I know, I know. This is my third cauliflower post in a month, and I guess you could say that I have become mildly obsessed with this versatile veggie, but when I stumbled upon this idea over at forkandbeans.com, I just couldn’t resist the temptation of making a version of my own. Coconut shrimp is one of my all time favorites indulgences, but unfortunately I refer to it as an indulgence for a reason. The truth is, it just isn’t all that good for you, but there are ways to make this indulgence a whole lot healthier, and as I am sure you’ve guessed by now, the secret is once again cauliflower.
With only 54 calories in 2 full cups, you really cannot beat cauliflower as far as substitutes go. It’s mild taste and texture make it extremely versatile and easy to work with, and there aren’t a whole lot of vegetables you can really say that about. In this particular recipe, cauliflower makes an outstanding base, letting the unsweetened coconut shine, without overpowering the delicate flavor. Another plus to this recipe is that it is baked rather than fried, only using a small amount of zero calorie cooking spray in place of heavier oils. That step alone saves hundreds of calories, making this recipe a fantastic go-to for those trying to lose weight, or keep unwanted pounds at bay.
This recipe is actually pretty easy to throw together, and to top it all off, it is gluten free, dairy free and even vegan friendly. For the dip, I used the chili sauce recipe for my healthy chili chicken skewers, which can be made vegan by replacing the honey with another sweetener such as coconut nectar. Give it a try and let me know what you think!
- 2 cups cauliflower; cut into small florets
- 1 cup unsweetened large flaked coconut; chop small in food processor if flakes are too large
- ½ cup unsweetened finely shredded coconut
- 3 Tbsp. ground flax seed + 9 Tbsp. warm water; whisked together
- ¾ cup cornstarch
- ¾ tsp. cayenne pepper
- 1 tsp. high quality, finely ground salt
- Gluten free non-stick cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 400F.
- In a medium-sized pot, bring about 1 inch of water to a boil.
- Once boiling, add in your prepared cauliflower, then cover and cook on high for 5 minutes. You want to just soften your cauliflower without making it mushy.
- When finished, remove from heat and pour into a strainer.
- Rinse cauliflower with cold water to stop the cooking process and set cauliflower aside until ready to use.
- In a small dish, combine your ground flax seed and warm water, whisking until thoroughly mixed.
- Take out a large baking sheet and generously coat it with a non-stick cooking spray. Pam olive oil is gluten free.
- In a large Ziplock, combine cornstarch, cayenne and salt. You will use this mixture for dredging the cauliflower.
- In a separate large Ziplock bag, pour in your coconut (both shreds and flakes).
- Dump your cauliflower into your bag of cornstarch and gently shake until cauliflower is evenly coated.
- Remove cauliflower one piece at a time, and dip it into the flax seed mixture, thoroughly coating the entire piece and shaking off the excess. The flax seed mixture acts as your binder.
- When finished, place the coated cauliflower pieces into your bag of coconut, shaking to thoroughly and evenly coat each piece.
- Place finished pieces onto your greased baking sheet and place in the oven for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes are up, remove cauliflower from the oven and flip each piece over. Coat the tops with a generous coat of cooking spray and place cauliflower back into the oven for an additional 10 minutes.
- When finished, the coconut should appear lightly golden brown.
- This dish is best when served fresh out of the oven.
- Serve with your choice of dipping sauce.