Growing up, it seemed cauliflower got no love—few people could get excited about a serving of the white and somewhat woody stuff. When our well-intentioned parents cooked it to mush, they did its reputation no favors.
But times have changed, and it’s now a veritable veggie rock star. Consider its nutritionals: With just 27 calories per cup and two grams of protein, it provides antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer; fiber to enhance weight loss and good digestion; and choline, which is vital for learning and memory, among other key nutrients.
By now, you’ve probably seen cauliflower in 100 different forms on restaurant menus and encountered cauliflower pizza crust, designed to healthy-up the usually carb-laden treat. But that’s just the tip of the cauli-berg. Sales for the packaged vegetable grew a stupendous 71 percent last year, according to Nielsen data. Green Giant now fills your grocer’s freezer with cauliflower rice, cauliflower mashed potatoes, and more. Kraft offers cauliflower mac and cheese, and Birds Eye—in addition to riced and mashed cauli—also has transformed the veg into fries and tots for those who crave some crunch.
Is seems as if the vegetable is moving towards dietary domination as Americans shun flour and embrace gluten-free eating. Cauliflower meshes well with the plant-based, gluten-free, and low-carb diets that are so popular right now. Expect to see it turn up in more foods that usually rely on flour—think crackers, chips, pretzels, and the like. Look for brands like From the Ground Up and Cali’flour Foods, among others.
Sales for packaged cauliflower grew a stupendous 71 percent last year.
Its versatility is hard to beat. “Cauliflower provides this amazing texture that can be used in a variety of recipes,” Mark Hyman, MD, the director of the Cleveland Clinic’s Center for Functional Medicine and New York Times best-selling author of Food: What the Heck Should I Eat?, noted in a recent interview. “It’s a great option for people who are pre-diabetic, diabetic, or who want to avoid high-glycemic foods. They still get to have pizzas, breads, and rice without spiking their blood sugar,” he said.
If you haven’t tried it yet, may we recommend trying the riced or mashed version and seeing if it isn’t a fun and healthful option to the usual carbs. One note: Those on blood thinners shouldn’t go cauli-crazy—it packs a wallop of Vitamin K that could interact with your meds.