UnFoodie Conquers Cauliflower

By Karen

Weight Watchers punishes you with points pretty severely for eating  white starchy carbs and fat (even “good” fats – a teaspoon of olive or canola oil are 1 point, and so is butter), so I’ve basically given up former mainstays of my diet — potatoes, rice, and anything fried in oil or butter.

At Thanksgiving, mashed potatoes and stuffing have always been my favorite things. Just pass me the gravy, and keep that dry-as-dust turkey breast. So to appease the WW gods this year, I decided to find out if I could make cauliflower replace mashed potatoes, or if it’s simply an urban myth circulated by carb-starved stick figures.

As a veggie, I’ve been OK with cauliflower, although you’d never catch me going out of my way to eat it if anything else is available. It’s so bland and white, it seems a nutritional non-entity (although I’m sure it has many fine qualities).

Here’s what I used:

  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 5 cloves of garlic, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup 2% shredded cheese (any kind is OK, but I used sharp cheddar)
  • 1/2 cup of water from boiling the cauliflower
  • some spritzes of butter spray (I used I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter!®)
  • salt to taste

First, I made a total mess separating the florets from the stems, but it turns out you don’t have to be too picky about that because, once boiled, you really can’t tell the difference between them.

You should have seen the floor.

I dumped the florets into a big pot with enough water to submerge them about 2 inches and threw in the garlic. Once the water started boiling, I salted it.

See what I mean about how boring it looks? Like a pot full of albino brains.

The cauliflower needs to boil like crazy for 10-12 minutes, until it breaks apart when you stick a fork in it. I reserved a cup of the boiling water before dumping the cooked cauliflower into a colander.

Before beginning to mash, I added about ½ cup of the water, salted again, and gave everything a good spritzing of butter spray. Then I added the cheese.

At this point, my almost-new Cuisinart blender turned into a doorstop and dashed any hopes of puréeing, but using a whisk and a big spoon I managed to mash out the lumps.

Here’s my masterpiece, topped with more shredded cheddar and red pepper flakes.

If you didn’t know better, you’d think it was mashed potatoes, right?

This total dish is only 8 WW points (all coming from the cheese), so a generous 1-cup serving is about 2 points.

You know what? It tastes close enough to mashed potatoes to make me happy, and my family liked it. But, come to think of it, I don’t know if my mother had any — she’s never cooked cauliflower in her life. And it left me more room for stuffing!

(And for the record, my sister’s brined Trader Joe’s turkey cooked in a bag was NOT dry at all. A win-win all around.)

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7 Responses to UnFoodie Conquers Cauliflower

  1. Britta says:

    Karen,
    Your willpower and resolve is amazing. I couldn’t come up with a strong enough argument or recipe to replace the stuffing I felt “entitled” to gorge upon. Way to go!

  2. catsworking says:

    Britta, actually my sister’s willpower and resolve are amazing. She’s lost about 85 lbs. this year on Weight Watchers. So I figured I needed to do something to help us both stay on course.

    My mother made real mashed potatoes, and I did have a few tablespoons of them. And I ate stuffing. And had a few more meals with leftover stuffing, but I added some veggies to it to stretch out the points but still keep the stuffing spirit.

    Thanksgiving week, I didn’t lose an ounce, but I didn’t gain either, so I consider it a win.

    I’ll be reporting on my WW progress soon, but I’ve done a couple more interesting things with food I want to cover (and these food posts seem to be attracting food bloggers to Cats Working like flies! But nice flies, not pesty ones.)

    And if anyone can tell me why a blender will suddenly go from working fine to just blending whatever is right around its blades (i.e., not “pulling” the rest of the food in to blend all of it together), please share. My beautiful Cuinsinart is in the doghouse right now.

  3. Zappa's Mom says:

    My beautiful Cuisinart was a piece of shit right out of the box.I never could get it to work.I should have known when the demo DVD was faulty that I was in trouble.I treated myself to a Vitamixer last Christmas and I LOVE it. Your cauliflower looks delicious,but….it’s…..cauliflower.But,Im tempted to try it.Out of curiosity,how do root veggies,parsnips,rutabaga,etc.,add up,WW point-wise?

  4. Zappa's Mom says:

    Ha ha,albino brains…..

  5. catsworking says:

    ZM, I noticed recently that my Cuisinart blender is the same one they use on the kitchen set of Two and a Half Men. It’s a nice prop. It started out working fine (although so loud it makes the windows rattle), then it just stopped pulling the food in to the blades.

    Cauliflower, rutabaga, turnips have no WW points, but parsnips are 2 points per cup.

    With the Points Plus system, just about all veggies have no points except the starchy ones. A medium potato is 4 points, and so is a cup of fresh corn kernels.

    You could probably jazz up the cauliflower with seasonings, but that’s my weak area so I just did it straight. I bet Adele (the human) would know what spices would go well with it.

  6. adele says:

    Good for you Karen. It sounds like you had a safe and sane Thanksgiving by Weight Watchers standards. A friend of mine was raving about the Trader Joe’s brined in bag turkey, and brining does seem to be the secret to moist white meat.

    Regarding cauliflower; it’s not my favorite either, but I like it best with Indian spices — cumin, tumeric, etc. There’s an Indian dish called aloo gobi (sp.?) which is quite tasty, and I’m sure the recipes are online. Cauliflower, along with broccoli (which I do like) is not so easy on my screwed up digestive system, but the South Beach diet has a faux mashed potatoes recipe, using cauliflower puree which is not too bad; I’m sure it’s online; I never committed it to memory because it didn’t set well with me.

    Albino brains — great!

  7. catsworking says:

    Adele, my Thanksgiving week with Weight Watchers wasn’t great. I used all my bonus points, all my activity points, and then some, and didn’t lose an ounce. On the other hand, I was guessing on a lot of the values of what I ate, so who knows what the real numbers were. But at least I didn’t gain.

    I can’t imagine cauliflower being hard to digest. It’s so bland it barely qualifies as food. I tried to puree mine, which is how I discovered the blender wasn’t working. But it was all for the best because puree probably would have been too runny.

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