Diet

Cauliflower ‘rice’

cauliflowerx

I get rather annoyed when beautiful, skinny women (Hemsleys, Gwyneth, Ella D) eulogise low carb diets and spiralizing as the only way to be perfect and healthy (just like them). So I was secretly pleased when the courgette shortage was declared. Nobody should be eating courgettes in February anyway – they’re a summer vegetable.

In my view a good diet is a balanced one which involves all the food groups (unless you have a genuine allergy), and periods of eating sensibly interspersed with the occasional indulgence. But I say all this as someone of average weight who wants to remain so.

I acknowledge that it’s rather different if you need to lose a significant amount of weight and if this is the case then it seems that there is evidence that low carb diets do work (but admittedly  this view is based on watching one episode of ‘How to diet well’ and knowing one person who has recently lost weight on the Ketogenic diet!).

I’ve always been a outwardly sniffy but secretly intrigued by the idea of cauliflower ‘rice’ as an alternative to real (carbohydrate loaded) rice. So in an experimental frame of mind I bought a cauliflower and decided to attempt the ‘rice’ idea following a guide on the BBC Good Food website.

I was sure I would hate it but it was actually perfectly fine (Ben even ate and quite liked it).  The term ‘rice’ though is rather misleading. The size of the grains you get is more like couscous and the texture has a real bite to it – not at all like the soft texture of rice.

The other thing to note is that the resulting ‘rice’ does taste (unsurprisingly) very cauliflowery. It does not have the bland and neutral flavour that goes with anything like real rice. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does mean that you do need to be quite careful about what you pair it with. My idea to serve it with a Thai pork, cashew and lime stir fry did not work. However, a dhal or Indian style chicken or lamb curry would go brilliantly.

The other thing would be to add spices and herbs to the cooked cauliflower (as you might flavour couscous) and then serve with a simply cooked piece of meat or fish. And I’m wondering about a cheat’s risotto whereby you stir through some grated cheese and butter after roasting (not good on a low fat diet but fine on a Ketogenic one). I will continue experimenting.

Think what you like about ‘faux carbs’ it’s nice to have something to do with a cauliflower other than ‘cauliflower cheese’. And unlike courgettes, cauliflowers grow in this country all the year around so there should never be a shortage.

Cauliflower ‘rice’

Serves 2 – 4

Take one small cauliflower, remove the leaves and hard core and cut into quarters. Then cut each quarter into four again and blitz in a food processor/mini chopper until it resembles couscous (I had to do this in several, small batches but it didn’t take too long). You can store it in the fridge now until you are ready to use it (it will save for up to 2-3 days). If you don’t have a food processor then you can battle with a regular grater but you will get bigger chunks.

I then followed the Good Food website advice and roasted it in the oven for 12 minutes at 200oC. I spread the cauliflower in a thin layer on a baking tray with a little coconut oil and mixed it in the tin half way through the cooking time.

Apparently you should always season after cooking or the salt turn the cauliflower to mush.

Alternatively, you can stir fry it quickly in a wok, or cook it in the microwave, covered, on full power for 3 minutes.

Good hot porridge

porridge
You may find this post both patronising and hypercritical if you read the one I wrote a while back criticising Jamie Oliver for including a fish finger sandwich in his recipe book. But I’m posting this recipe because my daughter Elizabeth loves porridge and I would like my way of cooking it to be written down so that she can make it the same way when she’s a big girl. And remember, you don’t have to fork out £20 to read this blog.

Porridge is often classed as poor food because it’s cheap. I ate it for two meals a day when I was a skint graduate desperate to live in London with an unemployed boyfriend to support and too much pride to go running to the bank of mum and dad. But even then I really didn’t mind eating so much porridge because, just like my daughter, I LOVE it.

And now that money is not a huge issue but time is, porridge has become a real luxury for me. Most weekdays breakfast is a small bowl of muesli or a slice of toast eaten standing up whilst doing several other things, but when I can find time to make porridge I’m always pleased that I did. Here’s how I do it.

Porridge

Serves 2

  • 100g whole rolled jumbo oats
  • 450ml water
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon of semi-skimmed milk
  • A little freshly grated nutmeg or cinnamon

Start the process the night before (remembering this is the trickiest bit). Measure the oats into a saucepan and soak in 450ml of cold water. Cover with a lid and leave overnight. This part is essential for a lovely creamy texture even though you are just using water.

In the morning put the pan on a high heat until it just starts to bubble. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 3-5 minutes, stirring continuously so that it doesn’t stick. If you think the porridge is a little thick for your liking then you can just add a bit more water.

Spoon into bowls and pour over 1 tablespoon of milk and add a drizzle of honey and some grated nutmeg. If you’re feeling really luxurious then you can use cream instead of milk which is delicious and an occasional weekend treat.

NOTE: Providing you don’t use cream this is great diet food. It really fills you up and is only 256 calories per serving (oats 185 calories, honey 64 calories, milk 7 calories).

Porridge and Elizabeth 1

Elizabeth enjoying her morning porridge.