Cauliflower traces its ancestry to the wild cabbage, a plant thought to have originated in ancient Asia Minor, which resembled kale or collards more than the vegetable that we now know it to be.

Cauliflower gained popularity in France in the mid-16th century and was subsequently cultivated in Northern Europe and the British Isles. The United States, France, Italy, India and China are countries that produce significant amounts of cauliflower.

Cauliflower, as its name implies, is a flower growing from a plant. In its early stages, it resembles broccoli, which is its closest relative.

While broccoli opens outward to sprout bunches of green florets, cauliflower forms a compact head of undeveloped white flower buds. The heavy green leaves that surround the head protect the flower buds from the sunlight. The lack of exposure to sunlight does not allow chlorophyll to develop. Therefore, color is not produced, and the head remains a white color.

A Disease Fighter

Cauliflower probably originated in Asia Minor, but was available almost exclusively in Italy until the 16th century when it was introduced to France and eventually to other areas of Europe. Cauliflower was first grown in North America in the late 1600s.

Cauliflower is a vegetable that is many times overlooked. It is a member of the cruciferous family, a family which is known for containing nutrients that fight against several diseases.

Cauliflower is an excellent source of Vitamin C and folate. Folate helps the blood work more efficiently and is often recommended for preventing anemia. Folate is also essential for proper tissue growth and not getting enough can make you succeptible to many diseases down the road such as cancer and heart disease.

Vitamin C is considered an antioxident. When used alongside other antioxidents such as vitamin E and beta carotene, you can keep your immune system strong.

Lacking Chlorophyll

Cauliflower lacks the green chlorophyll found in other members of the cruciferous family of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage and kale, because the leaves of the plant shield the florets from the sun as they grow. It has a compact head (called a “curd”), usually about six inches in diameter that is composed of undeveloped flower buds. The flowers are attached to a central stalk.

Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables, such as broccoli, cabbage, and kale, contain compounds that may help prevent cancer. These compounds appear to stop enzymes from activating cancer-causing agents in the body, and they increase the activity of enzymes that disable and eliminate carcinogens.

Spicing Cauliflower with Turmeric May Promote Men’s Health

Prostate cancer — the second leading cause of cancer death in American men with 500,000 new cases appearing each year — is a rare occurrence among men in India, whose low risk is attributed to a diet rich in Brassica family vegetables and the curry spice, turmeric. Researchers believe the combination of cruciferous vegetables and curcumin could be an effective therapy not only to prevent prostate cancer, but to inhibit the spread of established prostate cancers. Best of all, this combination — cauliflower spiced with turmeric — is absolutely delicious!

Eat More Cauliflower, Get Memory Boost

A study indicates that citicoline supplements can help boost energy and efficiency in your frontal lobe – the region responsible for decision-making, reasoning, and working memory. Cauliflower contains the B vitamin complex like nutrient choline, which is absorbed through the intestines and converted to citicoline in your brain.

Vitamin C

Three florets of cauliflower a day will provide you with 67 percent of your daily vitamin C requirement. When purchasing cauliflower, make sure the tops are white. If the floret has begun to spot brown or purple, it is past its nutritional peak.

Serving the cauliflower raw will give you the highest nutritional benefits. If you must cook it, lightly steamed will also keep its cancer fighting components intact.

Selecting Cauliflower

Cauliflower is generally available year round, but it is usually more plentiful in autumn. When selecting cauliflower, look for heads that are white or creamy white, firm, compact, and heavy for their size. There should not be any speckling of discoloration on the head or leaves. Avoid cauliflower with brown patches. A medium-size head, that is 6 inches in diameter and weighs about 2 pounds, will serve 4 to 6 people.

Storing Cauliflower

Cauliflower will keep for up to five days if stored in the crisper section of the refrigerator. If the head is not purchased wrapped, store it in an open or perforated plastic bag. Keep the head stem-side up to prevent moisture form collecting on it. For the best flavor, cauliflower should be eaten as soon as possible. Precut florets do not keep well, and they are best when eaten within a day of purchase.

Varieties of Cauliflower

There are two types of cauliflower on the market today. The creamy white florets are more abundant in the United States but some markets sell a recently developed cauliflower-broccoli hybrid. This type of cauliflower has a green curd and resembles broccoli. The green variety is less dense than the white, cooks more quickly, and has a milder taste.

