1 Food, 5 Ways: Cauliflower

Broccoli's little cousin is getting some serious love. Try these tasty new recipes that feature this superfood.

Lara McGlashan MFA CPT | April 20, 2017

For years, cauliflower has played second string to its flashier cousin, broccoli, but with scads of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and a glut of research proving its cancer-fighting properties, cauliflower can now assert superfood prowess. Try cauliflower one of these five ways, or create your own cauliflower concoction and submit your recipe to oxygenmag.com (editorial@oxygenmag.com). It could be featured on our website!

As a Cancer-Fighting Side

According to research published in Carcinogenesis, cauliflower contains compounds such as sulforaphane, which has been shown to inhibit the growth of and kill cancer cells found in the breasts, bladder, colon, liver and stomach. It also contains thiocyanate, which was found by researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine to protect cells against cardiovascular disease and diabetes. Serve raw, baked, broiled, stir-fried or steamed. Just avoid boiling, which leeches out valuable vitamins and minerals.

As a Waist-Whittling Sauce

Use pureed cauliflower instead of cream and/or cheese in rich sauces such as Alfredo and cut mega calories and fat without sacrificing flavor. And because cauliflower contains glucosinolates, natural compounds that help with nutrient absorption and waste removal, it also protects your GI tract.

Cauliflower Alfredo

Makes 12 servings

1-2 cloves garlic, minced

2 tbsp butter (or butter substitute)

1 large head cauliflower, roughly chopped

½ cup almond milk

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

½ cup Parmesan cheese, grated

1 tsp nutmeg

salt and pepper, to taste

Steam cauliflower until soft and set aside. Add garlic and butter to skillet and saute until fragrant, about two minutes. Place cauliflower in food processor with garlic mixture, almond milk, chicken broth, and salt and pepper, to taste, and puree several minutes until smooth. Add Parmesan cheese and blend again. If sauce is too thick or too dry, add more almond milk or water. Serve warm over chicken, spaghetti squash or zoodles.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 52, fat 3 g, saturated fat 2 g, sodium 117 mg, carbs 3 g, fiber 1 g, sugar 2 g, protein 3 g

As a Bone-Boosting Mash

Eating cauliflower with a healthy fat, such as olive oil or avocado, facilitates the transport of cauliflower’s fat-soluble vitamin K, helping prevent bone loss, aiding with blood clotting and reducing inflammation. This Mock Mash recipe uses Greek yogurt as its fat source, which also adds healthful probiotics for improved gut health.

Cauliflower Mock Mash

Makes 8 servings

2 heads cauliflower (about 3 pounds)

2 tbsp olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 tsp fresh thyme, chopped

½ cup Greek yogurt

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, grated (optional)

salt and pepper, to taste

fresh chives, chopped, to taste (optional)

Steam cauliflower until soft, then set aside. Saute olive oil, garlic and thyme in  skillet over medium heat until fragrant, two to three minutes. Remove from heat and scrape into food processor. Add cauliflower, yogurt, Parmesan cheese (if using), and salt and pepper, to taste, and blend until smooth. Serve topped with chopped fresh chives (if using).

Nutrition Facts (with cheese – per serving): calories 96, fat 5 g, saturated fat 2 g, sodium 116 mg, carbs 9 g, fiber 4 g, sugar 4 g, protein 6 g

As a Brainy Bread Substitute

Cauliflower contains 45 milligrams of choline per 1-cup serving, a B vitamin that aids in brain development, boosts cognitive function, improves learning and memory, and may even diminish age-related cognitive decline. Sub cauliflower for flour in things like pizza crust for a low-cal, gluten-free treat!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Makes about 8 servings (2 slices)

1 head cauliflower, roughly chopped

1 tsp olive oil

¼ cup fresh parsley, chopped

1 tsp dried Italian seasoning

1 tsp fresh garlic, minced

½ cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese

2 egg whites

2 tbsp Parmesan cheese, grated

salt and black pepper, to taste

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Working in batches, pulse cauliflower in food processor until finely chopped, like breadcrumbs. Spread over baking sheet lined with parchment paper and spray lightly with cooking spray. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove and allow to cool. Then place in fine-mesh strainer or between two clean dish towels and squeeze, wringing or pressing until cauliflower is as dry as possible. Place cauliflower in large bowl and add remaining ingredients, mixing thoroughly to make a dough.

Increase oven temperature to 400 degrees. Line one large baking sheet (or two 8-inch rounds) with parchment paper, then press dough into pans. Coat with cooking spray and bake for 20 minutes, or until browned. Add sauce and your favorite toppings and cook for seven to 10 minutes more.

Nutrition Facts (crust only, based on 8 slices in a round ­– per serving): calories 70, fat 3 g, saturated fat 2 g, sodium 171 mg, carbs 5 g, fiber 2 g, sugar 2 g, protein 6 g

As an Anti-Aging App

Just 1 cup of cauliflower contains more than 50 milligrams of vitamin C (more than a small orange!) helping prevent inflammation and boost immunity. It also has loads of beta carotene and quercetin, which protect your cells against free-radical damage. The orange variety has additional 25 times more beta carotene than the white version, and if you add hot sauce to a recipe, such as with our Buffalo Bites, you’ll double your dose of C and amp your anti-aging even more.

Cauliflower Buffalo Bites

Makes 4 servings

1 head orange cauliflower, cut into bite-size pieces

½ cup brown rice (or garbanzo bean) flour

½ cup water

salt, to taste

garlic powder, to taste

1 tbsp butter (or butter substitute), melted

2 tbsp hot sauce, such as Frank’s RedHot

1 tbsp Sriracha sauce

1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In small bowl, combine flour, water, garlic powder and salt and mix thoroughly with whisk. Toss cauliflower pieces in batter until evenly coated, then place on nonstick baking sheet in single layer. Bake for 10 minutes, then flip with spatula and bake another five minutes, or until batter hardens. In the meantime, combine hot sauces, lemon juice and butter in small bowl. Remove cauliflower and gently toss in hot sauce mixture. Return to baking sheet and cook anther 15 to 20 minutes, or until crispy. Remove and let stand for 15 minutes before serving with light ranch dressing or Greek yogurt dip of your own making.

Nutrition Facts (per serving): calories 139, fat 4 g, saturated fat 2 g, sodium 326 mg, carbs 24 g, fiber 5 g, sugar 5 g, protein 4 g

About the Author

Lara McGlashan MFA CPT

Oxygen Fitness Editor Lara McGlashan has more than 15 years of experience as a writer and editor, who specializes in health, fitness, and nutrition. 

Lara is an ACE-certified personal trainer and fitness consultant. Her sports background includes skiing, snowboarding, flying trapeze, yoga, competitive beach volleyball, dance, mountain biking, hiking and running, to name a few endeavors. She is currently exploring the world of CrossFit in her home base of Connecticut, where she lives with her 2-year-old son, Alex.

You can follow her on Facebook at LaraFitnessEditor.