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Cauliflower: Why Keto Dieters Love This Low-Carb Vegetable

When it comes to low-carb vegetables, there aren't many better options than cauliflower. 

Why? For starters, cauliflower only has 3 grams of net carbs per serving, and it’s full of vitamins and minerals that keep your body healthy and happy.

But perhaps the best benefit of cauliflower is its versatility. 

Since low-carb diets became more popular, chefs and grocery stores all over the world continue to come up with new ways to replace unhealthy starches with cauliflower. 

This vegetable is like a low-carb shapeshifter, capable of turning foods like potatoes, rice, and even certain types of bread into keto-friendly dishes.

In this article, we'll take a look at just how nutritious cauliflower is, then share 15+ suggestions for how you can incorporate it into your keto diet.

Nutrition Facts for Cauliflower

One cup of chopped cauliflower contains [1]:
  • 27 calories
  • <1g fat
  • 5.3g carbs
  • 2.1g fiber
  • 3.2g net carbs
  • 2.1g protein
  • 51.6mg vitamin C (57% Recommended Dietary Allowance)
  • 16.6ug vitamin K (14% RDA)
  • 0.197mg vitamin B6 (15% RDA)
  • Other minerals like pantothenic acid, riboflavin, thiamin, and niacin
  • Phytosterols (a bioactive plant compound that may reduce cholesterol) [2]

Carbohydrate Comparison Between Cauliflower and Higher-Carb Foods

It takes approximately one whole head of cauliflower to make low-carb-friendly substitutes like cauliflower rice and cauliflower pizza.

The table below illustrates the difference between cauliflower and higher-carb foods:

Type Calories Net Carbs Fiber
One head of cauliflower 147 17g 12g
One slice pizza [3] 182 34g 1.5g
One cup rice [4] 205 44.5g 0.6g
One cup pasta [5] 220 42.8g 2.5g
One cup mashed potatoes [6] 237 35g 3.1g
Toss in the fact that most of these starchy foods/side dishes contain next to no essential vitamins and minerals (see the next section for those health benefits) and you can see how cauliflower is the clear-cut winner.

Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Here's a brief look at what the nutrients in cauliflower can do for your health:
  • Fiber: Cauliflower is rich in fiber, which is essential for gut, brain, and immune system health [7]. Your gut is home to millions of tiny bacteria, which feed off the fiber you take in through your diet. It has also been shown to reduce blood pressure, and may be an effective tool for treating obesity because it helps you stay full longer after meals [8].
  • Vitamin K: The benefits of vitamin K range from improved heart health and decreased risk of cardiovascular disease to stronger bones and improved insulin sensitivity [9]. The latter is especially useful for keto dieters, since many doctors now treat type 2 diabetes with low-carb diets like keto.
  • Vitamin C: We’ve all heard about drinking orange juice for vitamin C, but one cup of cauliflower actually has more of this vital nutrient than a serving of OJ does. Think of vitamin C as the "maintenance worker" nutrient for your body—it ensures your systems stay healthy and functioning properly, and also gives your immune system the boost it needs to fight off diseases [10].
  • Vitamin B6: One of many vitamins in the B family, B6 is essential for cognitive health and function [11]. It helps regulate your mood, and also helps your body metabolize carbs and proteins so that you stay energized throughout the day [12]. 
And remember: you get all these benefits from a vegetable that has only 3 grams of net carbs per cup. This is why we say there aren't many, if any, better veggies for a keto diet.

Ways to Incorporate Cauliflower Into A Keto Diet

Here are some tasty ways you can use cauliflower to substitute an unhealthy starch:
  • In place of potatoes in mashed potatoes
  • In place of pasta in a macaroni and cheese recipe 
  • In place of rice as a side dish
  • In place of flour for homemade pizza crusts
  • In place of ziti in baked ziti or casserole-style dishes
You can also cook it in a pan, steam it in the microwave or in a pot, or put it in a soup (scroll down for recipe ideas).

If you’re looking for cauliflower-based products at the grocery store, you have more options than ever. Food manufacturers are being innovative with cauliflower and new products are popping up every day to cater to low-carb and keto dieters.

Popular Cauliflower Products at Grocery Stores

Here's a list of some awesome cauliflower products you can find at stores like Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, and online at stores like Amazon.

1. Trader Joe's Cauliflower Gnocchi

Regular gnocchis (pronounced 'NYOK-kee' if you’re wondering) are made from potatoes, cheese, flour, and eggs. Think of them as a soft, chewy, and satisfying type of pasta.

Amazingly, this delicious invention by Trader Joe's only has 18 grams of carbs per serving—about a third of what a normal recipe would have.

2. From The Ground Up Cauliflower Crackers

Think Cheez-Its, but better. These cheese crackers are made with real vegetables, are gluten-free, and most importantly, are delicious.

And they come in three flavors: Cheddar, Nacho, and Sea Salt.

3. Urban Roots Thai Curry Cauliflower Rice

An all-in-one container of fresh veggies, herbs and spices, this cauliflower rice works great as a side dish or an all-veggie meal. You can add some ground beef or ground chicken to increase the fat and protein.

It comes in a nice, neat container so you can bring it to work or save some for later.

4. HighKey Snacks Cauliflower Mash

This cheesy, mashed deliciousness uses cauliflower instead of potatoes and starch. 

You don't lose any of the convenience factor, because you only have to add water and butter, then reheat it to serve.

And there's only 4 grams of net carbs per serving, so it's great for keto.

5. Trader Joe's Cauliflower Pancakes

These sound too good to be true, but they aren't. TJs found another way to be creative using this miraculous vegetable, and they deserve credit for making them delicious.

No, they aren't your morning pancakes with maple syrup. Think of them as a satisfying, latke-style dinner pancake you can serve with a yummy protein. 

But with less than 20 grams of net carbs per serving, you can feel good about eating them every once in a while.

6. Alexia White Cheddar Riced Cauliflower with Black Pepper

Alexia makes a delightful creamy and cheesy riced cauliflower  that blends ground black pepper with aged white cheddar. It’s perfect as a side dish with just 5g net carbs per serving. Just pop in the microwave to steam prior to serving.

7. Outer Aisle PLANTPOWER Cauliflower Sandwich Thins

These cauliflower sandwich thins are a perfect low-carb bread substitute. Try it as a sandwich with low-carb chicken salad or tuna salad. The gluten-free low-glycemic “bread” contains only 1g net carb per serving and comes in three flavors: Original, Italian, and Jalapeño.

Our Favorite Cauliflower Recipes

cauliflower soup

Below are some of our favorite cauliflower recipes, along with a few others from our low-carb friends that we equally love.

Cauliflower And The Keto Diet

As you can see, there are many tasty reasons to fall in love with cauliflower if you're on keto. It's nutrient-dense, versatile, and enables you to make some of your old "favorites" without feeling guilty.

Head over to our recipe section for more keto-approved recipes for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. 

curried cauliflower

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