Turmeric Cashews

Turmeric Cashews Recipe

Some fascinating emails have come through my in-box over the past decade. One example arrived a couple of months ago from Erica Sonnenburg. Erica and her husband, Justin Sonnenburg, are researchers at Stanford where they study the collection of bacteria that inhabit our gut. It's called the microbiota. Her name struck me as familiar because the Sonnenburgs, both Ph.D.s, were included in Michael Pollan's article - Some of My Best Friends are Germs from May 2013. Her note went on to say they often cook recipes from 101 Cookbooks because many of them have the hallmarks of "good microbiota food". This immediately made me feel great, but also sparked many questions that have been dancing around my head ever since.

When it comes to broad strokes, I get it. You want to encourage, nourish, support your internal bacterial community. The good bugs. And there are some general "best practices" in life that help. But, for me, the real, well-researched, specifics beyond that start to get increasingly hazy. I immediately wanted to know from her, which recipes exactly, and why? How exactly do I befriend and support my microbiota? How much does food impact it, and what are the other major factors? Best beverages - beer? wine? smoothies? In short, I wanted to know what sort of things I was doing in my day-to-day to support (or hurt) my unique-to-me friendly bugs, so I could continue to do more to support my microbiota.

Erica went on to tell me about the book they were working on - The Good Gut. It establishes the case for the importance of gut microbiota, and documents their research and findings. They've done a lot of work to start to understand the role of diet in this realm, and what they're finding is that a diet rich in dietary fiber (plant matter) helps to keep the microbiota happy. Also, because different microbes feed on different things, diversity in your diet is key. Broadly speaking, you're after a wide range of beans, whole grains, seeds, and vegetables. And you'll want to consume foods rich in microbiota accessible carbohydrates. It's a fascinating read that goes well beyond dietary recommendations. They are doing the direct research into what makes your microbiota happy, and have some amazing findings based in good science.

The back of the book includes a recipe section to set the tone for this type of beneficial food choice. These turmeric cashews became one of my favorite snacks of the week. They're substantial and filing, and microbiota friendly. I used the recipe in The Good Gut as a jumping off point, and flared it out with a few extra spices. They were extra special because I used turmeric gifted by Tara (Seven Spoons) when I saw her last recently. She told me the turmeric is from her maternal grandfather's estate in Dehra Dun (Dehradun) in Uttarakhand, in the north of India - beautiful turmeric.

Turmeric CashewsTurmeric CashewsTurmeric Cashews

Related Links:

- The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health

- Cute Family. And You Should See Their Bacteria

- Some of My Best Friends are Germs

Turmeric Cashews

2 cups raw cashews
1/2 tablespoon toasted sesame oil, plus more if needed
scant 1/4 teaspoon fine grain sea salt, or to taste
half an 8x8-inch sheet nori seaweed
1 1/2 teaspoons sesame seeds
scant 1/4 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 tablespoon ground turmeric

Toss the cashews with the sesame oil and sea salt and toast in a 350F oven for 5-10 minutes, or until golden, tossing once along the way. Remove and toast the seaweed for a few minutes. Allow it to cool and crisp, then crumble it. Combine the seaweed, sesame seeds, and cayenne in a mortar and pestle, and grind together. In a bowl (one that won't stain) toss the cashews with the sesame spices and turmeric, really go for it. If you need to add a few drops of sesame oil, do so to moisten things up a bit. Taste and adjust the seasonings, to taste.

Makes 2 cups.

Inspired by the Turmeric Cashews in The Good Gut: Taking Control of Your Weight, Your Mood, and Your Long-term Health by Justin and Erica Sonnenburg.

Prep time: 3 min - Cook time: 10 min

If you make this recipe, I'd love to see it - tag it #101cookbooks on Instagram!
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Such a delicious way to keep the good guys in your gut happy!

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth

thanks for this recipe and the recent super foods tapenade! just the kinds of stuff we're looking for to round out our menus!


I have an allergy to seaweed. Is there something I could use as a replacement?

HS: Hi Suellyn - You can always omit it, and take it in another seasoning direction.

Suellyn Scoon

As a health coach, I'm always talking about the importance of gut health and feeding our microbiome, so I really appreciate that you not only dedicated a post to it but also made this topic very approachable for us all! I'm always toasting cashews, but these few extra but simple steps would take them over the top. Love it! (I believe the instructions left out the step where turmeric would be added. ;-)

Katie @ Whole Nourishment

looks like a great recipe! how would you suggest toasting the nori? could it maybe just sit on the rack in the oven for a minute or two?

HS: Yes, exactly Beth - per the instructions, just place it in the already hot oven to crisp up a bit.


And when you add black pepper to turmeric it makes a proven treatment against cancer cells!

Margreeth van der kooij

PERFECT timing as my mom just gave me a jar of turmeric last weekend! Thank you Heidi -- I love reading your blog posts every week and I can't wait until your cookbook comes out in September. I've already tagged it as a birthday present to myself.

HS: Thanks Maggie! xo


With cashews and turmeric eager to be used in my pantry for some time I cannot wait to try this recipe. Thank you!


Don't forget the black pepper! Adding a small amount of black pepper enhances the bioavailability of turmeric. Sounds delicious!


