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Mock mashed potatoes

I've tried several times with cauliflower and it just isn't the same as the real thing. Just saw this recipe that includes feta:


What are your low carb secrets for emulating the rich, creamy goodness of mashed potato. Or should I just give up on it?

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  1. i steam til VERY soft, then dump in the food pro. whiz a bit. then start adding olive oil, butter, cream, grated cheese, salt, etc. and whiz some more til it tastes "good". it does NOT taste like mashed potatoes, but is its own goodness. the truth is you cannot skimp on the fat and salt here.

    4 Replies
    1. re: hotoynoodle

      That's the trick, I think...you need the fat from the butter and cheese (I use cream cheese as monavano does, plus other cheeses) and you need more salt/pepper than with regular potatoes.

      1. re: hotoynoodle

        I agree that it needs salt but I find that I don't add much butter (and I'm not the least bit fat-phobic so I would in a heartbeat if I thought it needed it.) The trick for me is to put the pureed cauliflower in a shallow wide skillet on super low heat for quite a while (I do the cauliflower first and let it sit on the low heat while I'm cooking the rest of the dinner.) Stir often. Once the excess moisture has evaporated off it is thicker and richer, with a much more concentrated flavor, without needing to add much to it at all. I don't find adding stock or cream cheese necessary, though I'm sure both are good. Occasionally a sprinkle of Parmesan is nice if the flavor matches the other items you're making.

        1. re: weezieduzzit

          So puree with a stick blender or something in the skillet? My main issues with the cauliflower are excess moisture and grainy texture so your strategy might be helpful.

          1. re: tcamp

            I nuke it in a covered dish with just enough to steam it, so not waterlogged, and drain it very well both before and after pureeing before adding butter, s and p.

      2. I almost prefer cauliflower puree to mashed potatoes at this point.
        As posted, steam until very tender, and whiz up in a FP with milk, chx stock, salt, cheeses- cream cheese even.

        3 Replies
        1. re: monavano

          Me too, I'd definitely choose them over mashed potatoes. I was thinking about Thanksgiving (who does that in July?) and pondering how to jazz them up for the holiday.

          1. re: fldhkybnva

            I got them very thick a few nights back and then stirred goat cheese through and they were awesome. I would totally serve that at a holiday dinner.

          2. Fauxtatoes! :-) The original recipe invented, I believe, by a women on usenet named Debbie, called for cream cheese, too. I just use butter, s and p. A small Idaho potato skin and all added to a whole head of cauli makes it almost identical to the real thing, but I don't tolerate the spud well glucose wise.

            The original: http://www.cookingcache.com/fauxtatoe...

            1. Cream cheese is something I have not tried yet. I will do some more experimenting with different cheeses and butter. Thanks!

              1. Forget the cauliflower. Soak large dried lima beans in water, then slightly overcook them, so many of the skins are splitting. Drain and mash, adding dairy or broth. Season to taste. This will give you more of a "smashed potato" texture. If you want smooth, run them through a food mill rather than mashing.

                I defy anyone to detect a difference in taste/texture from potato. It should be noted that large dried limas are what in canned form are sold as butter beans. The smaller, green lima is NOT what I am using for fauxtatoes.

                6 Replies
                1. re: greygarious

                  At 39 grams of carbs per cup lima beans are a poor sub for cauliflower when the objective is eating low carb, as the OP is. Heck, they have more carbs than potatoes do (26g per cup and cauliflower at 5g per cup.)

                  1. re: weezieduzzit

                    But legumes are slower-digesting, so they don't affect blood sugar as much as potatoes. Not to mention the extra protein in beans.

                    1. re: greygarious

                      They are said to be slower digesting, but all I can say is they spike my blood glucose just as badly.

                      1. re: greygarious

                        As a non-diabetic who eats low carb I'll just say that lima beans would be very very low on the list of foods to eat- there are too many other veggies that I could eat a much larger amount of for less carbs and much more beneficial ways to incorporate protein. They would be completely out of the question if I were still eating keto.

