cashew sour cream… and some thoughts on calcium

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Sour cream made from cashews… sounds cool, right?

But why not just use regular sour cream and save myself the trouble? Why is everyone trying to avoid dairy these days? Milk has been part of our diets forever! This must be another one of those hippie food trends, like avoiding gluten. And if I cut out dairy, where do I get my calcium?

This used to be my train of thought, until a few years ago when I decided to change several areas of my life, my diet being one of them. I’ve always been health conscious, but it never occurred to me to cut animal products from my diet until I began researching plant-based eating, and decided that 1) my body simply didn’t need meat or dairy, and that 2) I would actually be healthier without them. Not to mention, I would also be contributing in a way that was kinder to animals and our environment.

Initially I went vegan, then “downgraded” to vegetarian, and have since decided to drop the labels, which tend to carry a little more judgement than I’m personally comfortable with. On rare occasions, I still eat a turkey sandwich or have one of my step dad’s famous Italian meatballs, but I fully believe that meat and dairy are unnecessary and do more harm than good to our bodies and our impact on the world around us.

I don’t worry about getting enough protein or calcium, and based on my blood work and how I feel, I know that I am. This article explains it well:

“Like iron, magnesium, and copper, calcium is a mineral. It is found in the soil, where it is absorbed into the roots of plants. Animals get their calcium by consuming these calcium-rich plants. So even though we are all conditioned to believe that calcium comes from milk and dairy products, the real source of calcium richness is the earth. No wonder that a whole-food, plant-based diet has plenty of calcium.”

It’s also true that the amount of calcium we ingest is not equivalent to how much we absorb. The calcium in plant foods is more bioavailable. For example, we absorb about 30% of the calcium in a cup of milk, but the absorption rate from kale and broccoli is closer to 50-60%. Therefore, a plant-based diet may be lower in total calcium intake, but much higher in absorption due to better quality.

Okay, enough science.

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Cashew sour cream is much easier to make than I anticipated; it’s simple and it tastes great. I’ve used it on veggie chili, tacos, and chips and salsa. And it more than meets the requirements: rich and creamy, slightly tart, and the right consistency for a dollop. It also keeps really well in the fridge for several days.

Ingredients:

1 cup raw cashews, soaked in water for 3-4 hours, or overnight

1/2 cup water

2 tsp lemon juice

1 tsp apple cider vinegar

Steps:

1. drain cashews and put in high speed blender

2. add water, lemon juice and apple cider vinegar to blender

3. blend on high for a few minutes, until fluffy and smooth

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