When Comfort Food is Necessary

I had a great day yesterday - taught a fun yoga class in the morning, had a nice conversation with one of my students afterward, got some studio stuff done, then came home to one of my best buds awaiting me at the beach for a long overdue catch-up sesh.  An overall productive, fun and tranquil day.  And then at 5:00, without warning or reason, the rage hit.  I'm not sure where it came from or why it decided to embed itself so firmly into my psyche, but there it was plain and simple: I was AGGRO.

Usually when a bad mood descends upon me, I can shake it off with a lovely combination of exercise and fresh air.  As it turns out, my favorite 4-legged friend, Bill Murray Holt (known as "Murray" to most), loves these same things.  So, the two of us headed out on one of our favorite walks.  But Murray seemed to be in a funk, too.  Maybe it was the new anti-pull leash I recently bought for him.

He's not exactly stoked on it.  But let's be honest, I probably wouldn't be thrilled with a restraint that kept me from chasing tail, either.

He can look, but he can't touch.  How frustrating for Murray.  But even more frustrating for me, because I simply wasn't in the mood for his mood.  So we headed back after only a couple of miles, discouraged with my (no-longer) failproof remedy for the blues.

I told myself there were only two things that could fix my mood: a REALLY hard and sweaty workout...or...wine & comfort food.  I went on to tell myself that since I'm still nursing a back injury and have to be super careful with exercise, the latter was my only option.  How convenient for me. :)

I had seen a photo of mac'n'cheese earlier in the day, so that was totally stuck in my head.  I jumped in my car and headed to the market, with every intention of buying some frozen mac'n'cheese (definitely had to engage some yogi breath on the car ride to the store so as not to commit murder let my road rage get the best of me).  There was only one brand of gluten-free frozen mac'n'cheese at the store, and after reading the label, I put it right back in the freezer.  Some weirdness going on with the ingredient list.  As in: what the @*#$ is that?!  I have a pretty simple life rule of

If I don't know what something is, I won't put it in my mouth.

I know - it's crazy.  Call me high maintenance.  I'm especially picky with cheese.  After being vegan for awhile, I started incorporating small amounts of fish and even smaller amounts of cheese into my diet.  I'm not really a HUGE fan of cheese, but I'll eat it when it's appropriate - meaning I'm craving it AND it's well-sourced (like last Friday night when I tried some of my husband's Local Cheese Board at Blue Moon Evolution).  I suspect neither of these were true for the frozen mac.  (I mean, how do you crave powdered cellulose?)  This is why I don't buy processed food.

So with mac'n'cheese still on the brain, I remembered seeing Alfredo sauce made with cauliflower on Pinterest (check out my blog post on how to turn Pinterest into your new favorite kitchen tool).  I'm a huge fan of all things cauliflower, and figured I could puree my way to some healthy & comforting mac'n'cheese.  Back at home and armed with a glass of wine, I set out to create some yumminess.  The end product was epic (I knowwww this is now an overused hipster word, but a thesaurus search returned nothing as, well, epic).  I felt like I was eating something super dumpy, but I wasn't.  Totally hit the comfort-food spot without feeling heavy and dragging me into a post-food coma.  And the best part of all was my husband giving the meal an "A++" - a solid rating considering mac'n'cheese is one of his favorites.  Here's the recipe.

 

Creamy Cauliflower Mac'n'Cheese

Serves 2 hungry bellies

8 oz. small pasta shells (I obviously used gluten-free, but use any pasta you'd like)

3 cups cauliflower florets (about 1/2 head cauliflower)

2 tsp. organic coconut oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup organic soy milk, unflavored and unsweetened (you could also use regular organic milk)

1/2 cup reserved cauliflower water

1/4 cup freshly grated organic Asiago cheese*

1/2 tsp coarse sea salt

*You can definitely omit to make vegan.  I really only added the cheese because my husband was eating it.  I tried the sauce without cheese and it was equally delicious!

Boil pasta according to directions.  Drain and rinse and set aside in a pot.

While pasta is cooking, place cauliflower florets in a steaming basket and steam until fork-tender.

Meanwhile, heat coconut oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add garlic and sauté until fragrant.

Transfer oil & garlic into a blender with steamed cauliflower.  Pour in soy milk and 1/4 cup of the hot water left over from steaming the cauliflower.  Blend until smooth.  Add in cheese and salt.  Blend.  Slowly stream in the remaining 1/4 cup of hot water, stopping when a desired consistency is reached.

Pour on top of cooked pasta, and stir over low heat until pasta has absorbed all the sauce.

I served with sautéed kale because everything is better with kale!

Try it out and tell me what you think!!  Hope you enjoy!

Be well,

Erin