How to Make Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is a great invention for nutrient density. Rice does not offer much in terms of nutrition. It’s purpose it to fill us up and leave us satisfied. If a vegetable can do that too then that’s my preferred option.

Rice takes on the flavor of any spices and sauces it’s paired with. Cauliflower rice acts in a similar way but I think it actually absorbs twice as much flavor as plain rice. I’ve served it with pot roast and all the lovely juices soak right into the cauliflower with none left to pool on the plate. It’s a sponge for flavor. This recipe can serve as the rice substitute for fried rice, rice casseroles, gumbo, soups or any rice-based dish.

While rice is not necessarily something to avoid all together. It is quite easy on the digestive system and will not cause the body harm. I include it in my diet once a week or so and feel great eating it. My advocacy for cauliflower rice is based on the fact that rice is filling and can easily take the place of more nourishing foods like vegetables. Bringing cauliflower into the mix of options allows for diet diversity.

This lower carbohydrate rice option is rich in sulfur, which is essential to the health of our cells. We need sulfur for the synthesis of glutathione, taurine and collagen, the binding of amino acids to form insulin, protection against radiation, pollution, and the effects of aging, as well as help to fight off bacterial infections. The consistency of cauliflower rice is similar, more on the mushy side of over-cooked rice though. If you like your rice more firm, add 10 minutes to the cook time and rotate the pan while cooking for even results.

How to Make Cauliflower Rice

How to make Cauliflower Rice

How to make Cauliflower Rice

How to Make Cauliflower Rice
Yields 2
Low-carb, nutrient-rich alternative to rice
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
20 min
Total Time
30 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 head cauliflower
  2. 1 tbsp coconut oil
  3. 1 tsp salt
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 365 degrees.
  2. Grease a 13”x9” roasting pan with coconut oil.
  3. Cut up cauliflower into small chunks. Place into a food processor until it’s the consistency of rice.
  4. Spread into the pan and sprinkle the salt over it. Bake for 20 minutes.
Notes
  1. For a crispier version, cook an additional 10 minutes.
Sparkle Kitchen http://sparklekitchen.com/

 

Resources:

Why You Should Eat Sulfur-Rich Vegetables, http://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-you-should-eat-sulfur-rich-vegetables/#axzz3T8XEKHzb

Foods High in Sulfur, http://www.med-health.net/Foods-High-In-Sulfur.html

Guest Post: Nutrient Rich Paleo by Alex of Dig Primal

I’m so thrilled to share a fabulously informative article by my friend Alex of DigPrimal.com!  Alex is an active food DIY-er with a nutrient rich paleo approach. As an anesthesiology resident, she taps into her science knowledge to create helpful resources for others wanting to get to the root of their health problems. Alex shares her real food recipes and insights for natural living.

In this article Alex gets down to the diet principles and answers many questions people often have when they hear paleo. I love her approach to diet as a lifestyle, focusing on the whole body. Every single body is different and we all have to do what makes us feel our best.

What is (Nutrient Rich) Paleo?

I love paleo. But I think it can get a bit confusing.   Do you eat grass fed dairy or not? Do you include certain legumes in your diet or not?  Is eating paleo synonymous with eating a high-protein or low-carb diet?  And is there even  a “right” way of doing it at all?

What follows is my explanation for how I think about paleo and how I subsequently use these principles to make lifestyle and dietary decisions.   

The fundamental principle is that I focus on nutrient density to guide my food choices and focus on living a lifestyle that augments—and doesn’t deplete—that baseline of health.  With this basic concept in mind, I think the details end up being relatively straightforward.

what-is-nutrient-rich-paleo-raw

Paleo As A Lifestyle:

My understanding of paleo is that it is a lifestyle…that means you do it in such a way that you could happily do it for the rest of your foreseeable future.

That means there’s absolutely no starvation, deprivation, calorie-counting, or “dieting” that takes place. Sure, the idea is that you change your food choices to be healthier but it’s also perfectly acceptable to allow for the things you want as well.

