Your guide to the food and culture of the tropics


How Cauliflower Rice Could Save Your New Year’s Resolutions

Kick-off 2017 in a healthy way with our favorite recipes using cauliflower rice that won’t sabotage your New Year’s resolutions.

If there are two words which can easily sum up my 2016, they would have to be ‘cauliflower rice’. Since discovering it at the beginning of the year it has become a true staple in my kitchen and there probably hasn’t been a single day that I haven’t had a serving of it left over in my fridge. Cauliflower rice is easier to cook than rice, just as versatile an ingredient and automatically slashes the carb and calorie load of any meal. As someone who’s used to having dinner relatively late, this is an absolute godsend. While a cup of brown rice boasts 238 calories, the same amount of cauliflower rice has only 28. If you want to seamlessly reduce calories to your daily food intake, cauliflower rice is simply invaluable.
Clean and healthy eating is undoubtedly right at the top of people’s New Year resolution list, year after year. Yet the majority invariably revert back to old habits (you know, those greasy-take-away-3-times-a-week-type habits) by the time February rolls around. Somehow, there is a misconception that healthy = boring. Stop that vicious cycle of resolution failure by incorporating cauliflower rice into your favorite tropical meals. We promise it’ll be the most effective way to keep your New Year’s resolution of clean and healthy eating, all year long.

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(Photo: Flickr Larry Hoffman)

Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Let’s get the cauliflower rice recipe out of the way first, and then we’ll offer a few suggestions on how to utilize it in tropical recipes.

Cauliflower Rice
  • 1 Head of Cauliflower
  1. Cut the cauliflower into small florets, including the stalk. Give everything a good rinse under the tap.
  2. Steam for 15 minutes or microwave on high for 7 minutes, until very soft. It is important not to boil the cauliflower in a lot of water, otherwise it becomes waterlogged, rendering more of a cauliflower sludge rather than cauliflower rice.
  3. When cooled, transfer to a food processor and pulse lightly 2-3 times, until the cauliflower resembles rice. Do this is small batches.

Congrats, now you’ve made cauliflower rice in a million recipes.

There’s a very good reason why rice is the tropical world’s most consumed staple. It’s easy and relatively cheap to grow, filling when consumed and boasts a long shelf life. Not so much with cauliflower rice (just yet). So although you may not find it served in restaurants in the tropics, it is an invaluable and healthy way to reproduce your favorite tropical dishes at home. The genius thing about it is that you’ll be inadvertently consuming yet another serving of vegetables at every meal. Surprisingly, I find that once riceified, cauliflower reduces in volume quite a bit, so one whole head only feeds 2 people as a main meal or even side dish.

Cauliflower rice can be used in place of rice in just about every tropical meal recipe, from fried rice to tropical stuffed bell peppers, pilaf (add coconut oil and macadamia nuts for added oomph) and Mexican chili con carne (recipe to follow) although the cauliflower & refried beans combo can have some undesirable side-effects, so I tend to skip red beans when using cauliflower, using cannellini instead. So go ahead and make your first batch of cauliflower rice and we’ll assure you, it’ll be the best and healthiest addiction you’ll ever enjoy!

Cauliflower Rice, Chili con carne, chili, healthy recipes, new year, new year's resolutions

(Photo: Flickr deepdarksquid)

Cauliflower Chilli con Carne

Mexican Chilli is my go-to guilt food, that one comforting meal that, with just one mouthful, makes everything in my world right again. I guess that’s where the term ‘soul food’ comes from. But chili is as bad for my waistline as it is good for my soul, mostly because I tended to devour it alongside a bowl of fried tortilla chips. My bad. However, since I’ve discovered cauliflower rice (you probably saw that coming!) I’ve drastically reduced the calorific content of this spectacularly tasty dish. So much so, that I can safely make it once a week without having to fast for 3 days afterward.

Buen provecho!

