Take kale for example, today it’s a mainstream superfood noted for its numerous vitamins and minerals, but pre-2013 you’d be hard-pressed to find it on a menu.
This year is no different, with many chefs, restaurants and food bloggers touting cauliflower as the “new kale” and the number one pick for 2015’s most trendy veggie. Those of you surprised that this seemingly plain and boring cruciferous vegetable is getting so much attention, don’t be.
Like the other members of the Brassica oleracea family (kale, broccoli, cabbage and brussel sprouts), cauliflower is high in fiber, calcium, iron, potassium, manganese, copper and folate—all essential nutrients. It is also packed with immunity boosting vitamins K, E and C (just 100g is equal to approximately 80% of your vitamin C recommended daily intake*) – as well as natural phytonutrients proven to inhibit abnormal cell growth and help prevent prostate, colon, lung and breast cancer [source].
Perhaps cauliflower’s real claim to fame however is its versatile texture, which can be boiled, broiled, fried, mashed, grilled, grated, roasted and baked into almost any recipe as a supplement, or in some cases, an alternative for more carb-heavy ingredients like potatoes and flour.
Since cauliflower is incredibly low in calories, fat and cholesterol, it is the ideal substitute for low-carb dieters as well as people who suffer from celiac disease, diabetes and certain food allergies.
In this fast and easy recipe from Gimme Delicious Food, the crust is made up of grated cauliflower, mozzarella cheese and egg, while the toppings are left up to your culinary creativity.
Keep in mind however that this is a yeast-free, flour-free recipe and will have a slightly different consistency than the original pizza crust we know and love.
2. Mashed Potatoes
That’s a great question and here is the answer: too much starch can cause your blood sugar levels to skyrocket, which can ultimately lead to other health issues. Also, if you are trying to shed a few pounds, replacing the potatoes with cauliflower is a great way to cut out the extra carbs.
For a no potato recipe, Faithfulness Farm recommends this flavourful mashed cauliflower side dish seasoned with olive oil, garlic and Romano cheese. Or, if you are not ready to go sans potatoes quite yet, this garlic mash recipe from American Chef Rocco Dispirito combines potatoes with cauliflower florets for a healthy, balanced puree.
While there is no substitute for warm, crusty bread and melted butter, there are savory alternatives like this cauliflower bread recipe from Chocolate Chilli Mango.
The ideal treat for people with gluten allergies, this bread can be served warm or toasted with soups and salads, or as a guilt-free snack loaded with extra nutrients.
Gnocchi are light Italian dumplings made by mixing semolina or wheat flour with other ingredients such as potatoes, ricotta, spinach and breadcrumbs. Try this no-regrets, nutritious creamy cauliflower gnocchi recipe from Kitchen Confidante.
Everyone knows hummus is already a healthy spread, but sometimes it’s fun to try new things! And while chickpeas are a protein packed, nutrient dense legume, we think the cancer fighting properties of cauliflower make a good case for their occasional substitution.
Try this yummy cauliflower hummus recipe from Our Fifth House at your next dinner party, holiday event or summer BBQ.
6. Chocolate cake
This cauliflower cake recipe from Divalicious does just that, turning a very guilty pleasure into a tasty treat filled with essential minerals, antioxidants and omega-3s.
Cooking with cauliflower
Cauliflower is plentiful in winter months and can vary in color, ranging from orange, green and purple with the white variant being the most common.
When purchasing white cauliflower, choose snowy or cream colored bunches that are firm and compact to the touch. Avoid florets that are yellow or brown as they could indicate bruising or mildew; greenish hues may be a sign of over exposure to the sun.
To fully benefit from cauliflower’s natural nutrients, or any cruciferous vegetable for that matter, it is ideal to consume 1-2 cups per serving, 4-5 times a week. When cooking, keep in mind that boiling cauliflower will decrease its nutritional value -up to 75% in 30 minutes- while other methods such as steaming, microwaving and stir frying have shown to have no effect on nutrient levels [source].