Cheese? On the paleo diet? Sounds too good to be true, but you’re in for a treat.
Sure, it’s not real cheese. That wouldn’t make sense, since dairy isn’t something permitted on the paleo diet. But with a little prep, cashews work just as well in a dish that will have your family saying, “Wait, how did you make this again?”
Here’s how it works: cashews, like most nuts, are primarily comprised of fats. When you soak them in water, they get soft, and can be turned into a paste-like substance when you blend them up.
The end result is creamy, thick, and full of healthy fats—a lot like cheese, with none of the dairy.
And because this recipe uses other types of healthy fats (coconut, almond flour), you’re making a side dish that’s not only going to taste good, but fill you up and leave you satisfied.
Why You Should Make This Broccoli and Cheese Recipe
The paleo diet is pretty simple: you eat meat, veggies, fruits, nuts, and seeds. Occasionally you splurge, but these are kind of your go-to items.
Understandably, there are days when you might miss certain foods, like cheese. With this broccoli and “cheese” recipe, though, you won’t get a drop of FOMO (‘fear of missing out,’ for those of you who aren’t acronym-savvy).
The cheese substitute in this dish is cashews. Might sound weird, but trust us—with a little prep, it works.
Soaking the cashews overnight in water helps give them a cheese-like texture when you blend them up and cook them the following day. You get that same gooey, satisfying taste that you’re used to with cheese, without eating any dairy.
From a nutritional standpoint, there’s a lot to like about cashews.
One ounce contains [*]:
- 155 calories
- 12 grams of fat (two-thirds of which are monounsaturated fats, which are good for heart health) [*]
- 5 grams of protein
- A big dose of several vitamins and minerals, especially vitamin C, calcium, copper, potassium, magnesium, and manganese.
So who knows, this cashew substitute may end up being your go-to in the future. You’re eating highly nutritious nuts, and the end-product is still a delicious, melty side dish.
Now let’s look at how the superstar of this dish—broccoli—benefits your health.
Broccoli: The Health Superstar of This Side Dish
You’re probably familiar with broccoli if you’ve been on the paleo diet for a while. It’s a versatile vegetable to cook with, and chock full of nutrition.
Broccoli is a cruciferous vegetable, meaning that it’s packed with fiber and relatively low in carbs.
Fiber promotes a healthy gut by feeding the millions of tiny bacteria in your gut [*]. More and more, scientists are finding that gut health is absolutely essential for overall health and well-being.
Fiber-dense foods like broccoli also help you stay full longer after meals [*]. Fiber slows the rate of digestion, which can help you stick to your diet.
Studies show cruciferous vegetables can also reduce inflammation and your risk of certain diseases, like cancer and metabolic disease [*].
Another health benefit of broccoli is its immune-boosting properties. That’s because broccoli is a good source of vitamin C, antioxidants, and phytochemicals, which are linked to supporting immune health [*]
The health benefits of broccoli combined with the healthy fats from coconut milk, almond flour, and cashews, make this side dish a nutritional powerhouse.
Paleo Broccoli and “Cheese”
- Yield: 8 servings
- Serving size: ½ cup
- Soak time: 12-24 hours
- Prep time: 15 minutes
- Cook time: 20 minutes
- 2 cups cashews
- 1 tablespoon nutritional yeast
- 1½ cups almond flour
- 1 tablespoon paprika
- 1 cup full-fat canned coconut milk
- 3 cups broccoli florets
- 4 tablespoons coconut oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- The night before you want to prepare this dish, soak your cashews in water and leave them overnight. Soaking cashews will provide a melted cheese-like consistency of cashew paste.
- Drain your cashews and blend them in a blender. Add in the nutritional yeast and blend again.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- In another bowl, combine the almond flour and paprika and set aside.
- In a medium saucepan, melt the coconut oil and add half a cup of the almond flour mix. Make sure it is completely combined.
- Slowly add in the coconut milk. Add in salt and pepper to taste.
- Once the mixture starts to simmer, add in the cashew paste and stir until combined.
- In an oven-safe dish, add the broccoli and pour in the cashew mixture. Top the dish with the almond flour and paprika mixture.
- Bake for 20 minutes or until the almond flour crust is golden brown.
Nutritional Information Per Serving:
- Fat: 33.5g
- Protein: 9.5g
- Total Carbohydrates: 18.3g
- Fiber: 5.75g
- Sugar Alcohol: 0g
- Net Carbohydrates: 12.55g
- Fat: 73%
- Protein: 9%
- Carbohydrates: 18%