Nuts, seeds, and fatty fruits like avocado and coconut are all healthy choices for a high-nutrition, whole foods diet. They help bulk up raw food recipes and they certainly lend to the rich flavor of comforting recipes like chewy cashew sage cookies, tasty cinnamon raisin walnut butter, and creamy Caesar dressing. But consuming lots of nuts and seeds on a regular basis can slow you down, bulk you up, and leave you lacking energy.

It’s not a necessity to eliminate the nuts and seeds you love to eat. In fact, nuts and seeds are excellent sources of protein in addition to a myriad of vitamins and minerals that are important in any diet. But you can cut down on the amount of nuts and seeds you use in your raw food recipes with the help of these four tasty ingredients.

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Zucchini 

Zucchini is always great for making pasta, but it’s also an effective stand-in for various nuts and seeds that might be used in dips, sauces, and dressings. Use zucchini in place of sesame seeds in hummus, adding extra sprouted chickpeas for thickness along with cumin and salt for flavor. Another idea is to replace half of the nuts or seeds in your pates with zucchini and adjust seasonings according to taste. You can also thicken salad dressings with zucchini in place of oil or nuts. Add lemon instead of water for extra flavor.

To enhance the flavor of your zucchini infused dishes, let the zucchini soak in a simple marinade of tamari and water or a sauce of your preference for a few minutes before using it in your recipe.

Mushrooms 

Mushrooms can’t take the place of nuts and seeds in every dish, but they work well in dishes that are designed to be “meaty”. Nut burgers, faux nut meat, and even gravies all tend to work well when mushrooms replace some of the nuts and seeds. Try some tasty curry with mushrooms and zucchini instead of cashews or coconut oil, and add mushrooms to raw tarts or quiches in place of some of the fats. You’ll find that mushrooms hold up pretty well to processing, while adding a rich flavor and unique texture to your dishes.

Cauliflower 

Cauliflower is the perfect choice for replacing some of the nuts and seeds in creamy raw soups. It breaks up well when it’s blended, and it creates a lot of bulk, which makes it easy on the pocketbook. Plus, it’s super low in both calories and fat, so you get to eat a lot of it! Try it in a creamy sauce over zucchini noodles, or replace some of the hemp seeds with shredded cauliflower in your favorite raw tabbouleh.

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Nutritional Yeast

When it comes to thickening sauces and dips, nutritional yeast does about as good of a job as zucchini or cauliflower, plus it’s packed with vitamin B12 and offers a unique “cheesy” flavor that can enhance any dressing or pate. Use it in place of some of the nuts in your raw cheeses, mix it with spinach or basil to make low fat pesto, or use it in place of “cheeze” spreads on pizzas and wraps. It’s versatile enough to be used in any type of cuisine.

Rotating these ingredients in place of some of the nuts and seeds in your favorite dishes will provide a whole new range of textures and flavors to enjoy, and will help to ensure that you’re consuming a wide range of nutrients at each meal.

Lead image source: Cashew Sage Cookies With Lemon Drizzle 

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