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Holidays can be treacherous times for anyone trying to shed weight…unless you’ve learned how to fill yourself up and fake yourself out with The Skinny versions of the foods you crave!

And if you’re craving mashed potatoes with your turkey dinner, or just want them as part of a simple supper, this is a recipe that delivers in taste and texture…but has only a fraction of the calories and none of the fat.

Mashed potatoes made with milk and butter can have as much as 200 calories a cup. But a cup of “mock mashed” made with nutrient rich cauliflower has less than 30!

I didn’t invent the brilliant substitution of cauliflower for spuds–that’s a trick I learned from The South Beach Diet years ago…

But by changing the cooking technique–microwaving the cauliflower rather than steaming it (which made it too wet!)–and using just a wee bit of Smart Balance Light Butter Spread and fat-free half and half, the dish is now quicker, easier, requires much less clean-up AND has much better flavor and texture..which means I can serve it to the pickiest of eaters!

Having this trick up your sleeve–as you cook, and as you serve your plate–will prove to you that by remembering just a couple of The Skinny Truths (Eat More Things That Grow and Fewer Things That Walk and It’s All About the Math), you can eat well, live large, while still losing weight!


1 medium to large head of cauliflower, chopped

1/2 t kosher salt (more to taste)

1 T Smart Balance Light Butter Spread

2-3 T fat-free half and half

Chop the cauliflower into small pieces, place in a microwave safe bowl and add 1/2 t of salt. (Do NOT add water!)

Cover with a plate and microwave on high for about 10 minutes.

Let stand, covered, for 2 minutes more.

Add the Smart Balance Light and use your immersion blender to puree.  Add in the fat-free half and half and blend until very smooth. Taste, adding more salt if needed, and serve.

Remember, if you want to lose weight, as you serve your plate, you want 80 percent of what you put on it to be vegetable and just 20 percent animal.

And this dish is a major secret weapon that will allow you to do that and still feel full and satisfied (and skinny!) at the end of your meal.

By the way, with mixed company at Thanksgiving (some already skinny, some heading that way), I always serve both real mashed potatoes and the mock mashed.

And, at the end of those meals these past few years, almost everyone prefers The Skinny version! And the only downside to that is that I have to toss a load of real potatoes down the drain and run out of left over mock mashed too soon! 🙂


About Lisa McRee

After 25 years as a local and network anchor, Lisa was just another American mother struggling, and failing, to lose weight. Finally, she cracked the code, and lost 30 pounds, quickly and for good, by doing what she loves: reporting, cooking and eating! The Skinny is the inside story on how she did it, and how you can, too!
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  1. Amy says:

    I don’t have a microwave, would it be possible to put the cauliflower in the oven (if so I’d have no idea how long for) or what would you suggest? Thank you in advance! I’m so excited to try these out 🙂

    • Lisa McRee says:

      Hi Amy, though I don’t do it often, I did try it several ways for another reader who had the same question. What worked best was grating the cauliflower (still damp from rinsing), tossing it with the salt in a Pyrex baking dish that you’ve coated with a wee bit of olive oil..(I used a 15 inch Pyrex for 1 large head of cauliflower.) Cover very tightly with foil and roast at 375 on the middle rack for no more than 30 minutes. (I baked Idiot Proof Wild Rice which takes an hour in the same oven.) Both turned out perfect. Just watch carefully and make sure it’s not on a low rack or you’ll get more browned cauliflower bits on the bottom edges.. (But, by the way, those are tasty, too!) Let me know how it turns out! xolmc

  2. Jenn says:

    What if you don’t have that blending purée tool pictured? What alternate cooking instrument would you recommend using? I want to try this recipe for this year’s Thanksgiving.

    • Lisa McRee says:

      Hi, Jenn…If you don’t have an immersion blender, just use a hand mixer or stand mixer that you would use to make regular mashed potatoes…they’ll work just as well. (I’ve never tried using a “potato ricer,” but I’d imagine it would work, too.) The real key is using a microwave instead of a steamer to cook the cauliflower. It’s much less wet and more potato-like that way. Let me know what you use and how it turns out! xolmc

  3. John says:

    Microwaving the cauliflower dry instead of steaming or boiling it seems to make the end-product more fluffy. I guess that’s because excess water doesn’t creep into the cauliflower and make it runny. Thanks for the recipe. My mashed cauliflower turned out great! If there were only a healthier alternative for the mashed potato gravy…

    • Lisa McRee says:

      So glad you liked it! I make it every week! Search for Grandmother’s Gravy on my site..it is a skinny version of the gravy you want that uses brown rice flour, smart balance light butter and fat free half & half to drastically cut calories. The key is using a tasty broth…and the shortcut is to use the Better Than Bouillon paste so YOU can control the intensity..
      Thanks for posting! xolmc

  4. I made these tonight for my husband and 23 year old stepson. My husband is ‘ok’ with totally healthy things, my stepson is NOT. So naturally, I didn’t tell them about the cauliflower switcheroo. My stepson was the first to go back for seconds… and thirds. My husband was next. It wasn’t until after they said I should make those more often that I gave up the ghost. My husband liked them more after that…. and I probably shouldn’t have told my stepson.. These are SO much easier than from-scratch mashed potatoes, and give you all the guilty mashed feeling, with none of the actual guilt!

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