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Super Bowl Feast

Crispy buffalo cauliflower wings bring on the flavor

All Animals magazine, January/February 2016

by Ruthanne Johnson

    Defensive lineman David Carter flexes while biting into a head of broccoli. Photo by Paige Carter, P. Lynn Photography

Football season is when parties reign supreme—when the drinks flow, passions rise and unwholesome snacks spread far and wide. So what’s for plant eaters when it comes to game day? Lots. At David Carter’s home, guests chow down on tangy buffalo cauliflower wings, lentil tacos and seven-layer bean dip. Carter, an NFL defensive lineman, and his wife, Paige, follow a plant-based diet but don’t scrimp when it comes to flavor, even outside of parties. That’s because Carter wolfs down about 9,000 calories a day, so taste and variety are essential.

For defensive linemen, it’s crucial to have enough strength, agility and weight to push through the offensive line. Since 2011, that’s been his job for teams such as the Arizona Cardinals and Dallas Cowboys. Standing 6-foot-5 and weighing some 300 pounds, he’s a formidable opponent.

For years, Carter followed a meat-heavy diet. “I thought it was the only way to be big and strong,” he says. But early on in his career, he began to have health issues. He was diagnosed with high blood pressure and had tendinitis so severe that he struggled to lift himself out of the bathtub. He was only 25.

Then one night, his right arm went numb. “I was on high blood pressure medication,” he says, “and I knew the next thing would be heart attack or stroke.” The next day, on Feb. 14, 2014, Carter changed to a plant-based diet. Paige had already made the switch five years earlier, after reading Skinny Bitch and becoming concerned about her own health. Carter is now tendinitis-free. His blood pressure is normal. And he has more endurance and faster recovery time after workouts. “I feel like my body is running cleaner,” he says, “not like a lemon, a bad car.”

To help spread the word, he and Paige share his workouts, diet regiment and recipes on their website, the300poundvegan.com. When Carter isn’t on the field, the couple sometimes have friends and family over for games, serving up dishes such as creamy cashew queso dip and potato salad made with Just Mayo. “The cashew queso is actually way better than regular queso,” says Paige. “And it doesn’t have any of the saturated fat or toxic stuff in cheese,” David adds.

But the couple’s favorite is a buffalo cauliflower wings recipe created by chef Alex Thomopoulos. Try for yourself. It’s finger-licking good!

Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower Wings

Serves 8-10 // Recipe by Alex Thomopoulos

  • Cauliflower baked with buffalo sauce is a tasty, tangy snack. Photo by Alex Thomopoulos


2 medium heads of cauliflower, cut into florets
1 cup white rice flour
1 cup water
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon paprika
1 cup of your favorite buffalo wing sauce (Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wing Sauce is vegan)
Vegan ranch dressing or dipping sauce (homemade—go to alextcooks.com for a recipe—or from natural food grocer)


1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Whisk together the rice flour, water, salt, garlic powder and paprika.
3. Dip cauliflower in batter and place on baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Spray the tops with a bit of oil. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the tops start to get color.
4. Pull cauliflower from the oven and lightly dip them into buffalo sauce to coat. Place back into the oven for 5 minutes more to crisp.
5. Remove from oven and serve hot alongside your vegan ranch dip.

Per serving: Calories: 111; Fat: 1 g; Carbs: 22 g; Protein: 3 g; Sodium: 1,027 mg

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