What is the Atkins diet?
Also known as the Atkins nutritional approach, the diet follows a strict structure that requires limited consumption of carbohydrates with plenty of protein and fat. The dramatic reduction in carbohydrates will help the body move from metabolizing the glucose from carbs for energy to a more efficient process of burning stored fat, instead.
Not only will this help followers lose weight, but the increased consumption of protein also helps decrease appetite. When you’re eating less carbs and more protein, you’ll feel more satiated – meaning you’ll naturally consume fewer calories without having to restrict yourself like with a low-fat diet or counting calories.
This low-carb diet has become popular around the world, as it has proven to lead to more weight loss and greater health benefits than typical low-fat diets. More than 20 different studies have examined how the Atkins diet benefits practitioners, making it a widely supported option for people looking to eat healthier, lose weight, and improve their overall well-being.
The Atkins diet involves four different phases, but practitioners are not required to follow these phases too precisely.
Phase One – Induction
Weight loss is kickstarted during this phase, which requires followers to consume under 20 grams of carbs per day for at least two weeks. The focus should be on high-fat, high-protein foods, alongside low-carb vegetables including leafy greens, peppers, and cruciferous vegetables.
Some people prefer to remain in this stage indefinitely, to maximize weight loss results and maintain a state of ketosis, where the body is burning stored fat for energy. This is the process achieved through a ketogenic diet.
There are others who skip this phase entirely, beginning their Atkins diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables from the get-go. This is also acceptable, especially if you’re not focused on weight loss.
Phase Two – Balancing
After you’ve passed through the induction phase and the carb crash that occasionally goes along with it, you’ll be able to begin adding some carbohydrates back into your diet – including nuts and fruit. Add these slowly to see how they affect your body, and to prevent any weight gain.
This phase will continue until you’re close to your goal weight.
Phase Three – Fine-Tuning
Once you’ve nearly reached the weight you’re aiming for, slowing add more carbs into your diet until you notice your weight loss begin to slow down. Still, your diet should be primarily comprised of protein and fat.
Phase Four – Maintenance
Now that you’re at your goal weight, feel free to consume as many healthy carbs as your body can handle without gaining back the weight you’ve lost. If you notice the scale creeping back up, cut back down to phase two or three until you reach your goal weight again.
Where did it come from?
The diet was designed by Dr. Robert Atkins, who argued that the primary factor behind rising obesity is the increase in refined carbohydrates in Western diets – sugar, flour, and high-fructose corn syrups, specifically. He also determined that society’s perception of saturated fat as a nutritional problem was “overrated,” and that we would be better off eating healthy fats while avoiding trans fats, instead.
What foods can I eat on this diet?
The Atkins diet is based around healthy foods. Shop along the edges of the grocery store – you shouldn’t need to hit the middle aisles when you’re eating Atkins-approved foods. Choose a fatty protein source and add vegetables, nuts, and healthy fats for a solid Atkins-style meal.
Eat plenty of:
- Meat, including chicken, beef, pork, lamb, and even bacon in moderation.
- Fish and seafood, like salmon, trout, and sardines. Fatty fish is best.
- Eggs, particularly Omega-3 enriched or pastured.
- Low-carb vegetables, like cruciferous vegetables, leafy greens, and more.
- Full-fat dairy products, including yogurt, cream, cheese, and butter.
- Nuts and seeds, particularly almonds, walnuts, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds.
- Healthy fats and oils, like avocados, coconut oil, and extra virgin olive oil.
- Drink lots of water, green tea, and even coffee.
What foods should I avoid?
Your diet should include whole, unprocessed foods as much as possible. Your goal is to avoid high-glycemic foods that will cause your blood sugar to spike and give your body glucose to use as fuel. You want your body to burn fat, instead.
Stay away from things like:
- Sugar in fruit juices, cakes, candy, soft drinks, ice cream, etc.
- Grains like rice, spelt, barley, wheat, and rye.
- Vegetable oils, including soybean oil, cottonseed oil, canola oil, and corn oil, among others.
- Trans fats, which are mainly found in processed foods. Look for the word “hydrogenated” in the list of ingredients.
- Foods labelled “low-fat” or “diet,” because these are often high in sugar.
- High-carb fruits and vegetables, particularly during the induction phase.
