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Eating Well With Whole Foods: Cauliflower

by Suzann Pileggi Pawelski

An ancestor of the wild cabbage, cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous family, which also includes broccoli, kale, and collards. Unlike its relatives, cauliflower lacks the green chlorophyll hue because its leaves shade the florets from the sun, which produces the color. Although most commonly white, cauliflower also comes in light green, yellow, purple, and even orange varieties! Cauliflower contains a head, or "curd", which measures approximately six inches in diameter, and undeveloped flower buds. Cauliflower and broccoli are the only two vegetables that are actually flowers. And, like broccoli, cauliflower florets resemble miniature trees. An important vegetable in Italy and Turkey since 600 BC, the cauliflower became popular in France in the 16th century and then in Northern Europe and the British Isles. Today, some of the largest cauliflower producing countries include the United States, France, Italy, and India.

Cauliflower is a terrific source of vitamin C, K, B5, B6, folate, dietary fiber, omega 3 fatty acids, and manganese, and potassium. Cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower contain cancer-fighting compounds that help to cleanse the liver. When cut or chewed they release sulfuric compounds that trigger the liver to produce enzymes that detoxify cancer-causing chemicals. Research shows that diets high in cruciferous vegetables, such as cauliflower, are associated with a reduction of certain cancers, including lung, colon, breast, bladder, and ovarian cancer. Just three to five servings (1 cup) of cauliflower a week – which amounts to less than 1 serving a day – has shown to reduce the risk of cancer. Additionally, a study of nearly 30,000 men found that those who ate more than one serving of cauliflower or broccoli a week, almost cut their risk in half of developing advanced prostrate cancer, compared to those who ate it just once a month. Prostate cancer, the second leading cause of cancer death in American men, is a rare occurrence among men in India. Their lowered risk is attributed to a diet rich in cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower, and the curry spice, turmeric, a concentrated source of the phytonutrient curcumin. Researchers believe that the cauliflower and the Indian spice concoction may help prevent prostate cancer and the spread of established prostrate cancers.

When shopping for cauliflower, select ones with a creamy white, compact curd, surrounded by thick green leaves. Avoid those that are spotted or ones that contain small flowers. Stored in a paper or plastic bag in the refrigerator, fresh cauliflower should keep for about a week whereas cooked cauliflower will last for two to three days. Although the florets are the most commonly eaten part of the cauliflower, its stems and leaves are edible as well. Before eating, thoroughly wash under running water, remove the outer leaves, and slice the florets at the base. Be sure not to overcook cauliflower in order to prevent a sulfurous odor, and to retain its nutrients and crisp texture. Cauliflower is delicious cold or cooked. Try it tossed in a salad along with a medley of vegetables, served as crudité with hummus or your favorite dip, or steamed or stir-fried, along with peas and potatoes over a bed of whole grain rice.

Indian Spiced Cauliflower Bake

1 head fresh, organic cauliflower, cut into small bite size florets

1.5 tsp. ground turmeric

2 tsp. ground ginger

3 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil

Mix spices and oil in an oven safe casserole dish. Add cauliflower. Stir mixture to coat florets. Bake at 425 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Eat as a side dish or serve atop basmati rice or your favorite whole grain. Enjoy! (Makes about 4-5 servings.

Suzann Pileggi is a certified holistic health counselor. She works with clients on nourishing their body and soul by helping them make better food and lifestyle choices. She uses food to naturally increase energy, control cravings and create a balanced lifestyle. She conducts special sugar seminars at Radu’s Physical Culture gym in NYC. Visit her website at www.suzann pileggi.com, or you can email her at suzannpileggi@aol.com, or call her at (212) 799-4169 for a FREE initial holistic health consultation. Phone consultations and group seminars available.

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