Cauliflower—once the despised vegetable that stood between you and leaving the dinner table—is having a moment. It’s being stuffed in tacos, slathered with buffalo sauce, and made into mash. It even holds center stage in lieu of a cut of beef. Plus, more varieties are available now than ever: yellow, purple, and its cousin, a spiraled Italian kind called Romanesco. Turns out, cauliflower is super versatile.
And it couldn’t happen to worthier produce.
“Cauliflower is rich in antioxidants and nutrients with protective properties that affect almost all the systems in your body,” says Alexandra C. Oppenheimer Delvito, a New York–based nutritionist.
Take choline, for example, a nutrient in cauliflower that’s key for cell functioning and metabolism—and one that most people don’t get enough of, Delvito says. It’s especially important for endurance athletes, since a choline deficiency can hurt muscle function.
And cauliflower is great for your gut. A study in the Journal of Functional Foods found that a compound found in the vegetable breaks down in the stomach and feeds the good gut bacteria, aiding metabolism, and bolstering the immune system.
To retain nutrients and phytochemicals, keep cook times short. Steam, sear, or eat the veg raw, but never boil. Here are three recipes to make your meals a little more cruciferous.