Cauliflower is a member of the cancer-fighting cruciferous family of vegetables.
- Fights Cancer – Cauliflower contains sulforaphane, a sulfur compound that has also been shown to kill cancer stem cells, thereby slowing tumor growth. Some researchers believe eliminating cancer stem cells may be key to controlling cancer. Research has shown that combining curcumin, the active compound in turmeric, and cauliflower may help prevent and treat prostate cancer.
- Boosts Heart Health – Sulforaphane in cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function.
- Anti-inflammatory – Cauliflower contains anti-inflammatory nutrients, including indole-3-carbinol or I3C, an anti-carcinogenic, antioxidant compound.
- Rich in Vitamins and Minerals – One serving of cauliflower contains 77 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamin C. It’s also a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium, and manganese.
- Boosts Brain Health – Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development. Choline intake during pregnancy “super-charged” the brain activity of animals in utero, indicating that it may boost cognitive function, and improve learning and memory. It may diminish age-related memory decline and your brain’s vulnerability to toxins during childhood.
- Detoxification Support – Cauliflower contains antioxidants that support Phase 1 detoxification along with sulfur-containing nutrients important for Phase 2 detox activities.
- Digestive Benefits – Cauliflower is a good source of fiber. Researchers have determined that the sulforaphane can help protect the lining of your stomach. Sulforaphane prevents bacterial overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori in your stomach.
- Antioxidants and Phytonutrients – Antioxidants are nature’s way of providing your cells with adequate defense against attack by reactive oxygen species (ROS). Antioxidants resist aging caused by exposure to pollutants, chronic stress, and more. If you don’t have an adequate supply of antioxidants to help get rid of free radicals, then you can be at risk of oxidative stress, which leads to accelerated tissue and organ damage.
How to Buy
- Look for cauliflower that has a creamy white color with densely packed florets that are free of blemishes, browning or wet spots. The cauliflower head should feel heavy in your hand for its size.
- Give the leaves a good look. They should be fresh and vibrant, which is a sign that the cauliflower was recently harvested.
- If buying purple, green or orange cauliflower (you’ll find these at many farmers markets), they should be uniformly colored.
- If the cauliflower has a strong smell, it’s past its prime.
How to Store
- Most grocery store cauliflower comes wrapped tightly in cellophane, which can trap moisture and promote rot. When you get it home, unwrap it immediately and transfer to a tea towel to absorb any excess moisture.
- Whole heads of cauliflower can be kept in the refrigerator for 4 to 7 days. Precut florets should be stored for no more than 4 days.
- To cut a head of cauliflower into florets, quarter the head through the stem end and cut away the small piece of core from each quarter. Then cut the cored cauliflower into bite-sized florets.
- Don’t toss the stalk and leaves! They’re edible and delicious, so you may want to include them in your cooking. Peel and cut the stalks so they’re about the same size as the florets you’re using to ensure even cooking.
- Rinse the cut up pieces of cauliflower in a colander to remove any residual dirt. Use a paper towel or a clean kitchen towel to pat them dry before cooking.
How to Cook
Bring a large pot containing several quarts of water to a boil.
- Optional: Add the juice of 1/2 lemon to the water. The lemon juice can help keep the florets whiter.
- Place a vegetable rack above the boiling water. Place the vegetable rack high enough above the water so that the water won’t boil over onto the florets.
- Drop the cauliflower onto the vegetable rack and reduce heat to medium. Cover cauliflower with a lid.
- Steam cauliflower for 4 to 6 minutes, checking after 4 minutes. When a knife pierces the stem of the cauliflower easily, the vegetable is fully cooked. You want the cauliflower to be tender but still slightly crunchy at the core.
- If you want to steam a cauliflower whole, the process will take about 17 to 20 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 400° F (~204° C) and bring 7 to 8 US quarts (7,000 to 8,000 ml) of water to a rolling boil.
- Parboil one head of cauliflower, cut into florets, in the boiling water for 3 minutes. Parboiling means quickly boiling, not fully cooking. Remove from water and strain away all water.
- Assemble the cauliflower on a baking dish or roasting pan.
- Season and drizzle with avocado oil.
- Once the oven has reached 400° F, cook the cauliflower in the oven for 25 to 30 minutes.
Mashed Cauliflower can replace mashed potatoes. Cook the cauliflower until tender, mash well (use an immersion blender!), add butter and season with herbs.