Turmeric Cashews

Turmeric Cashews tossed with cayenne, nori, and sesame. Inspired by The Good Gut written by Stanford researchers Justin and Erica Sonnenburg. Keep your microbiota happy.

Turmeric Cashews

Some fascinating emails have come through my in-box over the past decade. One example arrived back in 2015 from Erica Sonnenburg, which led to this write-up shortly thereafter. 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.
Turmeric Cashews
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.
Turmeric Cashews
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.
Turmeric Cashews

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. I've exhausted my turmeric supply from Tara, and fortunately I'm now able to source this special turmeric from Diaspora Co. 

Other favorite turmeric-rich recipes to try! This Instant Pot Congee with Brown Rice and Turmeric, my favorite Pad Thai, Turmeric Popcorn, Turmeric Cashews (so good!), Pickled Turmeric Eggs, this Lemongrass Turmeric Curry Paste, and these Turmeric Soaked Chickpeas. There's also a whole directory of recipes using turmeric.

Other 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

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Turmeric Cashews

3.9 from 10 votes

  • 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
  1. 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. 

  2. 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 mins
Cook Time
10 mins
Total Time
13 mins
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Recipe Rating


I made these today and they turned out great. I added quite a bit of fresh ground black pepper and a bit of ground chipotle pepper. Thank you for the recipe!

Chris Finley

I think my gut puppies will quite like this!


Made these at 2:30 a.m. tonight because I couldn't sleep and couldn't go back to sleep because I was too hungry. The smell in the kitchen at this dark, wee hour is of India or another Asia. And the taste! Thank you for this most warming of dreams. You made me a beautiful kitchen memory.

Lori T

    Thanks Lori! Love the story, and so happy you're enjoying them!

    Heidi Swanson

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.


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

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


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.


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


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}

I need to try these - pronto!

Sophie Edwards (The Cracked Mirror Project)

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.


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!


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 :)


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!


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


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


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!


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


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

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.


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

Jules @ WolfItDown

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


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!


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

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!


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) www.threadandbones.com


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

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


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


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...


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

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.


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!


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

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

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


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


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


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

Margreeth van der kooij

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.


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

Such a delicious way to keep the good guys in your gut happy!

Amy @ Parsley In My Teeth

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