Cauliflower and CrossFit

crossfit clean woman

Okay, doing this whole 2014 CrossFit Games Open has been a real challenge for this runner who likes to cherry pick her WODs. I’m the one who won’t do the heavy squats because “I’m saving my legs for a race” or substitutes pull-ups for muscle-ups because “they are more fun and I can actually do them.” I’m made it through four of the open workouts with just one left this weekend, and let me tell you every weakness has been exposed –but my spirit hasn’t been broken.  For every double-under I tripped over and weighted lift I buckled under, I made up for with pretty-darn good abilities on the bar and lots of endurance. Really the failures (although I really can’t call them that) only put a burr in my britches to become proficient in the skill.  Check back next week for a full report on the whole experience.

thefitfork cauliflower

Now onto the food! If you’ve been on Pinterest or crossed paths with a Paleo food fanatic, you’ll well aware that the once neglected cauliflower has been elevated to king of the cruciferous vegetables.  This big white vegetable is no longer looked upon as your grandma’s cauliflower, boiled and bland. Today you’ll find smashed cauliflower, riced cauliflower, cauliflower in muffins, soups and curries – and even cauliflower pizza crust.

My kids think cauliflower looks like a human brain and I tell them that’s because it’s a really smart food to put on their plates. High in dietary fiber and low in calories, this versatile veggie is packed with beneficial vitamins (including vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese) that have antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

While you can get crazy with cauliflower, sometimes simple healthy recipes are the best. My recipe for “Oh Yes” Oven-Roasted Cauliflower will be gobbled up by everyone in the family, even the pickiest kids! Creamy and slightly sweet when roasted, my husband took a bite and exclaimed about it’s deceiving decadence — “it tastes like butter!”

baked cauliflower florets

“Oh Yes” Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Recipe

  • 1 large head cauliflower
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon garlic salt
  • ¼ cup fresh grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
  1. Preheat oven to 425 F degrees.
  2. Remove outer leaves from head and thoroughly wash cauliflower.  Use a knife and/or hands to break up cauliflower into approximate 1-inch pieces.
  3. Add florets into bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Sprinkle with chili powder and garlic salt; toss to distribute evenly.
  4. Place cauliflower on large rimmed baking sheet. Bake at 425 F degrees for 20 – 25 minutes, stirring once or twice, until beginning to turn light brown.
  5. Sprinkle with cheese and return to oven for 2 minutes. Remove from oven, sprinkle with parsley.

Serves 4.

Cooking Light always does a great job on making my favorite vegetables even more delicious. Check out this recipe  gallery that is blooming with 21 of their inspiring cauliflower recipes – you won’t know where to start!

cooking light cauliflower recipes

Hearty & Healthy | Ranch Panzanella Salad with Roasted Chicken

jennifer fisher litehouse panzanella plated

Winter is almost here and big salad for dinner might sound a bit out of season. However,  I’ve tossed together a fabulous entrée salad for Litehouse Foods that will have you crawling out of hibernation during the calendar’s cooler months. My Ranch Winter Panzanella with Chicken is inspired by bread salad renowned in the Tuscan region of Italy that most often features sun-ripened tomatoes, lettuce and basil drizzled with a vinaigrette. However, my sweater-weather version of this signature seasonal course includes chicken breast along with roasted winter vegetables caramelized to sweet, earthy perfection — and finished with a creamy Greek yogurt ranch dressing. Baby Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, red onions and spinach are all in the mix, but swap out or add to the robust medley with any favorite ingredient — most root vegetable will win raves.

jennifer fisher litehouse panzanella platter 1

Roasting vegetables is super easy. Coarsely chop up potatoes, squash, onions, Brussels sprouts, carrots or whatever hearty veggies you love and top with a drizzle of olive oil and a sprinkling of sea salt. Roast for 30 minutes in a 400 F degree oven, stirring halfway through.

thefitfork panzanella ingredients bowl big

Mmm, you don’t want to miss the full recipe for this salad. Visit the blog at Litehouse Foods for all the delicious details.


Ranch Winter Panzanella with Chicken


  • ½ loaf (about 8 ounces) day-old French or Sourdough or Rustic bread (cut into 1” cubes)*
  • 4 Tbsp olive oil (divided)
  • 4 Tbsp dried Italian Herb Blend (divided)
  • 2 teaspoons coarse sea salt (divided)
  • 1 10-oz package frozen cubed butternut squash
  • 1 lb fresh baby Brussels sprouts (halved)
  • 1 large red onion (peeled and cut into 1” chunks)
  • 1 lb pre-cooked chicken breast (cut into large chunks)
  • 1 cup packed fresh spinach leaves
  • ½ cup Greek-yogurt based or light Ranch Dressing


1. Preheat oven to 400 F.

2. Add bread cubes to large bowl. Drizzle with 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and sprinkle with 2 tablespoons of the Italian Herb Blend and 1 teaspoon of the salt.

3. Toss together to coat bread. Spread out on rimmed baking sheet and bake uncovered for 10 minutes, stirring once halfway through. Remove from oven to cool on paper towel. Keep oven heated.

4. In large bowl, add cubed squash (okay if still frozen), Brussels sprouts, and onion. Drizzle with remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil and sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons Italian Herb Blend and remaining 1 teaspoon salt. Dust off crumbs from crouton baking sheet and spread out vegetable mixture in single layer. Roast uncovered in 400 F degree oven for 30 minutes, stirring gently halfway for even cooking.

5. Remove vegetables from oven and let cool down for approximately 15 minutes. Add prepared bread croutons, cubed chicken and spinach to pan; toss together. Transfer to serving platter and drizzle with Ranch Dressing or serve on the side. Best served warm or at room temperature.

*tip: frozen French bread is very easy to cube


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