Think cauliflower not potatoes for a low-carb substitute side for Thanksgiving

  • Mauer's Holiday Whipped Cauliflower might be just the alternative side that works with your Thanksgiving dinner.

    Mauer's Holiday Whipped Cauliflower might be just the alternative side that works with your Thanksgiving dinner. Courtesy of Don Mauer

  • Courtesy of Don Mauer

Posted11/13/2019 6:00 AM

Holiday dining is just around the corner, and I'm getting a touch nervous. If you're like me, you hang with friends who are better-than-average cooks and like to rollout some of their very best during this season. What a bunch of showoffs.

They're not health foodies or on a weight-loss diet. Some make the best sweets I've ever sampled; homemade caramels topped with ground toasted pecans come to mind. Jiminy.


Of course, anyone who is a kitchen magician rolls out their finest for the holidays. I love what they do and the skill they showcase. This year, however, since I'm following a low-carbohydrate food plan, I've had to reconsider some things.

For my Thanksgiving dinner, which is happening at my house, I had to plot a way to substitute something for the classic Thanksgiving Dinner vegetable -- whipped potatoes.

Do I love whipped potatoes? Oh my, yes, I do. When my mother was alive, she always brought me into her kitchen to make Donny's whipped potatoes.

Why? My whipped potatoes were made with heavy whipping cream, sour cream, and butter. Those three fat and flavor-rich dairy ingredients worked their magic, and my whipped potatoes seasoned with salt and pepper and topped with sweet paprika and fresh chopped parsley, frequently brought out inappropriate high-fives in the middle of dinner.

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Later, everyone, including me, was taking the fat out of everything. I made a new version of those potatoes using skim milk, fat-free sour cream and seasoned them with a fat-free butter substitute called Butter Buds, dissolved into chicken broth. Were my whipped potatoes as good as my high-fat version? Umm, no, not really. They were good, though.

Flash forward a few years, and the dietary word has nearly turned itself upside down again. Fats were evil; now, some fats have been newly ordained as healthy, like olive oil and lard from pastured hogs. Today's dietary baddies are high-starch vegetables, highly-processed carbohydrates, and refined sugars.

Back to the kitchen to reinvent my whipped potatoes once again. Today, it turns out that all the fat ingredients I used to make my original whipped potatoes were fine; it was the potatoes that were the issue.

I decided to see if I could create a look-alike version of my whipped potatoes using cauliflower instead.

Ounce-for-ounce, cauliflower has fewer carbohydrates than potatoes. Significantly less. One hundred grams of raw potato delivers 20 carbohydrate grams, while the same amount of cauliflower only brings five carbohydrate grams to the table. Those numbers made me confident that I could successfully do this.


Cutting the carbs by 75 percent is significant. Yes, it is. And, since healthy fats are back in the mix, I made a batch of whipped cauliflower aiming for the flavor profile based on my old whipped potatoes. It worked nearly perfectly.

Of course, my whipped cauliflower doesn't taste precisely like whipped potatoes; it can't. Are they a very reasonable substitute for holiday get-togethers for me and others? You betcha. Plus, the bonus: 75 percent fewer carbs. Give them a try.

Mauer's Holiday Whipped Cauliflower

1 large head of cauliflower (about 2½ pounds), cut into florets and stem cut into chunks

3 garlic cloves

½ cup heavy whipping cream

½ cup sour cream

4 tablespoons unsalted butter

2 teaspoons kosher salt

¾ teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper

Sweet paprika

3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves

Add cold water to a large saucepan to a depth of ½-inch. Add the cauliflower, cover the pan, place over medium-high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook the florets until they pierce easily, about 8 to 10 minutes.

Transfer cauliflower to a colander and let drain well.

While cauliflower drains, lock the cover onto the food processor. Turn the processor on and drop the garlic cloves, one at a time, down the feed tube to mince them.

Turn processor off, remove its cover and transfer half the cauliflower to the processor. Add half the whipping cream, sour cream, butter and all the salt, and pepper. Purée until smooth. Transfer pureed cauliflower to a medium-large bowl. Add the remaining cauliflower, whipping cream, sour cream, and butter to the processor and puree.

Combine the pureed cauliflowers in the mixing bowl and then, using a large rubber spatula, fold together to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning. Serve immediately, topped with paprika and parsley.*

Serves 8.

Nutrition values per serving: 168 calories (77 percent from fat), 14.4 g fat (8.8 g saturated fat), 8.4 g carbohydrates (5.6 net carbs), 2.7 g sugars, 2.8 g fiber, 2.8 g protein, 43 mg cholesterol, 341 mg sodium.

*Whipped cauliflower can be held until serving time by using a bowl just large enough to fit into a saucepan so that its edge rests on the rim of that pan and the bowl doesn't touch the pan's bottom. Add hot water to the pan, place the bowl over the hot water, cover with the pan's top and set it over medium-low heat.

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