                        1. re: weezieduzzit

                          I guess compared to mashed white potatoes, they are an improvement, though.

                          But yeah, I don't have to portion control cauli, would have to severely limit lima bean puree.

                    2. re: greygarious

                      You truly couldn't pay me to eat lima beans in ANY form. UGH :( But cauliflower as faux-potatoes are great.

                    3. I've found it'll never be as "thick" as real mashed potatoes no matter what I do, but it sure tastes good with cream cheese/heavy cream/garlic powder/Parmesan cheese/lots of salt and pepper.

                      3 Replies
                      1. re: kathryn

                        Me too.
                        It's more puree than mash, but that silkiness works nicely in many applications- such as a bed for my veg and meat.

                        1. re: monavano

                          Yes, that and our favorite with pot roast and other braises, rutabaga puree.

                        2. re: kathryn

                          I drain and blot it, have to do the same with white turnip puree. It can be thick like spuds, but with a bit more effort. By nuking it with just enough water in the bottom to steam it, I start out with it a bit drier, too.

                        3. I have been experimenting with the ideas and benefits about resistant starch. Cooking the grain al dente, putting it in the fridge, then using it room temp. I really liked using 1/2 cup of cooked and cooled millet, processed in with a cauliflower mash, in the FP. Changed the texture nicely and mellowed out the "cruciferous" taste so it was more "potato esque". Very nice. Some diabetics claim that using resistant starch this way is actually beneficial for their blood sugar. I am not diabetic so YMMV.

                          7 Replies
                          1. re: sedimental

                            I wish! My meter says that for me, starch is starch is starch, is sugar. No starch is ever beneficial for blood sugar, but some may be less damaging to some diabetics. Not worth the risk, IMO, though.

                            1. re: mcf

                              Have you read any of the research on resistant starch, retrograded amylose? The positive results for diabetics looks promising. There are many diabetics trying it out with their meters. I am looking into it for gut health, however. I like the results for me.

                              Of course, I am not talking about starch, but resistant starch, digested differently.

                              1. re: sedimental

                                Why on earth would adding starch be a positive for diabetics as compared to not having any?

                                Maybe when a cup of starch is as delicious and nutrient dense as a pile of grilled veggies... and not being peddled to try and save corrupt agribusinesses.

                                I use one product, very rarely, that has resistant corn starch in it, but because it's a lot of calories for very little nutrition and because eating carbs causes carb cravings, and I don't get carb cravings thanks to a healthy diabetic diet (extremely low starch and high veggies) I don't eat it more than a few times a year.

                                Don't confuse lower glucose from manufactured foods with benefits; it still takes the place of genuinely nutritious foods. If you want lots of gas and more gut health, eat Jerusalem artichokes. ;-)

                                1. re: mcf

                                  Your point on carb cravings is very good. I can't blame you for dismissing research funded by National Starch and scattered anecdotal evidence.

                                  Going against conventional advice, this guy controlled his blood glucose with a very low carb diet, without medication. Crazy, huh? I guess this is the type of person that would experiment on himself with raw potato starch. He blogs about it, here:


                                  1. re: johnseberg

                                    Yes, I've seen that. I've been keeping my glucose under 120 virtually all the time for over a decade with no diabetic meds.

                                    I also completely reversed long standing advanced kidney damage and severe peripheral neuropathies after many years of undiagnosed diabetes.

                                    Using just a meter and diet. The longer I eat very low carb, the less I react to the occasonal off plan excursion. And by doing it without starches, my diet's nutrient density has done up enormously.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      I didn't launch the medical tangent! (for once!).

                                  2. re: mcf

                                    We know it's tough not to get too far along on medical tangents here, but we do try to keep this board focused on sharing food advice, not medical advice, so we've removed some posts here. Sorry about that!

