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Our Blog: January 5, 2024

Cauliflower: A Praise-Worthy Veggie

We want to introduce you and your family to CAULIFLOWER. As the Registered Dietitian Nutritionist for Learning Care Group, I take pride in sharing smart choices during meal and snack time with the children in our schools—and in my own home too. Cauliflower is extremely healthy but is often overlooked. Give our favorite recipes a try and see how easily it can become the star of any meal.

Offering early veggie variety is key to raising adventurous, healthy eaters. Through exposure, we now know kids can learn to LOVE vegetables. We hope you will join the Veggies Early & Often campaign at home by being a role model for children through cooking and eating a balanced, plant-forward diet.

Rich Benefits

Cauliflower is rich in vitamins C, K, and B6. It also contains good amounts of fiber, folate, and choline. Choline is an essential nutrient that many people don’t get enough of. It supports brain development, which occurs at an astounding pace during childhood. The brain doubles in size during the first year and is 90% full-grown by the time a child goes to kindergarten.

Cauliflower is good raw, steamed, roasted, grilled, or transformed into a grain or rice alternative. Many people use it to make pizza crusts, tortillas, breads, and buns. Cauliflower can also be used to replace rice, potatoes, chickpeas, or even pasta in some dishes.

The Perfect Choice

If you are buying cauliflower fresh, look for a clean, compact head with densely packed florets. Avoid heads that look wet or have brown spots. It should be a creamy, white color. Unless you are buying purple, orange, or green varieties, of course! Regardless, look for uniform coloring. Put it through a sniff test too. If the cauliflower has a strong odor, it is likely past its prime.

If you’re looking to save time, you can purchase pre-cut fresh florets in the produce department at most grocery stores for a higher cost. Another time-saving option is buying it frozen. It typically comes in florets, riced, or mashed. Look for options without added sauces or butter (which increase the fat and sodium content).

POWER up your veggie routine with Cauliflower and try one of our veggie-forward recipes:

Cheesy Ground Beef & Cauliflower Rice Casserole
(Serves 4 to 6)


1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (salt-free)
½ tsp. sweet paprika
8 oz. fresh baby spinach
1 pkg. frozen cauliflower rice (10 oz.)
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbsp. melted butter
½ tsp. dried basil
8 oz. shredded Italian-blend cheese


  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Cook cauliflower rice according to package directions.
  3. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat.
  4. Add onions and cook for 2 minutes.
  5. Stir in garlic and cook an additional 30 seconds.
  6. Add ground beef. Season with Italian seasoning and paprika. Cook until beef is browned.
  7. Add spinach and stir frequently, until it wilts.
  8. Remove from heat, drain liquid, and set aside.
  9. In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, combine cauliflower rice, sour cream, butter, and basil. Stir and mix until completely combined and creamy.
  10. Add the prepared beef mixture to the baking dish and stir to combine.
  11. Top with shredded cheese.
  12. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand for several minutes before serving.

Baked Cauliflower Parmesan
(Serves 4)


1 head cauliflower, sliced into 1-inch steaks
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 tsp. Italian seasoning (salt-free)
1 cup tomato or marinara sauce
¼ cup grated parmesan
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 Tbsp. fresh basil, chopped


  1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Arrange cauliflower steaks in a single layer on a baking sheet and brush with olive oil on both sides.
  3. Roast the cauliflower steaks, flipping once halfway through, until they’re tender. It should take about 30 to 35 minutes.
  4. Remove cauliflower from the oven. Top each slice with tomato or marinara sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella and half the parmesan.
  5. Switch oven to broil and cook for approximately 3 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and golden.
  6. For young assistants: Have them sprinkle the remaining parmesan and fresh basil on top.

Three Cs Creamy & Crunchy Salad
(Serves 4 to 6)


2 cups cauliflower florets
2 cucumbers
½ red bell pepper
3 green onions
15 oz. can of corn
½ cup mayonnaise
1 lime
2 Tbsp. fresh dill, chopped


  1. Cut cauliflower florets into small pieces.
  2. Thinly slice the cucumbers.
  3. Dice the red bell pepper.
  4. Thinly chop the green onions.
  5. Drain the corn.
  6. For young assistants: Mix all the vegetables together in a large bowl. Measure and add the mayonnaise to the vegetables.
  7. For young assistants: Squeeze the lime over a small bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. of the lime juice and the chopped dill to the salad. Stir to combine.
  8. Serve immediately or cover and chill for up to 24 hours.

*All recipes are veggie-forward and approved on May 5, 2023, by the Partnership for a Healthier America to meet the Veggies Early & Often guidelines.

About the Author

Nicole Spain, MS, RDN

Childhood nutrition has been Nicole’s passion for more than 20 years. She is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) with a Master of Science (MS) in Nutrition and Dietetics from Northern Illinois University. During her career with Learning Care Group (LCG), Nicole has assisted with developing and implementing the company’s proprietary Grow Fit program. Through her curated menus, the healthy lifestyle initiative positively impacts approximately 100,000 children daily in LCG’s 1,050+ schools. She aided in the rollout of the Veggies Early & Often campaign in 2021 and helped LCG be recognized as the 2017 Partner of the Year by the Partnership for a Healthier America. Since 2004, she’s also been an active Junior League member and developed the Kids in the Kitchen program for their Detroit and Milwaukee chapters. Nicole and her husband, John, have three children. In her spare time, Nicole competes on a rowing team with the Detroit Boat Club Crew.