Friday, October 7, 2011

Kid-Friendly Week: Mashed Cauliflower

This week, a friend asked me if I had an kid-friendly vegetable ideas. I don't actually have kids unless you count our new dog Tommy who acts very much like a small child minus the talking part.

However, I do have a young brother who was one of those picky kids - the kind who has a very specific list of foods he deems to be edible, and a long, long list of foods that will never pass his lips. It can be a challenge, especially if your kids didn't grow up trying all kinds of food.
The good news is, there are a number of healthy, veg-centered dishes that help fill vegetable quota for the day, and can hopefully increase the variety your kids are eating without them necessarily knowing it.

There are a couple recipes I plan to post for this, but the first is a sort of "fake out" dish. Part of me is opposed to the idea of hiding vegetables in kids' foods. They should learn early about eating healthy, and should be willing to try new things before deciding they prefer not to eat them. Right? Well, that's a lovely idea, but as I learned from cooking for my brother countless times, sometimes they just won't eat it. Period. If given the choice between feeding a kid stealthily healthy food and feeding them hot dogs and chicken nuggets, I am going to fake them out.

My sweet brother, helping me to make grilled corn bruschetta, which he had no plans of actually eating.
Today's recipe, Mashed Cauliflower, is a delicious mashed potato substitute that comes as close to the real thing as possible. I am not opposed to mashed potatoes at all, but cauliflower has less than 1/4 of the calories of potatoes and my recipe doesn't rely on sour cream or butter to make them taste delicious. Roasting the cauliflower first is not required, but it adds flavor and depth, so try it out. I also used nutritional yeast, which is a common ingredient in a lot of vegan dishes that super healthy and has a cheesy, nutty flavor. If you haven't tried it, grab some from your local health food store and use it to enhance the flavor of salad dressings, soups, popcorn, or really anything savory.

This recipe is the basic version. It can be easily kicked up by adding roasted garlic, a teaspoon or two of curry powder, chives, grated parmigiano-reggiano, or a pinch of nutmeg. I kept it simple for the kid-friendly aspect. Start slow and then see what you can get away with. Also, if you don't have an immersion blender, just throw the whole mixture in a regular blender and give it a whirl. Enjoy as a super healthy side dish to any dinner, and consider this for a healthy Thanksgiving offering.

Mashed Cauliflower
Serves 2-4

1 head cauliflower
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 cup plain greek yoghurt
1 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon nutritional yeast (optional)
whole wheat bread crumbs to garnish (optional)
fresh parsley to garnish (optional)

1. Heat oven to 450. Cut the cauliflower in half lengthwise, then once again into quarters.

Remove stem and leaves. Cut florets into roughly 1" pieces.

2. Toss florets in large bowl with olive oil, salt & pepper. Spread onto baking sheet. Roast until edges are deep brown.

3. In saucepan, mix roasted cauliflower, yoghurt, and 1/2 cup vegetable broth with immersion blender until smooth. If too thick, add more broth, a tablespoon at a time to desired consistency. Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.

4. Garnish with bread crumbs and parsley and enjoy!

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