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Mar 08

Health Foods A-Z: Cauliflower

Third in the series following Avocados and Broccoli, is Cauliflower. This is a great ingredient for your kitchen. It appears similar to broccoli, and is very versatile in terms of preparations. You can have it raw, boiled, fried, steamed, baked, in salads and entrées.

Its nutritive value is similar to broccoli, though broccoli has several nutrients that cauliflower doesn’t. Broccoli is higher in fat and carbohydrates as compared to cauliflower, broccoli has more protein, vitamins and minerals. Broccoli has a significant amount of magnesium, iron and calcium, that are in insignificant amounts in cauliflower.

Cauliflower is found in white, orange, green and purple variants. The white variant is the most popular, though the other variants have their own nutritive advantages.

Cauliflower: Bundle of nutrients

When buying cauliflower, make sure it is compact and white, and has no dark spots or mildew. Also, its leaves should be straight and firm. If there are dark spots or the leaves look like they are dying, the cauliflower will probably not last too long. For storing, it should be kept in a perforated plastic bag in the fridge, and should be good for 5-7 days. Do not wash before storing in the refrigerator. This will help it to spoil sooner.

It is rich in vitamins, and contains several nutrients that help fight prostate, colon, ovarian and cervical cancers. It is also an excellent source of antioxidants.

A low calorie, low fat and low cholesterol vegetable, it is high in dietary fiber, folate and has anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. Its a great vegetable when you want to go on a diet, or just manage your weight.

When raw, it is an excellent source of vitamin C, that helps boost the immune system, and helps fight infections and cancers. It is also a great source of B vitamins as well as vitamin K.

Apart from all the nutrients mentioned above, it also provides minerals such as manganese, copper, iron, calcium and potassium.

Also, the stalks of cauliflower can be just as nutritious as the florets. Even the leaves are edible and  are an excellent source of nutrition.

Much like broccoli, it loses its nutrition when boiled. Thus, it is best to sauté it in an open pan to prevent loss of nutrition. Cauliflower can be made in an Indian-Chinese preparation called Gobi Manchurian, which is pretty good. You can also use cauliflower in the broccoli recipe I provided in my previous post, or the recipe I provide below.

I use a simple recipe called aloo gobi, or cauliflower with potatoes. It is a quick and easy recipe and is very tasty. The dish can be had with Indian bread, or roti. Yogurt chutney or raita also goes very well with this dish.

Ingredients:

2 tbsp. oil

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 medium onion, finely chopped

1 cup potatoes, chopped

1 cup cauliflower, chopped (you can use the stalks along with the florets, if you like. Just wash and chop them along with the florets. There is a separate recipe for just the stalks as well.)

1/4 tsp turmeric

1 tsp salt or to taste

1/2 tsp red chilly powder

1 tbsp. coriander powder

Chopped coriander leaves, to garnish

 

Method

Heat oil in a pan. Once the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds. Wait for the cumin seeds to sizzle, and then add the onions. Sauté and wait for the onions to brown. Once the onions are done, add the potatoes and cauliflower. Add salt, turmeric, chilly powder and coriander powder. Mix well. Cover and cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. The dish is ready when the potatoes are soft. Do a taste test before removing the dish from the heat. Once done, serve hot and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Coming up: Dates

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