Cauliflower: The Healthy Wonder-Vegetable Cooked 5 Ways

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Sometime in the last century, cauliflower got a bad rap. It became the rule of thumb that more color meant more nutrition and anything white — flour, sugar, and even vegetables — was shoved aside for “healthier” colors of the rainbow. Cauliflower, a lonely and unloved vegetable, was so forgotten along the course of the past couple decades that its cruciferous nature doesn’t even get the attention that its cousins — broccoli, cabbage, and Brussels sprouts — do.

Relatively new research on the side of cauliflower has come out, though, exonerating cauliflower’s good name as a healthful veggie worthy of any preparation. Cauliflower is actually majorly healthy: 100 grams contains only 26 calories but packs in 10 percent of your daily fiber and 77 percent of your vitamin C, as well as complete proteins, iron, potassium, calcium, omega 3s, manganese, phosphorous, folate, and vitamins B 1, 3, 5, 6, and 9. It’s seriously good for you.

The vegetable isn’t even naturally white without help; although some varieties form their large, cabbage-like leaves over the cauliflower heads to swaddle and protect it from the sun, which would develop color and other flavors in the cauliflower head, other white varieties actually need farmers to tie the large leaves around the heads to keep the snowy white from turning in the sunlight. Still, other varieties come in bright purple, orange, and lime green. A variant of cauliflower, romanesco, forms heads in cone-shaped fractals, making it a nerd’s dream vegetable.

Beyond being a powerhouse of nutrition, cauliflower is phenomenally versatile. If you know how to prepare it, cauliflower can be a stunning vegetarian main course in the form of “steaks” or roasted whole in a crisp, bronze stand-in for a roast bird, it can become a low-calorie Alfredo sauce, turned into couscous, or even transformed into a gluten-free variation of pizza crust. It’s finally time for cauliflower’s many talents to shine, and the possibilities are endless.

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