Eat Yummy and Maintain Your Tummy
I am a big believer that delicious and nutritious do not have to be mutually exclusive terms! In fact, mindfully selecting and preparing fresh foods can enhance even the most common dishes with added color, texture, aroma, and flavor. Pay attention next time you are in the produce section of the market at the variety of colors. Beans, beets, carrots, cauliflower, lettuces, onions, peppers, potatoes, and tomatoes all come in a rainbow of options to choose from.
Personally, I try to avoid high-carb, low-nutrition foods like potatoes. These simple carbs increase insulin – and subsequently food cravings – that can impair our ability to make good choices about what we feed our body. Like bread, pasta, and rice, the real substance and taste comes from what we put on them. So, it makes more sense to me to just enjoy the good and good-for-you toppings without the empty carb fillers.
That being said, mashed potatoes are such a traditional side dish, that a healthy alternative is a must-have for every kitchen connoisseur. Mashed cauliflower is a fantastic swap for mashed potatoes for several reasons. It has more nutritional value, less calories (by half), and fewer carbs (by a third). Plus, I think it actually tastes better!
Cauliflower shares the overall neutral simplicity of potatoes, but it also has natural hints of flavor with warm notes that remind me of butter, garlic, and chicken broth. The one note I hear sometimes, though, is that mashed cauliflower often retains more moisture than potatoes, which can result in a thinner finished product. But I have a couple of suggestions to share that can help you keep your cauliflower less watery.
Tips & Tricks
The first tip is to use the florets but not the stems. (The stems tend to hold more moisture.) And the nice part is that the stems still taste great raw, and are a fantastic addition to salads. Simply slice them like you would a carrot and add them to your salad veggies. No waste!
Another trick that is enormously helpful is not to boil your cauliflower. This prevents moisture from escaping and adds moisture at the same time. Steaming is a better option but baking is the best method. I’ll give you directions for both recipe methods, so you can try them out and decide for yourself. I find that in addition to being dryer, baking adds a bit more flavor that gives the final product a richer complexity.
Lastly, be sure to let your cauliflower cool down after cooking. All of that steam will mean less liquid and a thicker “mash.”
Healthy Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” Recipe
This familiar favorite will satisfy your taste buds with a lightness that won’t leave you feeling bloated and tired.
6 cups of cauliflower florets (no stems)
100% olive oil cooking spray
1 tbsp ghee or butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
salt & pepper
1/4 cup fresh chives or parsley
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
Lay out your cauliflower florets on a baking pan in a single layer.
Spray the florets with 100% olive oil spray, and then turn them over and spray the other side.
Sprinkle them with salt and pepper.
Bake for 15 to 20 minutes
Remove them from the oven and turn the florets over.
Bake for an additional 15 to 20 minutes. (Florets should be very soft.)
Allow to cool for at least 15 minutes. (Escaping steam further reduces unwanted moisture.)
Add salted water to a large pot with a steamer basket and bring to a boil.
Place your cauliflower florets in the steamer basket and secure the lid.
Reduce the water temperature and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes. (Florets should be very soft.)
Allow the steamer basket to drain and air dry for at least 15 minutes to allow steam and moisture to escape.
Over medium heat, melt one teaspoon of ghee or butter.
Add garlic and saute just long enough to soften it and infuse the oil with flavor. (A minute or so should suffice.)
Combine cooked cauliflower and sauteed garlic in a food processor.
Puree until completely smooth.
Place in a serving bowl.
Garnish with chopped chives and/or parsley.
Serve and enjoy!