I decided to teach a version of cauli-rice in my classes last month mainly because I have received a lot of emails and questions on Instagram about this phenomenon. It’s partly my fault because I posted on Instagram riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s a few times. Some of the comments were, “I have some and I don’t know what to do with it.” Or “I can never find this at Trader Joe’s. It’s always out of stock!” Which is usually followed by tales of people hoarding cases of cauliflower rice. Or stores in different parts of the country limiting quantities of how much people can buy. I mean, seriously? It’s cauliflower! Pulsed in a food processor! Huh.
I was talking to some friends the other day about our college-aged daughters, some of whom already live in off-campus housing and are no longer on meal plans. That is, they have divorced themselves from dining hall food and have embraced the world of kitchenettes and home cooking. I remember my first semester off meal plan. I had visions of cooking up all sorts of wondrous things like lasagne or chicken Marbella or homemade bread and flourless chocolate cakes, my specialities in 1989. But alas, I actually had to study night and day so that one day I might be employable. No time to fuss in the kitchen since there was no way I would be making a career in the food industry. Good gracious, no. The irony.
Alas, when I do think back to that era, anytime I did cook up something, it had to be fast, reasonably nutritious and budget-friendly. I made A LOT of stir-fries. I made so many stir-fries, I owned a wok. I was 20. So as I was talking to these other mamas about our girls and my possibly do a little cooking class for them this summer, I thought I would definitely start with a stir-fry.
My husband has no choice but to eat what I make every night because there are no other options and the man does not cook. That said, if I’m being totally honest, I think he would rather eat lasagne and cheeseburgers over quinoa and brown rice bakes. I do, however, think he appreciates how my cooking makes him feel, which is “not gross” and he has definitely come to like plant foods and veggies more and more. But there are certain occasions when he just wants me to leave things be, like Thanksgiving. Not to worry, I’m not starting to post Thanksgiving recipes yet. We still have 6 1/2 weeks to go for that. But who’s counting?
When I suggested either eliminating regular mashed potatoes from the Thanksgiving menu or replacing them with cauliflower mashed potatoes, he stood up and exclaimed, “NOW you’re taking this too far!” He may have even pointed his finger in the air, I can’t remember. Ok, I got the message. But, I haven’t made “Thanksgiving” mashed potatoes on any other day of the year since then, instead I have used this Cauliflower Mashed Potato recipe. And guess what? Everyone loves it! They’re creamy, light and hardly taste at all like cauliflower.
It’s not that mashed potatoes are so terrible for you. I wouldn’t put them in the class of Twinkies and Diet Coke, for example. But potatoes without the peel aren’t a 10/10 and all that half-an-half and butter make mashed potatoes a very rich, not necessarily super digestible, dish. But cauliflower puree made from just cauliflower doesn’t have the same body (too thin) as regular mashed potatoes and I’m not fooling anyone with that one. A combo of cauliflower and potatoes is what my family and I like best and I love that it is definitely more healthful and arguably waaaay easier to make than regular mashed potatoes if you have a food processor or an immersion blender.
I have been talking up cauliflower as the “new kale” for some time and truthfully, I think cauliflower is much more versatile than kale. Last night I made cauliflower “steaks.” I’ve used cold steamed cauliflower in smoothies. There are recipes for cauliflower alfredo sauce, and so on. The best part is that cauliflower is a rock star plant food rich in Vitamin C, folate, Vitamin K, fiber, antioxidants as well as several anti-cancer phyto-chemicals like sulforaphane and plant sterols such as indole-3-carbinol, which appears to function as an anti-estrogen agent.
I serve this the same way I would regular mashed potatoes, with poultry or beef or saucy roasted vegetables. I also count this as a starch, even though it’s mostly cauliflower, and I would serve a green veggie on the side. And if you want to make this up to two hours in advance, just keep it warm over a double boiler. That’s also the trick I use for making mashed potatoes in advance on Thanksgiving. Ooops. I wrote the T-word again. Plenty of time until then, I swear. First post coming in 2 1/2 weeks!
We all have those recipes we love but don’t make very often (for me it’s chicken pot pie and spanakopita.) And then there are the recipes you rely on when you don’t want to think about what to make. Those are your go-to, no-fail, everyone-loves-this recipes. I wish I had an endless supply of those. But I am going to share one of my-go’s with you today! This roasted veggie buddha bowl is just that. I swear I could eat this every day. I taught this recipe in my classes in January and I actually did eat it every day and I never got tired of it.
