Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable that’s had a significant renaissance over the past several years. For ages a nutrition mantra was (and still is) to “eat the rainbow” suggesting the focus of fruit and veggie intake should be vibrantly colored produce like blueberries, kale, and red bell peppers. Often white veggies like cauliflower, onions, and mushrooms are forgotten since they aren’t as visually appealing.
That is, unless you’ve identified with a paleo, low carb, or ketogenic crowd or have ever tried to fool yourself into believing cauliflower bagels, pizza crusts, or tortillas are as good as the real deal. Been there done that. While the results of these kitchen experiments were never terrible, they’re in no way an equal substitution for the carb-y, bread-y originals.
You may just have to tell yourself not to expect an actual substitution for a chewy doughy crust but rather accept the charlatan masquerading as flour-filled counterpart.
Don’t get me wrong, I love cauliflower and all its nutritious offerings. Like its cruciferous siblings broccoli, kale, and cabbage, cauliflower is chock full of phytochemicals known to fight cancer and protect the heart, as well as sulfur-containing compounds that support detoxification pathways in the body.
The color of a fruit or veggie depends on the phytochemical present, and each category provides different hues.
- chlorophyll: greens
- carotenoids: oranges/reds
- anthoxanthins: white/creamy/yellow
- betalains: dark reds/purples
- anthocyanins: deep purples/blues
These bioactive plant chemicals that can have a positive effect on health beyond what vitamins and minerals provide, and eating an abundance of veggies that span the color spectrum is a good idea to support overall health.
Does this mean that you should “cauliflower” everything? I’m a fan of adding nutrient density when it makes sense and pleases your palate. However, trying to dupe your taste buds and brain into feeling satisfied with caul-substitutions could potentially leave you feeling deprived of the real deal and fuel cravings for those foods. It may also create divisive thinking about the low-carb, grain-free options being “good”and flour-y versions being “bad.”
This “Cauliflower Blended Baking Mix” is a perfect example of diet culture and healthism having infiltrated the food industry. I mean, cauliflower in baking mix?! Ingredients include: dried cauliflower, rice flour, chickpea flour, tapioca starch, cornstarch, baking soda, chia seed powder, psyllium husk, xanthan gum, salt.
Let’s compare the nutrient profile of this “healthified” baking mix to regular all purpose flour.
Cauli-mix: ¼ cup (30g) contains 110 calories, 21 grams carbs, 3 grams protein, 1.5 grams fat
AP flour: ¼ cup (30g) contains 110 calories, 23 grams carbs, 4 grams protein, 0 grams fat
While this could be a good option for someone following a gluten free diet, the difference in macronutrients is ever so slight, so if you’re assuming it’s low carb think again! Many of the beneficial plant compounds would’ve been removed in dehydrating the cauliflower, too. Plus, this one pound bag comes with a $9.99 price tag! Essentially, there’s not much difference between these two products. The lure of cauliflower and the virtuosity one might feel baking with this instead of plain flour could entire one to purchase it though.
If you’re looking to include more nutrient dense foods keep it simple. Roast some cauliflower and eat it as part of a balanced meal with other foods you enjoy and make you feel good. Even bread.