Cauliflower Goes Crazy in 2017

The end of the year is a time for reflection, looking back at the top moments from the previous year, and making “top 10 lists” of your favorite music and movies….it’s a fun way to reflect on the previous year…

Time magazine told us in July “why cauliflower is the new ‘it’ vegetable” reminding us that “cauliflower used to be a boring vegetable” until the humble vegetable starting appearing in innovative new ways at high-end restaurants and the food bloggers discovered cauliflower “rice” as an amazingly versatile way to replace starchy grains in a variety of dishes.

Cauliflower even made its way into 2017’s Logan Lucky, where West Virginia brothers Channing Tatum and Adam Driver said “Cauliflower” whenever things were about to get crazy!  Did you just say cauliflower to me?”

Cauliflower’s white color and bland flavor used to turn people away, but today these traits allow cooks to “sneak” it into a range of innovative recipes. Ironically, this white vegetable is now a culinary chameleon: cauliflower can be a meaty option for plant-based diets, a low-carb replacement for potatoes and rice, and you can even make pizza crust with it!  We even have purple and orange varieties of cauliflower, and Romanesco – the mutant green, out of this world, fractal-looking variation of cauliflower in the photo above.

There are so many things to do with this high fiber, cancer-fighting, cruciferous vegetable:

  • Cauliflower rice
  • Cauliflower soup
  • Cauliflower “steaks”
  • Cauliflower tacos
  • Cauliflower pizza crust
  • Cauliflower mash
  • Roasted Cauliflower (my personal favorite)

Can a white vegetable really be nutritious? Cauliflower has as much vitamin C as an orange, and provides a good dose of fiber, folate, and omega-3 fatty acids as well. Cauliflower contains just 30 kcal/cup (rice has over 200).

Cauliflower is also a member of the cruciferous family of vegetables (broccoli, kale, collards), which all have a slightly peppery taste, the result of a sulfur-containing phytonutrient found only in this vegetable family. This pungent nutrient (called glucosinolate) lends a unique taste, as well as very powerful health benefits. Eating cruciferous veggies every other day significantly reduces your risk for several different forms of cancer.

Yes, it’s true that we should try to eat as colorful a diet as possible, to ensure we are getting the widest array of nutrients from different foods, but remember that white is a color too!

To maximize your benefits from eating cruciferous veggies like cauliflower, let crucifers “aerate” on your cutting board (or in a bowl) for five minutes after chopping and before cooking. This allows an enzyme in the vegetable to convert those glucosinolates into other compounds (isothiocyanates/indoles), and it is this second group of compounds that enhances our bodies’ natural detoxification systems and offers us the greatest cancer protection. Light steaming (five minutes) does not damage these powerful nutrients, but using a microwave or overcooking will result in lower amounts in your food.

Quick & Easy? To save time in the kitchen, look for packages of crumbled cauliflower, which can be easily added to “fried rice” or swapped in for ground meat as a taco filling, or mashed, like potatoes. The mashed cauliflower recipe here has just 5 ingredients (plus salt/pepper), and takes 10 minutes to cook.

 

My Super-Easy-Roasted-Cauliflower:

    1. Chop cauliflower into florets
    2. (optional: add additional veggies: garlic, onions, mushrooms, carrots, potatoes)
    3. Drizzle with olive oil
    4. Season with salt/pepper/thyme
    5. Roast in oven (425) for about 20-30 minutes, tossing occasionally
    6. (Optional: after 20 minutes, turn on broil for about 4-5 minutes to give a nice charring! )
    7. (Optional: top with parmesan cheese)

 

More cruciferous vegetables to try:

Eating cruciferous vegetables every other day, significantly reduces your risk for several different forms of cancer. All cruciferous veggies (also known as brassicas) have a slightly peppery taste, the result of a sulfur-containing phytonutrient found only in this vegetable family.

Many of these other cruciferous veggies have been the “it vegetable” in recent years: Brussels sprouts had its moment very recently, and kale dominated more than a few years over the past decade….inspiring thousands of Eat More Kale t-shirts (and a legal battle with Chik-fil-A).

So many cruciferous veggies to try!

Roots — rutabagas, radishes, turnips, kohlrabi, wasabi, horseradish

Leaves — cabbage, Brussels sprouts, kale, collard greens, arugula, mustard greens, watercress

Stems — cauliflower, broccoli, bok choy

Seeds – mustard, canola, sprouted broccoli seeds

 

 

 

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