Call in the Cauliflower!

Posted by on Sep 11, 2012 in Blood Sugar Balance, Essential Fats, Gluten-Free, Just. Eat. Real. Food., Vegetables & Sides

Call in the Cauliflower!

“How’s your cruciferous vegetable intake?” asked the doctor never.

When concerned with anti-aging strategies, fighting off cancer, and reducing inflammation, cruciferous vegetables should be on your plate.

In general, cruciferous veggies are jam-packed with dietary benefits. They are low in calories, and high in fiber, calcium, iron, vitamins A and C, and beneficial enzymes.

Crucifers contain important disease-fighting phytochemicals that may help lower your risk of cancers. In lab studies, the phytochemicals found in cruciferous vegetables – sulforaphane, indole 3-carbinol and crambene – stimulates enzymes in the body that detoxify carcinogens before they can damage cells.

These powerful antioxidants reduce oxidative stress and inflammation which is also crucial to overall health, especially cardiovascular health. Cruciferous veggies contain the most healthy plant Omega-3 fatty acids and may help to protect against heart disease. (One cup of Cauliflower contains 140mg of Omega-3 fats, Broccoli, 200mg and Brussels sprouts a whopping 260mg!!)

To receive the fabulous health benefits of cruciferous vegetables, it is recommended that we include a  1 1/2 to 2 cup serving at least 4 to 5 times a week.

 

Crazy about Cauliflower

One of many vegetables in the cruciferous family, Cauliflower is quickly becoming one of our family favorites and a staple in our crisper now that we have gotten away from eating grains and white potatoes. (Dear Husband has many food intolerances and I have found I am much healthier supporting him by eating the same foods.)

Since cauliflower has high water content (92%), it is low in calories. One cup of cooked cauliflower contains about 34 calories, 5 grams of fiber and 140mg of healthy Omega-3 fats. Nutritionally, cauliflower is a good source of potassium, Vitamin B6, riboflavin, folic acid and niacin, and is high in Vitamin C.

Many nights, to save time, I just cut the florets off the core and roast them in the oven (425 degree oven for 25-40 minutes) with butter or olive oil, salt and pepper, sometimes adding minced garlic at roasting or drizzled with a bit of lemon juice before serving. Test with a fork for tenderness. Try this Roasted Garlic Cauliflower recipe.

Rice  is also off our menu. To solve that issue, we make cauliflower “rice”. This can be used as a substitute in any recipe that calls for rice. Here’s a recipe from Fast Paleo for Spicy Fried Cauliflower Rice (you can skip the onion, garlic, and spices/herbs if you want plain rice) or a video cooking lesson if you prefer more visual details.

My favorite comfort food has always been mashed potatoes. Many dishes such as stew, Shepard’s Pie, meatloaf, and especially Thanksgiving dinner just call for mashed potatoes. To resolve the desire for mashed potatoes, I make mashed cauliflower instead.

 

Recipe: Mashed Cauliflower

Summary: This is a substitute for mashed potatoes if you are avoiding potatoes because they are nightshades (inflammatory for some), are eating Paleo, or are watching your carbohydrate intake.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium head of cauliflower, leaves taken off
  • 2-4 T butter
  • 1/4 cup of milk, cream, or yogurt (If dairy-free, use chicken stock instead.)
  • sea salt and pepper

Instructions

  1. Break the cauliflower up into florets, or just chop the head coarsely.
  2. Steam the cauliflower until a fork tender. (Another option is to roast the cauliflower.) You want it very tender, but not mushy.
  3. While the cauliflower is cooking, add butter and milk/cream/yogurt/broth, sea salt and pepper to a food processor bowl with the S blade. (Alternatively, you can use a mixer or immersion blender in a mixing bowl but the food processor seems to work best.)
  4. Add the cooked cauliflower and process/blend to the smooth consistency of mashed potatoes.

Notes

This is a perfect dish for a gluten-free Thanksgiving feast. Reheat “potatoes” in a casserole dish in the oven at 350° for 20 minutes if making ahead of time. Don’t forget the gravy!

Variations

Add anything you might add to mashed potatoes – minced garlic, Parmesan cheese, parsley garnish, or more butter 🙂

Diet tags: Reduced carbohydrate, Gluten free

Number of servings (yield): 4

Other cauliflower recipes you might enjoy:

Cruciferous vegetables and cancer prevention. Murillo, G and Mehta, RG, Nutrition and Cancer 2001;41(1-2):17-28

Cruciferous vegetable consumption is associated with a reduced risk of total and cardiovascular disease mortality.  Zhang, X. et al., American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2011 Jul;94(1):240-246.

Photo from LaGrande Farmers Market