                            2. Cauliflower never tasted like potatoes before, so I don't know why people expect them to now just because they puree them. And they're both white. So's a turnip, and it's not going to taste like a potato, either.

                              I love pureed cauliflower, as well as steamed, grilled or roasted. I love turnips, too.
                              If I look for a new recipe for preparing either one of them mashed or pureed, I stay away from any recipe that says 'mock mashed potatoes'.
                              As several posters here have said, any combination of butter, cheese, sour cream and/or cream cheese enhances cauliflower's flavor, but none of them are going to made it a different vegetable.

                              6 Replies
                              1. re: kitchengardengal

                                I agree. It is not fake anything, but real cauliflower.

                                1. re: magiesmom

                                  Agree, too.
                                  It's cute to call it fauxtatoes or whatever, but for me, it's a similar experience to whipped potatoes.
                                  Not so much the taste, but the application and texture are similar, and I find myself grabbing a head of cauliflower instead of a handful of potatoes quite often now.
                                  Also, I adore that I can knock the dish out early and get the prep, cooking and clean up out of the way.

                                  1. re: monavano

                                    You can *really* cut down on cleanup, too, if you do it with a bit of water in a microwave safe covered dish. Especially if it's one you can use a blender stick in. And they make great leftovers.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      I haven't tried steaming in the micro yet.
                                      I start my pot with steamer insert.
                                      Quarter head.
                                      While it steams, I set up my FP and get additional ingredients.
                                      Dump into FP, blend and place in bowl.
                                      Cover and refrigerated for later.

                                      I haven't tried the immersion blender- I'll give the micro/immersion blender method a whirl next time.

                                      1. re: monavano

                                        I nuke it whole, 12-15 minutes depending on size, blend in the dish with add ins, chill or serve and done.

                                        I will give it some time on a towel, whole or broken or blot if it seems very wet.

                                        I am One Lazy Cook.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          I'm with you- when I can knock out the better part of the meal/prep early, and clean, I feel so much better than starting to tackle the task after 5pm.

                              2. My family LOVES cauliflower puree. But, I don't pretend that it's mashed potatoes--it's not gonna taste like potato :)

                                My current method us to do 1/2 my cauliflower in a steamer and 1/2 in the microwave. I want the microwave part to be dry, so I skip adding water. It's normally getting shriveled & brown on top by the time I finish. I hand mixer them together with plenty of salt & some garlic. No dairy, so a bit of almond milk or water from my steamer as needed.
                                We serve it with steaks & it gets requested. I may have hidden the leftovers last time I made it... ;)

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: Ama658

                                  Cauliflower puree has become our favorite side for our "steakhouse" dinners.
                                  It holds its own, IMO.

                                2. I've only made them once so far because I always thought they'd be horrid! They're not... I used cream cheese, sour cream, garlic powder and onion powder and they were pretty good. But the cream cheese is too much for my digestion (I'm lactose-intolerant!) Can you make the many good without it? Our low-carb diet seems to be leaning heavily towards cheese and I can only eat a tiny bit of it before I regret it.

                                  10 Replies
                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                    Do you take lactose supplements? Or probiotics? Both keep symptoms away for me. I actually have waxing and waning lactose intolerance based upon antibiotic taking and certain hormone levels. For the most part, though, the more aged or fermented the cheese or the yogurt the better off I am. You could try using really old Greek yogurt. I keep unopened yogurts in my fridge for months past the sell by date with zero spoilage and all the lactose is fermented out by then. Most of it is gone in the first 24 hours of fermentation, actually, but it slowly continues to be consumed even under refrigeration.

                                    1. re: mcf

                                      mcf, am curious about your supposition that commercial greek yogurt continues to ferment? i too ignore the sell-by dates but notice no difference in flavor or texture. however, my home-made kefir continues to change as it sits in the fridge. i am dubious about the viability of "active" cultures in store-bought fermented products.

