Naturopathic Kitchen: Cauliflower

Raw cauliflower in a colander.

Cauliflower, a cruciferous vegetable belonging to the Brassica oleracea family, is a versatile and nutritious ingredient that has earned its place in both kitchens and wellness conversations around the world.

Cauliflower has a mild, slightly nutty flavor that adapts well to various cooking methods. From being roasted and blended into creamy soups to transforming into a low-carbohydrate alternative for rice or pizza crust, cauliflower’s culinary adaptability is a big part of its appeal. This humble vegetable is also a nutritional powerhouse rich in essential vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

 

The Health Benefits of Cauliflower

High in Antioxidants

Antioxidants help protect your body from harmful free radicals and reduce inflammation. 1 Cauliflower is especially high in two groups of antioxidants, glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, which may slow the growth of cancer cells. 2 3 Cauliflower is also a source of flavonoid and carotenoid antioxidants, which help support heart health. 4 

Contains Choline

Cauliflower is high in choline, which is an essential nutrient that many people are deficient in. 5 Choline plays a crucial role in various body processes, including DNA synthesis, brain development, and metabolism. 6 7 One cup of raw cauliflower contains about 10% of the daily value of choline. 8 

Good Source of Fiber

Cauliflower is high in fiber, with two grams of fiber in every cup. 9  Getting enough fiber in your diet helps reduce inflammation and improve digestive health. 10 11 A high-fiber diet may also lower the risk of developing a number of illnesses, including diabetes, cancer, and cardiovascular disease. 12 13 If you are looking to increase your dietary fiber intake, try adding cauliflower to more of your meals.

May Aid Weight Loss

Cauliflower is a low-carbohydrate alternative to legumes and grains, which can make it an effective tool if you are trying to lose weight. Cauliflower can be cut into small pieces and used the same way you would use rice or other grains in any recipe, and the high fiber content makes it filling. 14 15 Additionally, cauliflower boasts a very high water content, which can aid weight loss. 16 

 

Fermented Vegetables

These simple fermented vegetables are a great way to increase your cauliflower intake while also getting probiotics. Probiotics are important to include in your diet because they replenish the healthy bacteria that live in your gut and throughout your body, improving digestion, immune function and even helping decrease allergies. This recipe adapted by Carly Kellogg, a student in Bastyr University’s Master of Science in Nutrition program, will add flavor and color to your probiotic consumption.

Recipe courtesy of Bastyr University.

Ingredients

  • 1 tbsp sea salt (add up to 50 percent more to taste)
  • 2 cup filtered water
  • 1⁄2 medium organic cauliflower, chopped into small florets
  • 2 medium carrots, chopped
  • 1⁄2 medium white onion, chopped
  • 1⁄2 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 medium kale leaves, cut into thin strips
  • 5  black peppercorns
  • 1 pinch curry powder
  • 1 large cabbage leaf

Instructions

Dissolve sea salt in water. Place vegetables and spices into a glass quart jar. Leave 1 inch from the top of the jar. Then cover with salted water, leaving about 1 inch to ½-inch from the top. Fold a small cabbage leaf and press it into the brine, so the water floats above it and the vegetables are submerged. Cover with a plastic lid and store out of direct sunlight. After three days you should see a bit of bubbling (the natural fermenting process).

After a total of five days of fermenting, taste the veggies. If the taste is to your liking, proceed. If you prefer a more sour taste, let the vegetables ferment for another two to three days. Once ready, remove the cabbage leaf and place the jar in your refrigerator where the vegetables will keep for a month or two.

Notes: Use your vegetables to top cooked grains, beans, or leafy greens. They also go well with grilled fish or chicken.

 

Cauliflower Tabbouleh

Traditional tabbouleh is made using bulgur, but in this low-carbohydrate version the grains are swapped out for cauliflower “rice.” The addition of pomegranate, olives, and walnuts gives this dish an unexpected flavor profile that is equally refreshing and comforting. Serve this as a nourishing side dish with the protein of your choice.

Reprinted with permission of NUNM alumna Dr. Kara Fitzgerald.

Ingredients

  • 1 medium organic cauliflower, cut into florets
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Zest of 1 organic lemon
  • Juice of 1 organic lemon
  • 1/2 cup parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cilantro, chopped
  • 3 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup pomegranate arils
  • 1/2 cup black olives, halved
  • 1/2 cup walnuts, roughly chopped
  • 3-4 shakes of kelp granules 
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

Finely chop the cauliflower until it resembles grains. You can do this very quickly in a food processor, by pulsing the cauliflower until done (be careful not to be careful not to overprocess to avoid the cauliflower becoming mushy).

Optional: lightly cook the cauliflower grains, either in the oven on a baking sheet or in a saute pan with olive oil. If you prefer a raw version, skip this step.

In a large bowl, briefly whisk the olive oil, lemon zest, and lemon juice together with a fork.

Add the cauliflower “grains” and all remaining ingredients, and toss well.

 

 

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