Friday, February 15, 2013

Guilt-Free Loaded Cauliflower

A healthy, guilt-free alternative to loaded baked potatoes.
Bacon, sour cream, and cheese, Oh my!  Yup, loaded baked potatoes are pretty much the bomb. Unfortunately, they aren’t exactly healthy fare.

Recently I stumbled upon a recipe that swapped out the carb-filled potato for cauliflower. It was a great start but I couldn’t resist the urge to make it healthier by cutting out more fat and calories.


I started by using turkey bacon instead of the real deal. I omitted the heavy cream. I used reduced-fat Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese. And I cut back on the amount of cheese called for in the original recipe. Finally, I didn’t have chives on hand but I did have green onions so I went ahead and used those.


Yes, it still contains cheese and yummy, creamy yogurt. But given the healthy swaps above, I feel pretty good about calling it “guilt-free.”


Here’s what I came up with.


Guilt-Free Loaded Cauliflower
Serves 6


Ingredients:
1 pound (about 3 cups) cooked cauliflower (steamed preferred)
1 cup reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
½ cup reduced-fat Colby jack cheese, shredded *
1½ cups reduced-fat Greek yogurt
½ cup green onions, sliced (reserve a little for garnish)
6 slices turkey bacon, cooked crisp and crumbled
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Olive oil spray


* You can use all cheddar or any cheese of your choice. I just had a little Colby jack left over so I decided to mix the two.  


Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Steam or cook cauliflower until tender.


In a large bowl, combine 1 cup of shredded cheese, Greek yogurt, green onions (reserve a little for garnish!), cooked turkey bacon crumbles (I did mine in the microwave for about 4-4.5 minutes), and black pepper. Stir well to combine. Fold in cooked cauliflower and stir gently until well coated.


Lightly spritz an 8x8 glass baking dish with olive oil spray. Spread cauliflower mixture evenly into dish. Sprinkle with remaining ½ cup shredded cheese and a little additional freshly ground pepper (if desired).


Bake uncovered for 25-30 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese is browned and bubbly. To get the crispy golden-brown look, place under the broiler on high for about 5 minutes.


Spoon onto serving plates, sprinkle with a little green onion for garnish, and serve immediately.


Results:
I had my doubts that this reduced-fat, reduced-calorie dish would taste as good as the original recipe sounded. After all, cutting out the fat sometimes diminishes flavor. Boy was I wrong. This dish turned out great. No, make that awesome. To quote the hubs, “This is seriously the best cauliflower is ever going to taste.” I have to concur. No joke, it really reminds me of a loaded baked potato. It’s cheesy, creamy, delicious…and then the smoky flavor of the turkey bacon seals the deal.


I had a bag of frozen cauliflower on hand but the next time I make this, I’m going to steam it fresh. I think it’ll turn out even better.


I served this as a side with Agave-Citrus Baked Pork Chops and steamed lemon-pepper asparagus. I think it would also pair nicely with a juicy steak and green salad. You could even file it away and serve it as a healthy side at Easter dinner.


However you choose to enjoy it, enjoy it you will. So, indulge away—guilt-free, of course—and let me know if you like this recipe as much as I do.


Until next time,
Ryann

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