Mid-October means the transition to fall fruits and vegetables. Although summer provided us with delicious blueberries, cherries and strawberries, come September, we introduce a new colorful variety. Apples, grapes, melons, pears, peaches and plums are just a handful of wonderful in-season fruit options. Cabbage, cauliflower, carrots, pumpkin and tomatoes are some of the September vegetables. In-season fruit and vegetables have the most enhanced flavors, are more nutrient-dense, and also tend to be more affordable.
Cauliflower is the featured vegetable for this month’s article and what I like to call one of the unicorns of vegetables. There are endless opportunities to get creative and make it a key part of an appetizer, entrée or side dish. Cauliflower can be consumed raw, roasted whole, or cut-up and grilled/baked as a side dish or in salad. It can be transformed into a pizza crust, made into a soup or sauce, substituted for rice, switched with potatoes to make cauliflower hash or mashed cauliflower, or even used as a pasta replacement for mac & cheese.
What else makes cauliflower so special? Cauliflower is naturally fat-free and low in sodium while high in vitamin C. It is also a good source of vitamin K, vitamin B-6 and folate. It is also part of the cruciferous vegetable group which contains antioxidants to reduce one’s risk of cancer. Vitamin C has several functions which include an important role in the growth, development and repair of all body tissues, wound healing, and iron absorption. One of the main roles of vitamin K is to support blood clotting to prevent excessive bleeding. Vitamin B-6 supports a healthy immune system and brain health. Folate is needed to make red and white blood cells in the bone marrow, convert carbohydrates into energy, and produce DNA and RNA. Adequate folate intake during pregnancy helps prevent neural tube defects in the fetus.
Curry cauliflower rice is a delicious side dish substitute for fried rice that is lower in calories, fat and sodium! Besides cauliflower being the main ingredient, raisins and slivered almonds provide additional nutrients. Raisins contain some fiber, iron and potassium. Slivered almonds are packed with protein, fiber, vitamin E, magnesium, manganese, iron, potassium, calcium, phosphorus, and copper. The recipe is designed to be a side dish. However, it is easy enough to turn it into an entree. To create a curry cauliflower rice protein bowl, simple choose a protein source such as chickpeas, tofu, or chicken, and mix your protein source into the curry cauliflower rice dish at the end.
You can make cauliflower rice by simply cutting a head of cauliflower into small pieces and, in small amounts, place into a food processor and pulse until it is completely broken up into small rice-looking pellets. If you need to save time, you can buy a premade frozen bag of plain cauliflower rice. Meanwhile, stir fry an onion until translucent and then add garlic, almonds, raisins, curry powder and cinnamon. Once cooked a little longer, you will then add the cauliflower rice to the mixture and continue to cook for several more minutes until it is softened. The full recipe can be found at https://www.stephgaudreau.com/curried-cauliflower-rice-recipe/. If you are looking to reduce the total sodium per serving size, reduce the amount of salt listed in the ingredients.
Jessica Richardson, RD, CD-N, is a clinical dietitian with Bristol Health.