As an exercise, try googling “paleo pizza”. You’ll see countless versions of pizza to make at home. Not in a cooking mood? There are store-bought and restaurant-made paleo-like versions you can buy.  Let’s say you decide that you need to indulge in regular ol’ pizza once every so often to be able to stick with paleo the other 99% of the time.  Then let me emphatically say that doing that doesn’t make you “not paleo” or “not a good paleo-er” (insert whatever guilt-ridden-diet-following-mumbo-jumbo you or anyone else is trying to say).  In a world of crash-dieting and 100 calorie snack packs, I think a long term outlook on health—even with some imperfections—is a beautiful thing.

The mind frame in paleo, in my opinion, is to do away with the emotional rollercoaster so often seen accompanying contemporary “diets” and to focus on fueling your body with the most nutrient-rich foods you can get your hands on.  Learning exactly what that means for your mind and body lies at the heart of this wonderful journey of living paleo!

With all that said, I’d like to delve into the nitty-gritty by discussing everything that you CAN (and are encouraged to) eat.

“Yes” (Please!) Foods:

1. All vegetables.  With all the vitamins and minerals present along with minimal anti-nutrients (aka: compounds that make the vitamins and minerals in some foods less bio-available to you) make pretty much all veggies a go for a lot of people.  As with all foods, however, there is the potential for someone to have more specific sensitivities to certain vegetables.  Vegetable sensitivities are a more “advanced” paleo topic, however, so we’ll leave that discussion for another day…if you’re curious in the meantime, The Paleo Mom has great scientific articles on the subject.

2.  All fruit.  Fruit can be a huge help when someone is switching from a Standard American Diet to the paleo because fruit can really offset sugar cravings while providing you with beneficial vitamins and minerals.  While you’ll occasionally see discussions in the paleo world about how much fruit is ok to eat, my take on the matter is that you can partake in nearly unlimited fruit as long as you don’t have blood sugar regulation problems and don’t allow your fruit intake to displace other healthy food choices.

3.  Muscle meats from healthy animals fed their appropriate diet is the paleo ideal.  Scientifically, it’s been shown that grass-fed beef/bison and pasture-raised pork/chicken/turkeys have higher levels of Vitamins A, D, K2 as well as CLA…these are all things we need to build healthy bodies and to further absorb the nutrients we eat.  However, conventionally raised meats also contain these beneficial compounds (albeit at a lower concentration) so if there’s a choice between eating conventional meats or no meat at all, I’ll always choose the former.  There are real considerations, such as price and availability, that can make getting grass-fed meat more difficult…the best thing to do is to make the best choices you can and relax about what you can’t change.

4.  Organ meats from healthy animals fed their appropriate diets.  Organ meats are starting to be discussed more and more in the paleo community but even now, they are severely undervalued nutritional options.  Organs perform all the functions that animals need to live (including humans!).  To make these functions occur, animals need cofactors…and this almost always means a vitamin or mineral.  It makes sense then that organ meats contain the highest quantities of vitamins and minerals in an animal and we can reap all those benefits by eating organs such as liver, heart, kidneys, etc.  I know, I know, this isn’t something we’re used to but it’s definitely something that grows on you.  Don’t worry, eating organ means doesn’t mean you have to deal with the “ick-factor”…I often buy my ground offal in a nicely packaged container just like all my other meats.  Best of all, you can find countless recipes on the internet of how to prepare organ meats (and even recipes that disguise the taste for those who don’t like the idea!) that make eating organ meats positively delicious.  I personally love liver, so I make it at home for myself like this.  (That post also goes into detail on how I hide it from my liver-texture-hating husband.) 

5.  Bone broth is constantly discussed in the paleo diet for good reason: animal bones are a reservoir of nutrients and vitamins and, just like in organ meats, there are easy and delicious ways to incorporate all those health benefits into your life.  It would take paragraphs to describe all the reasons you should be drinking bone broth so I’ll refer to this well-written article by The Paleo Mom again.  Bone broth is so amazing and yummy that you’ll be hard-pressed to find a paleo blog that doesn’t include their method for making it…here’s mine!

6.  Fermented foods are a staple in most paleo kitchens.  They provide you with beneficial probiotics and enzymes while the process of fermentation allows the vitamins and minerals to become more bio-available (read: easier to absorb).  There are tons of choices out there, depending on your taste buds and your food tolerances.  Most people are able to enjoy sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut milk kefirwater kefirginger ale, and kombucha.  For those of your who decide/have decided to incorporate dairy into your paleo choices, cow/goat milk kefir can be a delicious way to get in your fermented foods.

