Aditi Rastogi, Woman’s Era, April 19, 2016
“The Cauliflower diet is the new rice, new potato, the new thin” says Chef and author Radha Thomas.
Cauliflower is the answer to the prayer of every person on the planet who wants to lose weight, wants to stay healthy. Radha Thomas, the author of ‘The Cauliflower diet’ says, “it is one of the best –kept secrets in the dieting community. It is an extremely versatile veggie that can blend into any kind of cuisine in the world. Cauliflower is both gluten-free and high in nutrients and also low in carbs”.
The author has created her own recipes using the cauliflower and has also experimented cauliflower with all types of cuisines.
Aditi Rastogi from Woman’s era interviewed Ms. Radha Thomas to know more about ‘The Cauliflower Diet and her experiences while penning down this book.
Tell us something about your literary journey? At what age, did you discover your love for writing?
I’ve been a singer and songwriter for well, – as long as I can remember. Songs and poems are hard to write because the form is restrictive. Rhythm, meter, story telling is all in one place. Song writing is very disciplined so I guess it is a good place to begin one’s journey into writing.
I used to be a travel writer in my 20s, working for a tour operator in New York where I wrote their travel brochures, making up stuff about places I’d never been to. I’ve also been a journalist and columnist for several years and produced newspapers, magazines, books and so on for other people. I suppose you could say I’ve written a lot. I enjoy writing… almost as much as singing.
Tell us something about your book ‘the cauliflower diet’ and why you chose this topic? Are you a dietician by profession?
‘Necessity is the mother of invention. It so happened, as I grew older, I grew chubbier. I hated being a fatso more than anything and it was very hard for me. I guess my genes are to blame, not my natural affinity for chocolate and strawberry shortcake.
So naturally, I began exploring all sorts of diets. I settled on the Atkins Diet (very low carb and high protein and fat) several years ago and stuck to it religiously. It is easy to lose weight on it, but it’s also hugely tiresome. All that meat. All that fat.
I missed veggies. I missed salads. I missed the cool Thayir Shaadam my mom used to make for me as a child. The Atkins Diet doesn’t allow any rice at all.
I’m not sure how I chanced upon the cauliflower in a starring role in my diet, but I did. And that was about 5 or 6 years ago. From then on, I have been experimenting, researching and creating all sorts of recipes.
FYI, in the book I’ve only included recipes that I’ve tried and tested on other people. No failures or disasters in the book, I promise. The first thing I made was ‘Cauliflower Rice’ and then no prizes for guessing… Thaiyir Saadam (curd rice)
As a journalist, I used to specialize in writing about alternative medicine, a subject I’m deeply interested in, and it sort of set the stage to share all the medical benefits of ‘The Cauliflower Diet.’ Researching the subject was inspiring and it continues to be an ongoing process. Creating new recipes is also never ending.
Why should one add cauliflower in their diet? What is so special in this food?
The cauliflower is one of the world’s most perfect vegetables. High in fibre, lots of water, no gluten, no cholesterol, no starch or sugar, very low in fat and very rich in several nutrients such as calcium, vitamin C, potassium, vitamin K. The best part is that half the carb content of a cauliflower is fibre, making it very attractive on a low carb diet.
Fibre is key to ‘regularity’ and metabolism and that’s so important not only for weight-loss, but for general well-being too. By using it as a substitute for rice, wheat, potatoes and flour, the dieter doesn’t have to change his or her food habits. So if it’s dal and rice you’re used to eating… it can now be dal and Cauliflower Rice. Or if it’s Chicken Curry and Rice, it can now be Chicken Curry and Cauliflower Rice.
You get the picture.
Consider this: 500 gms of cooked Cauliflower Rice, that can feed 4 to 6 people comfortably contains only 12.5 gms in carbohydrate and all the nutritional benefits mentioned above. In comparison, 500 gms of white rice contains 143 gms of carbohydrate and almost no fibre. The simple premise is that since the cauliflower is so low in carbs, it is perfect for any dieter who is cutting back on either carbohydrates or calories. It doesn’t matter if you’re a vegetarian, a vegan or a meat eater. This diet will work for everyone.
The book is about taste. About recipes that can help people lose weight while not struggling too much.
As so many kids hate cauliflower, how can parents add cauliflower in their diet?
