When most of us were kids, the sight of cauliflower on our plates usually inspired grimaces, followed by covert attempts to pass it to the dog when mom wasn’t looking. Recently I was speaking with one of my patients who was in the midst of transitioning to a healthier diet. She mentioned that she had just re-discovered cauliflower which she’d avoided for years, but now had “fallen in love” with – which of course was music to my ears. (I love it when patients get excited about veggies!) In fact, my wife Janice and I, with our interest in health-sustaining foods, have also recently reconnected with cauliflower and are always on the look-out for tasty ways to enjoy it. Among our favorites: cauliflower rice to accompany curries and stews, and creamy cauliflower soup that’s a meal in itself. Not only are cauliflower-centric dishes delicious, but they’re nutrionally sumptuous as well. To follow are 5 reasons why I encourage you to put more cauliflower in your life – preferably 2-to-3 servings a week – and enjoy every bite:
1. Cauliflower Takes Direction Well
Versatility, thy name is cauliflower! Roast it, grill it, mash it, rice it, puree it, stir-fry it. Smother it in healthy, healing spices like curry, fennel, black pepper and turmeric, snack on it raw or serve it up old school, simply steamed. No matter how you prepare it, cauliflower is a mealtime culinary champ. Just about the only thing cauliflower doesn’t do well is dessert.
2. Cauliflower is Inexpensive and Available Virtually Everywhere
Whether you’re on a budget or not, cauliflower fills out your plate with lots of wonderful nutrients and fiber at a very reasonable price. The average 3 lb. head of fresh cauliflower, will set you back roughly $3 – $4, making it a pretty good deal per pound. You can also eat the leaves and stalks so there’s minimal waste to boot. Another plus: the Environmental Working Group has cauliflower on its “Clean 15” list, so it’s not imperative that you buy organic – the offerings from the local farmers’ market or supermarket will work just fine. No time to chop? Take a shortcut: many recipes work equally well using super-convenient frozen, bagged cauliflower.
3. Cauliflower Brings Loads of Nutrition to the Table
There are so many good things packed into a head of the often over-looked cauliflower, you might even call it a secret superfood. Just look what’s going on with this amazing cruciferous veggie which, by the way, has been linked in numerous studies to lowered cancer risk. Cauliflower’s got:
- Antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep your heart and brain healthy
- High levels of vitamin C and K, and beta-carotene to help keep immunity strong
- Significant amounts of folate and fiber to support digestive health
- And loads of other wonderful phytonutirents, those valuable compounds in plants that help combat disease
4. Cauliflower Comes in Colors Engineered by Mother Nature
When we think of cauliflower, white florets with a splash of greenery comes to mind, but it also comes in green, orange, and purple. While some might consider them a bit garish, these more colorful cousins bring with them a few nutritional advantages worth noting. For example, purple cauliflower, which gets its rich hue from anthocyanin, is believed to have heart-protective effects, while the orange kind offers upwards of 25 times more beta-carotene than the conventional white kind. It’s also worth mentioning that the vibrant-colored cauliflower options aren’t the result of modern genetic engineering or GMOs – they’re the result of naturally occurring mutations and selective cultivation, so enjoy!
Be Well Bonus: How to Buy Cauliflower
When it’s time to hit the produce aisle or the local farmers’ market, here are four simple tips to keep in mind:
- Look for bright, white or colored, very firm heads. You don’t want any give.
- Check the leaves that surround the cauliflower head. They should be green and firm, not yellowing or wilting.
- Avoid heads with a slight tan or brown tinge – that’s nature’s way of saying they’re past their nutritional prime.
- For some fruits and vegetables, bigger doesn’t always mean better, it can often mean less taste. Fortunately, with cauliflower size doesn’t matter at all, so an enormous one or a small one will taste equally good. (If you wind up with more than you can use, freeze the extra for future use.)
Looking For Ideas on What to do with Your Cauliflower?
Try this: spiced cauliflower rice recipe
Try this Cauliflower Rice Recipe we use at home. It easy to make and makes a wonderful side dish for stir fries, curries, roasted veggies, your favorite protein and more. Here’s how to make it:
You Will Need:
- 1 medium head cauliflower
- 1 small onion
- 2 Tablespoons coconut oil
- Sea salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
- Rinse and dry cauliflower then cut into big pieces
- Place a few pieces into a food processor and pulse till it is crumbly and resembles rice, you could also do this by using a cheese grater and grating the pieces of cauliflower.
- Peel and dice onion.
- Heat coconut oil in a large pan, add onion and saute till lightly browned.
- Add “riced” cauliflower and saute till cooked but not mushy, (about 8 minutes)
- Season to taste with salt and pepper
*Image of “cauliflower” via Shutterstock