When you’re trying to reduce grain consumption, especially at breakfast time, it can be difficult to swap your morning cereal for something equally satisfying.
I know this sounds strange and borderline inconceivable, but cauliflower makes for a great porridge substitute with the right accompaniments. For those of you who have gotten onboard with cauliflower rice, or even tried cauliflower rice sushi, perhaps, you may have an easier time believing me.
There are a variety of reasons to cut down on grains, and doing so in the morning is particularly helpful. In a healthy person, carbohydrates trigger the pancreas to release insulin, which does three things: delivers glucose to your cells for use as fuel, puts excess glucose in the liver for short-term storage, and puts excess glucose into fat cells for longer terms storage (i.e. body fat). If you’re starting the day off with a big hit of carbohydrates, your blood sugar rises rapidly and results in quick and excessive release of insulin, in an effort to shuttle the sugar out of the bloodstream. However, this surplus of insulin causes blood sugar to drop too low, and you begin to crave more of it because your body is trying to bring blood glucose levels back up, and the cycle continues.
While carbohydrates are not evil, the best case scenario is to have levels rise and fall gently by consuming moderate amounts of slow-burning carbs. If you swap refined carbohydrates, like cereal, toast, or pastries, for something full of fat, fibre and protein, all of which are digested more slowly than simple refined carbohydrates, you get fuel that will sustain you for many more hours. And you can kick the late-morning slump and that sudden urge for a jolt of sugar and/or caffeine that keeps you from pushing through to lunchtime with maximum brainpower.
Aside from cutting down on the carbs and leaving plenty of room to add in healthy fats, fibre and protein, cauliflower is one of many cruciferous vegetable that we should be adding to our diets on a regular basis. Crucifers are rich in glucosinolates, a group of of sulfur-containing compounds that help prevent and slow cancer cells from growing. They also support liver function by triggering the production of detoxifying enzymes. Other sources include cabbage, broccoli, brussels sprouts and radicchio.
The key to transforming cauliflower into something delicious and sweet-savoury is to add in all the familiar flavours you would find in your dream bowl of oatmeal. For me, that means coconut and chocolate, although this is also totally delicious with a bunch of berries or apple and cinnamon. Aside from that, you just need to get the creamy, grainy texture right. (Don’t worry; I’ve got you covered.) Pick your favourite toppers and you are good to go. Here, I have one bowl topped with maple syrup, pear, coconut, pumpkin seed butter and hemp seeds, and another with banana, blackstrap molasses and hemp seeds.
Maca is a great “superfood” addition, in case the cauliflower wasn’t enough for you. It has been consumed in the Andes for thousands of years due to its nutrient density and ability to enhance energy, sexual health, mood and memory. (It’s also a cruciferous vegetable, although we consume it dried and powdered, so you can’t tell!) You can omit it, but it adds a nice complexity to the flavour and makes for a great morning energy boost that doesn’t involve caffeine. Other superfoods I love that are packed in here include collagen, raw cacao, cinnamon and flax. For more coconut and collagen, check out my coconut collagen sour cherry bars.
Chocolate cauliflower oatmeal
- Heat the cauliflower, coconut milk, shredded coconut and salt in a small saucepan over medium heat. Once it comes to a boil, simmer for 5 minutes.
- Turn off heat and stir in cacao, maca, cinnamon, ground flaxseed and collagen. It should thicken slightly due to the flax.
- Scrape into a bowl and finish with your favourite oatmeal toppings. I highly recommend a combination of maple syrup, nut or seed butter and fresh fruit.
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