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 find pizza crusts, bagels, risotto and bread made from cauliflower too.
So why is everyone so crazy for cauliflower? It’s packed with nutrients and a great swap for high carb foods like potatoes and pasta. Let’s explore cauliflower and find out what makes it one of the 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 flowers 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 and re-emerged in Turkey, Italy and the Mediterranean region by 600 BC. During the mid-16th century, the vegetable was found in France and Northern Europe. Today, India, China, Italy, France and the United States produce the most cauliflower throughout the world.2
Types of Cauliflower
Not all cauliflower is white—it also comes in green, orange and purple varieties which is 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 both in a curd-shaped form and in a spiky variant called Romanesco broccoli.
- Purple: the antioxidant powerhouse anthocyanin gives it a purple color.
- Orange: highly nutritious with an ample amount of vitamin A.5
Cauliflower is a great source of nutrients, including vitamins and unique plant compounds. It’s high in fiber and a weight-loss friendly vegetable that’s easy to add to your diet. Just one cup of cauliflower contains 3 grams 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 grams of raw cauliflower has the following:
- Calories: 25
- Fiber: 3 grams
- 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 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—great for boosting immune health. It also promotes better 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 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. However, it can also be used as a base for beans and rice, stir-fry dishes or anything else you would make with rice.13
- Prep time: 10 minutes
- Cook time: 15 minutes
- Total time: 25 minutes
- Serves: 4 (3/4 to 1 cup servings)
- 1 large head cauliflower, separated into 1-inch florets
- 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 1 medium onion, finely diced
- 1 tsp Kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, finely chopped
- Juice 1/2 lemon
- Trim the cauliflower florets, cutting away as much of the stem as possible.
- In 3 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, about 8 minutes.
- Add the cauliflower and stir to combine. Add 1 teaspoon of salt and continue to cook, stirring frequently, until the cauliflower has softened, 3 to 5 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-Style14
Wake up your taste buds with a simple but absolutely delicious teriyaki cauliflower recipe that’s easy to make. 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 tablespoon sesame oil
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/4 cup soy sauce or tamari (gluten-free)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2/3 cup brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon hoisin sauce
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 3 tablespoons water
- 1 cauliflower head, roasted
- Black and white sesame seeds
- Cut 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 2 minutes.
- In a small bowl, combine cornstarch with 3 tablespoons of water. Add into saucepan and stir. Simmer for another 3 minutes until thickened.
- Add in cauliflower chunks and mix well. Top with sesame seeds.
Baked Cauliflower Buffalo Wings15
These spicy cauliflower buffalo wings are the perfect appetizer for parties. 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
- 1 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 Paleo-approved 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.
If you’ve enjoyed reading this article, you may also like our Cauliflower Poppers and Italian Herb Mashed Cauliflower recipes and 18 Food Replacement Hacks that Make Healthy Eating Easy. Also, join the Swanson Health Email list to get expert advice and our best promotions delivered straight to your inbox. Sign up now!
1 Patil, Kiran. 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. April 26, 2019. Organic Facts.net. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html
2 Patil, Kiran. 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. April 26, 2019. Organic Facts.net. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html
3 Cauliflower: A Royal Health Boost. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/diet/features/cauliflower-health-boost
4 Patil, Kiran. 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. April 26, 2019. Organic Facts.net. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html
5 Patil, Kiran. 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. April 26, 2019. Organic Facts.net. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html
6 Brown, Mary Jane Brown, PhD, RD. What Is Choline? An Essential Nutrient With Many Benefits. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/what-is-choline#what-it-is
7 Coyle, Daisy, APD. Sulforaphane: Benefits, Side Effects, and Food Sources, Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/sulforaphane#benefits
8 Elliott, Brianna, RD. The Top 8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower
9 Elliott, Brianna, RD. The Top 8 Health Benefits of Cauliflower. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/benefits-of-cauliflower
10 Patil, Kiran. 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. April 26, 2019. Organic Facts.net. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html
11 Ware, Megan, RDN LD. Everything you need to know about cauliflower. Fri 18 August 2017. Medical News Today. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/282844.php
12 Patil, Kiran. 20 Amazing Benefits of Cauliflower. April 26, 2019. Organic Facts.net. https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/vegetable/health-benefits-of-cauliflower.html
13 Healthy Cauliflower Rice. Food Network.com. https://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchen/healthy-cauliflower-rice-3363582
14 Silla, Grace. Teriyaki-Style Roasted Cauliflower. One Green Planet.org. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/vegan-recipe/teriyaki-style-roasted-cauliflower-vegan/
15 Lewis, Mariel. Spicy Cauliflower Buffalo Wings. AmazingPaleo.comhttps://www.amazingpaleo.com/2018/02/23/spicy-cauliflower-buffalo-wings/
*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.