Cauliflower has long been under-appreciated, but nowadays it’s at the top of every low-carb shopping list. An unassuming, but sturdy member of the cabbage family (or brassicaceae family if you want to sound like an expert), cauliflower has taken a leading role in helping us cut carbs. Let’s take a look at the nutrition cauliflower provides, and some tasty ways to use it in place of traditional starches.
First, the facts. An entire cup of chopped cauliflower contains less than 30 calories, 2 grams of both protein and fiber, and just 3 net carbs. The more common white cauliflower is a very good source of Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B6, folate, and pantothenic acid. There are also several colorful varieties of cauliflower, including yellow, purple, and green, that each contain slightly different nutrients. Some of the more celebrated health benefits of consuming cauliflower are associated with its least glamorous quality: considerable amounts of sulfur-containing phytochemicals called glucosinolates. Despite their stinky reputation, glucosinolates are showing exciting promise for potential anti-cancer and anti-inflammatory effects.
Using cauliflower in place of high carbohydrate foods like breads, rice, and potatoes is easier than you might think. Here are some of my favorite ways to swap out starches with nutrient-dense cauliflower.
Fried Rice. Cauliflower rice, which can be made by chopping fresh cauliflower in a food processor, stands in for rice so well that you may not notice the difference. Just be sure not to overcook it, or it will quickly lose texture. Prepare your recipe sans rice and add the cauliflower rice just at the end of cooking time. Need to simplify? Purchase frozen riced cauliflower and toss that into your favorite rice dishes instead.
Pizza crust. This fan-favorite food can be notoriously high in calories, many of which come from the crust. Instead, make your own crust using cauliflower rice, cheese, egg, and Italian seasoning. Just be sure to press out the water so your crust crisps up in the oven! Simply bake, then finish with your favorite pizza toppings, just like you would with a traditional crust. Not into cooking? Frozen cauliflower pizza crusts can be found at many grocery stores as well!
Mashed Potatoes. Swap out some, or all of the potatoes in your mash for steamed or roasted cauliflower. Once blended with other ingredients like milk, ghee, garlic or seasonings, cauliflower takes on the same smooth, creamy consistency as the spuds you love so much. Roasted cauliflower also stands in well for roasted potatoes as a side dish, or in a breakfast skillet.
Tots. Yes, that glorious school lunch staple from your childhood – only without the “tater” (and without the deep fryer!). In a bowl, mix together some lightly steamed and chopped cauliflower, cheese (the sharper the better), egg, a small amount of bread crumbs, and seasoning. Shape into tots and bake at 350 degrees until toasty.
While these ideas appeal to those cutting back on carbs, they are also fantastic ways to boost the veggie content in any diet. Try one of these cauliflower recipes this week for a tasty and nutritious treat the entire family is sure to enjoy!