[Perfect bite-sized snack, appetizer or side dish, these Cauliflower Tots with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce are vegan, sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, and low glycemic. Suitable for all stages on an anti-candida diet.]
Those of you who’ve been following me for a while may already know that my mom died fairly young (at age 62), from complications of type 2 diabetes. She suffered three heart attacks in five years, and at the end of her life, both her heart and her kidneys failed.
I feel incredibly lucky to have been able to spend most of that final summer by my mom’s hospital bedside in Montreal, shuttling back home to Toronto once every few weeks (basically to reconnect with my then-husband).
I’ll always be grateful for that one-on-one time together. Mom and I talked a lot, sat in silence a lot, held hands a lot, and left virtually nothing unsaid. Once it was all over, I left Montreal grieving and exhausted, but certain that she knew how much I loved her. That closeness and the intimacy of our talks is something I cherish daily.
But another memory I still carry with me is the stark and arresting vision of how my mom’s body slowly declined and began to fail her as her diabetes progressed. Seeing that slow deterioration motivated me to stick with my own sugar-free diet, and to work consistently on maintaining my health.
I didn’t know it then, but there’s a clear connection between my mom’s type two diabetes and her failing kidneys.
In fact, everyone with type 2 diabetes is at increased risk of kidney disease, along with those who have high blood pressure; people of Aboriginal, Asian, South Asian, Pacific Island, African/Caribbean and Hispanic descent; and anyone with a family history of kidney disease (my grandmother also died of kidney disease, as it turns out).
Because of my mom, I’ve had my blood glucose levels tested annually since I was a teen. In recent years, I’ve also begun to monitor my own kidney health to ensure they continue to work well (especially since, along with filtering and removing toxins and other waste from the body, our kidneys regulate fluids, salt and minerals in our bodies; release hormones to regulate blood pressure; and prompt red blood cell production).
At the time of my mom’s death, our family knew nothing about these connections. It turns out that up to 50% of the approximately 3.5 million Canadians living with type 2 diabetes may already have some kidney damage associated with the disease. Plus, medications may not work as well once that happens, so it’s imperative to check with your doctor to see where you stand.
If you do have type 2 diabetes, ask your doctor to test your kidney function at least once a year to ensure that these vital organs haven’t been damaged. It’s an easy test (both blood and urine), something you’re likely doing anyway at your regular checkups.
And if you haven’t been diagnosed with diabetes, be sure to ask for the appropriate tests to confirm if your blood glucose levels are still normal and healthy (as I’ve done for the past 40+ years).
Another step you can take is this quick online risk assessment quiz from the Kidney Foundation of Canada (the information is relevant whether or not you live here!).
The quiz took me literally one minute to complete, and the results indicated that I should definitely ask my doctor to test my kidney function next time I see her (not a huge surprise to me). I also found the written summary of my results to be extremely informative, explaining how each risk factor is associated with kidney disease.
It only takes a minute, and it can make a huge difference to your health. Take the quiz here.
If you have type 2 diabetes—or if you’re concerned about your own kidney health for other reasons–here are some ways to keep your kidneys content and running smoothly:
- Ask your doctor to assess your kidney function by checking urine, blood and blood pressure regularly
- Maintain your blood sugar levels within healthy boundaries
- Control high blood pressure
- Avoid smoking
- Find ways to exercise regularly
- Avoid excess alcohol (beware of the holidays!)
- Get enough sleep
- (If you have type 2 diabetes) consult with your doctor about treatments that control blood sugar and can be taken at all stages of kidney function
And what about the foods you eat?
It’s always a good idea to eat a generally healthy diet, which means a low glycemic, whole-foods diet supplying healthy fats, proteins and fiber. In addition, certain foods, such as berries, bell peppers, cabbage, and those listed below contain a wealth of nutrients and phytochemicals that are known to help support good kidney health.
I’ve used several of the most healthful choices in today’s recipe:
- Cauliflower. This superfood vegetable contains vitamin C, an antioxidant-rich vitamin, as well as folate and fiber. In addition, cauliflower contains indoles, glucosinolates and thiocyanates, all compounds that help the liver to neutralize substances that could damage cell membranes and DNA.
- Onions are rich in allicins, which are compounds that help to lower cholesterol and may support the circulatory system. Onions also contain flavonoids (especially quercetin), which can reduce the risk of certain cancers and heart disease.
- Garlic contains even more allicin than onions, and is also known as a powerful antimicrobial agent. Garlic also has anti-inflammatory properties, key for helping to manage many chronic conditions.
- Apples are known to reduce cholesterol, protect against heart disease, and even help reduce constipation. They’re also high in fiber and are anti-inflammatory as well.
- Cranberries. This seasonal, tart berry is a wonderful addition to a kidney-supportive diet. You may be familiar with drinking cranberry juice to help hasten the departure of a UTI (urinary tract infection), since they contain compounds that prevent bacteria from sticking to the bladder.
Put them all together, and you have this amazing recipe for Cauliflower Tots with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce.
Whether or not you have type 2 diabetes, it’s always a good idea to be kind to your kidneys and other organs of detoxification, since they perform such a critical job for the rest of you.