I read that Pollan article as well and this book has been on my list to get soon -- now I'm really encouraged to step it up! This topic is so fascinating and the family in question super interesting. So cool that you have that connection with them! I'm dying to know which of your recipes they targeted as well. Always looking for new and exciting ways to consume two of my favorite things -- cashews and turmeric. Definitely giving this recipe a try =o)



Thank you so much. I love your blog. I'm English, but live in S. America. Neither fresh feta, phyllo, nor nori is available. Any suggestions for substitutions please?
Thank you, and pls. Don't go away! Jk

Jay kastel

I always feel a little lost when I see nori in a recipe. I am eager to learn where to purchase and how to use. I live in central Texas, in a town without a Whole Foods or Trader Joe's... The nearest being about 80 miles north or south... although I always manage to get difficult to source items one way or the other. I'd love to see a post about nori sometime Heidi. I've learned much in the many years I've followed your blog. Thank you for that.

Katherine M

Yum! I just made these. I used dulse flakes instead of Nori because that's what I had in the cabinet. I had to leave out sesame seeds because I was out and didn't want to wait for a trip to the store. They were very good and easy!


Toasted and crushed curry leaves would be an excellent substitute for seaweed in this recipe. Not sure if they are available at places other than Indian stores though.


Which brand of nori do you use? I have to say I've been uneasy about buying Japanese seaweed since the Fukushima disaster. :^(

HS: Hi Barb - Recently I've been buying raw nori at my local co-op under the Bright Earth label (Ashland, Oregon) - it seems to be independently tested by two labs.

Barb Finch

Yum, yum! I am doing a small collection of turmeric recipes, this is such a lovey inspiration for my Golden series... thank you. Happy Eating!


Love your recipes and have been making them for a few years. I've read The Good Gut and am recommending it to everyone. One thing, though, to make the turmeric more bio-accessible is to add black pepper into the mix. It works synergistically to support immune function. So glad I found your site!


Love this! Turmeric is lovely, and sesame oil has such a lovely strong flavour, thanks for the recipe :D x

Jules @ WolfItDown

Nori would be found at a Japanese grocery store, or sometimes already crushed in a spice bottle with sesame seeds in a large grocery or international store. If I had no nori I would crisp up a couple kale leaves, or even parsley, to substitute. Sounds great. Wish I had some cashews on hand...


Looks delicious, can't wait to stain my fingertips eating these cashews...perfect afternoon snack!


Great recipe. I put whole turmeric in my smoothies in the morning. And pepper and oil. And it helps my joints from swelling so much. I don't think I could get around as well as I do with out it. Thanks for another use!

kandice bangsund

Turmeric is such a great anti-inflammation source. I urge anyone who has joint pain or inflammation should give it a try.


This recipe makes an excellent snack for diabetics. It contains fat (sesame oil), protein and carbs (nuts); and turmeric has been indicated to lower blood sugar.


Loving these cashews! Always trying to find a way to incorporate turmeric in my everyday life instead of just in my juices. Can't wait to make these!

Linda | A La Place Clichy

Aw, dear. Surprise! Except for nori seaweed, I have all the ingredients for the Turmeric Cashews (always!) at hand as I'm also a big fan of turmeric and its anti-inflammatory qualities.
Also, I'm pretty happy that there's a worldwide growing understanding of the importance of a healthy and balanced microbiota. This makes me pretty happy. We're in the very beginning but I hope someday there will be this one "Synbiotic" that will help lots of people who're suffering from autoimmune diseases and much more other debilitating chronic diseases, and we do exactly know how we can nourish our gut best.
Lots of love, Lisa


Hi, Heidi! These looked great, but I didn't have any cashews on hand so I used some garbanzos I'd done in the slow cooker just to have around. Rinsed them off, dried them on a baking sheet for an hour and proceeded with your recipe. Delicious!


I have some beautiful fresh turmeric. Any thoughts on how to incorporate it into this recipe?


Cannot wait to try these! Loved the Michael Pollan article & am anxious to check out the new book you mentioned.


When I learned that only 10% of the cells in our bodies are human - not bacterial - it didn't even occur to me to consider eating for the other 90% of my cellular body. I really like the way you've presented that idea here - eating for your microbiota. Not to mention that these spiced cashews look absolutely amazing! The color!

Sarah | Well and Full

Could you use fresh (grated) turmeric? It's available now regularly in my grocery stores and I've been wanting to try it in something!


Tastes great but my sesame seeds didn't stick too well to the cashews. Should I have used more oil or ground them down more?

HS: Likely a bit of both Ellen :)


Made these over the weekend, and they were incredibly tasty (this recipe also got me reacquainted with nori -- I had forgotten what a great snack it is). I'd like to try this recipe with almonds, but am hoping to check whether the microbiota-friendly aspect of this recipe comes mostly from the turmeric, or is there something special about cashews? Thanks in advance!


I love that this is a savory flavored nut recipe! I love roasted candied nut recipes, but often feel like even the ones on the less-sweet side would be better more savory.


I need to try these - pronto!

Sophie Edwards (The Cracked Mirror Project)

Oh, these look to die for! In fact wishing I had a handful to snack on this very moment. But putting it on my "to-try-soon-list" instead. :-)

Sonja {Dagmar's Kitchen}

Aside from the health benefits, this looks like a delicious, satisfying mid-afternoon snack! I look forward to reading their book too. Thanks!


The two articles you linked were absolutely fascinating. I have long been suspicious (as have many people) of the hyper-sterilization of our society. Can't wait to read the book.


Do you know how long these are good for? Placed in an air-tight container maybe?

HS: Exactly! They'll last a good while.


Always looking for more uses for turmeric--and all those other ingredients are amazing, too. I read about this couple a while ago. Super intriguing and ground breaking stuff. our bodies are fascinating, aren't they? Thanks for sharing this.


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