Carbs, Comfort, and Cauliflower

Intelligent Gourmet imageWhen you’re feeling down – whether because of hormones, a bad day, or too little sleep – you’ve probably noticed that you go straight to the carbs in your cupboard for comfort. For me, it’s pasta and wine. For you it might be cookies, or bread, or chips. Emotional eating is hard to curb because, well, it works. At least in the short term (you won’t be feeling so hot the next morning!).

Here’s why it works.

In the Psychology Today article “The Antidepressant Diet” by Dr. Judith Wurtman, she makes the case that we crave carbs to help regulate our emotions because carbs are integral in creating serotonin – one of the body’s feel-good chemicals (one with the added bonus of curbing food cravings and suppressing appetite): “Serotonin makes you feel emotionally stable, less anxious, more tranquil and even more focused and energetic.”

The best combination, according to her studies with her husband Dr. Richard Wurtman, is eating protein and carbs together. Protein is rich in tryptophan, necessary for serotonin production, and is absorbed best when there are carbohydrates in your system at the same time.

But there are carbs like pasta and sweets – and there are carbs like cauliflower. One is stripped of nutrients, the other helps fight cancer. Which would you rather have? Okay, probably still the pasta and sweets. Let me make a case for that cauliflower though.

Cauliflower is an incredibly flexible vegetable. Steam it in the microwave, add a little garlic and cottage cheese, then use an immersion blender and you have fantastic “mashed potatoes.” You can use it to make Gluten Free flatbreads, and I found a recipe for Cauliflower Pizza Bites on Pinterest this morning (check it out on my Intelligent Appetizers board).

Yes, I am giving you an excuse to give in to your emotional eating – but do it wisely. Your body is craving a protein and carb cocktail to make you feel better. By using Cauliflower as your carb, you won’t just feel better now, you’ll feel great tomorrow morning in front of the mirror too!


Meatless Monday: Raw Vegan Lasagna

Raw Vegan Lasagna recipe

The words “raw” and “vegan” can be frightening to many average Americans, and if you’re already shuddering at the thought – just think of it this way: It’s a salad. A completely, non-threatening, apolitical salad, just like Mama used to make – but even better.

Just imagine this as a first course to an indulgent Italian dinner – not bad right?

FYI: A raw vegan diet consists of plant-based foods never heated above 115 degrees Fahrenheit – the idea being that vitamins are easily destroyed by heat. In fact vitamin C is one of the most at-risk vitamins in high temperatures. Of course, your cooking method makes a big difference. If cook you must, steaming your veggies is best, boiling is worst (all the good stuff goes into the water instead of into you!).

The secret to making this raw vegan lasagna recipe delicious is the freshness of the ingredients. Summer squash and rich heirloom tomatoes are full of flavor, especially when combined with a sweet tomato relish, shredded fresh basil (on top), and a drizzle of olive oil. On the bottom are spinach leaves, and you can also include fresh oregano and thyme. But, you might be wondering about that cheese-like substance.

Pass the Cheese Please

There are a number of delicious ways to create faux ricotta. One of our favorite methods is to soak 2 cups of cashews for an hour, then put them in a food processor with lemon juice, two tablespoons of nutritional yeast, 1 tsp salt, and 6 tbsp water. Cashews have a lower fat content than most nuts, and are high in copper and magnesium. They’re also delicious!