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Roasted Cauliflower Salad

It’s January.

For some of us Canadians, that means we are just heading into the depths of winter and all it’s depressing greyness, cold and damp dark days. Fortunately for me, my parents happened to settle on the west coast, particularly, Vancouver Island. Even better than that, I had the fortuitous idea to move to the capitol after high school and settle in the warmest climate in Canada. My garden is budding already, there are flowers shooting up from under all the trees and the house sparrows have returned to the birdhouse outside my kitchen window to create their nest and have 16,986 chicks before the next winter settles in.

January also means that people are into their annual health kicks. Gym passes, yoga mats, weight sets and ab machines have been bought, grocery lists have been decluttered of “chips, chocolate bars, cheezies and instant noodles”. Deals and pacts have been made with ourselves to be different this year.

Our new attitudes shall prevail over our previous incarnations. And who’s to say that this can’t happen?

Ten years ago I was an overweight, unhappy and unhealthy teenager. I made a decision. I decided I wasn’t going to be fat and unhappy. I decided I wasn’t going to out of breath after walking up the stairs to the second floor. I decided I was going to be fit and healthy and fast and strong. I set about changing every facet of my life. Going from no exercise to daily 10 km rollerblade trips and walks around the block. I ate salad every day for dinner. I stopped eating salad dressing on my salad, instead dipping my fork into the dressing as it sat in a ramekin on the side of my plate. I gave up fast food and junk food. I stopped buying those dollar bags of candy and I started being me.

This is the me I know now. A healthy, fit and strong woman who will let no person, sickness, injury, vacation or attitude get in the way of my goals.

I work out every week day and try to fit some in on our busy family weekends. I eat healthy as often as possible, but hey, I’m a food blogger and sometimes work gets in the way. Also, I have a husband who enjoys junk food and sometimes I just can’t help myself. So what to do when confronted with all this temptation? I give in. But only so much that I am comfortable with. I will never deprive myself of the wonderful sensation of a dark chocolate truffle melting in my mouth or the bubbly fizz of a glass of champagne. I will not let anyone get in between me and a cheese plate.

So what of Kate Moss and her notorious quote: “Nothing tastes as good as skinny feels.”? At some point in my life I agreed. Being skinny feels good. But why? Is it a societal influence? A primal urge to to be smallish in stature to be able to run faster to escape predation? But then I became a real lover of food. Someone who appreciates a crusty loaf of sourdough, a stinky, creamy cheese, a cured slab of pork jowl, a salty olive, a dry martini served ice cold, a moist cake covered in delectable buttercream frosting, a body warming stew made by good friends, a crisp and refreshing salad in summer. And then I felt sorry for Kate Moss. If nothing tastes as good as skinny feels, then she has not lived nearly the life that could be.

We are such a society of eaters. Everywhere in the world, every celebration is based around consumption. Drinking and noshing. It is our real primal urge. This is why the most calorie dense food taste the best. Our caveman ancestors would kill (literally) to eat the foods we have access to now. And yet we fight it.

Instead this year, I plan to embrace every urge I have. To exercise as hard as I can. To eat amazing food I’ve never tried. To concoct cocktails from the deepest parts of my cranium and drink them with uninhibited fervour (in moderation, except on weekends…). To take more pictures. To challenge myself to be more creative. To work harder. To play harder. Live. Breathe. I’m embracing it.

As for Kate Moss….I hope someone bakes her an amazing cake and she learns that food can be just as pleasurable as one’s own physique.

Or maybe she can just have a plate full of this salad. This healthy concoction is a great vegetarian meal. Brown rice to fill you up, chick peas to offer protein and roasted cauliflower as a fantastically sweet vegetable. All coated in a seemingly indulgent dressing that is, in actual fact, quite low in calories and fat. So dig in friends. Let’s welcome this new year with fervour and intensity. Let’s do all the things we’ve wanted to do but haven’t done. What’s stopping you?

One year ago: Beef Stroganoff with Homemade Egg Noodles

Two years ago: Soft Polenta, Caramelized Onions, Mushrooms and a Poached Egg

Roasted Cauliflower Salad

Yield: Two entrée sized servings
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 mins

For the Rice:
1 cup brown rice
2 cups water
1 tsp salt

For the Roasted Cauliflower:
1.5 lbs cauliflower, cut into florets.
2 tsp grapeseed oil
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper

For the Dressing:
1/2 cup 0% Green yogurt, plain
2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
35g blue cheese
juice of 1 Meyer lemon
zest of 1/2 a Meyer lemon
1 tsp honey
1 clove garlic, grated or minced
1 tbsp white balsamic vinegar
sea salt
fresh cracked pepper
a few drops of white truffle oil (optional)

To Assemble the Salad:
1 cup chick peas, drained and rinsed
1 cup cooked brown rice (recipe follows)
1.2 cup green onions, chopped

1. For the Rice: Place rice in a medium sized saucepan and rinse under cold water three times, draining each time (this keeps the rice from becoming sticky and mushy).
2.  Place the water in the pot with the rinsed rice and add the salt.
3. Bring the water to a boil, then cover and lower to a bare simmer. Cook, covered, for 50-60 minutes. Check for doneness after 50 minutes.

4. For the Roasted Cauliflower: Preheat oven to 400ºF. Toss cauliflower with oil and salt and pepper to taste. Lay in a single layer on a greased or parchment lined baking sheet. Roast for 20 minutes or until slightly golden in colour and cooked through with a touch of crispness.
5. Remove from oven and set aside to cool a bit.

6. For the Dressing: Place yogurt in a small bowl. Slowly add olive oil while stirring (this is to avoid a clumpy dressing). Once the oil is added, add in the remaining ingredients and set aside.
7. Allow to sit at room temperature for 20-30 minutes to let the flavours develop a bit.

8. To Assemble the Salads: On two large plates, arrange a small pile of rice. Top with cauliflower, chick peas and green onions.
9. Drizzle dressing over and serve immediately.


Similarly delicious recipes from other fabulous food blogs:

Lemon Roasted Cauliflower with Cumin and Sumac from Everybody Likes Sandwiches
Pickled Cauliflower from Hunter Angler Gardener Cook
Cauliflower and Kale Salad from Steamy Kitchen
Paleo Dirty Rice from Elana’s Pantry
Breaded Cauliflower in Lemony Tomato Sauce from Herbivoracious

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