While looking through Pinterest the other day, I caught sight of this quote: “If cauliflower can somehow become pizza…you, my friend, can do anything.” Pretty cute. And, if true, then the skies the limit because cauliflower pizza crust has definitely hit the big time. From Trader Joe’s to California Pizza, this is the crust to offer if you’re in the know.
Did we fail to mention that Oprah’s on the bandwagon as well? Her line of packaged foods—O, That’s Good!—recently began offering four varieties of, yes, you guessed it, frozen cauliflower crust pizza.
It’s said to have made its debut in 2016 when a working mother with celiac disease and two boys decided to try her hand at a cauliflower pizza crust. Somewhat labor intensive, she hit upon the idea that others, with limited time, would also be looking for pizza crust alternatives. Caulipower was born.
What took everyone else so long? I mean, vegetable pizza crust has been around for decades and cauliflower has been replacing mashed potatoes since the masses found the South Beach Diet. It pretty much boils down to consumer demand. If you’ve been in the restaurant industry for any length of time, you have undoubtedly seen the changing tide in relation to the need for healthy alternatives as guests request gluten-free, dairy-free, low-carb, or vegan with growing regularity.
And, of course, one must consider that the “foodie” generation, who are looking for the unexpected, have recently become the largest consumer segment.
As with most healthy alternatives, Trader Joe’s was one of the first big retailers to offer Cauliflower pizza crust. It began in the spring of 2017, amidst both rave reviews and downright tomato tossing. Instagram became filled with cauliflower pizza crust pictures. This gluten-free crust is made with cauliflower, corn and potato starches, olive oil and sea salt. Even Costco and Kroger joined the craze this year.
California Pizza Kitchen is, according to CPK, the first national restaurant chain to offer cauliflower pizza crust in January of 2018. This summer, they announced their 7-inch size CPKids Meals. It has fewer carbs, offers a gluten-free alternative, and consists of cauliflower, mozzarella cheese, rice flour, herbs and spices. Yum.
Other pizza brands adopting this vegetable sensation include Fired Pie and Pie Five. The latter brand first introduced its cauliflower crust in January as a limited time offer. Surprisingly, the crusts began selling-out, and this vegetable crust was honored with a permanent spot on their menu.
Is it a Healthier Choice?
This is where opinions vary. For some, exchanging white flour with a vegetable and some corn, potato, or rice flour is definitely a better choice. If we can get another vegetable into our daily recommended servings, what could be bad? Apparently, it’s the calories and grams of fat that the gluten-free flours, extra cheese and eggs provide. Some even have more fat than a McDonald’s Big Mac. The lesson? Don’t forget to read the nutritional label. If you’re dining out, throw caution to the wind and try what some say is even tastier than the traditional white-flour version.
The good news is this: cauliflower is loaded with nutrients. It provides 77 percent of the recommended daily intake of Vitamin C and 20 percent of Vitamin K. It’s also high in fiber and is a good source of antioxidants—compounds that protect your cells from free radicals and inflammation and protect against cancer and other chronic diseases.
This may be part of the reason that its served like a steak at the Mexican restaurant La Condesa in Austin and as a rice at Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s where stores had to limit customer purchases to two bags in order to have enough to meet customer’s demands.
As plant-based diets continue to grow in popularity, we expect cauliflower to be accompanied by a host of vegetable alternatives.
The Next Vegetable Pizza Crusts to Hit the Market
Keep in mind that this is just our sixth sense (and common sense) at work here, but, if we we’re betting souls (Did you see Justify take the Triple Crown?) we’d place our wager on zucchini. After all, it transformed Zoodles into the place to go for low-carb zucchini noodles, right? And what about beets? What could be prettier than a purple pizza crust? Or maybe kohlrabi, otherwise known as German cabbage, with its subdued broccoli stem, cabbage heart flavor? My Italian grandmother may have just disowned me.