How to Make Cashew Nut Milk & Why You Should!

28597920_UnknownThe other night I was woken up with a horrible cramp in my right leg. I rarely get cramp so it’s a painful shock when I do. I decided I needed magnesium, which is necessary to prevent tight muscles, and while we normally use almonds or tiger nuts for homemade milk (see Nut & Seed Milks & Smoothie Recipes), yesterday morning it was cashew nuts I turned to for their magnesium content (see Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough?).

I like cashew milk, the blended cashew pulp is so fine, smooth and creamy, if you press too hard it all starts to come through the straining bag; in fact, many people prefer not to strain it at all.

Homemade cashew milk is much better nutritionally than commercial nut milk: many manufacturers add thickeners, gum, sugar and so on, and the levels of protein and other nutrients are a fair way behind those in homemade milk.

Cashew nut milk is lactose- and cholesterol- free, contains calming and relaxing magnesium, iron, calcium and several other vitamins and minerals as well as healthy fats. It also contains tryptophan an amino acid that enables the production of serotonin, which is mood-enhancing.

We make our plant milks in a Froothie Optimum blender (pictured above). It is fast, easy to use, can handle ice cubes and is super-easy to clean. The Retro Fast Blend* (featured in the photo below with its partner the Retro Cold-Press Juicer* ) also makes nut milk, but is smaller so we use the Optimum for larger quantities.

Here’s our version:

Vegan, Organic, Gluten-free.

1 Cup Cashews (we use broken pieces, they are cheaper), soaked overnight and soaking water discarded

3 Cups Water

1 Medjool Date (optional)

1/4 Tsp Vanilla Extract

Pinch of Pink Himalayan Salt

(The date and salt help preserve the milk so it keeps for 3-4 days in an airtight jar or bottle in the fridge).

Add them all to a high-speed blender and blend on high for about 60 seconds.

Strain through a nut milk bag or a piece of muslin into a large jug or use as it is.

Store in an glass jar or bottle in the fridge. We use these funky easy-grip bottles from Grip and Go

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For breakfast, the cashew milk was used to make a gorgeous Frozen Mango Chia Pudding – see next post for recipe!

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See also Magnesium-Rich Hippy Hippy Shake

* You may like to read Retro Super Blend – Review,  Which Juicer? – Where to Begin?, and Juicemaster Retro Super Fast Juicer: Review for information on blenders and juicers we have tried and currently use.

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Purple Carrot Powerhouse Juice

Here’s the final juice recipe in my mini series on the health benefits of Purple Carrots.

Full of antioxidants, anthocyanins – the memory boosters that give blueberries their superfood status – soluble fibre, vitamins and minerals, this juice is a nutritional powerhouse.

The carrot greens contain protein, calcium, magnesium and potassium, the broccoli contains calcium and folate – a mood enhancer – while the sweet potato also has essential fatty acids, B vitamins and Vitamin A.

Purple carrot greens have 6 times more Vitamin C than orange ones!

See Ever Had Purple Carrots? (Juice Recipe Included) for a full nutritional breakdown and the health benefits of eating purple carrots and purple foods in general.

Perfect for an energy booster and pick-me-up!

Ingredients

4 Purple Carrots, scrubbed

1 Sweet Potato, scrubbed

1 Apple

1 Pear (the harder the better)

Small Handful Carrot Greens, washed thoroughly and chopped

1/2 Small Wax-free Lemon, scrubbed, peel left on

3″ Broccoli Stem

Begin with carrots and sweet potato, then the lemon and broccoli, lastly put the carrot greens through between pear and apple to get the most juice from them and help prevent the greens clogging the juicer.

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PS If you like the Grip and Go Glass Bottle, here’s the link (can’t help you with the flowers, though!):

http://www.gripandgo.co.uk/

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Golden Linseeds (aka Flax Seeds): The Original Superfood?

The latest post in my mini-series Essential Vitamins and Minerals (see Menu).

imageI was asked if I would write a post about Golden Linseeds as I often use them in my recipes. They are the lighter coloured of the 3 versions of flax seeds – being a golden colour they are commonly known by that term.

They are one of my favourite things to add to smoothies, protein bars and energy balls, fruit and yogurt, muesli, gluten-free bread and so on. I’ll provide some recipe links later on.

A few facts first:

The flax plant grows easily, producing small pale blue flowers, and produces pods of seeds that have been consumed by humans for over 6000 years.

Organic are best, to avoid any potential toxicity, buy them whole rather than in powder form and grind them a little in a coffee grinder or nut and seed grinder, a jarful at a time, and keep it in the fridge. Don’t over do it or the heat will damage them and turn them rancid. Grinding releases the oils and makes the nutrients more accessible. (The most effective way to have them is soaked and sprouted, this removes phytic acid – present in nuts and seeds – which can bind to minerals in the body, and releases even more nutrients, but I haven’t tried this yet).

