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Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Cashews



Cashews:

About:

The cashew tree (Anacardium  occidentale) is a tropical evergreen tree that produces the cashew seed and the cashew apple.   Cashews belong to the same family as the mango and the pistachio nut.  The cashew seed often simply called a cashew is widely eaten on its own, used in recipes, or processed into cashew cheese or cashew butter.  

The cashew apple is a light reddish to yellow fruit whose pulp can be processed into a sweet astringent fruit drink or distilled into a liquor.  The shell of the cashew seed yields derivatives that can be used in many applications from lubricants to paints.  
Cashew nuts are actually the kidney shaped seeds that adhere to the bottom of the cashew apple, the fruit of the cashew tree.  
Cashews in shell are not available in the store.  This is because the nuts are always sold pre-shelled since the interior of the shells contain a caustic resin known as cashew balm, which must be carefully removed before they are fit for consumption.  The caustic resin is actually used in industry to make varnishes and insecticides.

History:  

The cashew tree is native to coastal areas of Brazil.  In the 16th century Portuguese explorers took cashew trees from this South American country and introduced them into other tropical regions such as India, and African countries, where they are now cultivated.  Today the leading commercial producers of cashews are India, Brazil, Mozambique, Tanzania, and Nigeria.  


Nutrition:

A 100 gram (3.5 oz.) serving of cashews provides 30 grams carbohydrates, 43.85 grams fat, 18.22 grams protein, and are a source of dietary minerals including copper, manganese, phosphorus, and magnesium, and of thiamine, vitamins B6 and K,  iron, potassium, zinc, and selenium.  Cashews contain 113mg of beta sitosterol.  Cashews are an excellent source of copper and a good source of phosphorous, magnesium, manganese and zinc. 

Health Benefits:

While high in calories, cashews are packed with soluble dietary fiber, vitamins, minerals, and numerous health promoting phyto-chemicals that protect from diseases and cancers.  Cashews are rich in "heart-friendly" monounsaturated fatty acids like oleic and palmitoleic acids, which help lower LDL(bad) cholesterol, while increasing HDL(good) cholesterol. 

Selecting and Storing:

Cashews are generally available in prepackaged containers as well as bulk bins.  As with other bulk foods make sure the bins are covered and the store has a good product turnover for maximum freshness.  Avoid product with evidence of moisture or insect damage, and product that is shriveled.  If possible smell the product to ensure it is not rancid.
Cashews should be stored in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator, where they will keep for about 6 months, or in the freezer, where they will keep for about 1 year.


   

So........ Eat up!  Enjoy!  I'll show you how.

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Simple but good:

Chicken with Cashews Stir-fry:

1 bunch scallions 
1 lb skinless, boneless chicken thighs
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper 
3 TBS  vegetable oil
1 red bell pepper, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1 1/2 TBS finely chopped peeled fresh ginger
1/4 tsp dried hot red pepper flakes
3/4 c. low sodium chicken broth
1 1/2 TBS soy sauce
1 1/2 tsp corn starch
1 tsp sugar
1/2 c. salted roasted whole cashews

Chop scallions separating white and yellow parts.  Pat chicken dry, then cut into 3/4 inch pieces and toss with salt and pepper.  Heat a wok or 12 inch skillet to moderate heat. Add oil and swirl to coat then stir-fry chicken   until golden and just cooked through (4 - 5 minutes).  Transfer to a plate.  Add bell pepper, garlic, red pepper flakes and scallion whites and stir-fry until peppers are just tender(5 - 6 minutes). Stir together broth, soy sauce, corn starch and sugar, then stir into vegetables.  Reduce heat and simmer stirring occasionally until thickened (1 - 2 minutes.  Stir in cashews, scallion greens, and chicken with any juices. 
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