Ha! It’s the perfect veggie to food your kids with. You can disguise it as a potato. You can make meatless meatballs with it. It’s amazing. And I promise you solemnly that any child I’ve ever fed ‘Cauliflower Pizza’ to has become an instant fan. In fact, some kids prefer it to Dominos
Tell us something about yourself and your career? What are your upcoming projects?
I was born in Tamil Nadu, grew up in a boarding school, joined a rock-and-roll band in my teens and then left for the USA to become a jazz singer. Jazz is one of my passions but it never earned me enough money to keep body and soul together. So I had a variety of day-jobs while singing in clubs at night. I’ve been a tour guide in Fiji, organized trade shows in China, owned a fashion boutique on Long Island and worked for an art publisher in New York.
I’ve sort of had three distinct careers. As Director and Editor of Explocity.com, a media company. I created and produced a series of food guides in the six major metros in India including Mumbai, Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and Bangalore. These books, called, ‘The Kingfisher Explocity Great Food Guide,’ were very popular and sold all over India regularly from around 2009 to around 2012, by which time the internet had seriously made a dent in the book publishing industry.
I also conceived and produced a newspaper for Café Coffee Day, called ‘Café Beat’ which addressed people between the ages of 15 and 25, dealing with issues of concern to that target audience.
I’ve written for many publications such as The Times of India, Midday, The Hindu, Man’s World, Men’s Health and others.
As an author, Before ‘The Cauliflower Diet’ I wrote ‘Men On My Mind’ (2012) and ‘More Men on My Mind (2014), published by Rupa. It’s a trilogy, a story featuring a young woman’s quest for good sex. The third in the series will be released in 2017.
As a musician. I was trained in Dhrupad, by Ustad Farid Ud Din Dagar and my jazz style hints at my Indian classical training. I’ve worked with renowned jazz musicians in the world such as Ryo Kawasaki, Frank Tusa, John Scofield, Michael Brecker, Alex Blake, Badal Roy, Buddy Williams, Joe Farrell and performed at popular venues.
In India I’ve worked with leading Indian jazz musicians such as Louiz Banks, Amit Heri, Sanjay Divecha, Keith Peters. But these days, I lead my own band, UNK: The Radha Thomas Ensemble. I’m thrilled to be #1 nationally on Reverbnation. Our album ‘I Only Have Eyes For You,’ has received excellent reviews and airplay all over America. We’ve played all major festivals in India and continue to so so. I used to host a jazz show on Radio Indigo in Bangalore. When I’m not busy writing or singing (which is most of the time) I like painting, playing guitar, watching cop shows on TV and playing with my doggie Brownie. I have one son who lives in New York.
What message do you want to give today’s kids and woman’s era readers about maintaining a diet in the age of junk foods?
It’s hard to go on a rigid diet. You can pull it off for a while, but it it goes against the grain of what you’re normally used to, then there are chances of falling off the wagon. Harsh and drastic diet regimens that make you give up the things you love, at least for me, have been doomed. Juicing was the worst. The Cauliflower Diet doesn’t call for giving up anything. Just substituting. And once you get used to making Cauliflower Rice, you won’t even know the difference. And it’s very good for you too.
Radha Thomas wants you to consider this revolutionary new way of losing weight. She calls it the new rice, the new potato and the new thin. Are you ready to try it?
Nikita, March 28, 2016, IndiaToday.in
Losing weight one way or the other and following every possible new diet in the market has forever been on your mind, and you’re probably even doing it, but have you ever wondered what it would be like to find a perfect (or shall we say, next-to-perfect) substitute that could make you shed those extra kilos AND keep you healthy?
Published by Random House India, The Cauliflower Diet is penned by Radha Thomas, an author and a Jazz singer, who claims to have discovered what she terms The Cauliflower Diet–an apt solution and the ideal mid-way point between dieting and going insane. Thomas is reminding people about this extremely versatile veggie that can blend into any kind of cuisine in the world, which besides being low in carbs, is gluten-free and high in nutrients–precisely why you can use it in the preparation of all the things you love–rice, upma, cookies and even pizza.
Initially, Radha did not think too much of the cauliflower–blissfully unaware of the fact that it is very low on carbs and very high in nutrients. Calling it a life-changer, Thomas has come up with interesting recipes like Cauliflower Thayir Saadam to Cauliflower Mutton Biryaniand more in thisbook.
