The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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June 17, 2014

Dietitian: Benefits of cooking-friendly cauliflower go beyond nutrition

Q: Is there any nutritional benefit from cauliflower? I’ve heard that you want to eat brightly colored fruits and vegetables instead of ones that don’t have much color. Since cauliflower is white, is it worth eating?

A: You are correct in that health professionals have long been promoting dark leafy greens, bright sweet potatoes, rich berries and other colorful produce. The great news is that cauliflower is a bright color – white! White fruits and vegetables (bananas, onions, jicama, mushrooms, turnips) contain nutrients that provide powerful immune-boosting activity and are a great addition to your meals.

Cauliflower has long been popular in Mediterranean and Indian cuisine for its ability to soak up every bit of flavor that comes its way. Called one of the top vegetables of 2013, this versatile favorite takes well to any cooking method. Cauliflower is great roasted, pan-fried, sautéed, pureed or simmered in a well-seasoned sauce.

When roasted, cauliflower takes on a sweet, nutty flavor, making it a revelation for those who know it only as a bland, often over-steamed side dish. Served plain or with sauces, it wins over even the most reluctant audience. Combined with a zesty cheese sauce and baked, it’s a rich, toasty replacement for mac and cheese.

Try one of the seasonal purple, green or orange varieties. Purple is a sweeter, nuttier variety long grown in the Mediterranean region. Green is a hybrid of cauliflower and broccoli, offering the best of both. Mild and creamy orange was found growing naturally in a Canadian field about 40 years ago. While all cauliflower is high in vitamin C, the orange variety is also a good source for beta-carotene, which is rich in vitamin A, vital for healthy eyes. Cauliflower comes from the same healthful family as broccoli, collards and kale, and is available year-round.

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