Cashews: A Cheese Alternative for Vegans

Vegans can have a tough time finding food items that supply the protein and flavor they need in their diets, so look to cashews to do the job. Those who choose to eat animal products often sprinkle cheese into salads or pasta for an extra flavor kick and protein boost. Cashews can serve the same purpose, and even in a slightly more healthy way. Look to crushing up cashews and add them into meals you bake in the oven to given them that flavorful topping sensation. With the right strategy and creative integration of nuts like cashews into vegan meals, those who refrain from animal protein won’t have to miss out on flavor or energy.

A Solid Protein Addition

Avoid the roasted kinds of cashews, as they can often have additional sodium that detracts from the nutritional value of the nut. Look for raw cashews and then lightly toast them in a dry skillet if you’re looking for that extra crunch. One one-ounce serving of cashews has about 150 calories, 5 grams of protein and about 12 grams of fat, most of which is the healthy unsaturated form. That’s about a tenth of your recommended daily protein intake and a fifth of your daily fat intake. While the serving of cashews has slightly more calories and fat overall than a serving of Parmesan cheese, the cheese has much more saturated fat, about 5 grams compared to the nuts’ 2 grams. It’s also heavier in sodium and cholesterol.

Add Into Dishes

Cheese comes in handy for added protein, flavor and interest to food dishes that are typically rich in vegetables or other less filling food groups. People frequently sprinkle Parmesan, feta, Gorgonzola and goat cheese to pastas and salads for that purpose. Cashews’ both salty and sweet profile make them a food versatile enough to work as a substitute for cheese in all of these settings.

Add chopped cashews to tomato sauce for pasta to give it a more complex flavor. Toss them whole in pasta primavera style dishes. Add them to salads that run the gamut of flavor profiles and themes: from Asian style salads with pea pods, orange soy dressings, to Italian versions of salads with tomatoes, artichokes and light vinaigrettes.

Adopt Them for Baked Items

Melted cheese can be a delicious addition to many food dishes that you bake in the oven, such as casseroles and pizzas. While cashes won’t bring you the exact soft and gooey consistency that melted cheese does, they can be a tasty topping and add an interesting texture. If you already have a vegan casserole recipe, crush up a serving of raw cashews and sprinkle them across the dish for the last five minutes to create a crunchy crust for the food. Add roasted vegetables and crushed cashews to a pizza crust to make a vegan version of the cheese-heavy, but universally loved food.

Other nuts like walnuts and almonds can serve much the same flavor function and nutritional benefit, if you’re looking to mix it up a bit.


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