The Power of Cauliflower

You’ve seen it in the produce section, in the form of pizza crust, pasta, bread, and even crackers and pretzels… What was once just another vegetable kids were sneaking under their tables to feed the dog, has now become a life-force in the food industry, catering especially to those avoiding large amounts of carbohydrates. Cauliflower is taking it’s carbohydrate-rich victims down one by one.  Consumers that once thought their days of enjoying pasta, mashed potatoes, even buffalo wings were over, are falling back in love with these comforts foods they never thought they’d eat again. These are now being prepared healthier, and guilt-free. Malleable into many different dishes, nutrient-dense and cheap, there’s no doubt-cauliflower has the power to change food forever!

Growing Cauliflower

Dating back 2,000 years, Cauliflower was first utilized in Asia Minor and the Mediterranean.  As cauliflower made its way West, it became popular in European countries, eventually finding its way to North America.  Cauliflower is not an extremely tedious crop to grow, but since cauliflower is a cool season crop like kale and Brussel sprouts, it grows best when in sunny climates that don’t get much hotter than 65 degrees. While most of America’s cauliflower is grown in parts of California where the weather is pretty linear, cauliflower is also grown in other states with long growing seasons like Arizona, Texas, and Washington. Heads of cauliflower are really just large bushels of undeveloped flower buds, the sturdy leaves surrounding the cauliflower protect is from pests and overexposure to sunlight. After 35 days in a greenhouse, the plants are usually strong enough to be planted into a field.  Once they’re planted in the field, they take about 80-100 days until they’re ready to be harvested.

Types of Cauliflower

Cauliflower is typically white due to the lack of chlorophyll from the sun, but die-hard cauliflower fans are probably familiar with orange or “cheddar” cauliflower and purple cauliflower. These gorgeous vegetables will have you questioning if they were dunked in a bucket of dye, but we assure you that this almost unbelievably brilliant hue is 100% natural. Orange cauliflower or “cheddar” cauliflower gets its outstanding orange shade from the excess of beta-carotene, the same vitamin A rich component that gives carrots their bright orange color.  Beta-carotene is a vital antioxidant, “essential for normal growth and development, immune system function, healthy skin and epithelia and vision”https://www.nutri-facts.org/en_US/nutrients/carotenoids/beta-carotene/health-functions.html Purple cauliflower gets its striking color from the antioxidant group anthocyanin. This powerful antioxidant group is also found in purple cabbage and has enormous health benefits, “anthocyanin-rich substances have long been used to treat a number of conditions (including high blood pressure, colds, and urinary tract infections”(Wong)..

Benefits of Cauliflower

When we say cauliflower has the power, we aren’t kidding around.  Although this vegetable is 92% water, there is definitely no lack of nutrients, “Cauliflower is a rich source of vitamin C, folate, vitamin K, B complex vitamins and vitamin E. It provides vital minerals such as calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, zinc, sodium and iron without adding any harmful cholesterol”(Patil).  Not only will cauliflower provide you with a plethora of nutrients, but it has protective properties against chronic disease like cardiovascular disease by promoting healthy blood circulation and keeps blood vessels healthy, reducing the risk of atherosclerosis. Cauliflower is also rich in indole-3-carbinol which, “has chemopreventive and anti-estrogen effects that help in hampering the growth of uterine cancer cells.” (Patil). 1 cup of cauliflower provides you with 77% of your daily vitamin C, has less than .1 grams of fat and 2.5 grams of dietary fiber.

Preparing cauliflower

We suspect cauliflower used to carry such a negative reputation because of the way it was prepared.  Before curious foodies discovered all the innovative ways to cultivate cauliflower, it was typically boiled until soft then served, maybe if you were feeling wild, you’d add some seasoning on top. We’re not throwing any shade to the cauli-lover who enjoys a simple boiled head of cauliflower, but with so many creative and tasty ways to prepare this vegetable and add that extra kick of nutrients to your meal, why settle? These recipes are great for low carb lovers, ketogenic folks, and folks avoiding gluten.

1)Cauliflower Crust Pizza-We had to start with this one because let’s be honest, pizza is a food group.  Enjoyed by millions of Americans every day, pizza is the one dish you know your whole family will agree on and scarf down fast, so take your pizza to the next level but replacing wheat crust with a cauliflower crust!  Did you know that approximately 3 billion pizzas are consumed in American each year? That’s 251,770,000 pounds a year! Find the recipe here.

