A Love Letter to Cauliflower: 5 Reasons To Try This Low-Carb SwapArticle posted in: Diet & Nutrition
Have you been formally introduced to the new “it” veggie in town, cauliflower? Maybe you’ve seen it around, in soups or side dishes, but a new wave of uses has really brought this cruciferous champ into the spotlight as a low-carb alternative to many of your favorite ingredients.
In addition to being a star in the low-carb cooking world, there are so many reasons to love cauliflower.
Here are just a few of our favorite things about cauliflower:
1. FOOD TOO SPICY? TAKE IT DOWN A NOTCH
While sometimes it’s necessary to “kick things up a notch” in the kitchen, sometimes we need to take things down a notch, too—like when a dish is too spicy or has an overpowering flavor. Coincidentally, cauliflower is the perfect solution for this!
Here’s our quick fix: Whip up a batch of steamed cauliflower “rice” (you can grate the florets or send pulse them in the food processor to achieve a rice-like texture) or mashed cauliflower. Stir this into soups, stews, chili—or any of your South Beach Diet entrees. The neutral flavor of cauliflower will temper the spice level of any dish.
2. ADD BULK TO SMALL MEALS
The idea that you can eat a larger quantity of food at each meal and still lose weight might be a bit of a new concept, but it forms the foundation of “volumetrics,” an approach to eating that fills your plate with foods that have a low energy density and high water content, like fruits and vegetables—and it’s great for those who are looking to lose a little weight. Often packed with fiber and some protein to boot, fruits and veggies will fill you up (and thanks to the water content, will help hydrate you as well) and keep you fuller after you’re done eating.
Adding volume via fresh vegetables and fruits works in several ways, by helping you:
- Satisfy hunger
- Reduce calories
- Meet your nutritional needs
- Feel full, have fewer cravings and be more willing to stick with healthy eating longer
So don’t let small meals get you down—or leave you hungry! Lean on cauliflower to add bulk to just about any meal that’s lacking. Here are a couple of our favorite ways to add volume to meals using cauliflower:
- Chop and add to stir-frys, soups or stews
- Roast with olive oil, salt and pepper and top your soup or salad with it
- Rice it, sauté it, then add to grains like quinoa or rice
- Steam it, mash it, then stir into your morning oatmeal (trust us, you’ll never notice it’s there!
3. PUMP UP THE NUTRITION
We’ve all heard to “eat from the rainbow” when it comes to fruits and vegetables, to ensure you’re getting balanced nutrients, vitamins and minerals. And this is most definitely true. But don’t let cauliflower’s pale hue discourage you from adding it to your shopping list!
In fact, cauliflower packs quite the nutritional punch. Each one-cup serving weighs in at a mere 27 calories and five grams of carbs, and boasts:
- Two grams of protein
- Two grams of fiber
- Calcium, potassium, vitamin C and folate
- 98 grams of water (hello, hydration!)
And as we know, this adds up to some great health benefits. Protein and fiber can help slow digestion and keep you fuller for longer, which is perfect for weight loss! Fiber has also been linked with healthy digestion. The antioxidants in cauliflower can help your body boost immunity and fight inflammation, which can lead to better health in the long-term.
4. BREAK OUT THE KITCHEN NINJA
Cauliflower is both neutral in taste, which means it plays well with a wide variety of foods and flavor combinations, and is extremely versatile in the texture department, yielding a broad spectrum of results that can add interest to any dish.
And this means that cauliflower has the power to be a ninja in the kitchen! Check out a few of the ways we love to prepare cauliflower:
- Mashed—Move over, potatoes! Mashed cauliflower might have been the start of its rise to fame, and with very good reason: The texture is incredibly similar to whipped potatoes, making for a low-carb swap you might not even notice! We like to steam the florets, then whip in the food processor with milk, butter, salt, pepper and roasted garlic.
- Riced—Grate it up or pulse for a few seconds in the food processor until it resembles the texture of rice. Then steam or sauté until it’s cooked to your liking. We love to pan-fry our cauliflower rice with a little bit of olive oil and fresh minced garlic. Yum!
- Roasted—Cauliflower doesn’t need much help to be utterly delicious. In fact, roasting (with the help of olive, oil, salt, pepper and any herbs or spices we have on hand) is one of our very favorite ways to prepare it.
- Crusted—Pizza crust, that is. That’s right—turn your cauliflower into low-carb pizza crust and get back on the Friday night pizza party train! Pulse one whole head of cauliflower florets in the food processor until fine. Steam and drain well. Combine with two eggs, one-half cup mozzarella, one-quarter cup Parmesan and spices to taste (we recommend salt, pepper, oregano and garlic powder). Roll out onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes, or until lightly browned. Top with your favorite toppings and bake another 10 minutes. You’re going to love this!
- Steamed—Back to basics on this one. Steamed cauliflower is the way to go when you want to neutralize the flavor of a dish, or add bulk without adding a distinct flavor. Steaming can also get the cauliflower soft enough to mash, blend or whip, so you can add it to just about anything with this preparation!
- Raw—To state the obvious, raw cauliflower can satisfy a crunch craving like none other. It also travels well—it doesn’t bruise or melt or crumble, and it doesn’t require refrigeration. Plus, the water content will help get you hydrated, which can really help conquer any cravings that might come up.
5. GET THE WHOLE FAMILY ON BOARD
If you’re looking for ways to add some extra veggies into your family’s menu, look no further—cauliflower is just sneaky enough to work its way into some classic dishes and go completely unnoticed. Steam and puree your florets, then add to macaroni and cheese, mix in with the ricotta for your lasagna recipe, or stir into scrambled eggs before cooking.
And don’t limit these ideas just to the picky eaters in your family—these delicious hacks will bring the veggie lovers and non-veggie lovers in your family together in good health!
Add this power food to your list this week—we know you’ll love it as much as we do.