Last weekend I made three different dishes – all of them nut-based. It wasn’t planned that way, it just came to be. I thought it would be neat to post them as a trilogy.

Take it from the gal who hails from Kerala in southern India where over 60% of the world’s cashew exports originate. One of my relatives in Quilon owned a cashew plantation. There would be an endless stream of salted cashews emerging after a swim in hot ghee headed straight to the dining table. Every time you sauntered past (which was suspiciously often), you grabbed a handful. No one seemed unduly worried about becoming fat. They just got a bit nuttier, perhaps. And happier.

Although nuts are known to provide a variety of cardio-protective benefits, many avoid them for fear of weight gain. A prospective study published in the journal Obesity shows such fears are groundless. In fact, people who eat nuts at least twice a week are much less likely to gain weight than those who almost never eat nuts.

The 28-month study involving 8,865 adult men and women in Spain, found that participants who ate nuts at least two times per week were 31% less likely to gain weight than were participants who never or almost never ate nuts.

And, among the study participants who gained weight, those who never or almost never ate nuts gained more (an average of 424 g more) than those who ate nuts at least twice weekly.

Study authors concluded, “Frequent nut consumption was associated with a reduced risk of weight gain (5 kg or more). These results support the recommendation of nut consumption as an important component of a cardioprotective diet and also allay fears of possible weight gain.”

One of the dishes I planned to make last weekend called for cream, the other needed yogurt. Right now, the dairy-free options in the grocery store are soy yogurt and cultured coconut milk. I was looking for something with a neutral flavour that could be made easily at home.

A search for “Cashew Yogurt” brought up a crazy concoction from The Spunky Coconut using cashews, gelatin and probiotic capsules.

Since I’m drawn to crazy like a moth to a flame, I dug out a bottle of capsules appetisingly labelled “Phillips’ Colon Health Supplement” from my vitamin drawer and set to work.

Ingredients: L. acidophilus, B. bifidum, B. longum, potato starch, gelatin and silicon dioxide.

It claims to have 1.5 billion cells per capsule. The gelatin makes it non-vegan, but vegan probiotics are easy to find.

I forgot to replace the gelatin with agar agar (china grass/kanten powder) as planned. The gelatin in the original recipe is meant to emulsify the liquid so that it doesn’t separate during fermentation.

The accident proved serendipitous as the thick part of the “yogurt” floated to the top, leaving cashew “milk” at the bottom. I spooned it out to get a luscious “sour cream” that was only mildly tangy. It worked fabulously in both my recipes. This is going to be a staple in my kitchen.

CASHEW “SOUR CREAM” and CASHEW “MILK”

Normally, for nut milks, I’d follow THIS RECIPE. In this case, the “milk” is a by-product of making the “sour cream”. I increased the proportion of nuts to water to make it creamier.

Yield: About 2 cups each cashew “sour cream” and cashew “milk”.

1 cup broken or whole raw cashews
6 probiotic capsules

**probiotic powder may work too – half tsp or thereabouts.
2 cups filtered water to soak
3 cups filtered water to blend

Soak cashews in about 2 cups of filtered water for 4 to 8 hours. Drain, rinse a couple of times and blend to a smooth paste with 1 cup filtered water.

Heat the remaining 2 cups filtered water until uncomfortably warm (not really hot) and add it to the cashew paste. Stir it and check if the whole mixture is lukewarm (between 90 and 95 F). If not, wait until it is just barely warm.

Open up the probiotic capsules and add the powder to the warm cashew liquid. Stir well, cover and leave to incubate in a warm place. I left it in my Salton yogurt maker overnight.

In the morning, it had risen a bit and neatly separated into a very thick creamy mass (like mascarpone) at the top and a thinner liquid at the bottom.

I carefully spooned the thick part out into a bowl and poured the liquidy bit into a jug.

It was only mildly tart. Leaving it to set for longer will yield a tarter sour cream, or add a dash of lemon juice. I left it the way it was. This “sour cream” works very well in lieu of cream, yogurt or mascarpone in a recipe (I’m not sure if it can be whipped, though).

The cashew “milk” is great over cereal or in smoothies.

CASHEW “YOGURT”

Yields about 4 cups.

Follow the same recipe as above. When you heat the 2 cups of water, bring it to a boil. Add about 3/4 tsp agar agar/kanten/china grass powder or 2 tbsp of agar agar flakes to the water and let it dissolve.

Add this to the cashew paste and blend. Let the mixture cool down to between 90 to 95F (lukewarm).

Add the probiotic powder and proceed. The agar agar powder will emulsify the liquid and prevent it from separating into “cream” and “milk”.

For a tasty treat, scoop some cashew “sour cream” or “yogurt” into a bowl, mix in a dash of vanilla extract and top with fruit or a drizzle of raw honey.

- b.

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23 Comments

  1. Tanvi says:

    Interesting post!You’ve created such a healthy & fresh version of spreads with raw cashews.
    Simply awesome!

  2. A says:

    This almost crosses the coockoo line for me..
    Doesnt it feel like the healthy eating craze has gone to unnatural limits (albeit using natural ingredients!) Who eats this stuff? Surely dont remember having such a yogurt, milk etc ever in circulation…
    Not hating, just wondering if it makes any sense.

    • jai bee says:

      it’s a matter of perspective. i, for instance, feel eating white rice is ridiculous. so is eating sugar. it doesn’t make any sense.

    • Raina says:

      What makes even less sense is humans consuming the milk of another mammal. Pigs don’t drink horses’ milk. Camels don’t drink sheeps’ milk. Adult mammals don’t drink milk at all.

      But humans think it’s “normal”, not just for adults to drink milk, but to get it from another mammal. Strange.

  3. Alexa says:

    What a great post Bee!
    My girls are having major issues with dairy so these recipes will great for them. Thanks!

  4. TexasDeb says:

    Now now now, everybody, let’s not start getting all judgy wudgy here. Bee, you are proving yourself to be quite the innovator. What a great help the internet can be when taking that slightly less trodden path.

    Love the shot with the nuts and probiotic capsules in the dish sans its bowl. So clever but then precisely what regular readers have come to expect. And then the echo of color from the pitcher lid to the coaster beneath in the other shots. You’ve really got it going on this post. Always inspiring on so many levels.

    • jai bee says:

      Thanks Deb. What people don’t realize is that many of the terms that they use are very relative…very perspective specific. What is normal? What is natural. What is tradition? What is culture? Asked for a definition, you’ll often hear mumbled fumbles. Is refined “white” sugar natural? Surely it is not synthetically manufactured, but that is not what we’d call natural food. But then, to each their own. Throwing pot shots is easy, being creative, as Bee often is, is certainly not.

      -Jai

      • A says:

        Jai –
        I can see Ive hit a nerve and its sweet of you to step up like that.
        Im not judging as Deb suggests, although I know you’d jump to any support you’ll get right now.
        No I dont think white rice and sugar is normal and sure we all are entitled to our perspectives. Ive been a regular to your blog and have often enjoyed it. My gut reaction to this post was what it was – and still is. A bit much I still think to go this far – but hey! its your creativity (if thats waht you call it).
        Enough said from me…

        • jai bee says:

          A,
          You have hit no nerve. We’ve had really bizarre and truly inflammatory comments before, yours is relatively more respectful – almost thinking out loud. We don’t really moderate comments as many bloggers do. We welcome input and constructive criticism as that actually engenders discussion. However, as we have noted in the past, this journal started as a record for us and remains to be so. We try many things and post things that we may try again. If we won’t, then we mention it in the post. If the post benefits others, then it is a bonus. As far as “Who eats this stuff?” WE do. So much for not intending to pass judgment. If you haven’t seen something before it doesn’t mean much, as everything needs to be tried for the first time by somebody.
          -Jai

        • jai bee says:

          your input is welcome. i understand your gut reaction ‘cos it’s the same way i feel about dairy. :)

          i’m just wondering if you think aloud at other sites about weird recipes with sugar and white rice (since you concur that it’s not ‘normal’ to consume stuff stripped of flavour and nutrition).

          - bee

          • bloghopper says:

            Bee, Come now, dont get mean:) You have a few recipes on your website that include dairy. Pray, why would your gut reaction be the same ?

          • jai bee says:

            bloghopper, come now, don’t be passive-aggressive. :)

            gut reactions alter along with perspectives.

          • bloghopper says:

            Jai, you can argue all you want. Just recently, there was post on the shallot chutney, that featured dairy. I find it hard to beleive that the “gut” reaction would change so quickly. It can for the sake of an argument, and thats what I see happening here. Peace, I dont see the need to extend this any further.

          • jai bee says:

            Bloghopper,

            wrong on two counts…
            1) you should direct your grievances to Bee
            2) that recipe has (to quote from the post) -”Just shallots, chillies, oil and salt. ”

            i have no problems with dairy (Bee does). I can consume tubs of ghee, blocks of cheese, loads of paneer, quarts of icecream etc etc..

            Hope that helps.

            Jai

          • Jan says:

            I Love this argument.You are right,perspective differs.Unlike all your other vegan attempts , I can’t seem to digest the idea of nut (Ha!) “yogurt”..what with the use of probiotic capsules and all ! Having said that , I have to give it you for being so creative. I love your blog and have recommended it to many for the sheer amount of good health information you post.(I was going to send you an email regarding certain question I have..will do soon.)

  5. Lakshmi says:

    That would be one tasty trilogy! Its great you come up with such innovative recipes

  6. shoba says:

    Stumped!! Cool !!

  7. [...] Nut Trilogy 1: Cashew “Yogurt”, “Sour Cream” and “Milk” [...]

  8. Kay says:

    Well, from a person who can’t eat milk and craves yogurt, I’d say this stuff is dreamy!! I’m so going to try this.

    As for the creativity part – if people hadn’t thought out of the box and played with food creatively, we’d still be eating raw meat! I’m so glad and thankful that there are a lot of creative folks around that I get yummy stuff to eat!

  9. Sunita says:

    I agree with kay, what would we ever do without creativity? Nothing is wierd or abnormal, just ‘different’, that’s all.

    This recipe has got me thinking ;-)

  10. Scrumptious says:

    What a great recipe series! I’ve been making cashew cheese and loving it, and I’d love to expand to making yogurt. Coconut milk and soy milk are both tooth-achingly sweet for me and I can’t stand to use them in any kind of savory recipe. How do you think cashew yogurt would do for raita?

  11. Wow, wonderful creativity – never heard of anything like this before. As usual fantastic shots and write-up.

    PS: Love the banter on your comment section ;)



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