Sometimes you can’t predict the future. For instance, who knew that cauliflower would be the hottest food trend of the decade? Well, it is… and right now, it’s everywhere.
In fact, I just got back from a run to Trader Joe’s, where they’re selling everything from cauliflower gnocchi to cauliflower pizza to cauliflower “thins” you can use to make sandwiches and tacos. And when Trader Joe’s loves a food that much, you know it’s truly cool.
Now, I don’t always jump on the bandwagon when it comes to food fads. But this time, I’m totally on board—and I hope it’s a trend that lasts forever. Today, I want to share three reasons why I’m a big fan of this versatile vegetable. I’ll start with the science lecture (it’s a nutrition-packed, cancer-fighting ninja) and then get to the good stuff—you won’t believe what you can make with it!
It’s incredibly good for you.
We talk all the time about “eating the rainbow,” because brightly colored veggies and fruits typically contain the most nutrients. But here’s the deal: Even though it’s usually white (although there are orange and purple variations), cauliflower is a powerhouse of nutrients.
When it’s raw or lightly cooked, cauliflower is loaded with vitamin C. It’s also rich in vitamin K, folate, and fiber. And here’s the biggie: As a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, it gives you a huge dose of potent cancer fighters including sulforaphane and indole-3-carbinol. If you’re serious about cancer prevention, you need to make cruciferous veggies like cauliflower a cornerstone of your diet.
(One caution here: When you’re buying cauliflower products, read the labels. Many also contain flour or other ingredients you might not want in your diet, so be skeptical until you’ve seen all the ingredients.)
It’s a super “swap” if you’re going grain-free or low-carb.
I’m a great believer in minimizing grains in your diet—or better yet, eliminating them altogether—and I’m also a big fan of limiting other carb-heavy foods. In fact, those are two of my biggest secrets for losing weight, staying young, and avoiding diseases like diabetes.
But I’m also human, and I know it can be tough to give up the grains and other high-carb foods you love. (Hey, I’m an Italian girl. I love my pizza too!) Now, thanks to cauliflower “swaps,” you can enjoy the tastes you love, guilt-free.
For instance, if you’re longing for pizza, check out my Perfect Pizza with a Cauliflower Crust. Once you’ve tried it, you’ll never go back to that greasy, cardboard crust again. Really. Trust me on this one.
And are you missing mashed potatoes? Then try mashed cauliflower. Start with my basic recipe here, and then get creative with chives, parsley, or bacon. If potato salad is more your style, that’s a cinch, too—here’s a recipe courtesy of Elena’s Pantry.
Or how about rice? Good news: It’s back on the menu, too! Just blitz cauliflower in your blender until the pieces are the same size as grains of rice, and go from there. You can use cauliflower rice to make anything from Cauliflower “Fried Rice” (scroll down the page to find the recipe) to a lovely, light Chicken and “Rice” Soup.
And while I don’t eat dairy, I know people who do just fine with it—and if you’re one of them, you can even make your own cauliflower gnocchi. Here’s a recipe from Diet Doctor for Keto Gnocchi with Homemade Pesto.
It makes awesome vegetarian/vegan entrees.
If you like to entertain, like I do—or you have family members who don’t eat meat—you always want to have some vegan or vegetarian options up your sleeve. And here again, cauliflower shines.
You can substitute cauliflower for meat in curries, make a spicy tandoori cauliflower (hat tip to NomMom Paleo for this version), or serve a roasted cauliflower steak (here’s a good recipe). I also like to serve a warm, hearty cauliflower soup, so I’ll end my ode to the amazing cauliflower with this fabulous soup from my 10-Day Belly Slimdown. My readers have voted this one of their all-time favorites from the book—and once you try it, you’ll see why!
PREP TIME: 15 MIN. | COOK TIME: 25 MIN. | YIELD: 4 TO 6 SERVINGS
2 tablespoons ghee (clarified butter)
1 garlic clove, minced
2 leeks, white and pale green parts only, cut into thin rounds
4 cups (1 quart) chicken bone broth
1/2 cup canned full- fat coconut milk
3 cups cauliflower florets
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 teaspoon Celtic or pink Himalayan salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more for serving
1/2 teaspoon arrowroot powder, blended with 1 tablespoon water, plus more if needed
In a large stockpot, melt the ghee over medium-high heat. Add the garlic and leeks and reduce the heat to medium- low. Cook, stirring, for 6 to 8 minutes, until softened.
Raise the heat to medium-high and add the broth, coconut milk, cauliflower, thyme, salt, and pepper. When the soup begins to simmer, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes, until the cauliflower is cooked through.
Purée with an immersion blender, blender, or food processor until smooth and creamy. Return to the stockpot and stir in the arrowroot mixture. Simmer for 3 to 5 minutes, until the soup thickens, adding more arrowroot if a thicker soup is desired.
Serve warm, garnished with freshly ground black pepper.