                                      1. re: hotoynoodle

                                        It's not a supposition, I researched it long ago, after a fermentation biochemist I think it was, posted about fermentation rates and completeness in yogurts in a low carb group years ago. Not specific to Greek, but when I was severely lactose intolerant, I knew within minutes if a taste of yogurt was not fully fermented, but when older I could eat it no problem.

                                        Because if what he posted, I started buying the oldest containers and keeping them forever. Once opened, they go bad, but unopened, in my very cold fridge, dairy keeps for weeks and months beyond sell by dates, even cream and milk, unopened.

                                        I did find a reference somewhere long ago that it continues to ferment, but much more slowly, in refrigeration. But since most of it is converted in the first 24 hours of fermentation, that can be enough.

                                        ETA: just went looking around and found this article: http://lowcarbdiets.about.com/od/what... Most other discussions I've found have also referenced the 24 hour fermentation window as destroying most of the lactose.

                                        1. re: mcf

                                          interesting. because i have some fage here with a sell-by date of january, lol, and it tastes no different to me than newer stuff. will do some google-fu. thanks.

                                          1. re: mcf

                                            The Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) makes use of "24-hour yogurt" as a way to introduce probiotics without lactose. I've read that the 24-hour fermentation method is a quicker way to get the effect of letting yogurt age in the fridge for a long time.

                                            I successfully made 24-hour yogurt using information in this article:

                                            I have a good dehydrator, so, it was really easy.

                                        2. re: mcf

                                          I find lactose intolerance a pretty interesting subject.

                                          I once heard an explanation that indicated mammals are genetically wired to stop producing lactase after weaning. But, very recent genetic changes of certain human populations have had better evolutionary success by suppressing the expression. This is called lactase persistence.

                                          I also heard somebody in the biology field (quite casually) dismiss lactose intolerance as a simple lack of diversity of the individual's microbiome.

                                          I'm inclined to believe both things to be truthful.

                                          1. re: johnseberg

                                            Populations that did not historically drink milk lose the ability to digest lactose after childhood (eg Africans, Asians). Lactose intolerance is due to an enzyme deficiency not bacteria.

                                            1. re: johnseberg

                                              Lactose-intolerance is interesting... until you end up with the stomach cramps and intestinal distress from courting it! I'm lucky mine is relatively mild. I can eat yoghurt all day long, and most commercial icecream is fine, but I really have to watch it with cheese and milk. I don't like aged cheese, I only really enjoy the milder softer ones which have the most lactose in them, and which I can least eat. Cream cheese is a no-no, I presume because it's not fermented at all. I ADORE cheesecake with every fiber of my being, but it sure doesn't adore me! Sour cream is iffy and I eat it in extreme moderation but I don't have any problems with cottage cheese. And cream is completely out, even though it's technically not supposed to have any lactose IN it - I don't think I handle the milk fats very well either, because Indian food makes me ill the same way and it's got to be all the ghee... If I've been ill at all or on an antibiotic I have to be totally dairy-free, otherwise I cross my fingers and hope, and take a lactaid tablet if I remember...

                                              1. re: Kajikit

                                                cream has less lactose than milk, but certainly is not lactose-free.

                                                ghee is butter that has had the milk solids removed. most with lactose issues handle it just fine. HOWEVER, many cheap places are not using ghee at all but instead substituting cheap seed oils, like soy, which make many people sick. myself included.

                                          2. re: Kajikit

                                            you can use stock and olive oil in the puree and then just a sprinkle of grated romano or parm cheese as an accent to finish.

                                          3. It's not the real thing because it's not potatoes

                                            I love the stuff and make it often. Can't say it's much healthier since to make it taste great you need to use a fair amount of butter and I've had food success with the addition of cottage cheese. Gives it a rich milky flavor with out adding too much liquid which will thin it out.

                                            As much as I like it, when my kids were little I tried to fool them but they knew something was different when I presented it as mashed potatoes. I gave up trying to fool them to save credibility. I still like it but they want the real deal even though they are nearing mid to late 20s.