When two fellow moms separately told me how much their toddlers really love to eat cashews, I knew it was something I wanted to look into.
After all, nuts are a healthy, travel-friendly snack for adults, so if this turned out to be a good option for kids, too, I’d have one more tool in my healthy mama bag-o-tricks.
I’d probably been avoiding cashews and other whole nuts on account of the choking hazard element. The American Academy of Pediatrics lists whole nuts among foods to avoid up until age four. But also on their list of hazards are chunks of meat, vegetables and cheese, which I often give to my daughter to eat while supervised, so I made a personal decision to see how she did with cashews. I already knew she wasn’t allergic because we’d previously introduced cashew butter.
So I picked up a bag of roasted, unsalted cashews (okay okay, it arrived at my house via FreshDirect…) and we set about our taste test. I was still a little paranoid about choking so I mostly only gave her cashew halves. As I expected, she’s a fan! Due to her age I’m only comfortable giving them to her while watching her in the high chair, at least for now. But if your child is older, they can be a great on-the-go snack!
Some fun facts about cashews include:
They’re a great source of copper (who knew?) and magnesium.
The way they grow is fascinating! They grow out of the bottom of a “cashew apple” (see picture below)
They are in the same family as mangoes and pistachios.
A one quarter cup serving has about as much protein as an egg (7 grams).
Cashews are high in monounsaturated fat (the “good” fat also found in olive oil).
Another great thing about cashews is that they’re so easy to toss into quick weeknight meals like stir-fries. So if your kid is familiar with snacking on cashews, perhaps he or she will be open to trying something “new” at dinner if it features a favorite snack. Or they’ll just pick out all the cashews and you’ll try again next time… They’re also a great ingredient to use in baking with kids.
Here are a few family-friendly recipes from my fellow dietitians (clockwise from top left):
Cashew Cookie Hemp Energy Bars from Eat Real Live Well. For a DIY energy bar recipe, this one is really quick! Just pulse everything together and roll them out. I bet kids would love to help!
Cashew Veggie Stir-Fry from Salubrious RD. This cashew stir-fry is vegetarian, so it’s perfect for Meatless Monday or a light summer meal.
Thai Mango Quinoa Salad from Smart Nutrition. I love the yummy flavors in this salad! Mangoes, cilantro, cashews…yes yes yes!
15 Minute Cashew Chicken from Amanda of The Nutritionist Reviews. 15 minutes in music to my ears! I’m definitely trying this soon for a weeknight meal.
Cashew Chicken Bowl from Lesley & Ann at My Menu Pal. The authors promise that despite the long list of ingredients, this recipe comes together quickly!
So, would you offer your kid cashews? If so, at what age did you start? I’d love to hear your thoughts!