- Starches like potatoes, but these can be slowly introduced if they don’t lead to weight gain or digestion issues.
- Legumes, including lentils, beans, and chickpeas, can be introduced after induction.
What are the health benefits of the Atkins diet?
This diet is usually recommended for people who are looking for a fairly quick way to achieve weight loss goals, but eating a low-carb diet will provide individuals with a wide range of valuable health benefits.
There have been more than 20 different studies to look at how this diet impacts weight loss and leads to other health improvements, and the diet has become a popular option around the world for people seeking enhanced wellness – without the stress of constantly monitoring your calorie intake.
One: The Atkins diet will improve your heart health.
Reserachers who examined 17 different studies of overweight people found that following a low-carb, high-fat diet had a 98 per cent greater chance of lowering the risk of stroke or heart attack than a low-fat diet. Because of how carbohydrates trigger your body to rapidly produce insulin, you’ll also end up holding onto excess fat for your body to use as fuel later, when your blood sugar crashes.
Cutting your intake of carbohydrates had a direct impact on your heart health several ways – decreasing your level of triglycerides, raising your levels of “good” cholestrols, lowering your “bad” cholesterols, and even helping to reduce blood pressure.
Two: The Atkins diet will help you lose weight.
Some followers of the Atkins diet have managed to lose more than 100 pounds – but your individual weight loss results will depend heavily on your adherence to the plan. Since a low-carb diet helps stimulate your body to burn fat, and a diet high in protein and fat helps suppress your appetite, it’s easy to see how the Atkins diet can lead to significant weight loss. However, you will need to pay close attention to the carbohydrate counts in everything you eat, as it can add up quickly and impede your potential weight loss results.
You’ll see even better results if you mix in a bit of exercise. With the additional energy you’ll have from eating clean and enjoying a strong metabolism, shoot for about 150 minutes each week of moderate-intensity exercise.
Three: The Atkins diet will improve blood sugar levels.
Uncontrolled sugar levels are a major risk factor for both heart disease and obesity – and the Atkins diet, particularly during the induction phase, can drastically improve your body’s ability to properly process sugar. Even patients taking insulin before embarking on an Atkins diet were able to stop using insulin after changing their nutritional approach.
Limiting your intake of carbohydrates also helps to prevent blood sugar spikes, which are generally triggered by the glycemic content of high-carbohydrate foods. A low-glycemic diet is an effective way of dealing with that, but a low-glycemic diet combined with a reduced intake of carbohydrates is even better.
Four: The Atkins diet can prevent metabolic syndrome.
Most of the symptoms and risk factors that combine into what we know as metabolic syndrome can be treated with the nutritional approach of the Atkins diet. Abdominal obesity, elevated cholesterol, diabetes, and hypertension can all be addressed through this dietary strategy, and thanks to the healthy intake of protein, you can ensure that your muscle mass is preserved.
Maintaining muscle mass helps you keep your body’s metabolism running efficiently, allowing you to continue burning fat and improving your overall wellness.
Five: The Atkins diet can help control your appetite.
You’ll probably suffer through some cravings at first, especially during the induction phase as you try to cut out carbs almost entirely – but by eliminating the constant spikes and drops in your blood sugar, you’ll enjoy a suppressed appetite. Not only will your Atkins diet help eliminate your cravings, you’ll also be eating healthier meals more frequently, keeping you well-satiated.
If you do find yourself struggling with cravings, break up your meals with healthy snacks, drink more water, and make sure there isn’t an emotional reason behind your physical food cravings. Once you get more familiar with your body, you’ll be able to tell what’s triggering your cravings and deal with them appropriately.
Six: The Atkins diet will boost brain function.
Low-carb diets have a reputation for negatively affecting your brain function, since your brain needs carbs for energy. However, once followers have gotten past the initial phase of reducing carbohydrate intake and their bodies have had a chance to adjust to a new metabolic process, the increased consumption of brain-healthy fats and B-complex vitamins found in leafy green vegetables work to produce more brain hormones like serotonin.
Low-carb fruits like berries also help enhance communication networks between your brain cells, promoting brain cell survival and regeneration.
Seven: The Atkins diet can provide increased physical endurance.
