One of the best ways to ensure success with your grain-free meal planning is to learn a few key substitutions. This is especially important for those of you doing the Whole Life Challenge. You may find you like these replacements even better than the originals!
Replace Rice with Cauli-Rice
This is probably my daughter’s favorite side. We eat it with stir-fry, curries, added to soups or just on its own. There are a few different ways to make it; I regularly use all of these methods. One head of cauliflower is usually just enough for our family of four, but I tend to double it so we can have some leftovers. (PS – Cauli-rice is also delicious with a fried egg on it for breakfast.)
This is the most effort, but provides the deepest flavor and nicest aesthetics.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Core the cauliflower and break or chop into small florets. Place on a baking pan (I love my stone for roasting veggies) and toss with extra virgin olive oil or ghee. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Roast for about 20 minutes, or until just tender. (I like to keep the cauliflower more firm than I would if just making roasted cauliflower as a side-dish.)
Remove the baking pan from oven and, in batches, add the cauliflower to your food processor and pulse until a rice-like consistency. Don’t process too much!
Add ghee or grass-fed butter and additional sea salt as desired.
Set a large stockpot with a few inches of water to boil. Meanwhile, core the cauliflower and cut or break it into florets. Place the florets in a steamer basket or a fine mesh stainless steel colander. Once the water is boiling, place the steamer basket or colander over the boiling water and cover with the stockpot lid. Steam until desired consistency, usually between five and ten minutes. Again, for cauli-rice I prefer it on the firmer side.
As above, add the cauliflower to your food processor in batches and pulse until rice-like consistency. Season with butter or ghee and sea salt.
Core the cauliflower and break or cut it into florets. (For this method, I use quite a bit of the stems/ core.) In batches, pulse the raw cauliflower in your food processor until a rice-like consistency.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt a couple tablespoons of ghee (or coconut oil). Add the cauli-rice and saute for five minutes or so, or until desired firmness.
With this method, it’s pretty easy to add in onions (begin sauteing them about ten minutes before you add the cauli-rice) or any additional vegetables.
Replace Pasta with Spaghetti Squash
Spaghetti Squash is one of my all-time favorite foods. I prefer to prepare it whole, as cutting it when it’s raw is hard. Just be careful not to burn yourself… and don’t say I didn’t warn you.
In the Oven
Preheat the oven to 375. Pierce the skin of the spaghetti squash a couple of times with a fork, and then throw the whole thing in the oven. A medium-sized squash will take about an hour. A little over-roasting is fine.
Use oven mitts to remove from oven, and keep those mitts on to cut the squash around the middle (not lengthwise). Carefully use a spoon to scoop out the seeds and pulp, and then use a fork to separate the strands. Seriously, be careful because this mother is HOT.
(If you decide to cut open the squash before roasting, cut lengthwise. Remove the pulp and seeds before placing in the oven on a baking pan. You’ll only need to roast it – rind side up – about 40 minutes.)
In the Crockpot
Put the whole thing in the crockpot with a cup of water, and cook on low about eight to ten hours. Remove pulp and seeds, and use a fork to separate the strands.
On the Stovetop
I try not to boil any of my veggies, but this is the quickest method if you’re really pressed for time. Boil the entire squash for about thirty minutes or so, or the cut-up/ seeded squash about twenty minutes.
How to Eat It
Serve with your favorite pasta sauce and meatballs.
Use in place of rice noodles in Asian dishes.
Mix into eggs when making an omelet. (No really, it’s so good, and your kids might not even notice it’s there.)
Serve with brown butter (see here for method) topped with shrimp or scallops, or my personal favorite (when I’m not doing the WLC) fresh ricotta cheese.
Replace Mashed Potatoes with Mashed Cauliflower
Everybody seems to have their own way to make mashed cauliflower. Since my daughter is dairy-free, I don’t add cream to ours, but that would be a wonderful addition for non-WLChallengers. I also use ghee (and then a little additional salt) for my daughter, but feel free to replace it with grass-fed butter.
Steam cauliflower as directed above (in the cauli-rice section), but for a bit longer, until the florets are quite soft. Alternatively, for a deeper flavor, you could roast the cauliflower, as also mentioned above, letting it roast a bit longer until very tender.
Place the steamed or roasted florets in your blender with about 1/8 cup ghee and sea salt to taste. Start blending, and then add in about 1/8 cup chicken stock. Scrape down the blender as necessary, and adjust ghee/salt for taste and stock as needed for consistency.
You can also add in some chopped garlic or even garlic powder.
If your family is not so sure about mashed cauliflower yet, start with serving half mashed cauli mixed with half mashed potatoes (for non-WLChallengers). Or try to find the purple cauliflower sometimes available. Who could resist purple “mashed potatoes?”
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