Cauliflower, More Like Cauli-Power
Maybe when you think of cauliflower the first image that comes to mind is a sad vegetable dip plate that just has raw cauliflower and some ranch left on it because everyone already dipped the carrots. Maybe you imagine a five-year old gagging at the steamed cauliflower their parents are trying to force them to eat. Maybe you start thinking of Cauliflower ear injuries that really have nothing to do with the actual vegetable, but simply don’t paint a pretty picture.
Whatever it may be, cauliflower often gets a bad rap, but I will not stand by as cauliflower gets deemed broccoli’s anemic sibling. This article is here to inform you about the versatility, flavor, and freshness that cauliflower can truly bring to every meal. Pretty soon you may start craving…gasp…cauliflower for dinner.
Here are 6 reasons why cauliflower is a wonderful vegetable, and additional recipes to help you get started using this veggie in your own kitchen.
- 1. The Texture is Unbeatable
For many self-proclaimed “picky-eaters,” texture is everything when it comes to making a dish either disgusting or enjoyable. Cauliflower has the amazing ability to transform itself into so many varied textures, just within one simple preparation. Depending on how you cook it, you can enjoy the vegetable in its super crispy state, its saucy and creamy state, or anywhere in between. When people just simply steam cauliflower they often lose the immense versatility of texture and flavor that this vegetable has to offer. To harness this power instead try this delicious recipe from the New York Times, or this easier, yet similar recipe for whole-roasted cauliflower.
- 2. It is a Great Meat Replacement
Between 2014 and 2017 there was a 600% increase in the number of people who identified as “vegan” in the United States alone. This means the demand for plant-based alternatives to meat, eggs, dairy, and other animal products has greatly increased along with that. The only issue with these popularity no-meat diets is that most meat alternatives are ridiculously expensive, especially when you are a broke high school student just trying to help the planet by eating less meat. Luckily, instead of spending $0.62 per oz on Beyond Ground “beef,” you can buy a head of cauliflower for about $0.11 per oz and turn it into your own delicious meat substitute. You can start with this recipe for cauliflower ground “beef,” which is perfect for tacos, burritos, and so much more. You can also branch out and try these delicious buffalo cauliflower “wings,” this cauliflower fried “chicken,” or these addicting cauliflower “steaks.”
- 3. It is a Great Carb Replacement
Wow, cauliflower really does wear so many different hats. While carbohydrates absolutely are not bad for you, many people try to keep their carbohydrate intake at a moderate amount, and some people following the trendy keto diet are attempting to cut out most carbs altogether. Even if you are not trying to do either of those things, people with celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivities may sadly have to avoid a lot of carbohydrate-heavy offerings. This is where cauliflower steps in once again! You can find an almost infinite number of cauliflower replacement recipes, but these are some of my favorites. If you are trying to avoid gluten try this cauliflower pizza crust, these cheesy cauliflower breadsticks, or this creamy cauliflower “mac” and cheese. If you are trying to cut carbs in general you can try these wonderful variations on fried “rice,” this recipe for cauliflower tortillas, or this delicious cauliflower couscous. If you don’t have potatoes in the house, but are craving some classic potato recipes you can try these cauliflower “tater” tots or this delicious garlic mashed cauliflower.
- 4. It Accepts Any Flavor Profile
While many people complain about how bland cauliflower can become, they fail to see the upside to it’s neutral flavor: cauliflower can be used in pretty much any cuisine and accept all sorts of different flavors. Whether you are craving Mediterranean or Mexican food, Chinese or Cuban food, or really anything else, cauliflower has your back. It is the blank vegetable canvas you needed all along to paint with scrumptious and diverse spices, sauces, and flavors. If you are not sure where to start, I suggest trying this Indian cauliflower dish called Aloo Gobi, this Mediterranean cauliflower tabbouleh, or this delicious Szechuan-style cauliflower stir fry.
- 5. It is Considered a Superfood
We often hear about illustrious superfoods like blue spirulina or collagen that I frankly have never purchased or eaten in my entire life, but certain common and accessible vegetables, including cauliflower, are also considered superfoods. The CDC actually placed cauliflower as #24 on its long list of powerhouse vegetables and fruits, which is a pretty fantastic endorsement for such a humble veggie. To clarify, superfoods are extremely nutrient-rich foods, just like cauliflower. It is high in fiber, Vitamin B, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, antioxidants, and phytonutrients. If you are looking for some of the healthiest ways to harness the superfood-power of cauliflower, try this roasted cauliflower dip or this moroccan baked cod and cauliflower
- 6. It Protects Against Leading Causes of Death
Considering cauliflower’s standing as a nutrient-dense superfood, you may not be so surprised that it can help protect you against the leading killers in the United States. The number one cause of death in the U.S is cardiovascular disease, causing 268.8 deaths per every 100,000. If you want to work to avoid this, cauliflower is a great place to start, as it is high in fiber and water. Dietary fibers helps lower the risk of inflammation-related diseases, such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and obesity. Sadly, the second most frequent cause of death in the U.S is cancer. Luckily, a research team in France found that PEITC is an anti-cancer compound, that is found in cruciferous vegetables just like cauliflower. Also, when chewing cauliflower you release isothiocyanates (ITCs) from the vegetable, which are products of glucosinolates that help to inhibit cancer growth. Some of the healthiest preparations of cauliflower include this delicious roasted cauliflower salad or this shaved cauliflower salad. If you are looking for more subtle ways to work these anti-cancer properties into your diet you can also try this cauliflower alfredo sauce or this cheesy cauliflower lasagna.
- 7. It is Fast and Easy to Prepare
If you are preparing dinner, especially on a weeknight, it is hard to not let time and effort be the first two deciding factors when choosing what to eat. Vegetables especially seem to take a lot of time and effort to cut up, prepare, cook, and season fully, in comparison to frozen dinners or pasta nights. Cauliflower, luckily, is a vegetable that can be quickly prepared, purchased from the store already cut up, or even prepped by you days in advance. My favorite fast weeknight cauliflower dinner is these cauliflower tacos, but feel free to try out this super fast (and vegan) 20-minute cauliflower curry. If you are looking for a speedy lunch to meal prep you can also try these cauliflower rice burrito bowls or this fast sauteed cauliflower that pairs well with any protein or grain of your choosing.
I hope that after reading this article you will be a proud defender of the humble cauliflower and its glorious array of powers. Let’s turn those cauli-haters into cauli-lovers!