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Monday, March 9, 2015
Recently working with a group of children, I asked them to list their favorite vegetables. The typical answers were corn, peas, broccoli, carrots, and green beans. I was disappointed not to hear cauliflower from the group. Cauliflower or "cabbage flower" is a versatile vegetable and can be served steamed, cooked, mashed, baked, roasted, or consumed raw. With many different ways to eat cauliflower, I thought I'd jump on the bandwagon with recent trends and try out a cauliflower pizza crust with a spin.
What Makes Cauliflower Healthy?
First off, cauliflower is good for the heart! Cauliflower is both fat and cholesterol free and contains vitamin K and omega-3 fatty acids which prevents inflammation. This cruciferous vegetable also contains a phytochemical, isothiocyanate that studies are finding to potentially reverse blood vessel damage, prolong the occurrence of bladder, colon, liver, breast, esophagus, and lung cancer, and protect the lining of the stomach. 1
Cauliflower is wonderful for digestive health containing fiber, folic acid, and potassium. This broccoli family member also contains high amounts of vitamin C and manganese, keeping the immune system, cells, and tissues strong. Other important nutrients cauliflower contains include: phosphorous, biotin, choline, and B vitamins.
The Cauliflower Crust Experiment
After searching for cauliflower crust recipes, reading reviews and my own experience, below are a few tips for making the most out of this healthy grain-free crust alternative:
Recipes for cauliflower crust often instruct users to rice the cauliflower. The recipe below uses a food processor, but this can also be done by using a cheese grater or a blender. Ricing or to rice is a cooking term meaning to sieve to a coarse mashed consistency or reducing to a form resembling rice.
When chopping the cauliflower to prepare for processing, cut the florets into small pieces. They will blend much faster than using larger cauliflower florets.
Drain as much of the liquid out of the cauliflower as possible—When baking, the added moisture can cause the crust to have a gummy texture and not crisp. Keep in mind the cauliflower will be hot when coming out of the microwave; give it a minute or two to cool. Wearing a heat protective glove while draining the liquid from the cauliflower also helps prevent burns.
Do not forget to use parchment paper and olive oil or non-stick cooking spray on the pan prior to baking the crust. The cauliflower crust easily sticks to the pan and can make removing the pizza difficult without parchment paper and cooking spray.
When making this recipe for the first time, frequently monitor the crust in the oven or check the oven thermometer to ensure it is cooking at the right temperature. This can help prevent the crust from burning. Aim for the crust to have a nice golden brown appearance.
Below is a simple recipe for making a cauliflower crust with a suggestion for toppings-not included in the nutrition facts. I used a chunky salsa and lean turkey covered with parmesan cheese. Pick toppings based on preference. Try including children when picking toppings of pizza and offer a variety of vegetables. Also try different types of cheese. This trick can help with picky eaters and open discussion about different types of vegetables. Have a "make your own pizza" night!
Mini Cauliflower Crusted Pizzas
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes (Remove at 10 minutes to put on sauce and toppings and bake for an additional 10 minutes)
Oven: 450° F.
1 Head of Cauliflower
½ tsp. Oregano
1 cup salsa
½ cup shredded mozzarella cheese
½ cup low fat parmesan cheese
½ tsp. Garlic powder
1 cup lean turkey (shredded)
¼ tsp. salt
*This recipe can also be made for one giant pizza, by doing one large ball and rolling it out. Monitor closely and follow the same instructions. Once the crust becomes a nice golden brown remove it from the oven.
Nutrition Facts for Cauliflower Crust: Serving Size (1 crust) makes 3, 130 kcals, 6 g. fat, 390 mg. sodium, 11 g. carbs,4 g. dietary fiber, 11 g. protein
- Tang, Li, Joseph D. Paonessa, Yuesheng Zhang, Christine B. Ambrosone, and Susan E. Mccann. "Total Isothiocyanate Yield from Raw Cruciferous Vegetables Commonly Consumed in the United States." Journal of Functional Foods 5.4 (2013): 1996-2001. Web.