Better Choice: Mashed Cauliflower vs. Mashed Potatoes

Mashed potatoes are an American favorite and a staple at many holiday meals. Unfortunately, they are also packed full of carbs and calories and don’t offer a particularly high nutrition profile, either.  

Next time you’re craving this comfort food, why not try swapping out mashed cauliflower for mashed potatoes? You’ll probably be surprised at just how similar they taste, and cauliflower offers far more nutrition and health benefits than mashed potatoes. 

Before we get to the recipe, let’s take a closer look at the nutrition profile of both mashed potatoes and cauliflower.  

Mashed Potatoes 

Potatoes are tubers from the nightshade family, and are mostly made up of carbohydrates with some trace amounts of protein. While potatoes do offer some nutrition, they are very high on the glycemic index (meaning they cause a fairly rapid blood sugar spike), so they should definitely be avoided by anyone with blood sugar issues, especially diabetics. 

The good news is that potatoes do offer some health benefits, so they can be enjoyed sometimes without guilt. Potatoes provide decent amounts of vitamin C, vitamin B6, folate, potassium and manganese, along with plant compounds such as lutein (among others). Purple potatoes are higher in antioxidants than white, so opt for those whenever possible.  

One problem with mashed potatoes is that they are usually quite high in calories, as they are made with a lot of butter and whole milk. If high-quality products are used (such as grass-fed butter and raw milk, for example), these foods are not necessarily unhealthy, but they should be kept to a once-in-a-while treat when eaten in large quantities, which is usually the case with mashed potatoes. 

Mashed Cauliflower 

While potatoes are by no means the enemy and can definitely be enjoyed once in a while as part of a healthy diet, their nutrition benefits can’t compare to those of cauliflower. 

Nutrient Dense

This cruciferous vegetable perfectly fits the definition of “nutrient dense,” as it provides impressive nutrition and is low in calories. For only 25 calories per cup, cauliflower offers 2.5 grams of fiber, 77 percent of the RDA (recommended daily allowance) for vitamin C, along with a good amount of vitamin K, folate, vitamin B6, potassium, and manganese. 

Improved Digestive Health

Cauliflower’s 2.5 grams of fiber per cup are important. Fiber is absolutely essential for healthy digestion and the prevention of health conditions, such as many bowel complaints, high blood pressure, obesity, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  

High in Antioxidants

Cauliflower is quite high in antioxidants, which are essential in the diet to fight free radical damage. All cruciferous vegetables are particularly high in the antioxidants glucosinolates and isothiocyanates, both of which have been proven to help slow the progression of cancer cells. Other antioxidants in cauliflower are known to support heart health, as well. 

Boosts Weight Loss

First and foremost, cauliflower is very low in calories, which naturally makes it a great food to include as part of a weight loss diet. Second, it is high on the satiety index due to its high fiber content, meaning it can make you feel full and less likely to give in to cravings or overeat later in the day. Also, cauliflower has a very high water content that contributes to its low energy density (calories per gram), which has been shown to help with weight loss efforts. 

Now that you’ve learned about the benefits of cauliflower relative to potatoes, check out the recipe below to learn how to make a deliciously rich, creamy and (surprisingly) similar dish to mashed potatoes. 

Garlic Mashed Cauliflower Recipe

Ingredients: 

  • 1 head of cauliflower, chopped into small florets 
  • 2 cloves of garlic, peeled (or more if you like garlic) 
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, coconut oil or grass-fed butter 
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened coconut, almond, or raw milk 
  • fresh herbs of your choice, chopped 
  • salt and pepper to taste 

Instructions: 

  1. Place your cauliflower florets in a steamer or simply in a pot with about an inch of water, covered. Steam your cauliflower until it is soft. 
  2. Transfer the cauliflower to a blender or food processor and add all other ingredients. You can also simply use a potato masher if you prefer, but be sure to mince your garlic beforehand if you choose this method. 
  3. Serve!