They have a pleasantly mild, slightly nutty, malty taste. I love them!

(To view the slideshow, click onto the blog).

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Linseeds are one of the most nutritious foods available, being rich in Protein (3 Tbsps = 6g), Fibre, B1, Manganese, Selenium, Vitamin E and especially the Omega-3 Fatty Acid Alpha-Linolenic Acid (ALA). They are the richest plant-based source of this essential fatty acid, so good for vegans and vegetarians.

In particular, they are one of the best sources of Magnesium, necessary for preventing muscle cramps, for lifting mood, restful sleep, and a healthy gut – see my post Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough? for further information about this essential mineral that many people are defficient in.

Linseeds are also a good source of B6, Iron, Potassium, Copper and Zinc as well as Folates, which help prevent neural tube defects in the foetus if consumed prior to conception and in early pregnancy.

The healthy oils in linseeds are beneficial for healthy skin, hair and nails – try adding 2 Tbsps of seeds or 1 Tbsp of flaxseed oil daily to smoothies to benefit.

1-2 Tbsps of flaxseed oil can help improve acne, eczema and roseacea as well as help reduce symptoms of dry eye syndrome.

 People with Crohn’s or other digestive problems often find some relief when consuming linseeds as they are anti-inflammatory and can reduce gut inflammation. They are also gluten-free.

The anti-inflammatory nature of linseeds is also thought to aid in weight loss. Try adding 2 Tbsp of ground linseeds daily to your diet. They help you feel full for longer and aid the elimination of waste, which otherwise is held onto by the body and causes inflammation.

Finally, linseeds are packed with anti-oxidants called lignans. They are anti-aging and hormone-balancing, can help reduce menopausal symptoms and reduce the risk of osteoporosis as well as help regulate menstruation. 1-2 Tbsps of seeds plus 1 Tbsp of oil daily are recommended. These anti-oxidants are also antiviral and antibacterial and can help reduce the number and severity of colds.

Oh, and Dr Axe* recommends 1-3 Tbsps of flax oil and 8oz of carrot juice for the relief of constipation!

I think that just about covers everything.

(Linseeds like chia seeds can be used as egg replacement in vegan cooking when mixed with water).

As with all similar high fibre foods (chia seeds, for example), be sure to drink plenty of water and other liquids.

We buy our golden linseeds from Buy Wholefoods Online and Suma Wholefoods

As promised here are some links for recipes containing these little specs of nutritional gold:

Omega-Rich Plum & Blueberry Smoothie

Camilla’s Homemade Crispbread

Dipped Naked Tiger Nut, Mango & Orange Treats

 *https://draxe.com/10-flax-seed-benefits-nutrition-facts/

http://www.nutrition-and-you.com/flax-seed.html

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Easy-Peasy Vegan Cheesy Cashew Sauce or Dip

imageThere are times as an ex-cheese addict when you just have to have something vaguely resembling a cheese sauce or dip, with pasta or crudités or sweet potato chips for instance. Here is a simple basic recipe that you can adapt with your own flavours, making it more spicy if you like eg with chilli flakes, cayenne, garlic and so on. You can make it as thick or as thin as you want, depending whether you prefer a pouring sauce or a thicker dip.

Cashew nuts are an excellent source of magnesium – a mineral in which most people are deficient, see my post Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough? – protein and B vitamins. Nutritional Yeast is a good vegan source of protein with B vitamins and can be used to give a cheesy flavour to sauces, soups, pasta and so on. Some brands have B12 added, it’s a useful vegan source of this important vitamin (see B12: What Is It & Do We Need To Supplement It?). I use Marigold Foods’ Engevita with added B12.

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All ingredients are organic, measurements approximate.

Ingredients

1 1/2 Cups Cashew Pieces, soaked for a couple of hours more or less, then strained

3 Tbsps Nutritional Yeast

1/4 to 1/2 Cup of Water

A Squeeze of Lemon Juice, more or less according to taste

Slice of Raw Onion, chopped or a couple of Spring Onions, sliced

1/4 Tsp English Mustard

Pink Himalayan Salt and Ground Black Pepper to taste

Paprika or Cayenne Pepper

Method

Blend cashews, nutritional yeast, mustard, water, lemon juice until smooth

Add onion, salt and pepper, blend again either until smooth or with a bit of texture if you prefer

Sprinkle with Paprika, Chilli Powder or Cayenne Pepper

Good with Sweet Potato chips (fries), veggie burger and salad in place of mayo!

