Fun with Cashews
OK, so we just came off 10 days with Dr. Mark Hyman’s Detox Diet. Pretty simple! All you have to cut out is sugar, flour, wheat, corn, dairy, grains, fruits and fruit juices, legumes, starchy vegetables, and the will to live. That leaves protein (now in the 4-ounce fun size!), non-starchy vegetables, and existential angst.
Just kidding. It really wasn’t bad. And I dropped seven pounds in 10 days, so I would be nuts to complain.
Speaking of nuts, I have had opportunity to get acquainted with many of them in the last ten days. Walnuts, pine nuts, almonds, and cashews, primarily. And if you are one of those people who insists on pointing out that cashews are not a nut, but rather a seed–you are both correct and tiresome. Go away.
Now that I’m off, I’m keeping on. There’s another ten pounds to shed before I can fit into my smaller jeans, the ones I could wear for about 20 minutes ten years ago. They’re just like new!
Anyway, the challenge on any restricted diet becomes finding interesting things to eat, because you have to prepare virtually everything you are allowed to put into your mouth. No more just slicing some cheese (forbidden!) and putting on crackers (forbidden!) or apple slices (don’t even think about it! Oh so forbidden!). Now, everything requires forethought.
I hate forethought. So I invent things to eat that can last me four or five days. Tonight, it was cashew-based asparagus/leek soup.
I didn’t really invent this. The basic recipe was on the back of the carton of chicken stock. But I had to pull out all the fun stuff, like flour, cream, and butter, and put in the weird stuff, like cashews. Then add my own selection of spices. It worked.
So here, by popular demand, is the recipe I improvised tonight. I should warn you going in that I don’t measure, so you’re going to have to deal with a certain degree of vagueness. Feel free to make your own adjustments, since you are eating this thing, not me. Unless you invite me over, in which case, very civil of you.
OK, here goes.
Cover 10 oz. raw cashews in water in a blender and set aside as you prep and cook the veggies.
Veggies: 1 leek, 1 bunch asparagus, 1 red onion. Slice small for soup and saute in a bit of olive oil, covered.
As they soften, add some organic chicken stock. I’m using Kirkland brand, no need to get too fancy. If you’re a purist, you might prepare your own, but who has that kind of time?
You could make this soup completely vegan by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock. You could also put a bean up your nose. I don’t recommend either.
Uncover the pot and continue adding stock to cover the vegetables. Let it simmer a few minutes. Toward the end, add some fresh chopped cilantro.
Now it’s time to blend the cashews. Make sure the top is firmly on the blender, or you will end up with a stunning new motif for your ceiling. Liquefy. The result should be creamy.
Now gradually stir in the cashew cream to the simmering pot. If it gets too thick, thin with more chicken stock. If you are partial to sherry, now is a good time to add that in. I am not, so I did not. Nothing should get over a simmer from here on out.
Once everybody is nice and cozy and well-acquainted, it’s time to add some spices. I used salt, cayenne or white pepper, garlic powder (sparingly), paprika, and tarragon. Proportions are up to you, and don’t say I didn’t warn you about this. But don’t skimp on the tarragon.
After spicing, stir, cover, remove from heat, and let sit about ten minutes. Readjust seasonings if necessary. If you are using prepared stock, the entire cooking process takes about thirty minutes.
You’re done! You’re welcome.