Cauliflower Crackers with Seed Blend, Walnuts and Oats

I woke up Friday morning and started feeling the urge to cook all weekend. Because of course I’m the most exciting person around. 😉 I bought a bunch of vegetables, including a gorgeous head of cauliflower, to cut and roast ‘cauliflower steaks.’
The question is, what’s a good way to use the lots of cauliflower that breaks apart while slicing? There’s plenty of options, as pulsed cauliflower is a great substitute for couscous or rice. There are also inspiring twists, like this ‘bun’ recipe from My New Roots:

Cauliflower Buns & Bagels

I’ve made them, and they hold together wonderfully. I was also in the mood to make a seed-based bread, like this one from Oh She Glows:

Super Power Chia Bread (gluten-free)

I started wondering if I could find a way to make a cauliflower-based cracker applying similar principles. Chia and flax are terrific binding alternatives to egg (although that would work nicely too) and the ingredients together blended well with the seasoning for a wonderful flavor. 

I have tried this with veggies, hummus,  and cheese, and of course on their own, and ended up freezing the rest to stop myself from eating them all today! 

Hope you enjoy!


Cauliflower Crackers with Seed Blend, Walnuts and Oats

Copyright 2016 by Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)


Prep time: 10 minutes

Rest time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 20-25 minutes

Makes: 30 pieces



1 small or 1/2 head large cauliflower, cut into pieces
1/4 cup walnuts

2 tablespoon oats

1 tablespoon each garlic and chili powder 

1 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon each chia, flax and hemp seeds (if preferred, 3 tablespoon one of the three)

4-5 shakes from Tabasco (optional)




1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, place the walnuts and a few pieces of cauliflower. Pulse until they’re the size of rice or couscous. Place in a large bowl and continue pulsing the cauliflower in small batches.

2. Once complete, add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix completely. 

3. Let rest for 10 minutes, then spread out to 1/4-inch thickness on a parchment-lined baking sheet.

4. Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the mixture is golden and springs very slightly to the touch. 

5. Cut into one inch-by-one inch pieces and let cool completely. 

6. Store in fridge for up to one week or the freezer for up to three months.

Sesame-Crusted Cauliflower Steak with Spicy Sesame White Bean Ragu


After I finished roasting cauliflower with these flavors for the first time, my Mom and I ate it all like popcorn, and then went to the market to get two more heads of cauliflower to roast. The aromas in the house were so tantalizingly warm and savory we pretty much wanted to have some roasting all evening long. Enhancing these steaks is a white bean ragu with savory onions, toasted sesame seeds and a drizzle of a quick sesame-chili oil.


3 tablespoons sesame oil, to be used separately
2 tablespoons cold water
1 teaspoon toasted sesame seeds
2 tablespoons toasted sesame seeds, ground
1 small red onion
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes, to be used separately
1 teaspoon onion powder, to be used separately
1 teaspoon garlic powder, to be used separately
2 teaspoons salt, to be used separately
1-28 ounce can small white beans or cannellini beans
1 head cauliflower


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and set aside.

In a small frying pan, place all but 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes along with 1 tablespoon sesame oil. Warm on the lowest heat setting on your stovetop until you are ready to plate, swishing gently from time to time.

Take 2 tablespoons of toasted sesame seeds and grind in a spice or coffee grinder.

Rinse your cauliflower thoroughly, and remove the leaves. Firmly resting the cauliflower by its stem, carefully and slowly slice into the cauliflower top-down to create as many 1″ steaks as possible. Sometimes it breaks apart at the outer edges; its a brittle vegetable and the flavor works just as well for cauliflower pieces.

Arrange the steaks and pieces together on a parchment-lined sheet. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the sesame oil around the cauliflower and then gently rub it over each piece.

Combine the ground sesame seeds with 1/2 teaspoons of the onion and garlic powder, and 1 teaspoon of salt. Sprinkle half over the cauliflower, and then place the seasoned side face-down on the pan and sprinkle the other half.

Roast for 20 minutes, then flip the cauliflower steaks and pieces over and place back in the oven. Turn down the heat and roast at 300 degrees Fahrenheit for another 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, as the cauliflower roasts, dice your red onion and place it in a medium-size sauce pan along with the remaining 1 tablespoon of sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of the salt, the remaining 1 teaspoon of the red pepper flakes, 1/2 teaspoons of the onion and garlic powder, and the water. Cook on medium heat, stirring continuously for 5 minutes or until softened.

Drain and rinse the beans, and add into the pan. Stir gently to incorporate to keep the beans from getting too mushy, then bring to a boil, lower heat to medium-low, continue to cook for 5 minutes, and turn off the heat.

Once the cauliflower is done, remove from the oven. To plate, put a generous scoop of the beans down first, then top with cauliflower and sprinkle with remaining toasted sesame seeds.

Adventures in Teaching, Part Two: the Case of the Vivacious Vocabulary

I’m starting to think that I might be reading and watching more Perry Mason* than is useful, because I keep catching myself trying to come up with titles in the style of Erle Stanley Gardner’s stories.

