Mini Cauliflower Crust Pizza Experiment: Round One

September 30, 2014 in Uncategorized

If I lived alone and it was just me—I would literally drink protein shakes all day and eat the same meal every night. Not because I want to—but because it works.  It mostly removes food from the equation and makes my life easier.  The less time I spend thinking about food the better.  So if it was just me, I would stick to the same thing every day.

But I have kids.  And they’re not cool with that.  So clearly, I have to make dinner.

The problem is that I’m a terrible cook.  When I look at a recipe, I can’t even get past the list of ingredients most of the time before I’m already confused.  There is almost always a 99% chance there will be something in the ingredients that I either have never heard of before or that I wouldn’t know how to use once I bought it.  Even when I try to follow the instructions, it usually ends badly.

I’m firmly convinced that cooking uses the “mathy” side of the brain.  I also believe this is the side that does puzzles, sews or makes crafts.  Basically I attribute everything I’m bad at to this side of my brain.  Whatever side it is!!   So I know that anything too complicated is probably not going to work.

Now I used to be able to cook about 10 meals on rotation before I started losing this weight.

The problem is they were all things like Hamburger Helper and anything with Bisquick.

But if it was easy, I could make it.

And if it wasn’t easy—–fast food and pizza were my go-to foods.

But I know that I have to stop making excuses.  By refusing to learn how to cook at least enough healthy meals to get a rotation going, I am always tempted to fall back on what I know I can do easily.  And what I can do easily usually is horrible for me and not any better for the kids.  It’s no doubt one of the main reasons I am trapped right now in an endless loop of losing and gaining the same 10 pounds.

So I’ve set a goal.

I’m going to start trying new recipes that I can make for the family and I’m going to attempt to trade out the more unhealthy versions of what the kids like to eat in favor of something healthier.  Hopefully if I keep a record of what I’m doing then someone out there might be able to tell me what I’m doing wrong!  Let’s see what happens!

This past week I decided to attempt to make a cauliflower crust pizza.    And in order to do that, I needed to make a crust out of cauliflower.

Did you know “opening” a cauliflower (or whatever you call it) isn’t that easy? By the time I was done trying to pop off all the pieces of cauliflower I had made a mess in the kitchen.  I hate to say that I’m 42 years old and I really don’t have a lot of cooking skills but it’s true.  That is probably one of the reasons I struggle with my weight.  Convenience foods are much easier!  I even searched on youtube for a video on how to get into a cauliflower more efficiently.  It still didn’t work for me!! There must be a better way!

I used the recipe for Mini Cauliflower Pizzas from HERE

Here are some pictures of me attempting to make cauliflower crust pizza.

 

Step #1–You have to shred the cauliflower into about 4 cups.  But before that happens, you have to get into it and pop the pieces off!  This is harder than it looks (at least for me!)

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The pieces got all over the floor.  This is just the section where I was standing.  There were pieces of Cauliflower though all over the counter and even on other sides of the room.  Every time I would attempt to get into it or pop something off of it—pieces would fly everywhere.  Just getting into the cauliflower alone took me probably 30 minutes.

 

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Last week, I ordered a Vitamix because I decided I would attempt to make Green Smoothies.  The first one I tried was immediately dumped down the drain.  I didn’t even take a picture of it.  Round one of Green Smoothie was a major disaster.   I thought maybe I could use the Vitamix to grind up the cauliflower.  I have always wanted to try making the Cauliflower mashed “potatoes” or cauliflower rice.  I thought it might work in the Vitamix but once again…..problems!  I would put them in there and within 5 seconds it just stopped blending.  So eventually I would just do a few pieces at a time.   The picture below is when I was trying to do too many at once.  I could only do 2 or 3 at a time for it to work .

 

 

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This literally took FOREVER.  Either I was doing it wrong (highly likely) or I needed a food processor maybe instead.  I just know that it took me at least a full hour just to deal with getting into the cauliflower and then grinding it up in the Vitamix.

After this the recipe told me to cook the 4 cups of shredded cauliflower in the microwave.  Now the recipe did not say how exactly to do that.  Someone else would probably know but not me.  Once again I want to point out that I believe a major reason why many people struggle with their weight is probably due to their inability or lack of knowledge in the kitchen.  Maybe even their lack of patience.  I am all of the above.  I lack a lot of the basic skills in the kitchen that I think a person should know.  And it’s not for lack of trying either!!

