Final Proof: Cauliflower-forward bread and pizza crusts
Versatile cauliflower can be used as a grain replacement and checks several boxes for health-conscious customers
October 11, 2022 By Jane Dummer, RD
Cauliflower hit the commercial baking scene with gusto about five years ago. It’s very versatile and can be used as a grain replacement in several recipes. The main ingredient in specialized pizza crusts, tortillas and sandwich thins has allowed people who eat gluten-free to indulge in foods they might not otherwise eat. Today we are seeing these products stamped with keto-friendly and keto-compatible for individuals reducing their net carbs.
Cauliflower is full of nutritious health benefits. This veggie is high in fibre and vitamin C, low in calories and a good source of the antioxidants. Specifically, the antioxidant indole-3-carbinol, which is linked to a risk reduction of reproductive cancers in both females and males. Other antioxidants in cauliflower may reduce inflammation and promote heart health.
Health is exactly the motivator for the creation of Outer Aisle’s Cauliflower Sandwich Thins and Cauliflower Pizza Crusts & Wraps. Jeanne David, founder and CEO, Outer Aisle Gourmet, explains: “The company was born out of a personal need for myself and my husband. Doctors told us that we needed to replace refined carbs with nutrient-dense vegetables. So, I started creating cauliflower-based bread alternatives out of my kitchen. Neighbours love the product and even bought it!”
Approximately one year from kitchen concept to farmers markets to commercial scale-up, Outer Aisle landed regional distribution in Whole Foods. The products are simply made with four main ingredients: fresh cauliflower, cage-free liquid whole eggs, Parmesan cheese and nutritional yeast. Some varieties have seasonings. Today, manufactured in their gluten-free facility in Ventura, Calif., the products are in more than 6,000 locations including Kroger, Sprouts, Safeway, as well as Whole Foods. The top three varieties are Original Sandwich Thins, Everything Sandwich Thins and Italian Pizza Crusts. Brandseed Marketing Inc. assisted Outer Aisle with the recent launch of those varieties in Canada (May 2022). They are available in independent retailers including numerous Nature’s Fare locations in British Columbia and Dad’s Organic Market in Saskatoon.
The health sector can be further segmented into people with extremely specific disease states and dietary restrictions, and consumers embracing a wellness-forward approach to their lifestyle. Cauliflower’s attributes satisfy all the segmentations, especially in the baking industry when consumers need grain replacements. The gluten-free, grain-free and keto segments are enjoying better nutrition, taste and texture with ingredients like cauliflower.
David explains: “Our customers love Outer Aisle because it doesn’t spike their blood sugar levels. It is the only vegetable bread alternative on the market that checks off all the boxes including grain-free, gluten-free, ketogenic-certified, no filler flours and two servings of vegetables per serving. Our products are extremely versatile. Our customers use them for breakfast, cold sandwiches, grilled cheese, paninis, hotdogs, hamburgers, as wraps and crackers (they can be toasted!), plus charcuterie.”
Comparing a cauliflower pizza crust to a traditional pizza crust seems like a mismatched task. Stefano Cataldo, founder and director of operations, Oggi Foods Inc. in Montreal, agrees: “Creating the perfect gluten-free cauliflower crust was no easy task. It took many months of product sourcing and R&D to create a gluten-free pizza crust with the same great taste and texture as an authentic Neapolitan-style pizza! Consumers immediately noticed our product. It was awarded with the RCC Grand Prix award for best Canadian product and Sysco’s Food Innovation award.”
Cataldo emphasizes: “Our goal is to not only cater to people following a strict gluten-free diet by manufacturing in a gluten-free certified facility, but to anyone who simply wants a better-for-you pizza crust that tastes great. Our award-winning cauliflower crust allows the customer to create their own customized pizza. Each crust is hand-stretched and stone-baked, resulting in a vibrant gluten-free pizza crust with authentic Neapolitan flavour. What makes our gluten-free pizza crusts stand alone is the rising air pockets (commonly found in crusts containing gluten) and simple non-GMO ingredients like cauliflower and extra virgin olive oil. Our products are available in food service and retailers across North America including Save on Foods, IGA, Sobey’s, Metro and Loblaws.”
It’s excellent to see the time and emphasis on product development of these cauliflower-forward products has resulted in category improvements and award-winning products that are nutritious, plus have delicious tastes and appealing textures.
Jane Dummer, RD, known as the Pod to Plate Food Consultant, collaborates and partners with the food and nutrition industry across North America. janedummer.com
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