Nutrition: Comfort Food, Re-Imagined, by Pranada Devi
Comfort food can be a challenge for people trying to reduce their carb intake for health reasons. Many standbys pack a punch to blood sugar. But with a little creativity, you can find ways to enjoy comfort food in new nutritious forms.
Cauliflower is one of the unheralded heros of the vegetable world. While it doesn’t have the chlorophyll of its Brassica family relatives broccoli and kale, it does have cancer-fighting and anti-oxidant phytochemicals. It is also an excellent source of vitamin C and a good source of vitamin K, which helps prevent inflammation. And its mild taste makes it a great stand-in for starchy foods. In this recipe, cauliflower is going to stand in for rice and completely change the nutritional profile of a simple side dish. The added protein in this recipe makes it stand on its own, or you could scale back on the tofu and edamame and enjoy it alongside a protein entree of your choice.
Cauliflower Fried “Rice”
Inspired in part by A Dash of Compassion
1 small (or ½ large) head cauliflower
Coconut or sesame oil for stir-frying
1 package smoked tofu, shredded (I use Soyganic brand. You could use non-smoked tofu, but it is likely less firm and may need to be diced instead. Also, I’d recommend to increase the seasonings and use sesame oil for stir-frying to add more flavor. Or, you could just use 2-3 eggs, if you eat eggs.)
4 green onions, sliced thinly on the diagonal
A 2” chunk of fresh ginger, minced
½ cup vegetable broth or water (I use GoBio Yeast-Free broth, which contains no sugar, yeast or mushrooms)
½ cup frozen peas
½ cup frozen shelled edamame
½ bunch kale, chopped
1 tbsp Braggs or soy sauce
Red pepper flakes or cayenne to taste
Toasted sesame oil to taste
Coarsely chop the cauliflower and pulse it in a food processor in batches until it is in small, even, rice-sized pieces.
Heat coconut or sesame oil over medium-high heat in a saute pan or wok. Add the shredded tofu and cook, stirring constantly, for three minutes; remove from pan and set aside. (If you are using eggs, skip this step.)
Add the green onions and ginger to the pan. Cook over medium heat until the onions are soft and translucent.
Add the broth and vegetables, the cauliflower rice, and the tofu if using (crack and stir in the eggs now if you’re using eggs), and cook until the kale is wilted and cauliflower is tender. Dress with Braggs, red pepper and toasted sesame oil and serve hot. Serves 2-3 as an entree or 4-6 as a side.
The only significant source of carbs in this recipe is the green peas. You can reduce these as well if you want to be stricter. I find that peas in moderation add enjoyable taste and satiation to low-carb dishes.
If you have comfort food dishes in need of a no-sugar makeover, let me know in the comments and I may be able to work on a recipe for you. Until next month, remember – you are sweet enough!
Pranada Devi has read up on nutrition and wellness since 2000. She has worked as a baker in an organic deli, helped to cater vegan weddings, and given talks in two languages on the ecological impact of dietary choices. She quit eating sugar in 2014 and caffeine in 2015 and, when her busy schedule as a communications advisor permits, she enjoys developing natural sugar-free recipes.