While scientists have long known how the Atkins diet can increase weight loss and the body’s ability to effectively and efficiently burn fat, studies are now being done to examine how the diet could augment the body’s physical performance and recovery.
According to some research, these athletes proved to be “very healthy,” even “beyond what you can achieve with good genetics and extensive training,” said Jeff Volek, lead researcher and professor of human sciences at the Ohio State University. Volek added that the restriction of carbs allows the body’s fat-burning program to “reboot” and enable athletes to reach significantly improved levels of performance and health.
Eight: The Atkins diet can help clear your skin.
Studies have shown that the Atkins diet has a positive effect on a variety of chronic and unpleasant skin conditions – clearing up some of the redness, itching, and irritation associated with psoriasis, eczema, acne, and even vitiligo. Not only that, but even in practitioners without ongoing skin concerns, eating a low-carb diet can make your skin feel and look more radiant, moisturized, and healthy.
These benefits also impact your hair and your nails, which will all be stronger and healthier. The increased intake of vitamins and minerals you’ll get from eating more vegetables and fruits will have a major effect how you feel inside and outside.
Nine: The Atkins diet will help you eat more nutrients.
By focusing your diet on whole, unprocessed foods, you’ll enjoy eating far greater quantities of nutrients like vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants – all of which will directly impact your health and well-being. These nutrient-dense foods have a number of varied properties that will all provide a range of health benefits, which you wouldn’t get if you were eating a plate of spaghetti or a pizza instead.
Your meals should include an adequate portion of protein along with an array of high-fiber, low-glycemic fruits and vegetables. This encourages you to eat different kinds of produce and get different kinds of nutrients, achieving a well-balanced, healthy diet.
Ten: The Atkins diet will decrease inflammation.
Inflammation is an important part of your body’s defense system, and a certain amount is to be expected in any healthy individual – especially during times of illness or injury. However, chronic inflammation can lead to serious health concerns like cancer, heart disease, and even neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s.
A lot of this inflammation can be attributed to the insulin spikes that come from eating processed foods and sugars, including carbs. Eating a variety of foods that decrease inflammation, like those recommended on the Atkins diet, can prevent chronic inflammation from causing lasting damage.
Eleven: The Atkins diet will improve digestion.
While your digestive system will likely need a bit of time to adjust to your new eating habits, a low-carb diet has proven to improve overall digestion. Thanks to the increased fiber intake found within the Atkins diet, you’ll enjoy a heathy digestive system and reduced acid reflux, heartburn, and bloating.
Initially, you may find you are more flatulent than usual, but as your body gets used to your nutritional intake, you’ll find that you suffer from gas less, as well.
Twelve: The Atkins diet can help prevent cancer.
A nutrition plan that focuses on getting enough healthy fats can drastically reduce your chances of developing certain types of cancers. Cancer growth happens when your body is running inefficiently, creating a breeding ground for developing infections. Uncontrolled blood sugar is a major trigger for this development, but the Atkins diet has proven effective at keeping these levels stable.
The reduced inflammation also helps keep your body’s immune response functioning effectively, and helps your body react effectively to stress.
Thirteen: The Atkins diet targets abdominal fat deposits.
Excess fat that has accumulated around your midsection can lead to a number of health risks – impacting almost every organ in your body by producing excess chemicals and hormones. Major concerns include type 2 diabetes, colorectal cancer, and cardiovascular disease.
This fat is troublesome to lose and easy to put on, but can be reduced thanks to three major factors – exercise, sleep, and diet. The Atkins diet gives you the tools to tackle all three, starting with your nutritional intake.
Fourteen: The Atkins diet can enhance sleep quality.
With your increased consumption of nutrients, healthy amounts of fat and protein, and stable blood sugar, your body will be under less stress and feeling much healthier and more energetic. This will dramatically reduce the time you spend fighting insomnia, meaning you’ll be able to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
The quality of your rest will also be improved thanks to the brain-boosting power of the Atkins diet, and the added energy you’ll see from all the nutrients you’re putting in your body.
Fifteen: The Atkins diet helps with weight maintenance.
Once you’ve reached the fourth phase of the Atkins diet, you’ll be in maintenance mode. With most diets, followers use this as an opportunity to return to their regular eating habits – and will end up piling all that lost weight right back on.
