Recipe: Greek-Style Cauliflower Steaks Over Black Lentils

It’s been a while since I’ve felt truly inventive.

Late summer and early autumn have had me swimming against the tide of my own emotions. I’ve been treading water for weeks, just trying to keep up with day to day life, and my creativity has suffered. Food has briefly become the enemy as my emotional energy has lowered and my desire to spend hours in the kitchen has fallen to almost nil.

water-2725337_640To give you an idea of how hard it’s been for me to get up the energy to write this blog entry, I had planned to cook this meal on Monday. I had dropped my car off for some minor repairs on Sunday and they couldn’t finish it before close, so I couldn’t pick up my car until almost noon on Monday. I missed my favorite class at the gym. I managed to pick up groceries, get to my therapy appointment and do my laundry, but all I had the energy for at dinner was some pasta. I managed to make my cauliflower steaks on Tuesday night and I took the photos but was too tired to edit them or write.

Halloween was Wednesday and I’m training new employees at work and I came home, ate some leftover pot roast in marinara on a nice Italian roll and treated myself to the best donut ever: a vanilla cut cream from Deluxe bakery. And then I promptly fell asleep watching Cable Girls on Netflix. Because I’m the coolest chick on the block. 😉 It even took me two days to write this out. But I did it!

My plasma donations have contributed to the lack of desire to cook a bit, as my protein is almost always so close to being too low for donation that I’ve just been eating meat meat MEAT, and truth be told, it’s been tedious for me. After the third month in a row with a low protein deferral, I decided to give myself an extra bit of time off to relax my need to so much protein and go back to the vegetarian meals I used to love.

Autumn brings dark and cold (although today it was a lovely sunny 75 degree day) and I want warm, comforting, hearty food that sticks to my ribs without feeling unhealthy. A year or so ago was the first time I tried making cauliflower steaks with lentils, but this time I wanted to try something different: Greek flavors!

The key to a near-perfect cauliflower steak is buying two heads of cauliflower.  You’re never going to get four evenly sized cauliflower steaks from a single head of cauliflower. Your best bet for getting nice thick steaks is to cut the head in half down the center, then to slice one inch steaks off from the cut ends. Don’t throw away the leftover cauliflower! Save it for cauli-rice or cauliflower chowder.

Liberally brush olive oil on a rimmed sheet pan covered in foil, and lay the cauliflower steaks flat. Brush the other side with olive oil too, then pop into a 400 degree oven for 20 minutes. In the meantime, make the basting liquid:

In a small bowl, combine olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, salt, oregano and red pepper flakes.

Stir to combine and use half of the dressing to baste the cauliflower steaks and bake for another 20 minutes.

To serve, lay each steak down on a bed of black lentils (I cooked mine until very soft and seasoned only with salt), baste with the remaining basting liquid, and top with feta cheese and fresh parsley. Doesn’t that look gorgeous?!

IMG_4323The salty feta works perfectly with the toothsome cauliflower and creamy lentils, and all of that is brought together perfectly by the garlicky lemony basting liquid. A hearty, filling vegetarian meal for a cool autumn night. ❤

Greek-Style Cauliflower Steaks Over Black Lentils

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Stick to your ribs vegetarian meal with Mediterranean flavors.

Ingredients

  • 2 large heads cauliflower
  • 4 tbsp. olive oil, divided
  • 2 oz. lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 4 oz. feta, crumbled
  • 4 tbsp. minced parsley
  • 2 cups black urad lentils, cooked according to package directions, and salted to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and brush with 1 tbsp. olive oil.
  3. Slice each cauliflower in half down the center, then slice off a 1″ steak off of each side. Save the leftover cauliflower for later.
  4. Lay the four steaks on the oiled baking sheet, and brush with another tbsp. of oil. Roast for 20 minutes.
  5. While the steaks are roasting, combine the remaining olive oil, lemon juice, garlic, oregano, red pepper flakes and kosher salt. When the 20 minutes is up, use half of the mixture to baste the cauliflower steaks, and roast for an additional 20 minutes.
  6. To serve, lay down a base of lentils and top with a cauliflower steak. Brush with the remaining basting liquid and top with a sprinkle of parsley and feta cheese.

The Risks of Eating Too Little

I spend a lot of time here focusing on healthy eating and recipes, and I often include calorie counts for those who are interested in tracking their calories. But I don’t think I’ve ever talked about how eating too little can stall your weight loss efforts… and be downright dangerous. You might not equate the weight loss process with the possibility of eating too little: you should have the biggest deficit possible to lose the most weight, right?! WRONG.

A healthy deficit for losing weight is up to 1000 calories a day. A woman aiming to lose should never eat less than 1200 calories a day, and a man should stick to 1500 calories minimum. This is the safe recommended minimum to keep your body running well while still allowing you to lose weight. When I was actively losing, I rarely ate fewer than 1600 calories a day. And now that I’m basically in maintenance, I rarely eat fewer than 2,000 calories a day on average.

Even if you’re doing it unconsciously, eating too little can cause some serious health problems. If you’re eating fewer calories than your bare minimum, you probably aren’t getting the vitamins and minerals you need to keep your body functioning. Here are some signs you might be eating too little.

