Tag Archives: valentine’s day

My Nutritarian Diary: Cauliflower Béchamel Pasta with Kale and Shiitake Mushrooms


Cooking doesn’t have to be a chore this Valentine’s Day with this delicious pasta dish that is jam-packed with nutrition and flavor. It’s a perfect main course for individuals who are seeking a more plant-centric meal for their romantic evening.

The star of this recipe is the cauliflower béchamel sauce, which is typically a French white sauce made from flour and butter and milk.

Because the sauce’s main ingredient is cauliflower, it will be an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K, dietary fiber, omega-3 fatty acids, and so much more.  Not only that, the sauce in this recipe is very creamy, very low in fat, and a perfect complement to any pasta dish.

Should you choose to use the nutritional yeast the recipe calls for, which I totally recommend, the sauce will also have a kind of nutty, cheesy flavor, without the cheese! You can typically buy nutritional yeast in the health aisles of grocery stores in their bulk food section, near the rolled oats, wheat flour, and sugar substitutes. (Both Huckleberry’s and Fred Meyer in Spokane, Wash., carry this item.)

So, what are you waiting for? Let’s get cooking and let the romance begin!

Bechamel How To Collage

Cauliflower Béchamel Pasta with Kale and Shiitake Mushrooms

(Based on Cauliflower Béchamel from “Forks Over Knives—The Cookbook.” All alterations I made to this recipe are in italics.)


• 1 large head cauliflower, cut into florets (about 3 cups)

• Unsweetened plain almond milk, as needed

• 1 medium yellow onion, peeled and diced small

• 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I used 3 frozen cubes of Dorot Crushed Garlic)*

• 2 teaspoons minced thyme (I used ¾ tsp of dried thyme)

• ¼ cup finely chopped basil (I used 3 frozen cubes of Dorot Chopped Basil)*

• ¼ cup nutritional yeast, optional

• ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg

• Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

• ½ bunch to a whole bunch of kale, any variety, stemmed and chopped into bite-sized pieces

• 4 ounces of shiitake mushrooms, sliced with stems removed

• 8-10 ounces of whole wheat or gluten-free pasta

*You can buy this in the frozen vegetable section of Trader Joe’s. I think this is the most convenient and quickest way to get these “fresh” flavorings in a dish without having to buy fresh or without having to prepare it. (See picture)


Add the cauliflower to a large pot and add water to cover. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook until the cauliflower is very tender, about 10 minutes. Drain the excess water and puree the cauliflower using an immersion blender or in a blender with a tight-fitting lid, covered with a towel, in batches if necessary. Add almond milk, if needed, to achieve a creamy consistency (I typically will add about ½ cup of almond milk). Set the puree aside while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

Place the onion in a large skillet or saucepan and sauté over medium heat for 10 minutes. Add water or vegetable broth 1 to 2 tablespoons at a time to keep the onions from sticking to the pan. Add the garlic, thyme, and basil and cook for another minute. As I mentioned in the recipe ingredients list, I used three Dorot cubes of garlic, as well as three Dorot cubes of basil. You can add more or use less, depending on your tastes. Add the nutritional yeast (if using), nutmeg, and salt and pepper and cook for 5 minutes, or until heated through.

Add the onion-garlic mixture to the cauliflower puree and blend until smooth, adding more almond milk if necessary to achieve a smooth consistency. Set aside.

While you are cooking the pasta, sauté the kale and shiitake mushrooms in 1 to 2 TBSP of vegetable broth for about 10 minutes or until kale is wilted and soft. Continue to add broth to the pan to keep the kale and mushrooms from sticking. Also, salt (and season) the kale and mushroom mixture to your desired taste.

Combine the sauce, the pasta, and the kale and shiitake mushroom sauté mixture and heat through. Serve and eat!


Do you have any other vegetable combinations or uses for this sauce you’d like to share? Or do you have a plant-based main dish you recommend for Valentine’s Day? If so, please leave a comment! I would love to read what you have to say!



About Cassandra Benefield and My Nutritarian Diary

When I’m not working for FOX 28 and its parent company, Northwest Broadcasting Inc., as an executive assistant, I enjoy spending time reading about and experimenting with low-fat, plant-based recipes. After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives  and reading the book “Food Over Medicine: A Conversation That Could Save Your Life” by Pamela Popper and Glen Merzer, I was totally convinced that I needed to change the way I looked at food and how I ate it.

