Sunday, March 18, 2012

our paleo comfort breakfasts

hash-browned cauliflower is great with scrambled eggs
Weather is funny. Sometimes I barely notice it, but it's always a factor, a major backdrop to everything else that's going on. Today, we have rain, lots of rain. We've had almost none this year, so this is a big deal. I've spent so much time marveling over the rain, enjoying heavy drops on my kitchen skylight that I forgot to cook breakfast. I always wake up hungry. We always eat breakfast. On weekends, it's usually a big breakfast because, well, because it's the weekend. It's also usually an early breakfast since we run lots of errands in the morning before GK's standing lunch date with the guys. Only today, mesmerized by the rain, I forgot. How do you forget breakfast? It's his favorite meal of the day, so trust me, he did not understand.

Though I always wake up hungry, breakfast is not my favorite meal. Breakfast foods have never been my favorites, at least not the traditional breakfast foods I've been around. I hear people mention liking or not liking foods based on what they had in childhood. I'm sure that must be true of me in some ways, though it's overwhelmingly the opposite in most cases. When I was a child breakfast was cold cereal, oatmeal, cream of wheat, pancakes, waffles, bacon, eggs, and toast. Not all at the same time, certainly. Breakfast sometimes meant only toast with a little jelly, very little jelly, just enough to make the surface shimmer. When my mother discovered refrigerator biscuits in those cans that were prone to explode when opened, they became a staple on non-cereal days. It was much later that potatoes entered the picture. I'm not sure when I was introduced to breakfast potatoes like hash browns or potatoes O'Brien or country fries. I may very well have been an adult. I really don't remember them at all during childhood.

My favorite breakfast when I was young was never cereal for sure. I've never been a fan. I was an egg girl. My mother would fry bacon, then scramble or fry eggs in the same pan and without removing any of the fat. Now, those I liked. Eggs completely soaked in and dripping with bacon grease were my idea of the perfect breakfast. Sometimes she made omelets: eggs whipped with milk and seasoned with dried mint, then cooked quickly in butter. Nah, it was likely margarine, then, and lots of it. Interestingly, I started high school weighing 86 pounds and graduated weighing almost 96. That fat was clearly not making me fat, much as I longed to put on weight. Then along came the low-fat era, and my pleasure in eating those eggs quickly vanished. I have been health conscious, though admittedly misguided from time to time, most of my adult life. The bacon was out; the bacon fat was out; even the eggs were deemed practically life-threatening.

If I could safely eat anything I wanted, which I cannot for sure, breakfast would be either Eggs Florentine or softly poached and piles of hash browned potatoes, extra crispy, with either choice. Or maybe eggs fried and in butter. Most of those options are totally out of the question for me. But I've found what (almost fully) fills the bill. These days, one of our favorites when we long for an old fashioned breakfast is hash browned cauliflower with eggs. My eggs are usually over easy to medium, while GK prefers his scrambled. Sometimes his become an omelet or a scramble with veggies and aromatics, but mostly he prefers plain scrambled eggs in either olive or coconut oil. I'm not a big fan of eggs in coconut oil, but butter is not an option for me, and olive oil is a bit scary for cooking. Often I cook my eggs in beef tallow or bacon fat.

If you haven't yet tried hash browned cauliflower, you must---even if you're not sure about cauliflower. It's not potatoes; I'll grant you that. But it is a truly satisfying alternative, considering all the drawbacks of potatoes---nightshades in general, for that matter.

For starters, they are one of the quickest and easiest dishes around. After much trial and error, I now always start with raw cauliflower. Trust me on this one. Though some suggest using a food processor to chop cauliflower into small, rice-like chunks, I prefer to use a knife. It gives you much more control over the size you ultimately end up with. Sometimes I want tiny little pieces, and sometimes I want larger chunks, more like country fries. Other times, I go for something in between.
This step is so simple. Just place your rinsed cauliflower on a board or chopping block and, avoiding your fingers, slice through the head of cauliflower. Turn the cut pieces 90 degrees and chop again. Do this as often as you like until the pieces are a size that looks good to you. There is no right size.
Melt some coconut oil, or the healthy fat of your choice, in a saute pan. The quantity is a matter of personal preference. I like to use enough to cover the bottom of the pan generously. Fat is what will make your hash browns crisp and, well, hash browns. Don't skimp. I own only two non-stick pans. Neither is Teflon. Teflon is good for tossing in the trash, little else, in my opinion. For sauteing cauliflower, either non-stick or standard pans work great. Today I was feeling a little lazy, hence the non-stick.
Add a generous layer of cauliflower to your heated, well oiled pan, and resist the temptation to stir constantly. Add a generous sprinkling of salt, I prefer sea salt, and pepper.
As your cauliflower begins to brown, turn or stir. Add another sprinkling of salt, as you stir.
Continue to cook until they reach a beautiful toasty brown color or to your preferred depth of color. I like them a dark brown, but you should be the judge when you're cooking.

If you'd like, add onions, bell pepper, or other aromatics to the cauliflower at the beginning of the cooking process for an almost unlimited number of variations.

Please give this a try and let me know what you think.


  1. wow!! they really do look like hashbrowns!! YUM! Strangely enough I have no problems with potatoes, but cauliflower just doesn't like my tummy at all... which is sad, because I always liked mashed cauliflower! Great pics of your breakfast, I think I could eat scrambled eggs every day!

    1. I am really glad to have found a source for Soy-free eggs, even if I had to beg the store for months to be able to special order them. Before that, I'd almost given up on eggs. I like to make a little nest with spinach sauteed with a bit of shallot in coconut oil and drop in an egg or two or three to poach on the spinach. It's beautiful and tasty---and no cauliflower. The coconut oil works really well in that combination, I think.

  2. Interestingly and maybe not surprisingly, cauliflower is on the "avoid" list for type "O" blood in diets based on bloodtype. They say gas is the problem.


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