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August 2019

Candidly Yours

Zest Up your Cauliflower Rice!

August 24, 2019

I’m never in the mood to give up rice, but if I”m going to get my blood sugar in place and lose about 15 pounds, the rice has got to go. I confess, I’m on an unhappy mission to exchange rice for vegetables and if I am going to be successful, I will have to come up with a satisfying alternative.

As a teen, I spent eight months in the Philippines where rice is eaten as an absolute staple. I got a kick out of being able to eat rice — at the table — by hand using thumb, pointer and middle fingers!  More acceptable, and a habit that stuck with me, is eating rice with other ingredients using together a large spoon and  fork.

My love of rice continued when, a decade later, I spent a few years in Mexico and then,a few decades later, nearly eight years in Panama.  It’s a hardship for me,  this idea of relinquishing my comforting, gluten-free, beloved rice. But I was feeling committed so here is what I came up with.

By now it’s common to use “riced” or finely processed cauliflower in place of real rice dishes.  “Ricing” cauliflower is easy. You can purchase it in the store pre-ground, but it’s costly. I buy a head of white cauliflower, break it apart, pulverize it in a processor to about the consistency of rice.  I store this in an air tight bag in the freezer or fridge.  But cauliflower has to be jazzed up to be satisfying and I have found that Lemon or Lime Zest is a terrific addition that brightens up many dishes.

Below is how I prepared this zesty, and surprisingly satisfying “rice alternative” dish. Vegans will want to replace my use of parmesan cheese with a vegan alternative. But other than that … have at it! It’s fast and easy. Use it alone, as a side dish, play with it by adding meats or even a gravy.

ZESTY RICE ALTERNATIVE

  1. Into a hot, large-bottom pan with good surface area, and using no oil or water so it won’t get mushy, stir 2 Cups “Riced” cauliflower on high heat until most of the moisture vaporizes, about 4 minutes. You will be able to watch the steam rise up and away.
  2. Turn off the heat and then add:

    1 tsp lemon juice or about the juice of half a lemon.
    1/8 to 1/4 grated lemon or lime rind (I used lime rind). This adds so much brightness!
    Salt to taste
    1/4 cup flaked or grated parmesan cheese (vegans use a substitute)
    8 – 10 Loosely chopped, fresh basil leaves.

  3. Mix all this together, add a little Earth Balance vegan butter (or the real thing) and eat it up!

TIPS:  For kids, try adding mild cheddar and Half & Half to give it a Mac ‘n Cheese feel. Mix in grill chicken bits. Play with it. It’s versatile!

Main Dishes

Delicious, Versatile Salad as Meal!

August 5, 2019

This dish is easy and delicious as well as versatile, to wit: it can be served cold or warm, and as a main or a side dish. Remove the shrimp and replace with tofu and, it’s not only vegetarian but vegan!  Because the ratio of rice to vegetables is high on the veg, it’s also a pretty low-carb and also gluten free!

My version here has some shrimp, but you can replace that with more vegetables, a vegan protein, and more quinoa to rice.  Play with it. It’s forgiving except, when making a salad with rice, you do NOT want warm or hot-off-the-stove rice. So read on to see what I did here.

A.  PREPARE YOUR RICE

  1. Prepare 1 cup of Jasmine Rice with 1 to 1-1/2 cups of stock. See my notes just below:Rice preparation can be personal. If you use a rice cooker, great! Just make your rice as always.I a mix of Quinoa & Jasmine rice, rinsed. Then I steam it up in a pot with 1-1/2 cups of stock to 1 cup of rice. For added flavor, I use chicken or vegetarian stock and also, I usually add about 7 hot pepper flakes and dried onion flakes.


    I steam my rice for about 15-20 minutes  — then just turn off the stove and let it sit while I continue prepping other foods.

  2. IMPORTANT: Spread your cooked rice out in a shallow pan & cool it off in the fridge or freezer. By the time you have chopped up the rest of the salad, your rice will be cool enough to add! You do not want to use warm rice when you add it to a salad. Ditto, by the way, for Chinese Fried Rice! Use cooled rice.

B.  WHILE YOUR RICE IS STEAMING UP, CHOP THESE & TOSS INTO A LARGE BOWL:

  1. 1 Large, ripe, red, tomato
  2. 1/2 Sweet, Vidalia onion
  3. 1/2 Cup Fresh Cilantro
  4. 1-1/2 Cups finely shredded cabbage (my supermarket sells it in bags)

C.  IF YOU ARE NOT A VEGETARIAN, DO THIS:

  1. Sautee 24 small to medium shrimp in a bit of olive oil  & butter with a bit of spicy Creole or other spicy salt.  Sautee ONLY about 3 minutes, or until your shirmp are opaque, not clear and gray. Pull off the stove and cool. (Vegetable-based eaters can add Soy or other protein products.)

D.  THE FINAL PRODUCT!

Into your LARGE SALAD BOWL where you already have your chopped ingredients, ADD:

  1. The now-cooled rice
  2. 2 cups of fresh Arugula
  3. Juice of 1/2 a Lemon or Lime
  4. 1  or 1-1/2 Tbsp. of Rice Vinegar
  5. 1 Tps. of Sesame Oil (Sesame Oil is powerful, be careful!)
  6. 1 Tsp.  of Thai Fish Sauce (Don’t worry if you haven’t any!)
  7. DASH of Soy Sauce (Too much will brown your salad.
  8. Greek or Creole Salad to taste!

Toss all ingredients with clean hands or spoons.
Serve cold or warmed.