Then again, anyone who has been a teacher before knows that anything that can get your students’ attention is worth doing, no matter how goofy, even if it’s starting class by singing ‘Best Day Ever’ from SpongeBob SquarePants.** Of course, in the case of the latter, even the toughest of my kids always join in by the end 😉

In this lesson, I was creating differing degrees of a vocabulary lesson that shows students’ understanding of key culinary terms. What you see pictured above are the three stages of a standard word search, each reflecting a new level of student knowledge and understanding.

In the first level, students simply search for as many words as possible as listed in the word bank. At the second level, students search for the words listed in the word bank, and then write out definitions. At the final stage, students still have to find and define the words, but unlike at the other levels, they receive only hints for the words but no word bank.

What I enjoy about this lesson is how easily one can adapt it to any subject with a simple word substitution, and how quickly one can start to gauge student vocabulary understanding.

Below is a link to the Excel-based files:

culinary word search-and-define with three levels of difficulty

If you use the files, please let me know the results!


* Perry Mason:

** ‘Best Day Ever’ from Spongebob SquarePants:

Spicy Sesame Vegetables


If I had to choose the foods I have grown to love with complete abandon, it would be vegetables. Crunchy and cold as a snack, sautéed or roasted warm but still holding a bite, puréed and served as comforting soup, even steamed and masquerading as spaghetti with my Mom’s homemade tomato gravy, vegetables make my day. Essentially, as championed in song and story, I embrace vegetables Truly. Madly. Deeply.*

Of course, any food, even a favorite food, gets boring really quickly if eaten the same way every time. Part of my puzzling over food is to address that issue, and to make it easier for me to stick to healthy habits.

The above-pictured veggies are part of breakfast on this chilly New England Winter morning, served with a gently fried egg for a filling start to my day. I love the smell of garlic and red pepper flakes cooking in a little oil, and in this case opted for sesame oil and its warm nuttiness.

This dish puts together well, and would make a great side for chicken or fish, tossed with pasta, in a pita half with slices of cheese or, as I did today, topped with an egg.

In the nutrition information below, you’ll see how the fat levels are high, despite the minimal amount used (the unfortunate trade-off for omega 3s and 6s) as well as the sodium levels. If you prefer or need to reduce the use of these ingredients, swap in water for most or all of the cooking oil, exchange another teaspoon of onion powder for the 1/2 teaspoon of salt, and you’ll still have a very tasty dish!

Spicy Sesame Vegetables
Copyright 2015 Lauren Bradford (aka The Food Puzzler)

Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Yield: 2 large or 4 side servings


1 tablespoon sesame oil
2 tablespoon water*
1 teaspoon veg oil
2 cloves sliced garlic
1 tablespoon red pepper flakes*
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 zucchini, diced
1 summer squash, diced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tablespoon sesame seeds, toasted


1. Add the oils/water, garlic and red pepper flakes to a medium-sized frying pan and warm on medium heat, stirring continuously to keep the garlic from burning.

2. After you start smelling the lovely fragrance, about three minutes in, add the remaining seasonings and stir to combine.

3. Add in the veggies and toss to coat. Turn up the heat and cook for three minutes on high, which helps brighten the colors and soften the texture of the veggies.

4. In a small frying pan, with no added oil, place the 1 tablespoon sesame seeds and toast on low heat until lightly golden. This should take a few minutes, so toss as you toast to keep them from scorching.

To serve, arrange the vegetables on a plate and sprinkle with the sesame seeds.


~ The song:
The story:

~ If you serve this dish right away, you won’t taste much heat from that amount of red pepper, but if you make it to serve later, the heat gets pretty intense. I like that much heat, but if you don’t, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes still gives lovely flavor.

~ I like to add a little water to oil when cooking garlic, as it helps keep the garlic from burning, and also releases the water-soluble flavors present in the garlic.



387 calories
25 grams carbs (8 grams fiber)
16 grams fat (22% of your RDA)
2 grams Saturated
7 grams Monounsaturated
9 grams Polyunsaturated
Protein 6 grams
Sodium 1,162 mg (48%)
Potassium 1,026 mg (28%)
Omega 3 fatty acids 40.5 mg
Omega 6 fatty acids 5576 mg
Vitamin A 21,383 IU (428%)
Vitamin C 113%
Vitamin B-6 35%


193.5 calories
12.5 grams carbs (4 grams fiber)
15 grams fat (11% of your RDA)
1 grams Saturated
3.5 grams Monounsaturated
4.5 grams Polyunsaturated
Protein 3 grams
Sodium 581 mg (24%)
Potassium 513 mg (14%)
Omega 3 fatty acids 20.25 mg
Omega 6 fatty acids 2,788 mg
Vitamin A 10,691.5 IU (214%)
Vitamin C 56.5%
Vitamin B-6 17.5%


96.75 calories
6.25 grams carbs (2 grams fiber)
7.5 grams fat (5.5% of your RDA)
0.5 grams Saturated
1.75 grams Monounsaturated
2.25 grams Polyunsaturated
Protein 1.5 grams
Sodium 290.5 mg (12%)
Potassium 256.5 mg (7%)
Omega 3 fatty acids 10 mg
Omega 6 fatty acids 1,394 mg
Vitamin A 5,345.75 IU (107%)
Vitamin C 28.25%
Vitamin B-6 8.75%