Crushing on Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be a very underrated vegetable. Think about it, how often do you see it as a side option at restaurants. Broccoli rabe, asparagus, sautéed mushrooms and creamed spinach seem to pull rank in the vegetable department when it comes finer dining. Cauliflower can be broccoli’s inferior step sister; she’s ugly and can be downright boring sometimes.  As a dietitian, it feels almost illegal to dislike any type of vegetable, but I am going to be honest with you, there was once a day some 10 years ago I HATED cauliflower. The texture, the lack of flavor – it’s a vegetable that screams ‘Blah!’.

So why am I writing about it? Well, in my growing maturity over the past 10 years, I’ve learned to embrace two things; no longer needing powder blue eye shadow and cauliflower. The turning point was the night I decided to make whipped cauliflower for the family as a mashed potato alternative. After that dinner, cauliflower has never been the same.

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferious vegetable family. Other members of this classification include broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cabbage, bok choy and kale. The name ‘cruciferous’ comes from its alternative name Cruciferae, new latin for ‘cross-bearing’. The shape of these plants four-petal flowers resemble a cross. Get it? One rule of thumb for these vegetables: don’t overcook them. When overcooked, they can give off a strong sulfur odor.

Over the past decade or so it seems like one waxing and waning health trend is to swear off all white foods. Why? Sure white breads, pasta and rice aren’t nutritionally dense, but I’ve found that many people think other white foods are bad for you. They’re not. White beans, white button mushrooms, parsnips, onions, turnips, cauliflower and regular white potatoes all have nutrients to bring to the table. Yes, even potatoes.

Now then, I spotlight cauliflower today. It is rich in antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties through its high vitamin C and K content. One cup of cooked cauliflower contains 5 grams of fiber and 140mg of omega-3. Talk about protecting that ticker of yours!

Image by Kimberly Sabada

Image by Kimberly Sabada

I enjoy cauliflower roasted with a little olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast at 375 degrees F until tender and lightly browned. When cooked properly, cauliflower develops a very smooth, creamy texture great for adding to soups or as a substitute for cheese on salads. You’re probably rolling your eyes at the idea of a vegetable taking place of cheese, but try it! Click here for my Curried Cauliflower with Garlic Roasted Beans and Brown Rice on The Healthy Revival (pictured above).

Come back next week for a delicious twist on a classic recipe featuring cauliflower!

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