If you read this blog regularly, you know my wife was recently diagnosed with a very critical level of diabetes, which has resulted in us having to move into a new no/low carb, no/low sugar, no/low cholesterol, and no/low booze diet–which has left both of us very unhappy. We are both huge fans of potatoes, pasta, rice, and bread (and booze…), so finding alternatives to these favorites has been very tough.
Also tough has been all the well-meaning, trying-to-be-helpful people who are also on restricted diets (by Doctor’s orders or personal choice) who give their well-meaning, but totally wrong suggestions, insisting that tofu is as good as beef, kale is a good substitute for chicken, “queeno” is a perfectly good rice substitute, spaghetti squash is just like real pasta, or that turkey bacon is edible by anyone anywhere for any purpose. Sadly, all of you are wrong, and are either fooling yourselves, or are lying to us to make you feel better about your own terrible food options.
So far, the only real “substitutes” for the awesomeness of real carbs that we have found that don’t make us angry and bitter are shirataki noodles (lots of posts coming soon) as a substitute for most Asian noodle dishes (Italian pasta substitute? Not so much), and mashed cauliflower as a not-too-bad substitute for mashed potatoes. I won’t lie to you and tell you that it is the same and equally awesome as potatoes, but it is a totally not terrible, completely edible, and even surprisingly tasty alternative that can totally not make you shake your fist at God for forcing you to eat it.
This was particularly surprising to me, because I’ve previously believed that I hated cauliflower in all of its forms, and have largely refused to eat it throughout my 45 years of life. This makes it not unlike Brussel’s Sprouts, which I also refused to even try again until fairly recently, but now suddenly will choose to buy and eat on purpose, at least if done properly (and by properly, I mostly mean grilled, or with bacon, or with Sriracha). It isn’t a perfect substitution, and I’m not going to pretend you won’t know the difference at all. But texture and taste-wise, it is similar enough that you don’t really miss the potatoes, and it can be a perfectly acceptable medium for a gravy, which is often the role of mashed potatoes here at the GreeneHouse Bar and Grill, as was the case the other night, when we substituted it in our Bangers and Mash recipe.
There are really only two major downsides I see in this recipe: 1) They really aren’t a 100% perfect substitute for the exact taste and texture of potatoes, and if you obsess too much about that, it will suffer in the comparison, and 2) The Half and Half (or milk, cream, sour cream) and butter tend to separate a bit after it sits a while, especially the next day as leftovers. Fortunately, that problem can be solved pretty easily by re-stirring it before re-heating it.
You can make these pretty much exactly the way you like to make your mashed potatoes, using milk, cream, Half and Half, butter, sour cream, cream cheese, garlic, green onions, chives, rosemary, cheese, salt, pepper, etc. For simplicity’s sake, I have provided a basic recipe with Half and Half, butter, and garlic, which you can further customize as you wish (we’ve done it at least three different ways ourselves, but use Half and Half since it’s better for Colleen’s diabetes). The consistency is definitely close enough that whatever mashed potato recipe additions you prefer can be substituted here, but for a baseline, I have included a basic recipe below.
- One Head Cauliflower
- 1 Tbsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Minced Garlic
- ¼ Cup Unsalted Butter
- ½ Cup Milk or Half and Half or Cream or Sour Cream
- Additional Salt or Pepper to Taste
- Additional Chives, Green Onions, Rosemary, Etc. To Taste
- Rinse Cauliflower
- Break off individual cauliflower florets, cut larger ones in half or 4ths to make a more uniform size
- Put in large pan and cover with water.
- Add Salt.
- Add Garlic.
- Bring to boil.
- Boil until cauliflower florets can be easily broken apart with fork or potato masher (about 15 minutes).
- Drain water.
- Add Butter and Half and Half (or milk, cream, sour cream).
- Mash until large chunks of cauliflower have all been crushed.
- Add additional butter and Half and Half to reach the consistency you desire.
- Add additional salt and pepper and herbs to taste.