Here’s a dairy-free swap you’ll go "nuts" for.
Let’s face it: Heavy cream is an incredible ingredient. It makes soup taste luscious and pasta sauce taste rich and decadent. However, heavy cream is high in saturated fat—the type that’s tough on the heart.
Ingredients like heavy cream may be okay in moderation. That said, if you love adding that thick indulgence to your meals, here’s a dairy-free swap you’ll go nuts for: cashew cream.
So, What Is Cashew Cream?
Cashew cream is actually a pretty simple ingredient. You soak cashews to get them soft and luscious, and then blend them to make a silky puree.
Cashew cream is insanely versatile. You can make it sweet by adding things like vanilla extract, or you can make it savory by adding salt and garlic. Plus, you can make the puree a little thicker for a ricotta-like ingredient, or keep it a little thinner for a heavy cream substitute.
The Health Perks of Cashew Cream
Adding cashew cream to your culinary toolbox comes with a few health perks:
1. Heart-healthy fats
Heavy cream is high in saturated fat, which may raise bad cholesterol in your blood. Over time, a diet high in saturated fat may increase the risk of heart disease, according to the American Heart Association.
On the other hand, cashew cream mostly has unsaturated fat, which can actually help lower bad cholesterol. Swapping saturated fats with unsaturated fats in your diet may help reduce your risk of heart disease and stroke.
People often associate dairy products with protein, but heavy cream is an exception. It may vary from brand to brand, but heavy cream often offers no protein at all. However, cashew cream does, since cashews have 5 grams of protein per ounce.
3. Vitamins + minerals
Cashews are rich in micronutrients, including calcium, magnesium, iron, phosphorus, and potassium. In fact, cashew cream even offers more calcium than heavy cream.
How to Use Cashew Cream
Like mentioned earlier, cashew cream is crazy versatile. Here are possible ways to use it:
- For creamy frozen desserts (like this strawberry frozen yogurt)
- As a creamy base for heart-healthy dips
- To make silky plant-based pasta sauces
- For cholesterol-free salad dressings (like ranch or caesar)
- To make luscious pureed soups
- For a protein-rich frosting or creamy topping
- As a base for plant-based mac and cheese
- To make sour cream for dairy-free tacos or burritos
- As a creamer for your coffee
Need more tips for reducing saturated fat? Here are heart-healthy swaps for dairy.
- Heavy cream. Washington, DC: FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2019. (Accessed on July 7, 2020)
- Nuts, cashew nuts, raw. Washington, DC: FoodData Central, U.S. Department of Agriculture, 2019. (Accessed on July 7, 2020)
- Saturated fat. Dallas, TX: American Heart Association. (Accessed on July 7, 2020)