Roasted Cauliflower Gratin – Dairy-Free/Paleo/Vegan

The November recipe for the Local Eats Project is here! I really thought there would be less variety to work with this month but I sure was wrong. The Northeast is still showing gorgeous colors at the farmers market. The unseasonably warm weather is helping things out too. For a sinful vegan follower like me, living a healthier life is a must that made my life easier and fun to get that healthy lifestyle and inner happiness. 

If you’re new to the Local Eats Project you can find all the rules to play along here.  But basically, once per month I’m making one meal made entirely from local foods.

With this project I always want to challenge myself to cook something I’ve never tried before. One, to stretch my creativity and two, to eat a larger variety of foods to support my microbiome. My digestive health improves and my brain stays stimulated as well. 

As I browsed the market, the oddly colored cauliflowers, orange and purple, sprung an idea: a cauliflower gratin to call back my Southern roots. I knew there was a way to make dairy-free cheese with butternut squash but I had not attempted it yet. No better time than now! I got to work and whipped up a casserole to make my mamma proud. To find other vegan and vegetarian ideas you can visit

So what makes the cauliflower so colorful? Well it’s actually naturally occurring. The orange variety has more beta-carotene and the purple has the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in red cabbage.

Here are the farmer market ingredients I took home:
2 heads cauliflower        $10.00    ($3.50 per lb)
2 butternut squash        $05.25    ($2.50 per lb)
1 medium onion             $02.15    ($3 per lb)
1 bulb garlic                    $00.10    ($10 per lb)

TOTAL $17.50 (to serve 6 people)

Everything else I purchased at my local food co-op.

Jacksons Honest Chips are used to make the crunchy topping. I choose these over other chips because they’re made with coconut oil. Most other chip brands use canola or safflower oil I’m not crazy about. You can most easily find them at Whole Foods.

I’d love to see your Local Eats Project recipes! Post the recipe, photos and cost of your meal on your website or any social media site and share the love of local food. #localeatsproject



The Story Behind Orange Cauliflower

What’s the Deal with Purple and Orange Cauliflower?

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/Vegan

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/VeganRoasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/VeganRoasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/Vegan 

Roasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/Vegan
Serves 6
A creamy, dairy-free cauliflower gratin made with butternut squash "cheese" and nutritional yeast.
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Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
40 min
Total Time
55 min
  1. 4 cups cauliflower - chopped into bite-sized pieces
  2. 1 cup sweet onion - thinly sliced
  3. 3 tsp coconut oil - for roasting pan
  4. 1 bag (5 oz) Jackson’s Honest Sea Salt Potato Chips - for topping
  6. 2 cups butternut squash - cooked and pureed (canned butternut squash works too)
  7. 1 cup canned fullfat coconut milk - I use Native Forest Organic brand
1 tbsp arrowroot powder - for thickening
  8. 3 tsp lemon juice
  9. 1 tsp apple cider vinegar
  10. 1 tbsp garlic - minced
  11. ¾ cup nutritional yeast
  12. 2 tsp smoked paprika
  13. 1 tsp salt
  14. 1 tsp black pepper
  15. ¼ tsp grated nutmeg
  1. Pre-heat oven to 425F degrees.
  2. Toss the cauliflower and onions with coconut oil and salt. Spread evenly across a roasting pan and roast for 20 minutes, flipping them over halfway through.
  3. While the cauliflower and onions are roasting, make the sauce.
  4. Add the coconut milk and arrowroot to a medium saucepan over medium-low heat. Begin whisking constantly as the mixture heats. Make sure there are no lumps.
  5. Turn off the heat. Pour the milk into a food processor and add in all sauce ingredients including the cooked butternut squash. Puree on high for 5 minutes.
  6. Pour 1 cup of sauce into the bottom of an 8½”x11” baking dish. Spread the cauliflower on top and then pour on the remaining sauce.
  7. Reduce oven temperature to 350F and bake for 10 minutes.
  8. Remove from oven and sprinkle the top with the chip crumbles.
  9. Turn oven to broil and cook for 8 minutes until chips are crunchy.
  10. Serve immediately so that the chips stay crunchy.
Sparkle Kitchen
Roasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/VeganRoasted Cauliflower Gratin - Dairy-Free/Paleo/Vegan

Dairy Free & Nut Free Cheese

Dairy-Free Cheese

Cheese and I had a special bond for many years. It was my go-to quick afternoon snack that kept me going until dinner. At some point I’d even read an article that influenced me to eat a piece of cheese before dining out at a restaurant. That one piece was supposed to prevent me from over-eating. I stuck to this rule for years and I think all it did was make me constipated.

I gave up most dairy in 2007 and felt incredible. Until that year, my body had been inundated with lactose, which I did not have the ability to metabolize. Cheese was one of the last foods I completely eliminated though. I just couldn’t give up the cheesy goodness. I held onto it for as long as I could, then I had to face the facts. My body hates all dairy. I cut it out slowly, still eating goat cheese from time to time. I knew my body didn’t need it but I kept going back for more. Why couldn’t I break this habit?

Is Cheese Addictive?

Cheese is an addiction. It is actually a scientific fact. The compounds in cheese alter our brain chemistry. Seems crazy, right? Definitely, but you can’t argue with science. Compounds called casomorphins are concentrated in cheese and when they are broken down by digestion they have a drug-like response in the brain. Our brains on cheese is similar to a junkie looking for his next hit. If you want a more in-depth look at the effects of cheese on the brain, check out Steph’s post at

And it’s important to note that these casomorphins are also shown to slow intestinal movements, which is why I was frequently challenged in the bathroom department after eating cheese.

I still miss cheese though. It’s so easy, so portable and easily enhances any recipe. There are cheese alternatives out there, although they are either made from soy protein or some kind of nut/seed. I keep these foods out of my diet and I didn’t think there was another option. Until I met Hayley via Instagram. Hayley made cheese out of vegetables! Now that’s something I can get into.

The secret ingredient in this vegetable cheese is the nutritional yeast.

What is Nutritional Yeast? 

It provides that cheesy flavor we all crave. Andrea Cespedes describes it as:

“Nutritional yeast is produced by culturing a yeast in a nutrient medium for several days. The primary ingredient in the growth medium is glucose, often from either sugarcane or beet molasses. When the yeast is ready, it is killed (deactivated) with heat and then harvested, washed, dried and packaged.”

Just two tablespoons provides 9 grams of protein and is also a complete protein, containing all nine essential amino acids. It is also a good source of selenium and potassium.

With Hayley’s recipe I’ll never have to long for cheese again. This is quick to make and can be sliced, grated, crumbled or melted.

Dairy-Free Cheese

Makes 12 slices.

1 cup zucchini – chopped
2 tbsp carrot – grated
1/4 cup water
1 tbsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp nutritional yeast
2 tbsp gelatin  – I use Great Lakes brand

►Line a 9×9″ dish with parchment paper.
►Bring 1/4 cup water to boil. Add zucchini and carrot. Cover and simmer for 5-10 minutes.
►Drain water and veggies through a colander. Place veggies in a food processor with oil, lemon, salt and nutritional yeast. ►Pulse until fully combined then add the gelatin. Pulse to distribute the gelatin throughout.
►Pour into prepared dish and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. Cut into squares and enjoy!