However, since Atkins is considered a life-long nutritional approach instead of a temporary diet, you’ll have much better luck maintaining your weight loss and health benefits. Introduce carbohydrates slowly, and if you start having cravings, lower your intake. Switching between the third and fourth phases while keeping an eye on your overall health is a great way to keep those pounds off and enjoy the healthy lifestyle Atkins delivers.
What should I keep in mind when starting this diet?
If these great health benefits have convinced you to cut down on your carbohydrate intake and begin eating an Atkins-inspired diet, there are some things you should keep in mind as you set out on your new journey. While the benefits of the Atkins diet far outweigh any of the challenges that come along with it, it’s important to know what obstacles you might come across – especially during your first few weeks on the diet.
Fortunately, you’ll feel so good on this diet that you’ll have no trouble overlooking these minor issues. It’s easy to make a change when you know how huge the payoff is – and the Atkins diet is a great step along the way to lasting health and wellness.
Carb crash is a real thing.
When you’re used to eating plenty of carbohydrates, it’s normal and even expected to feel a bit of discomfort during the first few days of cutting back. You might find yourself missing these foods and craving them with a startling intensity, but there are some ways you can distract yourself enough to move past this initial phase of withdrawal.
- Get plenty of fiber and fat. Together, these foods can provide your body with some much-needed satiety. Flax seeds are a great option to get both of these at once, or salads with a lean protein added.
- Snack frequently. Don’t go more than three hours without eating a healthy, low-carb snack, especially during your withdrawal from carbs. If you can avoid being hungry, you’ll have better luck fighting cravings.
- Find things you want to eat. This diet is strict, but there are still tons of delicious things you can eat on an Atkins diet. Discover approved foods that you’ll look forward to eating so your body will begin to crave those healthy alternatives, instead of carbohydrates.
- Do something for yourself. You’re making a great change to improve your well-being, so instead of indulging in an unhealthy craving, do something else you enjoy. Read a book, take a bubble bath, or turn to a loved one for some support and encouragement.
Even once you’re out of that initial withdrawal phase, some people experience a second period of “carb crash” where they have reported symptoms of feeling “off.” Some people feel jittery or shaky, some feel fatigued, and some feel irritable. These symptoms will disappear after a couple of days, but you can try to prevent them from being overwhelming by indulging in a serving of low-carb fruit.
This can also be caused by a lack of salt, since many people on the Atkins diet will lose quite a bit of water weight within the first few days – which means a loss of sodium. If low-carb fruit doesn’t help relieve the symptoms, try drinking a cup of bouillon a few times a day – and ensure that you are getting plenty of potassium.
You’re going to have to learn to count carbs.
This sounds a lot more intimidating than it is, but there is definitely a learning curve involved with carb counting. The more you do it, the easier it will get – but in the beginning, a trip to the grocery store will be a little more involved than you’re probably used to.
Since the induction phase of the Atkins diet has a strict requirement of under 20 grams of carbs each day, you will need to read food labels carefully to make sure you stay under your carb limit. Once you’ve passed this stage, you will be able to add more low-carb foods to your diet, and eventually reach a point where you can consume as many healthy carbs as your body can handle without gaining weight – but you’ll always need to be thinking about what’s in the foods you’re eating.
When reading product labels, be sure to check the serving size as well as the carbohydrate count. If you are going to be eating more of a specific food, you may need to double or triple the total carbohydrate number in order to get an accurate estimate of what your intake will be.
Some people find it easier to count carbs by tracking each meal on an app that gives a breakdown of the nutritional content of your daily food intake. This way, you’ll be able to clearly see how much carbohydrate is in the foods you eat, and then you can make the necessary adjustments to stay within the recommended range.
Eating an Atkins diet is time consuming.
If you’re the kind of person who usually grabs food on the go, you’ll have to make some big changes in order to adjust to an Atkins-style diet. It’s hard to find readily available foods that will fit the restrictions of this diet, so be prepared to either make most of your meals yourself, or ask for modified versions of foods on most restaurant menus.
Even grocery shopping will take longer initially, as you learn about carbohydrates and calculate how much of each food you’ll be able to eat. This will get easier with time, though, and soon you’ll be able to hit the store and get what you need without a second thought.
