Buffalo Cauliflower Recipe, Spotlight on Hot Sauce, Cornstarch Versus Flour, How to Avoid Long COVID and Get Help for “Tech Neck”
Looking for a fun and fabulous option for your next meatless Monday or a zesty snack when friends come over? A platter of Buffalo wings made with cauliflower checks all the boxes, plus you’ll get the nutrients of one of the healthiest vegetables and all the benefits of olive oil in the hot sauce. I love it when improving on a good recipe makes it more delicious as well as better for you. Small changes like this really add up. That’s particularly important in view of a new study on long COVID, detailed below, that serves as a great reminder of why taking care of your health pays dividends.
Buffalo “Wings,” Cauliflower Style
- Buffalo “Wings” Cauliflower Style
Chicken wings and cauliflower have one thing in common: They take on the flavor of whatever delicious ingredients you lavish on them. Now, here’s what they don’t have in common: similar nutritional benefits—cauliflower wins that game hands down. But nowhere is it written that good for you can’t taste good to you as well. This refresh of Buffalo wings will convince you.
- 1 large head of cauliflower
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
- 1-1/2 teaspoons ancho chile powder
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 1/4 cup your favorite hot sauce
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- Optional: blue cheese dip and celery sticks
Place one of your oven racks in the bottom third of the oven and preheat it to 425°F. Line a large rimmed sheet pan with parchment paper.
Cut the cauliflower into large florets with as much of the stem as possible intact to give them the look of wings. Transfer to a large bowl, including any cauliflower bits. In a small bowl, whisk together the cornstarch, the garlic and ancho chile powders, and the black pepper, then whisk in two tablespoons of olive oil. Pour the mixture over the cauliflower and toss to coat.
Arrange the cauliflower pieces on the sheet pan without crowding them and bake for 10 minutes. Take the sheet pan out of the oven and flip the cauliflower pieces. Bake for another 10 minutes.
Meanwhile make the Buffalo sauce: whisk together the hot sauce, the remaining olive oil, the lemon juice, and minced garlic in a small bowl, and set aside.
Take the cauliflower out of the oven, flip each piece again, and brush with the Buffalo sauce. Return to the oven for a final 10 minutes or until browned and crispy. Serve while still warm.
Yields 4 servings
Healthy Ingredient Spotlight
Tapping into Hot Sauce
For a quick jolt of heat, hot sauce can’t be beat. Unlike most bottled sauces, it has just a few ingredients, and just a few drops can elevate a dish rather than drown out its other flavors.
In its purest form, hot sauce is a mix of one or more varieties of chile pepper, vinegar, and spices designed to impart a zesty, slightly smoky flavor (with barely any calories). Frank’s Red Hot, the brand that, legend has it, started the Buffalo wing craze, adds only salt and garlic powder to its base of cayenne, vinegar, and water (if you’re watching your salt intake, don’t overdo it).
Beyond good taste, hot sauce may be good for you. Tons of research has looked at capsaicin, the compound that gives chiles their heat. It has significant anti-inflammatory effects that help ease pain.
Quick Kitchen Nugget
Cornstarch vs. Flour
Cornstarch, a popular thickening agent in certain cuisines, is an unsung hero in many US kitchens, with many cooks relying on flour to thicken dishes and coat foods. Both flour (from wheat) and cornstarch (from corn) are starches, but there are differences, starting with the fact that cornstarch is gluten-free, important to many people. Cornstarch easily blends into a small of amount of water to make what’s called a slurry that can then be added to soups or stews, for instance, without the fear of lumps and without altering the dish’s taste.
When you want to bake rather than deep-fry a food, cornstarch will brown and crisp it better than flour. And for those times when you want to deep-fry, it creates a crispier coating so the food absorbs less cooking oil.
For Your Best Health
Avoiding Long COVID
With COVID-19 likely here to stay, it makes sense to do all you can to minimize its effects should you get it (or get it again). According to a study led by researchers at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and published in February 2023 in JAMA Internal Medicine, women who followed most aspects of a healthy lifestyle, including maintaining a healthy body weight, not smoking, engaging in regular exercise, getting adequate sleep, eating a high-quality diet, and consuming moderate amounts of alcohol, had about half the risk of long COVID compared with women without any healthy lifestyle factors. (Long COVID is known for causing fatigue, fever, and a variety of respiratory, heart, neurological, and digestive symptoms.)
“With ongoing waves of COVID-19, long COVID has created a serious public health burden. Our findings raise the possibility that adopting more healthy behaviors may reduce the risk of developing long COVID,” said Andrea Roberts, PhD, MPH, a senior research scientist in the department of environmental health at the Chan School and senior author of the study.
The researchers analyzed data from more than 32,000 female participants in the Nurses’ Health Study II who reported on their lifestyle in 2015 and 2017 and reported their history of SARS-CoV-2 infection from April 2020 to November 2021. More than 1,900 participants contracted COVID-19. Among them, 44 percent developed long COVID. Compared to women without any healthy lifestyle factors, those with five or six factors had a 49 percent lower risk of long COVID. A healthy body weight and getting seven to nine hours of sleep every night were the health factors most strongly associated with lower risk. The results also showed that, even among women who developed long COVID, those with a healthier pre-infection lifestyle had a 30 percent lower risk of having symptoms that interfered with their daily life.
According to the study, one possible explanation is that an unhealthy lifestyle is associated with increased risk of chronic inflammation and immune dysregulation, which have been linked with increased risk of long COVID. “In the past decades, scientists have accumulated evidence that healthy lifestyle is good for overall health. However, in the US for example, 70 percent of the population do not have a healthy body weight and 30 percent do not sleep enough. Findings from this study suggest that simple lifestyle changes, such as having adequate sleep, may be beneficial for the prevention of long COVID,” said lead author and nutrition fellow Siwen Wang.
Get Help for Tech Neck
All those hours spent on our devices—on average more than five hours a day on the phone and even more hours staring at laptops and computer screens—have resulted in the chronic pain condition known as tech neck. The repetitive strain on the bones, nerves, and muscles caused by looking down at a device can result in muscle stiffness, joint inflammation, pinched nerves, arthritis, and even bone spurs or herniated discs. “Humans are upright creatures, and our bodies aren’t designed to look down for long periods of time, which puts extra pressure on the cervical spine,” said Kavita Trivedi, DO, associate professor of physical medicine and rehabilitation and associate medical director of the Spine Center at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Your head weighs between 10 and 12 pounds, but when you bend it forward at a 45-degree angle to look at your cellphone, you increase the amount of force on your neck to nearly 50 pounds. “With repetition, that force can strain or injure the facet joints that connect our vertebrae. When that happens, the surrounding muscles naturally tighten up to protect nearby nerves, which leads to inflammation, pain, and knots in your neck—what is often referred to as tech neck,” Dr. Trivedi said.
Conservative treatments that help include medication and physical therapy, trigger point and steroid injections, nerve blocks, and minimally invasive techniques such as radiofrequency ablation. In very severe cases, surgery might be needed to relieve pain and restore function. “The good news is that most patients with tech neck don’t require surgery, and we have a wide range of therapies that can be very effective. There’s no need to live with pain if it can be treated,” Dr. Trivedi said.
If you don’t currently have neck pain, take steps to protect yourself, such as holding your phone at eye level as much as possible to help reduce the strain on your neck. “Our phones and tablets are valuable tools, and there’s no need to give them up,” Dr. Trivedi said. “The solution is to learn how to prevent tech neck while using these devices, and if pain develops, see a specialist who can help.”Get More Recipes In Your Inbox!