MTP Sports Dietitian Juliana Lisboa’s newest series of articles as she aims to challenge herself and try new things in the kitchen.
I may have mentioned this before, but for those who missed it, I’m not a very skilled cook. In a weird way, it makes eating healthy pretty easy, and very simple – have you ever cooked a salad? Me either. But as my grandmother said, variety is the spice of life, so I see the value of learning new skills and using new ingredients. And that’s exactly what I decided to do this year. Each month, experiment with a food or cooking method I’m not familiar with, and try to add something beneficial to my repertoire of healthy recipes.
It’s March, and before we get too hung up on the fact that I skipped two months of potential cooking already, here is experiment number one: Cauliflower rice.
This is a recipe that has been floating around the internet for a while now, and I have even seen it on a few menus around Sydney. The texture is very similar to couscous, so you could substitute it in any couscous based recipes. It is a great way of adding more veggies into a meal – while at the same time having the opportunity to control the amount of carbohydrates.
What you will need:
1 small head of cauliflower
Food processor or box grater
An extensive list, I know…
Break the cauliflower into small florets, that’s those little mini cauliflowers all over the big one, give it a quick wash under running water, and place it in the food processor. Pulse or process on “low” until you get the consistency of couscous, don’t go too far, or you’ll get mush!
Now here is where things start to get fun! I was having slow cooked meat with it, so I chopped some onion and garlic, added a bit of oil and lightly cooked the cauliflower in that. You can get way more creative, adding chopped nuts, herbs and spices or dried fruit for example.
The left overs:
There was quite a lot left, and although at the time the smell was fine, in a couple of days it had that very distinct cauliflower smell, which put me off a bit. Next time, I will either invite some friends over, so we finish it all in one go, use a smaller head or half a head, or I will try my hand on making cauliflower pizza crust with the leftovers (another hit on the interwebs).
A note on digestion:
Cauliflower contains mannitol, a sugar that resists digestion in most people, and is then fermented by the gut bacteria, which is very beneficial. However, if you are not used to eating a lot of cauliflower very often, it could give you gas and gut discomfort when you do. To avoid this, start with a small amount and gradually increase until you are comfortable eating the whole serve. Individual tolerances will vary. By the way, if you experience irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) symptoms, a dietitian can help.
A note on carbohydrates:
Depending on the person, you will need more or less carbohydrates in your diet. For most people, eating too much at once is not a good idea, but perhaps eating none at all might not work for you either. Fussy kids could also notice the sudden change and decide not to eat it. To avoid this, and to have control over how much carbohydrate you are having, mix couscous with the cauliflower, and play with the ratio of the two.
So overall, I think it was a success! Easy and quick to make, very versatile and a great way to add more veggies to a meal. Now my repertoire of recipes using cauliflower has doubled, to two. : )