The superfood that is cauliflower.
Mark Twain said, “Cauliflower is nothing but a cabbage with a college education.”
GED or PhD, Cauliflower is definitely having a moment. Especially among those following a low-carb diet.
Before I launch into why you should be eating this incredible veggie, I’d like to offer up some “fun facts,” that I’m certain you’re dying to know.
The word “cauliflower” comes from the Italian “caoli fiori,” meaning “cabbage flower.” (We goombahs make everything sound better, except “bah-fungoo.”) The ultimate origin of the name is from the Latin words “caulis” which is cabbage and flos, or flower.
An annual plant, cauliflower reproduces by seed. (There’s something vaguely sexy about that. Or else, I’m just very needy.)
By the way, I was going to title this story, “More Than a Bulge in Your Pantry,” but I thought that would be untoward, and not at all, “me.”
The plants produce cross-shaped flowers and bear seeds in dry capsules, or “siliques.”
Each plant reaches about 1.5 feet tall, with large, rounded leaves that resemble collard greens.
A firm, succulent “curd” or head, is the part that is used for food. (Hmmmmm.)
Although white cauliflower is the most common, commercially, produce departments are also carrying orange, purple, green and even, brown heads. They’re actually quite beautiful in their coats of many colors.
Like broccoli, brussels sprouts and kale, cauliflower belongs to the family of cruciferous vegetables, the kind that, “back in the day,” mothers used to cook the living hell out of.
Nothing like the smell of overcooked broccoli in the morning.
The top cauliflower (and broccoli) consuming countries in the world are, China, India, the United States, Italy and Mexico.
Now for the good stuff: There are so many reasons to incorporate cauliflower into your diet, not the least of which this veggie is packed with phytonutrients — unique plant compounds that may decrease the risk of disease and also, keep your body working as it should.
Cauliflower is also extremely low in calories and high in fiber, which, as we all know, keeps you feeling fuller, longer. So, if weight loss is your goal, cauliflower is your friend, my friend.
For a mere 25 calories a cup, cauliflower’s health benefits are too good to pass up:
It keeps your bones healthy. Cauliflower contains vitamin C, which helps with collagen production, and vitamin K, which may help prevent bone loss.
It helps with detox. Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables contain Indole-3-carbinol, a phytonutrient that has been shown to aid the liver in its detox functions.
It aids in reducing high blood pressure. Eating cauliflower can help boost HDL cholesterol (the good kind) levels and lower blood pressure.
It strengthens your immune system. Choline, a nutrient found in cauliflower and other vegetables, helps with gastrointestinal health. Also, glutathione is an antioxidant that helps fight off infection.
It helps reduce the risk of cancer. Some studies have shown that Indole-3-carbinol and sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables have anti-inflammatory properties, help protect cells from DNA damage, and may also help inactivate carcinogens.
Take a look at what one cup of raw cauliflower provides:
77 percent of daily vitamin C needs
20 percent of daily vitamin K needs
10 percent or more of daily needs for vitamin B 6 and folate, plus smaller amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese
Overall, eating more plant foods, like cauliflower, has been found to decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
So, if you’re not already doing this, give the animals a break and eat nothing but plant-based foods a couple days per week.
And, for you low-carbers, cauliflower is having more than a moment. It’s become a staple in so many veggie bins (including mine), that Pinterest is awash with recipes for low-carb swaps like cauliflower mac ‘n cheese, cauliflower “steaks,” cauliflower pizza crusts, and the big one: Cauliflower “rice” which I eat all the time.
To make cauliflower rice, simply trim and break up a head of cauliflower into florets, then pulse in your food processor until it resembles rice.
But, guess what? You don’t even need to do that. Supermarket produce departments, as well as many companies, like Green Giant, offer ready-made cauliflower rice so the prep work has already been done.
I use cauliflower rice in any recipe that calls for regular rice, even Asian favorites. There are a ton of recipes and suggestions online to get you started.
Here’s one that’s so easy and delicious, you’ll want to make it often: Dump your prepared cauliflower rice into a bowl. Add a little bit of water and steam in your microwave for two or three minutes, or, until it’s tender, but not mushy.
Add some butter, any herbs of choice, salt and pepper and you have a delicious and healthy side dish.
To make your cauliflower rice a main meal, add a protein. Slice and sauté a chicken breast, add it to your rice, and you, too, will be a cauliflower addict, like me.
Here’s to your health!
© Sherry McGuinn, 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Sherry McGuinn is a slightly-twisted, longtime Chicago-area writer and award-winning screenwriter. Her work has appeared in The Chicago Tribune, Chicago Sun-Times, and numerous other publications. Sherry’s manager is currently pitching her newest screenplay, a drama with dark, comedic overtones and inspired by a true story.