The Best Way to Cook Cauliflower, and Why You Should Eat It

Many of us have memories of being kids sitting at the kitchen table, listening to our parents tell us for the thousandth time to “eat your vegetables.”  However, as time passes, most of us come around to eating our vegetables, as we are aware of the countless benefits they have for our health.  Let’s look at the best way to cook cauliflower, and answer some other common questions about this wonderful vegetable.

Cauliflower especially is one of the world’s most nutrient dense vegetables – readily available for us to enjoy.  If you’re someone who has long admired cauliflower in all its various incarnations, or if you are curious yet cautious about giving this wondrous cousin of broccoli a try, make sure you give this article a read to find out more about this supremely nutritious vegetable.

Read more: Salsify – The Ugliest of All Root Vegetables

“What is cauliflower, really?  I read it was in the Kale family?”

This question came in from Lenny F. of Los Angeles, CA.

Answer:  Cauliflower is in many ways similar to other extremely healthy vegetables, such as kale, cabbage and broccoli.  It is a part of the ‘cruciferous vegetable family’ that also includes bok choy, radish and Brussels sprouts.  ‘Crucifers’ are characterized by the fact that their flowers have four petals, in some ways resembling a cross or crucifix.  Cauliflower is incredibly dense in all types of nutrients, some of which have cancer-preventing properties.

“I just saw some purple cauliflower at the store, what’s up with that?”

This question is from Janet H. of Tampa, FL.

Answer:  Not surprisingly, purple cauliflower is the same as your basic cauliflower with the exception of having a beautiful, vibrant, violet color.  This purple tinge is a visual clue to the presence of an antioxidant known as anthocyanin, which can also be found in red cabbage, as well as in a glass of red wine.  Purple cauliflower has all the same health benefits and cancer fighting properties of regular cauliflower, with the added benefit of the extra antioxidant boost. You can also find orange and yellow cauliflower showing up at the local market.

“How does cauliflower help prevent cancer?”

This question came in from Paula P. of Littlerock, AR.

Answer:  Cauliflower helps your body prevent cancer due to the fact that it helps reinforce your body’s natural detoxifying process and is high in antioxidants, as well as supporting anti-inflammation.  If the body loses its balance by becoming overrun with toxins or is low in antioxidants, cells are more likely to become damaged or tired, opening a doorway for cancers to possibly develop.  Cauliflower in particular is useful in the prevention of bladder, breast, colon, prostate and ovarian cancer.

“What vitamins are found in cauliflower?”

This question is from Yak S. of Turtle, MN. 

Answer:  Cauliflower is so beneficial in the maintenance of your body’s health due to the fact that it is rich in essential vitamins, such as Vitamin C and vitamin K.  Cauliflower is also a very dense source of fiber, manganese, and antioxidants.  All of which are important in maintaining good health.  These components all work synergistically to help your body run at an optimum level if consumed as part of a healthy and balanced diet.

“What parts of the cauliflower do I eat?”

This question came in from Samuel J. of Santa Clause, AZ. 

Answer:  Traditionally, most people will eat the cauliflower florets, which are essentially the white, bulbous parts of the plant.  This being said, the stem as well as the leaves are also edible and rich in nutrients.  If the stems and leaves don’t appeal to you, make sure you either dump them into your compost bin, or better yet, toss them into your chicken coop – your girls will love munching on your leftover cauliflower treats.  Personally, I love to use the stems of Cauliflower and Broccoli to make Cole slaw.

“How often should I eat cauliflower?”

This question is from Joe R. of Austin, TX.

Answer:  It is recommended that you eat cauliflower or other cruciferous plants approximately two to three times per week.  In terms of serving size, it is recommended that you eat around 1 ½ cups per serving.  This being said, it is imperative that you prepare cauliflower in the right way, otherwise you may accidentally cook off some of the nutrients.  See the next question for preparation tips.

“What is the best way to cook cauliflower?”

This question came in from Barb G. of Lacroix, LA.

Answer:  Though most of us are accustomed to eating a couple of pieces of boiled cauliflower, alongside of plate of other steamed vegetables and perhaps a piece of meat – this however is not to best way to take advantage of the enormous health benefits of eating cauliflower.  Steaming, boiling and roasting cauliflower is delicious, however it unfortunately cooks off a lot of the essential nutrients that your body thrives on.  One of the most beneficial ways to cook your cauliflower is…

•    Add approximately 5 Tbsp of vegetable or chicken broth (or just plain water) to a stainless steel skillet.
•    Turn the heat on and wait for the broth or water to begin to bubble.
•    Add the cauliflower florets to the skillet, along with a little bit of turmeric.
•    Cover the skillet and let it cook for approximately 5 minutes.
•    Take the skillet off the heat, serve and enjoy.

Sautéing cauliflower with a little turmeric is an easy way to cook cauliflower that is both delicious and, most importantly, delicious.

“How do I pick the best quality cauliflower?”

This question is from Hap J. of Austin, TX.

Answer:  Picking the right cauliflower is as easy as feeling for the right avocado.  It just requires patience, determination and a little bit of knowledge.  Here is what you should look for when selecting the best quality cauliflower…

•    Check to see if the cauliflower has a dense, heavy and satiny stem.
•    Inspect that the leaves surrounding the florets be sure they are fresh and green.
•    Look for a cauliflower that appears tight, compact, and slightly heavy for its size.
•    Warning signs for an inferior cauliflower include dark spots on the stems or leaves, as well as the presence of mildew.

It can sometimes be difficult to find a truly remarkable cauliflower in your standard grocery store, that’s why many people opt to buy from farmer’s markets, community gardens, or even consider growing their own.

Read more: Unusual Onions – The Lowdown on Some Forgotten Onions

Grow Your Own Cauliflower at Home

If you have gardening experience, growing your own cauliflower will be a reasonably easy endeavor.  There are just a few basic principles you will need to consider…

•    Like most plants, cauliflower is easily grown from a single seed
•    Cauliflower thrives in moist, compost enriched soil
•    If you are planting your cauliflower in a nursery bed, ensure that you sow the seeds about ½ inch deep and 5 inches apart from one another
•    Always ensure that the soil is moist during its 10-12 week growing period
•    Transplant seedlings from the nursery bed once the plants have developed 4-6 healthy looking leaves.  Once transplanted, ensure each cauliflower plant is at least 2 feet apart from the next.

Though more avid gardeners will have their own tips and hints, the basics for growing cauliflower are relatively simple.  Ensuring that you have a healthy supply of compost is the perfect way to give your cauliflower crop a boost.

Read more: Grow Your Own Cauliflower, Cabbage, Broccoli, and More

The Cauliflower Renaissance

I love Cauliflower.  It has really entered a renaissance recently with cooks, professional to amateur, finding many different ways to put a creative spin on how they prepare, cook, and present this anything-but-boring vegetable.

One popular trend at the moment is cauliflower pizza crust, which is as delicious and crispy as it sounds.  All you need to do is simply process the cauliflower down into a fine purée, pack it down flat onto a standard pizza tray, and bake it briefly in the oven.  Top with all your favorite pizza toppings, like tomatoes, basil, oregano, and voilà – your cauliflower pizza is ready to go!

But it doesn’t stop there: cauliflower tacos, parmesan cauliflower bites, honey lime cauliflower “wings,” and substituting finely-chopped cauliflower for rice in a stir-fry are all wonderful ways to use this unique and very healthy vegetable.  There have never been more reasons to eat your vegetables, especially if we’re talking about cauliflower!

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