Friday, March 4, 2011

FRESH New Look and The Story of Cashews

I couldn't resist when I saw this design for the blog. I wanted to jump right into the laptop and start munching away. Hopefully it will get others drooling or at least thinking about fresh, living, raw foods.
I have been experiencing even more of the benefits of the raw living foods lifestyle lately and one of them is even more ENERGY! The last few nights I have been so wide awake and full of life that I can't go to sleep--let me re-phrase that, I don't even think about going to sleep because I feel so awake and energized. When I finally do retire I wake up feeling refreshed; something that never use to happen when I was eating a high amount of cooked foods. I use to wake up feeling more tired than when I went to bed, my eyes would be puffy, muscles ached so badly I had to almost hobble to the bathroom, and I felt like I couldn't even think straight. Not to mention that my head would be so jam packed with sinus pressure and congestion that I swore my head was going to explode. So why the change? Why so alert at night and full of energy? I think it may be due to the fact that I have increased my raw intake to the maximum possible. And I am eating an insane amount of fresh sprouts!!! As of right now the only things in my diet that may not be 100 % raw are what I would consider "condiments/flavorings". Things like Dijon, real maple syrup, vinegar, carob, and the occasional cashew.
Cashews are never truly raw no matter how many people want to believe they are. Not sure if there are companies out there that can steam them at temps lower than 110 degrees--that would be something fun to research.
 Cashews have to be steamed in order for the "nut" to be firm enough to remove it from the shell. Go figure--who would have known? I never knew the true story of cashews--like I said the other day, I am so grateful for the new knowledge I am acquiring as I maneuver through this journey to optimal health. I heard the true story for the first time at our last Meetup.

 The presenters at our Raw Living Foods Group Meetup explained why they do not use cashews in their recipes and substitute either pine nuts or macadamias whenever cashews are asked for in a recipe. That is what I will try to do from now on as well. It just makes good sense.
 Read this "Story of Cashews" and educate yourself about this amazing food, even if it is not raw-- it is still amazing. I have a recipe to share using cashews that is posted below, but in the future I will substitute macs or pine nuts--or better yet, hemp seeds!!
 The Story of Cashews
from The Nut Factory
The delightful cashew nut is loved by everybody. Cashews are a product loved by the wealthy nations and provided for by the poor nations. It is closely related to the Mango and Pistachio plants. Cashews are found growing on cashew trees or "bushes" near the equator. The cashew grows wild in brazil and in cashew plantations in India where the cashew was transplanted into a cashew crop.
The first western people sighting the cashew tree was by the Portuguese. They invaded Brazil in the 1500's. Portuguese seamen brought the seeds of the cashew nut tree from Brazil to be planted by the early settlers along the east coast of Africa. The trees took root and thrived. It was not long before cashew trees were growing wild along the entire coast of Mozambique. They spread to Kenya and Tanzania.
Uncared for and uncultivated, the ripe nuts were primarily harvested by the African natives. Later, they were sold to the Portuguese traders who in turn disposed of them to merchants who then shipped the nuts to India where they were shelled.
Cashew Apple +Nuts
Eventually, India grew their own cashew tree and the Kerala State (India) Cashew Association is now the largest exporter of cashews in the world. Forteleza, Brazil, ships the second largest quantity of cashews and the two areas represent over 80 percent of the world supply which is around 4 million cases (50 pounds per case). Africa is a distant third. The India crop harvests in May and the Brazilian crop harvests in October.
The Cashew Tree
Cashew trees flourish in extreme heat in the tropics and are readily found near the equator. The tree isn't more than 30 feet tall (like an apple or cherry tree) and often they are mistaken for bushes because the limbs spread easily, strike the ground, and reroot themselves. The trunk is gnarled and tortuous, giving the tree an unkempt appearance.
The Cashew Apple
The highly unusual cashew fruit consists of both a crab apple (called the cashew apple), and a kidney bean shaped appendage on the end of the fruit called the cashew nut. The apple is shaped like and is the same size as a pear; when ripe, it is a brilliant yellow, red or scarlet color. Like all fruit trees, a flower emerges and the nut grows from the center of the flower.
The receptor or "apple" is a later swelling between the flower and the nut - forming the cashew apple. After harvesting, the cashew apple keeps for only 24 hours before the soft fruit deteriorates. The cashew apple is not commercially important since it spoils quickly, but local people love the fruit. To harvest the nut, the ripe apple is allowed to fall to the ground where it is easily gathered by natives. The apple and nut are separated.
The gray/brown cashew nut hangs like a nose at the end of the cashew apple. The nut shell is 1-1/2 inches long and kidney shaped. The nut is found on the end closest to the cashew apple. The other end is honeycombed with cells. These cells contain a toxic resinous fluid called cardol that blisters the mouth. For many years, the cashew was referred to as the blister nut.
Inside the hard shell is a slightly curved white cashew kernel which is about 7/8 inches long and is wrapped in a thin brown skin called a testa which is removed during the processing. The cashew nut, therefore, has two shells - the hard exterior shell and the testa.
Processing the Cashew Kernel
There are two ways to remove the cashew shell, the inside fluid and the thin brown skin. Washing the raw nut in a water bath and storing it in moist heaps or silos for 12 hours makes the shells brittle as long as they maintain 7% to 10% humidity. The shell will rupture and liberate cardol fluid.
The older method is to roast the whole nut in shallow pans over an open charcoal fire with constant agitation. The process was used in native marketplaces and was dangerous and disagreeable. Shells burst, spurting the caustic fluid and releasing clouds of acrid fumes which blistered the skin. At the same time, the heat caused the caustic fluid to dissipate.
Modern extraction methods are to put the nuts in a large perforated cylinder which rotates at a declining angle above the heat. As the nut travels down through the roasting cylinder, the liquid flows from the shell and is collected in troughs and commercially sold. Some kernels get scorched because they become overheated near the bottom of the pile. These become second and third grades in quality. As the nuts emerge from their journey, they are water sprayed and set aside to cool and dry.
Nut cracking in small batches is done manually by native laborers. They place the nut on a hard flat stone and crack the brittle shell, hitting it with a wooden mallet.
The India Cashew Association Marketing Letter

