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April 24, 2017

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Ben Vaughn: Give trendy kale a break and return to trusty cauliflower

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Mikayla Whitmore

Crispy Buffalo Cauliflower at Public School 702 in Downtown Summerlin on Aug. 16, 2015.

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Add some pop to your holiday meal with Echo & Rig's Sweet Fire Cauliflower.

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Guest columnist Lou Sassetti, chef and district partner of Bravo Brio Restaurant Group. Tuscan kale Caesars salad is pictured here at Brio Tuscan Grille.

There should have never been a kale movement. There, I said it. It should have been cauliflower all along — a real no-brainer, in fact.

Wanna fight cancer? With cauliflower? Cauliflower has a sulfur compound that has revealed itself to kill cancer stem cells and slow tumor growth.

Research also has shown that combining cauliflower with one of my favorite spices, turmeric, might help prevent and potentially treat prostate cancer. That is some pretty serious evidence.

This is just the beginning of arguments for the case of a cauliflower craze. Why not order a plate of cauliflower to boost your heart health? Yes, that’s correct: Cauliflower has been found to significantly improve blood pressure and kidney function. I need some of that action.

Cauliflower is an anti-inflammatory. Without getting too technical, you need the right balance of inflammation. However, sometimes it can get out of control, or, as my mom would say, “Out of wack.” Too much inflammation damages the body over time and leads to disease, depending on which organs are effected.

Even though it looks like the brain from an albino monkey, cauliflower is insanely rich in vitamins and minerals. New Year’s resolutions aside, folks, most of us are seriously lacking in the nutrient department.

Let’s make a New Year’s resolution for the very basic — to get the appropriate vitamins and nutrients in our body needed to perform and stay healthy. Let’s scrap all of all those pesky toxins.

One serving of cauliflower (4 ounces) contains 74 percent of the recommended daily value of vitamins C and K. Cauliflower also is an incredible source for magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese protein.

Should I continue?

If you were the jury and I were making my closing arguments for cauliflower (inspired by the courtroom comparison as I just watched all 10 episodes of “Making a Murderer” on Netflix — can I get a “wow?!”), I’d close my case this way:

“Not only have I clearly identified all of these very critical health benefits to cauliflower, I also have a few more I’d like to present to you, the jury, before you make your final decisions.”

Cauliflower boosts your brain health. It’s absolutely amazing for detoxification (we could all use a little of that after a Friday night in Las Vegas).

I previously mentioned its fibrous attributes. Because of all that fiber, it’s an ideal source for digestion. And, lastly, before you grab your keys and drive to the grocer for a cart full of cauliflower, it has antioxidants galore. I encourage you all to do your own research.

I ask you: Why kale? I’m taking a stand for cauliflower in 2016. Although I have an arsenal of recipes up my sleeve to keep it different, I may get burned out on occasion. If you have been at bat for kale, leave those curly, little, non-versatile leaves alone for a hot second and give cauliflower the attention it deserves.

Comments are appreciated below. Keep it clean like your kidneys after a bowl of cauliflower. I’m out for this week, but I’m leaving you with some serious inspiration: My recipe for cauliflower fried rice.

It’s the bomb. Peace, love and hair grease,

— BV

Cauliflower fried rice

Ingredients

1 medium head of cauliflower, raw

4 scallions, sliced

1 medium carrot, diced

2 egg whites, scrambled

1 egg yolk, scrambled

1 tablespoons grape-seed oil

1 teaspoon sesame oil

1/8 of a cup low-sodium soy sauce

In food processor, add entire rough, chopped cauliflower and mix raw. You will know it’s complete as each particle of cauliflower should be uniform in size and look similar to rice.

Prep vegetables by peeling carrots and dicing and slicing scallions. Scramble eggs and prepare large skillet with grape-seed oil to medium-high heat, but not smoking.

Remove cauliflower from food processor and squeeze out excess juice created by mixing. Add cauliflower to hot, preheated pan. Add carrots to pan with cauliflower and stir to incorporate. You will notice it begins to get slightly clumpy as it dries. Continue to cook for 5-7 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Now it’s time for finishing touches all at once to enjoy this mock but delicious and healthy cauliflower fried rice.

Turn heat to high and add sesame oil, then immediately add scrambled eggs. Stir quickly to cook eggs evenly. Once egg has scrambled and oil is folded throughout, remove from high heat and deglaze entire pan with soy sauce. Mix well to coat each cauliflower grain.

Remove from heat, fold in sliced scallions and serve. It will still have a slight crunch but creamy, familiar fried rice appeal. Oh, and it’s healthy.

Take that, kale!

Ben Vaughn is a chef, author and TV personality known as a host for the Food Network. Ben’s latest book, “Southern Routes,” chronicles his journey to find the best-kept food secrets in the South from the Carolinas to Texas. “Southern Routes” is published by HarperCollins.

Ben resides in Tennessee and serves as CEO and culinary director for his restaurant group Fork Knife Spoon. Ben’s new brand of Southern Kitchen food trucks hit the streets in Las Vegas. Follow all the action from the mobile kitchen @SoKitchenLV. @BenVaughn also is host of “The Breakfast Show,” a TV series that premiered in the fall.

Robin Leach of “Lifestyles of the Rich & Famous” fame has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past 15 years giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.

Follow Robin Leach on Twitter at Twitter.com/Robin_Leach.

Follow Las Vegas Sun Entertainment + Luxury Senior Editor Don Chareunsy on Twitter at Twitter.com/VDLXEditorDon.

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