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Secret Swaps at the Holiday Table

November 17, 2017 | VNA Staff | recipe

As we gather for the Thanksgiving holiday, most of us prepare for our family’s own brand of togetherness – whether it be of the warmth-filled or feud-infused variety. Mom’s tearful stories of nostalgia, Cousin Nora’s predictable cheating at the game table, Uncle Jim’s incessant sermonizing on the state of our nation – all the warm-fuzzies we come to expect at the holiday table.

But politics and incriminations aside, many of us associate this time of year with our annual internal good vs evil struggle of the stomach. You know the one – it’s that urge to find the golden line between rewarding your year’s worth of accomplishments with the joyful indulgence of a plate of butter-soaked mashed potatoes and a side of pumpkin pie, while somehow not setting sail to nine and a half months of (mostly) diligent healthy lifestyle changes.

But do the holidays have to be a choice between healthy deprivation and gluttonous satisfaction? Your friendly VNA Chefs and Dietitians say no! This year, consider making a simple and healthy substitution in one of your favorite holiday recipes.

Take cauliflower for example. Alone, it doesn’t carry a bunch of flavor, but it does take on the flavors added to it very well and can be a healthy substitution in recipes where you may ordinarily use potatoes or heavy cream.

Cauliflower lends itself very well to many different applications when cooked. It can easily be turned into a puree or mash to replace potatoes. With the addition of some plan nonfat yogurt and parmesan cheese, it becomes a delicious and vitamin-packed alfredo sauce! It’s also tasty cut into florets, drizzled with oil and roasted in the oven.

Try this recipe – I promise your taste buds, your waistline, and most importantly your conscious will thank you!

Cauliflower Mash or Alfredo

3 Tbsp canola oil
1 small onion
3 cloves of garlic
1 head cauliflower
1 cup water (or low sodium broth)
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/3 cup grated Parmesan
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
Pinch of nutmeg


Dice and mince onion. Sauté until they start to brown. Cut cauliflower into florets and add to onions and garlic. Add water or broth. Boil florets; add salt and pepper and more water if needed. Cook for about 15 minute or until soft, stirring occasionally. Drain some of the liquid, but reserve some for blending. Blend all the remaining ingredients together until smooth. Add liquid until at desired consistency. More for alfredo to make a sauce, less for mashed cauliflower to keep it thicker.


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