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Crazed for cauliflower

The new "it" vegetable

Once a humble vegetable destined only to relish plates, cauliflower has undergone a major makeover. The shift has been driven largely by health-conscious consumers who are looking for low-carb, nutrient-dense substitutes for rice and gluten-filled grains or pasta. As a result, cauliflower has become one of the most versatile vegetables around.

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How to incorporate cauliflower into your meals

  • Cut and toss with olive oil, and roast to golden, nutty perfection.
  • Steam and mash to resemble mashed potatoes.
  • Sauté in a stir fry, with other vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli.
  • Roast and slice onto sandwiches.
  • Pulse in a food processor, and use as a rice substitute. Some grocery stores offer packaged cauliflower rice, both fresh and frozen.

A nutrient-dense super food

Just one cup of cauliflower provides an impressive 77 percent of the vitamin C you need in a day. It is also a good source of vitamin K, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, potassium and fiber, among other vitamins and minerals.

Along with broccoli, cabbage, and kale, cauliflower is a vegetable known for its strong smell and bitter flavor. This is caused by sulfur-containing compounds known as glucosinolates. According to the National Cancer Institute, these compounds are linked to lower cancer risks External Site.

Low calories, low carbs

One cup of cauliflower rice has just 25 calories and 5 grams of carbohydrates. Compare that to cooked brown rice, which has 218 calories and 46 grams of carbohydrates per cup. Cauliflower rice makes an excellent side dish for any meal and an effective substitute in any dish that contains rice.

Make a simple swap

Iowa Girl Eats talks cauliflower rice

“If you’re looking to get more vegetables and less carbohydrates in your diet, cauliflower is a great way to do it,” says Kristin Porter, creator of the popular blog Iowa Girl Eats External Site.

“Cauliflower rice is definitely having a moment right now — there’s nothing it can’t do!”

Kristin Porter

Iowa Girls Eats focuses primarily on recipes for fresh, seasonal food, complete with step-by-step instructions and stunning photography. Most of the recipes can be made in 30 minutes or less, and many are gluten-free.

“I can say with almost 100 percent certainty that I would never have thought to replace rice with cauliflower if I had not been diagnosed with celiac disease a few years ago,” says Porter. “I’m not complaining, though. This simple swap has me floored!”

According to Porter, even if you don’t need to eat gluten-free, it’s always a good idea to add more vegetables to your diet. So, give it a try with these recipes from Iowa Girl Eats:

How to make a batch of basic cauliflower rice

By Kristin Porter of Iowa Girl Eats

  1. Start by slicing out the core of a small head of cauliflower, then cut the head into a few big chunks.
  2. Use the grating attachment on your food processor, and pulse the florets, working in small batches. If you don’t have a food processor, you can use a box grater.
  3. Transfer to a bowl and remove any large pieces. Repeat with remaining florets.
  4. The cauliflower will look like a cross between rice and hash browns.
  5. Cover and refrigerate until ready to use in your recipe. One pound of cauliflower (1 medium-sized head) will yield about 4 cups of cauliflower rice.

Cauliflower mashed potatoes

Makes about 4 servings

Using 1 head of cauliflower, separate the florets. Bring about 2 cups of water to boil in a pot, reduce heat to medium and add the cauliflower. Cook the cauliflower for 12–15 minutes or until tender. Do not overcook. Drain the water (the drier the cauliflower, the better) and add optional ingredients: 2–3 tablespoons milk, a tablespoon of butter or cream cheese, ¼ teaspoon garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Mix or blend until it looks like mashed potatoes; top with chives and serve.

Cozy up to cauliflower rice

Shine the spotlight on veggies with these simple winter meals: