If you’re going to call something a “superfood,” it’s got to have a super power. And for cashews, it’s shape-shifting.
Those little curled nuts aren’t just good as a crunchy, poppable snack (though they’re great that way). Chopped cashews can add crunch and nuttiness to salads and noodle bowls. They can add structure to no-bake desserts. As a nut butter, cashews provide a unique flavor that give sandwiches and sauces a new kick. Blended, cashews are the base for many of the “cheese-like” vegetarian options available. And they’re even available as a milk, like almond milk, for another low-calorie option on your cereal.
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And, of course, they are also super healthy. They’re loaded with fat, but it’s the good kind: Cashews, like other nuts, offer monounsaturated fatty acids, which have been shown to control blood pressure and reduce fat around the belly, according to research published on the U.S. National Library of Medicine. They are also an excellent source of copper, according to the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, which helps your body absorb iron and then works with the iron in your diet to help form red blood cells, and magnesium, a mineral that aids in blood pressure and blood sugar control, according to the National Institutes of Health.
But be careful! Because they’re fatty, they are also calorie-dense. A quarter-cup of raw nuts has 180 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). So make sure you measure them out if you’re snacking.
Better yet, measure those cashews to use them in one of these five delicious recipes:
1. 5-Ingredient Banana Nut Muffins >
You don’t need cabinets bursting with ingredients to be a scratch baker, and you don’t have to coat your countertops in flour, either: Using bananas, rolled oats and cashews, these crunchy nut muffins can be made with just five simple ingredients. Make a double batch on Saturday to share with the family, and you’ll have enough to take one to work each morning for a warm, microwaved breakfast that’s filling and (easily) homemade.
If you love the cool-and-tangy flavor of a slice of key lime pie—and who doesn’t?—but you want to stay on plan, these energy balls are your ticket to the islands. With cashew pieces to add some crunch and protein to the flavors of key lime, graham cracker and almonds, you can just open the fridge and pop one for a cool, creamy cruise to palate-pleasing paradise—all without the guilt.
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That’s not a typo. “Zoats” are made by adding shredded zucchini to oats for your morning meal—which sounds … different. But the squash adds volume and nutrients to the meal without bumping up the calories, so you get more to fill up on without filling out, and the flavor of the zucchini is masked by the other ingredients you add to the bowl. Flavors like cashew butter, vanilla and banana are used to make a caramelized banana bowl for a sweet, filling start to your morning.
Cashews bring structure to these balls, and dates pump up the sweetness, but the blueberries steal the show. Those little antioxidant powerhouses are more concentrated in these energy balls than in a blueberry granola bar, offering a snack that’s just as portable and satisfying, but with fewer calories.
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You don’t have to wait for December to enjoy the taste of gingerbread. Cashew butter makes this simple, no-bake fudge recipe so creamy it’ll melt in your mouth. And prepared in a silicone ice cube tray, it’s portion controlled, so you’ll never have to worry that you’re overindulging.
Read more: leaf.nutrisystem.com