”Cauliflower is Nothing But Cabbage With a College Education” Mark Twain
Where I come from we call cauliflower ”the flower cabbage”. Indeed the cabbage family is huge, and we can see even arugula and radishes parading as distant cousins. Scientists call these ”cruciferous veggies”, how about that for sounding fancy? Crucifers used to look a lot more like kale in our distant past, and they grew in the Mediterranean for the gathering joy of our ancestors.
In recent decades, we are enjoying more and more varieties: colored cauliflower, romanesco (hello alien!), broccoli and broccolini, flowering kale, even our local supermarket has 5- 6 varieties of these. A farmers market really has your head spinning with variety and freshness.
You’ve probably heard of their cancer fighting properties, due to a rich content of glucosinolates and antioxidants (read a full list of the health properties of cauliflower here ). So why don’t we eat them more? They are pleasing to the eye, super filling, diet friendly and can be delicious.
My personal guesses are three:
1. They give many people gas. This can be due to cooking methods, food combinations, not using spices and herbs, and not eating them often enough. This ”musical” effect can be avoided if you experiment with short cooking times, or adding spices and herbs such as ginger, cumin, fennel, asaphoetida, or mint and lemon. You also don’t want to eat gas producing veggies with too much fat. The slower digestion of high fat meals prolongs the chance for bacteria to feed on undigested matter. If you haven’t been eating cabbage type veggies for a while, start with smaller amounts, chew well and do not overeat them.
2. They taste ”funny”, or in more scientific terms they are not very palatable (or rewarding for that matter). The same compounds that make them good for us also cause them to taste hot and bitter. The longer I live in the US, the more I realize people prefer sweet and salty with an occasional splash of sour, but bitterness is rarely on the menu. Get used to bitterness, as the bitter taste is guarantee that your veggie has some real detox power.
3. Cauliflower and broccoli that have been frozen or sitting on the shelf for a long time have a rubbery soggy and unpleasant texture, and they taste pretty bland unless you disguise them under coats of dressing and cheese (look at #1 to remember the musical effect of that). This way, most people (and their kids) develop an undeserved aversion to a wonderful veggie, just because it has not been picked fresh.
Here is a dare for this weekend: go to a farmer’s market and buy a fresh head of cauliflower or broccoli. You can cook it any way you normally cook them. Let me know if you can see, taste, smell and hear a difference. If you are doing the ” The Real Food Reset” with us, just know you can enjoy these veggies as often as you like.
Jo Robinson, in her new book ”Eating on the wild side – the missing link to optimal health” shares some astonishing facts about the cabbage family, and maybe it won’t be of a shock to anyone that we eat 250 times more potatoes than we do broccoli. Here are some cruciferously fun facts.
- Broccoli is extremely sensitive to transportation and storage. 1 week in storage makes it lose 50 to 80 percent of its life giving nutrients. To get the most out of the green heads, buy them at farmer’s markets and eat within 2 days. Steam it quickly – 4 minutes is best.
- Cabbage keeps well, and you can keep it in the fridge for weeks. Score. Wondering which color cabbage to choose? Red is king – packing about 6 times more antioxidants.
- Purple, yellow, green and white are all varieties of cauliflower, with the darker being more nutrient packed. It’s believed that the pale variety is an albino mutant. Good news is it can be stored in the crisper of your fridge for a week, unlike the pretentious broccoli.
One of our favorite things to do on the weekend is scout the markets for seasonal, fresh and exciting foods. This weekend I happened to have a ton of cauliflower – a white, yellow and green variety. The recipes below were created in our cozy California kitchen over a few days, and we enjoyed them a lot with dinner.
It’s easy to work with cauliflower of any variety and color. I have health conscious friends that freak out if you cook any veggie longer than a 5 minute of sauteing. Roland and I like to vary our cooking methods from steaming, through sauteing to roasting – every method has its pros and cons, and luckily by rotating you make sure you get valuable nutrients most of the time without making all of your food taste like you are on a vegetable fast at fat camp. Without further cruciferous delay, here are three awesome cauliflower recipes you can easily make – no experience needed.
Cauliflower ”pretend” rice
On this particular evening we had cauliflower rice, cauliflower puree and spaghetti squash and Roland remarked:” It’s really odd to have all pretend rice, mashed potatoes and pasta in the same meal”. It may have been odd, but it was delicious.
To make 4 servings you need:
1 medium head cauliflower (preferably white)
a steamer basket
salt to taste
fat to taste (use ghee, butter, or olive oil)
To start making cauli rice, fill a pot with just a bit of water, and place a steamer basket on the bottom. Let the water heat while you clean and wash the cauliflower. Cut the thick bottom of the stem off and discard the leaves. My favorite way to wash is to submerge it in a bowl of water with a pinch of salt to get rid of little bugs that may be hiding inside the head.
Place the cauliflower, top up, in the steamer pot, cover and cook for 8-10 minutes depending on the size.
Take out and cool in a bowl of ice water.
When cool, use a coarse grater to grate the cauliflower and voila – you have cauli rice.
Season it with salt and fat to taste, and feel free to add extra spices: turmeric, asaphoetida, cumin, black pepper, and why not a touch of walnuts or sliced olives. Mint and cucumbers will make this heavenly.
We usually serve it plain like shown above as a side to hamburger patties, chicken or pork chops. It’s also great with slow cooked beef.
For those times when you are not having potatoes, a delicious option of similar texture is mashed cauliflower. It takes a blender and a few minutes.
1 medium head cauliflower (steamed)
2 tbsp almond or cashew butter
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1/2 cup almond milk
Take a steamed head of cauliflower and chop it in small pieces. Toss in a blender or food processor and add the nut butter, seasoning and almond milk. Depending on the consistency of your cauliflower you may need more or less of the almond milk, so don’t put it all in at the same time.
Serve the mashed cauliflower as a delicious side.
p.s. I used nut butter and almond milk because I eat dairy free at the moment, but you can also use half and half and melt in your mouth real butter instead of those.
Roasted colorful cauliflower
When you get your hands on some colored varieties, roast them, just for the dramatic effect. This is how we did it:
Enough for 4 health conscious eaters:
2 small cauliflowers
1 large lemon
4-5 cloves crushed garlic of 1 tbsp garlic powder
juice of 1/2 lemon
2 tbsp olive oil
salt to taste
Preheat your oven to 375F. Cut the cauliflowers into thin florets. Cut the lemon in wedges. In a big bowl mix the veggies and lemon slices, season with the lemon juice, garlic, salt and olive oil. Once everything is evenly coated distribute in a large pan and roast for 30 minutes. Enjoy hot as a side! Here we show it with some salmon – it was a fine combination!
Do you have any other cabbage questions lingering? Are you wondering if it’s high time you started cooking more? Do you need motivation to eat better? Join our Facebook page and download our free Kindle book – Lose Weight Today!