Eating the paleo way: why all the fuss about cauliflower rice?

Great British Bake Off winner John Whaite has been converted to

cauliflower rice – here he explains why he’s eating like a caveman

I may be best known as the 2012 winner of the GBBO, but my obsession with food extends to the healthier end of the spectrum, too.

While I’d like to live off cake alone, if I can find a healthy alternative, I’ll take it. And cauliflower rice is one of those easy swaps – lose the rice and save your carb allowance for the fun stuff.

The growing popularity of this vegetable rice springs from the paleo diet.

Unless you’ve been living in a cave for the past couple of years, the chances are you’ve heard of it.

In fact, if you have been living in a cave then you’re more than likely already following the fad; it is, after all, commonly referred to as the ‘caveman diet’.

The premise of the plan is fairly simple: consume modern foods that are biochemically similar to those of our early human ancestors. That means a higher protein intake than the average western diet currently involves, as well as eating only unrefined carbohydrates, which enter slowly into the bloodstream avoiding the dreaded insulin spike.

This modernised caveman regime is vaguely similar to the Atkins diet – but without the halitosis and with much more dietary fibre and nutrient-rich vegetables.

Within the countless primal-inspired recipe books out now, there are nuggets of gastronomic gold, one of these being cauliflower rice.

Crammed with more nutrients than you could shake a spear at, and with just 25 calories per 100g (compared with about 140 calories per 100g cooked white rice), this new grain-free grain is cropping up as a highly popular rice alternative.

No longer is the vegetable restricted to the smelly and soggy cheese bakes of the 1980s. It has undergone a health-enhancing transformation, the result of which should satisfy even the most avid of rice addicts.

Personally, I am hooked. Cauliflower rice means that my curries aren’t without that vital fluffy white sidekick, but I can sleep soundly at night knowing that my cavemen ancestors will be smiling down on my nutrient-rich choice of side dish.

Here’s how I make mine.

Cauliflower Rice recipe

1 large cauliflower could serve four people, though with fewer calories and much more dietary fibre than rice, there’s no harm in having an extra large portion.

This doesn’t just need to play the role of the unassuming side dish; it also works well as a rice replacement in a biryani.

1 cauliflower, leaves removed
Sea salt
Black pepper
A splash of double cream (optional, but worth it)

The key to disguising the cauliflower is to grate it finely. Having experimented with a range of different food processor blades and box graters, I find the fine side of a box grater gives the most satisfying result. The food processor blades seem to shred the cauliflower, which quite simply isn’t rice-like enough for me.

In a deep frying pan or sauté pan, heat a little oil over a medium heat. Add the grated cauliflower with generous pinches of salt and pepper. Sauté for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, just until the cauliflower is cooked through and has lost its raw taste. Stir through a splash of cream (if using), and serve.

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