A Buddha bowl is really just a simple combination of (usually) lightly steamed vegetables on top of a gluten-free grain, like brown rice, and often topped with a sauce or dressing of sorts. It is a very clean and healthful meal, but very satisfying. Personally, I prefer all my meals in a bowl. I love when all my food gets combined and every bite has a little bit of everything. It’s Mr. Picky’s worst nightmare.
A Buddha bowl is flexible. Clean out of the vegetable crisper and use what you’ve got. Not in the mood for rice? Use quinoa or millet. Soy or peanut-based sauces are very popular on Buddha bowls, but I am kind of obsessed with my lemon-tahini dressing from this salad, so I adapted that for this recipe. And even though I said a Buddha bowl is usually made with steamed vegetables, who says you can’t roast them? Like with a little coconut oil until the edges are just a bit crispy. Heaven!
I make dinner for my family every night (and if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you would know exactly what that looks like!) Even though I am a big proponent of one meal for all, there always those days I ate a late lunch after a class and I’m not feeling like the roast chicken and potatoes I am making for dinner that night. This Buddha bowl is my go-to on nights like that. I’ll make a big pan of roasted veggies for all of us and then whip up this dressing and a pot of steamed quinoa and voila! I have something a little lighter and I’m a happy camper. That’s not to say that my husband and my kids don’t like Buddha bowls. They all really do, especially my girls. As you would imagine, Mr. Picky doesn’t exactly eat his in a bowl. Rice in one separate, distinct area on a plate, roasted veg in another and hold the dressing, please. No problem, dude.
If you decide to make this dressing for your Buddha bowl, you really have a nice vegetarian meal no matter what grain you use since tahini is basically just sesame paste. Sesame seeds are high in protein, good fats and did you know, calcium? Just good to know if you’re looking for non-dairy sources of calcium. And if you make this with broccoli and kale, you have a very calcium-rich meal. I also like to sprinkle everything my Buddha bowl with gomasio, a macrobiotic condiment which is just a mixture of sesame seeds and sea salt. The one I use by Eden Organic also has seaweed in it. If you have all the other ingredients, but not the gomasio, make this anyway — you will love it and you will feel awesome after eating it. Have a lovely weekend!
Roasted Vegetable Buddha Bowl with Lemon-Tahini Dressing
Dressing (makes about 2 Tablespoons/serving):
3 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice, about 1 small lemon
2 small cloves of garlic, grated or minced or just smash the cloves if you don't actually want to eat the garlic, but still have a subtle garlic flavor
¼ cup raw tahini (roasted tahini is fine, but raw is a little milder)
3-4 Tablespoons room temperature or warm water
¼ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon sea salt + more to taste
pinch of cayenne (optional)
8-10 cups mixed vegetables such as 1 head of broccoli, cut into bite-sized florets and stems, trimmed and chopped AND 1 head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized florets*
2 Tablespoons melted unrefined coconut oil or unrefined olive oil
3-4 large leaves of kale, washed, dried, stems removed
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
Steamed brown rice, millet or quinoa for serving (optional)
Plain or seaweed gomasio for sprinkling on top (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
Make the dressing (or you can make while the vegetables are roasting): in a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, garlic, tahini, water, olive oil, salt and cayenne until well blended. Just use the amount of water you need to get the consistency you want.
In a large bowl, toss the broccoli and cauliflower with the coconut oil. Don’t wash the bowl yet. Place the broccoli and cauliflower in one layer on the prepared baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Roast for about 20-30 minutes, or until tender and golden in spots. I like to turn the vegetables after about 15 minutes.
Take the kale leaves and rub them around the bowl with any remaining coconut oil until lightly coated. Tear until large pieces and sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place on top of the broccoli and cauliflower in the oven and roast until the kale is just crispy, about 5-10 minutes.
If you’d like to eat this as a “bowl,” place a scoop of rice/millet/quinoa in a bowl and top with the vegetables. Spoon some sauce over everything and sprinkle with gomasio, if desired.
*Other roasted veggies that would be great are beets, carrots, and sweet potatoes!
I always spend Christmas week in New York with my family and it’s a great time catching up, celebrating and eating. Eating a lot. It’s a bit hard for me to follow my normal food routine when I am there. I don’t have my juicer, or access to the juice bars which are all over the place where I live. We visit with a lot of family and go out to eat more often than I do at home. But one of the main obstacles to my eating beet greens and quinoa as often as I like is that my husband’s favorite food group is pizza. Make that New York pizza. His second favorite food group is pasta, the kind with gluten. And then it’s anything “alla Parmigiana.”
