Cauliflower is the new kale: Why nutritionists can’t get enough of this lumpy veggie

By MIA DE GRAAF FOR DAILYMAIL.COM

We’ve stomached kale smoothies, we’ve come to terms with chia seed puddings, and we’ve even shipped in acai berries from Brazil – all in the pursuit of healthiness.

But the next clean eating fad embraces a far cheaper, far more accessible, and – let’s face it – far more bland ingredient.

The humble cauliflower is having its moment in the spotlight.

Of course, the joys of this lumpy vegetable are not news to nutritionists, who use it in everything, from pizza to mash to puddings.

However, now fad-loving chefs and cafes are tiring of avocado – and have latched on to cauliflower as their new star.

Soon, our lunches al-desko will be laden with it.

‘We definitely have seen an increase in popularity,’ the Nutrition Twins (Tammy and Lyssie Lakatos) told Daily Mail Online.

‘We’ve even noticed this at the grocery stores as there are a lot more options available, including cauliflower rice at Trader Joe’s as well as many more options of fresh and frozen and cut versions available!’

Mariana Dineen, a New York-based dietitian, concurred.

‘This superfood veggie is having its own little moment! Cauliflower is no longer that bland, smelly, steamed veggie your mom used to make. Its culinary tricks and nutrient dense profile are taking this lush cruciferous vegetable from boring to the mainstage.’

Dineen is excited about this ‘moment’, as an opportunity to replace processed carbs with healthier alternatives.

‘The Standard American Diet lacks vegetables and contains too many processed carbs,’ she explains.

‘In addition to choosing carbs wisely and squeezing in more veggies, replacing half of your starches with cauliflower’s versatile and starchy texture is perfect for making dishes more nutrient dense and with fewer calories.’

Here, we explain why it is so good for you, and how you can use it…

HEALTH BENEFITS OF CAULIFLOWER

One cup raw cauliflower provides:

Fiber: 2.0 grams

Good for: digestion

Protein: 2.0 grams

Good for: muscle rejuvenation

Carbohydrates: 5.0 grams

Good for: energy

Potassium: 320 mg

Good for: regulating body’s fluid balance

Calcium: 24 grams

Good for: bones

Vitamin C: 51 grams

Good for: immune system

Folate: 61 grams

Good for: cell and tissue growth

Vitamin K: 15 grams

Good for: aids healthy blood-clotting

BONUS: vitamin A

Abbey Sharp, the Canadian nutritionist behind Abbey’s Kitchen, explains: ‘If you can track down one of the orange cauliflower varieties, it is also a good source of beta-carotene (vitamin A).’

1. WEIGHT LOSS

‘It is replacing kale as the “new” sweetheart vegetable because of its ability to substitute for rice and potatoes in recipes,’ explains New York-based nutritionist and personal trainer Mary Jane Detroyer.

‘This is beneficial for people who live with conditions that prevent them from eating too many carbs like diabetes, elevated cholesterol, and obesity.’

The Nutrition Twins concur.

‘It’s very low in calories, so it’s a great food for weight loss,’ they explain.

‘It can easily be incorporated into many deliciously tempting dishes to seduce you to eat more nutrients and less of the heavy stuff.

‘It can seamlessly stand in for heavier foods like mashed potatoes and rice – and for just a fraction of the calories,’ they add.

2. BEATS BLOATING & GETS THINGS RUNNING… SMOOTHLY

In just 100 calories you get a whopping 12 grams of fiber.

This keeps you fuller for longer – preventing overeating – but also helps move things along.

Fiber flushes out constipation and the bloated feeling that comes with it by bulking up your stools, making them quicker and easier to pass.

3. CANCER-FIGHTING PROPERTIES

Eating fresh vegetables is proven to reduce the risk of certain cancers, including mouth, throat, stomach and lung.

The antioxidants they contain help reduce the impact of free radicals, the damaging molecules linked to cancer.

‘As a member of the cruciferous family (think kale, Brussels sprouts, broccoli etc), cauliflower is a power house of anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and detoxifying nutrients,’ Dineen explains.

It is also chock-full of fiber, which bulks up your stools, making them quicker and easier to pass. This reduces the number of toxins in the body, which can cause cell changes.

Cauliflower is a source of soluble fiber, which is broken down in the body. You also need insoluble fiber, which passes through the body virtually unchanged, and is found in whole grains.

And cruciferous vegetables are the richest source of a compound called glucosinolate, which contains sulfur – a key tumor-fighting nutrient.

‘When broken down, Glucosinolate releases the activating enzyme myrosinase to produce a range of DNA-protective metabolites such as sulforaphane,’ Abbey Sharp explains.

‘While research results have been mixed, a number of studies have linked a high consumption of brassicas like cauliflower to a reduced risk of lung, stomach, breast, colon and prostate cancers.

‘Cutting your cauliflower into small pieces and enjoying it lightly steamed or raw will provide the best access to those cancer-fighting compounds.’

4. BOOSTS BONE HEALTH

We usually turn to calcium-loaded milk for bone health.

But the Nutrition Twins warn that won’t do the trick on its own.

‘Bone health is complicated and requires more than just adequate calcium,’ they explain.

‘It’s a whole matrix of nutrients that help protect your body against fractures, including those pesky stress fractures that often plague women runners.’

Cauliflower is loaded with bone-healthy vitamin C, manganese and vitamin K.

6. FIND IT ANYWHERE, USE IN ANYTHING

‘Its texture is so versatile that you could puree it and add it to any soup or casserole,’ the Nutrition Twins said.

7. TAKES ON ALL FLAVORS

‘It takes on any flavor there is no one way of including it in your diet,’ Dineen explains.

‘This cruciferous veggie is like a blank slate that can take on any flavor and is versatile enough to be used everywhere!

‘Roasted, steamed, mashed, pureed, cut into steaks, barbecued, in salads, pizza crusts, quiche crusts, as a replacement for rice (think sushi), in place of mashed potatoes, as a meat substitute in tacos and even to make tortillas.’

HOW TO USE IT

1. DESSERT PIZZA

INGREDIENTS

Crust

  • 1 2lb head of cauliflower cut into florets

  • 3/4 cup almond flour

  • 2 tsp natural cocoa powder

  • 1 egg beaten

  • 1 tbsp honey

  • Pinch salt, cinnamon and nutmeg pinch of each

Toppings

  • 3 tbsp natural almond butter

  • 1 oz dark chocolate finely chopped

  • 1/4 cup banana sliced

  • 1/4 cup strawberries sliced

  • 1 tbsp shaved coconut toasted

  • 1 tbsp almond slices toasted

  • Honey if desired

INSTRUCTIONS

Crust

Preheat oven to 450F. Line a baking sheet with a silpat or nonstick mat.

Put your cauliflower into a food processor and pulse until it breaks up into small pieces that resemble rice.

Measure out 3 cups and transfer to a microwave safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes on high. Allow to cool, then squeeze the moisture out of the cauliflower rice.

To the cauliflower, mix in the almond flour, cocoa powder, egg, honey, salt, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Roll into a ball, then press into a round pizza crust, about 1/4 inch thick. Bake for 18-20 minutes, or until the centre is dry and the edges begin to brown.

Toppings

In a small microwave safe bowl, heat the almond butter in 30 second increments, stirring between each time, until soft and very smooth.

In another small microwave safe bowl, add the chocolate shavings and microwave on high for 30 second increments, stirring between each time, until melted and smooth.

Assembly

Spread the almond butter onto the crust, leaving a 1/2 inch border around the outsides. Top with the sliced fruit, almonds and coconut.

Dip a fork into the melted chocolate and drizzle it over the pizza. If you want to make the pizza sweeter, add a little drizzle of honey on top. Cut into slices using kitchen scissors, and enjoy at room temperature.

Originally published by Abbey’s Kitchen 

2. BURRITO BOWL

INGREDIENTS

Chicken:

  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 1lb chicken breasts skinless boneless

  • Pinch each of salt and chili powder

  • 2 cups mild salsa

Cauliflower rice:

  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil

  • 2 bags of Mann’s Cauliflower Cauliettes

  • 1tsp chili powder

  • Salt to taste

Cilantro lime crema:

  • 1/3 cup coconut cream the solids from a refrigerated can of coconut milk

  • 1/3 cup cilantro leaves

  • Juice of ½ lime

  • Salt and pepper to taste

Toppings:

