Slice the calories, fat, and sodium with a cauliflower-based alternative
Pizza very well may be the world’s favorite food, but it can really bust your diet. The more mainstream it has become, the further it has diverged from the use of authentic, high-quality ingredients as well as the larger the serving sizes have become – the bread is thicker, the number of toppings defy the point of the dish, and the amount of cheese is greater.
But one thing that has never changed is its difficulty to digest. The pairing of protein and starch, from the cheese and bread respectively, is a classic train-wreck in the stomach. Protein requires an acidic environment for stomach enzymes to digest it and the addition of starch weakens the mix, making it exhausting for your body to process a slice. This is why you may experience extra bloat on pizza night and feel tired quickly. Not to say you shouldn’t enjoy the traditional combination when you crave it, but whenever you’re looking to tighten those abs or avoid the sluggish feeling, keep this knowledge in mind!
This is even before we get to pizza’s nutritional stats. Using Pizza Hut as an example, in a 12-inch medium size pizza, one slice bears 240 calories, 10 grams of fat, 4.5 grams of saturated fat, 25 milligrams of cholesterol, 530 milligrams of sodium, 27 grams of carbohydrates, and only 1 milligram of dietary fiber. And, let’s get real, who ever stops at just one slice? Double, triple, or quadruple those numbers and you’ll realize just how much saturated fat, sodium, and empty carbohydrates you are consuming in just one sitting. Regular consumption of pizza can lead to raised blood pressure, weight gain, an increase in blood-sugar levels, and cardiovascular diseases.
To avoid the hard-to-digest starch and protein combination and reduce the sodium, fat, and empty carbohydrate levels, I created a recipe that uses cauliflower as the base. Cauliflower has a natural cheesy aroma when cooked, so you can omit cheese altogether without missing out of the flavor. Full-fat yogurt holds together the cauliflower crust, and the “icing” on these mini pizza cupcakes is made up of a simple cooked cherry tomato sauce. Enjoy!
Mini Cauliflower Pizzas
Makes 12 servings
For the Crust
- 1 head cauliflower, grated in food processor
- 2 egg whites
- 1 cup full-fat yogurt
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1 tablespoon fresh basil, chopped
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
For the Marinara
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes
- 1 garlic clove
- 1 teaspoon coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- Dash of salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
For the crust, pulse the florets of one head of cauliflower in the food processor until rice like. Cook in a saucepan over medium heat with 1/2 cup water. Cover saucepan with a lid and let steam for 5 minutes, mixing every minute or so to make sure the cauliflower does not brown. This step softens the cauliflower. Once softened, remove from heat and let cool in a large bowl before adding the wet ingredients.
In a separate bowl, whisk the yogurt, egg whites, basil, oregano, salt and garlic powder together. Pour the wet mixture into the cooled cauliflower mixture. Fold until thoroughly combined.
Scoop the cauliflower crust mixture into muffin cups that have been greased with coconut oil. Pack them in firmly until they reach the top of the tin. Flatten the top. Bake for 45 minutes, or until the tops have browned lightly and the edges begin to pull away from the tin.
While the pizzas bake, prepare the cherry tomato marinara sauce. Stem and slice in half 1 cup of tomatoes. In a saucepan over medium heat, sauté the tomatoes in 1 teaspoon of coconut oil with 1 diced garlic glove, 1 teaspoon oregano, and a dash of salt and pepper. Cook until the tomatoes have broken down.
One cooled, line the edges of the cauliflower crusts with a knife and remove each carefully.
Top each cauliflower crust pizza with a spoonful of the cherry tomato marina.
Aylin Erman currently resides in Istanbul and is creator of plant-based recipe website GlowKitchen.