Riced Cauliflower: Yay or Nay?

Riced CauliflowerI am not sure about you, but I grew up in a meat and potatoes family. My mom served meat, potatoes and a vegetable for dinner almost every night. It seemed like an unwritten rule that meals were served in three’s. Over the years, we have moved away from this, but I still often feel like something is missing when we only have two dishes instead of our traditional three. One of the things I like to do is serve Riced Cauliflower in lieu of potatoes or rice. We had it last night, but I was still in recovery mode with it only being my first day of holidays and I didn’t even think of taking a picture. This picture was borrowed from another blog with a great post on cauliflower rice that includes thorough instructions and some great cooking tips. Click on the image to visit the site.

Riced Cauliflower:

This really isn’t so much a recipe as an alternative cooking method.

  • Break the cauliflower into florets
  • Drop them in your blender or food processor and chop until the pieces are small and rice like.
  • Sauté in butter or oil. (I like coconut oil.)

What I love about this is that you can spice it up however you want or just serve it plain. We have eaten it with soy sauce just as you would rice or topped with a sauce from the meat, if applicable.  I also love to use it as a bed for a stir fry.

One of our favourites is to chop cabbage and an onion in the blender with the cauliflower. I season it with salt, pepper and lots of dill as it cooks. (I sometimes will add a drop or two of lemon juice, as well.) The finished dish is very much like Lazy Cabbage Rolls, but with cauliflower instead of the rice.

Cauliflower and The Plan:

Now, I can’t feel good about sharing this great idea for reducing the grains in your diet without also sharing that in Lyn-Genet Recitas book, The Plan, she identifies cauliflower as being highly reactive. So, if you are in the midst of trying to lose some weight and you think this is a fabulous alternative to rice, I don’t want to be the one to steer you wrong. In her book, she teaches you how to read your own body and know how your body reacts to different foods. She states how so many people who struggle with weight loss do so because they truly believe they are doing everything right. I have done several posts in which I have referenced her work and I believe it is the key. I don’t think there is any single diet or plan out there that works for everyone because we are all different and the ability to digest foods properly varies from person to person. So many of the foods that have been coined “super foods” or healthy choices do in fact provide the nutrients and benefits they claim, for certain people, but not everyone. So you may read this and say to yourself, “Riced cauliflower, what a great idea!” (like I did), without realizing that there is a good chance that you will fall into the category of those that find cauliflower “reactive” and cause weight gain. Through her practise, she has found that approximately 85% of the population react negatively to cauliflower.  According to Lyn, cauliflower is one of many goitrogenic foods. Foods containing goitrogens have been shown to interfere with thyroid function by blocking enzymes responsible for producing hormones. Although not all people with thyroid issues react to all foods with goitrogens, she does say that raw foods seem to be more problematic.

If you love cauliflower and are looking for some new ideas on how to serve it – go for it. I love riced cauliflower. However, if you are careful about what you eat and/or trying to lose weight, just be aware and watch to see how your body reacts. I know that I sometimes will find a great “healthy” alternative and begin to incorporate it into my diet on a regular basis and it used to take me months to figure out what I was doing wrong. I love how Lyn’s plan taught me how to read my body and determine what foods agree with me and as well as those that don’t, as soon as the next morning. It may seem crazy to weigh yourself everyday, but even the slightest weight gain indicates that my body is reacting to either my sodium intake, my level of water consumption, lack of sleep or a specific food I have eaten. I can look back on the previous day and often determine the culprit right away! Her system really allows you to take control. You can eat what you want, whenever you want and then get right back on track with “friendly foods”.

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Protein Particulars

With age, I have come to know and understand my body so much better. It has taken me years to begin to figure things out regarding what constitutes a healthy diet for me personally and I still feel that I have so much to learn about proper nutrition and my body in particular. However, my experience with exercise programs and various fad diets has revealed a few things that I know for sure:

  • protein is absolutely essential to how I feel each day (I am quite conscious of my protein intake and try to have an adequate source of protein with every meal.)
  • I have trouble digesting many forms of meat. I am not saying I can’t eat meat, but I have learned what kinds of meat are “friendly” and easily digested by my body. I have also discovered that I must eat red meat in moderation (one to two times per week), fish rarely (depending on the kind) and turkey once in a while. For me, chicken is the staple that I eat several times per week.  I also try to plan a minimum of one meatless dinner per week.
  • For me, I get most of my protein from eggs, nuts, seeds and chicken.

