Cauliflower: A Culinary Captivator

By Kari Hartel, RD, LD
Program Coordinator, Cooking Matters, Operation Food Search

Although kale seems to have been the trendy “it” vegetable over the past few years, it may have some competition this year. Cauliflower is poised to become the next hip veggie in 2015, which is fantastic considering the plethora of health benefits it provides. Cauliflower is loaded with vitamins, minerals, fiber, antioxidants and other powerful phytochemicals.

Research has shown that cauliflower can help fight cancer because it contains sulforaphane, which kills off cancer stem cells. Not only does sulforaphane help ward off cancer, it significantly improves your blood pressure and kidney function, and it reduces inflammation because of its indole-3-carbinol (chronic inflammation causes damage in your body, leading to multiple diseases). This cruciferous veggie is also chock-full of fiber, providing a beneficial boost to your digestive system.

Cauliflower is not only a nutrition powerhouse—it’s a culinary star as well. Because cauliflower is so mild-tasting, it really absorbs the flavors of whatever herbs and spices you use.

Here are some delicious ways to make the most of this versatile veggie:

  • Give mashed potatoes the boot and try mashed cauliflower instead. It’s lower in calories and carbohydrates (more diabetic-friendly), and it tastes wonderful! For a super-smooth consistency, use a blender.
  • Try roasted cauliflower. Roasting vegetables really brings out their natural sweetness and intensifies their flavor. Plus, roasting veggies is a super simple preparation—chop your veggies, place them in a large bowl, toss with some olive or canola oil and your favorite seasonings, and place on a baking sheet, spreading them out evenly so that none of the pieces are overlapping. Roast at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20 minutes and enjoy. I have actually found that roasted cauliflower is just as scrumptious cold as it is hot, making for great leftovers that you can toss onto a spinach salad or into a brown rice pilaf.
  • Toss cauliflower with some curry powder, salt, and pepper and sauté it with some olive oil, onions, and tomatoes for a delicious Indian-inspired side dish. To make it more of a main dish, add in some protein-packed chickpeas (garbanzo beans) and serve over warm brown rice or quinoa.
  • Banish the boring buffalo wings! For a healthy swap, try cauliflower wings instead of chicken. Whisk together a batter consisting of 3/4 cup flour, 1 cup water, and your favorite seasonings and dunk cauliflower pieces until well-coated. Then, spread it out onto a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 450 degrees Fahrenheit for about 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and brush cauliflower with wing sauce – a mixture of 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1/2 cup hot sauce, and 1 teaspoon honey. Bake 10 minutes more, cool 10 minutes and enjoy!

Rev Up Your Grocery Cart for the IdiotDashSTL & Virtual Food Drive!
Start gearing up for crazy fun in St. Louis’ wackiest race where you mush a decked out grocery cart with your five member team through the streets of downtown. Race days are either February 17 (Corporate Race and Fat Tuesday) or February 21 (Open Race). Themes and costumes that you create are all part of your team’s fun as you stop at restaurant checkpoints and compete in challenges for prizes. One of the challenges is to raise funds through your team’s online virtual grocery cart for OFS to purchase food to feed families and individuals in need throughout our community. Register today at http://www.downtownstl.org/event/idiotdash/.