7.  There is a great deal of variation on the approach to dairy in the paleo world.  Some people are so intolerant to dairy (lactose intolerance, casein intolerance) that they choose not to use any forms of dairy at all.  Others choose to include forms of dairy that are less likely to be allergenic…this includes butter, ghee, and heavy cream.  The last camp of people are usually people who have determined that they see no ill effects of eating dairy and therefore include butter, ghee, heavy cream, as well as minimally-processed whole milk (goat being easier to digest than cow milk).  Almost everyone who includes dairy in their diets agrees that getting products from grass-fed, happy cows is the best but, as with the meats above, it’s important to do the best you can and don’t sweat the rest.

8.  Seafood—both fish and shell-fish—is loaded with nutritional goodness. Seafood can provide you healthy fats, omega 3’s, selenium, iodine, and incredibly bio-available forms of protein.  If you eat fish with bones in them (sardines, canned salmon), you’ll be getting all the benefits you get from bone broth in the fish too!  Opinions differ but most people agree that wild-caught fish has the highest mineral, vitamin value while avoiding the contamination you can find in conventional fish.

9.  Nuts and seeds are considered to be good additions to a paleo way of eating…as long as they’re enjoyed in moderation.  Reasons for keeping nuts in moderation in the diet includes a discussion about optimal fatty acid ratios and anti-nutrient considerations.  Some people choose to omit nuts and seeds entirely and compensate by focusing on other sources of healthy fats and nutrients.

10.  One thing that sets the paleo lifestyle from other modern philosophies is the strong focus on including high-quality fats in the diet.  The main theory behind not avoiding fats is that the paleo lifestyle tends to be low-inflammatory which greatly lowers the opportunity for plaque (cholesterol) accumulation in the arteries, not to mention that heat stable fats are less likely to be oxidized into particles that build up in the arteries.  Nearly all types of high quality fats are included in paleo, including “ancestral” fats such as lard and tallow.  If you’re new to incorporating fats into your meals, may I suggest frying up some bacon and sauteing veggies in the bacon fat (yum!).

“Yes” Activities; Beyond The Food:

Now that we’ve figured out all the things you can eat, let’s return to the idea that paleo is a “lifestyle” and not simply a diet.  While we do talk about food an awful lot in this space, referring to paleo as a lifestyle also implies that what you do outside of the kitchen really matters.   You’ll notice that there’s a lot of talk in the paleo-sphere about getting outside, living an active lifestyle, and building good support systems.  

Intuitively, it makes sense that our bodies can’t be expected to function well in isolation to everything that surrounds us.  Scientifically, there is much supporting evidence that our hormonal milieu (melatonin, leptin, ghrelin, insulin, and so on!) is strongly dependent on our movement, interaction with the sun, and—maybe most importantly—our emotional status.  Whatever your motivation is for following such advice, I truly appreciate being a community where I am continuously reminded to consider and examine all aspects of my life, not just what I put in my mouth.

Finally, let’s cover what we choose not to include in the paleo way of eating.  I dislike paleo descriptions that start by giving you big list of things not to eat and send you on your way…but since we’ve established all the wonderful things you can eat, however, we can get on to this last part.

“No” (Thank You!) Foods: 

1. Nearly everyone in the paleo community will choose not to eat gluten-containing grains (wheat, barley, rye, etc).  While “gluten” has become a popular, well-known term, it is just one of the compounds in certain grains that act as anti-nutrients…these compounds resist degradation in your digestive tract and block the absorption of other vitamins and minerals in your gut.  An easy way to think about it is to consider how grains disseminate their fruit.  Animals eat grains and the “dispose” of them at another location…it is the intention of grains to pass through the digestive tract intact so that they can grow at this new spot.  It is not so much that grains are “bad” then but it’s simply that we are able to get all the nutrients they contain more easily from a variety of other foods (see “yes” foods above!).  (Please note that this is just one simple way of describing the problems with grains…I could also mention that they are a commonly cited culprit in food intolerances and can increase inflammation in the body.)

2. Some people in the paleo-sphere choose not to eat any grains at all while others occasionally partake of gluten-free grains such as rice, quinoa, and buckwheat.  This choice, like dairy, simply depends on your level of sensitivities.  Still, they aren’t the most nutrient dense food choices you can make and to make them healthier requires some work (check out how I prepare my rice in bone broth and sprout buckwheat).

