I love discovering new ways to use vegetables in ordinary dishes. Did you know that cauliflower can be crumbled down to resemble the texture of couscous or rice? Neither did I, until recently, but it's true and surprisingly delicious.
This is a great technique to have up your sleeve if you're in the business of trying to sneak more veggies into your kids (or yourself). I can see cauliflower replacing rice in loaded burritos, taking quinoa's place in my beloved Southwest Quinoa Salad, and should I dare to dream that I wouldn't mind it in my Couscous Parfait?
Whew. This changes everything.
It's time to get nutty.
For many years, low-fat diets were prescribed to people at risk for heart problems, but removing or reducing fats in the diet usually results in consumption of more simple carbohydrates like white bread or pasta. Not necessarily a better strategy. So what's the solution? Instead of eliminating fats, let's eat more healthy fats and practice moderation.
Many large studies have verified the health benefits of nuts. One Harvard study followed 86,016 women over 14 years and found that those who ate at least 5 ounces of nuts per week were 35% less likely to endure a heart attack than those who ate less than 1 ounce per month. How can this be? Almonds, while high in fat, contain monounsaturated fat - the same type found in olive oil. Monounsaturated fat is known for helping to reduce blood cholesterol, particularly LDL levels. Nuts are also high in vitamin E, a powerful antioxidant that rids the body of damaging free radicals and protects against chronic disease. Almonds' high magnesium levels could play a role in heart health as well: magnesium helps arteries to relax, lessening resistance and improving blood flow. And let's not forget the power of wise choices: is also possible that nuts improve heart health by replacing less healthful snacks in the diet.
When snacking on nuts, do be aware of portion sizes. One ounce (about 1/4 cup) of nuts contains roughly 170 calories, so stick with smaller servings if you are aiming for weight loss. And don't forget to rejoice in the fact that the fiber and fat will help to fill you up and keep you satisfied longer than a carbohydrate-rich snack would.
Anticipating that crunch. Oh yeah.
Spiced cauliflower "couscous" with almonds
1/2 cup almonds
4 cups cauliflower florets
1 teaspoon olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 tablespoon chopped flat-leaf parsley
- Toast the almonds in a pan over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Roughly chop the almonds and set aside.
- Place half of the cauliflower in the bowl of a food processor fitted with an S-blade and pulse until the cauliflower appears small and crumbly. Be careful not to over-processes or the cauliflower will turn to mush. Alternatively, you can grate the cauliflower on a box grater. Dump the "riced" cauliflower into a bowl and repeat with the other half.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and saute for 20-30 seconds until fragrant. Add the cauliflower to the pan and season with the cumin, cayenne pepper, and salt. Stir to combine and heat through for 2-3 minutes. The goal is to warm the cauliflower, not to cook it.
- Transfer the cauliflower to a bowl and add the chopped almonds, lemon juice, and parsley. Toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning as desired. Serve warm or cold.
Labels: almonds, cruciferous, gluten-free, side, spices, vegan, vegetable, vegetarian