Living to Eat While Eating to Live

Adventures in Paleo Cooking


Adult Temper Tantrums and Savory Oven-Roasted Cauliflower

I have a tendency to SOMETIMES make a really big deal out of something small.  This usually only happens in situations where I’ve planned things out perfectly, and then something unforeseen or unfortunate happens to screw up said plan.  See, I’m a chronic over-planner.  There are times when this trait serves me well…. but my experimental adventures in the kitchen are not usually those times.

I spent all of Monday shopping, prepping, cooking and cleaning for my clients, and Tuesday I just had one last thing to make, then I was supposed to be off to deliver the goods.  The last item that I had to make Tuesday morning was this recipe for cauliflower on the grill. I had all my ingredients (which weren’t many) and attempted to get started on it around 9am.  It was then that I realized we were out of propane.  And I FREAKED out ….like really.  Like, crazy person style.  In hindsight I’m a bit embarrassed about my reaction, but this isn’t the first time a reaction like this has come about.  I was on the verge of tears and couldn’t see any easy fix.  The closest Home Depot was 25 minutes away and I didn’t have time for that.  I couldn’t make another recipe with the cauliflower because this grill recipe was the one that I PLANNED on!  I could have easily sped out the door to Home Depot and switched out the propane, and solved it that way (I wasn’t really on a STRICT timeline- my clients are super flexible and understanding).  I could have made a cauli-rice or a cauli-mash that would have been fine.  But in this heated moment neither of those options made sense to me, they both seemed ridiculous and inconvenient.

Afterwards, when I was thinking more clearly, I realized it’s not the exact issue at hand (in this case the lack of propane) it’s that I get so angry at the WHY of the issue, and more at myself for not seeing the issue coming and avoiding it.  I think it’s me being hard on myself than anything else.  Why didn’t I check the propane the night before?  Full on childish temper tantrum….  I’m 29 and have faced some real-deal issues in the past, so this is not acceptable.  Screaming loudly and on the verge of tears over CAULIFLOWER!  COME ON!!  The anger at myself clouds any easy solution in the heat of the moment and I’m completely irrational until I come to my senses.

Since you’re on the edge of your seats about the fate of the cauliflower, I’ll get to that now.  With the help of Google and the fact that I have such a developed kitchen pantry, I found an oven-roasted recipe for them and it turned out UNBELIEVABLE!  My favorite way that I’ve found yet to cook cauliflower!  And I would I never found or tried this recipe if I hadn’t been out of propane!  Funny how it works!

I don’t think that I have to write a paragraph about the lesson I learned in this situation because it’s pretty obvious and elementary.  I did write it down immediately as a blog post idea, so that I can talk about how ridiculous my reaction was in hopes that I won’t do it again.  I’m sort of embarrassed even sharing this with anyone, but it’s so that I can recognize it, hold myself accountable for such a reaction and avoid it in the future.  It had happened countless times before this “incident” and has happened a few times since (this happened last month).  Also, now I can share the recipe and pictures with you!


Savory Oven-Roasted Cauliflower

1 head of cauliflower, broken into florets

1 tablespoon coconut oil or fat of choice, melted

1 teaspoon UNSWEETENED cocoa powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

3/4 teaspoon garlic powder

dash of cayenne pepper (optional!)

salt to taste

Preheat your oven to 400 degrees and line a baking sheet with foil.

First toss your cauliflower with just the melted fat – toss in a bowl for at least a couple of minutes so it covers the cauli well. Then, mix your cocoa powder and paprika in a little bowl and sprinkle it on the cauliflower- Toss until evenly coated and distributed.  Then sprinkle the garlic powder and salt on cauliflower – as much or as little as you’d like!  I was not shy with the garlic.  Then I added just a dash of cayenne for some very subtle heat.  Toss cauliflower one more time to coat evenly.

Spread this out on your baking sheet and pop in the oven until they get some color – 25-30 minutes, but stir them up halfway through to make them cook more evenly.

*NOTE* – the cocoa powder does not make the cauliflower taste at all chocolatey or dessert-like.  The cocoa powder gives it a really deep and complex flavor, similar to what it does for Mexican Mole.  Go ahead and splurge for a container of unsweetened cocoa powder!  I use it in other savory dishes and every Paleo Chocolate treat that I make!




