People who are on diets that restrict the intake of starches and carbohydrates often find that they miss eating mashed potatoes yet find that cauliflower mashed potatoes are an acceptable substitute for the real thing. Recipes for cauliflower mashed potatoes don't typically include potatoes, but instead prescribe puréeing cooked cauliflower in a blender or food processor so that it takes on the texture of real mashed potatoes. Recipes typically also prescribe adding various other ingredients, such as cream cheese, butter, and chives, to improve the taste of the cauliflower and create a dish that tastes much like traditional mashed potatoes. Aside from the carbohydrate issue, one advantage to cauliflower mashed potatoes over genuine potatoes is that cauliflower is more nutritionally dense than white potatoes, making the dish a healthier option.
In many countries, including the United States, mashed potatoes are regarded as a staple comfort food. People enjoy eating mashed potatoes with a variety of toppings, including gravy, cheese, and various herbs, and it is a common side dish at holiday meals. Mashed potatoes are also used as a crust in various types of meat pies and can be made into cakes that are then pan-fried so that they become crispy on the outside. Unfortunately, mashed potatoes have 35 grams of carbohydrates per 1-cup (210-gram) serving, which is simply too high for many people who must control their carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate counts for cauliflower mashed potatoes vary according to individual recipes, but can be as low as 6 grams of carbohydrate per serving, 3 of which are fiber grams, which can normally be subtracted from carbohydrate counts.
Recipes for cauliflower mashed potatoes vary according to the dietary preferences and personal tastes of cooks and recipe creators. Low-carbohydrate dieters are typically more concerned about keeping carbohydrate counts down, while individuals who are on paleo diets may choose to avoid the use of dairy in their cauliflower mashed potatoes, instead using olive oil in the purée. The foundation for these recipes is a generous portion of cauliflower that has been cooked, usually by stovetop or microwave steaming, until it is tender. Some recipes call for the addition of other vegetables, such as leeks, while others may suggest the addition of low-carb potato substitute mixes. Other items that may be used for texture include cream cheese, milk, or heavy cream. Cheese, garlic, and other herbs are other popular additions to the dish.