RECIPE MAKEOVERS. They are my fav. I get a weird satisfaction out of making something that is traditionally "unhealthy" into something that's a fraction of the calories and (the not-so-good-for-you) fat while also loaded with plant-based nutrition. And still delicious. That's a MUST.
I am not someone who counts my own calories at all - I care more about nutrient density...however, I am a Dietitian. And most of my clients come to me because they want to lose weight. And they want this weight loss to be a lifestyle change. And in order for it to be a lifestyle change, food needs to be enjoyable. So my job is to help them find realistic, healthy changes that (hopefully) become enjoyable habits. One of my favorite ways to do this is to take a client's favorite "unhealthy" foods and find a much healthier alternative. If you love fettuccine Alfredo, I want you to eat fettuccine Alfredo. But maybe we can make it better?? Maybe we can make a better version that doesn't leave you feeling like a bomb just went off in your belly. Maybe we can make a version that actually makes you feel good and gives you MORE energy?
Enter this Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce. You guys, this sauce is like liquid gold. When I first made it, I started eating it with a spoon...like a soup. Straight from my Vitamix. No Shame. I've talked about the magical wonders of cauliflower before, but folks, cauliflower reeeaallllyyy outdid itself this time.
ALL the gold stars for you, cauliflower.
I did a segment on our local morning show Good Day Columbus on Tuesday morning for their week long series "Recipe Rescue". The premise was to take a traditionally unhealthy entree from a chain restaurant and make a healthy but still delicious alternative. I chose to make a healthy version of Olive Garden's Fettuccine Alfredo. I have a client who loves Alfredo sauce so I thought this would be a perfect opportunity to try for a much healthier and more nutrient dense option.
I must say, this recipe is a winner in my book. The sauce is literally packed with nutrition: cauliflower, garlic, lemon juice, nutritional yeast, almond milk, veggie broth, and simple spices. These are also ingredients that I tend to always have on hand. Aka...I will be making this sauce All. The. Time. #notmadaboutit.
You can use any pasta noodles you want for this dish. The first time I made it, I used whole grain spelt linguine and the second time I used whole wheat fussili noodles - both were delicious! Another important element to this dish is the sauteed veggies. I went with mushrooms, asparagus, and peas which were absolutely delicious, but feel free to use whatever veggies you want. The more the better! Adding vegetables to a pasta dish is a great way to eat more volume and consume less calories. One serving of this dish only has about 230 calories and 6 grams of fat (OH and 8 grams of fiber heyyoooooo!). A traditional creamy pasta dish from a restaurant can have upwards of 1,200 calories and 75 grams of fat. WHOA. If you want to take it up another "planty" notch, feel free to add some spiralized zucchini noodles.
In summary, this dish really checks off all the boxes: creamy, delicious, nourishing, and super veggified. Just the way I like it.
Creamy Cauliflower Alfredo (Vegan)
- 5-6 heaping cups cauliflower florets (1 medium cauliflower)
- 1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil
- 4 medium cloves garlic, minced
- 1/2 cup unsweetened almond milk (or milk of choice)
- 1 cup vegetable broth
- 1/3 cup nutritional yeast (or Parmesan cheese)
- 1 Tbsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp onion powder
- 1/2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp sea salt, or to taste
- 1/2 tsp pepper, or to taste
- 1 package of whole grain fettuccine pasta or pasta of choice
- 1 (8 oz) package of white mushrooms, sliced
- 1 bunch of asparagus, chopped (woody ends discarded)
- 1/2 cup frozen peas
For Serving (optional)
- Fresh minced parsley
- Red pepper flakes
- Add Cauliflower florets in a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a low boil. Once boiling, cook for another 3-5 minutes until fork tender, then drain.
- Meanwhile, add the oil into a skillet and saute the minced garlic over low hear for ~5 minutes until softened and fragrant, but not browned.
- In a high speed blender, add the cauliflower, sauteed garlic, almond milk, vegetable broth, nutritional yeast, lemon juice, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Blend until very smooth. *May need to let it blend for a minute or so to get a very smooth consistency.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add pasta and cook according to package instructions. Drain and cover to prevent drying.
- In the same skillet you used for the garlic, add a touch of olive oil over medium high heat and add mushrooms. Saute mushrooms for 4-5 minutes until mushrooms are lightly browned. Add the asparagus and peas. Cover and cook for another 5-8 minutes, or until asparagus is tender.
- Add cauliflower sauce and sauteed vegetables into the pot with the cooked noodles.
- Serve with fresh minced parsley and red pepper flakes.