Do yourself a favor and take one minute to work through the online risk assessment quiz. Then, if you do find yourself in a higher risk category, speak to your doctor or other health care provider to find out ways to ensure your kidneys continue to work well for you through a long and healthy life.
Once you’re done, come back here and cook up some of these irresistible, sugar-free, grain-free health-supportive Cauliflower Tots, too.
Cauliflower Tots with Sweet and Sour Dipping Sauce
These tots are the perfect finger foods: low glycemic, grain-free and allergy-friendly, they’re small enough for a pre-dinner bite and also nourishing enough to stand in for a main dish when necessary. I don’t often eat cauliflower on its own, but I absolutely adored these little bites. They offer a pretty presentation for your party table, too.
For the Sauce:
1/2 lb (227 g) fresh or frozen cranberries
2 medium apples, cored (peel if using green-skinned)
1/2 cup (120 ml) water
2 Tbsp (30 ml) fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp (15 ml) apple cider vinegar
2 tsp (10 ml) lemon zest
Pinch fine sea salt
For the Tots:
1 medium cauliflower, cored, trimmed and cut into florets
1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
2 Tbsp (30 ml) extra virgin olive oil
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole psyllium husks (see note)
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) fine sea salt, or to taste
Up to 1 cup (240 ml) vegetable broth or stock
For the coating:
1-1/2 cups (250 g) natural raw almonds, with skin
1/3 cup (80 ml) coconut flour
Fine sea salt and pepper, to taste
3 Tbsp-1/4 cup (45 ml-60 ml) virgin coconut oil, as needed
Make the sauce: in a high-speed blender, combine all sauce ingredients until pureed. Transfer to a medium pot and heat over medium heat until the mixture begins to bubble. Lower heat to simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the volume decreases by about half and the sauce is thick, glossy, and deep crimson. (If you have a splatter screen, this is a perfect time to use it). Allow to cool to room temperature before serving with the tots. Sauce can be made ahead and stored in the refrigerator for up to 5 days. Bring to room temperature before serving.
Make the tots: Preheat oven to 350F (180C). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a large food processor, pulse the cauliflower and onion until they resemble coarse crumbs (you may need to do this in batches). Transfer to a large nonstick frypan and drizzle with the oil; sprinkle with salt and mix well.
Heat over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower has softened and become slightly translucent (but not brown), 10-12 minutes. Turn off heat and set aside until cool enough to handle. If it begins to brown before it softens, add about 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the broth, stir, lower the heat and cover the pan. Cook until the broth has evaporated (about 10 minutes) and the cauliflower is soft.
In the meantime, prepare the coating: wipe out the processor bowl with a dry towel or cloth (no need to wash it) and add the almonds, coconut flour, salt and pepper. Process until the mixture resembles breadcrumbs (avoid overprocessing to avoid turning into almond butter!). Add 3 Tbsp/45 ml of the coconut oil and pulse until incorporated. The crumbs should remain dry-looking, but stick together when pressed firmly between your thumb and fingers. If they don’t stick together, add the final Tbsp (15 ml) oil and pulse again. Pour about half the mixture onto a large plate (you’ll use the other half once this is gone) and set aside.
Shape, coat and bake the tots: Once the cauliflower mixture is cool enough to handle, transfer it into a large bowl. Sprinkle with the chickpea flour, psyllium seed and salt. Mix with your clean hands, squishing it to incorporate all the flour and until the mixture resembles a very moist “dough.”
Use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon to scoop mounds of the mixture. Shape into logs or small football-shaped pieces. Place about 4 at a time on the crumbs on the plate. Coat each tot with crumbs by holding it in your palm and pouring crumbs over it in your hand, then gently pressing them into the tot while you turn it over. Handle them gently, as they are fragile at this point! Replenish the crumbs on the plate as needed from the food processor.
Place the tots on the cookie sheets and bake until nicely browned, 35-40 minutes, rotating the sheets about halfway through baking. Serve warm or at room temperature with the dipping sauce. Makes about 3 dozen cauliflower tots. May be frozen. (Defrost overnight in a covered container, then reheat at 325F/170C for 15-20 minutes).
Note: If you don’t have psyllium or prefer not to use it, you can substitute an equal amount of ground flax seeds instead; however, flax will alter the color of the dough and your tots will be tan inside instead of white.
Suitable for: ACD Stage 2 and beyond; refined sugar-free, gluten-free, grain-free, dairy-free, egg free, soy-free, yeast-free, vegan, low glycemic.
Disclosure: This content was sponsored by the Boehringer Ingelheim-Lilly Canada Diabetes Alliance, but opinions stated here are my own.
Links in this post may be affiliate links. If you choose to purchase using those links, at no cost to you, I will receive a small percentage of the sale.
Subscribe for recipes and more about living well without sugar, gluten, eggs or dairy! Click here to subscribe to RickiHeller.com via email. You’ll receive emails sharing recipes and videos as soon as they’re posted, plus weekly updates and news about upcoming events. A healthy lifestyle CAN be sweet!