Cauliflower is one of my all-time favorite vegetables. Once revered by the French king Louis XIV, this royal vegetable should be a frequent addition to everyone’s plate for better health and weight control.

Here’s why: Cauliflower is loaded with nutrition and is a powerful cancer-fighting vegetable that tastes great and is ridiculously low in calories. Botanically speaking, cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable from the Brassicaceae family. It is a rich source of certain “anticancer” phytochemicals, especially a sulfur compound called isothiocyanate. Cauliflower is also an excellent source of vitamin K, as well as B vitamins including folate, pantothenic acid (vitamin B-5) and pyridoxine (vitamin B-6). A single cup will provide you with a healthy dose of fiber, potassium and more than half of your daily quota of vitamin C—and all for just 27 calories!

Cauliflower is available year-round but is best when harvested in winter months. There is also no need to buy organic—cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that has a low pesticide residue due to its thick outer covering. I recommend choosing fresh heads with compact florets that are not bruised. Cauliflower can be stored in the refrigerator for about a week. When you’re ready to eat it, remove the tough stem and outer leaves and wash the head well, upside down, rinsing numerous times in a bowl of cold water.

The versatility of recipes in which cauliflower can be used is remarkable. Pizza crust and other baked goodies, soup, fritters, tabouli, mac and cheese, veggie burgers, barbecued cauliflower steaks—the list is an endless universe of deliciousness. Simple ways to enjoy this nutritional powerhouse…

Pizza crust. Cooked and mashed cauliflower works well as a pizza crust, but just make sure to cook the cauliflower until it’s really soft and tender and then squeeze every last drop of water out so that the mash is completely dry. (Use a stainless steel bowl that fits snugly inside a sieve, and press down on the mash to squeeze out every last drop!) To finish your crust, simply combine with mozzarella cheese, Parmesan, dried oregano, basil, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and eggs (two per head of cauliflower). Then transfer to a baking sheet, form into a flat circle and bake for 20 minutes at 400°F. After baking the crust, add desired toppings and rebake for 10 minutes.

Purée. Chop the florets and steam the cauliflower. Then place in a blender to form a smooth cauliflower purée. You can use the purée instead of starches to thicken chowders and potato-based soups—a great way to add nutrition and cut the calorie count.

Seasoned cauliflower. One of the simplest ways to cook cauliflower is to just roast it in a hot oven. Preheat the oven to 425°F, toss cauliflower florets with chopped onion and garlic, drizzle with extra-virgin olive oil and season with fresh thyme, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Roast, tossing occasionally, until tender and golden brown—usually 25 to 30 minutes.

Buffalo-style cauliflower “wings”: Looking for a light and delicious alternative to greasy, calorie-laden buffalo-style wings? Try buffalo cauliflower “wings”! What to do: Preheat the oven to 450°F, and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Coat cauliflower florets with batter (a mixture of flour, seasonings and water or soy milk for moisture). Then roast the florets for 30 minutes (flipping halfway). Dip cooked florets in your favorite buffalo hot sauce, and bake for an additional 20 minutes until the pieces are crispy. Remove from the oven, and serve with a side of light blue-cheese dressing for dipping. Yum!

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