Colored Cauliflower is available in green (also known as Broccoflower), purple and orange varieties. Although it may look different than the popular white cauliflower, the taste is just the same: mild, sweet and nutty. The orange and purple cauliflower are higher in antioxidants than regular white cauliflower. Purple cauliflower’s true origin is not known, but the purple color is natural. It is the antioxidant anthocyanin that gives it the purple pigment.
Colored varieties such as purple Graffiti, orange Cheddar and stunning green Romanesco cauliflowers that are in many markets and produce aisles are now in a range of sizes. They are not genetically engineered but rather a mixture of heirloom varieties, naturally occurring accidents and the hybrids grown from them.
Where does the color come from?
No, they’re not painted or dyed! Purple cauliflower gets its beautiful hue, which can vary from pale to jewel-toned, from the presence of the antioxidant anthocyanin, which is also found in red cabbage and red wine.
Orange cauliflower was first discovered in Canada in 1970, although it took years of crossbreeding before it was widely available. The color comes from a genetic mutation that allows the plant to hold more beta carotene. It also contains about 25% more vitamin A than white cauliflower.
What does it taste like?
Colored cauliflower holds the same firmness, crumbly florets, and texture as its white counterpart, with subtle differences in taste. Orange cauliflower is also dubbed “cheddar” cauliflower, though it tastes nothing like cheese. Its flavor is mild, slightly sweet, and creamy. Similarly, purple cauliflower is mild and slightly sweet with nutty nuances.
It provides antioxidants and phytonutrients that can protect against cancer. It also contains fiber to enhance weight loss and digestion, choline that is essential for learning and memory, and many other important nutrients.
An article published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) places cauliflower 24th on a list of “powerhouse fruits and vegetables.”
Eating more plant foods, such as cauliflower, has been found to decrease the risk of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and overall mortality while promoting a healthy complexion, increased energy, and overall lower weight.
Cauliflower is high in fiber and water. Both are important for preventing constipation, maintaining a healthy digestive tract, and lowering the risk of colon cancer.
Cauliflower is rich in nutrients and fiber.
According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database, one cup of chopped raw cauliflower, cut into half-inch pieces, and weighing around 107 grams, contains:
2 grams (g) of protein
0.3 grams of fat
5 g of carbohydrate, including 2.1 g of fiber and 2 g of sugar
24 milligrams (mg) of calcium
16 mg of magnesium
47 mg of phosphorus
320 mg of potassium
51.6 mg of vitamin C
16.6 micrograms (mcg) of vitamin K
0.197 mcg of vitamin B6
61 mcg of folate
One cup of raw cauliflower will provide:
77 percent of daily vitamin C needs
20 percent of daily vitamin K needs
10 percent or more of daily needs for vitamin B 6 and folate
It also contains smaller amounts of thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, pantothenic acid, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, and manganese.
Cooking with colored cauliflower
Colored Cauliflower is perfect with just simply steamed or roasted as a colorful side dish, pureed as a low-carb mashed potato substitute or made into faux Cauliflower Fried ‘Rice’. Great for adding color to fresh veggie platters. The beautiful colors do not fade when they are cooked.
The purple and orange varieties have a slightly sweeter flavor than the white variety alone. To amp up the sweetness of all three (while keeping colors intact), break the heads up into small clusters and gloss with extra virgin olive oil. Sprinkle with salt and pepper and roast at 375 for about 35-40 minutes, or until the edges are caramelized. Then proceed with any recipe – using them in soups, pasta sauces, add to salads, gratins or custards. Some restaurants serve cauliflower as an entree. The sky’s the limit with this healthy, tasty, easy-to-cook crucifer!