Five Top Tips on Cauliflower

What is all the hype around cauliflower? Can you really make a pizza base from cauliflower?

Do you like cauliflower, or do you eat it because it's good for you?  Cauliflower is a very popular vegetable right now, from making pizza bases, rice, muffins, soups, stir-fries and much more.  But how good is it for you really?

TOP TIP # 1 - What is cauliflower?

Cauliflower is a vegetable from the Brassicaceae (cruciferae) family.  It is called an annual plant, as it is a vegetable that grows from a seed and dies within a year, however there is a biennial or two year cycle variety also. The head of the cauliflower is called a ‘curd’, possibly as it looks like the curds from cheese or milk.  The head is typically the part of the plant that is eaten, however the white stalks can also be eaten.  Other brassica vegetables include broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, kale, and collard greens.

TOP TIP # 2 - Classification of cauliflower

There are four major groups of cauliflower: the Italian and Northern European annuals, Northwest European biennial, and Asian.  There are many different varieties of cauliflower such as the white (most common colour seen), orange (the colour is from provitamin A, beta-carotene pigment), purple (the colour is from anthocyanin pigment) and broccoflower (a variety that looks both like broccoli and cauliflower combined).

TOP TIP # 3 - Health properties

Different coloured cauliflower will have different nutritional properties mainly depending on the active pigment.  However all are rich in sulphur containing glucosinolates (hence the smell), and S-methlcysteine sulfoxide, flavonoids, anthocyanins, coumarins, carotenoids, and antioxidant enzymes (1).    Cauliflower is a low calorie vegetable, it has some carbohydrates and a very small amount of protein, and no fat.  The carbohydrate content is only 4% or 4 g/100 g of food, with half of that being fibre. Cauliflower is very high in vitamin C along with folic acid, tocopherol and provitamin A.  Trace minerals include iron, calcium, selenium, copper, manganese and zinc (2).

TOP TIP # 4 - Research on cauliflower

Cruciferous vegetables,such as broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage, are major sources of sulfur-containing compounds (isothiocyanates and dithiolthiones), which help to increase enzyme activity involved in detoxifying carcinogens and other harmful foreign substances (3). Cruciferous vegetables are also rich sources of indoles, which have been shown to block tumor production in animal studies.  The fibre content of the cauliflower has been known to bind to and dilute carcinogenic substances and speed their passage through the digestive tract, as well as help control diabetes and high serum cholesterol levels, and may prevent diverticulosis.  

TOP TIP # 5 - Recommended amounts of cauliflower

There is no specific recommended daily amount of cauliflower or brassicae family to eat daily. However, the American Institute for Cancer Research (AICR) suggests that healthy adults need to consume at least 400 g/day, or 5 servings per day, of vegetables and fruits. This is the lower end of the range recommended. The AICR estimates that diets high in vegetables and fruits (> 400 g/day), could prevent at least 20% of all cancer incidences (5).  The latest report from the World Cancer Research Fund (2018) has the same recommendations of at least 30 g fibre daily,and 400 g fruits and vegetables daily (4, 5) to lower risk of certain cancers.  

So, yes cauliflower is a great vegetable and you need to check out our fantastic pizza recipe.

Cauliflower Pizza Base

Cauliflower Pizza Base
Makes 8 large slices

Ingredients
1 small cauliflower - pureed (makes 2 cups)
2 cloves garlic (finely chopped)
2 eggs
1/2 cup mozzarella cheese
50 g tasty cheese (grated)
2 tsp dried oregano (or 1 Tbsp. fresh finely chopped)
1 Tbsp. fresh parsley (finely chopped)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper

Method
1. Puree the cauliflower into little crumbs.
2. Add the rest of the ingredients to the cauliflower. Mix well.
3. Press the cauliflower into a large oven baking tray or onto baking paper on top of a tray. Press firmly.
4. Cook for 15 minutes in a hot oven until slightly brown. Remove from the oven and cool the base.
5. Top the base with your usual toppings, homemade tomato sauce, vegetables, etc.

Base nutritional analysis (for 2 slices) - no topping
145 kcals
4 g carbs
7 g fat
7 g protein

Compared to plain commercial bases (for 2 slices) - no topping
379 kcals
65 g carbs
7 g fat
11 g protein

As you can see commercial bases have over 2.5 times the calories and 16 x the carbs. Cauliflower bases are the way to go!! Experiment with them they are a little crumbly but work ok too. Good for a changes.

References

  1. Manchali, S.,Murthy, K. N. C., & Patil, B. S. (2012). Crucial facts about health benefits of popular cruciferous vegetables. Journal of Functional Foods,4(1), 94-106.
  2. USDA https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/      
  3. VanDuyn, M. A. S., & Pivonka, E. (2000). Overview of the health benefits of fruit and vegetable consumption for the dietetics professional: selected literature. Journal of the American Dietetic Association, 100(12),1511-1521.
  4.  Piepoli,M. F., Hoes, A. W., Agewall, S., Albus, C., Brotons, C., Catapano, A. L., ...& Graham, I. (2016). 2016 European Guidelines on cardiovascular disease prevention in clinical practice: The Sixth Joint Task Force of the European Society of Cardiology and Other Societies on Cardiovascular Disease Prevention in Clinical Practice (constituted by representatives of 10 societies and by invited experts) Developed with the special contribution of the European Association for Cardiovascular Prevention & Rehabilitation (EACPR). European heart journal, 37(29), 2315-2381.
  5. World Cancer Research Fund/ American Institutefor cancer research.  Diet, Nutrition,Physical Activity and Cancer: a Global Perspective.  Continuous Update Project Expert Report2018.  Available atdietandcancerreport.org

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