Cooking is a challenge for people with a cashew allergy because the flavor and texture of the nut is difficult to replicate. Although cashew allergies aren't as well-known as peanut allergies, the allergic reactions are no less severe, and may be life-threatening. While the easiest course may be to simply omit the nuts, you can try several flavorful substitutions in their place.
Peanuts and other nuts are often substituted for cashews. However, it's critical to substitute nuts in place of cashews only if you're sure your allergy is limited to cashews. The cashew, along with almonds, walnuts, filberts, Brazil nuts, macadamia nuts and others, are tree nuts. People who are allergic to cashews are often allergic to other tree nuts. The peanut isn't a tree nut, but is actually a type of legume that grows in the ground. Some people who are allergic to tree nuts are also allergic to peanuts. In addition, cashews and peanuts are sometimes processed at the same facility and cross-contamination between nuts is a risk.
Dried fruit can replace cashews while adding sweetness to a variety of recipes, especially baked goods and salads. Nutritionally, dried fruit adds generous amounts of dietary fiber and antioxidants. Dried raisins, figs or apricots stand in for cashews in breads, desserts and muffins. Dried cranberries or cherries provide a tangy flavor to fruit salads or tossed green salads.
Whole-grain cereal adds crunch and texture to recipes when cashews aren't an option. Nutritionally, whole-grain cereal is a healthy, protein-rich substitution. While the fat content in cashews is nearly 50 percent, whole-grain cereals contain very little fat, if any. For extra crispiness, sprinkle dry cereal on top of steamed vegetables or pasta. If the cereal is too dry for your recipe, soak it in a small amount of heart-healthy oil such as canola oil.
Seeds such as pumpkin and sunflower seeds have a similar flavor and texture, making them a good substitute in recipes calling for cashews. Seeds are especially effective if the recipe calls for cashew butter. Make your own butter by blending seeds with a dash of salt and enough sunflower or canola oil to make the mixture spreadable. Use pumpkin or sunflower seeds, or a combination of both. For an even nuttier flavor, add a small amount of flax seeds.