How to Calculate Your Protein Needs:

I do not count or keep track of my protein intake, but it is sometimes interesting to reflect on what you are eating just to see if you are in fact falling short on your protein intake. Here is a link for a protein calculator.  I used two different ways to calculate my recommended levels and both systems came out about the same. For my age and size, I should consume between 74 and 80 grams of protein per day, depending on my activity level.

Protein Sources:

Despite the fact that we often equate “meat” with protein, there are numerous other foods that offer great sources of protein as well. It really wasn’t until recently that I discovered the value of seeds. I had always tried to incorporate plenty of nuts in my diet, but never really consumed seeds other than the not so healthy salted sunflower seeds we would eat over the summer months. It was The Plan that actually taught me the value of seeds and since then, a day rarely goes by that I do not eat seeds. Raw pumpkins seeds have become one of my favourite additions to my lunch time salads and I will often add raw sunflower seeds or chia seeds to soups and salads as well.  Seeds are packed with protein and when eaten raw, make a very healthy addition to any meal.  Below are some of my favourite protein sources with a quick comparison of their protein, fat and caloric values. Of course, there are many other nutritional elements in each of the foods below, but I am primarily looking at their protein values.  If you are interested in searching for other protein rich foods, Health Alternatives offers some great charts with nutritional information.protein chart

As mentioned earlier in the post, pumpkin seeds are one of the few foods that I eat almost every day. You can see how just an ounces of pumpkin seeds on a salad can boost your protein intake and help you to maintain that “full” feeling for much longer than when you eat vegetables only.  I found a post that highlights some of the many nutritional benefits of eating raw pumpkin seeds. To learn more about these protein packed little morsels, check-out this post on Young and Raw.

Next time you make a salad, add a handful of raw pumpkin seeds to it and see how much longer you feel “full”.  Also, when considering your breakfast choices, always consider how you might incorporate some protein into your meal.  We all know breakfast is one of the most important meals of the day and including a good source of protein is vital!

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Potato Chips: Naughty or Nice?

With the New Year in sight and a few extra pounds to drop after enjoying too many dainties over the holidays, it is time to get back on track. As you know, I am a big fan of Lyn-Genet Recitas book called The Plan. I have posted about The Plan often, but as I sat on the couch this evening enjoying my little bowl of potato chips, I thought I should share what Lyn has to say about potato chips.

We’ve all been so programmed to believe that we can’t have potato chips and lose weight, but on The Plan, it’s not only allowed – it’s encouraged!

Potassium helps to negate sodium which is an important element of weight loss. Of course, potatoes provide an excellent source of potassium (1081 milligrams) and actually provide more potassium than bananas (460 milligrams) which are also high in both starch and sugar and thus not a great choice when trying to lose weight. Lyn suggests eating 1 ounce of salt-free potato chips for women and 1 to 2 ounces for men, as a healthy snack option. (For more information on Potassium, follow this link.)

Choosing the Right Chips

low sodium chips The key to making potato chips work in your diet, is choosing a salt-free chip. If you choose a salt-free chip, many people can eat a small amount for a snack without any reactivity (weight gain). One ounce would be similar to a small plastic children’s bowl full of chips or about 13 chips. I have tried a few different brands, but find that I like the Kettle brand the best. These are available at Superstore, Wal-Mart and some Safeway stores and are comparable in price to most other chips. They are sometimes found in the snack food aisle, but you can also check the “natural food” section of the store. There is no question that they lack some of the flavour of an “all dressed” or otherwise seasoned chip, but I don’t find much of a difference between a traditional “plain” potato chip and the salt-free. Of course, there is a difference, but for me, knowing that I can eat a few chips on a fairly regular basis without feeling guilty about it, totally makes up for the difference in taste. I quite enjoy them. I like to pack a small ziplock bowl full and leave them in my car for a snack on the drive home from work. This is a satisfying little snack and without the bag there, I am not tempted to have more!

Here is a copy of the Nutrition Facts. You will see there is 1% sodium in a serving of these chips.

low sodium chipsJust for comparison sake, I thought I would include the nutritional information from another name brand potato chip manufacturer. You will notice the staggering amounts of sodium, even in the lightly salted option.nutritional information

So, next time you go shopping and are craving potato chips, try out this healthier option and let me know how you like them. Lyn says that her favourite brand is the Trader Joe’s version. I’ll have to try those out next time we are south of the border. Happy snacking!

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