If you’re beginning the transition to following a plant-based diet, you probably want the switch to be as pain-free as possible. To do this, we can identify certain go-to ingredients that just make plant-based eating much easier to swallow. One of these ingredients that you should always keep in your cupboard are cashews!

Cashews are one of the best plant-based alternatives to dairy. You can blend cashews to make cheese, milk, cream and dips, allowing you to enjoy the creamy taste and texture that we love, without the nasty consequences of consuming dairy products. Awesome, right?

Instead of allowing dairy to wreak havoc on your system, using cashew nuts as a base in your meals will benefit your health. Nuts are a great plant-based source of antioxidants. An analysis of four studies showed that subjects who consumed nuts more than four times a week lowered their risk of heart disease by 37% compared to those who didn’t eat nuts. Cashews contain high levels of copper, which is essential for energy, strong bones and flexibility of blood vessels. And, out of all nuts, cashews are one of the lowest in fat.

As well as helping to support your overall health, making cashews a staple in your kitchen will allow you to make so many tasty dishes. Take a read and find out why you should count on cashews.

1. Make Creamy, Indulgent Desserts With Cashews (and no Dairy!)

You can make your own desserts with cashews, so when you fancy a treat, ignore the cheesecakes in the store and whip a load of cashews into your food processor! Try and fall in love with desserts like Creamy Millet and Cashew Pudding, Cashew Cream Cups, or use cashews in a cake like this Carrot Cake with Creamy Cashew Lemon Frosting.

Going Vegan? Here is Why You Should Count on Cashews

2. They’ll Replace Your Dairy Cheese

If you haven’t tasted cashew cheese before, you will be surprised at how it resembles the thick and gooey texture of standard dairy cheese. Try making a few of these simple-to-make cheeses like a Cashew Coconut Cream Cheese, a Smoky Pesto Cashew Cheez or a simple Creamy Cashew Cheese.

Going Vegan? Here is Why You Should Count on Cashews

3. They Make Great Milk for Cereals, Hot Drinks and Smoothies

When I first started making my own milk from hand, I had so much satisfaction. And, most importantly, cashew milk tastes great in tea and coffee, too! Although, like the taste of all nut milks in tea and coffee, it may take a few days to get used to! Follow this guide to making your own cashew milk, then try it in these 3 Protein Powder-Free Protein Smoothies and use it on top of this Clumpy Banana Nut Granola.

Going Vegan? Here is Why You Should Count on Cashews

4. You Can Funk Up Your Dishes With Your Own Sauces!

You will love how simple you will find making rich and creamy sauces without dairy. Start experimenting with cashew sauces this weekend! Try this Chorizo, Apple, and Chick Peas with Fresh Kale and Cashew Sauce and this Spaghetti Squash and Alfredo Sauce. The combination of a creamy sauce with the sweetness of a sweet potato sounds amazing in this Baked Sweet Potato with this Sriracha Cream Cashew Sauce.

Going Vegan? Here is Why You Should Count on Cashews

5. Treasure Your Love for Creamy Comfort Foods

Making your own cashew cream is quick and easy. Use cashew cream in the following dishes that you would normally use dairy. Enjoy this Onion Tart With Greens and Cashew Cream, Zucchini Fritters with Lemon Basil Cashew Cream, or taste the creaminess of cashews in this Zucchini and Tomato Lasagne with Cashew Herb Cheese – as you can imagine, it tastes amazing!

Going Vegan? Here is Why You Should Count on Cashews

6. You Can Munch on Cashews as a Quick Energizing Snack

If you are ever in a rush, which most days we can find ourselves in, eating a handful of cashews makes a balanced, healthy snack. You can also make filling bars that are perfect for a commute, a picnic, for walking up a hill, or a mid-afternoon nibble. Try rustling up these snack recipes: Chewy Homemade Granola Bars, Peanut Butter Snack Bars and these Raw Sprouted Buckwheat Bars.

Going Vegan? Here is Why You Should Count on Cashews

Image source: How to Make Cashew Cream