So when we go to New York, he’s like a kid in a candy store, except all the candy has dairy, white flour and tomato sauce! Of course, I have a slight weakness for good NY pizza myself and I partake in the food fest, too (although maybe not quite as much.) Ironically, after we indulge in pizza for most of the week on Long Island and Brooklyn, we get together at the home of one of my cousins in Westchester and have, if you can believe it, a “pizza tasting party” with a few of my cousins and their kids. I swear.
We each bring a few pies from our favorite pizzerias and taste them all. There’s clam pie from Pepe’s and Sicilian from Sal’s; a cheeseless pizza from Polpetina and a classic from Johnny’s. There are others that I can’t even remember. The first few years that we did this, we actually voted to determine which was the best pie. Now we don’t even pretend we care. We just eat it all and wash it down with Chianti. And this year, a heating pad came out at bedtime.
I don’t normally like to mess with a good thing, but sometimes curiosity gets the best of me. A few years ago, I noticed a lot of recipes flying around the internet for pizza crust made out of cauliflower. Life has taught me, among other things, that if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is. And cauliflower crust pizza recipes proved that point. I tried a bunch and didn’t see what all the fuss was about. The cauliflower crust was usually mushy and fell apart, and the pizza would have to be eaten with a fork and knife. That didn’t fly in my house.
But I have always been intrigued with the idea of making a treat like pizza something I could eat a little more frequently and then I saw the recipe that I knew would work. And I saw the step that was missing from all my previous attempts and I kicked myself. How could I not have thought of squeezing the cauliflower dry?! After another attempt, I was actually able to make a pizza that tasted enough like pizza that I could pick up and eat it out of my hand.
I didn’t think my husband would actually like this at all, so I was pretty close to not even letting him sample it. But he came home one day and the house smelled like pizza and there was no stopping him. He LOVED this! And so did my girls! Mr. Picky still has issues with cheese and isn’t a pizza fan anyway, so he was predictably lukewarm about it.
My only caveat here is that it’s not an “instant” recipe. You have to cook and squeeze the cauliflower dry, then make and prebake the crust. All steps I think are worth it for a pretty nutritious pizza. As you can see in the above pictures, I made a large pizza and then many mini pizzettes, which I think would be amazing for a party. So much of this recipe at be done ahead of time, including make the crust batter or even pre-baking the crusts!
Hoping you all may enjoy good health and much happiness in 2014!!
Preheat oven to 450 degrees and place a baking sheet or pizza stone in the oven as it is heating up.
Brush a large piece of parchment paper with olive oil (big enough to fit your pizza stone or baking sheet.)
Place the cauliflower in a food processor fitted with a metal blade. Pulse for about 30 seconds until you get very small pieces (resembling snow or rice.) You should end up with about 3 cups of cauliflower.
Place the cauliflower and 2 cups of water in a medium saucepan and bring to a boil, lower the heat to a simmer, cover, and allow to steam for about 5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender. Drain in a fine mesh sieve and allow to cool. (If you use a colander to drain, you will lose a lot of cauliflower.)
When the cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it all up in a clean, thin dish towel and squeeze out as much excess water as possible. The less moist the cauliflower, the crispier the crust will be.
Transfer the squeezed cauliflower to a bowl and stir in the parmesan or pecorino, mozzarella, salt, dried oregano, garlic powder, red pepper flakes and almond meal/flour. Add egg whites and mix with your hands until combined.
Using your hands, form the mixture into tightly packed 3” rounds or a 10-12” round and place them on the oiled parchment paper.
Slide the parchment paper onto the HOT baking sheet or pizza stone. An inverted baking sheet or a pizza peel can help with this.
Bake for approximately 15 minutes until the crust starts to turn golden brown.
Remove crusts from oven and top with desired toppings, then place back in the oven and cook for another 7 minutes until cheese is melted and bubbly. You just don’t want to overdo it with any toppings that are very wet.
Allow to cool slightly and serve.
You can bake the crusts earlier in the day and refrigerate them until ready to top and bake. Or you can make the batter the night before.
Don’t change that dial! I know what’s happening here. You see the word “millet” and all of a sudden you need to go wash your hair instead of reading the rest of this post. You think it’s bird seed or that you’re family will think it’s bird seed. Ok, you’re not far off, but this is incredibly tasty birdseed, people! I know you established some hardcore resolutions last week and I am here to help. This millet mash is delicious, creamy, comforting, and incredibly nutritious AND alkalizing and gluten-free and dairy-free and vegan and everything else you want to be right now. Still with me?
