Sandwiches needn't go by the wayside once you're wheat-free

  • Here are baked cauliflower buns hot out of the oven.

    Here are baked cauliflower buns hot out of the oven. Courtesy of Don Mauer

 
 
Posted2/17/2021 6:00 AM

A year-and-a-half ago, I cut bread from my food plan; gluten wasn't the reason.

For me, wheat bread triggers over-eating; one slice is too many, and a loaf is not enough. Since I've been following a low-carbohydrate food plan for 18 months, it made sense to say: "So long," to wheat, especially bread.

 
These are the ingredients needed to make baked cauliflower sandwich buns.
These are the ingredients needed to make baked cauliflower sandwich buns. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

Yes, I miss bread, especially sandwiches.

My dietary goal was and is to steer clear of ever being diabetic. So far, so good.

Do I miss bread and pasta along with desserts made with wheat and sugars? Most definitely.

Once I got past the cravings (that took two weeks) and started to feel great, following my new mealtime path got much easier. Not easy, just easier.

A year ago, to create a bread-like substitute, I created an almond flour-based roll that worked pretty well but was moderately high-hassle. Supermarket keto-friendly, wheat-free breads turned out to be budget-breaking expensive ($12 a loaf).

A recent EatingWell magazine article (eatingwell.com/ recipe/274167/cauliflower- buns) shared a recipe for a wheat-free, low-carbohydrate bun about which they wrote, "These scrumptious low-carb cauliflower buns use cauliflower rice in place of flour, with a bit of sharp Cheddar cheese and egg as a binder to make a grain-free and gluten-free bun for burgers or sandwiches." I was hooked.

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Grated cauliflower is baked into wheat-free sandwich buns with this recipe. Grate your own cauliflower or use frozen.
Grated cauliflower is baked into wheat-free sandwich buns with this recipe. Grate your own cauliflower or use frozen. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

EW's recipe used a food processor to "chop" the cauliflower into "rice," the fine grating attachment for my food processor worked better. Done.

This step was more of a hassle than I first believed. Trimming and cleaning the cauliflower head and then cutting off one pound of florets (yes, a scale was involved) and then shredding them took more time than I thought it would. Next time, I'll use frozen cauliflower rice.

After speed-cooking them in my microwave, I used a potato ricer to squeeze out the water.

EW used a clean cloth kitchen towel to wring out the cooked cauliflower water. I thought that cleaning that towel afterward would make for additional hassle. The potato ricer worked great and was fairly easy to clean -- a big plus.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 
Baked cauliflower buns just before baking.
Baked cauliflower buns just before baking. - Courtesy of Don Mauer

I don't like pre-shredded cheese, so I grated 4-ounces of organic, sharp cheddar cheese. EW used a whole egg to glue everything together. I also added a teaspoon of instant yeast so that my buns would have the aroma of yeast-raised wheat.

That yeast, since there's no gluten in cauliflower, did not cause the buns to rise. In fact, after baking, I was slightly surprised by how flat EW's buns were. It takes two cauliflower buns to make a sandwich: one each for the top and bottom.

My cauliflower buns turned out really well. They were all the same size and looked golden brown. I used my fresh buns to make a cold meatloaf sandwich. They were good. Other than holding a sandwich together, they are nothing like wheat bread.

A big plus, they were much lower in carbohydrates than wheat bread, which has 24 carb grams for two slices versus 6.3 for the cauliflower buns. And they were made from whole versus refined foods.

Give them a try.

• Don Mauer welcomes questions, comments and recipe makeover requests. Write to him at don@theleanwizard.com.

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