Loaded Cauliflower Casserole with Bacon, Smoked Cheddar, and Chives

The holidays are officially over, and for many people, this means that it’s time to start eating healthier. I certainly slacked on my clean eating in the past couple of months, so it’s definitely time to get back on the right track. The problem with trying to eat healthier after the holidays (at least here in New England) is that it’s REALLY COLD! When January hits and it starts to get super cold, I crave only one thing: COMFORT FOOD! 

My definition of comfort food is anything that’s deliciously rich, piping hot, and -you guessed it- comforting! When I think of comfort food, I often think of the foods that I enjoyed as a kid- everything from mashed potatoes, mac and cheese, and chicken noodle soup to warm chocolate chip cookies and hot chocolate with marshmallows. Actually, now that I think about it, anything that combines bacon and cheese also constitutes as comfort food- hands down. 

The problem with comfort food is that it is generally far from healthy, and after my workout last night, the craving hit me HARD. I’d love to claim that I was chopping wood in the snow or cross country skiing, but here in Rhode Island, we don’t even have snow right now. What we do have is a vicious wind chill that makes 20 degrees feel like 10, and my walk from the gym to my car was enough to make me crave comfort food.

Trying to combat my craving while remaining gluten / grain free and Weston A. Price approved, I suggested that we have steak, a green vegetable, and loaded potatoes for dinner. My boyfriend was on board until he remembered that twice baked potatoes usually take close to 2 hours and we were already starving. He suggested cauliflower -and dare I say it- his suggestion was genius! Cauliflower is the perfect vessel for my favorite cheese -smoked cheddar from Sugar Bush Farm (VT)- and bacon, which basically equals the ultimate comfort food creation. Better yet, cauliflower is ready in half the time, it’s far more nutrient dense, and it’s easier to digest!

casseroleblog400Loaded Cauliflower Casserole
5 pieces bacon
1 head cauliflower, chopped
1 bunch chives, finely chopped
1 cup smoked cheddar, shredded
1/2 cup heavy cream
sea salt, to taste
black pepper, to taste 

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and begin to boil water in a pan large enough to blanche the cauliflower. Once the water has boiled, add the cauliflower and cook until slightly tender- about 3-4 minutes. Drain cauliflower and set aside. Cook the bacon until crisp, remove from pan, and set aside. Add the bacon grease to a glass casserole dish, and then add the heavy cream, about 2/3 of the shredded cheese, and 2/3 of the finely chopped chives. Toss lightly to combine. Crumble 4 of the 5 strips of bacon into the dish and then set aside the remaining piece. Add the cauliflower to the dish, and then stir to combine. Cook for about 30 minutes and then remove the dish from the oven and stir thoroughly. Top the casserole with the remaining cheese, crumble the remaining piece of bacon on top, and then return the dish to the oven. Spike the oven temperature to 400 degrees and cook until the cheese is lightly browned and the sauce is bubbling- about 5 more minutes. Remove the dish from the oven, garnish with remaining chives, and enjoy!

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