Late-night Chinese take-out was a staple of my undergrad years. And – who am I kidding? – my grad school and beyond years as well. Sometimes it wasn’t even “late-night.” Sometimes it was just, you know, like, “normal time to eat a meal.” Regardless, Chinese take-out was a fairly regular meal for me. Piles of warm rice, gobs of thick, rich sauces, tasty bits of meats and veggies, all fried to perfection. But the processed goop that most Chinese take-out meals consisted of always left me feeling heavy and like I had guzzled a canister of salt. The after-effects were never as good as the anticipation that drove me to the Chinese take-out place had anticipated.
But here’s the catch – the basics of a Chinese food meal, except the rice, are fundamentally Paleo: meat and vegetables with big flavor. So crafting a few Chinese take-out substitutes was a jiff for me. And my first attempt – quite successful, if I do say so myself – was this recipe for Pork Fried Cauliflower Rice.
The most notable substitution in this recipe is obviously using the cauliflower rice instead of actual rice. Because you use the food processor to grind up the cauliflower when the veggie is raw, it creates little nubs of cauliflower that, when gently cooked, have a texture that’s very similar to rice. We all know that rice is a no-no when you’re eating Paleo, but just for grins, let’s compare it to cauliflower…
Your average white rice has about 200 calories a cup and is almost entirely carbohydrates. It has maybe .5 grams of fiber and a touch of protein – about 4 grams. A cup of rice will give you about 5% of your daily vitamin B-6 and a touch of magnesium, but that’s about it as far as nutritional value goes. Cauliflower rice, on the other hand, has about 30 calories per cup, only about 6 grams of carbs (compared to 45 grams in a cup of white rice), six times the fiber of white rice, about the same amount of protein, and more vitamins and minerals. For instance, one cup of Cauliflower rice gives you over 100% of you daily vitamin C.
So not only can you see why cauliflower rice is a much healthier choice than white rice, this gives you a snap shot into why people often lose weight when they start eating Paleo: lower carbs, higher fiber, more nutrients, and typically lower calorie. In fact, one of the reasons we don’t really need to count calories when eating Paleo is because the food we eat is so filling and almost always had fewer calories than its non-Paleo alternative, that calories just aren’t something we need to constantly think about anymore.
Of course, like any good Paleo dish, this one is also loaded with protein, in the form of ground pork, and vitamins and minerals, not just from the cauliflower rice, but also from the mushrooms and carrots. And feel free to break out of the recipe mold when it comes to the veggies. If you prefer, say, broccoli, have at it. Just keep the amounts close to the same so that the balance between meat and veggies is appetizing.
The only thing missing when you make this pork fried cauliflower rice are the Chinese take-out cartons. But if you really miss those, did you can order a set online? They even make washable and reusable ones! So now, your Paleo Chinese take-out delicacy is complete.
(Make this next: Ginger Wok Fried Cauliflower Rice with Shrimp)
- 4 cups cauliflower florets
- 1 pound ground pork
- 4 medium carrots, cut into small dices
- 1 cup sliced mushrooms
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 3 scallions, chopped
- 3 tbsp coconut aminos
- 3 tbsp virgin coconut oil
- Place the cauliflower in a food processor and pulse until it resembles grains of rice.
- Heat 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a wok over high heat.
- Add the cauliflower “rice” and stir-fry for 5 minutes or until softened. Transfer the “rice” in a bowl and set aside.
- In the same wok heat 2 tablespoon of coconut oil over high heat. Add the carrots and mushrooms and stir-fry for 3 minutes.
- Add the pork and stir-fry until lightly browned on all sides and cooked through, 7 to 10 minutes.
- Push the mixture to the side of the wok and add the eggs. Use a spatula to scramble the egg, breaking it up into small bits.
- Add the cauliflower “rice” and mix to combine. Add the coconut aminos, mix well and cook for 1 minute more.
- Sprinkle with scallions, season with salt if needed and serve.