3.  Legumes have similar anti-nutrient considerations as gluten-containing grains…they are simply difficult for the human body to digest and there are better ways to get the same nutrients.  Personally, I do treat legumes that you can eat with the skin (like peas and green beans) differently than ones you can’t because nutritionally, I believe they are more similar to nuts and seeds.

4. Paleo folks tend to avoid damaged fats.  This usually means that they use heat-stable fats for cooking (coconut oil, butter, ghee, bacon grease, duck fat, tallow, lard…anything solid at room temperature) and the rest for preparing food that won’t get heated (olive or sunflower oil on salads, etc.) so that the non-heat-stable oils won’t get oxidized.   This is very hard to do when eating out since most restaurants tend to cook with oils like canola oil (liquid at room temperature).  The frequency that you choose to expose yourself in this is up to you, but it’s just an important fact to realize.

5.  Low fat dairy is not often seen included in paleo food lists.  This is because the fat in dairy contains Vitamins A, D and K2…these are compounds that are needed to be able to absorb and utilize calcium you would potentially get from the dairy products.  Without them, you’re not likely to get much from those dairy products besides caloric intake.

6.  Processed sugars are generally avoided in paleo.  Eating whole, minimally-processed foods generally helps minimize sugar intake drastically and becoming nutrient sufficient through proper nutrition goes a long way for diminishing sugar cravings.  Addicted to sugar? I sure was.  Be patient with yourself…habits and nutrient statuses don’t change over night.

Lastly, let’s cover lifestyle choices we try to avoid when embracing paleo.

“No” Activities:

Doing the opposite of the activities we covered in the “yes” section–staying up too late, not being active, stressing out–has the potential to negate some of the benefits of the great food choices you make.  This is because these activities can cause the disregulation of hormones that govern energy levels, satiety, and proper cell signaling (especially when it comes to gastrointestinal tract mucosal cells and immune cells).

Moving On:

As you can see, there’s a lot to nutrient-rich paleo! But in the end, it’s really just about enjoying your life and fueling your body with the most nutrient-dense foods available to you.

My version of paleo looks like this…what will yours look like?

Food Cravings & What They Really Say

CRAVINGS

Once the clock strikes 3 o’clock, my entire office heads for the candy cabinet. What causes this sugar craving? I’ve always wanted to get to the bottom of it and be able to say no to my afternoon fix.

Most often it’s chocolate. It’s like my body has a chocolate meter and when my levels are too low, an alarm sounds. Other times, it’s chips or popcorn. That salty crunchiness calls to me and no other food will do. I know I’m not hungry so why is my body asking for these empty calories?

Food cravings send us mixed signals so we have to carefully listen and evaluate what our body truly needs. They can be physical or psychological.


Physical Cravings

►Lack of nutrients. Your body is not receiving adequate vitamins and minerals it needs for optimal performance.

►Hormone levels. For women, premenstrual cravings are common and the number 1 food we want is chocolate. Chocolate increases serotonin levels, which drop during this stage in the cycle and need a boost.

►Low blood sugar. Skipping meals and becoming famished will cause your blood sugar to dive and lead to intense cravings.

►Restrictive diet. When you restrict, your body feels deprived and fixates on the things you’ve banished. All you think about is the cake you can’t have so you crave it constantly.

►Brain development. The part of your brain that helps you control your behaviors, the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, may be underdeveloped or damaged. Reduced activity in this portion of your brain can lead to overindulgence of junk food.

►Lack of good but bacteria. Your gut creates satiation hormones but when the good and bad bacteria are out of balance, the hormones are suppressed.


Psychological Cravings

According to medical professionals, cravings are rarely linked to a shortage of nutrients so I’ll focus more on the emotional connection. We have a biological reaction when we crave foods. Lack of willpower has nothing to do with it. Cravings are your body’s way of telling you it needs something, whether it’s comfort, love, distraction, etc. Our brains remember how certain foods make us feel and when one makes us feel good, we keep going back.

Cravings lie in the pleasure, emotion and memory centers of the brain.

►Ancestors. As humans, we are programmed to seek out fat and sugar as a survival mechanism. Our ancestors were not as fortunate as us to be surrounded by prepackaged foods. They didn’t know the time of their next meal so the body developed eating high caloric foods that would sustain them. The world of industrialized food is working against us now. Temptation lies on every block.