The other day I attempted to make asparagus in the pan but somehow I even screwed that up.  My extent of vegetable cooking usually involves a bag of steamable vegetables that you pop in the microwave–bag and all.  And even then I have to make sure I put the bag with the correct side facing up.  Anyway….I decided to google how to cook cauliflower in the microwave and it appeared that I was supposed to add some water so I did.

That seemed to turn out fine.   At this point I got a little excited because I started imagining that I probably could make the cauliflower faux-tatoes out of this and it might even work.  I almost made a detour to try that recipe instead but in the end I was determined to stay the course and make this pizza!

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After this, I had to add 2 eggs,  2 cups of shredded mozzarella cheese, oregano, basil and garlic powder.   I managed to do all of that without incident.  Yeah!

The only thing left was to form little mini crusts out of them.  The directions said to make them about 4 inches wide.

This is what it looked like going into the smart oven.  That may be more than 4 inches wide.  What can I say? Not good at math either!

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After baking them for 15 minutes, the direction states to just add the toppings (pizza sauce, mozzarella cheese, pepperoni etc) and then broil them for another 5 minutes.

And then they’re done!

Here is the finished project.  And it really does look good!

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Sadly it wasn’t.  It was very mushy.  You had to eat it with a fork.  It literally tasted like mush with pizza toppings on it.

It took me FOREVER to make this including the giant mess I had to clean up.  And after all that it was mostly inedible.  I am 100% confident that this is all due to my inability to cook!!!!  The recipe was very easy to follow for the most part and I’m sure a normal person would have had this made in 30 minutes tops.  The recipe said prep time was like 20 minutes but I think it took me at least that long just to get into the cauliflower!  All the comments gave the recipe rave reviews and everyone else had a good experience.  This is another example of why I struggle with cooking.  When something takes that long and still turns out badly, it doesn’t make me want to cook.  It makes me want to order Papa John’s!

The problem, however, is that I really do need to learn.  The reality is that these are life skills you need!  I know that for me it is easier to just eat the same thing every night but that is not realistic for the children.  They want a variety of things and if I don’t learn alternatives then it is just too easy for me to go back to the old standbys of Hamburger Helper, Bisquick and convenience food.

So finding a substitute for pizza that my kids will eat was a major fail.  Not due to the recipe but due to me continuing to be a horrible cook!  I am determined though to crack the code.  I will eventually conquer!

Suggestions?

 

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{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

Amy September 30, 2014 at 1:32 pm

My version of pizza is very simple, tasty and low in calories. I use flat out multi-grain or 100 calorie bread, spray one side with olive oil and broil until it becomes hard, flip over and add your pre-heated sauce (I use spaghetti sauce), moz. cheese, sauteed onions and bell peppers and grilled chicken. It is a tasty meal that combined with a side salad or veggies is very satisfying.

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Rhonda W September 30, 2014 at 1:47 pm

I use a 1/6 pound cooked hamburger patty as a pizza crust. Works great and tasty too. A baked tortilla also works as does a toasted english muffin. With the tortilla you can make “pizza pockets”,put extras in the fridge and then just re-heat in a pan like you would a cheese sandwich. Wanted to mention that I recently bought a vegetable spiralizer on Amazon. Love Love Love it. You make noodles out of vegetables. Zucchini works really great and there a tons on videos and receipes on a web site called “inspiralized”. Makes me feel like a cooking goddess! xoxo

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Susan September 30, 2014 at 1:48 pm

Holly, congratulations! Cauliflower crust is not easy. They lied. My guess is it had too much liquid in it. You literally only need a tablespoon or two of water to stream cauliflower in the microwave. Before adding the eggs and cheese, press the liquid out of the cauliflower, by putting it into a strainer using the back of a large spoon to push it against the side of the strainer. Do this until no more liquid drips out. Also, use bagged cauliflower that is already cut up. Costco sells a large bag. And finally, you needed a food processor, not a blender. You can also use a regular old hand grater, but this also would make a mess…Do it in the sink! The only other tip I have is let the pizza rest before eating to firm up a bit, just like regular pizza. You can conquer this!

