You know how they say fashion recycles every 20 years? I think it’s the same with food. Cauliflower isn’t new. It’s been around for years. It’s the stuff that Mom would steam with broccoli and carrots. It wasn’t really a favorite. It was just kind of a necessary part of eating your vegetables.
Not so anymore. Cauliflower is making a comeback my friends. I knew it the moment I went to LA and saw it on every trendy restaurant menu – cauliflower chips, cauliflower battered like chicken fried steak, cauliflower smashed up into “mashed potatoes,” cauliflower crumbled up and pressed into a pizza crust, and my personal favorite – roasted cauliflower nachos (best experienced at Petty Cash Taqueria in LA). Even more recently at the blog retreat I attended, it was the main course at Seven Lions Restaurant – Cauliflower Steak, dressed and plated just as if it was a real steak.
Call me a bandwagon-hopper, but I'm all for it. It is an incredibly versatile vegetable that can be crumbled, crispied and pureed into something completely different. And because it has a milder flavor, it serves as a good base for something really creative and unheard of – Cauliflower Mocha Mousse maybe?
But the best part of all is – you guessed it – it's GOOD for you. Not just like a little good, like 77%-of-your-daily-vitamin-C-good. There are a zillion complicated reasons why (cardiovascular support, digestive support, boost brain health), and I was tempted to go into each and every scientific one of them. But then I realized there are articles like this one from World's Healthiest Foods, this one from Dr. Mercola and this one from WebMD that do it for me. So instead, I'm going to concentrate on my favorite reason. Here it is, quick and dirty.
CAULIFLOWER IS AWESOME BECAUSE IT HAS ANTI-INFLAMMATORY BENEFITS.
Okay, I tried. But I can’t just leave it at that. Let’s do a quick inflammation review so you understand the bigger picture.
Inflammation is a necessary process that occurs when your body is trying to protect you from foreign invaders like bacteria and viruses.
However, there is such a thing as too much inflammation. It happens when your immune system accidentally triggers an inflammatory response when there is no threat. Excess inflammation in your body can lead to a whole mess of problems:
Asthma, allergies, autoimmune diseases, heart disease, cancer and any other diseases related to the organ the inflammation is impacting.
Our pal cauliflower is a rockstar inflammation fighter.
First of all, it is an excellent source of Vitamin K. And vitamin K acts as a direct regulator of our inflammatory response. So it can possibly reduce inflammatory markers throughout the body.
In addition, it contains this long, unpronounceable word (glucosinolates) that can easily convert into a molecule called ITC. Because ITC can operate at the genetic level, it can prevent the initiation of inflammatory responses at a very early stage.
Our stomachs are very susceptable to inflammation (bloating, gas). And all that disruption to our digestion, can lead to some serious issues. So I always love it when I find that eating a certain food can combat the inflammation in the very place that it is headed (your gut).
So I thought to myself – How else can I get more of this into my diet without just eating raw cauliflower (BORING)? One thing I love more than anything is a gooood dip. When I get home, I go straight into the kitchen for something crunchy so that I can dip it into something smooth and creamy. In the past, my go-to has always been hummus. But with the garbanzo beans in hummus, that doesn’t work out so well anymore (refer to What is Paleo? post for why).
Cue: Cauliflower Dip.
Creamy, rich, smooth, and filled with endless flavor opportunities. I’ve probably made it about 5 times since my first batch and it just keeps getting better. I alter it a bit every time, but I’m going to give you my tried and true recipe and leave it up to you to add in or take away. That’s the great thing about a puree, you can’t really mess it up too much. Just be sure to taste test as you go.
Cauliflower Dip Recipe
- 1 Cauliflower, chopped up into chunks
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- ½ teaspoon cumin
- ½ teaspoon turmeric (combining Turmeric and Cauliflower boosts its anti-inflammatory benefits)
- Juice of 1 lemon + zest
- ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- Salt and Pepper, to taste
- ½ teaspoon paprika to garnish
- Steam cauliflower until it’s soft, but not mushy (approximately 15 minutes but that depends on your steamer situation)
- Remove from heat and let cool
- Toss in food processor with the remaining ingredients, except olive oil
- Turn processor on and slowly pour olive oil in (you will know if you’ll want to add more or less based on your preferences; I personally like mine pretty creamy)
- Taste as you go! Add in more spices or salt and pepper. This is all about how you like it. Think it could use something else? Like carrots, garlic, herbs – go for it! This is the fun part.
- Garnish with lemon zest and paprika
- Dig in with something crunchy
The best part is, this stuff will store for a little more than a week. So every time you come home, you can reach for a homemade dip that will taste better (and make you feel better) than any store-bought hummus could.
Okay cauliflower. That's all I've got to say about you…for now.
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