This manual cracking results in many broken kernels which bring a lower market price. Cashews are graded on how white they are and how broken the kernel is. There are four color grades, four styles of break on the kernel and six sizes (or maximum number of kernels per pound).
1. is the whitest kernel and the best

2. is lightly scorched

3. is scorched and dark

4. is extremely dark and not in much demand
We purchase many grades and sizes because our customers have different needs. That's why the price varies as the nuts get larger and whiter. Whole sizes cost more than pieces. We buy the top grades of cashews - only the whitest and highest quality.

Zucchini Noodles with Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce
 Zucchini Noodles
1 zucchini, use vegetable peeler to make noodles
1 Roma tomato sliced thin, garnish
fresh cilantro, garnish
Garlic Cashew Cream Sauce
1 cup cashews, soaked (but really use macs/hemp/or pine nuts:)
1 garlic clove, inner stem removed, skin left on
1 tsp Pink Himalayan salt
1 T raw honey or 1 pitted date (optional)
1/3 C or less of spring water (for blending)
2 T fresh cilantro
1 tsp fresh lemon juice
fresh ground black pepper
~Blend all of the above ingredients in a small bullet-type blender until creamy smooth.

Raw Asparagus with GCCS
So now I know the truth and will never be fooled by labels that say "Raw Cashews". You must know the source of your foods, so you can be sure of what you are putting into your body. I have learned in life not to take another person's word as the final answer, I must research for myself and then compare notes and make up my own mind about what is true or not. That can be applied to all aspects of life; educate yourself and be amazed at what you can discover.
So what do you think of my new look?? I really like it and hope you do too.
Peace and RAW Health! elizabeth
~JMJ~Today I am grateful for three little warm snuggle bugs that crawled into my bed this morning. What a great way to wake up!!


Carrie said...

I love your blog look, very fresh and healthy! Do you order your cashews online or where do you find raw ones?

Mr. H. said...

I really like your new blog look, very nice. I found the information on cashews to be interesting as well...I would have never guessed at how they were processed, fascinating. That cashew cream sauce sounds delicious.

Elizabeth said...

Hi Carrie,
Thanks for stopping by and for your comment. I buy cashews locally at our organic market but they are not raw--no cashews are actually "raw" to my knowledge. I have seen people selling some called, "Truly Raw Cashews" but I do not know what temp is used to steam those??? Therefore can't be sure if they would be considered a raw food item. I am not going to worry about it and instead will substitute macs/hemp/or pine nuts in recipes.
Peace and Raw Health,
Hey Mr. H,
Thanks for your comments today!! Have a good weekend.
Peace and Raw Health,

kelli said...

love the new look!

Catherine said...

Fascinating! I will do the sub from now on too! No wonder I did not feel so good when I ate cashews!

Cynthia said...

Great info thanks for sharing and I had no idea that we not raw!!

kt said...

Gorgeous new look- I love all the vibrant veggies.

I'd heard that info about cashews, but I'm content with mixing my diet up with a little unraw from time to time. I agree with you though, I do feel incredibly light and energized when I'm eating primarily raw.

jess c. said...

Thanks for your comment on my blog! I'm loving looking around your blog and I need to try some of these great recipes! macadamia cheeze sounds great! Thank you for the education on cashews, I had no idea!

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