Forbidden rice of love

The other night I had the Cooking Channel on.  Before or after commercials they’ll sometimes run a quick clip with a simple recipe, or a cooking tip.

This is what I heard, “Frost sugar cookies with Greek yogurt!  It’s much healthier, and no one will notice the difference!”

Looks like an innocent cookie, no? It’s all a sham!

Yeah, I call shenanigans.  Duplicitous, duplicitous shenanigans.

I don’t know about the people for whom you bake cookies, but if I ever tried to pull this, neither Petey nor The Kid would buy it.

And if my mom brought us her magically delicious sugar cookies with yogurt in place of her amazing frosting, it would cause a family scandal that would never die.

A cookie is supposed to be a treat, not a consolation prize.

Most of these healthy swaps are the worst.  Tofu, not dairy cheese, peas instead of avocado, a frozen banana instead of ice cream.  Please.  If you want a frozen banana, then eat one.  If you like the healthier option just as much, then great—eat it.  But quit trying to fool your taste buds.  It doesn’t work, and you end up feeling deprived, which could drive you to crazy overindulgence.

Why? Just, why?

When carbs became public enemy number one, cauliflower became the “instead of” food.  It was used in place of spuds for mashed “potatoes”, I even saw recipes for cauliflower pizza crust.  I don’t even know how to feel about that, it’s so jarring.

Don’t diss the cauliflower.

All of this does a major injustice to cauliflower.  It’s a yummy, versatile veggy.  The Kid makes creamy mashed cauliflower, and a tasty pasta sauce with it.  But there’s no subterfuge—it’s proudly cauliflower.

I recently put together a recipe containing cauliflower.  It also uses rice.  But not white or even brown, which is a tasty, healthier alternative.  I use an even more nutritious rice.  It contains more fiber and iron than brown.

It’s black, or forbidden rice.  In ancient China this rice was literally forbidden, as only royalty was allowed to partake.  I pick it up at Li Ming’s Asian Market (3400 Westgate Dr, Durham).  You get a pretty big bag for about 3 bucks.  Because it’s less processed, you cook it like brown rice; a ratio of 2 (liquid)/1 (rice), and it needs to cook for at least 30-40 minutes.

Can’t touch this!

This recipe made a giant pot.  We gorged ourselves, and then I froze enough for two more meals.  And because it’s veg and starch, you could get away with this as your sole side dish (I did.).

Cauliflower Garlic Forbidden Rice

2 medium heads chopped cauliflower

4 cups chicken or veggy broth + 2 cups water

½ cup milk

1½ cups black rice

1 teaspoon salt

1 head roasted garlic (Cut head in half horizontally, drizzle with olive oil. Wrap in foil, and bake at 350 for 1 hour)

1 cup Havarti cheese or another favorite melt-able cheese, cubed

Put broth and water into a large pot. Add the cauliflower and boil until tender (around 15 minutes). Transfer cauliflower pieces and roasted, peeled garlic to a blender or food processor, reserving 3 cups cooking liquid. Puree the cauliflower, adding milk and water to get a smooth, creamy consistency.  Taste and season with salt and pepper. 

Cook the rice with the reserved cooking liquid, adding a pinch of salt.  Bring to a boil, and cook covered on medium low for 30-40 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.  Leave covered and let sit 20 minutes.

Pour cauliflower puree over the cooked rice and stir to combine.  Stir in cheese cubes until they’re melted.  Taste, and season with additional salt and pepper if needed.  Serves 6-8.

You can also shred the cheese, sprinkle it on top, then bake it like a casserole.  It’s up to you and your family’s taste.

One of my culinary beliefs is to always respect the food.  When you make some sad swap for health reasons, you are disrespecting both the food you’re trying to mimic, and the replacement food.

If you want to eat healthier, cut back on processed grub, and practice moderation.

And for the love of all that’s holy, just let the cookie be a freaking cookie.

There. Now isn’t that better?

Thanks for your time.

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