Snack aficionados usually fall into two camps: the sugar lovers, who dive into the candy bowl or the bakery aisle, and the salty types who crave pretzels or a big bag of chips. But I want my snacks to be salty and sweet…oh, and spicy too. Blame my Indian heritage and the fact that my mom used to eat whole chilis while she was pregnant with me, but if something isn’t spicy, I don’t eat it. (“Your taste buds are dead,” a very sweet ex-boyfriend once said to me.) And the one snack I’ve found that fits all these requirements: Nuts+Nuts slow-roasted cashews.
My nutritionist, Lauren Slayton, first introduced me to these cashews, and at first I was skeptical because bags of nuts usually remind me of the mediocre selection served on airplanes. But when I tried the chili lime flavor, made with sugar, lime leaves, fresh chiles, salt, and garlic, I was sold. They have a fiery kick from the chiles and a sweet exterior and crunch from the caramelized sugar, so it’s kind of like eating spicy candy (told you I’m weird), and the citrus is just tart enough to offset the spice.
Sisters Cyrilla, Nuning, and Cecielia Suwarsa are the brains behind Nuts+Nuts, which began when a lupus diagnosis forced Cyrilla to move from L.A. to Indonesia for treatment. “So many farmers were using the cashew apples as fodder for various skin treatments like moisturizers, but were discarding great-quality cashews,” she explains. “They gave us several huge bags, and we decided to roast them using our grandmother’s old recipes and give them as gifts to our friends at Christmas.”
Soon people were clamoring for more—and the sisters realized they had the makings of a business. Cashews can only be grown in tropical regions, so the sisters wanted to make sure that their local products really paid homage to the places they were sourced from. “We have relationships with farmers in Java and Bali, and then all the ingredients for the flavors are also local,” says Suwarsa.
The company offers several flavors inspired by Suwarsa’s Indonesian heritage, like crunchy honey sesame similar to granola and pungent black pepper that’s a little zesty in its own right. Each cashew is slow roasted in coconut oil to bring out its inherent smoothness, and all the ingredients listed on the label, from lime leaves to lemongrass, are visibly present in the bag.
Because there are no preservatives in these cashews, the flavors and levels of heat can vary from bag to bag, so it’s kind of like playing snack roulette. But if you get a bag that’s too spicy for your taste, just send it on over to me.
Buy it: Nuts+Nuts Cashews in Chili Lime Leaves, $5.
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