Cashew Horchata & Sharing Our Strength

Cashew Horchata | A simple but festive beverage for your holiday table!Welcome to Day Two of Share Our Holiday Table—a virtual, progressive fundraising dinner designed to raise awareness of child hunger in the U.S. This event is being hosted by Share Our Strength®—a national organization that works hard to make sure no child in America grows up hungry.

Yesterday a dynamite food blogger line-up treated us to nine tasty appetizers. Today we move on to drinks. But before we make our festive toast to good health and prosperity, I have something to ask and something to share.

Have you been missing the signs of child hunger in your town?

I had.

There is a route through downtown Cheyenne that I drive a couple of times a week. It was last fall, at the corner of Lincolnway and Pioneer, that I first noticed the brown bags. Most Wednesdays I would pass by and see hundreds of them filled and neatly lined up on the floor of the vacant Dineen building. It wasn't until July of this year that I made the connection when an article ran in the Wyoming Tribune Herald. The article was about Cheyenne's Friday Food Bags program and the number of school children in Cheyenne living in food insecure households. I had been missing a sign. I had been driving past one for over a year.

Turns out, over 300 food sacks are handed out to Cheyenne school kids every Friday with the intent to ensure these children, who normally get free or reduced-price breakfasts and lunches at school, don't go hungry over weekends. Having had my eyes opened, I was shocked and ashamed for being oblivious to the hardship some of the children in my own town were facing.

I have come to applaud the efforts of organizations like Share Our Strength and grass roots programs like Friday Food Bags. When you read the statistics, they are pretty mind blowing. In 2008 (and this was before the U.S. fell deeper into recession) the USDA reported that 22% of the children in the U.S. were living in food insecure households [read more about that here]. They were experiencing hunger—"hunger" defined as an uneasy or painful sensation caused by lack of food.

Now most will argue that children going hungry is just a symptom of deeper-rooted problems in our society—ones that need to be addressed. I agree. However, the ability to obtain enough food for an active, healthy life is the most basic of human needs. The idea of any child going hungry troubles me. Why? 1) Obtaining food is something a child has little control over, 2) it should not be their responsibility to do so and 3) there are mental and physical changes that accompany inadequate food intake which directly affect learning, development, productivity, physical and psychological health and family life.

Okay, I am hopping off my soapbox (thanks for hanging in there with me).

Now, shall we toast?

Here is to health, prosperity and no child going hungry this holiday season! Please consider making a contribution [click here] to the Share Our Strength No Kid Hungry™ campaign. Then as you gather around your holiday table, know that you have extended it beyond your circle of family and friends. You have shared it with a needy child—and very likely, one in your own town. Thank you.

The recipe I bring to Share Our Holiday Table is one for simple horchata. Popular in Mexico and with origins dating back to ancient Egypt, horchata can be made with three basic ingredients—rice, cinnamon and sweetener—and costs just pennies to make. Nuts may be added for extra creaminess as can vanilla. Serve it over ice or warm and blend it with melted chocolate for a decadent hot cocoa. Place a pitcher at the kids' holiday table and they're sure to feel extra special.

Happy Holidays to all!

Cashew Horchata

Gluten-Free | Casein-Free | Citrus-Free | Corn-Free | Dairy-Free | Egg-Free | Fish-Free | Nightshade-Free | Peanut-Free | Potato-Free | Shellfish-Free | Soy-Free | Wheat-Free | Easily Tree Nut-Free | Sesame-Free | GFCF | Vegetarian | Easily Vegan

Makes: Approximately 5-6 cups
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Soak Time: 4-6 hours

Ingredients:

1/2 cup WHITE RICE
4 cups boiling WATER
1 CINNAMON STICK (2 if you love cinnamon!)
2 teaspoons VANILLA EXTRACT
1/2 cup raw CASHEW NUTS
1/4 cup, or to taste, RUNNY HONEY (see Notes for sugar-free version)
Dash SEA SALT
1-2 cups COLD WATER

Directions:

1. Using a blender, coffee grinder or food processor, grind rice to fine meal. Transfer to medium bowl along with cinnamon stick and vanilla. Pour boiling water over rice meal mixture. Allow to stand at room temperature 4-6 hours.

2. Add cashews to a separate bowl. Cover with water and allow to soak 4-6 hours. Rinse well.

3. Transfer cashews and rice mixture (including the cinnamon stick) to high-powered blender.

3. Blend on high 1-2 minutes or until smooth.

4. Strain mixture into large bowl using cheesecloth or nut milk bag.

5. Return liquid to rinsed blender carafe. Add honey, pinch of salt and 1-2 cups additional water to achieve the consistency of milk.

6. Blend on low 10 seconds.

7. Chill and stir before serving over ice.

8. Optional: Dust with cinnamon and garnish with a star anise pod for a festive touch (pictured above).

Notes:

Cashews may be replaced with an additional 1/2 cup soaked rice or 1/2 cup almonds that have been soaked for 8-10 hours and rinsed well. Cinnamon stick may be replaced with 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon. For a subtle licorice "twist", throw one star anise pod in with the rice/water mixture. Blend with the rest of the mixture. Easily sugar-free: Sweeten to taste with SweetLeaf Liquid Vanilla Creme Stevia instead of honey.

 

Share Our Holiday Table Progressive Dinner

Day 1: Appetizers

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

Day 2: Drinks

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

Day 3: Salads

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

 Day 3: Soups

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

 

 Day 4: Entrees

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

 

Day 5: Sides

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free

Day 6: Desserts

Gourmet

Family Friendly

Vegetarian

Gluten Free