When I was a kid, I used to read various literature intended for parents. Weird, right? Sure, I’d take a Highlights or a Zoobooks anyday, but if there wasn’t anything but Parenting magazine around? Yeah, hand that on over. I don’t know what my fascination was, though at that age I was pretty enamored with my mother, and must have enjoyed entertaining the idea of being as fabulous a parent as she one day, a desire that’s only strengthened as I’ve gained adult perspective. And while I’ve certainly forgotten most of the 100 ways to entertain babies at the grocery store, or 10 fall projects to do with preschoolers, one silly thing has always stuck.

Even now, I love the idea of fake food! Now, its not so much about candy masquerading as peas and carrots or mashed potato frosting, but about finding lower calorie options that can pass as the real thing. Enter, spaghetti squash, kelp noodles, mac&cheez, and one of my absolute favorites, cauliflower rice. Who knew that stir-fried cauliflower could taste just like fried rice? Try it for yourself in this great recipe. With its depth of flavors and wild colors, trust me, you won’t miss the rice!

Roasted Root Vegetables:

2 regular sized carrots, or 5-6 mini rainbow carrots, chopped into rounds
1 large parsnip
2 fingerling potatoes, chopped into chunks
1/2 large sweet potato, chopped into chunks
1 lotus root, peeled and sliced, then chopped.
(feel free to add additional root vegetables, like rutabaga, celery root, turnips, etc. this recipe is super versatile that way.)
2 tablespoons olive oil
Seasoning (a few shakes of each, you really can’t go wrong)
sea salt
garlic
rosemary
nutritional yeast

Almond Parmesan, via Oh She Glows. Recipe here.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the vegetables, olive oil, seasonings, and about half the almond parmesan. Transfer the vegetables to a large roasting pan, and roast for 40 minutes to an hour, stirring on occasion. You want the vegetables to be fork tender, but not mushy. Pull vegetables out, and toss with the rest of the Almond Parmesan. Set aside.

Cauliflower Rice Pilaf:

olive oil spray
1/2 yellow or red onion, cut into thin half-moon slices
5 crimini mushrooms, sliced.
salt
a splash of white wine, sake, or mirin
1/3 head cauliflower, pulsed a few times in a food processor until it resembles cooked rice.
a splash soy sauce
a splash apple cider vinegar
scallions, chopped, for garnish

Spray a nonstick pan with olive oil. Heat the pan till hot, then add the onions. Saute, stirring often, till they begin to brown and are starting to caramelize. If you’re like me and like the onions to maintain a bit of crunch, toss the mushrooms in early, and saute everything until the onions taste sweet, but aren’t completely soft. Otherwise, wait until the onions have really begun to break down before adding the mushrooms. Toss in the splash of wine or sake, and let it cook off. Then, add cauliflower, and stir fry until slightly browned. You want it to be sticking slightly to the pan, as it’ll become deliciously crispy as you scrape it off.

Toss root vegetables with cauliflower rice, and top with scallions. You’ve got a hearty fall dish that’s light enough to eat seconds or thirds. Enjoy!