Cauliflower is naturally high in both fibre and B vitamins. Not to mention antioxidants and phytonutrients–chemicals that occur naturally in food, that serve many purposes. Easy on the digestive tract, cauliflower is also high in omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids.
Here are 10 good reasons (from the book) that could hook you to a cauliflower diet, starting today!
Diabetes: Almost every leading medical institution in the world agrees that a diet low on sugar and high in fibre will help fight diabetes. Cauliflower, with its ability to blend into any kind of cuisine, can be a perfect addition to a diabetic’s daily diet–the patient is not only hunger-free, but also on the road to recovery. Cauliflower is rich in fibre, vitamins and contains very little carbohydrate. It is a perfect substitute for rice, and a perfect way to combat diabetes.
Heart disease: The cauliflower is wonderfully versatile substitute for carbohydrate and honestly, it’s not difficult at all to get used to having cauliflower rice and curry. The heart benefits from a lower-carbohydrate approach that comes from a randomised trial known as the Optimal Macronutrient Intake Trial for heart health. A healthy diet that replaced some carbohydrates with protein or fat did a better job of lowering blood pressure and bad LDL cholesterol than a healthy, higher-carbohydrate diet. This is one of the reasons that most of the recipes in this book contain cauliflower along with some protein.
Digestion, constipation, and weight-loss: Around 70 per cent of a cauliflower is water. And it’s high in fibre, which helps a person maintain a regular digestive tract, lowering the risk of colon cancer. Recent studies have shown that dietary fibre may play a role in regulating the immune system and inflammation, consequently decreasing the risk of inflammation-related conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity.
Cancer: Studies have suggested that the sulphur-containing compounds that give cruciferous vegetables their bitter bite, are also what give them their cancer-fighting power. Although, broccoli contains more sulphoraphane than cauliflower, cauliflower comes a close second. The incidence of prostate cancer among Indian men is very low, thanks to the combo of cauliflower and turmeric which is how most households cook it–it is an excellent preventive measure.
Vitamin K, blood and bones: Cauliflower being an excellent source of vitamin K, controls bleeding, and is great for bone health.
Brain development and vitamin B: The cauliflower contains choline, a B vitamin that is said to improve brain function even in-utero (if you’re pregnant). In addition, the nutrient contributes to the production of acetylcholine–a chemical involved in brain signalling, and it plays a role in the breakdown of fats in your body and makes up an important component of your cell membranes.
Iron absorption: According to WHO, cauliflower increases the amount of iron absorption in your body. For people who are anemic, the cauliflower could be a boon.
Immunity and vitamin C: Cauliflower is an amazing source of vitamin C and 100 gms provides almost half the daily required dosage of vitamin C. It can even keep the common cold at bay.
Liver: Much of our body’s metabolism occurs in the liver. Cauliflower is a vegetable that’s often considered a detox go-to because the chemicals in cruciferous veggies activate the liver enzyme CYP1A2–which helps neutralise certain carcinogens.
Anti-inflammatory properties: The body usually produces its own antibodies and fights the cold, the cough, even without you having to pop any pills. Cauliflower contains a healthy source of indole-3-carbinol, which prevents the growth of tumours.
The comfort food of all a Tamilians (may be other South Indians too) is Thair Saadam, or simply, homemade yogurt with steaming white rice.
The most basic form of this recipe, which is often fed to children by loving mothers and grandmothers, contains nothing else. Just the yogurt and the rice… not even a pinch of salt.
And then the recipe gets more and more sophisticated by adding a little of this, a dash of that, and before you know it, you have a masterpiece.
Thair saadam is a dish unlike any other.
In this version however, we eschew the milled, de-husked, bad-for-everyone villain we call rice and substitute it instead with the trusty cauliflower, the one veggie that’s willing to bend over backward in its quest to feed and please.
Carb count: You’re beginning with a base of 500 grams of Cauliflower Rice containing 25 grams in carb, some of it fibre. The spices are carb free. The yogurt contains about 25 grams. Heavy cream has none! So that’s a total of 50 gms of carb for a dish that serves a minimum of 4 people. 12 gms per serving. Not too expensive for comfort.
One head of cauliflower, about 500 gms, broken by hand into florets, including the stem. Really, all you’re throwing away are the leaves.
