Oprah just launched a line of cauliflower pizza, and more products subbing in the veggie for carb-heavy foods like bread, bagels, rice and pasta
Carb up on cauliflower.
The cabbage-like veggie has become the go-to, low-carb substitute for starchy foods like pizza, rice, bagels, risotto — and even mac and cheese.
Oprah rolled out a line of frozen cauliflower-crust pizzas to her food line O, That’s Good! from Kraft Heinz last week. The veggie-crust pizza, available at grocery stores and on Amazon, comes in four flavors (five cheese, pepperoni, supreme and fire-roasted veggie) at $7 each.
“I am always looking to add a nutritious twist to my foods, so we made part of the crust in my new pizza with cauliflower while maintaining that classic, cheesy pizza flavor you and your family love,” Winfrey, who once passionately proclaimed her love of bread, said in a statement.
The queen of all media is just the latest to launch a food line with a cauliflower alternative to carb-heavy options. Trader Joe’s has a number of new foods such as cauliflower gnocchi, riced cauliflower stuffing and stir fry, and its own line of cauliflower-crust pizza in the frozen aisle. Whole Foods also has its own 365 brand riced cauliflower that you could use to make a healthier rendition of risotto, and Costco carries Farm Day Organic line of cauliflower “crumbles.” Kraft has long put a veggie spin on its signature Mac & Cheese by adding in a quarter cup of cauliflower into the mix. And the brand Cali’flour Foods, a multimillion-dollar business started by founder Amy Lacey to combat inflammation and pain from her own lupus diagnosis, has a line of pizza crusts made from the broccoli-like veggie.
There are now 36 different categories across the grocery store, from the frozen foods section to boxed pasta and the snack aisle, that feature cauliflower as an ingredient, according to Nielsen data. And sales of cauliflower-centric refrigerated dishes such as frozen pizza and rice rose 108% in the past year, the market research group found. Sales of packaged cauliflower products such as rice, noodles and other vegetable-based replacements for pasta reached $47 million this year, per the Nielsen data, with sales of cauliflower substitutes specifically doubling over the past year to $17 million.
“Products that contain cauliflower are experiencing faster growth in sales than their overall categories. It’s driving growth across all foods,” a Nielsen spokesperson told Moneyish. “A growing number of food companies are capitalizing on the trend by using vegetables to replace popular carbs in things like rice and flour. Consumers are opting for cauliflower in particular because of versatility and relatively mild flavor, using it to make an array of recipes that have spread across social media.”
The cruciferous veggie you may have avoided eating as a kid (or passed up on the crudité plate as an adult) works so well as a substitute for your favorite carb-laden dishes because you can can mash it or puree it and get a texture and taste similar to a starch, chefs say.
“It’s the savior of the vegetarian diet because of its versatility,” executive chef Richard Rea of The Butcher’s Daughter told Moneyish. “It’s also become a gateway for the regular folk to try out vegetarian style of eating. You can make it into pizza crust, rice, pita, puree, soup, pasta — the list goes on and on.”
Rea has a cauliflower pizza on the menu at the N.Y.C. location of The Butcher’s Daughter, and says it sells so well that he’s going to start introducing it at the L.A. restaurant. He also makes a cauliflower T-bone, which mimics a T-bone steak and makes for a hearty meat substitute.
“My main tip with cauliflower is to roast it. That’s where you’re getting the most flavor out of it by pulling out the natural sugars, and (that) gives it a deep meaty nuttiness,” he advises for home cooks. “Another good tip is that it pairs wonderfully with red wine.”
And sales of the veggie itself are on the rise, as well. U.S. farmers sold $390 million worth of cauliflower in 2016, an increase from 2012, when $239 million in cauliflower was sold, according to Time.
The real selling point is that the 150-calorie-a-head veggie is packed with nutrients you just don’t get from a plate of pasta or regular old frozen pizza. One cup of chopped raw cauliflower will provide 77% of vitamin C needs and 10% or more of the daily recommended dose of vitamins B6 and K. Studies have also suggested that cauliflower may help regulate the immune system and reduce inflammation, which could decrease the risk of inflammation-related conditions like cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and obesity because it contains antioxidants that help prevent cellular mutations and reduces stress.
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