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C September 30, 2014 at 7:18 pm

I love you, Susan. Thank you. Holly soldiered on, but I was going to quit before I started with this cauliflower business. It sounded too hard. But – you made me think trying again was possible.

Holly – good for you! You are the Never Quit Girl! You help me want to keep going, too.

I also appreciate that you are the Always Honest Girl. You don’t pretend things are easy, neat, and quick when they’re actually hard, messy, and long.

Your posts help me, and your commenters do, too.

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Barb September 30, 2014 at 1:57 pm

Here is an easier pizza crust recipe:
In a bowl combine:
3 eggs
3 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp basil
press evenly into a Pam sprayed pizza pan or cookie sheet
(this makes one 16″ pizza crust)
Bake at 450 until golden brown (approx. 10-15 minutes)

Cauliflower is much easier to grind up in a food processor. When cutting cauliflower up I just taken a knife and starting cutting the flowerets off. I don’t pop them off!Just get a knife in there and cut off stems.

One of my favorite places for recipes is peacelovelowcarb.com She has some awesome recipes and great soups! Most of her soups you can throw in a crock pot and just let cook all day. Another place I get a ton of recipes from is Linda Low Carb.

I have a husband and 3 kids to cook for so I try to find things that I can eat and they like so I don’t have to do separate meals! When you make these rich creamy low carb dishes with cheese, bacon, heavy whipping cream, etc it’s hard to not like it!

Just keep trying in the kitchen. We all learn by trial and error! I’ve make many dishes I ended up throwing out!

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Alison C. September 30, 2014 at 2:19 pm

So my cooking experience seems to be the opposite of yours – I am very good at following directions, so the only way I can cook anything is by following a recipe! That said, I’ve never tried a cauliflower crust! It just seems too involved, with too many steps and too much trouble. I don’t eat pizza of any kind anymore because it triggers me, but I used to use pitas as crusts and make mini pizzas with those.

As for trying new recipes, I would recommend to really go easy on yourself! Pick a recipe with very few ingredients (say 5 or less), which you are pretty much familiar with. I only try 1 or 2 new recipes per week, and only for one portion of the meal (i.e., if I try a new veggie recipe, I’ll serve it with a main course that I make all the time). Just a thought – the Kraft website has a lot of recipes, some even labeled healthy and fit, which use Kraft products. These tend to be easy recipes to start with because they use familiar or at least easy to find ingredients. Maybe peruse the websites of some brands you like to see if they have any recipes that interest you and fit into your meal plan.

Good luck and have fun with it!

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Pam Holmes September 30, 2014 at 3:04 pm

I’ve tried the cauliflower crust a couple of times, and wasn’t all that thrilled with it either. It is a lot of work, although the blender works well for pulverizing the cauliflower. When I figured out the calories in this crust, however, it wasn’t much less than a thin wheat crust would be. That cheese has lots of calories, and there’s another 150 calories in 2 eggs. I realize you count carbs, which I do not, but as for me, I will just make my own wheat pizza crust, and press it as thinly as possible. I don’t like mush, and if you pre-cook the thin crust, it gets nice and crispy, which I LOVE. Good luck Holly, keep experimenting with the low-cal/low-carb stuff, you’ll find some good stuff that is easier to make I bet.
Pam Holmes recently posted..Fun Weekend With GrandkidsMy Profile

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Maureen September 30, 2014 at 3:21 pm

I make this quite often and the secret to success is squeezing all the water out after cooking with either a dishtowel or cheesecloth. I should be almost dry. I agree that it is a lot of work but you can bake extra and freeze them that way you don’t have to do it as often

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Stacy T September 30, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Like others have mentioned, I think you had too much liquid in your crust. I will also plug a good quality food processor. It is a lifechanger. When I’ve done cauli-crust I’ve put the whole head in the microwave to steam and then cut chunks off to put in my food processor. You can use the stems which saves both $ and time. Keep trying, just like anything it takes practice to get good at cooking!

