Sometimes a successful fast day is all about an interesting side to accompany a little lean grilled chicken, red meat or fish. In summer the challenge is most definitely easier, with a wide array of interesting salads able to be thrown together at a moment’s notice as you fire up the grill. In winter, it’s all about resisting the lure of carbohydrate laden, dairy rich comfort food.
I will be the first to admit that I have a huge soft spot for mashed potato. Who hasn’t been seduced by the rich smooth velvety decadence of a well made Paris mash? Granted the quantities of butter, cream and milk used to produce each delicious mouthful are so jaw droppingly obscene that chez nous it’s been relegated to special occasion status. Most definitely not the sort of dish that will ever a grace my 5-2 table.
Where there’s a will, there is always a way. The only way to enjoy interesting meals on a 5-2 fast day is to get creative. Swapping out potato for cauliflower to reduce the carbohydrate count, replacing butter for the richness of leeks and garlic sautéed in a little olive oil and using chicken or vegetable stock instead of milk and cream produces a wonderfully creamy yet dairy free mash for just 142 calories per hearty cup serve. Of course you could always smear just a little on your plate to accompany lean grilled chicken, meat or fish, leaving room for a mountain of steamed greens or a substantial salad.
As always the choice is yours, guided largely by the progress or lack thereof of your day. Happily, unlike Paris mash, this version is so deliciously guilt free it easily transcends both fast and feast days. Who said fast days needed to be boring?
Creamy Dairy Free Cauliflower and Leek Mash
Makes 2 cups (142 calories per cup)
1 tablespoon olive oil (120 calories)
1 leek, white part only, sliced ( 27 calories)
2 cloves garlic, crushed (8 calories)
1 medium head cauliflower, divided into small florets (146 calories)
125ml (1/2 cup) chicken or vegetable stock (10 calories)
sea salt and white pepper, to season
HEAT oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add leek and garlic and cook, stirring, for 5 minutes until soft and transparent. Do not allow leeks to brown.
ADD cauliflower and stock. Bring to the boil, reduce heat to low, cover and gently simmer for 10-15 minutes, making sure there is enough stock to steam the cauliflower. The florets should be tender but still a little firm to the touch, when done.
SEASON with sea salt and white pepper, then puree until smooth with a hand-held immersion stick blender.
SERVE hot as a side for lean grilled chicken, red meat or fish.