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Copyright: Chris McGowan

Magnesium-Rich Hippy Hippy Shake

(It has hemp seeds in it – Hippy? Get it? 😉)

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This shake is like a medicine chest in a glass: rich in magnesium as well as calcium, potassium, omega oils, protein, vitamins and healthy bacteria. It tastes good too! 

Many people are very deficient in Magnesium, which can have serious effects on our bodies from insomnia to chronic fatigue, muscle cramps to migraines, palpitations to chronic inflammatory diseases. For more information on Magnesium Deficiency and Magnesium-rich Plant-based Foods, see my post Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough?

Coconut can help the body absorb Magnesium, Calcium and other Vitamins, thereby maintaining healthy teeth, as well as supporting thyroid function and speeding up the metabolism.

The cultured bacteria in live yogurts help balance the gut and intestinal micro-organisms to aid digestion and support the immune system.

All ingredients are Organic and Gluten-Free.

Ingredients

1 Small Ripe Banana

Handful of Blueberries

Handful of Cashews

1 Heaped Tbsp Gluten-Free Oats

Small to Medium Glass of Cashew Nut Milk (home-made if possible), depending how thick or thin you like it

1 Tbsp Coyo Coconut Yogurt

1 Tbsp Cashew Nut Butter 

1 Tbsp Sunflower Seeds

2 Tbsps Raw Organic Shelled Hemp Seeds*

Optional: 2 Probiotic Capsules* (I open them up and sprinkle them in)

Blend and add a few blueberries on top.

*http://www.therawchocolatecompany.com

*http://www.juicemaster.com

These 1960’s Hippies seem to like it and are still going great guns! Have fun!

Copyright: Chris McGowan

Magnesium: Are You Getting Enough?

Do you remember those old adverts for Milk of Magnesia, sold in attractive cobalt blue glass bottles? It was sold as a remedy for indigestion and constipation.  Indigestion is a common complaint these days and is just one of many symptoms of magnesium deficiency – along with constipation – a deficiency that can occur through consuming a highly processed diet based on refined flours and sugars. This happens in two ways: firstly, the refining process strips the whole foods of their magnesium content and secondly, magnesium is stripped from the body in having to process all those refined foods.

Do you also recall the age-old advice to have a drink of hot milk at bedtime to help you sleep? Milk is one source of Magnesium, an essential mineral which helps your muscles relax and therefore helps promote a good night’s sleep. (There are many plant-based sources too and I’ll provide a list below and see also my Magnesium-Rich Hippy Hippy Shake).

Did you know low levels of magnesium can be a contributory factor in mild depression?  A couple of handfuls of cashew nuts is said to have the equivalent effect of one dose of Prozac on mood and mild depression due to the high levels of magnesium, tryptophan and B6? (This is the subject of some debate, please do not stop taking medication without consulting your doctor).

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So, Could You Be Deficient?

Many people are considered to be deficient in magnesium and you may be too even if you consider that you eat reasonably healthily. Our soils are more depleted of natural magnesium nowadays and we often lead both physically and psychologically stressed lives – stress being a major factor in magnesium depletion in the body.

We drink more caffeine and phosphates in fizzy drinks which both increase excretion of magnesium and bind to it, which prevents absorption of this important mineral.

Certain medications increase excretion of magnesium via the kidneys, for example, diuretics, heart and asthma medications and birth control pills, while alcohol is also a diuretic.

People over 55 years old tend to eat less and have less efficient digestive systems, so they may be particularly prone to deficiency.

Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency include:

Muscle cramps, Poor Sleep, Anxiety, Fibromyalgia, Headaches and Migraines, IBS, Irritability, Palpitations, Chronic Pain, Chronic Fatigue, Acid Reflux, Constipation, Bloating.

Magnesium deficiency is considered a major factor in causing Chronic Inflammation, believed to be the cause of many of today’s chronic conditions. Magnesium also aids bone health as it improves Calcium absorption.

Are you getting enough?

The Recommended Daily Allowance for Magnesium is currently around 300mg for women and 400mg for men, but this is considered by many to be on the low side and it is expected that these will be increased in the near future.

The following is a list of Magnesium-rich plant-based foods:

Green Leafy Vegetables

Wholegrains

Nuts – especially Cashews

Potatoes

Garlic

Sunflower Seeds

Hemp Seeds

Kelp

Millet

Figs

Dates

Avocado

Beans

Hard Tap Water.

See my magnesium-rich Hippy Hippy Shake recipe!

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It is best to get your magnesium from food sources rather than supplements.

NB Some medications interact adversely with magnesium eg thyroid and diabetes medications as well as some antibiotics. People with kidney damage should also avoid magnesium supplementation. Do not reduce or stop any medication without consulting your doctor.

Copyright: Chris McGowan