Curly Cauliflower: The nutritional cruciferous vegetable

Description
Cauliflower, as it is commonly called in the UK, and which is known by many names in different countries, like Karfiol, Bloemkool, Blomkål, Chou fleur, Kounoupidi to name some, was first planted way back in around 100 BC in places like the Mediterranean and Asia Minor. It became very popular, and by the early 16th century, it was cultivated and consumed in many parts of Western Europe. It has also gained huge popularity in the United States from around 1920.

Cauliflower is also commonly known by its hindi name “Phool Gobi” in many places like India. Though it can be found throughout the year, but it is best between the months of December to March, when its season is at its peak. It is found in almost all the stores then and is fresh and healthy. It is a cruciferous vegetable, and comes from the plant family which also includes plants like cabbage, broccoli etc.

The cauliflower basically consists of a small head, which is sometimes also known as “curd”. These are essentially undeveloped flower buds. The head is not very large, generally having a diameter of about 6 inches. This is usually broken apart into still smaller pieces, giving it an appearance of even smaller trees. Kids generally like both the sweet milky flavour of it and its intriguing shape.

Cauliflower is mainly of 2 types. White cauliflower is the most popular among the two. They are widely cultivated all across USA. It is very commonly used in salads and even in meals. On the other hand, green cauliflower is a comparatively much newer variety, coming into use as recently as 10 years back. It is a hybrid cross between the white variety and broccoli. It has the same shape as normal cauliflowers, the only difference being that it is green in colour, due to the chlorophyll pigmentation from broccoli.

Cauliflower can also be orange or purple in colour. The orange variety is quite rich in beta carotene, and is widely used to make pies and soups. The purple cauliflower, on the other hand, has a high content of tannins. It is mostly eaten raw.

Buying tips
If you are going to the market to get your cauliflowers, make sure you choose wisely and get them fresh. You should keep in mind that the cauliflower florets should be quite compact and dense, and should have a creamy white complexion. Try to avoid those with dark stains or spots on it. Also, the leaves should be green, look fresh and be firm and straight. Also, the vegetable should not have any flowers. The size of the cauliflower has nothing to do with its freshness or its quality. Thus, you can choose your own size, depending upon your requirements.

Culinary usage
Cauliflower can be prepared in a variety of ways. Mostly the florets are consumed, but sometimes the leaves or stem of the vegetable is also consumed, and are specially used to make vegetable soups, and are very healthy and nutritious. Make sure that before cooking, the cauliflower is washed properly, and there are no insects inside, as often cauliflowers are the victims of pests. Some common ways in which they are cooked are:

  1. The most common form is cutting them into smaller trees and making a curry with it along with other vegetables. It is widely prepared in this manner all over India.
  2. Often, it is used to make fries. The florets are mixed with batter and deep fried. They can then be served with mayonnaise sauce, or other dips.
  3. Cauliflower goes very well with sauces, which can be of any types. It can be white sauce, or cheese sauce, and even curries.
  4. It can also be just boiled or steamed, and can be used to make stews or soups or even pasta preparations. When you steam, take care that the centre of the vegetable is still tender, but also you should not overcook it.
  5. The cauliflower can also be grated or sliced or chopped into small pieces.

Storage
The cauliflower should be kept in a cool and dark place, or maybe in the vegetable box of your refrigerator. It should be wrapped, and always stored with its face kept downwards. It should be consumed very quickly after it is bought from the market, preferably within 5 days. However, if you have bought those which have already been cut into small florets, then you should preferably have it within a day or two. The quicker you have it, the fresher it will be. As days go by, it loses its freshness.

Medicinal values
Cauliflower has innumerable health benefits, due to its rich nutrient content. Some of its uncommon health benefits are:

  1. It contains many compounds, which goes a long way to prevent cancer. They basically stimulate many enzymes which help in disabling and killing harmful carcinogens in our body.
  2. It has very low calorie content, and thus is a very good dietary food and people who are trying to slim down. It is advised for obese patients.
  3. It provides a lot of energy for your body, and improves your body’s immune system.
  4. It is very rich in Vitamin C, which makes your bones and teeth strong. It is rich in fibre, which improves your digestive system and cleans your alimentary canal. It is rich in minerals like potassium, iron and calcium, which are vital for your body. It is also rich in folic acid, which is required by our body, and is found rarely in other food items.

Where to buy cauliflower in US
Most of the cauliflower which is grown in USA comes from California, mainly from the Salinas Valley. This place is often called the “salad bowl” in this world. This valley has a very deep soil, which is rich in nutrients and also has a wonderful underground water table. This makes this place an ideal place to grow all types of vegetables.

Cauliflower is also grown in USA in Florida, New York, Arizona, Washington, Michigan and in Texas.

Nutritional and dietary information
Cauliflower is very rich in the following nutrients:

28.52 calories

Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Vitamin B1, B2, B3, B5 and B6.

Omega 3 fatty acids

Dietary fibre

Folic acid

Minerals like Manganese, Potassium, Phosphorous and Magnesium

Proteins

Cauliflower derives its name from the Latin expression caulis (cabbage) as well as flower, which is basically in recognition of its odd place in the middle of a group of food plants, called Brassica oleracea, which in general generates just leafy greens for being consumed.

Nutrition Facts
Servings Size 100gm
Sodium 1%
Total Carbohydrate 2%
Dietary Fiber 10%
Protein 4%
Vitamin C 77%
Calcium 2%
Iron 2%
* The Percent Daily Values are based on a 2,000 calorie diet, so your values may change depending on your calorie needs. The values here may not be 100% accurate because it has not been professionally evaluated nor have they been evaluated by the U.S. FDA.

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