and carbohydrates are broken down into digestible components, turning protein into free flowing amino acids, fats into fatty acids, and carbohydrates into simple sugars, essentially predigesting them.

After soaking for several hours, nuts become very soft and lose their crunchiness. To return them to their natural crispness, dry them with paper towels or a kitchen towel and dehydrate them for several hours at a temperature between 110 and 115 degrees F. Alternatively, you can roast them in the oven. To preserve their valuable vitamin E and antioxidant flavonoid and polyphenol contents, place the nuts on a baking sheet and dry roast them at 150 to 170 degrees F. for 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the nuts to a dish to cool, and taste their exceptional flavor and pleasantly crisp texture.

Not everyone has problems digesting nuts. For those who do, soaking is definitely helpful. However, soaking adds to extra steps before one can actually eat the nuts. In today’s busy world, few of us are looking for extra processes in order to prepare our foods. I’m a from-scratch cook, but I, too, shun extra steps when they’re not needed.

For most of us with the ability to digest nuts without difficulty, we can reap the multitude of health benefits of eating nuts raw or roasted without soaking. Mother Nature has made a perfect ready-to-eat food that’s packaged in protective shells. Within those protective shells are a storehouse of minerals, heart healthy vitamin E, fiber, protein, and a mountain of antioxidants and phytochemicals. Nuts are a healthy, nutrient dense food that studies have shown to reduce the risk of heart disease when eaten in small quantities like one to two ounces daily. Fortunately for us busy folks, nut processors have also saved us the labor by shelling the nuts and putting them into convenient packages.

Nuts are freshly harvested in the fall and are so much tastier and moist than they are by the end of summer. For the holidays, I like to buy a variety of fresh nuts in the shell and put them in a bowl with several nutcrackers. Guests who visit my home during fall and winter have one nut-cracking good time and enjoy a heart-healthy, highly nutritious treat in the process.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Uses, Nuts and Health | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | 6 Comments »

WALNUTS & KALE LOVE ME–AND YOU TOO!

Posted by Zel Allen's nutgourmet on July 30, 2011

I love walnuts! Walnuts and I are great friends who enjoy each other’s company often in a multitude of delicious ways.

I also love kale, and I know I’m certainly not alone–lots of people love kale. Turns out both walnuts and kale love people, too! Those rich and crunchy nuts and dark, chewy, greens are packed with antioxidants–lots of antioxidants.

Don’t’ ever worry about getting too many antioxidants. It’s practically impossible to do. In fact, most people don’t eat enough of them and suffer health challenges.

To reap walnuts’ and kale’s wonderful antioxidant benefits, pair them up, and turn them into a fabulous salad!

Deliciously nutty and oh! so tasty, this salad is a winning combination of fresh flavors, pleasing textures, and a healthful nutrition boost. A very tasty, delicately sweet Zesty Cilantro Dressing tames the somewhat bitter bite that makes walnuts and kale off-putting to some. The bonus surprise is that this salad is an excellent keeper and tastes just as fresh and charismatic next day.

WALNUTTY KALE SALAD WITH ZESTY CILANTRO DRESSING

Yield: 4 servings

1 bunch fresh kale

3/4 cup Zesty Cilantro Dressing (Recipe below)

2 to 3 medium carrots, coarsely shredded
3/4 cup toasted walnut pieces
1/2 cup black raisins
1/3 cup golden raisins

1. Wash the kale thoroughly and cut or tear away the tough center rib. Tear the kale into bite size pieces, discarding any smaller tough ribs will that make the salad difficult to chew. Place the kale pieces into a large bowl.
2. Pour the Zesty Cilantro Dressing over the kale pieces and use your hands to mix and massage the dressing into the leaves, coating completely.
3. Add the carrots, walnuts, and raisins and toss well to distribute all the ingredients evenly.

Zesty Cilantro Dressing
1 cup lightly packed coarsely chopped fresh cilantro
1 cup water
8 pitted dates, snipped in half
1/2 cup cashews or macadamias
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 garlic cloves
3/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon lemon pepper
1/2 teaspoon guar gum or xanthan gum
Pinch cayenne

1. Combine all the ingredients in the blender and blend at high speed until they are fully pureed and the dressing becomes smooth and creamy.
2. Use a funnel to pour the dressing into a narrow-neck bottle for easy serving. Use immediately or chill and use later. Shake well before serving. Refrigerated, the dressing will keep for 1 week. Makes about 2 cups.

Posted in Antioxidants in Nuts, Nut Nutrition, Nut Recipes, Nuts and Health, walnuts | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

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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