It’s time to have a talk, kids. Lately, there’s a new trend in town that’s infecting our youth, and it’s way more dangerous than bath salts or tide pods or taking an active and earnest interest in politics. They call it “cauliflower pizza” and It. Is. Terrifying.
It’s relatively hard to mess up pizza. Bread, tomato sauce, cheese — it’s perfection. It’s the nectar of the gods. And, quite honestly, with all respect to my wonderful human life partner, pizza is my actual true love. I love it all, the late-night New York slice, the Chicago deep dish, the chain pizza. I love it gourmet style and I love it frozen. I love it on a hamburger and I love it on bagel! Give me pizza in the morning, pizza in the noontime or pizza at supper time because when pizza is, well, pizza, I could literally eat pizza anytime. I’m currently in the throes of rewatching season two of The Good Place, and I’m dead certain that if I was in the Good Place, pizza would be matched up as my one true soulmate. That’s just undebatable.
But lately, I’ve been trying to watch my carb intake. Which…. brings me to the rise of cauliflower crust pizza. It’s having a real moment right now. A lot of stores and restaurants are trying to capitalize on this latest ‘health’ obsession by dipping their toes into the gluten-free dough. California Pizza Kitchen, who added it to its menu this year, says ten percent of their pizzas are ordered with cauliflower crust now. Supermarkets from Costco to Whole Foods to Trader Joe’s have come out with their own versions of the style that are flying off the shelves. And this week, Oprah came out with her riff on a frozen cauliflower crust pie. If Oprah “I LOVE BREAD” Winfrey is claiming this is the healthy alternative to pizza, people are going to get more excited than a lovesick Tom Cruise jumping all over her couch.
So is cauliflower pizza the answer to all of our low carb prayers? If it were pizza without the bread that still tasted like pizza, I would be the first to sign up and begin worshipping at the altar of cauliflower crust. But after trying it, there is one thing that has become very, very clear to me.
This is the bad place. I mean really, the evidence for Cauliflower pizza being invented by a literal demon who resides in Hell and whose only job is to torture humans is pretty overwhelming. Because I’d argue that cauliflower pizza is worse than frozen yogurt masquerading as ice cream. Of course, it’s not as good as the real thing, but it isn’t just that. It’s that cauliflower pizza crust takes all the excitement and joy of eating pizza and somehow gets it to taste the way the concept of disappointment feels. I have no doubt that it originated in the fake Good Place with a restaurant name like ‘Cauliflower Dreamin’, or ‘Cauliflower By My Name’ or my personal favorite, ‘The Cauliflower Is Coming From Inside The Pizza.’ And unlike the normal torture methods of turning people into soup or filling them with butthole spiders, the sneakiest part of the cauliflower pizza torture is that it’s pretending to be a healthier pizza alternative.
It tricks poor, desperate people into believing they can still eat as much pizza as they want (if only that can convince themselves that it’s not that bad). But it is that bad. Cauliflower pizza is a very bad ‘pizza’ from a very bad place.
IT’S NOT BETTER FOR YOU.
People don’t choose cauliflower pizza because they love pizza but hate the taste of bread. “Why can’t pizza taste more like vegetables?” said no one ever. Who even particularly likes cauliflower as a vegetable? It has to be covered in sauce to taste like anything all. Cauliflower is like Broccoli’s weird, bland cousin who only listens to Christian rock and whose favorite TV show is reruns of Everybody Loves Raymond but comes to the party because it’s in town from Cincinnati for the week and Broccoli’s mom said he had to “be nice”.
Most people choose cauliflower pizza crust because they’re trying to either lose (or maintain) weight. And because riced cauliflower (which is just chopped up cauliflower) has way less carbs and more nutrients than rice, people (understandably) assume that the crust is way better for you. But I hate to break it to you, cauliflower pizza isn’t that unicorn food that’s a way lower carb and calorie alternative to regular pizza. That’s because like some of your favorite illegal drugs, it’s probably being cut with some powders that are going to make it worse for you.
Take Oprah’s new offering, O, That’s Good! First, the serving size of this 11 inch pizza is 1/5 of it. That’s like a small slice and a half of pizza, at best. But fine, let’s say you and four of your closest friends would all feel full after splitting one 11-inch frozen pizza. How many calories is that measly offering if you go with the basic, pepperoni pizza? 320 calories. That makes the whole pizza about 1600 calories.
Now, let’s compare that to another frozen pizza with a similar crust thickness, Red Baron (which is slightly bigger at 12 inches). Their serving size is ¼ a pizza and clocks in at 380 calories. That means their whole (larger than the Oprah cauliflower version) pizza is only 1520 calories. GUYS, IT’S FEWER CALORIES TO JUST EAT THE REGULAR FROZEN PIZZA.
And carb wise (which is probably the number one reason people are trying to cut down on bread), you’re looking at 41 carbs in the regular pizza versus 39 in the cauliflower offering. But again, the serving size is smaller with the cauliflower pizza. It actually has more carbs than the regular frozen choice. This is insane. If you’re trying to do keto or watching your sugar intake for something like diabetes, this is absolutely not a better option.