You’ll also be spending more time in the kitchen, prepping meals and cooking for yourself or for your family. If you have more free time on the weekends, you can always do the prep work in advance and come home to heat up pre-portioned servings of Atkins-approved meals. This is a great way to teach yourself to cook and learn your way around the kitchen, though, and like carb counting, it will get easier with practice.
This diet is a lifestyle change.
Eating an Atkins diet isn’t just about losing weight – it’s about making valuable changes to your entire lifestyle to achieve long-term health benefits. Sure, you’ll probably see fat loss and watch the number on the scale go down, but in order to maintain these results, you’ll need to look at Atkins as a lifestyle commitment.
Surrounding yourself with supportive people is a great way to ensure you can stick to this diet and make it a life-long habit. It might be difficult at first, to go out for dinner and drinks with friends and stick to Atkins-approved choices, but if you’re with people who want to see you succeed, you’ll be able to keep your social commitments while sticking to your Atkins diet.
Also, you might want to pack healthy, approved snacks for instances where other people are snacking around you – like when someone brings donuts or chips to the office, or at a party with tons of processed junk foods. If you have something quick and easy on-hand to snack on instead of indulging in the foods you’ve worked hard to avoid, you won’t be nearly as tempted to cheat on your healthy new lifestyle.
How can I get started?
If you normally eat a diet that includes a variety of carbohydrates, making the switch to a diet like Atkins can be pretty intimidating. A good rule to keep in mind is to stick to unprocessed, natural, whole foods as much as you can. This will help you limit your intake of foods that aren’t included on your diet plan without having to spend too much time thinking about it.
Take the list of approved Atkins foods to the grocery store and pick up everything you need to get started with these low-carb meal options. These recipes will help you get started on your journey to Atkins-style eating, helping you lose weight and achieve a wide range of important health benefits. Keep in mind that most of your shopping should happen along the outside edges of the store – most of the aisles are full of processed foods.
As you practice making these Atkins-friendly meals, you’ll learn more about low-carb eating and start coming up with your own inspired recipes. Hopefully your journey to healthier eating will help you discover new foods you didn’t even know you liked, and motivate you to maintain your beneficial Atkins lifestyle.
Choco-nut Protein Pancakes (adapted from this recipe)
2 ounces of chocolate whey protein powder
½ cup of coconut flour
1 teaspoon of baking powder
3 large eggs, whole
1/3 cup of cream cheese or cottage cheese
+ coconut oil, for cooking
1. Combine protein powder, flour, and baking powder in a bowl. Mix thoroughly.
2. Whisk together the eggs and cheese before pouring into the bowl with the dry ingredients. Mix these together until you have a batter.
3. Over medium heat, melt a spoonful of coconut oil before adding about ¼ cup of pancake batter.
4. Cook until bubbles start to form in the centre of the pancake, then flip and cook for another two minutes or so.
5. Repeat process until all batter has been cooked into pancakes.
6. Serve with almond butter and sugar-free syrup. Garnish with nuts or berries.
Low-Carb Greek Omelet (adapted from this recipe)
1 teaspoon of vegetable oil
2 large eggs, whole
1 ounce of feta cheese
1 large handful of fresh spinach
½ tomato, chopped
½ onion, chopped
1 slice lemon, to squeeze and garnish
+ salt and pepper, to taste
1. Over medium high heat, warm oil in a non-stick pan.
2. Gently beat eggs and add to pan.
3. Cook eggs approximately three minutes, then flip and cook about two minutes more.
4. Add cheese, spinach, tomato, and onion to one half of the omelet, and flip the other side over the top.
5. Cook another two minutes or so, until spinach is wilted and cheese begins to melt.
6. Serve hot with a lemon slice to garnish. Squeeze over omelet before eating.
Low-Carb Pork and Veggie Soup Bowl (adapted from this recipe)
4 green onion stems, chopped
½ ounce of fresh cilantro, chopped
4 ounces of brown mushrooms, chopped
¼ ounce of fresh ginger, grated
2 cloves of garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, chopped
5 ounces of Chinese cabbage, chopped
8 ounces of pork tenderloin
1 cube of dehydrated chicken stock
1 tablespoon of coconut oil
1 tablespoon of raw coconut aminos
+ salt and pepper, to taste
1. Warm coconut oil in a non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Slice tenderloin into strips, and add to pan.