Chili Con Carne with Cauliflower Rice
  • 1 brown onion, grated
  • 1 carrot, grated
  • 2 stocks celery, grated
  • 1 red bell pepper, grated
  • 200gm lean beef mince
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika powder
  • 1 can cannellini beans, drained
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 can tomato puree
  • 2 cups boiled water
  • Chopped red chilies, to taste
  • 1 avocado, cubed
  • 1 bunch coriander, finely chopped
  • Vegetable cooking oil
  1. Sautee the onion, celery, pepper for a few minutes until soft and onion is translucent.
  2. Add the spices and mince and cook for a few minutes until the mince has browned.
  3. Add the cannellini beans, cherry tomatoes, and tomato puree to the pot, stirring well. Pour in 2 cups of water, lower the heat and simmer gently for 30 minutes.
  4. Once the stock has reduced, turn off stove and stir in a little of the chili, as well as salt and pepper. Allow to cool before tasting for spiciness, and adjust accordingly.
  5. Reheat to serve, pour into individual bowls, top with diced avocado and chopped coriander.
  6. Serve with cauliflower rice

Chicken Mango Skewers, grill, New Year's resolutions,

(Photo: Flickr Jessica Merz)

Grilled Creamy Chicken & Mango Skewers

One of the most delightful aspects of tropical cuisines is that they have such a knack for including a mix of delectable fruits in almost every dish. Mangoes are the national fruit of the Philippines, yet this golden and flavorsome tropical fruit is grown in every corner of the globe: from Brazil to Indonesia, Nigeria to India. Mangoes are not only packed with antioxidants, but they can turn a humble grilled piece of meat or seafood into a symphony of taste. In this recipe, you can substitute chicken with prawns, or prepare a batch of each, served alongside a roasted vegetable salad and cauliflower rice for a hearty and healthy main meal that is ridiculously easy to make.

Chicken & Mango Skewers
  • 1 lb chicken breast, cubed (or 1 pound fresh prawns, shelled and deveined)
  • Flesh from 1 mango (or 1 can mango puree, with no added flavor or sweetener)
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 jalapeno, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Packet wooden skewers, soaked in water
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Cooking oil spray
  • ½ cup chopped fresh coriander
  1. In a food processor, blend the flesh of the mango with the cumin, jalapeno, and lime juice, and season to taste with salt and pepper.
  2. Marinate the chicken cubes (or prawns) in ⅔ of the seasoned mango puree for a couple of hours, or even overnight for extra flavor.
  3. Fire up the grill, skewer the chicken or prawns, and grill until cooked through.
  4. Top with remaining ⅓ mango puree and sprinkle with coriander. Serve with cauliflower rice.
Grilled turkey, healthy recipes, cauliflower rice, BBQ turkey

Jamaican BBQ Turkey

Spices are a healthy-nut’s best friend, that one cooking trick that makes healthy, fat and sugar free meals taste hearty and delicious. This Jamaican BBQ turkey recipe is absolutely delicious, and the tasty white meat is made creamy and tender by a mouthwatering marinade of spices including cinnamon and clove, as well as lime juice.

This recipe is super easy to prepare and cook and, served together with the cauliflower rice makes for a fantastic meal. You can also marinade fresh turkey pieces and freeze until needed.

Jamaican BBQ Turkey
  • 4 large turkey pieces, with bone
  • 1 spring onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp allspice powder
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon powder
  • ½ tsp clove powder
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp juice of fresh lime
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  1. Combine the turkey pieces with all the other ingredients in a bowl and mix well, rubbing the herbs and spices into every nook and cranny of the meat.
  2. Marinade overnight – or a minimum of 8 hours.
  3. When ready to cook, preheat BBQ or grill.
  4. Remove turkey pieces from marinade mix and place on BBQ, cooking until juices are clear. Turn only once.
  5. Meanwhile, collect leftover marinade and bring to boil, cooking for 3 minutes.
  6. Serve BBQ turkey, with boiled marinade on top, and alongside a serving of cauliflower rice.

Written by

Laura Pattara is a modern nomad who’s been vagabonding around the world, non-stop, for the past 11 years. She’s tour guided overland trips through South America and Africa, travelled independently through the Middle East and is now, along with her partner in love and travel, riding a motorbike from Germany to Australia. Laura moonlights as a freelance travel writer and, between adventures, loves sharing her travel ramblings on her personal website:Laura's Travel Tales