Cauliflower: A Bouquet of Nutritional Benefits!
Thinking of getting in on the cauliflower trend? More and more people are turning this hearty vegetable into creative, delectable dishes or eating it raw with or without a dip.
Breeze through your grocer’s frozen section, and you’ll likely find pizza crusts, bagels, risotto and even bread made from cauliflower too!
So why is everyone so crazy for cauliflower? It’s packed with nutrients and offers a great swap for high carb foods like potatoes and pasta.
Let’s explore cauliflower and find out what makes it one of today's hottest health food trends.
What Exactly is Cauliflower, Anyway?
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that belongs to the Brassicaceae family, which includes broccoli, kale and cabbage. Its name comes from the Latin word caulis which means cabbage with a flower. Cauliflower is made up of tightly clustered and immature flower buds that are attached to a stalk. Cauliflower is kept out of the sun to prevent the development of chlorophyll pigment and over-maturity.1
Cauliflower was first discovered in ancient Asia around the Mediterranean region. During the 16th century, the vegetable began being cultivated in Europe. Today, a large percentage of the world's cauliflower is grown in the Salinas Valley of California.2
Types of Cauliflower
Not all cauliflower is white. It can also come in green, orange and purple varieties, due the presence or absence of chlorophyll during the vegetable's growth.3 The vegetable is represented by more than a hundred varieties.4
- Green: also known as broccoflower and found in both a curd-shaped form and in a spiky variant called Romanesco broccoli.
- Purple: the antioxidant powerhouse anthocyanin gives this variety a purple hue.
- Orange: highly nutritious with an ample amount of vitamin A (not unlike carrots!).5
Cauliflower is a great source of nutrients, including vitamins and unique plant compounds. It’s high in fiber and acts as a weight-loss friendly vegetable that’s easy to add to your diet.
Just one cup of cauliflower contains 3 g of fiber and meets 10% of your daily needs. Plus, fiber feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut to promote digestive health. Studies have shown that a high fiber diet supports your overall health.
One serving of 128 g of raw cauliflower has the following:
- Calories: 25
- Fiber: 3 g
- Vitamin C: 77% of the RDI
- Vitamin K: 20% of the RDI
- Vitamin B6: 11% of the RDI
- Folate: 14% of the RDI
- Pantothenic acid: 7% of the RDI
- Potassium: 9% of the RDI
- Manganese: 8% of the RDI
- Magnesium: 4% of the RDI
- Phosphorus: 4% of the RDI
Cauliflower Health Benefits
Eating cauliflower can boost choline, which many people lack. Choline maintains cell membranes, supports metabolism and synthesizes DNA. It also promotes brain development, a healthy nervous system and supports healthy blood lipid levels and heart health. One cup has 45 mg, which is about 11% of the adequate daily intake for women and 8% for men.6
Cauliflower is also rich in sulforaphane, a sulfur-rich plant compound which may promote heart and skin health, improve bowel regularity and more. Research has shown that sulforaphane can support healthy blood pressure and blood sugar levels already within the normal range.7,8
If you need more vitamin C, cauliflower can help there too, since it contains high amounts that are great for promoting immune health. It also enhances absorption of iron in the blood which can help increase the hemoglobin count in the body.9 Vitamin C may also support vision health.10
For help with weight management, you may want to include cauliflower in your diet as there are only 25 calories per cup and it's a great substitute for high-carb side dishes.
As a fiber-rich veggie with high water content (92% water), cauliflower helps you feel full, which can help reduce the number of calories you eat throughout the day.
With all the beneficial nutrients in cauliflower, it may be tempting to make it a staple at every meal, but it's important to know that certain medications, including blood thinners, can interact with the high levels of vitamin K in this vegetable.11
Selecting & Storing Cauliflower
Choose cauliflower with clean, tightly-bundled, creamy white florets and bright green leaves. Cauliflower with yellow, spotted florets and saggy leaves won't be as nutritious or fresh.
Dark-colored patches indicate the presence of downy mildew, a disease that affects cauliflower. Store cauliflower in the refrigerator for up to five days and consume cut florets within four days.12
Easy Cauliflower Recipes
Below are a few of our favorite, easy cauliflower recipes that are great for BBQs, potlucks, parties or daily meals.
