When Comfort Goes Carb-less

 

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I’ve had a decade-long battle with America’s best friend and worst enemy – the carbohydrate. From Atkins to Paleo, we can’t seem to get enough low carb options or stop engaging in the good carb vs. bad carb debate. While the self-educating journey to learn everything there is to know about food never truly ends, i’ve finally found a comfortable, sweet spot, where “what’s good for me”, “what I love” and “what I’m willing to pay for” are coexisting rather well.

It is in this sweet spot that I introduce my first food-mourn – mashed potatoes.

food-mourn
môrn/
verb
  1. feel or show deep sorrow or regret for (a particular food), typically caused by optional dietary adjustment or medically diagnosed condition.

Not long after giving them up to lose a few pounds, I discovered several unsavory facts about the excessive consumption of potatoes. Insert – my quest to find the closest dish I could make to scratch the mashed/smashed potato itch.

“Cauliflower!” they said. “You’ll never even miss the potato!” they claimed. “Lies.” I mumbled, and I was right.

Cauliflower lacks the texture to which many of us have grown accustomed. After countless attempts at various recipes from “low carb” experts, I decided I’d had enough of everyone else’s advice and went to town with my years of expertise in “not following any rules or recipes”. In this experimental phase, my palate found its happy place. While I can’t speak for anyone else, I’m glad to share my findings and hope that somewhere, out there — a reader mourning for mashed potatoes will find its palate’s happy place too.

*Many recipes call for whipping cream or half & half. Some add olive oil and others add butter. I find that cream cheese is the secret ingredient. It adds a “tang” similar to that of sour cream in a baked potato and keeps the cauliflower significantly thicker in texture than other options.

Scooped from the food processor into these small cocottes for individual portions.

Scooped from the food processor into these small cocottes for individual portions.

Bacon can be chopped into pieces and then cooked or cooked whole and then crumbled.

Bacon can be chopped into pieces and then cooked or cooked whole and then crumbled.

Final product should have melted cheese, crispy bacon and a smooth, silky texture.

Final product should have melted cheese, crispy bacon and a smooth, silky texture.

The following recipe feeds 2-4, pending desired serving size. Recipe can be doubled accordingly, with cream cheese amounts increased for creamier results.

INGREDIENTS
1 medium head cauliflower
4 oz cream cheese (block form renders best results)
Shredded cheese of choice
2-3 Slices uncured bacon
1 tsp garlic powder
Salt & Pepper to taste

DIRECTIONS
1. Preheat the oven to 350° F
1. Clean & cut cauliflower into medium-sized pieces.
2. Rough chop bacon into pieces.
3. Add cauliflower to boiling water and cook for about 5 minutes or until tender to fork. Do not overcook – it will cause the cauliflower to absorb excess water, which will thin out your mash.
4. As the cauliflower boils, cook bacon till crispy- do not over cook, the oven will add the bacon’s final crisp. Scoop cooked bacon out of the pan with a slotted spoon and place onto a plate lined with a paper towel.
5. Once cauliflower is fork tender, drain into a colander or large strainer. Allow cauliflower to sit in the colander for 1-2 minutes and then pat dry.
6. Add cauliflower, cream cheese, garlic powder, salt & pepper to the food processor and puree.
7. Pour cauliflower mash into large baking dish or small ramekins.
8. Top with shredded cheese of choice and sprinkle with bacon and bake until cheese is melted.

NOTES
*Salt & Pepper amounts are subjective. Taste your mash as you pulse it and add more as desired.
*Cheese preferences are subjective, however you want to select a cheese that has great melting properties. Examples: cheddar, fontina, gruyere, monterey jack, & gouda.
*Uncured bacon does not contain nitrates, which is a synthetic preservatives used to preserve color, prevent fats from going rancid, and stop bacteria from growing. However, when exposed to high heat during cooking, they can convert to nitrosamines, which are carcinogenic.

Read more about nitrates HERE.

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