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Let’s talk a bit about substitutions!!!   This is what got me excited about paleo-cooking/eating in the first place!  How can I take something blatantly non-paleo and make it paleo!?  Because of my Italian upbringing, an easy place for me to start was with Italian food.  Now I know what you’re thinking — Italian = CHEESE!!!  Sorry to disappoint, but in terms of greasy, melty, stretchy mozzarella on top of chicken parm, there is no paleo replacement 😦   What I’m talking about is more along the lines of breading, meatballs and pasta.

If you haven’t already realized this, nuts are HUGE part of paleo cooking and especially when it comes to substitutions.  Almond flour and coconut flour are used in the majority of baked goods that I make, but the nuts don’t stop there!   When it comes to breading, nuts are key.  And if you use the right nuts and the right spices, whatever you’re breading won’t taste super nutty.  You can buy almond and coconut flour (which is just the nut finely ground into a meal or flour) in all health food stores, or you can make your own.  Other ground up items I’ve used to make breading are pecans, walnuts, flax-seed and plantains.  If you want something with a little texture to it, then unsweetened shredded coconut is a great component to a paleo breading!  My pecan-coconut-curry shrimp and haddock piccata are some of my favorite dishes that use a paleo-friendly “breading”.   ** I REALLY need to think of an alternate word for breading – bread is exactly what we’re avoiding here but I can’t think of anything clever at the moment to replace it with!

Haddock Piccata

In terms of meatballs or meatloaf, almond flour works perfectly in place of bread crumbs.  With this substitution you could fool anyone into eating paleo without even knowing it!

Pasta is a fun and controversial substitution topic.  There are actual paleo-friendly pastas out there that you could order online or perhaps find in a specialty food store, but I’m all about practicality and staying economical, as well as getting in extra veggies wherever possible, so I’m not talking about those at the moment.   Most people will tell you spaghetti squash is the way to go for a pasta-like vehicle for your favorite sauces… well let me tell you about my beef with spaghetti squash.

1- it’s like $6-8 for a decent sized one- they’re HUGE (although it does yield a lot of “pasta”)

2- it is SO hard to cut in half… even if I cook it for a bit beforehand it is almost impossible to cut into and I almost stab myself

3- it takes FOREVER to cook, unless you use the microwave which changes the finished product for the worse

4- after all that work and time, it tastes too squashy and sweet and really can’t compete with many of the sauces you’d put it with.

I’m not completely against spaghetti squash, but there’s a time and a place.  I think it works okay with creamy, strongly-flavored sauces (see photo of Artichoke Lemon Pesto Pasta w/Chicken – thank you Juli Bauer!)  My pasta substitution of choice is zoodles!!!  Its a noodle made from zucchini!  How FUN!  And so much easier to make, plus way less time consuming.  They also have a much milder taste than spaghetti squash so they pair better with more mellow sauces.  The only trick here is that you need 1 of 2 tools to make zoodles.  Either a mandoline or a julienne peeler (or spiral vegetable slicer).   With the mandoline you can slice your zucchini into thin, flat strips, then use a knife to cut to the thickness of your choice.  With a julienne or spiral slicer they basically do all the work for you.  Both are easy.  Only sort of downside is that when doing this with your zucchini, you kind of have to stop once you hit seeds because the noodle will break apart once the seeds are involved – so think of a delicious and creative way to repurpose the middle of your zucchini!  I have a few photos up of dishes that involve zoodles – Zoodles with meatsauce, shrimp scampi and langostino tail scampi – but the options are endless!


So those are my favorite, and Italian-ish substitutions, but that is barely a dent into the world of paleo-friendly substitutions!  Here are some other favorites of mine –

Coconut oil and/or ghee instead of butter for sauteing and in recipes

Bacon grease for frying or sauteing

Pumpkin puree or overripe bananas in baked goods instead of oil

Coconut milk instead of regular milk in curries

Cauliflower mash instead of mashed potatoes AND cauliflower rice instead of traditional rice

…and the list goes on!  Anyone have any favorite substitutions that I’ve forgotten??

Past Creations – Some Food Pics for Your Viewing Pleasure :)

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All dishes are paleo/primal unless otherwise noted in the caption.  Enjoy!

*See very bottom for recipe credit links 🙂

[click photo to enlarge]



Brownies –

Artichoke Lemon Pasta –

Magic Brownie Bars –

Italian Meatloaf –

Balsamic Beef Roast-

Apple Cinn cookies  –

Favorite Chili-

Apple Bacon Rosemary Burgers –

Rosemary Garlic Bread –

Choc Cherry Scones

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