Mar 282014
 

Ok, I finally gave in. Cauliflower pizza crust has been everywhere recently, and I have been a little hesitant to give it a shot for a few reasons. First of all, pizza is sacred. I’m all about healthifying recipes, but I have issues with messing too much with anything as perfect as pizza. Second, I honestly wasn’t totally convinced it would work, and even more unsure that it would be tasty. Luckily, I can say that I was proved wrong on all counts, and all the pizza ancestors would be proud.
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This recipe also turned out to be easier than I thought it would be. But, if you remember one thing from this post, remember this- the key to success is squeezing out every last drop of liquid from the cooked cauliflower. Once you’re sure you’ve gotten it all, TRY AGAIN. This is what will help keep your crust intact and look like this…
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Nutritional Highlights: Now I’m not sure this will totally replace pizza for me, but I do think it’s a great option for those with gluten intolerance or are reducing carb intake. I was impressed that basically a whole head of cauliflower went in to this recipe and you would never know it…it’s a great way of sneaking extra veggies into your diet. I made the already healthy recipe even healthier by adding some chia seeds and flax seed for extra fiber, because why not? Now here’s my slight issue with the concept—I’m not sure that pizza, which is typically covered in cheese, needs ADDITIONAL cheese in the crust. Even though you’re swapping out carbs you are increasing fat. So, because of this I decided not to add additional cheese on top of my pizza, but instead used hummus as the sauce and topped with spinach, olives, and sundried tomatoes. You can really top your pizza with anything, but I’d try to go easy on the cheese if you are using this crust recipe!
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“The Best” Cauliflower Pizza Crust
Makes one approx. 10-12 inch pizza
Adapted from The Lucky Penny Blog
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What’s in it:
1 small to medium sized head of cauliflower – should yield 2 to 3 cups once processed
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 T Italian Seasoning Teaspoon
optional a few shakes of crushed red pepper
option: 2 teaspoons of chia or flax seed (or both)
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/4 cup low fat mozzarella cheese
1 egg

Desired amount of sauce, cheese for topping, and other toppings.

How to make it:
1. Place a pizza stone in the oven, or baking sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

2. On a cutting board, place a large piece of parchment paper and spray it with nonstick cooking oil.

3. Wash and throughly dry a small head of cauliflower. Don’t get one the size of your head unless you are planning on making 2 pizzas. Cut off the florets, you don’t need much stem. Just stick with the florets. Pulse in your food
processor for about 30 seconds, until you get powdery snow like cauliflower.

4. Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover. Microwave
for 4 minutes. Dump cooked cauliflower onto a clean tea towel and allow to cool for a bit before attempting the next step.

5. Once cauliflower is cool enough to handle, wrap it up in the dish towel and wring the heck out of it. You want to squeeze out as much water as possible. This will ensure you get a chewy pizza like crust instead of a crumbly
mess. KEEP SQUEEZING!!

6. Dumped cauliflower into a bowl. Now add 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1/4 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/4 teaspoon
kosher salt, 1 T Italian seasoning, 1/2 teaspoon garlic
powder (not garlic salt), and a dash of red pepper if you want. I also added 1 teaspoon each of flax and chia seeds for extra fiber/texture

7. Once mixed together, use your hands to form the dough into a crust on your oiled parchment paper. Pat it down throughly, you want it nice and tightly formed together. Don’t make it too thick or thin either. Using a cutting board slide the parchment paper onto your hot pizza stone or baking sheet in the oven. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until it starts to turn golden brown. Remove from oven.

8. Add however much sauce, cheese, and toppings you want and
cook for another 5 to 7 minutes until the cheese is melted, bubbly, and slightly golden.

9. Let it cool for two minutes (if you can contain yourself) and enjoy!

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I dare you to try not to eat the entire thing yourself…
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Mar 212014
 

I’m enjoying an amazingly relaxing (much needed) vacation with my family in Cabo this week! I’ll be back next week with new posts, but just wanted you to know that I’m still getting off my tush on vacation. I’ve made some great healthy lunches this week, but this one was probably the best- whole wheat quesadillas with sauteed veggies, and a side salad of corn, beans, avocado, cilantro, red pepper, and lime. So tasty!
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Nutritional Highlights: Vacation is by no means a healthy time for me (nor should it be) but you can still try to stay somewhat on track. For me, this means making breakfast and lunch in the room, and trying to sneak in a game of tennis or walk on the beach. That way I can indulge with one (or two or three) margs at dinner.

