Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Eat Your Crucifers!

Trying to eat right is one of the biggest health challenges we face on a daily basis. Finding the time to slow down and make healthful decisions about dinner is often the furthest thing from our minds and we all seem to need more time and more energy. There's nothing the right food choices can do to make our 24 hour days longer, but making healthier food choices can provide us with the extra energy we need to get through the day. The recipe below for low-carb shepherd’s pie is great for those of us who are always busy; you can make it up (quickly!) in advance and simply pop it in the oven when dinner time comes around. It can even be frozen and pulled out on those days when the clock seems to jump straight from noon to 6PM and you're left wondering how it happened. This version of shepherd’s pie replaces the traditional potato topping with mashed cauliflower, providing the same appearance and very similar taste and texture, without a high carbohydrate content and the energy crash that typically follows a high carb meal! I especially love this one on chilly winter evenings.

Cauliflower Shepherd’s Pie

1 head cauliflower
1 lb ground beef
1 med onion
3/4 c. beef stock
1 c. frozen peas and carrots
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp rosemary
2 tsp powdered mustard
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder
⅔ tsp sage
⅔ tsp thyme
⅔ tsp marjoram
2-3 freshly crushed cloves of garlic
1 tbsp almond flour (glucomannan or xanthan gum also work well, and you can use far less of it than the almond flour)
butter, to taste
heavy cream, to taste

Preheat oven to 400.

Steam the cauliflower until tender. While cauliflower is steaming, dice the onion and saute in butter until clear. Add ground beef, beef stock, thyme, rosemary, mustard powder, chili powder, poultry seasoning, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat over medium until beef is well done. Add thickening agent and pour into 9 inch deep dish pie plate.

When cauliflower is tender place it in a food processor with 1/2 stick of butter, some heavy cream (start out with 1 tablespoon or so and check consistency), salt, and pepper. Beat until smooth and creamy. Season to taste. Dollop onto beef mixture and place in the oven for 30 minutes or until nice and bubbly and the mashed cauliflower turns golden.

Cauliflower Goodness

Cauliflower works well as a substitute for potatoes in this traditional Irish dish, which was first mentioned in writing in the 1870’s and likely came about as a means of using up leftovers. This version which uses cauliflower in place of the more traditional potatoes tastes great, and has some added health benefits that you won’t find in traditional shepherd’s pie! Cauliflower is part of the family  Brassicaceae, which are known as cruciferous vegetables. Cruciferous vegetables are probably most well known for their cancer fighting properties, but they also provide other important health benefits. Cruciferous vegetables contain compounds which have the ability to reduce estrogen dominance, which is a very real concern for an increasing number of the population due to aging and exposure to toxic, estrogenic chemicals. This is a problem for men as well as for women, and in fact, studies have shown that the average 54 year old man has higher estrogen levels than the average 59 year old woman! Cruciferous vegetables include cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, kale, collard greens, brussels sprouts, bok choy, rutabaga, watercress, daikon, and more.

Adding cruciferous vegetables to your diet can help to lower estrogen levels, reduce the risk of cancer, and some studies on Diindolylmethane (DIM), a phytonutrient found in cruciferous vegetables, suggests that it can also increase insulin sensitivity, making this family of veggies a real powerhouse for your health and using them to replace starchier foods like potatoes and rice is a great way to incorporate them into your daily diet.

1 comment:

  1. Good reminder about lowering estrogen with veggies...need to eat more for sure.