  • 1 cup fresh pineapple finely diced

  • ¼ cup red bell pepper cored, seeded, and finely diced

  • ½ jalapeno pepper seeded, deveined and finely minced

  • 1 tbsp fresh lime juice

  • 1 tsp honey

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • ½ avocado sliced

  • ½ cup carrots shredded

  • ½ red bell pepper thinly sliced

  • ½ yellow bell pepper thinly sliced

  • 1 cup snap peas trimmed

  • Cilantro leaves for garnish

  • Crushed cashews for garnish

INSTRUCTIONS

Add two teaspoons of oil to a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and chili powder and pan fry until golden brown on both sides, about 5 minutes per side. Pour in the salsa, reduce heat to medium low, cover the pan and cook until the chicken is no longer pink and shreds easily with a fork, about 25 minutes. Shred chicken and set aside

Add the two teaspoons of oil to a medium pot over medium high heat and add in Mann’s Cauliflower Cauliettes. Stir to coat in the oil, then season with chili powder and salt, to taste. Cover and cook for about 5-7 minutes, until tender. Set aside.

To make the crema, in a blender or food processor, puree the coconut cream, cilantro, lime, salt and pepper until smooth.

To make the salsa, mix together the pineapple, red bell pepper, jalapeno, lime juice, honey and a pinch each of salt and pepper, to taste.

To assemble, divide the cauliflower rice between four bowls. Top with the chicken, pineapple salsa, avocado, carrots, red bell pepper, yellow bell pepper, cilantro, cashews and a drizzle of the lime cilantro crema.

Originally published by Abbey’s Kitchen 

3. MINI MUFFINS

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 medium cauliflower head cut into florets

  • 1 cup cheddar cheese finely shredded

  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo seeds removed (unless you like it hot)

  • 1 1/2 tsp adobo sauce or to taste

  • 2 tsp lime zest

  • 1/2 tsp salt

  • 1/4 cup coconut flour

  • 1/2 tsp tsp baking powder

  • 2 large eggs

  • 2 large egg whites

Toppings:

  • 1 ripe avocado mashed

  • 1/2 lime juiced

  • Salt and pepper to taste

  • 12 cherry tomatoes cut in quarters

  • Cilantro

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat the oven to 400F. Grease two mini muffin tins.

Put the cauliflower florets into a food processor and pulse until they reach a “rice” like consistency.

Transfer to a pan with 2 tbsp of water over medium high heat. Cover with a lid and steam until very soft, about 4 minutes. Remove the lid and allow the steam to escape and the cauliflower to start to lightly brown, about 2-3 minutes.

Bit by bit, put the steamed cauliflower in a cheesecloth over a bowl or the sink and squeeze out any residual liquid. Transfer the squeezed out cauliflower back to the food processor and repeat with any remaining cauliflower.

To the food processor, add in the chipotle peppers, adobo sauce, lime zest, cheese, salt, coconut flour and baking soda. Process until smooth and thick. Allow to cool for at least 10 minutes.

Once cool, add in the eggs and egg whites.

Fill the prepared mini muffin tins with the egg mixture and bake for 25 minutes, or until golden brown on all sides. Allow the mini muffins to sit in their shell for 5 minutes before carefully removing.

Meanwhile, mash together the avocado and lime juice with salt and pepper to taste.

To serve, top each mini cauliflower muffin with a dollop of avocado, a piece of tomato and cilantro.

Originally published by Abbey’s Kitchen

4. SKINNY MASH

This recipe is the perfect ‘lightened up’ version of mashed potatoes. Your family won’t even notice it’s not the real deal. You can modify it for your taste – more garlicky, more tangy with lemon… Anything.

Tip: If you want to use fresh cauliflower, simply substitute the frozen 1 pound bag for 1 medium head and steam it or cook it in the microwave and then begin with Step 2.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 (16 ounce bag)bag frozen cauliflower

  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic

  • 1/8 cup skim milk

  • 1 teaspoon dried chives (optional)

  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice (optional)

  • Pepper to taste

INSTRUCTIONS

Defrost cauliflower overnight in the refrigerator or in the microwave.

Crush garlic and let it sit for 5 minutes to release its healthy promoting properties.

Add cauliflower to a blender or food processor along with milk, garlic and seasonings.

Add lemon juice and sample for taste. Add more garlic, lemon or spices as desired.

Serves 3 (approximately 3/4 cup servings)

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