The Garden Gate: Cauliflower’s handy for good health

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By Ellen Probert Williamson

Do you like to eat flowers? How about cauliflowers?

They really are flowers that stopped growing while they were still buds.

Cauliflowers are very nutritious because they really stopped growing while they were still buds, and the stems leading up to each blossom had already begun to store nutrients for the flowers.

Cauliflowers are descended from wild cabbages, and they still have cabbage-like leaves which cover the cauliflower head and keep out the bright sunlight. That is why the cauliflower heads stays white instead of producing chlorophyll that would turn it green.

Like its cousins, cabbage and broccoli, cauliflower is filled with some of the most powerful anti-cancer weapons around. But it is also a great weapon with which to fight a great many illnesses and ailments. Among them are cataracts and hemorrhoids.

There is even a new kind of orange cauliflower that was developed quite recently. It has a great deal more beta carotene than regular cauliflower.

There is also the Jacaranda Cauliflower which is purple and is rich in anthocyanins, the substance found in berries and in red wine.

There is even a vegetable called broccoflower, a child of broccoli and cauliflower that is a beautiful chartreuse color. It is also very nutritious.

When you cook cauliflower, choose one that is tightly packed, remove all the leaves, cut out the core, and pull apart all the separate flowers.

It’s not a good idea to cook cauliflower in aluminum or iron pots. They tend to cause the cauliflower to change to strange colors.

Cook it quickly, and sparkle up its flavor with chives, curry, turmeric, garlic, ginger, lemons or mustard seed.

You can add it to your favorite pasta, salads and soups. Or you can chop up cooked cauliflower, mix it with hollandaise sauce, and bake it for a delicious casserole.

It is a most versatile plant, as well as being a most delicious one.

Bananas, not apples, are thought in India to be the fruit which was offered to Adam in the Garden of Eden.

That’s why bananas are called the “Fruit of Paradise” there.

These gently curved fruits grow in bunches, like grapes, on trees which are really tree-size herbs and relatives of the grass family.

Banana plants can grow up to 40 feet tall. How would you like to have the grass in your front lawn grow like that?

Bananas rank as the leading fresh fruit grown in the United States, although India, Brazil, Ecuador, Indonesia and the Philippines produce most of the world’s bananas.

Bananas are high in potassium and have almost no sodium, which helps to keep your blood pressure under control.

The Food and Drug Administration has awarded its seal of approval to this popular fruit.

Papayas also grow on overgrown herb plants that look like trees. Christopher Columbus named them “Fruit of the Angels,” and you might develop a halo and wings if you eat them.

These large, pear-shaped fruits are full of important nutrients, especially vitamin C, vitamin A, foliate, fiber potassium, vitamin E, vitamin K, magnesium and calcium.

The papaya’s black seeds are usually discarded, but you might try adding them to salad dressings instead. They will supply a peppery flavor.

Papayas are marvelous health protectors. Rich in fiber, they guard against colon cancer, cataracts, heart disease and stroke as a sort of universal medical talisman.

In the kitchen, you might find that papayas are a great meat tenderizer. As a matter of fact, they are an important ingredient in many commercial meat tenderizers.

Plantains, sometimes called “cooking bananas,”  grow in bunches on banana trees, but their thick green skin is stronger than regular bananas.

You should not eat them raw, even when they are fully ripe, but they can be used in many ways.

They are a dietary staple in Africa, India, Maylassia, the West Indies and South America.

For a change from
potatoes, try plantains. You can boil and mash them as you would potatoes.

They can be added to soups or stews or blended with apples, sweet potatoes or squash.

You can mash ripe plantains and add them to pancake or waffle batter, or you can roast and panfry them.

What a versatile product.
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Ellen Probert Williamson lives in Kingston. Her column appears regularly in the Roane County News.