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RAW IN CUENCAWhere you can find the best nuts in the southern Andes

by Susan Schenck

“Cadelaes, Casa del las especias” is a great little store in Cuenca that has top-quality items, as well as some obscure items unavailable elsewhere.

For one thing, they have the best walnuts in Cuenca. I'm a fan of walnuts because they have a higher ratio of omega 3s to 6s than most nuts. Omega 3s are important for the brain, staying slim, and keeping inflammation and disease in general at bay. Anthroposophy, an esoteric philosophy founded by Rudolf Steiner, notes that often a food resembles the organ it helps nourish. And a whole walnut looks eerily like a brain! Just ask for nuez when you're there.

Cadelaes also has pine nuts—and I know of no other place in town where these can be found. In addition, they sell macadamia nuts, pistachio nuts, pecans, and at times even Brazil nuts. Brazil nuts are important the best source of selenium, an essential micronutrient and potent antioxidant. Cadelaes is definitely the place to go for nuts.

Nuts should be eaten in moderation, only a handful or so a day (unless you're young or very athletic) as they're very high in calories. But even in such small amounts, their monounsaturated fat (MUFA) can help increase HDL, the good cholesterol. The MUFAs also help reduce belly fat. Nuts (unless they’ve been roasted) should be soaked overnight, then rinsed, in order to get rid of the enzyme inhibitors.

They also sell pumpkin seeds, trail mix, almonds (including sliced ones), fresh olives, pickles, dried fruit, and tahini (sesame seed butter). They have the largest juiciest raisins I've seen in town. But don’t overdo them: grapes are high in pesticides. Furthermore, they have hard-to-find things, such as medjool dates, Chinese spring roll wrappers, and miso soup. The miso soup is in the refrigerator and when a shipment comes in, they run out of it fast, so you may have to ask them to reserve you a package.

Cadelaes even has dried figs. I was trying to remember the word for fig and all I could think of was higado. But I knew that meant liver. I kept pointing at them, and the woman behind the counter would touch various things as I would say, “No, atrás!” or “No, a la derecha!” When I finally got her to touch the figs, she told me the word was higo. The figs are dried and taste like candy. Be careful not to overdo them, as they are 50 calories each.

In addition, they have a wide variety of cake decorating paraphernalia, liquors, canned goods, bottled sauces, coffee beans, and other more commonly found items.

Cadelaes is located at Remigio Crespo 5-18 y Esermalda. It’s only two blocks from Totems, the totem-like artwork found at the intersection of Unidad Nacional y Remigio Crespo. Just go two blocks, heading downtown, and it’s on the right. Cadelaes closes from 1 to 3 p.m.

Susan Schenck, LAc, MTOM, is a raw food, health, and weight loss coach and the author of The Live Food Factor and Beyond Broccoli. She resides in Cuenca and can be reached at livefoodfactor@yahoo.com.