Creamy Cauliflower “Mac and Cheese”

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overhead shot of mac and cheese cauliflower in a white bowl with garlic and parsley

Roasted cauliflower is combined with a light, creamy goat cheese sauce for a low carb version of “mac and cheese”. This is one delicious way to get your kids (or let’s be honest, adults) to eat their cauliflower!

mac and cheese cauliflower in a white bowl on a towel with parsley on top

Aged Cheese as a Migraine Trigger

Everyone’s got that one thing that they miss the most when they start the Heal Your Headache diet. What’s yours? Is it avocado, chocolate, aged cheese, maybe red wine? Considering that the majority of the food bloggers on my Instagram might die if they left an avocado off their plate, I’m guessing the avocado!

I will say I miss avocado and have been trying to re-introduce it into my diet since I’ve been feeling quite good lately. But I think that most of all I miss a splurge on a good, creamy mac and cheese.

Obviously the best mac and cheese is chock full of aged cheeses, a top migraine trigger. The more a cheese is aged, the greater the tyramine build up. Some older studies confirm this, but levels of tyramine that can be consumed before a migraine occurs is highly individual. I seem to have no issue with leftovers greater than 72 hours, but some can’t even tolerate the build up in a stock that’s been simmered for 24 hours. We try to reduce the overall levels of tyramine in our diet the best we can. This is why it’s best to stay with fresh and young cheeses for migraine diets, especially in the beginning.

a wooden spoon stirring creamy cauliflower in a pan

Cauliflower Mac and Cheese Recipe

I’ve made this recipe a few times now and every single time someone has wanted seconds or even thirds. It serves 4 for a small side dish and 2 people for a larger side or main course. It’s super decadent without being too heavy, and it’s a breeze to make. A lot of the flavor comes from pre-roasting your cauliflower so don’t skip that step! It adds a wonderful nutty flavor to the entire dish and, in my opinion, makes cauliflower truly delicious. 

Finding an Additive Free Half-and-Half

Another thing to watch out for is what type of dairy you’re using. I find that organic half-and-half or milk can be the cleanest. You could easily use both in this recipe, but I prefer half-and-half because I’m already eating cauliflower instead of pasta. Duh. Often heavy cream will have carrageenan added to thicken the texture. You want to watch out for carrageenan especially, but other gums can be permitted if a cleaner alternative can’t be found. Check this post for all the hidden names for MSG. A few brands I like are Organic Valley and Horizon. 

You can also get away with using whole milk here, but I definitely wouldn’t use skim. You still want this sauce to be thick and creamy. 

What Broth or Stock to Use

If you want to make this recipe totally vegetarian, I recommend adding a vegetable stock. For those on a migraine diet, this is tough to find without MSG or other triggers in the store. The best one I’ve discovered is Trader Joe’s Hearty Vegetable, which does contain a small amount of onion. Fody also makes a spice that can be combined with water for the same effect. But making you own is also a great idea! If you’re not vegetarian, give this Instant Pot Chicken Stock a try (it can also be made in a slow cooker or on the stove).

cauliflower florets on a sheet pan

Selecting Goat Cheese for Creamy Cauliflower

For this recipe, you’ll want to use a plain goat cheese that’s not aged, like chèvre. If you like this recipe and ever want to mix it up, and herbed goat cheese would also work well. One of my favorites is from Vermont Creamery and is totally migraine-friendly as well. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we do! If you’re looking for more vegetarian side dishes, check out these recipes:

Vegetarian Migraine Diet Tips
Easy Potato Salad
Roasted Carrot and Farro Salad
Pasta Salad
Winter Rice Pilaf
Pomegranate Couscous

roasted cauliflower in a white bowl with parsley

5 from 2 votes
overhead shot of mac and cheese cauliflower in a white bowl with garlic and parsley
Creamy Cauliflower "Mac & Cheese"
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
35 mins
Total Time
45 mins
 

This recipe has a very light sauce to it. If you want to go heavy or have very large cauliflower heads, double the sauce. This serves 2 people large portions or 4 small portions.