2)Cauliflower Bread-We know what you’re thinking… How? Why?  Really? How? Don’t worry we were just as baffled as you are but cauliflower bread is a delicious substitute for traditional bread.  When most people think of bread they think of a tremendous amount of carbs, but cauliflower bread takes care of that issue once and for all!  Get the recipe here.

3)Cauliflower Gnocchi

If you’ve ever been to Trader Joes, you may have seen people fighting to the death over these white and green bags of gnocchi made out of cauliflower instead of potatoes.  By replacing the potato with cauliflower, this gnocchi has a profusion of nutrients and vitamins that traditional gnocchi just can’t compare to. You can also feel way less guilty about eating the whole bag because its  only 330 calories! If you don’t have a Trader Joes near you or just want to bring out your inner chef, check out this recipe for homemade cauliflower gnocchi!

4)Cauliflower Rice-This is truly one of our favorites because it is so incredibly easy to make and often times comes ready to eat!  Cauliflower rice is well, exactly what it sounds like! Simply throw some florets into a food processor and pulse, and before you know it, you’ve got cauliflower rice!  We suggest sautéing the rice for a few minutes with salt pepper and other spices of choice to give it that soft chewy texture rice has. Riced cauliflower is probably most famous for its cauliflower fried rice, quickly snatching up the hearts of former take out lovers everywhere!  Click here for some of the best cauliflower rice recipes and the how to prepare cauliflower rice!  

5)Cauliflower Tortillas

There are very few things in this world that is better than a fresh hot tortilla, but that usually requires going to a pricey restaurant that might use questionable ingredients. It isn’t uncommon for restaurants to use lard in their tortillas, which if you’re avoiding saturated fat, you probably want to steer clear of.  These cauliflower tortillas are the perfect solution! Use these for soft tacos, enchilada bakes, quesadillas, wraps, or just eat them plain! Get the recipe here.  

6)Cauliflower Mac and Cheese

Yup. We said it, we have found a way to make Mac and Cheese not only guilt-free but packed with veggies, vitamins, and nutrients!  This mac and cheese will put instant mac to shame and remind that mac and cheese is, in fact for adults too! Check out the recipe here!  

7)Cauliflower Potato Salad

Nothing says summer like a potato salad, the perfect side dish to any picnic, barbecue, or summer night dinner.  Unfortunately though, just because a dish has the word “salad” in it, doesn’t always mean its a healthy option. Potatoes have a high glycemic index, causing your blood sugar to spike up when you eat them, and no one wants to crash early on a summer night!  Replacing the potatoes with cauliflower makes this summer favorite one of the healthiest side dishes you can bring to your next potluck! Click here for the recipe.

8)Cauliflower chips

Ah yes, the beloved chip. A sandwiches best friend, guacamoles partner in crime, and probably something you never thought you’d be able to indulge on without any guilt… think again!  These cauliflower chips are crispy, crunchy and great on the go! Besides having a low carb, guilt-free snack option, the best part about making your own cauliflower chips? No more paying for half a bag full of air!  Get snacking and check out the recipe here.

9)Cauliflower steaks

We know this sounds like an oxymoron, but cauliflower steaks are real and they are delicious!  The hearty texture of the cauliflower garnished with flavorful seasoning will make steak night a weekly an entity at your house! Try this recipe for your next Meatless Monday!

10) Cauliflower Cheese sticks

If there is one thing we’re sure about, it’s that the combination of carbohydrates and fat is one of the most irresistible combinations known to mankind.  Cheese + Bread = a match made in heaven, but not for those who are avoiding high carbohydrate foods or are gluten-free. These cauliflower cheese sticks are the best way to satisfy your cheesy craving and keep you from spending money on expensive delivery full of chemicals. Get the recipe here.  

Cauliflower is winning over the hearts of carb lovers everywhere with its nutrient density, malleability, and exquisite texture and taste! Cauliflower might just be the Swiss army knife of the food industry, changing while also leading the way we view our favorite comfort foods. Thank you cauliflower, for never forcing us to compromise our favorite meals and nutritional well-being, we love you!

CITATIONS

Patil, K. (2019, March 19). 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. Retrieved from

https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html

Wong, C. (n.d.). The Health Benefits of Anthocyanins? Retrieved from https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-scoop-on-anthocyanins-89522