Cauliflower-Based Chicken Alfredo and Dieting
Good Afternoon Everyone!
How are you today? I hope you’re doing well. Lately I’ve been in the mood for comfort food… but lighter. I’ve been whipping up my sweet potato tuna mac several times, and downing bowls of hot homemade wonton soup. I’ve come to believe that you can eat pretty much anything you want as long as you make modifications to make it healthier and don’t over-indulge (i.e. portion control). Recently I went to have my annual physical and the doctor looked at me and said, “let’s talk about your weight”. Now let me pause a moment here and explain why this subject always makes me squirm.
First off, I’ve always struggled with my weight. Like most people in the world, my metabolism and genetics aren’t anywhere in the ballpark of a skinny person. In my family, we’ve always been “fluffy people”. However, 2 years ago I underwent gastric bypass surgery to alter my weight and my lifestyle. Since then, I’ve had to learn to cook and connect with food in a completely new way. (Hence the meaning behind The Noob Chef! 🙂 ). So sitting there with my doctor and having her say point blank, “let’s talk about your weight” made me slightly nervous. I’ve already lost 125+ lbs. Sure, I have more to lose, but if she was about to tell me to suck down shakes instead of meals I was about to lose it. However, my doctor said, “I want to challenge you to take your favorite meals and make them healthier”. Doc… challenge accepted.
Fettuccine Alfredo has long been a favorite of mine. And when I say long, I mean a long favorite of mine. Like, when I was elementary-school aged, I remember sitting in Olive Garden with my family ordering a heaping plate of buttery, creamy, fatty Alfredo and slurping those noodles until the last bite. And then, I would grab a soup spoon and lap up all of the sauce that remained on my plate. Yes… I have a bit of a love affair with pasta. But let’s be honest: Fettuccine Alfredo is probably one of the fattiest Italian dishes out there. So I made it my mission to take an old favorite, and revamp it in a tasty and healthy way.
I was loosely inspired by Pinch of Yum’s “Creamy Cauliflower Sauce”. While I didn’t use her recipe, (I created my own), her recipe got me thinking about swapping out milk and butter for cauliflower as the basis for the Alfredo sauce. What if we could puree cauliflower, add a bit of almond milk, Earth (Vegan) butter, and a bit of Parmesan cheese and whip it all together into a luscious sauce? And thus, this dish was born! My family was intrigued at how tasty the cauliflower sauce was, and they didn’t even notice that the pasta was whole wheat! Now I call that a big win in my cookbook! 😉 So enjoy this tasty recipe everyone and keep on cooking ❤
Cauliflower-Based Chicken Alfredo
Courtesy of: Lisa aka The Noob Chef
Yields: 6 servings
For the chicken:
- 1 lb. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Old Bay Seasoning
- Salt and black pepper
- Vegetable oil for frying
For the pasta:
- 1 box whole-wheat fettuccine
- 2 medium heads cauliflower, chopped and steamed
- 2 cups almond milk
- 2 cups Parmesan cheese, shredded
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. Earth butter (Vegan butter)
- Salt and black pepper to taste
- Chopped chives for garnish
- Begin by chopping up the cauliflower and removing the core, stem, and leaves. Place the chopped florets into a steamer basket and steam for 15-20 minutes or until very tender when pricked with a fork. Set aside into a food processor.
- Next, bring a pot of water to a boil and cook the pasta according to the manufacturer’s instructions (mine took about 8 minutes). Drain and set aside.
- Add the almond milk, butter, cheese, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper into the cauliflower and process until smooth. (Taste, taste, taste as you’re mixing and adjust seasonings to suit your own preferences!).
- Next, grab a saucepan, drizzle some vegetable oil, and turn on the stove to high heat. While the pan is heating up, chop up the chicken thighs into bite-sized pieces. Sprinkle (generously) with Old Bay seasoning, salt, and black pepper. Then fry in the hot oil for 3-4 minutes per side or until golden and juicy.
- Pour the cauliflower sauce into a large bowl, add the pasta and mix through until evenly coated. Divide onto plates. Add a few pieces of chicken per plate and garnish with chopped chives. Serve hot and enjoy!