Buffalo Cauliflower/Faux Hot Wings – A Vegetarian’s Dream!
Buffalo Cauliflower. Who needs chicken when cauliflower tastes better? “Hot Wings” with cauliflower?
Just the thought of eating cauliflower used to turn me off. I went out of my way to avoid it like the plague. It was either cooked to mush or served raw with blah Ranch dressing. Not much to recommend it.
However, with all the recipes on the web for unique ways to use cauliflower, I decided to try some of them and see if I could find a way to make cauliflower more appealing.
As a Registered Nurse, and having studied holistic health, the nutritional benefits from the food we eat has always been an important part of my life. Eating the right foods can have lasting health benefits, whereas eating the wrong foods, can have catastrophic effects on our health.
Cauliflower is a cruciferous vegetable, along with broccoli, cabbage and kale. Other cruciferous vegetables include arugula, radishes, bok choy, and turnips. Cauliflower is rich in vitamin C, vitamin B complex and folate. It is packed with antioxidants, and has anti-inflammatory properties. It contains glucosinolates, sulphur-containing compounds which have been shown to have anti-cancer properties.
NOTE: It also contains vitamin K, which is a natural blood thinner, so if you have any heart problems, or are on a blood thinner like warfarin or coumadin, you should check with your doctor before consuming cauliflower.
Cauliflower could be described as a “Super Food.” Here are just a few of the health benefits of including cauliflower in your diet.
One cup of raw cauliflower florets contains only 27 calories. 77 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin C, 20 percent of your daily allowance of vitamin K, and 10 percent of vitamins B6 and folate.
Improves heart health. Omega-3 fatty acids, fiber, vitamin K and glucoraphanin help prevent atherosclerosis and plaques in blood vessels.
Reduces hypertension. Cauliflower contains glucoraphanin and sulforaphane, anti-inflammatory and antioxidants and which have been shown to promote HDL (good cholesterol) and to reduce LDL (bad cholesterol.)
Helps prevent certain cancers. Cauliflower contains indole-3-carbinol, which has been shown in studies to help prevent growth of cancer cells and may reduce the risk of lung, breast, prostate, ovarian, and cervical cancer. The phytochemicals in cauliflower helps stimulate cancer-blocking enzymes in the body and protect against the damage caused by free radicals.
Helps to maintain a healthy digestive system. Cauliflower is high in fiber and water, which help increase circulation in the colon and decrease the risk of constipation. Fiber also aids in digestion and eliminating the toxins from the body.
Cauliflower helps boost eye health as it contains vitamin C and antioxidants which may help prevent macular degeneration.
Boosts you brain health. The choline in cauliflower has been shown to play a role in brain development and learning, and may help diminish age-related memory loss and depression.
Reduce inflammation. Eating cruciferous vegetables like cauliflower may help reduce the inflammation caused by rheumatoid arthritis and asthma
Regulate blood sugar. The fiber in cauliflower helps slow the absorption of sugar in the bloodstream, which helps to prevent spikes or quick drops in blood sugar.
I mentioned the correlation between vitamin K and blood thinners earlier. There are a few other potential side effects from eating cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables that you need to be aware of.
Gas. The dreaded flatulence. Fiber ferments in the gut and forms gas. Fiber is a good thing. The gas is not, for obvious reasons. To help minimize bloating and gas, increase your intake of fiber rich foods slowly. Drink more water, and chew each bite thoroughly. That old adage about chewing each bite 100 times is not a bad one, just not practical for most of us. Each meal would last for hours. By chewing your food slowly and breaking down the fibers in your mouth, your stomach and intestines are able to digest the food more easily, and eliminate some of the buildup of gas in the gut.
Potential thyroid problems. There have been studies linking raw cruciferous vegetables with disrupting the production of thyroid hormones. Cooking seems to reduce this risk, but if you have an iodine deficiency or have been diagnosed with a thyroid disease, please talk with your doctor about which foods you should avoid.
I don’t have a problem with my thyroid, and I’m not going to eat massive amounts of cauliflower, so I don’t think I need to worry about the gas, and there are some very good reasons to eat cauliflower. So I set out to find ways to start including it in my diet. Right. Remember, I don’t like the taste of cauliflower. But I am all in for the adventure of playing with my food and experimenting with new recipes and ingredients.
I love hot wings, and I make a mean hot sauce that is perfect for Buffalo wings. My Old St Augustine Snake Bite Hot Sauce is a mild to medium on the heat scale, and my Old St Augustine Venom Hot Sauce is hotter. Both are made with local datil peppers grown here in the St Augustine area. It was as good a place to start as any. Buffalo Cauliflower Bite recipes are everywhere on the web. I tried several that looked promising, but none of them made me want to eat cauliflower. The outside became soggy once you coated them with the hot sauce. The question was how to keep the outside crispy when baked in the oven.
Finally, I tried dipping the cauliflower in a beaten egg, and dipping in a mixture of Panko bread crumbs and grated parmesan cheese, mixed with garlic, onion and parsley. I baked the cauliflower on a parchment paper lined sheet pan for 15 minutes, then turned it over and baked another 15 minutes. Once it was cooked, I quickly dipped it in my hot sauce, shaking off the excess liquid, and returned it to the oven for another 10 minutes on each side. They came out of the oven nice and crispy on the outside, and soft on the inside. Served with blue cheese dip (my choice,) and Ranch dip (everyone else in the family,) they disappeared quickly.
They are a little time consuming to make, but well worth the effort if you are craving a healthier alternative to greasy chicken wings. A great way to get kids to eat their vegetables. I think I will try this with broccoli next time, just to see how that turns out.
You may substitute your favorite seasoning for the Datil Jerk, worcestershire or soy sauce for the Fountain of Youth Datil Marinade and a hot sauce of your choice for the Snake Bite or Venom. It just won’t taste the same!
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper.