I Ate Cauliflower Every Day for a Week and Here's What Happened
The good, the bad and the gassy.
Step aside, kale. Cauliflower is the new “it” veggie soaking up the supermarket spotlight. From crackers to pizza crust, cauliflower’s trendiness (with a hashtag touting over 1.1 million Instagram posts…) has pioneered a plant-based demand across multiple grocery aisles. In fact, Instacart saw a 316 percent increase in cauliflower products sold from 2017 to 2018, and Uber Eats has seen more than 39 percent growth in orders containing cauliflower in just the past six months, according to representatives for the brands.
So what’s the deal? Is subbing in broccoli’s more popular cousin all that it’s cracked up to be? To find out, I did what anyone would do — I ate cauliflower everyday for a week. Riced, mashed, roasted, pressure-cooked, store-bought — I tried it all. Here’s what I found.
It’s Nutrient-Dense — and Filling!
Cauliflower may have cancer-fighting power and packs a noteworthy nutrition punch with 1 cup of fresh cauliflower being an excellent source of vitamins C and K and a good source of fiber, folate, and vitamin B6. It’s no wonder the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) placed it on a list of “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.”
I Didn’t Get Sick Of It
Because of its mild flavor, cauliflower is a versatile addition to virtually any meal — especially for gluten-free or carb-adverse eaters. Snack simply on roasted florets tossed in your favorite seasoning or healthy sauce (Exhibit A: Buffalo Cauliflower, pictured above), or use them as the base of healthier comfort food wins like Shrimp and Cauliflower “Grits”. I proudly lightened up my favorite hummus recipe by replacing half of the chickpeas for cauliflower rice and even blended (and surprisingly loved!) it into my morning smoothie, à la Barbara Lincoln, RD. “Frozen cauliflower in a smoothie is a great way to thicken it and add nutrients,” says Lincoln. Still left on my to-make-list: Cauliflower Brownies. (Yes, they’re a thing!)
It Has Range
It seems like you can’t go wrong when it comes to cauliflower prep. By the end of the week, I became partial to slicing up “steaks” as a hearty salad topper and found sautéing pre-packaged “rice” to be a time-saving way to beef up a meal without racking up macros. I can report that I successfully took a crack at making my own cauliflower pizza crust, and pre-made versions from Outer Aisle and Cali’Flour are as good as they are convenient. Oh, and like everyone else on your ‘gram feed, I’m also a huge fan of Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Gnocchi! I cannot wait to try other pasta varieties as they continue to become readily available.
It’s Waist-Friendly (Sort Of…)
Swapping in cauliflower may seem like a weight loss secret weapon, but doing it isn't necessarily a guarantee. “Don’t let the health halo fool you,” warns Mariana Dineen MS, RD, CDN, LD, founder of Pretty Nutritious. “Just because [a product] is gluten-free and made with cauliflower, you can’t assume it’s healthy. Unfortunately many end up being a refined low-carb, lower calorie product with diluted cauliflower superfood powers.” Rule of thumb: Be vigilant with your label reading, as you will find that many products contain cassava flour, potato starch, oils and cheese — all of which can add up! When whipping your own cauliflower dish, be mindful of additional ingredients and toppings. “You can save the calories and carbs from a regular pizza crust by using a cauliflower crust, but if you load it with meat and cheese you’ve negated your healthy swap,” explains Lincoln.
It Can Cause Tummy Troubles
While everyone’s tolerance is different, too much cauliflower can create G.I. distress, like excess gas and bloating. “Make sure to drink enough water to move it through your system,” suggests Lincoln. Cooking it can also dial back digestion woes.
Swapping cauliflower in for meat (especially if you go the frozen route!) will stretch both your food budget. Cauliflower Tikka Masala, for example, was a hit among my chicken-loving group of friends, for a fraction of the cost of take-out. Another dough-saving tip: Buy the whole head of cauliflower and rice it yourself.
*This article was written and/or reviewed by an independent registered dietitian nutritionist.