Cauliflower: Gift of winter – and health!

cauliflowerWhite, green, purple or orange, this antioxidant-packed flowering plant is far from boring. It is a healthy and versatile vegetable! Cauliflower is high in vitamin C, folate (a form of vitamin B) and fiber, but low in calories — one cup of raw cauliflower contains only 25 calories!

Along with broccoli, cabbage and Brussels sprouts, cauliflower belongs to the brassica family and is known as a cruciferous vegetable. Cauliflower is an excellent source of fiber, which helps maintain blood glucose levels so we feel full longer. Fiber also acts as a clearing agent, removing bacteria and other buildup from our intestines, reducing our risk of colon cancer.

In addition to its fiber and vitamin content, cauliflower contains several cancer-fighting antioxidants including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbonal. Clinical studies increasingly indicate that dietary indole-3-carbinol (I3C) prevents the development of estrogen-enhanced cancers including breast, endometrial and cervical cancers.

Sulforaphane is an anti-cancer compound released when cauliflower is chopped or chewed. As we know, the nutritional value of some foods is reduced during the cooking process. Boiling cauliflower significantly reduces the levels of its anti-cancer compounds with losses of 20 to 30 percent after five minutes, 40 to 50 percent after 10 minutes, and 75 percent after 30 minutes. Steaming, microwaving and stir-frying, however, do not have a significant effect on the nutritional value.

Cauliflower can be used in many different ways — puree it for use as a soup thickener or add it to stir-fry and salads. Cauliflower is also hearty enough to be roasted! So go ahead, eat up!

Cauliflower Salad with Caramelized Onions and Toasted Almonds

MAKES 4 SERVINGS

Ingredients:

2/3 cup finely chopped yellow onion

1/4 cup balsamic vinegar

2/3 cup water

1 teaspoon agave nectar

4 cups cauliflower florets (about 12 ounces)

1 tablespoon top-quality extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

2 tablespoons lightly toasted almonds

1 tablespoon fresh lemon peel, grated

Instructions:

In a small saucepan, place the onion, vinegar, water, and agave. Bring to a boil and simmer over low heat for 30 minutes, or until the liquids have nearly evaporated. Watch carefully, stirring occasionally so the mixture doesn’t burn. Let cool.

Bring a medium saucepan of salted water to a boil. Blanch the cauliflower 3 minutes, or until just al dente. Immediately transfer to a bowl of ice water. Drain well and transfer to a mixing bowl.
Drizzle the oil over the cauliflower and toss lightly. Add the onions and toss again. Season to taste with the salt and pepper. Divide among four plates. Sprinkle with the almonds and lemon peel.

NUTRIENT ANALYSIS PER SERVING: 100 calories, 4 grams protein, 14g carbohydrates, 4g total fat, <1g saturated fat, 3g monounsaturated fat, 130 milligrams omega-3s, 3g fiber, 7g sugar, 323 mg sodium
Adapted from Positively Ageless – A 28-Day Plan for a Younger, Slimmer, Sexier You by Cheryl Forberg RD (Rodale)

© Cheryl Forberg 2016