Purple Cauliflower for All
Lately, it seems the only cooking I’ve been doing is for my 10 month old twins. I think things finally reached a breaking point a few weeks ago, though, when my husband came home to the delicious smell of Morroccan-spiced Lamb and Chickpea stew, and I glumly informed him that there was only enough for me to puree and store for the babies. He and I were having PB&J for dinner. Again.
I realized that with some better planning, I should be able to choose dishes–and make enough of them– to feed all four of us. Especially considering that two of us only eat about 4 ounces in a sitting.
The first component of the inaugural family meal became clear to me when I passed our local Farmer’s Market and saw that purple cauliflowers had arrived. I had been eyeing a recipe for Purple Cauliflower and White Bean puree from fellow RD Sophie Clarke’s blog, Mostly Eating, for some time, and knew that I could adapt it to my family’s tastes. (See below for adapted recipe). My kids and husband all love roasted cauliflower… and can you think of any better way to jazz up a baby’s diet of mushy, pureed foods than to infuse it with a shock of bright purple?
A note on purple cauliflower nutrition
Is purple cauliflower more nutritious than its white counterpart? It certainly appears to be, though the standard version’s nutritional credentials aren’t too shabby either. Both are roughly equivalent on the “macronutrient” front: calories (about 25 calories per cup of raw florets), carbs (5g) and fiber (2g). That same cup of white cauliflower has about 80% of your daily value for Vitamin C. Vitamin C aside, the antioxidant content is almost certainly higher in a purple cauliflower, owing largely to the presence of the purple antioxidant pigments called anthocyanins– the same ones that make purple cabbage purple and blueberries blue.
While I could not find reliable information that quantifies the the nutritional differences in these two cauliflower varieties, I thought it might be informative to compare the difference between two very close relatives of cauliflower: purple cabbage versus regular (green) cabbage. (Purple cauliflower, in fact, is believed to derive from wild cabbage plants). Perhaps we may be able to infer something about the relative amount of phytonutrients in a purple cauliflower versus a white one? (And if the faulty logic of this comparison pisses off any budding chemists in our midst, I hope it will spur them to undertake a proper analysis of cruciferous vegetable antioxidant activity and share the results with the rest of us).
While a 3 oz (100g, raw) serving of both red and green cabbage varieties has approximately the same number of calories (25-30) and fiber (2-2.5g), red cabbage has more antioxidant Vitamin C (about 100% of the daily value in red, versus 60% for green); 16 times more beta carotene– an precursor for antioxidant Vitamin A; and 11 times more lutein + zeaxanthin–two antioxidant carotene pigments that play a pivotal role in eye health and vision. In other words, depending on the particular antioxidant measured–purple cabbage has anywhere from 1.6x to 16x the antioxidant content of the standard green variety. (And these examples only account for a small percentage of the total number of antioxidants present in cabbage…) Given these impressive stats, it seems to make sense to choose purple-colored veggies often–purple cauliflower included– to get that much more bang for your nutritional buck.
Recipe: Mashed Purple Cauliflower with White Beans
A beautiful (and quirky), easy, delicious, family-friendly recipe for weeknight, Halloween and Thanksgiving dinners alike! High in fiber and Vitamin C and low on the glycemic index, it’s a fabulous substitute for mashed potatoes.
1 large head purple cauliflower, cut into florets
3 TBSP olive oil
1 14.5 oz can cannellini beans, drained* (or other small white bean, such as Navy beans).
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
- In a large bowl, combine cauliflower florets, olive oil, a modest sprinkle of salt and a generous sprinkle of dried thyme (to taste), and toss well to coat
- Arrange cauliflower florets on a baking dish and roast in oven for 20-30 minutes, or until florets are fork tender and just starting to brown
- Remove cauliflower from oven and place in a food processor along with the canned white beans. Puree until smooth. (Alternatively, you can puree the roasted cauliflower along with the beans in a large pot using an immersion (stick) blender.)
* I use Eden Organic brand when cooking for my kids since the company does not use BPA in its can liners.
Did you like this? If so, please bookmark it, RSS feed.