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cooking with intention: cauliflower

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 
I am always looking for ways to cook so it taste good but also good for you. I have tried to illustrate this in my very short column in a very small local newspaper which I wanted to share:

Part 1: Eat your rainbow
A brand new updated Canadian Food Guide came out this past spring. When it comes to food guides, keeping it simple is the way to go. One advice found in the guide is to: Eat at least one dark green and one orange vegetable a day. Our Government is not colour blind to green and orange since it also suggests to eat preferably 7 or more servings of fruit and vegetable a day. Eating a varied diet by seeking different colours, is an excellent way to inadvertently acquire plant chemicals called phytochemicals which include pigments. Studies after studies have demonstrated that eating phytochemicals regularly helps maintain good health including warding off many cancers. So, does it mean that by seeking colourful foods, we should pass on the ones that appear whitish? Are the nearly colourless fruits and vegetables like grapefruit, banana, potato, onion, parsnip, celeriac and cauliflower make these foods less healthy? Absolutely not, since white foods also contain phytochemicals.

According to a USDA database of food pigments, white cauliflower contains a pale yellow pigment called kaempferol classified under a larger pigment chemical family called flavanoids which range in colour from white to purple. Flavanoids are thought to induce cancer cells to die and prevent tumour growth. How exactly that is accomplish is still not fully understood but it appears to wake up our bodies mechanisms to cleanse itself by actually trying to get rid the flavanoids in the first place. Kind of analogous to doing a thorough spring cleaning after seeing a couple of innocent cobwebs. Cauliflower also contain sulforaphane a known anticancer and antimicrobial chemical found in all cruciferous plants like broccoli, kale, cabbage, Brussels sprouts. Recently, the US National Cancer Institute have initiated clinical trials for 3,3'-Diindolylmethane (DIM) to investigate its apparent effectiveness against various cancers. DIM is a metabolic compound produced after digesting indole-3-carbinol found in cauliflower. DIM is also being investigated for its anti-viral potential like HIV (AIDS) and as an antimicrobial for antibiotic resistant bacteria. Of course, these trials use highly concentrated drug version of DIM to fight these aggressive disease. Food habit studies nevertheless point out that taking in small quantities of these compounds regularly through our diet prevents diseases to take hold in the first place. After all, doesn’t a once of prevention worth a pound of cure or shouldn’t it be a gram for a kilo in metric Canada?

One colour not to overlook the next time out at the market is white. Consider white in your rainbow of fruit and vegetable colour selection.

Next week, a cancer fighting recipe using cauliflower that even kids will like, mine do.

Part 2: Healthy and flavourful Cauliflower

I do a lot of reading on food science as you may well have guessed already. I am always fascinated by the fact that most traditional cultural cuisines are being scientifically revealed as having many health benefits. One case in point is combining turmeric with cauliflower in Indian cuisine. Both ingredients are proven effective at preventing certain cancers yet studies have found that the combination is more potent. Combining turmeric with any cruciferous vegetables is highly beneficial. Other studies have shown that the absorption of curcumin, the active ingredient in turmeric, is heighten with the presence of piperin, the active component of black pepper. I concluded then that by combining turmeric, cruciferous vegetables and black pepper would make an effective cancer prevention side dish. The real challenge was how to make my kids eat it.
Indian inspired Turmeric Cauliflower
For a family of 4:
Prepare 500ml (2 cups) of bit size pieces of cauliflower bouquets
12 Brussels sprouts, cut in half length wise then in thin slices
1 to 2 thinly sliced green onions
1 to 2 finely minced garlic clove
10 ml (2 tsp) of turmeric
black pepper
30 ml (2 tbsp) of brown sugar
Olive oil (or any vegetable oil)

Use a heavy bottom skillet on medium high heat. Do not preheat.
Coat the bottom with olive oil add the cauliflower bouquets.
Turn the pieces while adding some oil to evenly coat them.
Let the pieces rest until they start to golden. Toss and stir to brown other sides.
When half of all the pieces have browned add the green onion, garlic and Brussels sprouts. Toss and add oil if needed to thinly coat all the vegetables (1 min).
Sprinkle turmeric while tossing and stirring. Add brown sugar and black pepper.
Continue to toss and stir until the Brussels sprouts have barely lost their crispiness (2 min).

I use tongs to toss and stir. Curcuma dissolves in oil hence the reason to coat the vegetables with oil. When turmeric is heated in oil it releases a sweet floral fragrance. Browning the cauliflower makes them sweet tasting complimented by adding brown sugar. Originally, I added brown sugar to make this dish palatable for my kids. Thinly sliced Brussels sprouts cooked in a skillet do not develop the typical kid offensive flavour as when boiled or steamed.

Try it! I hope you enjoy this recipe.

Have a question? Just ask!
Luc H, B. Sc. in Biochemistry, offers home cooking, family nutrition and basic food science classes in and around Montreal

I hope you find this article interesting.
Luc H.
I eat science everyday, do you?
I eat science everyday, do you?
post #2 of 3

Dr. Duke’s Anticancer Slaw

Dr. James Duke is convinced this delicious slaw may help ward off colon cancer. The recipe is adapted from Medical Nutrition (1990)


2 cups cauliflower florets
1 small, firm green cabbage, shredded
1 large carrot, shredded
½ green pepper, chopped
4 radishes, trimmed and thinly sliced
4 scallions, trimmed and thinky sliced
½ cup white wine vinegar
2 Tbs reduced sodium soy sauce
1 Tbs dark sesame oil
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ tsp +/- red pepper flakes
1 Tbs toasted sesame seeds

Steam cauliflower until tender crisp, about five minutes. Place veggies in a large bowl.
Blend remaining ingredients except sesame seeds until smooth. Stir in sesame seeds. Pour dressing over veggies and toss well.
post #3 of 3

Pasta with Cauliflower

I made this a while back and enjoyed it quite a bit. I used a little less oil, chopped the cauliflower into smaller pieces, and used a nice, mild whole wheat pasta (spaghetti).


Originally Posted by Siduri

take a head of cauliflower. Break into flowerets, and cut the stems up to divide them into quarters, the smaller ones can just be slit partway to allow them to cook quicker.

Take 6 or 7 garlic cloves, sliced, and put in a large frying pan which you film about 1/8 inch deep with good olive oil. You can add three or four hot peppers (the small red ones, maybe half an inch long) . Put the garlic, hot pepper, and cauliflower in the pan and cover, cooking very very slowly till teh cauliflower is soft, stirring occasionally so it doesn;t burn. You shouldn't need water, it will exude water on its own. (You want to make sure to cook the cauliflower well, so it's almost mushy, so it flavors the pasta)

Meanwhile cook short pasta, and when cooked al dente, toss it with the cauliflower and grated parmigiano. Very good, one dish meal. You might not think you'd like cauliflower, but i guarantee you'll like this.
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