For the past month, I have been immersed in reading. Not for any academic purpose for a change, but rather for the love of food, health, and overall well-being. Since dating a vegan (who only does so for the sake of running ultramarathons) and listening to the Rich Roll podcast, I have been especially inspired to research the benefits of a mostly plant-based diet and the roots of this diet based on Chinese traditional medicine. I am still in the midst of getting through these books but I have already learned so much, such as how to best get essential nutrients (even b vitamins) from various plants and herbs, the best ways to combine foods to maximize vitamin absorption and digestion, and the way every person requires a different sort of diet based on their temperament, body temperature, and cravings that may or may not fit with what you originally deemed “healthy”. Thus I have taken out my nutrition facts box because the focus really shouldn’t be on “carbs” vs. “fat” or even grams of sugar or calories. The focus is back to the whole foods and all the benefits (to the mind as much as the body) you get from the entire vegetable, fruit, grain, or seed. In other words, “the whole is more than the sum of it’s parts”! More than anything, it helps to remember just how tied together the brain, the tummy, the heart, and the body are, and eating plants and whole foods is the best thing you can do for all of you!
I have so much more to say about all that these authors have taught me, but for now I’ll give you a list of the readings I’ve been doing lately, and maybe you will be so inspired too!
Now, to the recipe. I combined my plant-based reading with memories of a fun and classic old favorite – tater tots – to come up with this cauiflower tot recipe. I spend most of my time with small children and they definitely inspire me to come up with kid-friendly (and also veggie-filled) recipes. This recipe is not only fun to eat, but also to make! One of the perks of plant-based cooking is that even the batter and doughs are edible and safe for kids to play and cook without over-stressing about the sanitizing and hand washing after. Plus, cooking is the perfect opportunity to try new foods and learn about all types of vegetables and new ingredients. Win for all!
Cauliflower was the obvious substitute for the good-old-potato in this recipe, because it is oh-so-trendy as of late. It’s been used a lot as a substitute for rice, and apparently it also works quite well as a tater substitute. I’ve always loved cauliflower raw and on it’s own, but it’s also neutral enough that it is perfect for blending with other ingredients and flavors (just like a potato). And also like a potato, the leek is a perfect compliment, along with simple ingredients to create the texture, gooeyness, and nutrition that make up these tots, such as garlic, parsley, vegan cheese, and cornmeal. Simple foods on their own, but delicious in combination with each other.
If you just can’t give up dairy, you could feel free to use normal mozzarella. The Daiya cheese is the best vegan version out there though – it melts well, has the cheesy flavor, and doesn’t have all the soy or strange ingredients that other vegan substitute products have. It’s mostly made from tapioca, and my boyfriend and I are addicted. And you could also use any type of breadcrumb, but the Glutino version that is simply cornmeal works great both as part of the filling and to roll the tots in for an extra crisp. The result of this tot is a crunchy outside, gooey inside, and just enough flavor to stand on its own or be enhanced with your favorite barbecue sauce or ketchup. Easy to make and easier to eat! Enjoy!
- 1 small/medium head of cauliflower, florets coarsely chopped
- 1 small leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced
- 1/2 tsp garlic, minced
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tbsp flax meal
- 3 tbsp water
- 1/2 cup gluten-free breadcrumbs + 1/4 cup for rolling (Glutino)
- 1/2 cup vegan cheese (Daiya mozzarella works best)
- 2 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp black pepper
- 1 tsp dried parsley
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Place cauliflower florets in a food processor and pulse until crumbs. Should be about 2 cups.
- Heat olive oil in medium skillet over medium heat.
- Add cauliflower crumbs, leek slices, and garlic. Saute for about 5 minutes, or until slightly softened.
- Let cool and meanwhile, mix together flax seed meal and water. Stir and let sit 10 minutes to thicken.
- Mix together cauliflower mixture, flax mix, breadcrumbs, cheese, herbs, and salt and pepper. Stir well.
- Place in refrigerator for 5-10 minutes.
- While batter is chilling, mix 1/4 cup breadcrumbs with dried parsley. Place on plate for rolling.
- Form batter into tot shape and then roll in herbed breadcrumbs. Place on lined or greased baking sheet.
- Bake for abut 20 minutes. Turn once during baking to lightly brown both sides. Edges should be crispy and inside gooey.
- Serve warm with your favorite ketchup or barbecue sauce