Fatigue

Are you tired all the time? Our bodies get energy from the calories in the food we eat, and we use that energy for basic and automatic bodily processes, like breathing, thinking and digestion. Eating too little can make you feel both physically and mentally exhausted, which can make each day feel harder and affect your productivity. It also affects your physical activity performance, preventing you from getting all the benefits from your workouts.

Weakened Immune System

A diet imbalance caused by eating too few calories can prevent your body from obtaining the nutrients you need to maintain a healthy immune system, which could cause you to get sick more often and cause each illness to last longer. This is especially important for those with already weakened immune systems like children and the elderly.

Constipation

When you eat too little, your body has less food to process into stool, which can cause your stool to harden and be difficult or painful to expel. Constipation is generally thought to mean having fewer than three bowel movements per week and can indicate a slowed metabolic rate.

Skin Issues

Skin can be more affected and damaged by inflammation and UV exposure if you don’t consume enough of the nutrient necessary to keep skin healthy. Vitamin E, B-3 and Niacin are all important vitamins for skin health.

Hair Loss

Have you noticed and increase of hair in the drain after you shower, or in your brush? When you eat too little, the body prioritizes its functions, and you can begin to lose hair. The body doesn’t want to waste precious calories on maintaining hair growth and follicle health, so your hair will fall out at a higher than average rate.

Reproductive Issues

The hypothalmus is in charge of telling your pituitary gland to produce reproductive hormones like estrogen and progesterone. The hypothalmus is very sensitive to changes in calorie intake and weight and if the balance of reproductive hormones isn’t spot on, it can cause menstruation to be thrown off or even stop, and when this happens, it can be difficult or impossible to get pregnant.

Irritability, Depression and Anxiety

Eating too few calories can seriously affect your mood in many different ways. When you don’t eat enough, your blood sugar can drop, causing hypoglycemia, the symptoms of which are irritability, sweating, anxiety and shakiness, etc. Have you seen those candy bar commercials where crabby people are handed a candy bar and told to eat? That could be you! Not eating enough can also cause you to feel more emotionally sensitive and a side effect of vitamin D deficiency is depression. Anxiety can also be caused by not getting enough omega-3 fatty acids, known to decrease anxiety.

Problems Sleeping

Having trouble falling asleep because you’re hungry, or waking up in the middle of the night hungry is a pretty obvious sign you’re not eating enough. But it can also lead to not spending enough time in deep sleep. Sleep deprivation can lead to insulin resistance and weight gain, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.

Feeling Cold

Your body needs a certain number of calories to complete all of its basic functions, and that includes keeping up your core temperature. Studies have also shown that a restrictive diet can cause a decrease in T3 thyroid hormones, which helps maintain body temperature, along with other functions.Constant HungerIf you’re always hungry, it should be pretty obvious that you’re not eating enough. But many people force themselves to ignore hunger signs in order to lose weight. Being a little hungry sometimes is okay, but low calorie intake can cause a number of problems in the hunger department, like an increase in cortisol, which is the hormone that can increase belly fat. Spending too much time hungry can also increase cravings and cause you to binge, which is the opposite of what you want when you’re trying to lose weight.

Sources:

Healthline

Medical News Today

Self Care: Beauty Edition

Today I want to talk about self care.

Today I am anxious. Mostly about finances, which I know logically are fine but I still worry about them. I’ll need to get a new car soon, and I’m trying to prepare for that emotionally as well as financially. My car has been paid off for several years, and a car payment as a single woman can be intimidating.

This morning I woke up with the full intention of going to the gym. I even got my workout clothes on, minus socks and shoes. But I didn’t go. Why? I wasn’t feeling up to it. Instead I decided I needed some self care today, and I stayed in and watch an episode of Maniac on Netflix. While I watch that, I gave myself a pedicure. Okay, I just painted my toenails, but sometimes that’s enough.

20180926_180212.jpgAfter Maniac was over, I cleaned myself up, put on a pretty dress and sat down at my makeup table. My allergies have been walloping me lately: autumn brings mold and spores and mold and spores brings post nasal drip and sore throats. And on days when I wake up not feeling great, either emotionally or physically, I find it helps me to dress up and put on some pretty makeup. It helps me feel more upbeat about my day if I feel like I look extra good, you know?

20180926_080442Some people think that women only wear makeup to cover up their real face. I think for some women this is true: they’re ashamed of their face and they want to hide their flaws under a thick coating of foundation. For me this is not the case. My skin isn’t perfect: I have forehead wrinkles I refer to as “incredulous lines” because they come out most when I’m raising my eyebrows in disbelief. I have dark spots from the bad habit I have of picking my face when I’m feeling anxious. But all of that is a part of me, and I’m okay with it.

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So this morning I put on my makeup (brown, green and cream shimmer eyeshadow to match my dress), straightened my hair and got ready to face the world. I’m glad I took a photo before I went out to walk Bingley, because it’s so humid here my hair puffed right up and was no longer straight after about 5 minutes outside! No matter, I made it through the day feeling pretty and confident even though I had to throw my hair up in a bun.

20180926_165742I get it if you aren’t a fan of makeup, or if it stresses you out. But for me, it can put a positive spin on a stressful day, and in my book, that’s fantastic!

(All the makeup I’m wearing is Younique brand and can be purchased HERE.)

 

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