Broccoli Vs. Cauliflower: An In-Depth Look at Two Culinary Cousins
When perusing the produce section, the moment always comes when you're faced with two similar-looking vegetables resting side by side beneath the misters: broccoli and cauliflower. Which should you choose?
Broccoli has been a mainstay on dinner tables for decades, while the less ubiquitous cauliflower began gaining steam more recently as a low-carb alternative, popping up disguised as pizza crust and mashed potatoes. These two vegetables are part of the cruciferous family. And while they have many similarities, each also sports distinct characteristics that set it apart. Let's take a deeper dive, shall we?
In The White Corner: Cauliflower
Thanks to its versatility as a substitute in many recipes, cauliflower has been on the radar of low-carb dieters for some time now. It can be roasted, baked, stir-fried, and pulverized to stand in for white rice, bread, pizza crust, and even muffins.
When consumed raw, steamed, or otherwise lightly cooked to preserve its nutrients, this unassuming little veggie is packed with vitamins and minerals. It's got:
- Vitamin C - One serving packs in over 70% of the daily recommended value, which can help with everything from fortifying the immune system to helping prevent cardiovascular disease.
- Protein - Cauliflower is one of the few plant-based sources of protein out there, providing about 5% of the daily recommended dose. Protein is vital for building and repairing muscle tissue.
- Omega-3 Fatty Acids - It isn't just salmon that can help you stock up on omega-3s, which assist with brain and heart function. Cauliflower is one of the few vegetables that has it too.
- B Vitamins - Cauliflower brings numerous B vitamins to the table, including B2 and B3, which are great for maintaining a healthy liver and increasing energy levels.
Types of Cauliflower
You're probably used to seeing the white variety of cauliflower in the store, but there are a few other variations you can bring home, too. Such as:
- Cheddar Hybrid - This orange variant contains nutritious beta-carotene and has a mild, sweet flavor.
- Purple Cauliflower - An Instagrammer's dream that contains antioxidant anthocyanins and has hints of butter.
- Fioretto Cauliflower - Perfect for blanching, this veggie holds its crunch and has a nutty taste.
- Romanesco Hybrid - An eye-catching geometric cross between broccoli and cauliflower.
In The Green Corner: Broccoli
Broccoli is so much more than that vegetable your parents made you eat as a kid. This powerhouse green is delicious steamed with a sprinkle of salt, raw with your favorite dip, and mixed into a stir-fry. Adding a side of broccoli to a meal will instantly make it more nutritious.
If you thought cauliflower was beneficial to your diet, take a look at broccoli. Here's just a small sampling of what it has to offer:
- Vitamin C - If you dislike citrus then today's your lucky day. A serving of broccoli has just as much vitamin C as an orange.
- Vitamin K - This essential vitamin helps increase bone strength, and broccoli is loaded with an impressive amount of it.
- Potassium - Turn to broccoli if you'd rather skip the bananas for your potassium fix.
- Folate - This B vitamin is linked to better memory and mood.
- Fiber - Looking to regulate your digestion and gut health? Broccoli is loaded with fiber that can help.
Types of Broccoli
Broccoli comes in a few other forms than just the standard variety, which adds to its versatility when mealtime rolls around. Next time you're grocery shopping, look for:
- Chinese Broccoli - Often found in Asian-style dishes, this long-stemmed variant has a slightly bitter tang and tastes especially good when sauteed.
- Broccolini - The baby broccoli you see in the produce aisle, this palatable cross between kale and broccoli makes an excellent side dish with almost any protein.
- Rapini - With long, thin stems and small florets, this subtly bitter version pairs perfectly with Mediterranean cuisine.
Brocolli offers superior vitamin content while cauliflower is more versatile for substitutions in recipes. Both make excellent additions to your diet and will help you expand the creative range of your meals while keeping your body healthy and happy.