Millet is such an under-appreciated seed. It’s very easy and quick to prepare and has a very mild flavor. I posted a millet recipe last year and discussed the myriad benefits of millet there. Do check it out if you’re new here! I also made a scrumptious millet porridge the other day with coconut milk, almond milk and no additional sweeteners. I think I like it better than my brown rice pudding.
Last year I taught this Millet-Cauliflower Mash with hesitation. I always have a few risky recipes which make me worried people will think they’re too “out there.” But deep down I knew this dish was amazing and it ended up being a huge hit. Millet-Cauliflower Mash is my mashed potatoes without the potatoes and without the butter and cream. I actually considered serving this for Thanksgiving, but my husband thought I was getting carried away. Truthfully, I serve mashed potatoes once a year (on Thanksgiving) and Millet-Cauliflower Mash practically once a month the rest of the year. I won’t lie and tell you it tastes exactly like mashed potatoes. Millet is slightly nutty and corny tasting and this puree isn’t baby-food-smooth like mashed potatoes, but instead feels a little like polenta. The flavor is definitely very mild and neutral, though. I love it with anything saucy like Baked Chicken with Artichokes or Orange and Rosemary Glazed Chicken. You can even serve it with meatballs or a vegetable stew. If you have leftovers, the mash will firm up in the refrigerator and you’ll need to add a bit of water or broth to reheat it. Alternatively, you can treat it like leftover polenta and slice it up and then bake it or fry it. Still with me? Great! Now go get thee some millet!
“Wow.” That’s what I said a few days ago when I woke up and it was December. DE-CEMBER. I’ve got no holiday card in the works yet. I went to the movies on Black Friday and I worked through Cyber Monday which means I am waaaaaay behind on my Christmas and Hanukkah shopping. The only December task I have checked off my list is getting Mr. Picky’s suit let out so I wouldn’t have to go out and buy him another for Christmas Eve. But I’m not worried about Christmas quite yet since that’s a good 3 weeks away. Hanukkah, on the other hand, starts on Saturday. This Saturday!
As you might have learned from reading this blog, my family is Italian and my husband is half Jewish and half Puerto Rican which means a lot of holidays and a lot of food! But thankfully, and I mean that, I am off the hook for preparing the annual Hanukkah dinner and gift exchange with my husband’s family. My mother-in-law has that one mastered so she will be making dozens of potato latkes for us to enjoy when we celebrate this weekend. Traditional foods on Hanukkah include anything fried in oil to symbolize the miracle oil in the temple in Jerulsalem. For most, this means potato pancakes (latkes) and doughnuts. Ugh. Not the most healthful foods on the planet. I usually indulge in a latke or two since my mother-in-law makes the absolute best. But the Jews love a holiday and many of them last 8 days, Hanukkah included. So my kids and my husband nudge me to make latkes a few more times during the week. They know better than to ask me to make doughnuts.
To mix it up a bit, I always cook up zucchini latkes at least once during Hanukkah and the kids love them, especially Mr. Picky. This year I am also going to make these delicious Cauliflower Fritters during Hanukkah because to me they taste kind of latke-ish, they’re cooked in oil, they’re made with CAULIFLOWER and my family is obsessed with them! There may not be any potato in there, but I bet you could grate a fresh potato and fold it in there and call it a Cauliflower Latke! I’ve seen many recipes which use cauliflower in place of potatoes or rice. Cauliflower is rather neutral in flavor and mashes up nicely to a soft texture so you really have no idea there is cauliflower in these patties.
What I love about these Cauliflower Fritters is that the batter can be made earlier in the day and the fritters made just before you are ready to eat. My husband loves them on top of a pool of warm marinara sauce, Mr. Picky squirts mustard on his, and I like to eat them with a crisp salad. Since there is flour in the batter, I treat these fritters as if they were a starch and I make another vegetable side dish for dinner. Once you taste these, you’ll be making them all year long!
4 cups steamed*, chopped cauliflower, about 1 medium head (you can also use frozen, steamed cauliflower, defrosted)
1 cup whole wheat pastry flour or gluten-free flour (I like King Arthur Multi-purpose Gluten-free Flour) (you can also use all-purpose flour)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
2 large eggs, beaten
½ cup grated Pecorino or Parmesan cheese (optional if you're dairy-free)
¼ cup fresh parsley or chives, finely chopped
1 teaspoon sea salt
freshly ground black pepper to taste
About ¼ cup hot water
Unrefined olive oil for cooking fritters
Place the cauliflower in a large bowl and add the flour, garlic, eggs, cheese, parsley, salt and a few grinds of pepper and combine. Add hot water a little at a time to make a batter that looks like egg salad. I mush everything together with my hands.
Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add about 2 tablespoons oil or enough to coat bottom of skillet. When oil is heated, take a ¼ cup of batter and form into a patty. Cook in the oil until golden brown on the bottom. Flip fritter and cook until golden brown on the second side. You can likely fit 6 fritters at one time. Repeat with remaining batter.
The batter can be made ahead and the fritters can be frozen, too.
*To steam the cauliflower, cut it into large florets and place in a vegetable steamer over boiling water, steam, covered, until the cauliflower is tender, (about 7-10 minutes), then roughly chop, measure 4 cups, and place into a large bowl.
We have had some interesting discussions in my classes lately about the latest findings concerning the presence of arsenic in rice. Arsenic is a chemical element which occurs naturally in water, air, food, and soil. This natural form is referred to as organic arsenic. Arsenic is also the product of contamination from manmade fetilizers and pesticides, as well as burning coal and oil. This inorganic arsenic is what is linked to certain cancers and has many people concerned. Inorganic arsenic has found its way into may different foods through soil, as well as into our drinking water, but for some reason rice absorbs it much more than other foods.
Although I don’t take such reports lightly, the jury is still out on just how much arsenic is actually in rice since it varies from region to region (California-grown rice seems to contain less than rice grown in Arkansas, for example) and how much we should limit or not limit our rice consumption. I’m generally not an alarmist in these situations, so I will be mindful of this information and continue to eat rice in moderation. But it’s a good reminder of why it’s important to eat a well-balanced diet of a wide variety of whole foods (90% of the time, of course!). I’m sure one can do research and find whatever it is we want to hear. I like Dr. David Katz’s interesting point that cancer rates are generally low where rice consumption is highest.
But if you are concerned about your rice intake or you’re just looking to expand your horizons a little, have I got the recipe for you! Cauliflower Tabbouleh uses barely steamed and grated cauliflower in place of the typical bulgur wheat, making this a grain-free, gluten-free salad. When the cauliflower is grated, it completely resembles rice in appearance and even texture a little. It’s fun serving this tabbouleh to guests who usually have no idea what they’re eating and naturally assume it’s rice. Cauliflower has a fairly subtle flavor, so you really pick up everything else that’s going on here with fresh herbs, juicy pomegranates and a sweet-earthy dressing.
Tabbouleh is traditionally a parsley salad with bits of bulgur wheat, onion, tomato and cucumber. It’s such an awesome, healthful, fresh salad which I really enjoy when the weather is warm. I make a really yummy version with quinoa that is one of my summer staples. But this recipe with cauliflower is like an autumnal tabbouleh with some pomegranates for a sweet and juicy crunch. Many “cauliflower rice” recipes call for the cauliflower to be raw, which I don’t enjoy as much as giving it a quick steam or blanche. Raw cruciferous vegetables are also a tad harder to digest than lightly cooked. Cauliflower is is very rich in fiber, phosphorus and potassium, and a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Folate, and Manganese. Plus the entire cruciferous family contains powerful anti-cancer compounds.
I just made this for Rosh Hashana lunch last week and served it with roast chicken and a few other salads. The girls got it in their lunchboxes the next day mixed with a few spoonfuls of quinoa and one of them had some feta mixed in as well. By the way, I am posting photos of the kids’ school lunches once a week on Facebook and Twitter in case you’re in a lunchbox rut. I also love this cauliflower with Spice-Rubbed Salmon, grilled chicken kabobs, and even turkey burgers. More importantly, there are so many ways to have fun with this preparation of cauliflower. I’m thinking about using it in place of rice for a vegetable fried rice, just for fun of course. No one here is giving up rice that fast!
½ cup finely diced red onion or shallot (you can soak in ice water for 15 minutes to take the raw edge off)
¼ cup chopped parsley leaves
2 Tablespoons chopped fresh mint leaves
¼ cup fresh lemon juice
½ cup unrefined, cold-pressed, extra-virgin olive oil
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
¾ teaspoon cumin
¾ teaspoon sea salt
½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper or to taste
Prepare a large bowl with ice water. Place cauliflower in a large pot with an inch of water and a teaspoon of kosher salt. Bring to a boil and steam cauliflower for 3-4 minutes until crisp tender. Drain in a colander and immediately plunge cauliflower in ice water.
Drain cauliflower and transfer to a clean kitchen towel to dry off a little.
Fit the grater attachment in a food processor and gently grate/shred the cauliflower. It will look like barley or rice. Transfer to a serving bowl.
Stir in remaining ingredients and toss to combine. Taste for seasonings, especially if you allow this to sit. You may need an extra pinch of salt.