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Tammy September 30, 2014 at 4:12 pm

You’re on the right path, you just need to tweak a bit to make it easier. First, use frozen cauliflower. Throw it in a colander and let it thaw a bit. Then, put it in your vitamix but COVER IT COMPLETELY with water. The cauliflower should move around freely in the water while chopping, then dump it back into the colander to drain. You might have to do it in batches, depending on how much you’re doing. When it’s drained a bit, put it into a kitchen towel and wring the life out of it!! Dump it back into a bowl (you really don’t have to cook it first) and mix your other ingredients in. The secret to getting a crispy crust is it has to be MUCH thinner than what you made yours. Spread it out on either parchment paper or NONSTICK foil (foil works the best) as thinly as you can get it. Bake it until it starts to blacken around the edges (it will look burnt but really isn’t) then flip it, put on your toppings and bake until the toppings are browned. Once you get the hang of it it’s much simpler and oh, so yummy!! And, P.S., if you like coleslaw, you can also chop your cabbage the same way in your vitamix.

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John (Daddy Runs a Lot) September 30, 2014 at 6:19 pm

I’ve never been able to get the microwave method to work, though I’ve been quite successful with cauliflower as a substitute (usually for rice, however, which you’re already eating with a fork). The way I do it?Chop it finely in a food processor (blenders get clogged too easily – even with a food processor, I tend to do relatively small amounts at a time, though the first time, I just kind of threw all of the cauliflower in there at once, which liquefied a portion & left most the vegetable un-chopped)Lay all of the “flower” in a thin layer on a baking sheetBake at 375 for an hourLet coolMake a big ball & drain excess fluid
From there, you can add egg & try to make a dough for pizza crusts, or just treat it like rice. That’s a HUGE amount of time, I know – but most of it is waiting for the cauliflower to cook that you can, in theory, be doing something else.

My most recent “healthy kitchen adventure” will be on my blog somewhat soon, but it’s a pumpkin pie made in a cupcake tray with a plantain instead of pie crust. I’ve yet to work out all of the details, but it works.
John (Daddy Runs a Lot) recently posted..Where I inspect my training plan with a half marathonMy Profile

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Blods September 30, 2014 at 6:24 pm

Forgive me Holly but Ha!Ha! this post made me laugh out loud. I never thought I would ‘meet’ someone as kitchen challenged as myself but we must be twins! Well done for all your perseverance, don’t give up , there seems to be a lot of helpful advice in your comments, many apologies that I have none to give you! I’m sure you will improve and if not, perhaps one of the kids will turn out to be a natural? Good luck x

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tb September 30, 2014 at 6:26 pm

oh my gosh holly. this was so funny!! i can totally relate and i just love the way you laugh at yourself, see the humour in the mistakes, you are so adorable and i love the way you take it all in stride and just go with it, accepting it all and then being able to chuckle about it all! i found this post so cute, i would have made all those mistakes too and i found it hilarious in a very cute way!! just when i thought i was done laughing i would read another funny sentence! aw, don’t give up you are too cute!!! never worry about cooking mishaps!!!

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Holly September 30, 2014 at 8:43 pm

I really admire your ambition! It sounds like a very involved recipe! My suggestion would be… start smaller! Roast veggies or meat isn’t nearly as complex. My other suggestion is to have a back up plan waiting. That way if cooking fails, it’s less stressful because it wasn’t the only dinner option. EVERYTHING is harder when you’re tired and hungry, so maybe experiment with new recipes at times when you’re feeling good and not starving. Lower that pressure! It doesn’t have to be torture. I remember you decided to take a no more tortire approach to exercise so maybe you can treat cooking the same way. Good luck!
Holly recently posted..The One with the Regrets (and Thanks)My Profile

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Natalie September 30, 2014 at 11:01 pm

My first suggestion is to get a chopping board! It looks like you were trying to cut up the rock-hard cauliflower on a little tiny plastic plate, making it much harder for yourself. And with a moderately-flimsy steak knife too. Need good knives. Proper tools make all the difference.

I don’t know anything about Vitamixes but I think they are more of a blender, you need a food-processor for this. Which would be a big expense if it is just for one recipe. I finally got one last Christmas and it is great for things that require a food processor but I wouldn’t bother unless you plan to use it a lot.

But definitely get a chopping board of some kind and couple of decent knives.

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LHA September 30, 2014 at 11:23 pm

Everyone has cooking mishaps! Good for you for trying something new. I have never made the cauliflower crust pizza, but I have tried topping raw zucchini rounds (I use a large zucchini) with a little pizza sauce, pepperoni, and cheese. Just heat until the cheese melts. Not the best, but a little pizza taste with low carbs.