The purpose of My Nutritarian Diary, a www.myfoxspokane.com blog, is to deliver fantastic-tasting and nutrient-dense recipes that are sprinkled with dashes of nutritional wisdom each week for the Health-Conscious, Health-Adventurous, and Health Happy—at whatever stage they are in on their health journey.

The term nutritarian was first coined by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of #1 New York Times best-selling book “Eat to Live,” and it is how I classify my approach to eating a low-fat and mostly plant-based diet.

Valentine’s Day Around the World – Special Feature!

valentines-day-gift-ideas-onblack-bridal-bliss1Valentine’s Day is coming, and while here in the US we may exchange cards and gifts and candy and sexy lingerie (scandalous I know), in other countries they have their own special ways of celebrating this time of love. Such as in Japan, where guys and gals actually have TWO different days to celebrate. On February 14th the ladies give their guys gifts of dark chocolates – sometimes store bought but often made by hand to show just how much they care. Then on “White Day” – March 14th – it is the guys’ time to reciprocate by giving their gals white chocolates or cookies.

If you travel to South Korea on Valentine’s Day, you’ll be easily able to spot the couples in the crowds, as they’ll be wearing matching or similar outfits. They also celebrate in a similar fashion as Japan with chocolates to men on Valentine’s Day, white chocolates to women on White Day, and a “Black Day” (April 14th) where singles celebrate together by eating noodles.

While in America it is a day celebrated by lovers as well as family and friends, in countries such as Spain Valentine’s Day is only a day for those in love to exchange cards and gifts. In Taiwan it is a reversal of Japanese celebrations, with men giving their loves chocolate on Valentine’s Day and ladies giving their men chocolate on White Day. And in Finland it is known as Friendship Day and is celebrated by everyone by gifting cards and tokens of affection to all who are considered friends.

There are some parts of the world where celebrating Valentine’s Day is more age-specific. In places such as India and Nepal, boys and girls of college age and older are free to give gifts to each other on this day, while those that are younger are not supposed to do so. Many high school students make a game of sneaking love notes to one another on Valentine’s Day, however. Speaking of fun and games, in Norfolk, England they have Jack Valentine, who is much like Santa Claus in that he brings treats and presents to children on the eve of Valentine’s Day.

Wherever you are and however you choose to celebrate this year, we hope you have a wonderful Valentine’s Day filled with love and happiness and chocolate and fun!


– Mia V.




A Lady’s Guide to Valentine’s Day Gifts For Him


Struggling to find a good gift for your guy? Well don’t worry!  We’ve got you covered!  We’ve consulted with men all over the Inland Northwest in order to bring you the most definitive list of V-Day gift ideas!  Do you have more great suggestions for us? Leave them in the comments below or let us know on our Facebook or Twitter!


The first gift is kind of a given…guys need tee shirts!  They can never have enough!   But just because your dude is in some serious need of a closet conversion doesn’t mean you can’t benefit from it in the meantime!

slide_332342_3299973_freeYeah, I know, definitely not subtle!  But this guy in the picture is cool, relaxed, and totally rocking this tee, so who’s to say your guy wouldn’t do the same?!  Hey, don’t be afraid to give up your Ryan Gosling fangirl tee and wear a “this girl loves her husband” shirt in return!


While we’re on the subject of clothes, lets move into one of the most commonly given gift at Valentines Day…Pajamas.

Full-Bacon-SuitAnd ladies, you’re doing it wrong!  Boxers are passe! Your man wants bacon pajamas! You won’t need any grease to get him to slide into bed in this fashionable two-piece set!  They’re so popular, you can even pick them up at your local JCPenney!


41P2QThwE9L._SX335_This one speaks for itself.  What guy wouldn’t prefer ice cold shots of Jeager right from the comfort of his own home?  However, beware, this is tougher to get your hands on than a tickle-me-elmo on Christmas!  Your best bet is the original, but you can find a few bootlegged on other sites!



This next item is classy and casual. Whiskey Old-Fashioned Wet Shave Soap in a Jar is the perfect gift for the man who has everything…because we are pretty sure he doesn’t have whiskey-scented soap.


bottle-opener_300Finally, what man’s wallet would be complete without this handy (and adorable) bottle opener? You can get really creative and engrave one yourself, or get this one…it’s pretty cool! Follow the “FIND IT” link below to check out the website where we found this treasure for more fun and clever gift ideas!  Happy Valentine’s Day!


By: Natalya Lainhart