Creamy Red Chard Linguine. (Deb Lindsey/For The Washington Post)

If the phrase “cashew cream” doesn’t mean anything to you, then you’re definitely not vegan. Soaked cashews blended with water to create a substitute for cream is a foundation of vegan cooking.

Here’s the thing: I’m not vegan. I eat dairy. But I’m also trying to eat more healthfully, and in trying recipes here and there that use the ingredient — and loving them — I’m starting to realize that cashew cream should be on the must-try list for anybody, vegan or not, who wants to cut back on calories and saturated fat.

Or, frankly, for anyone who just wants something that tastes good. Turns out that using cashew cream is anything but a sacrifice.

My first aha! moment with the stuff came when I tried a recipe for tempeh in mushroom cream sauce this year. The sauce had a touch of richness, a silky texture, and yet it wasn’t as heavy as it would have been with actual cream.

The same qualities demonstrated themselves when I made a red chard linguine from the revised, 10th-anniversary edition of Isa Chandra Moscowitz’s “Vegan With a Vengeance” (Da Capo, 2015). The sauce, which turns a lavender color from the chard stems and red wine, thickens up wonderfully with the addition of the cashew cream, which you make by soaking the raw nuts for a couple of hours before blending for a few minutes (or less if you have a high-speed blender like a VitaMix).

Even better, when I did a nutritional analysis comparison — the original recipe vs. a version where I swapped in cream for the cashew concoction — the difference was stark: 2.5 grams of saturated fat compared with 18, 460 calories compared with 640.

I don’t make every eating choice based on nutrition alone (as my waistline can attest), but when the better-for-you option also happens to be delicious, there’s really no reason not to take it.