Meet my hiking partner:
As a soup lover, the long spring is just an excuse to extend "soup season" (actually, any reason is a good enough reason to extend 'soup season'..... year round!). When I started dabbling with a gluten free/dairy free/refined sugar free diet about two years ago, I thought I would never be able to spend a meal with my favorites ever again (namely pizza: another post, another time). However, sticking with my philosophy that I don't have to give up anything to have everything, I knew this couldn't be true. I was right.
Say hello to my little friends:
That's right. The cashew.
Health benefits of Cashew nuts
- Cashews are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, and minerals and packed with numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals; that help to protect against diseases and cancers.
- Cashews are rich in energy and nutrients. They are rich in “heart friendly” monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids. Research studies suggest that Mediterranean diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids helps to prevent coronary artery disease and strokes by favoring healthy blood lipid profile.
- Cashew nuts are very rich source of minerals like manganese, potassium, copper, iron, magnesium, zinc and selenium. Eat just a handful of cashew nuts every day to avoid minerals deficiencies. Selenium is an important micro-nutrient which functions as co-factor for antioxidant enzymes such as Glutathione peroxidases, one of the most powerful antioxidant in the body. Copper is a co-factor for many vital enzymes, including cytochrome c-oxidase and superoxide dismutase (other minerals function as co-factors for this enzyme are manganese and zinc). Zinc is a co-factor in many enzymes that regulate growth and development, sperm generation, digestion and nucleic acid synthesis.
- Cashews are also rich in many essential vitamins such as pantothenic acid (vitamin B5), pyridoxine (vitamin B-6), riboflavin and thiamin (vitamin B-1). These vitamins are essential in the sense that our body requires them from external sources to replenish and essential for metabolism of protein, fat and carbohydrates in the body.
- The nuts are also containing good amount of Zea-xanthin, an important flavonoid antioxidant, which selectively absorbed into the retinal macula lutea in the eyes. It is thought to provide antioxidant and protective light-filtering functions, help prevent age related macular degeneration.
The little miracle workers. I use cashews for more than God ever intended: milk, ice cream, whipped cream, salad dressing.... heck, you can make yogurt out of the little guys! Most importantly though- soup. Russian Potato Soup was one of my favorites growing up, and I'm not even Russian (to be honest, I'm not sure the soup is Russian either). It took me a little while, a little experimenting, but creamy soup is BACK! And better than ever! I assure you, dairy-eaters can't even tell the difference. Vegan. Delicious. Amazing. So, without further ado...... I give you my version of Russian Potato Soup.
Russian Potato Soup
2-4 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee
2 organic leeks, chopped
2 organic leeks, chopped
2 large organic carrots, chopped
6 cups veggie broth
2 tsp dried dill (or 4 tsp fresh)
1 bay leaf
7 cups organic potatoes, diced
1 pound organic mushrooms (4 cups), chopped
1/2 cup cashew pieces
1/4 teaspoon arrowroot powder (or corn starch)
Salt and Pepper, to taste.
Directions: In large kettle saute leeks and carrots in 2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee, 5 minutes or until soft. Stir in 4 cups broth (or enough to cover all the veggies, add more as necessary), dill, salt, and pepper, bay leaf, and potatoes. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes (until the potatoes are cooked). Remove bay leaf. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute mushrooms in 1-2 Tbsp coconut oil or ghee until golden. Add to soup. Put cashew, arrowroot powder or cornstarch (or gf flour) into Vitamix (or blender) with remainder of broth. Blend on high (if you need more liquid, scoop some out of the soup pot). Add cashew cream to soup. Cook until cashew cream is fully absorbed into soup. Enjoy!