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Cashew Chicken Salad


Cashew Chicken Salad: This is the most flavorful chicken I have ever made. It was an instant hit for the whole family, took less than 30 minutes to prepare, & tastes so great as leftovers that we don’t even bother reheating it. Serve this as the main event, bring it to a potluck, or make ahead and eat for a healthy lunch during the week. 

This meal is so versatile; main dish, dinner, lunch, potluck, side dish, or even mid-after noon snack. Of course, its amazing warm out of the pan but it is also super delicious cold as leftovers; I am thinking it’s the perfect food prep meal to make a large batch of and eat on during the week … if it lasts that long! The second time I cooked this dinner I made a double batch and still barely had enough for lunches the next day because its just that good.

You can literally cook this Cashew Chicken Salad in one pan, ANY pan — tall sided frying pan, cast iron, or even using the sauté function on the Instant Pot. Make sure to toast the cashews in the pan first thing, remove them, and set the cashews aside while you are cooking the chicken.

I chose to use organic raw cashews (courtesy of Costco) in the recipe. Once upon a time I would have just eaten them raw because, after all, raw nuts are the “healthy” thing to eat, right? Nope. After years of eating raw nuts in the name of health I learned about phytic acid and how the process of soaking & roasting nuts helps break down the phytic acid which makes them much easier to digest and assimilate the nutrients. And we can probably all agree that roasted nuts are so much tastier than raw nuts anyways!

If you have time to soak the nuts prior to roasting them, that is best. Simply put the nuts in a quart or half gallon mason jar, submerge with warm filtered water, add a one teaspoon of salt per cup of nuts, and then let it sit for 7-10 hours (uncovered) at room temperature. When they are done soaking, drain them in a colander, rinse them well with filtered water, put them on a large cookie sheet or stone pan, and dry them out either in an oven or a dehydrator. If you are using your oven, use the lowest setting possible (150 degrees Farenheight is optimal; my oven goes down to 170 degrees) and plan on it taking about 24 hours to dry the nuts out.

Onto the next ingredient: red onions. I have good news for you! No soaking, sprouting, or dehydrating is required. If you have a toddler hanging around your house be sure to enlist them to peel the onion (don’t let them rub their eyes!) because peeling onions is both fun and gives kids a sense of accomplishment.

If you are like my Mom or my friend Lisa, it might be necessary to first raise and then butcher the chicken. However, most of us can simply hunt down some organic, free range chicken from a local store or rancher. We prefer organic chicken thighs which are slightly cheaper than breasts, juicier, and more flavorful. You will also find that thighs from chickens raised organically in a pasture are leaner than conventional thighs and require little to no trimming of fat prior to cooking.

And lastly, the one ingredient that might leave you wondering are the coconut aminos. This is a popular soy free substitute for people who are sensitive to or like to avoid soy. Feel free to substitute soy sauce if that is what you have on hand. When you run out of soy sauce consider adding a bottle of the coconut aminos to your pantry or try switching to a wheat-free fermented organic soy sauce.

What’s the problem with soy? 

There are hundreds of published peer reviewed medical studies showing that the risks of consuming soy far outweigh the benefits: infertility, hormone imbalance, early onset of puberty for girls, delayed onset of puberty for boys, thyroid dysfunction, increased risk of ten types of cancer (although they say it lowers the risk of colon cancer for what that’s worth), immune system dysfunction, gastric distress, low libido, etc., etc. Soy is one of the top eight allergens; it contains a whopping 16-30 allergenic proteins. It is also one of the most heavily genetically modified crops in the world. You can learn more about soy by watching this “Toxic Food Ingredient” video or read an informative book called “The Whole Soy Story” by Dr. Kaayla Daniel.

The amount if soy in one bottle of infant formula is equivalent to five birth control pills. 

American made “formula has 80 times the amount of manganese as breast milk and can directly cause brain dysfunction. Additionally, there is the hormonal equivalent of 4-5 birth control pills in a daily dose of soy formula, which can cause significantly premature puberty and other sexual abnormalities, and an increased risk of cancer.”(1)

There was a recent movement in California to ban soy in infant formula but nothing came of it. However, five foreign governments (including England & France) have taken strong anti-soy positions.

You may also be aware that in May 2017 two pediatricians published an article in the Journal of Pediatrics stating that calling breastfeeding “natural” is dangerous. Excuse me? Breastfeeding in the norm, not the exception!

What if you can’t breastfeed? What about adoption? It is possible to make your own soy-free baby formula. In fact, some friends of ours (who are both pharmacists and probably have a way better understanding of soy and its effects on the body than I do) adopted their son as a newborn and made his formula. Here is a link to a kit to make your own formula from a company that is trustworthy.

Don’t forget to pin this Cashew Chicken Salad to your favorite Pinterest board for later!

CASHEW CHICKEN SALAD

COURSE: LUNCH, MAIN DISH, SIDE DISH, VEGETABLE  PREP TIME: 15 MINUTES COOK TIME: 15 MINUTES  TOTAL TIME: 30 MINUTES  SERVINGS: 4 PEOPLE AUTHOR: RASHELE BIRMINGHAM

Cashew Chicken Salad: This is the most flavorful chicken I have ever made! It was an instant hit for the whole family, took less than 30 minutes to prepare, & taste so great as leftovers that we don't even bother reheating it. Serve this as the main event, bring it to a potluck, or make ahead and eat for a healthy lunch during the week. 

INGREDIENTS
TOASTED CASHEWS
3/4 cup cashews toasted or roasted
1 Tbsp avocado oil or substitute coconut oil or butter
CHICKEN
1/4 cup avocado oil or substitute coconut oil, butter, or goose fat
1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs cubed
1 tsp Celtic sea salt
1 tsp garlic powder or 2 cloves minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp basil, dried
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 cup coconut aminos or substitute soy sauce
2 Tbsp maple syrup pure, organic
12 cups lettuce variety
1/2 small red onion sliced into thin strips about 1 inch long

INSTRUCTIONS
CASHEWS
1.Heat the oil in large pan over medium heat. Add cashews and stir frequently until they start to brown and look "toasted". Remove from pan and set aside.
CHICKEN
1.Heat oil in large pan over medium heat, add the cubed chicken and season with salt, pepper, and spices. Sauté until chicken is no longer translucent and then turn heat down to medium low. Allow chicken to continue to cook, uncovered & stirring occasionally, until the juices have cooked down and there is very little liquid left in the pan.



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