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: American, Vegetarian
Keyword: Low carb, Mac and cheese cauliflower
Servings: 4 people
Calories: 240.63 kcal
Author: The Dizzy Cook
Ingredients
  • 1.5-2 heads of fresh cauliflower, cleaned and chopped
  • 2-3 tbsp olive oil *can also use butter
  • 3 peeled garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 shallot, peeled and chopped
  • 1/2 cup broth or stock of your choice
  • 1/2 cup half and half *can sub milk, but please don't go skim here!
  • 4 oz fresh goat cheese
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley
  • kosher salt and fresh cracked black pepper
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 450° F. Toss cauliflower florets with olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and garlic cloves. Spread florets on a baking sheet and cook for roughly 25-30 minutes. Be sure to toss your florets every 10 minutes to make sure they are browning evenly.

  2. About 10 minutes into the roasting, melt a small pat of butter or some olive oil in a large pan over medium heat. Add chopped shallot and sauté for 2-3 minutes. Add stock and half & half (or milk) and bring to a very low simmer. Be sure to NOT bring this to a boil. Cook until slightly thickened and reduced, about 5 minutes. A good way to tell if it's ready is to see if the mixture coats the spoon or leaves a path when you stir it. Turn heat to low and add the goat cheese until combined. The sauce should be creamy and thick enough to stick to the cauliflower. If you need to add more broth or half & half to thin it out, just add a tablespoon at a time. Season with salt & pepper if needed.

  3. Add roasted cauliflower to the pan and coat with the cheese sauce. Top with parsley and serve!

Recipe Notes
  • Use fresh unflavored goat cheese (chèvre) or give an herbed goat cheese a try, like from Vermont Creamery. 
  • Roasting the cauliflower is an important step, don't skip it!
Nutrition Facts
Creamy Cauliflower "Mac & Cheese"
Amount Per Serving (8 oz)
Calories 240.63 Calories from Fat 154
% Daily Value*
Fat 17.11g26%
Saturated Fat 7.41g46%
Cholesterol 24.23mg8%
Sodium 302.29mg13%
Potassium 734.72mg21%
Carbohydrates 14.43g5%
Fiber 4.64g19%
Sugar 5.21g6%
Protein 10.7g21%
Vitamin A 778.4IU16%
Vitamin C 110.39mg134%
Calcium 128.14mg13%
Iron 1.75mg10%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.

 

 

Alicia was diagnosed with Chronic Vestibular Migraine in 2016 and has been able to successfully manage her symptoms through medication, supplements, lifestyle changes, and the Heal Your Headache Diet by Dr. David Buchholz from Johns Hopkins. She's the owner of The Dizzy Cook.

5 comments

  1. Debi

    I am not a good cook and wondered what broth do you use? Do you make your own? 24/7 chrinic sufferer too. Trying to make it easy as i can. Thanks!

    Reply

    1. Alicia

      Hi Debi,
      I use the hearty vegetable broth from Trader Joe’s. It has a little bit of onion, but it doesn’t bother me. There’s this Pacific Bone Stock without onion or I sometimes like to make this one from Smitten Kitchen with shallots instead of onion. I cook it on high for 4 hours in the slow cooker. You can make it even faster in an instant pot. https://smittenkitchen.com/2013/11/perfect-uncluttered-chicken-stock/

      Reply

  2. Deborah Kilmer

    5 stars
    I made a version of this, using what I had on hand. The head of cauliflower I got from the farmers’ market was too small, so I added a bit of broccoli. I used leek greens instead of shallots, and my own homemade chicken stock. Used whole milk because I didn’t have half and half, but thickened it with a bit of local smooth fresh ricotta. What a treat!

    Reply

  3. Ambre

    5 stars
    Love this recipe! I use Boursin for the cheese !
    Thanks Alicia!

    Reply

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chicken breasts in a pan with cream sauce and tomatoes in a small white dish

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