Preparing Cauliflower

Cauliflower can be served cooked or raw. Peel off stem leaves. Turn cauliflower upside down. Cut the stem just above where the florets join together. Separate the florets into equal sized pieces. Cut if necessary.

When cooking cauliflower, you may leave the head whole. Rapid cooking time not only reduces the odorous sulfur compounds but also preserves crispness, color, and reduces the loss of nutrients that will leach into the cooking water when vegetables are overcooked. Steaming and microwaving cauliflower will better preserve its vitamin content, especially the B vitamins, than if it is boiled.

To Microwave Cauliflower

Put 2 cups of florets in a shallow microwavable dish, or cover a whole head of cauliflower with plastic wrap. For florets, cook for 3 minutes on high, then let stand for 2 minutes. For whole cauliflower, cook on high for 3 minutes, turn head over, and cook for an additional 2 to 4 minutes. Let stand for 3 minutes. To steam cauliflower, place it in a steamer basket, and then place in a pot with 2 inches of water. Cover and steam. Florets will take 3 to 5 minutes to cook. A whole head of cauliflower (1-1/2 pounds) will take 15 to 20 minutes to cook, but begin checking for tenderness after 12 minutes.

Prevent Cauliflower From Turning Brown: Cauliflower tends to turn brown with even the slightest cooking. You can make sure the white vegetables stay white by squeezing a teaspoon of fresh lemon juice on them before heating.

[Cauliflower is] “Cabbage with a college education.” –Mark Twain

Spicy Roasted Cauliflower

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Combine 4 teaspoons olive oil, 2 sliced cloves garlic and 1 sliced Fresno chile on sheet pan. Place in oven and cook until oil is hot, about 2 to 3 minutes. Remove pan and add 1-1/4 pound organic cauliflower florets. This would be about one cauliflower had. Carefully coat with the hot oil using tongs or a spatula. Continue roasting until cauliflower is golden and tender, about 15 minutes. Season with salt and black pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per serving: 78 calories, 3g protein, 8g carbohydrates, 3g fiber, 3g sugars, 5g fat, 0.5g saturated fat, 274mg sodium.

Cauliflower Provencal Recipe

  • 1 cauliflower
  • 1 sweet red pepper (diced)
  • 2 tomatoes (coarsely chopped)
  • 1/3 cup vegetable stock
  • 1/4 cup sliced black olives
  • 1/8 teaspoon each salt and pepper

Prepare and steam cauliflower 9 to 10 minutes or until just tender. In a saucepan, combine red pepper, tomatoes, and stock. Bring to a boil over moderate heat. Cover pan and cook, stirring, about three minutes or until peppers are almost tender.

Add cauliflower and olives and toss to coat. Cover pan and continue to cook, stirring, 2 to 3 minutes or until cauliflower is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Recipe makes four servings.

Nutrition information per serving: Calories: 74; Fiber: 1g; Saturated Fat: 0g; Total Fat: 1g; Sodium: 127mg; Cholesterol: 0mg; Carbohydrate: 14g; Protein: 5g

Cauliflower Quick Tip

Cauliflower may turn yellow in alkaline water. For whiter cauliflower, add a tablespoon of milk or lemon juice to the water. Do not cook cauliflower in an aluminum or iron pot. The chemical compounds in cauliflower will react with the aluminum and turn the vegetable yellow. While in an iron pot, it will turn a brown or blue-green color.

Cauliflower Quick Facts

  • Cauliflower is best when purchased from September through January, but available year round. Cauliflower should have compact flower clusters (florets or curds) with green leaves. Do not purchase if flower clusters are open. If there is a speckled surface, this is a sign of insect injury, mold or rot. Store cauliflower in the refrigerator.
  • To keep cauliflower white during cooking, add lemon to the water. Overcooking tends to darken cauliflower and make it tougher.
  • Due to certain chemicals in cauliflower it is best not to cook it in an aluminum or iron pot. Contact with these metals will turn the cauliflower yellow, brown or blue-green.
  • When you boil cauliflower, add a piece of white bread to eliminate the odor. Another method is to replace the water after is has cooked for 5 to 7 minutes.
  • Prior to cooking cauliflower, you should soak it head down for approximately 30 minutes in salted water to remove the grit and insects.
  • If cooked too long, cauliflower will lose all of its B vitamins.
Cauliflower benefits

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