Cauliflower: The versatile wonder vegetable

320 cauliflower versatile option

When you’re following a strict diet to calm inflammation, repair a leaky gut, or manage an autoimmune disease, the lack of variety can be frustrating. But you’d be surprised how deftly the humble cauliflower can jazz up your meals. Cauliflower’s first impression is not good. It’s pale, bland, and smelly when steamed. But cauliflower’s gift is in shape-shifting ability to mimic a variety of dishes by taking on the flavor of whatever it’s cooked with. Another plus? Cauliflower keeps well, patiently waiting for up to a few weeks in the refrigerator drawer for your attention, and prepping it is easy.

Mark Twain said “cauliflower is nothing but cabbage with a college education.” Indeed it is related to cabbage and a member of the disease-fighting brassicas, which also include broccoli, kale, and Brussels sprouts. Cauliflower is low in calories, high in fiber, and rich in vitamins and minerals, including vitamin C, potassium, folic acid, and a health protective compound called isothiocyanate.

Although rich in nutritious cancer-preventive phytochemicals, cauliflower also contains goitrogens, compounds that can suppress thyroid function. However, cooking neutralizes much of this property and cauliflower and brassicas are fine for many people with low thyroid activity when eaten in appropriate amounts (for example, not juiced and consumed in large quantities.) The more sensitive thyroid patients may want to monitor the effects of brassicas on their thyroid health. But for the average person the health benefits of cauliflower and other brassicas far outweigh any potential effects of goitrogens, the risks of which are not well documented in the first place.

Cauliflower can be enjoyed in a variety of ways

Cauliflower’s beauty is in its versatility, especially if you are on a restricted diet. Once you discover how to work with it, you may find it becomes a regular item in your shopping cart. Below are some of the ways you can enjoy cauliflower.

Mock mashed potatoes. When seasoned well, mashed cauliflower can be a delicious and attractive substitute for mashed potatoes without skewering your blood sugar. Steam or simmer in broth before mashing, and add garlic, salt, pepper, and your choice of healthy fat (ghee, olive oil, coconut oil, butter, or even duck fat).

Cauliflower rice. The secret to cauliflower rice is to pulse cauliflower florets in the food processor until it’s the size of rice grains. Sauté it in a pan with onions and a healthy fat and season.

Cauliflower pizza crust. Cauliflower pizza crust starts with using the food processor to make cauliflower rice, cooking (most recipes call for the microwave for this step), wringing it dry in a kitchen towel, and then mixing with egg and seasoning before flattening onto a pizza stone and baking. Then top with your favorite ingredients and bake again.

Roasted cauliflower, or cauliflower “popcorn.” It doesn’t sound that interesting, but roasted cauliflower can be a surprising crowd pleaser, especially if seasoned creatively. Cut cauliflower florets into uniform pieces, toss with your favorite oil and seasoning, and flip occasionally while roasting until evenly browned.

Cauliflower puree. Pureeing cauliflower in soups is a wonderful way to create a thick base without blood sugar-spiking flours. Add it to your favorite broth with sautéed onion or shallots and garlic, puree, season, and throw in some chopped vegetables for color.

Resources for the autoimmune leaky gut diet

317 leaky gut resources

The leaky gut diet, also known as the autoimmune diet or anti-inflammatory diet, changes lives. Removing inflammatory foods allows an inflamed and damaged gut to repair, which in turn allows damage in the body and brain to recover and repair. However, despite the phenomenal success rate of the leaky gut diet, it can look very daunting, if not impossible, to the beginner.

In a nutshell, the leaky gut or autoimmune diet is free of grains, dairy, eggs, all sweeteners, nightshades (potatoes, tomatoes, peppers, eggplant), and processed foods. What’s left is a diet that focuses on plenty of vegetables, cultured vegetables, such as sauerkraut, and healthy meats and fats. You should eat regularly enough to avoid drops in blood sugar and drink plenty of filtered or spring water.

Because the diet is rather stringent, grabbing a quick meal while you’re out or conjuring a meal from an empty fridge is tricky. The most important strategy for success on the leaky gut diet is planning and preparation. You have to be one step ahead of yourself when it comes to future meals. Also, as the diet can be so new to people, simply knowing what to eat is a brain tease in itself.

Following are some resources to help you embark with confidence on the leaky gut diet.

Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook

The author created this book as a result of her own journey on the autoimmune diet and the significant recovery it brought her. Seeing a need for support with menu planning and recipes, she created the Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook.

Allergy-free Menu Planners

This is another support service in the way of planning and recipes. The Allergy-free Menu Planner sends you monthly menu plans that include shopping lists and menus for every night of the week.

Celiac.com

If you’re new to eating gluten-free, the lists of legal and illegal foods can be confusing. Gluten is lurking in many seemingly innocuous foods, such as condiments, sauces, and even airline peanuts. Celiac.com is a site that details what is and isn’t safe on a gluten-free diet and provides information on gluten-free sources.

Cultures for Health

Consuming cultured foods and drinks is an essential part of the leaky gut diet to help restore a healthy balance of gut flora. To the newcomer, fermenting, culturing, and kefiring can seem foreign and even risky. Cultures for Health provides plenty of easy how-to articles and videos, as well as starter cultures. You also may be able to find starter cultures locally through food co-ops or on Craigslist.org. Pickl-It supplies airtight culturing containers for a genuine ferment that is low in histamines, compounds that can trigger inflammation.

Grass-fed meats

The ideal types of meat on the leaky gut diet are pastured meats raised on small farms. The animals are raised ethically and on diets nature intended, and are free from hormones, antibiotics, and GMO feeds. Because grass-fed meats have become so popular, you may be able to find them on small farms in your area or at health food stores. US Wellness Meats is an online source that can ship a wide variety of frozen pastured meats to your home.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is a staple on the leaky gut diet, taking the place of butter for many cooking needs (unless you are sensitive, which some people are). Thankfully coconut oil is becoming more commonplace on the shelves of health food stores and even Costco. Tropical Traditions was one of the first to offer coconut oil for sale online and continues to offer premium oils.

These are just a few resources to get you started. For more advice on the leaky gut diet and nutritional compounds to facilitate your wellness journey, contact my office.