cauliflowerThere is much controversy surrounding the consumption of cruciferous vegetables.  Cruciferous vegetables are vegetables with flowers, such as broccoli, cabbage, cauliflower and kale.  Some people believe that raw cruciferous vegetables are harmful to your health, due to goitrogens they contain.

Goitrogens are chemicals that can block the production of thyroid hormone, leading to health problems.  Others believe that cooking cruciferous vegetables drains them of their nutrients.  With all the contradictory information out there, it’s hard to determine the best way to consume these vegetables. Below are a few options:

How To Reduce Oxalic Acid From Cruciferous Veggies

For those who want to avoid the consumption of goitrogens, cruciferous vegetables can be boiled or steamed before being eaten.  Boiling these vegetables for thirty minutes destroys 90% of the goitrogens they contain.  Cruciferous vegetables also contain oxalic acid, which is known to reduce your ability to absorb calcium.  Steaming or boiling these vegetables minimizes their amount of oxalic acid.

Fresh Cruciferous Veggies Are Loaded With Healthy Enzymes!

However, some nutritionists and health care professionals advise against cooking cruciferous vegetables.  The vegetables in this group are loaded with nutrients, and are known for protecting against cancer.  Boiling or steaming vegetables rids them of their water content and some of their nutrients as well.  Fresh, raw cruciferous vegetables are loaded with healthful enzymes that are lost during the cooking process.  When eaten raw, the nutrients from cruciferous vegetables are absorbed quickly into the digestive tract, transported to the liver and made available to other tissues in the body.


An Alternative To Cooking Cruciferous Veggies That Helps With Digestion

Digestion of raw cruciferous vegetables can be hard for some people, leading them to cook their broccoli or cauliflower.  For those who would rather reap the benefits of consuming raw cruciferous vegetables, a quick pulse in the food processor will break up the hard-to-chew pieces, which can be added to a salad or used in another great recipe.Cauliflower can be broken down in the food processor to make a base for Tabbouleh instead of the common bulghur wheat used in most Tabouleh recipes. Cauliflower and other cruciferous vegetables become much more easily digested when pulverized.

Below is a delicious Tabouleh recipe from my new recipe book titled Raw Vegan Recipe Fun for Families, which will be available in 2013. Tabouleh is a popular Middle Eastern salad containing many vegetables.

Gluten Free Tabbouleh Recipe Made From Ground Cauliflower

Photo taken by Kelsey Higgins

Photo taken by Kelsey Higgins

This is one of my favorite dishes. I enjoy it with ground cauliflower or instead of the traditional version made with bulghur wheat:

  • One large bunch parsley, chopped
  • 1/2 large cauliflower, or one small cauliflower, chopped
  • One large tomato, diced
  • 3 scallions, diced
  • 1/2 cup lemon juice
  • Several sprigs of mint
  • One avocado, diced (optional)

Process cauliflower in the food processor with the S blade until well ground. Remove the cauliflower from the food processor and place in a large bowl. Then food process parsley, tomato, scallions, lemon juice and mint (diced cucumber could also be added afterward for variation.) Pulse several times until well mixed. (This could be doubled for more people). Add optional diced avocado last, and mix thoroughly.


SafBaby Health Expert Adviser, Karen Ranzi, M.A.

You can find out more about Karen and her nutrition expertise for kids at


Ranzi, Karen. Raw Vegan Recipe Fun for Families. Ramsey, NJ: SHC Publishing, 2013.″