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Cauliflower

CAULIFLOWER

A taste of history…

Cauliflower, like its cousin broccoli, is native to the Mediterranean region. It was a well-known vegetable in Roman times, and was introduced into France from Cyprus and Italy in the 16th century. The English word “cauliflower” derives from its modern French name, chou-fleur, “cabbage flower.” Although white cauliflower is the most popular variety nowadays, the head of this handsome cabbage cultivar can be green, orange or purple. These natural colours come from the many different pigments present in cauliflower. Green comes from chlorophyll, purple is due to anthocyanin pigments, and orange reflects the presence of carotenoids.

Nutrients and benefits

Numerous scientific studies indicate that vegetables of the crucifer or cabbage family (known to botanists as Brassicaceae), of which cauliflower is a member, possess the most significant cancer-fighting properties associated with consumption of fruits and vegetables. These vegetables contain high concentrations of compounds known as “glucosinolates,” which as a result of chewing release an arsenal of cancer-fighting substances that may reduce the risk of cancer in certain forms. Eating crucifers is also associated with a lower risk of cardiovascular disease. So even though white cauliflower may look a trifle modest, its health benefits make this vegetable a rock star!

When it comes to vitamins, cauliflower is very rich in Vitamin C. A 250 ml (1 cup) serving will supply 80% of your daily needs. Vitamin C is important for the development of healthy bones, cartilage, teeth and gums, and is a major anti-oxidant as well. The same serving of cauliflower also meets a quarter of our requirement for folates, which help the formation of red blood cells and the normal development of infants during pregnancy. Last but not least, cauliflower is a super-sensible food if you’re watching your weight, as it contains only 25 calories per 250 ml (1 cup).

Servings and Nutrition Facts

250 ml (1 cup) of uncooked cauliflower (106 g) = 2 vegetable servings

Amount

% Daily Value*

Energy:25 calories

Fat:0 g

0 %

Carbohydrate:5 g

2 %

Fibre:2 g

8 %

Protein:2 g

Pantothenic acid

10 %

Vitamin B6

10 %

Vitamin C

80 %

Folates

25 %

Vitamin K

20 %

*Based on Dietary Reference Intakes (DRI)
  Source: Canadian Nutrient File (CNF) – Health Canada

Shopping and storage

When you buy cauliflower, make sure the florets are firm and compact. If you’re buying white cauliflower, watch out for yellowish spots which may be a sign the vegetable is no longer fresh. Surrounding leaves should be green and still crisp. If left whole and unwashed, cauliflower will keep in the refrigerator for about 5 days. Ideally, it should be stored with the head pointing downward. Cauliflower is also easy to keep in the freezer. Simply blanch for a few minutes in boiling water, drain, let cool and bag for freezing.

Kitchen tips

  • Raw or cooked, cold or warm, cauliflower makes a great addition to gratins, soups, salads, couscous dishes, quiches, purees, stir fries and many other recipes.
  • Cauliflower that’s lightly steamed and still crisp is simply delicious with a pat of butter and a dash of ground nutmeg. Or drizzled with olive oil plus a sprinkling of sesame seeds.
  • The green leaves around your cauliflower’s head are edible too. They add a delightful aroma to soups and stews. And don’t throw away that big stem. Peeled and cut it into juliennes, it’ll go great in any Asian stir fry.
  • The coloured varieties of cauliflower are an ideal way to add visual impact to your dishes or brighten up a raw veggie platter.
  • Here’s how to make cauliflower “popcorn.” Break up the cauliflower into small florets and spread them on a cookie sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and season with your favourite herbs, salt and pepper. Bake at 200º C (400º F) until the cauliflower is crisp and coloured. It’s super as a crunchy side vegetable…or a scrumptious garnish on pasta!

Did you know?

  • Quebec-grown cauliflower is available locally from June 25 to November 15. The coloured varieties grown in Quebec, however, only appear in stores in September.
  • To get the most cancer-fighting benefit from cauliflower and other cabbage family vegetables, it’s best to serve them raw or very lightly cooked (e.g. steamed or lightly sautéed)…and always make sure to chew them thoroughly.

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