How to Make Cauliflower Rice
Cauliflower shines in many forms, but the most popular way to eat it is riced. So, take those florets and turn them into a healthy, low-carb meal or side dish! Olive oil and browned onions give the recipe below plenty of delicious flavor.
It can even be used as a base for beans and rice, stir-fry dishes or anything else you would normally make with rice!13
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 15 minutes
- Total time: 25 minutes
- Serves: 4 (3/4 to 1 cup servings)
- One large head cauliflower, separated into 1" florets
- 3 tbs extra virgin olive oil
- One medium onion, finely diced
- One tsp sea salt
- 2 tbs fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- Trim the cauliflower florets, cutting away as much of the stem as possible.
- In three batches, break up the florets into a food processor and pulse until the mixture resembles couscous.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. At the first wisp of smoke from the oil, add the onions and stir to coat.
- Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the onions are golden brown at the edges and have softened (generally about eight minutes).
- Add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Add 1 tsp of salt and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower has softened (about three-five minutes). Remove from the heat.
- Spoon the cauliflower into a large serving bowl, garnish with the parsley, sprinkle with the lemon juice and season to taste with salt. Serve warm.
Roasted Cauliflower Teriyaki-Style
Wake up your taste buds with a simple but absolutely delicious teriyaki cauliflower recipe that’s easy to make.14 It’s your answer to the ever-pressing question of what's for dinner.
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 40 minutes
- Total time: 50 minutes
- Serves: 2
- 1 tbs sesame oil
- Four garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tbs grated, fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 1 tsp rice vinegar
- 2 tbs cornstarch
- 3 tbs water
- One cauliflower head, roasted
- Black and white sesame seeds
- Cut the cauliflower into chunks and roast at 425° F for about 30-40 minutes. The cauliflower should be toasted and golden.
- In a saucepan on med-low heat, heat sesame oil until hot. Add in garlic cloves and sauté until aromatic.
- Add soy sauce, 1/2 cup water, brown sugar and ginger. Simmer on low for about two minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 3 tbs of water. Add into saucepan and stir. Simmer for another three minutes until thickened.
- Add in cauliflower chunks and mix well. Top with sesame seeds.
Baked Cauliflower Buffalo Wings
These spicy cauliflower buffalo wings are the perfect appetizer for parties.15 They're easy to make, vegetarian and gluten-free!
Buffalo-style cauliflower appetizers are one of the most popular, but you can experiment with flavors and a different sauce if you prefer.
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 40 minutes
- Total time: 50 minutes
- Serves: 20 cauliflower wings
- One head of cauliflower, cut into small florets
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 1/2 cup filtered water
- 3/4-1 cup gluten-free flour
- 2 tsp garlic powder
- 1 tsp cumin
- 1 tsp paprika
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/4 tsp ground pepper
- 1 cup Buffalo wing Sauce (medium) or your favorite hot sauce
- 1 tbsp ghee, melted
- Preheat oven to 450° F.
- Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spread on a bit of coconut oil for good measure. Set aside.
- To a mixing bowl add milk, water, flour and spices and whisk well until combined.
- Add florets into batter and gently move them around so florets get coated with batter. Grab florets with tongs, shaking off any excess batter before placing them on the baking sheet. Bake for 10 minutes.
- Flip florets over and bake for another 10 minutes. While cauliflower bakes, mix buffalo wing sauce. Whisk hot sauce and ghee in a small bowl until well combined.
- Once the timer is done, remove the cauliflower from the oven and drizzle the hot sauce mixture on top. Bake for another 20 minutes.
- Enjoy hot, dipped in ranch sauce or add to salads!
No matter if you prefer your cauliflower raw or cooked, know that it’s good for your health because of its many vitamins and minerals.
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*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.
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6. What Is Choline? Healthline. Read source
7. Sulforaphane. Healthline. Read source
8. The Top 8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower. Healthline. Read source
9. Vitamin C and Iron. Healthline. Read source
10. Vitamin C. American Optometric Association. Read source
11. Everything You Need to Know About Cauliflower. Medical News Today. Read source
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