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Sunday, July 22, 2012

Vegan Mashed Cauliflower with Marinated Mushrooms or Mushroom Spinach Marsala- How I Learned To Live Without Take-Out, Part 3

When I began to convert the take-out recipes I loved to low carb, my initial attempt was Mushroom and Spinach Marsala. I was weaning myself off of the take-out, but was still relying on the few low carb options available in Berkeley, CA. One of these was a grilled chicken breast topped with mushroom and spinach marsala. While I couldn't be certain, I suspected the restaurant had prepared this dish using corn starch and/or white flour as thickeners. I didn't even want to guess what other ingredients might be involved so I started researching marsala recipes on the internet. It was easy enough to convert the recipe substituting xanthan gum as the thickening agent. A small amount yields the same results as the other thickeners, with fewer calories and net carbs.

When I stopped eating meat, I kept the veggies and the sauce because the taste is really great - in fact, it can stand alone as a side dish, but I wanted to pair it with a side dish to turn it into a main dish. It has a distinctive and rich flavor so you'll want to pair it with some thing relatively bland. You can pair it with cauliflower rice, but I decided I wanted to focus on perfecting a vegan cauliflower mash recipe. After trying just cauliflower, a mixture of cauliflower and celery root (which was pretty good), I came up with the idea to add nutritional yeast with mashed cauliflower. Lo and behold, the recipe achieved the desired texture and tastes wonderful. I use it as the base for the marsala and it also works well with a simple marinated mushroom recipe, which I'm including in this post.

Mashed Cauliflower with Nutritional Yeast (LC/Vegan/Gluten Free)


200 g cauliflower florets (or you can also use 150 g cauliflower)
10 g nutritional yeast
1 clove garlic, forced through press
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper


*Steam cauliflower florets for about 6 - 9 minutes. Remove from steamer and using paper towels, gently squeeze out the excess water. Put cauliflower in a medium-sized bowl and using an emersion blender, pulse the vegetables until smooth. Stir in garlic and nutritional yeast until well blended. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 1-2 serving and has 126.5, 5.5 net carbs, .5 g fat, 8 g fiber and 8 g protein.

Mushroom & Spinach Marsala (LC/Vegan/Gluten Free)


1 clove garlic, forced through press
3 oz sliced mushrooms
1 T olive oil
1/4 C mushroom broth ( can substitute water for broth)
1/4 C dry Marsala wine
2 oz raw spinach
sea salt & freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/8 tsp xanthum gum


*Heat oil in a large skillet over a medium-high heat. Add garlic and mushrooms and sauté for about 2-3 minutes.

*Add wine and mushroom broth to the skillet and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for another 2 -3 minutes. Add the xanthum gum and stir well. Add spinach and and stir until just wilted. Remove from heat and eat immediately. Can be served over cauliflower rice or mashed cauliflower.

Makes 1 serving and has 216.33 cal, 6.7 net carbs, 13.6 g fat, 1.33 g fiber and 3.83 g protein.

Marinated Mushrooms (LC/Vegan/Gluten Free)

The great thing about this dish is that you either grill or saute´ the mushrooms, or keep them raw.


3 oz white or crimini mushrooms, sliced (you can also use sliced portobello mushrooms)
1 T cold pressed olive oil
1 T balsamic vinegar


1 clove garlic forced through press


*Mix together olive oil and balsamic vinegar (and garlic, if you're using it).

*Place mushroom slices in a bowl and pour the oil and vinegar mixture over them, stirring making sure they're well-coated. Allow to sit for an hour. If you're doing the cooked version, heat a grill pan (or any skillet) and saute´ for about 4 - 5 minutes. Serve over cauliflower mash.

Makes 1 serving and has 155 cal, 7 net carbs, 13.5 g fat, .1 g fiber and 2.5 g protein.