Cauliflower and Pumpkin Au Gratin

by Carolina Jantac, MS, RD, LD
Yum

Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, part of the Brassicaceae family which also includes broccoli, Brussel sprouts, cabbage, collard greens and kale. Although it is in the same family as those vegetables listed, it has never gotten as much attention as the others, Many children describe its mild taste as “bland.” You will find that is not the case in this Cauliflower and Pumpkin Au Gratin!

However, it is time to give cauliflower another chance! The fact that it does not have a strong taste as kale or Brussel sprouts makes cauliflower the perfect vegetable to combine with potent flavors and highlight their qualities without negatively impacting their nutrient content. It is just the opposite — cauliflower has a variety of vitamins and minerals to contribute to our diet. I bet you didn’t know it is a good source of vitamin C! It has B vitamins and vitamin K. While keeping a low calorie profile, a cup of cauliflower has only 25 calories but 2 whole grams of fiber and 2 grams of protein. This makes cauliflower a nutrient-dense food that can easily substitute potatoes or noodles in so many recipes.

This recipe was inspired by a healthy version of a mac-and-cheese that called for pumpkin puree instead of cream and half of the amount of cheese. We took it up a notch to increase the nutrient content even more and cut out the noodles, using cauliflower instead! It worked out better than the original recipe. It isn’t as much a mac-and-cheese recipe anymore, but rather, it is something better! The secret weapon here is actually the Once Again Cashew Butter! When you start substituting ingredients, especially ones that decrease the overall fat content of a recipe, you may lose the creamy texture that is so characteristic of the recipe. By adding Once Again Cashew butter, the nutrient content gets another boost in plant protein, fiber and unsaturated fat (also vitamin E, K E, K, and B6, along with minerals like copper, phosphorus, zinc, magnesium, iron and selenium, all of which are important for maintaining good bodily function).

Also note that the cauliflower was roasted for this recipe. There is a reason for this beyond just the better taste of roasting versus boiling. When you boil vegetables like cauliflower you may lose a significant percentage of their phytochemicals and some water soluble vitamins such as vitamin C. Therefore, whenever possible, choose to roast, grill or eat your veggies raw to better utilize their valuable nutrients.

This recipe was a huge success in our test kitchensn! Be prepared to add it to your favorites list, for sure! The creaminess, cheesy-rich flavor, achieved without adding much cheese, is phenomenal. It can be the center piece of your dinner or a side item at a holiday table. Whenever you choose to prepare and enjoy this recipe, remember to share it with us on our social media or here in our comments section. Let us know what you thought about the recipe! And if you make any modifications to better suit your dietary needs or tastes, share that, too. Our goal is to share recipes that work for you. We want to better learn your likes and dislikes, which will allow us to gear our creations to cater to your taste buds.

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