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From Dull to Delicious: A Food & Attitude Makeover {Recipes}

by Elise Museles

Cauliflower Salad
Can a single question at the right time shift and shake your world as you’ve always known it? Yes. It can. And for me, it did.

I still remember the moment as if it were just last night, despite the decade that has passed.

I had just sat down to dinner at a NYC hot spot with my entire family (you know, the kind of place that takes months to get a reservation). The atmosphere buzzed with excitement: wine glasses clinked, tantalizing scents seeped from the kitchen, and exuberant chatter drifted from every table.

I peeled open my menu and began to pour over the options, eager to make my decision while basking in the energy of the scene.

Except, all of my enthusiasm came to a grinding halt when my then 10-year-old son Noah (a young, precocious foodie) turned to me and bluntly stated.

“Mom, why does it matter to you where we go to dinner? You always order the same old boring food. Steamed this or plain grilled that and no sauce.”

I froze. My stomach sank to the floor. My appetite vanished. And just as I was about to open my mouth with a sharp reply, I caught myself.

In that split second, I realized he was right. Not just right, but 100% painfully dead-on correct.

My relentless and lengthy quest to make the “best” food choices was doing far more harm than good. I had not only managed to actually erase all possible enjoyment from every meal (of course, leaving me feeling deprived, dissatisfied, and stuck), but this negative way of viewing food was also unfairly affecting my children. Talk about an unhealthy situation.

That night, my son’s skepticism stung so deep that I knew it was time to shift the story. I had no other choice. Right then, I made a silent vow to myself and to my family that forever changed our entire approach to healthy food.

My new philosophy? Healthy eating should be fun. Intriguing. Awesome. Delicious.

The good news? Turning “boring” and bland foods into interesting and appealing creations is actually a blast.

Here’s how: The trick is to think of each meal (or each food) as a blank canvas that you can splatter with vivacious color, texture, and taste. It’s a tangible (and tasty) form of art.

Let’s use cauliflower to illustrate how you can go from seemingly dull to deliciously fun. We know cauliflower is filled with fiber, antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties, which means it’s, of course, great for you. But, it’s certainly not my personal favorite in its steamed form. It’s totally bland. It’s numbingly plain. And, let’s face it, it’s just not the most “inviting” food. Yet, it’s amazing how interesting this seasonal vegetable can become if we simply focus on getting a little creative.

Cauliflower Stew

Even if you haven’t fallen in love with cauliflower (yet), trust me, things are about to change. Here are some fun & inventive ways for you (and your family) to enjoy your cauliflower this season:

Roast. Turn on the oven to 400 degrees. Slice up the florets into bite-sized pieces and go for a plain & simple dish using olive oil, sea salt and pepper. Or whip up a batch and add turmeric and curry powder to the mix. (My seasonal fave!) Place the seasoned florets on a baking tray and roast for 20-30 minutes (turning over halfway) until browned around the edges. Enjoy hot and use any leftovers in a salad the next day.

Use in soups & stews. Add this nutritional powerhouse to your veggie soups or make a warming Curried Cauliflower & Chickpea Stew for the crisp days of fall. (Check out my updated recipe.)

Mash. Love mashed potatoes but want to do without the empty and fat-laden calories? Have no fear. You can create a cauliflower mash dish that will remind you of your favorite comfort food without any of the guilt.

Purée. Mix with white beans, tahini, garlic and salt & pepper into a Lemon Herb Cauliflower Bean Dip, and you’ve got cauliflower goodness…in disguise.

Mix in smoothies. It may sound strange, but adding steamed cauliflower to your morning smoothie is a great way to enhance the nutritional profile of your breakfast, and add some creaminess without changing the color or altering the flavor. Try it first before you say “yuck.”

Make a pizza crust. With all the rage to go gluten-free or follow a low carb diet, there have been some innovative creations to take the place of wheat and other grains. Enter cauliflower pizza crust! Talk about creative. Check out my soul sister, Elissa Goodman’s version.

Slice into rice. Yes, you read right. Pull out the food processor and use an S-blade to make a grain-free and gluten-free “rice.” Sauté it in a pan with chopped onion and seasonings in a little olive or coconut oil for a tasty side dish.

Looking back, Noah not only inspired me to devise cleverly artful ways to make nourishing foods tasty for everyone, but he also helped plant the seeds for the Kale & Chocolate lifestyle that I now share with this amazing Community. It all started with one single question.

Now, I want to hear from you! What’s your favorite way to take “dull” foods like cauliflower and turn them into something nutritious & enjoyable? Do you find that when your attitude is upbeat and positive about food, it inspires the people around you? Join the conversation in the comments below!

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