Low Carb: Roasted Butternut Squash Riced Cauliflower Risotto

I workout using Daily Burn, which I LOVE, and last week after the #DB365 workout, they had on chef Rocco DiSpirito to share some of his most popular plant-based recipes from his new cookbook. One of the dishes he shared was a risotto made with riced cauliflower instead of Arborio rice.

I was so intrigued by making a risotto out of cauliflower because it’s much lower carb than the Arborio rice version. The dish looked so good I wanted to try out the recipe. I am trying to like riced cauliflower but find it challenging because the Asian in me is like cauliflower in rice form is still not rice. Nope. Hard stop.

However….

I love cauliflower and I have been working on cutting down on my rice consumption because I do eat too much and the high glycemic index of white rice is not great in my body. I do eat brown Jasmine rice at home but eating out it’s always white.

I looked online, and fortunately, Rocco’s risotto recipe is available online at Epicurious.

I modified Rocco’s recipe because:

  1. I do not have the patience to “rice” cauliflower from scratch so I went to Trader Joe’s and bought their pre-made cauliflower rice in a 16 oz. bag.
  2. I had some leftover roasted butternut squash from dinner the other night. Butternut squash risotto is my favorite!
  3. I made my risotto vegan using Violife parmesan wedge. This stuff is AWESOME!!

I really did enjoy this risotto. Besides using the Violife parm, what made this dish the tops was using Better than Bouillon No Chicken base for the stock. I cannot believe this buillion is vegan because it tastes just like chicken stock. It really is incredible. I would also try a mushroom stock for this risotto.

I didn’t feel like I was missing the rice too much, and instead felt like I discovered  a new way to enjoy cauliflower.

Ingredients

  • 1 bag of Trader Joe’s riced cauliflower or 2-cups (16 oz) of riced cauliflower from scratch
  • 1-2/3 cup plant-based stock*
  • 3 cloves of thinly sliced garlic
  • 1-1/2 tbsp of olive oil
  • 1/2 cup roasted butternut squash cut into small pieces
  • 3 tbsp parmesan cheese

*I recommend using the Better Than Bouillon vegan No Chicken base, but a vegetable or mushroom stock is good too.

  • Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and cook until translucent
  • Add the cauliflower and stock, and mix well.
  • Stirring occasionally, cook until the cauliflower softens but still has a little crunch, and where enough liquid has evaporated to make the mixture creamy which could take about 8-9 minutes. At 6 minutes in, stir in the butternut squash.
  • Take the skillet off the burner and let the risotto sit for about 10-15 minutes and then mix in the parmesan. In that time, the broth will continue to absorb into the cauliflower a little bit more.

Later, I also added in some sweet peas for extra protein. The butternut squash cauliflower risotto is fabulous with the peas too!

 

Roasted Eggplant With Purple Thai Basil Flowers and Peppers

This eggplant dish is so pretty and tasty! I actually stared at my dish for a while just to admire the beauty of Mother Nature’s work. I love all the purple colors and since 2018 is the year Pantone named “Ultra Violet” color of the year, this dish is a perfect fit.

 

I found this beautiful Thai basil bursting with purple flowers at the farmers market. Flowering plants are a fun way to add some beautiful garnish to your dishes. Next to the basil were some cool looking purple Thai peppers. I love me some purple colored foods, and jumped at the chance to make a purple power dish.

For the eggplant, I went with the smaller rounder style eggplant versus the longer skinnier eggplant just to play with some shapes.

I roasted the eggplant because I really love the flavors and textures you get from roasting. Roasting vegetables is not a traditional Asian style of cooking but hey, it’s fun to fuse different styles together, right?

