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Trade carbs for cauliflower: 3 recipes for traditional holiday sides

Homemade mashed cauliflower with butter is a surprisingly savory low-carbohydrate alternative. Thinkstock/Special to The Forum.1 / 2
Try Cauliflower Stuffing as an alternative to the bread-based dish. Thinkstock/Special to The Forum.2 / 2

FARGO – During the holidays many of us celebrate by layering our plates with savory dishes like mashed potatoes, stuffing and the ever-present dinner roll."

These carbohydrate-heavy dishes increase both our waist and smile lines. According to Stanford University, the average American gains one pound during the holiday season. (This may not sound like much but this weight gain greatly affects overall health when it componds year after year.)  

Most often high-carb meals increase body weight because carbohydrates are quickly digested into blood glucose, according to Diabeteshealth.com. The higher levels of blood sugar create an insulin response which returns blood glucose levels back to normal. Insulin is the hormone that makes the body store fat. Once the glucose is taken out of the bloodstream, it's converted into starch (glycogen) usually stored in the liver or muscles. The body can only hold a limited amount of starch so when glucose cannot be converted – because the body's starch level is already maxed out – then the excess glucose becomes body fat. And we all gain weight after too many holiday breads.

Most of our Midwest festive food favorites – like creamy mashed potatoes – are filled with dense carbohydrates. (Just one cup of traditional mashed potatoes can have as much as 28 grams of carbohydrates, according to Fastsecret.com.) To fight holiday weight gain and keep the comfort of traditional Midwestern dishes, try any of these low-carb cauliflower alternatives.

 

Rolls no more

A holiday dinner constant, dinner rolls are usually the final (and sometimes impulsive) addition to the dinner plate used to mop up leftover gravy. Unfortunately, even a whole wheat dinner roll has 24 grams of carbohydrates, according to Eatthismuch.com. Instead of forgoing the flaky and festive ritual, try this recipe for Cauliflower Rolls.

Nutritional value:

  • Carbohydrates: 0.4 grams
  • Protein: 5.9 grams
  • Calories: 94

Ingredients

1 head cauliflower, riced (about 3 cups)

2 tablespoons almond flour

1 tablespoon coconut flour

2 organic eggs

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit; line a baking sheet. In a food processor, or using a hand grater, pulse/grate cauliflower until rice consistency. In a bowl, combine all of the ingredients. Roll cauliflower mixture into even-sized balls and lay onto the baking sheet. Bake for about 30 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from baking sheet and let cool directly on a cooling rack. Serve as rolls with your meal or as bread with your favorite sandwich ingredients.

Optional: For extra-crisp rolls, remove from baking sheet and broil on high for 3 minutes with the buns directly on the oven rack.

Recipe modified from Lexicleankitchen.com.

 

Peace out potatoes

Ask any Midwesterner what food they cherish most. It’s most likely a dish that includes the starchy goodness of potatoes. Ease into the cauliflower craze and try this recipe for Mashed Cauliflower.

Nutritional value:

  • Carbohydrates: 5 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Calories: 25

Ingredients:

1 large head of cauliflower

4 tablespoons cream cheese

Pinch of salt and pepper

4 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon chopped sage

Directions

Start up a large pot of boiling water. Chop the cauliflower into golf ball-sized chunks, removing the tough inner stem. Add a pinch of salt and the cauliflower to the boiling water, and cook for 6 to 10 minutes, or until cauliflower is fork tender. Working in batches, place cauliflower in a clean dishcloth or cheesecloth and wring out as much moisture as possible. Place cauliflower and cream cheese in a food processor and puree until smooth and creamy. Cover to keep warm and set aside.

Add butter to a pan (use a light-colored pan so you can see the change in color, if possible) and place over low to medium heat. Melt butter, then add chopped sage leaves. Continue cooking. Butter will first bubble, then after 5 or so minutes will begin to darken. When little dark bits begin to form and the butter has darkened to the color of light caramel, remove from heat. Pour brown butter and sage over cauliflower and serve immediately.

Recipe courtesy of Amandascookin.com.

Swipe right on this stuffing

Usually found at any holiday gathering from November through December, traditional stuffing recipes usually call for high-starch foods like white bread. Leave the bread in the cupboard and get ready to chop cauliflower and create a crunchy and wholesome Cauliflower Stuffing.

Nutritional value:

  • Carbohydrates: 7 grams
  • Protein: 2 grams
  • Calories: 95

Ingredients

1 large head cauliflower, cut into small florets

1 large onion, sliced

1/4 cup celery, chopped

2 cloves minced garlic

1/4 cup olive oil (or butter or ghee as a substitute)

1/2 teaspoon poultry seasoning

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1/2 teaspoon ground sage

1 teaspoon sea salt (unless poultry seasoning contains salt)

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

2 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped

1/4 cup pecans, chopped

Directions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or  with foil and grease well.

In a large bowl, stir together the chopped cauliflower, onions, celery and garlic. Toss with olive oil, poultry seasoning, sage, thyme, sea salt and black pepper.

Spread the mixture in a single layer on the lined baking sheet. (You may need two sheets depending on the size. You want as many of the cauliflower florets and onions in contact with the pan as possible.) Roast in the oven for about 15 minutes, until the onions are soft and cauliflower is starting to brown a little.

Add the fresh parsley and pecans to the pan; stir everything together. Roast for 10 to 15 or until the pecans are lightly toasted, cauliflower is well browned and onions are starting to caramelize.

Recipe courtesy of Wholesomeyum.com.

April Knutson

April Knutson is lifestyle-focused journalist producing stories for the Forum News Service about people, health, community issues, and services. She earned her degree in both English Literature and Mass Communications. After working as a digital marketing specialist and web design consultant for a few years, she joined Forum Communications in 2015. She grew up on a farm near Volga, S.D. Follow her on Twitter @april_knutson.

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