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Continuing the theme of using more veg in your cooking, this week – cauliflower!

Cauliflower is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family, which also includes broccoli, kale, cabbage and Brussels sprouts. Cauliflower is white because its green leaves protect the head from sunlight. However, there are varieties of green, orange and purple cauliflowers.

Cauliflower evolved from the cabbage and has gone through many changes with the version we know today first appearing in Turkey around 600 BCE. Today, cauliflower is grown throughout Europe, USA, India and China.

Cauliflower is a great source of vitamin K, which is important for bone health, and vitamin C. It also contains fibre, potassium and B vitamins. Its white colour shows that it has a lower level of beneficial plant compounds than other cruciferous vegetables, which may have a role in the prevention of cancer. Coloured cauliflowers have higher levels of nutrients than white cauliflower. Although it is nutritionally inferior to the other crucifers, it is still a healthy vegetable.

Choose a cauliflower with clean white flower heads and crisp green leaves and store it in the fridge. Frozen cauliflower is also a great way to keep this vegetable stored.

My favourite way to serve cauliflower is to roast it. Simply mix the florets with your flavouring of choice – I like to use a teaspoon of curry powder and a tablespoon of olive oil. Mix so that the florets are evenly coated, then arrange them on a baking tray and roast for about 45 minutes until they are cooked and browned.

Raw cauliflower is delicious and can be used for dipping in hummus or avocado dip. However, it should be noted that large quantities of raw cauliflower should not be consumed by people with thyroid problems due to the presence of goitrogens. These compounds can interfere with thyroid function but are inactivated by cooking.

Cauliflower sautés quite nicely and can be used in ratatouille for a slightly different take on an old favourite. It can also be incorporated into stir-fries or simply boiled and served as a side to any main course.

For the picky eaters in the family, cauliflower can be hidden in a variety of meals, for example, make mashed potato in the usual way but with half potatoes and half cauliflower, or blend it in a vegetable soup.

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