OK, back to work :)
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Mar 092014
 

There are certain junk foods I’m OK with giving up, but mac and cheese is just never going to be one of those. Mac and cheese was a staple of my childhood–a special treat we got when we had a babysitter (along with grape soda). I’ve grown up a bit since then, and no longer frequent noodles from boxes or flourescently colored sodas, but I still do love some cheesy noodles. So I decided to make a version that was both more grown up and a little healthier. Perfect for adults, kids, and adult kids like me.
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Homemade mac and cheese is definitely an undertaking and does take some time and effort commitment, but the result is so much better. Plus, you can make a big batch that will feed a crowd and have leftovers to spare.
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Nutritional highlights: This recipe has some amazing swaps that majorly cuts down the calories and ups the nutritional factor. The easiest swap- whole wheat noodles to add fiber. The second, more sneaky, swap- some of the cheese and cream that would usually be in a mac and cheese sauce is replaced by pureed butternut squash, which maintains the creaminess without all the fat. While we’re talking sauce, this one only uses low fat milk instead of cream or whole milk in typical recipes. Finally, who said mac and cheese had to just be mac and cheese. Why not throw in some veggies. This one has roasted butternut squash, mushrooms, and kale to increase the nutrients a ton and fill you up with a lower noodle ratio.

And here’s a picture of the mac at my “grown-up comfort food” dinner party. Was definitely the highlight!
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Grown-up Mac & Cheese with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Mushrooms
Makes about 10 servings
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Ingredients
4 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (either from 1 large squash or save yourself a lot of time with the pre peeled and cut kinds that a lot of stores have these days!)
16 oz Cremini (baby portobello) mushrooms, sliced
1 small bunch kale, chopped (about 4 cups)
1 1/2 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken or vegetable broth)
1 1/2 cups fat-free or low fat milk (can also sub unsweetened non-dairy milks)
4-5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 shallots, peeled and minced
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded cheese, plus and extra handful for the topping (I chose Trader Joe’s Shredded Swiss and Gruyère blend)
1/4 cup (1 ounce) finely grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
1 pound whole wheat macaroni or other small noodle
Olive oil, salt, pepper
1/4 cup whole wheat bread crumbs
Optional: red pepper flakes, dried thyme, and garlic powder for the topping

Preparation:
1. Preheat oven to 425°. Dice squash into small cubes (1/4-1/2 inch) and slice the mushrooms. Spread the veggies onto two baking sheets, toss with olive oil or oil spray, salt and pepper to taste. Roast in the oven, tossing vegetables half way through, for about 20 minutes or until squash is soft and mushrooms are brown. The mushrooms may be done a bit sooner than the squash.

2. Boil the macaroni in a large pot according to directions, but for one less minute than the directions indicate. Drain and set aside.

3. Meanwhile, begin making your sauce. In a large pot, heat one tablespoon olive oil over medium-high and add the minced garlic and shallots. Cook for about 3-5 minutes until onions begin to brown. Add the broth and milk, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. When squash is done roasting, add all but 1 cup to the sauce. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer for about 10 minutes. Season sauce with salt and pepper. Remove from heat.

3. To blend the sauce, you can either transfer to a blender or use and immersion blender. I wanted mine a little chunky so I just mashed it in the pot with a potato masher. Once the mixture is smooth, stir in the shredded cheese and half of the Parmesan. Taste and add additional salt and pepper if needed.

4. Add cooked macaroni, roasted mushrooms, remaining 1 cup squash, and chopped kale into the sauce. Mix until evenly coated and transfer it to a sprayed baking dish.

5. Combine the bread crumbs, remaining parmesan, a small handful of the shredded cheese, and any seasonings you like (I threw in a little thyme, garlic powder, and red pepper flakes along with plenty of salt and pepper). Sprinkle the mixture evenly over your mac and cheese.

6. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately and enjoy!
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I’m not going to lie this is a a lot of work, but SO good.
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And while we’re doing recipe throw backs…here’s the little girl I was telling you about that loved her mac and cheese. And here’s that moment when you realize you might have peaked at age 3…oh well. Happy Throw Back Sunday!
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