Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Cauliflower: Three Ways

I know what you're thinking.  You're thinking, "Sweet Jesus, she's writing a post on cauliflower...She's done gone and lost it." And there was a time in the not too distant past that I would have been right there with you. For me, cauliflower was always just kind of... "meh" and I more or less considered it broccoli's bastard cousin...less flavor, less pizazz, less likely to be invited to grandma's for dinner. But before your eyes glaze over and you write this post off as one that would put even the most caffinated person into a comatose-like sleep, just give me a chance.

It wasn't until I discovered the culinary versatility of this underrated vegetable that I began appreciating how much it has to offer. Upon learning about the nutrient content, I was surprised to find that it is not only low in sugar and carbohydrates, it's also high in dietary fiber, folate, vitamin C, calcium, potassium, and contains several phytochemicals that are extremely beneficial to our health.  These phytochemicals are known to slow the growth of cancerous cells, while a high intake of cauliflower has even been associated with a reduced risk of aggressive prostrate cancer.  So how boring is cauliflower now, huh?  Cauliflower can SAVE YOUR LIFE...Kinda like how T.C. always bailed Magnum P.I. out of trouble...Cauliflower is the T.C. of vegetables, ladies and gentlemen.

So now what? How do I eat the stuff?

I'm glad you asked.

Besides, chopping it up and throwing it raw into a salad (which is an excellent idea),  I've outlined three different ways you can enjoy Cauliflower in all of it's ass-kicking glory.

1). Garlic Cauliflower Mash:  Think mashed potatoes without all the carbs and starch.  First, grab a head of cauliflower, remove the greens, and cut off the stem.  Cut the cauliflower into florets and throw them in a steamer, covered for about 15 minutes or until soft.  Place the steamed cauliflower into a blender with about 1 TBSP of olive oil, 1 tsp of sea salt and two cloves of pressed garlic. Pulse until blended to the consistency of mashed potatoes.  Be careful not to puree too long or you will have cauliflower soup, which although sounds interesting is not what we're going for here. In the corresponding photo I served the mash with baked cod and roasted asparagus.  The fun part about a mash is you can get creative, add some rosemary, or  if you really want to get fancy schmancy, use a dash of truffle oil to give a different spin and and make others think you're too hot to trot.

2). Cauliflower Rice: This recipe also calls for one head of cauliflower. Prepare the cauliflower much like you would in the previous recipe, but instead of steaming, pulse the raw florets through a food processor until they reach the consistency of rice.  This is where the magic happens.  I like to use my cauliflower rice in a stir fry, so I simply add whatever veggies I have available.  In the photo above, I used red onion, red pepper, garlic, and lacinato kale. To prepare, saute the chopped onion and pepper in about 1 TBSP of coconut oil over medium heat until the onion is nearly translucent. Add the chopped garlic and saute for another few minutes.

 Now, it's time to add in the cauliflower and the kale. Just a quick note: One head of cauliflower makes a lot of rice, I used about 2 cups for 2 servings of stir fry and froze the rest for use at a later date...I seasoned the stir fry with Bragg's Liquid Aminos and a little bit of coriander and pepper, but feel free to add whatever spices you like...Stir the mixture together, cover and turn heat to low.  Let simmer for 10 minutes or until the cauliflower is soft like rice. Serve warm and wonder how you were able to live so long without such a fun and simple way to eat your veggies!

3). Korean Fried Cauliflower: This little gem was the spawn of my husband's urge to satisfy an intense craving after a two-hour marathon of "Diner's Drive-Ins and Dives"...For those of you who watch the Food Network, you know exactly what I'm talking about, Willis. Since, I wasn't privy to the entire process, and although I'm not a huge fan of fried foods, I've decided to provide you with the link and let you do the rest-. Like everything in life, moderation is key and if you get to the point where you're jonesin' for something naughty, then a little fried cauliflower is probably better than a lot of other things. So knock yourself out. 

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Zucchini Noodles with Avocado Miso Dressing.

There are few things as frustrating as when on April 13th you look outside from your blanket-wrapped cocoon only to see grey skies and...snow. A lot of people would take this time as an opportunity to curl up with a book, maybe venture out to see a movie.  Me?  I've decided to remind myself that it actually is spring, and write a spring-like post on a dish that makes me want to throw on my flip flops and take a spin around the lake on my cruiser.

Introducing; zucchini noodles.

I've professed my love for kick-ass kitchen appliances in the past, and I'm going to do it again as I write about my newfound love: The julienne peeler. Gone are the days of meticulously slicing carrots into tiny matchstick-like pieces for salads...Now, I just whip out this bad boy and it's done.  The best part about this peeler?  It turns vegetables into NOODLES!  That's right. Noodles. Honestly, what's more fun to eat? Pieces of plain old zucchini, or zucchini that's been turned into a noodle?  (Do you even need to answer such a silly question?)

You can create any sauce or dressing to dress your noodles and incorporate other veggies, nuts, or lean proteins for a healthy, filling dish.

In the salad pictured above,  I used one yellow squash and one zucchini as the noodle base and incorporated diced red pepper, mango, scallions, sliced almonds, carrots, jalapeno and cilantro and dressed the whole shebang with an Avocado Miso Dressing. Sprinkle on some chia seeds, or flax seed, or even add a bit of wild rice-Just like any salad, it's up to you as to what you want to throw in.

I've also whipped up a creamy pesto by simply mixing my pistachio pesto with a little cashew cream, and mixed it with the noodles along with cherry tomatoes, red pepper, and pine nuts.

Just a few ideas to get you started with your zucchini noodle's cool...we don't judge here.

Remember: it doesn't have to be perfect, it just has to be good!

Eat Healthy, Stay Happy!

Avocado Miso Dressing:
1 avocado
1 lime zest and juice
1/2 cup zucchini (you can use the leftovers of the zucchini and squash after it has been julienned)
1 Tbsp yellow miso
1 tsp fresh ginger
1 small handful cilantro
1 scallion, white and half green
dash of cayenne
salt and pepper to taste

Blend all ingredients until creamy.