– 2 tbsp cooking oil
– ½ tsp mustard seeds
– 1 tbsp channa daal
– ½ tbsp urad daal
– 1 or 2 dry red chillies, split apart
– A pinch of asafoetida (optional, depending on how authentically Tamilian you’re trying to be)
About 10 curry leaves (some people don’t like curry leaves but I love them, especially if they’re slightly crispy)
– 500 gms yogurt
– Two heaped tbsp heavy cream (this is my secret ingredient, makes it really creamy)
– A baby’s pinch of salt
– About 10 pomegranate pods
Boil some water in a large saucepan, and when the water is bubbling, drop the florets in so they’re covered. Leave them in for exactly five minutes. Time it or the cauliflower gets soggy. It should be ‘al dente.’
Remove and drain thoroughly, in a colander. You can pat the florets dry if u can’t wait for them to drain naturally.
Alternatively, if you have a steamer, you can steam the cauliflower florets. I don’t have one, sadly.
Now put the cauliflower in a food processor for a whirl or two till the florets resemble rice.
If you don’t have a food processor or are just too lazy to clean up, simply grate the cauliflower florets by hand. It tastes the same.
Toss in the mustard seeds when the oil looks like it’s steaming, and cover with a steel plate as they pop. The firecrackers will subside soon.
Lower the heat and add the channa daal. It turns colour quickly, so be careful. No more than 30 seconds.
Now toss in the urad daal, curry leaves and asafoetida, frying all of it gently, until golden brown.
Mix the spice-leaves with the grated cauliflower gently. You don’t want the florets to turn into mush.
Separately, mix the yogurt and the heavy cream.
Now all the ingredients together and toss gently as you would a salad, where you’re afraid of breaking the leaves.
Flatten the Thair Saaadam in the bowl (for aesthetic reasons) and sprinkle the pomegranate pods on top.
Mango pickle. My mom actually ate Thair Sadaam with jam, pretty disgusting as it goes, but hey, there’s no accounting for taste.
At least in South India, the possibilities with rice are limitless. As a people, we would shrivel up and die without rice. But it’s a bad, bad, bad thing as we all know. Filled with carbs, aggravates diabetes, contains very little nutrition and works well only if you’re tilling the fields or building houses.
Cauliflower Rice is perfect for the modern-day couch warmer (didn’t want to say potato) since it digests easily and doesn’t convert from sugar to fat.
Bisibelebath is a meal-in-a-dish and I found a way to get a fairly decent version, I think. An ode to the state that’s been my home now for over 20 years.
Carb count: 500 grams of Cauliflower Rice contains 25 grams of carb. The veggies all add up to less than 10 carbs. The spices have none. You can feed between 4 hearty and 6 delicate eaters. That’s 9 carbs per serving. Whaddya say about that?
One head of cauliflower, about 500 gms, broken by hand into florets, including the stem.
The dry masala:
1 tsp methi seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp coriander seeds
2 dried red chillies
1 small stick of cinamon
1 tsp poppyseeds
2 heaped tbsp fresh grated coconut
3/4 cup thoor dhal
2 tsp oil
4 tsp ghee
½ tsp mustard seeds
½ tsp cumin seeds
Leaves from 2 stalks of fresh curry leaves
12 shallots, peeled and halved
1 tomato finely chopped
50 gms finely chopped, de-seeded capsicum
1 tsp sambar powder
1 tsp coriander
¼ tsp turmeric powder
A pinch of asafoetida
50 gms each carrots & beans,
15 gms tamarind, soaked in about a cup of boiling water and set aside
Salt to taste
Boil some water in a large sauce pan, and when the water is bubbling, drop the florets in so they’re covered. Leave them in for exactly five minutes. Remove and drain thoroughly in a colander.
Grate the cauliflower into rice-like bits either in a food processor or by hand.
Soak the dhal in about two cups of water for say, ten minutes. Cook on a low fire till soft and mushy. Set aside.
The dry masala:
Dry roast all the ingredients and take them off the flame before the coconut burns. Cool and then grind into a coarse powder.
In a large pot, heat the oil and the ghee together. Add the mustard and cumin seeds stirring till they all pop. Add the curry leaves and the asafoetida, fry for a bit.
