Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Cauliflower "Grits"

Cauliflower grits supporting a heap of vegetable curry
In an effort to lose weight, eat better, and get my children to eat more veggies and fewer processed grains, I am always on the lookout for tasty recipes that fit the bill.  I'd had cauliflower "fauxtatoes" before, where you mash the cauliflower and try to pass it off as mashed potatoes, and it didn't really work for me.  This recipe for "grits", however, is a horse of a different color.

Cauliflower grits, au natural
The hardest part of this recipe is cleaning the food processor when you're done.  It really couldn't be easier, and the end result is a tasty, firm blend of cauliflower and almonds, cooked in broth until done.  I use chicken broth, but vegetable broth would work well too.  For the almonds, I like the toasted, skin-on kind, but you can use whatever you have - raw, slivered, Marcona ... I'm tempted to try this recipe with Trader Joe's Wasabi Almonds! I serve this in place of rice in all of my Indian dishes, and it supports a saucy chicken dish better than noodles, since it soaks up all the best juices that run to the bottom of your plate.  It reheats well, is packed with protein and healthy fats, and tastes great.  What are you waiting for?

Cauliflower "Grits"
(Recipe Adapted from Paleo Comfort Foods by Julie and Charles Mayfield)

  • 1 large head of cauliflower, shredded (use your food processor.  If you don't have one, use a box grater, or just chop the heck out of it.)
  • 1 cup almonds 
  • 3 cups chicken stock or vegetable broth
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons of butter
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Shred the cauliflower.  Doesn't matter if you have chunks left over, they get cooked down.  Just make sure, however you cut or shred it, it gets cut down very small - this ensures a quicker and more even cook time.  Add the cauliflower to a large pot with a lid.  Add the chicken broth and stir to combine.
  2. Crush the almonds.  I like it chunkier than almond meal, so it still gives you a little crunch and helps the cauliflower not just be squish.  Grind them in the food processor until the pieces are the size of bread crumbs, but not all the way powdered.  Add the almonds to the pot with the cauliflower and broth.
  3. Simmer, covered, on medium-low for about 20-30 minutes until tender.  Add the butter and taste for salt and pepper.  Serve under curry, gumbo, or by itself as a side dish.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Fajitas Salad with Chipotle Dressing

Just as a painter needs to spend time in nature for inspiration, so must the Frugal Girlmet eat at a restaurant every once in a while, to taste new foods and get new ideas.  Sunday we took the family to Disney's California Adventure and had lunch at Cocina Cucamonga.  I ordered the Fajitas Ensalada.  I wasn't expecting much:  I mean, amusement park food doesn't have the greatest reputation.  But I was very pleasantly surprised!  

The salad was romaine and baby lettuces, topped with grilled chicken, and grilled onions, peppers, and zucchini.  But the best part by far was the chipotle dressing:  creamy, smoky, spicy and piquant.  I ate every last bite, and immediately began plotting how to make it at home.

It was so easy!  Buy a can of chipotles in adobo sauce (they're $1.69, so no big investment required!) and whole cumin seeds, and make this tonight!  (Note:  the veggies and chicken would be even tastier grilled, as they were in the original, but even with sautéed veggies and leftover chicken, this salad was amazing!)  Vegetarian?  Omit the chicken!  This sauce is so awesome, it would be great over grilled veggies - something to keep in mind for your BBQ plans this weekend...

Fajitas Ensalada (a la Frugal Girlmet)

  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 large chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
  • 1 large (or two small) cloves of garlic
  • 1/2 bunch cilantro (use the upper stems too!)
  • 1/2 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt
  • juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 onion, sliced
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 red or yellow bell pepper, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into pieces the same size as the bell peppers
  • 1 cup cooked chicken, shredded
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Salad greens - spring mix, romaine, whatever you like
  1. Toast the cumin seeds over medium heat for a few minutes until they get a little darker and start smelling delicious.  When toasted, grind in food processor or pulverize in mortar and pestle.  (You could use pre-ground cumin, but please don't.  Seriously, that stuff has no odor or flavor.  Buy the whole seeds!)
  2. With cumin in the food processor, add chipotle and a little adobo sauce, garlic, cilantro, mayonnaise, yogurt, lemon juice, salt and sugar.  Buzz to combine.  Taste for seasoning - too spicy?  Add more mayo.  Too tart?  Add a pinch more sugar.  Put the dressing in the refrigerator while you cook the veggies.
  3. Add a little oil or butter to a large pan.  Add the sliced onions and sauté until golden, then add the peppers and zucchini.  Cook until hot and tasty (not for too long, don't let them get mushy!)
  4. To serve:  Lettuce on the bottom, top with hot veggies and shredded chicken, and dress liberally with the chipotle dressing.  Scatter some avocado over the top and dig in!
(The salad was also served with some tortilla chips over the top.  It was nice and crunchy, but I didn't need the extra carbs.  If you want, go crazy with them, but we skipped them and didn't miss them.)

Monday, May 21, 2012

Beanies! (Adzuki Bean Coconut Flour Brownies)

Even stay-at-home moms have afternoon coffee breaks.  Like most people, I like a little something sweet with that 3pm pick-me-up, but I hate the thought of eating healthy all day, with a pitfall of sugar and carbs  right in the middle.  I searched for a recipe for something snacky, sweet, and healthy, and didn't come up with much.  Peering into my pantry, I struggled for inspiration, and found it - in a dusty old can.

I bought the beans because I love Japanese red bean ice cream, and must have planned to make a simulacrum at home - maybe vanilla ice cream with the beans blended in.  In any case, that never came to fruition, and the beans got pushed farther and farther back on the shelf.  When I saw them this time, however, I was reminded of that old hippy mom stand-by, black bean brownies.  Those were fine by me, but I wanted healthier.  

So I turned to my new friend coconut flour.  Coconut flour is gluten-free and packed with protein, so I would be getting a boost, and not just from the sugar.  I couldn't find any recipes for coconut flour black bean brownies, so I went off the cuff and created my own.  They came out sweet, cakey, and strangely addictive.  Feel free to change whatever you like to suit your needs or tastes if you make it at home, but be aware that you can't substitute for coconut flour on a 1:1 ratio; it is its own creature entirely.   I would recommend adding a cup of chocolate chips, to up the cocoa flavor, which I will do next time I make these.  And yes, there will be a next time!

Beanies!  (Adzuki Bean Coconut Flour Brownies)


  • 1/2 cup coconut flour, sifted
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder
  • 1 packet hot cocoa mix (or sub 2 more tbs. cocoa plus 2 tbs. sugar)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla 
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil or butter
  • 1 can mashed sweetened adzuki beans (these have sugar added.  If you can't find them, use black beans and sweeten to taste with honey or sugar.  Or don't, if you don't want to.)
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (optional, but I think I'll add some next time)


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray 9x9" square baking pan with Pam and set aside.
  2. In a small bowl, mix the dry ingredients - coconut flour, cocoa, hot cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.  I sifted them all together, but you can just sift your coconut flour if you cocoa isn't too clumpy.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs with the vanilla and coconut oil until foamy.  Stir in dry ingredients, a little at a time, until combined.  Mix in the beans (and chocolate chips, if using) and stir well.
  4. Press the mixture into the pan, smoothing with a spatula (this stuff is quite dense, so you'll have to really work it into the corners.)  Bake for 25-35 minutes, until set in the middle.  Let cool and slice into sticks.  Enjoy with your afternoon coffee and don't worry about your carb intake.