►Endorphins. Indulging in food cravings releases endorphins, which make us feel calm. So when we give in and eat the brownie or potato chips, our body tells us we feel better.

►Over producing hormones. Brain chemicals actually trigger cravings for certain foods. The chemical galanin signals a hankering for sweet, salty and fatty foods. When we eat more of the foods, our body produces more galanin and we want these foods more often.

►Mood changer
. Sweet and starchy foods raise levels of neurochemical serotonin, which help stabilize mood. If you eat a steak and all you really want is a hot fudge sundae, you probably feel full but you still want the sundae. The steak did not impact your serotonin level. Only sugar will change your mood and satisfy you.

►Stress. Food is the most common thing we reach for when stressed or feeling anxiety. If I have a crappy day, all I want is ice cream to soothe my sorrows. The goal is to find other means of stress relief.

►Nostalgia. Deep rooted memories of childhood lead to certain cravings. My grandmother would bring me frozen yogurt when I was sick and I want exactly that when I’m under the weather now. Environmental associates cause cravings as well. It’s impossible not to think of s’mores when you’re around a bonfire.

►Emotional eating
. This is my biggest struggle. For those of us with eating disorders, we use food to control our emotions. It’s a psychological need that typically requires professional help to learn how to accept and feel our true emotions rather than suppressing them with food.

►See and Smell. We are easily tempted by smells and delicious looking foods. Walk into a bakery and take in the delicious aromas and gorgeous pastry case. How can you say no?


Solutions:

►Wait 20 minutes. Cravings are said to only last 15 to 20 minutes.

►Stay away from restrictive diets. Give yourself freedom to enjoy pizza or french fries once in a while.

►Eat a nutrient dense diet and avoid skipping meals. Plan out your food so you eat a combination of fat, carbs and protein at each meal and eat every 4 or so hours. Staying on a regular eating pattern also helps to avoid abrupt brain chemical changes and keeps your blood sugar steady throughout the day.

►Have a healthy gut. When your gut flora is balanced, you create more satiation hormones. Try eating something fermented everyday to get more good bacteria, like bifidobacteria, in your gut. You don’t need much, just a bite of sauerkraut or 4oz of kombucha.

►Exercise. – Aerobic exercise, the kind that leaves you dripping in sweat, builds new cells in the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex part of your brain which drives your behavior controls. These new cells also improve your memory, focus and concentration, training your mind to focus away from cravings. Once these cells are created they require their own exercise, so make sure to keep your brain in shape. Learning a new instrument is one of the best ways to do this.

►De-stress. Stress tells the brain that we need to be soothed. What better to soothe us than a bag of Cheetos and a chocolate chip cookie? Instead of using food to cope with stress, take your focus away from food and take a walk, do a quick meditation (this helps me SO much!) or watch funny cat video. Even corny jokes help. Why did the hormone go to the gym? To do some serotonin. Haha!

►Keep a cravings journal
. Each time you have a craving write down the food, what you’re doing and how you’re feeling. After a week analyze the findings to determine ways to change your behavior.

►Seek professional help. If you have an eating disorder, find a therapist you trust and begin the healing process.


Step away from your craving and ask your body what it really needs.


Resources

Junk Food Cravings Linked to Brain Lapse, http://www.nlm.nih.gov/medlineplus/news/fullstory_148581.html

Think Better: Exercise, http://www.karenpostal.com/exercise-think-better/

Conquering Cravings, http://www.psychologytoday.com/collections/201409/food-affects-your-mood-health/conquering-cravings

Emotional Eating, Part 2: What Your Food Cravings Say About You, http://kennedybakernutrition.com/2012/08/29/emotional-eating-series-part-2-what-your-food-cravings-say-about-you/

How Probiotics Helped Reduce My Sugar Cravings, http://paleoforwomen.com/how-probiotics-put-an-end-to-my-sugar-cravings/

A Novel Strategy for Beating Food Cravings, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/real-healing/201312/novel-strategy-beating-food-cravings

Help! I Can’t Stop These Cravings! Part 2, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/diet-is-4-letter-word/201306/help-i-can-t-stop-these-cravings-part-2