Here is a very easy recipe for dinner that is absolutely no-fail. Take a big piece of round steak. Put it in a baking pan (I use a 9×13″ but whatever you have will work). Season it well by just shaking on salt, pepper and a little garlic powder. I sometimes just use fajita seasoning which is even quicker. Cut up 2 green peppers into strips, chunks, rings…whatever you want. Cut up 2 big onions the same way. Put them on top of the steak. Top with a large can of tomatoes with their juice just poured over it any old way. Stewed tomatoes are great if you can take the sugar (I can’t). Cover it with foil or a lid or whatever works and put it in a slow oven, about 250 degrees and let it cook several hours. I have cooked mine anywhere from three hours to six or seven and it is fine. You could make this in the morning and eat it at night. For your kids, you could add some minute rice (easy!) and a fruit salad or one of those bags of steamed veggies that you like. Prep time less than 15 minutes.

When my kids were little, the pickiest ones would scrape off the peppers, onions and tomatoes and just have “steak”. Good luck with the cooking experiments. You will find other easy things you like I know.

P.S.: You rock!!

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Anneli September 30, 2014 at 11:46 pm

I love to cook because I love to eat. But since the last thing you want to do is to trigger that WOW factor with food, I wonder if you could slowly pass on this chore to the kids? I think they might be excited to try if it meant that they could whatever they wanted so long as its low-carb, within a certain number of calories or whatever your criteria are. Pizza? Sure! Mac and Cheese? Sure! Hungry Girl is a good resource. BTW, one of my latest and weirdest discoveries (thanks, Hungry Girl) is miracle noodles. You get them at the health food store and they ARE expensive, but they have ZERO fat and ZERO carbs and ZERO calories. Give yourself permission to laugh off the disasters. And keep trying–there is some great stuff out there!

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Lee October 1, 2014 at 3:19 am

Crockpot!!!! Buy a thing of chicken breasts one packet of ranch seasoning and a bottle of hot sauce. Dump it in and you have yourself a meal. It’s good on Ezekiel wraps on top of salad with quinoa etc…

You can also make really good chicken. Soups using rotel black beans seasoning and chicken stock.

Bottom line for me at least is to keep it as simple as possible. Roast veggies with a bit of olive oil or sautée them in a pan. Keep seasonings on hand and use them in all recipes. Breakfast for dinner is another low carb staple for us. By keeping things simple especially on weeknights I don’t get discouraged and lose faith in myself and resort to eating out or bad habits. Experimenting is fun but save it for a quiet Sunday afternoon when you have time and aren’t tired and rushed.

Hope this helps!

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Faith October 1, 2014 at 3:25 am

We are kitchen twins! lol I’ve never given the cauliflower crust a try (too intimidated) but we do make pizza or calzones with almond flour. I’ve also used giant portabella mushroom caps as a pizza “crust” and loaded it with toppings and sauce.

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brittany October 2, 2014 at 2:14 pm

My suggestion when dealing with cauliflower: Buy frozen cauliflower or the kind that is already prepped from the produce section of your grocery. I often can get the frozen stuff on sale and the pre-prepped is SO WORTH THE COST. As you discovered, breaking down cauliflower is a huge pain in the butt and so messy!

If you’re trying to get a crispier cauliflower, then wring it out in cheesecloth after steaming — it sucks up a lot of moisture which leads to mush when you cook it.

Finally, for pizza crusts, I like to use the Fat Head Pizza recipe. It’s low-carb, high-fat so I’m not sure if that works for your way of eating but it’s a really good thin crust, easy to make, and FILLING! One or two pieces is literally all I need; I’d need 4-5 ‘normal’ pizza slices to feel full. The ‘dough’ is pretty sticky so I never use a rolling pin. Instead I put the ‘dough’ on a silpat baking liner then use a silicone spatula to squish it out into a rectangle.

Here is the recipe:

http://www.fathead-movie.com/index.php/2013/06/30/weekend-bonus-the-older-brothers-oldest-sons-faux-carb-pizza/

Also maybe you could ask your kids to look on pinterest for crock pot recipe that sound good to them. Then you wouldn’t have to spend a lot of time thinking about food yourself (which you said in other posts leads you to binge) and then you could modify recipes if needed and since it’s crockpot, it probably wouldn’t be hard. Just an idea! 🙂

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