February…the down hill-side of winter, signs of spring appearing, day light stretching past 5:00, the month to celebrate love. Mike’s birthday! It is also the month chosen to bring awareness to heart health. Today, February 5th, women’s heart health is specifically targeted with the “go red for women” campaign. Having found out this week my cholesterol is higher than it has ever been, I’m a little uneasy about this focus on heart attacks and strokes. I want to stick my head in the sand and focus on the love part of February and make Valentines. But being a worrier, and half way through my sixties, I don’t have a peaceful easy feeling, especially when the doctor says I need to eat less grains and more meat (I, a vegetarian since my late 20s except for the occasional fish) to bring the equally high triglycerides down. Eating more meat is in conflict with many cancer prevention diets (yesterday was World Cancer Day, but I don’t need a special day to remind me of cancer, I worry about that every day.)
Due to digestive health challenges most the time I watch carefully what I eat. Reducing options leaves me feeling there’s nothing left to eat that is safe, let alone interesting. But forging ahead I’ve come up with some new food ideas, one being an adaptation of an adaptation. My latest low-fat, no-grain, cancer fighting yummy is an versatile sauce that adds interest and flavor to any meal. And you don’t have to have any health issues to appreciate it!
My body doesn’t like beans so I make a cauliflower hummus that’s deliciously addictive. This creamy sauce/dip has the same flavor as the bean variety because the flavor of hummus comes from garlic, tahini, lemon and olive oil. Tahini, rich in minerals and a good source of protein, does have a fair amount of fat. Besides the hummus, I often make other sauces with tahini, so to reduce my use of it, I came up with some new sauces, using the same grain-less, low-fat base…cauliflower.
Cauliflower may not seem like a super star in the world of foods, but if you Google it you will find with the trend of Paleo diets, vegan diets and gluten-free diets, it has suddenly become very popular. It’s white color and mild flavor lends itself to many creative possibilities. The grainy texture, when cut up small, has been used as a substitute for dishes such as fried rice, and its ability to be creamy makes it masquerade as a stand in for mash potatoes. Cauliflower, like most veggies, has an abundance of potassium, and a few other nutrients. In research done on the cancer fighting properties of cruciferous vegetables, cauliflower is a star. It can be more digestible than broccoli for some people. In my book, cauliflower it is a super-star.
I’ve made two sauces to add flavor and interest to meals: a garlicky cream sauce and a lemon cream sauce.
As with the hummus, they both start with cooking the florets until they are soft enough to put a fork in. I steam mine in water, but you can also roast them, which adds a different flavor to recipes.
After the cauliflower is cooked, be sure to drain it well, using a slotted spoon, and put it in a blender or food processor. I use a small food processor and am happy with the texture, a blender would make it smoother.
For the basic sauce you can add your dietary preferences to enhance the creaminess. Butter and a little milk works, I use low fat coconut milk and no butter to keep the fat content down. In the hummus the tahini and olive oil (about 2 T. each) make it creamier.
If you want a garlic sauce, sauté enough chopped garlic for your taste, I use one large clove per two cups of cauliflower but more would be more garlicky and delicious! For additional flavor I had a pinch of salt, about 3 tablespoons coconut amino acids, and the spicy Vata churna I make. (see recipe on my recipe page.)
For a slightly cheesy sauce I add a mild local goat cheese, if you want it to be cheesier a stronger flavored soft cheese would work best, if it’s a hard cheese be sure it is grated fine.
For the lemon sauce, add to the coconut milk/cauliflower base a pinch of salt and the juice of half a lemon.
The garlic sauce is good on veggies, grains. The lemon sauce is also good on veggies and on fish. The sauces can be kept in the refrigerator and heated slightly when needed. I like to make them fresh but if there is some left over it tastes just as good the next day.