2. Sear pork for no more than two to three minutes – strips should be browned and cooked through. Remove them from the pan and set them aside.
3. In a large saucepan, combine chicken stock cube, coconut aminos, and two cups of water. Bring to a boil and add the mushrooms, ginger, garlic, pepper, and cabbage. Simmer until veggies are softened but still crisp, about five minutes.
4. Mix in the pork and green onion, heating for one more minute before removing the pan from the heat and tossing in the cilantro.
5. Serve hot, ladled into a bowl with salt and pepper if desired.
Fresh Salad with Low-Carb Buffalo Chicken (adapted from this recipe)
½ of a fresh lemon, juiced
1 green onion stem, chopped
1 head of romaine lettuce, chopped
1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 medium carrot, grated
1/3 cup of apple cider vinegar
¼ cup of coconut oil
1/8 teaspoon of celery salt
1/8 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
2 boneless chicken thighs, with skin
1/3 cup of Greek yogurt
1 tablespoon of sour cream
1 ounce of blue cheese
1/8 teaspoon of garlic powder
+ salt and pepper, to taste
1. Set oven to 450 degrees F and preheat while chopping vegetables. Put in a large bowl and leave in the refrigerator.
2. In a small bowl, combine lemon juice, green onions, Greek yogurt, sour cream, blue cheese, and garlic powder. Stir well.
3. In another bowl, mix together apple cider vinegar, coconut oil, celery salt, red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper. Coat chicken thoroughly and arrange on a foil-lined pan before putting the pan in the oven.
4. Turn chicken several times, brushing on more marinade. Bake chicken thighs for approximately 20 minutes, until they are cooked through. Cut into strips.
5. Remove vegetables from fridge and toss with dressing. Add chicken and serve.
Cauliflower Mac and Cheese (adapted from this recipe)
1 large head of cauliflower, chopped
1 cup of heavy cream
2 ounces of cream cheese or cottage cheese
1 tablespoon of mustard
1 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
1 ½ cups of shredded cheddar cheese
1 clove of garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon of sriracha sauce
+ salt and pepper, to taste
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, and coat a baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Bring a pot of water to boil and add cauliflower. Cook for about five minutes; cauliflower pieces should be tender but firm. Drain and pat with paper towel to dry thoroughly.
3. Over medium heat, bring cream to a simmer before whisking in cream cheese or cottage cheese. Consistency should be smooth and creamy.
4. Add one cup of shredded cheddar, garlic, mustard, Worcestershire sauce, and sriracha sauce. Continue whisking until cheese melts.
5. Pour sauce over cauliflower and add to baking dish. Top with remaining shredded cheese.
6. Bake until bubbles form around the edge and top looks browned, about fifteen minutes.
7. Serve warm with the lean protein of your choice.
Creole Salmon with Cucumber Salad (adapted from this recipe)
1 medium cucumber, diced
1 lime, juiced
¼ ounce of dill, chopped
¼ ounce of thyme, chopped
1 tablespoon of raw honey
1 medium head of cauliflower, chopped
½ teaspoon of dried basil
1 tablespoon of smoked paprika
½ teaspoon of dried oregano
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
12 ounce fillet of boneless fresh salmon
2 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil
+ salt and pepper, to taste
1. Over medium-high heat, bring a pot of water to boil.
2. In a bowl, squeeze lime juice over diced cucumber and add honey, dill, olive oil, and salt and pepper. Mix thoroughly, ensuring cucumber is well-coated.
3. In another bowl, combine basil, paprika, oregano, red pepper flakes, thyme, and salt and pepper. Stir well.
4. Add chopped cauliflower to boiling water, reduce heat to medium-low, and cover. Cook until tender, approximately ten minutes. Drain in a colander before returning to pot with cover.
5. Brush salmon with olive oil and apply a thick, even coat of the spice rub.
6. Warm olive oil in a large pan over medium-high heat, then add the salmon and cook until blackened – about three minutes. Flip over and cook for another four minutes, until the fish flakes.
7. Use a masher on the cauliflower, mixing in a tablespoon of olive oil. Continue mashing until all oil has been thoroughly mixed. Season with salt and pepper as desired.
8. Serve salmon on top of mashed cauliflower, garnished with cucumber salad.