Now add the shallots and fry them till they’re brown but not burned. Add the squooshy veggies (the tomatoes and the capsicum) and fry for a bit.
Then add the sambar powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder, stirring and frying till the masala looks well incorporated.
You’re ready for the carrots and beans which you’ll fry till they wilt.
Then add around 4 cups of water and bring the veggies to a boil. Cover and simmer for a while until the veggies are all well cooked.
Add the soaked dhal, the tamarind water and stir.
Now add the dry masala, stir again, adding a little more salt than you normally would (since the cauliflower will be added later). Seal the pressure cooker and wait for two whistles.
Open the lid carefully and stir the mix well, checking for salt. Since this is a ‘gooey’ dish, make sure there’s enough water so that once you add the cauliflower, it doesn’t all dry out.
Now slowly add the cauliflower stirring constantly until it’s all gone.
Wait till it cools down a bit before serving.
You can add an extra teaspoon of ghee on top to give it that zing.
Aside: Normally, you cook the rice and dhal together in the pressure cooker, but cauliflower falls apart if you cook it too much.
Tue, 9 Sep, 2014, Jayanthi Madhukar, Bangalore Mirror
We have heard of mock meats (soya disguised as chicken and bacon) but this one surely takes the cake. Singer Radha Thomas, in an attempt to stay off carbs, has been experimenting with cauliflower, using the vegetable in place of sooji, rice or even wheat. So, from upma (show in the picture), bisibelebath, biscuits, mashed potatoes, biryani, pongal and thaiyirsadham, Thomas’ disbelieving friends have been the targets of her covert floret operation. But no one’s complaining and the curd rice has even become a huge hit. Thomas, who has been writing down the recipes with an idea of bringing out a book later, uses 20 cauliflowers a week. That’s a feat in itself.
The very low carb and very delish answer to hunger pangs
When I get home from anywhere, I head straight to the fridge. I’m always hungry. Even if I’ve just eaten a meal.
So it has become very important for me to have something low in carbs, something guilt free, something that satisfies my hunger quickly so I don’t call Basha Stores (down the street) for home delivery of a tub of ice cream along with some salted cashew nuts.
I came up with this recipe and Bagya, my left-hand woman (yes, I’m left handed) and I have found ways to perfect the taste bit by bit, and each edit just makes it better.
You too can add more of something or cut something else down to change the taste. For instance, if you like the taste of blue cheese, you can add some to give it that uniqueness. Not everyone likes blue cheese… but I do.
Oh, and one more thing, you can substitute the raw peanuts with raw cashews or almonds or even walnuts. The taste will change accordingly, but cashews especially, taste yum. Of course, the cost will go up.
Carb count: Believe it or not each cookie contains about 1 gram of carbs. That’s it. And so you can wallop 10 of them with melted Gruyere and it’s not going to affect a thing!
You’ll get: 55 cookies!
– 200 gms raw cauliflower florets, steamed lightly
– 2 eggs
– 50 gms Romano cheese grated
– 50 gms raw peanuts (or almonds or walnuts)
– 50 gms buckwheat flour
– ½ tsp baking soda
– Salt to taste
Pulverise the peanuts (couldn’t resist the alliteration) in a food processor and once it’s nice and crumbled, the consistency of breadcrumbs, kind of, toss in all the other ingredients and spin around. It’s nice to have something to chew, so don’t make it too mushy.
Taste to see if it’s to your liking. Unlike sweet cookie dough, this ‘raw’ tasting may not be a great experience, but visualise the end product, all cooked and crispy. You may need to adjust for taste – according to what you like. More cheese?
Roll out the dough as thinly as you can and then using a cookie cutter or the cap of a bottle, make cookie-like circles.
When we’re in a hurry, we just use our palms to flatten out the cookies and plop them on the sheet and you get a sort of home-made cookie.
Grease a baking tray and lay out the cookies, spaced apart, and cook till brown. Flip them over till the other side is cooked too. It’s nice if a few of them are crunchy. Be sure to pay attention so they don’t get blackened and awful.
Should take about 10 minutes in a preheated oven, set at 180C.
Store in a jar.
These cookies actually keep for about 10 days. But I’ve never been able to leave them alone that long.
Nothing. Or some other kind of cheese, zapped in the micro for 10 seconds. Or liver pate. Or peanut butter. Or pickle if you’re feeling pickly.