Cauliflower is a secret, unsung hero in the world of calorie deficits or paleo practitioners. When most people think of cauliflower, they remember their parents forcing them to eat their vegetables at dinner. Some of you don’t even know what cauliflower tastes like, or tried it once ten years ago and didn’t care for the taste, and have never looked back. Well, I am here to show you some unique ways that this covert culinary agent can help you on your quest to becoming the best version of you!
Cauliflower as a rice substitute?!
I know, it sounds weird, right? The first mask that cauliflower will don is that of rice. It makes an excellent rice substitute for those paleo practitioners or people that are cutting. Here is how you make it:
- 1) Cut up cauliflower florets into small chunks. Trim as much stem as you can, since the stem contains most of the bitter parts. *BONUS* You can also use Purple or Orange cauliflower for this. Purple cauliflower has a more mellow, nutty taste. Orange has a sweeter tangier taste. Either way, cut your cauliflower up and put it into a food processor. No, a blender or stick blender won’t work. Sorry.
- 2) Pulse/process for several seconds until the cauliflower is chopped into small, rice size bits. Some of them will be smaller and some of them will be larger, but this is ok. As long as the majority of the florets have been processed. Remove any large florets that did not process completely, and empty the contents into a clean hand towel.
- 3) Wring out the excess water in the cauliflower. There will be quite a bit, so give it a good wringing out.
- 4) Place your wrung out cauliflower rice into a microwave safe bowl. Microwave the rice for 8-10 minutes for a full head, 4-6 minutes for half a head. You can also add flavoring to the rice before you microwave it for a little extra flavor. For example, when I make stir-fry, I will add some Guilin chili paste and Sriracha to my rice before I microwave it. You could do the same with virtually any spice.
- 5) After you microwave it, let it cool for a minute or so and then you can serve it in place of rice.
Crazy huh? What about bread? Cauliflower can also make a convincing substitute for pizza crust. I make pizza crust out cauliflower like this:
Follow the steps for making cauliflower rice, except when you process the cauliflower, process it into a very fine state. Do not liquify it, but make sure the granules are very small and even. Wring the cauliflower out like before and microwave it like before (sans flavoring). Now, once it is finished in the microwave and you give it a moment to cool:
- 1) Add 1-2 beaten eggs. You can use 1 whole egg and 1 egg white if you prefer. You may need slightly more or slightly less, depending on how much cauliflower you have prepared.
- 2) Add ½ cup of fat free cream cheese or fat free greek yogurt. I have used both and it does not change the way the crust comes out from what I can tell. Use what you have on hand.
- 3) Add some spices. I usually add oregano, salt, pepper, basil, thyme, crushed red pepper, black pepper, and a little Ms. Dash. If you have some fat free Parmesan cheese or something you could add a little in as well.
- 4) Use a stand mixer to mix the whole thing up, or just mix it by hand. It will end up being a big sticky ball when you are done with it. It will be much stickier than a normal “dough” would be, but that is ok.
- 5) Take the mixture and place it on a baking sheet sprayed with zero-cal non-stick spray. If the baking sheet is kind of old or ratty, try using some parchment paper in between because it will tend to stick. Push it out evenly into a round or square shape of even thickness. I usually make mine rather thin, maybe ⅛ inch or so. You can make it thicker or thinner, just be aware that the thinner you go, the more you have to watch it for burning, and the more evenly you have to distribute the dough.
Bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes or so. It may be more time, may be less.. you basically want to see it start browning. Once it is getting crisp and browned, pull it out, put your pizza toppings on (I like chicken, vegetables, sriracha, and fat free cheese), and put it back in for 5-10 minutes until your toppings are melted and warmed through. Low carb, low calorie pizza.
You can also use this dough technique to make bread for sandwiches. Just make your crust your desired thickness and bake it until it is browned. Take it out and let it cool, and then cut it into squares.
The last cauliflower hack is Mashed Potatoes. Sounds weird, but bare with me.
Start out in a similar way by cutting your cauliflower florets, trimming the stems. This time, you will take your chopped florets and put them into a container and microwave them for 8-10 minutes for a full head (4-6 for a half). After you microwave the florets, let them cool and then place them in a clean dish towel. Squeeze most of the moisture from the florets (there will be quite a bit). After you squeeze the water out of the florets, put them into a food processor.
Now, put in some spices. I use garlic, black pepper, a little soy milk, and some smart balance butter substitute. Pulse this in your processor for 10-15 second, or until it reaches the desired consistency. Give it a moment to cool and then take it out and serve like you would mashed potatoes. The taste is a little odd at first, but the texture is almost spot on for creamy mashed potatoes.
Well, there you go. Three cauliflower hacks you can use for your next cut to get some of that carby goodness you are missing. Now what are you waiting for? Go make a cauliflower pizza and lift some heavy shit!