For the sauce, I used gluten-free tamari to make the dish gluten-free.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  • 1 pound of round eggplant cut into quarter pieces
  • 12-14 Thai peppers (depending on how spicy you want the dish)
  • 3/4 cup chopped Thai basil leaves
  • Thai basil flowers for garnish
  • Chopped red jalapeno (optional for topping)
  • Extra virgin olive oil
  • Sea salt

For the sauce:

  • 3 tbs gluten-free tamari
  • 2 tbs organic brown sugar
  • 2 cloves finely chopped garlic
  • ¼ tsp garlic powder

Let’s start cooking

Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

On a baking sheet spread the eggplant pieces out and cover the eggplant with olive oil. Sprinkle a few dashes of sea salt over the eggplant pieces. Use just a small amount of salt because the tamari used in the sauce is high in salt.

Roast for 25 minutes. Do not remove the sheet yet. Coat the Thai peppers with some olive oil and toss onto the sheet with the eggplant and roast for an additional 5 minutes. We are basically sweating the peppers a bit so they become a little softer.

Remove the sheet from the oven and let cool down. The eggplant should be soft to the touch, not too mushy.

To make the sauce, in a small bowl, combine the tamari, brown sugar, garlic and garlic powder, and mix together until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside.

Heat on medium a wok or large sauce pan. Put the roasted eggplant and peppers into the pan. Toss in the chopped basil leaves and pour the sauce over the eggplant. Mix well.

Cover the wok or pan, and let the eggplant simmer in the sauce for about 5 minutes. Stir occasionally.

Take the pan off the burner and let the eggplant cool down.

When plating your eggplant and pepper dish, garnish on top with some of the beautiful flowers and sprinkle on some chopped red Jalapeno like I did in the photo for some fun burst of color.

Enjoy!

Easy Protein-Packed Snack: Lima Beans, Sweet Peas, and Quinoa

This is one of my favorite snacks to get in some protein and fiber. It’s especially good to make when you have leftover Quinoa. My bowl here has 1/3 cups lima beans, 2/3 cups sweet green peas, and 1/4 Quinoa with some lentils I cooked with the Quinoa.

I use frozen organic beans and peas for ease. Just mix the beans and peas together with some water to help defrost the legumes, and microwave for one minute. After heating, I drain the water and sprinkle a little garlic salt and a squeeze of lemon or lime. Boom done!

Today, I felt a little more snazzy and sauteed some chopped sweet onion in avocado oil until caramelized a bit, and then added the lima beans and peas with a little garlic salt. Heat for a minute and add the Quinoa.

This easy snack has 10g of protein and 7g of fiber.

Eating Kitchari Is Great For Post Indulgence Detox

 

Tis the season for over-indulgence. Partaking in feasts and treats is one of the fun things about the holidays, vacations, or celebrations which we all should absolutely enjoy! Food is pleasure and celebration as well as nourishment.

But, then, yeah, there are the days that follow that indulgence where you feel bloated, stuffed and are still wearing your stretchy pants. You are in need of some detoxing.

One great dish to help with post indulgence is Kitchari which is an Ayurvedic detox food. This creamy rich bowl of mung dal, rice, vegetables with warming spices will help you feel rebalanced. It’s also great to eat when it’s cold outside or if you are feeling under the weather because it’s gentle on the stomach.

One of the easiest recipes I’ve found online is Martha Stewart’s recipe for Kitchari.

I tweaked her recipe a bit to make the dish vegan. I omitted the ghee, and I did not make any of the chutney. The great thing with kitchari is that you can get creative with the vegetables. Choose what you like. Her recipe suggests cauliflower, zucchini, sweet potato, bok choy, carrots, and green beans. Have some fun with variety.

I topped my bowl with pea shoots, cilantro, avocado, radish, and this protein crunch I found at Whole Foods from Local Greens which is germinated peas, lentil, adzuki, and mung beans.

Normally, you would not add peppers to kitchari because heat is disruptive when you are trying to calm the digestive system. I put the peppers in for the photo because the designer in me can’t help myself as the red color looks nice.  If you want to add some heat to your kitchari, go for it.

I also like to squeeze lemon in kitchari to add some zest. Enjoy!

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