Product Review: Trader Joe’s Frozen Cauliflower Crust

Cauliflower has been quite the rage for a while now and, not to miss the party, Trader Joe’s has released a frozen cauliflower pizza crust, much to the delight of TJ lovers and the carb conscious consumer. After reading about how excited so many health bloggers were, I decided to pick one up and put it to the health coach test.

Overall grade: 2.2/10

Nutrition

Right off the bat, I was not thrilled about this product based on its nutrition label. Essentially, they have taken a wonderfully nutritious vegetable and turned it into something nearly nutritionally devoid.

The serving size is 1/6 of the crust (which, by the way, will leave you hungry). At that serving, this crust contains 80 calories, 1 gram of fiber, 1 gram of protein, 10 mg of calcium (0% of your daily value), 0.1 mg of iron (0% of your daily value), and 60 mg of potassium (0%of your daily value). Doing some basic math, that means that the entire crust contains 480 calories, 6 grams of fiber, 6 grams of protein, 60 mg of calcium (6% DV), 360 mg of potassium (7.6%), 0.6 mg of iron (3% DV) and 102 carbohydrates.

Let’s compare that to an actual head of cauliflower, which contains 146 calories, 1,758 mg of potassium, 12 grams of fiber, 11 grams of protein, 12% of your DV of calcium, 472% of your DV of Vitamin C, 13% DV of Iron, 55% DV of Vitamin B-6, 22% DV of magnesium and 29 grams of carbohydrates.

The vast majority of recipes to make your own cauliflower crust call for a full medium head of cauliflower, so you will get much more nutrition from making your own rather than buying this.

Nutrition Score: 3

Ingredients

Typically when I see prepackaged products like this, I assume that they are going to be full of preservatives and fillers. I was actually pleasantly surprised by the ingredient list for this pizza crust. In this order, it contains: cauliflower, corn flour, water, corn starch, potato starch, olive oil, and salt. Short, simple, real.

But here’s the rub. We would think that cauliflower would be the most plentiful ingredient in the recipe, but the nutrition facts indicate otherwise. Either the cauliflower has been stripped down and processed into flour or there isn’t very much cauliflower in this at all.

Another concern that I have here is that this isn’t labeled non-GMO so the corn used to make the flour is probably genetically modified.

Ingredient Score: 5

Ease of Prep

According to the instructions, you are supposed to top the crust and cook it frozen in a 450 degree oven. To make it crispy, it says to put it directly on the rack. Whatever you do, DO NOT PUT IT DIRECTLY ON THE RACK. Why? Because before it gets crispy, it thaws and gets soft and then flops and falls apart on the bottom of your oven and fills your apartment with smoke. Clearly, Trader Joe did not test this product before putting the instructions on the box.

Prep: 0

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This is what happens when you follow the directions and place the crust directly on the rack to make it crispy. Pro tip: DON’T

Texture

Because of the unfortunate demise of most of the crust before we realized what was happening and threw a pan under it, I can’t tell you if this crust actually gets crispy. As it was, we salvaged what we could and finished cooking it. The texture was….foamy. Like styrofoam. It wasn’t horrible but it wasn’t good either.

Texture: 1

Flavor

The flavor was also negatively impacted by the crust catastrophe because everything in the oven tasted like burning. The few pieces that didn’t taste like fire, didn’t have much flavor to them at all. So it wasn’t good or bad.

Flavor: 2

Overall, Trader Joe’s cauliflower pizza crust was disappointing. There are so many recipes out there that are more nutritious and flavorful that I would say it’s worth it to save your money and invest your time in making your own. Is this convenient? Yes, but I don’t think it’s worth the trade-off.

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The final product after we had salvaged what we could from between the rack prongs. It’s a bit blurry because of the steam and the smoke in the oven.

Staying Healthy on the Road

How many times have you heard it said or said it yourself: I was doing so well but then I had to go out of town…

Travel and vacations have long been the dieter’s nemesis and eating well on the road definitely comes with its share of challenges. There are so many temptations, often there are limited options for those looking to eat healthy, sometimes you’re just too busy to find a healthy option or you’re at someone else’s whim for food. These are difficulties we can all sympathize with. I think it’s safe to say that pretty much nobody eats perfectly when they are away from home, but there are lots of ways to keep you mostly on track. So here are my tips for keeping to your healthy habits when you’re on the road.

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  1. Bring as many snacks with you as you can.

When you’re sitting in the car for hours or traveling via plane, chances are you are not going to find a healthy snack readily available for you, so it’s important to plan ahead and pack your own snacks. Some of my favorite health snacks to bring with me are cut up carrots, sugar snap peas, celery sticks, apples and other more durable fruits, whole grain crackers, Cabot sharp cheddar snacks, Justin’s peanut butter packets, and beef jerky. These are all snacks that are easy to eat on the go and they keep fairly well without being refrigerated.

2. Bring a water bottle.

This will help keep you hydrated and help keep you away from sugary drinks that are often much cheaper than bottled water. Having water with you to sip on will also keep you from eating out of boredom or when you’re actually thirsty. A tip for traveling by plane: bring an empty water bottle with you to get through security. Once you’re through security, you can fill it up at a water bubbler before you board the plane.

3. Look for key healthful items when dining out.

Eating well when dining out can be a challenge because often items that seem healthy have been prepared in an unhealthy way, like drowned in salad dressing or deep fried or covered in a sugary sauce. Some key menu items to look for when dining out include: whole grains, lean proteins like chicken or fish (broiled, not fried), and fresh vegetables. You can also modify your orders to omit the bun or request your vegetables steamed. You can also order any sauces on the side or substitute olive oil and vinegar for salad dressing. Your health is an important investment and, if it’s a priority, you shouldn’t feel guilty about requesting small modifications to your orders.

4. Make the most out of the continental breakfast.

Ah, the continental breakfast, the cheapest way for a hotel to say they gave you more than just a roof over your head so that extra $50/night was totally worth it (did I mention I am super cynical?). Continental breakfasts, in addition to being universally underwhelming, are notorious for providing some of the least effective foods for starting your day. Empty carbs are often abundant at continental breakfasts and all they do is spike your blood sugar only to allow it to plummet later along with your energy. They also don’t stay with you very long. My advice when it comes to the continental  breakfast is try to find a whole grain option mixed in with the carbohydrates and go with that. Also, at many of these breakfasts, they put out a bowl of fruit, so take advantage of that and maybe throw a piece in your bag for later, too (helping you get your money’s worth there). If it’s a nicer continental breakfast and they offer eggs, take advantage of the protein but be mindful that scrambled eggs may have been prepared with cream rather than milk. Finally, avoid white breads, pastries, and fruit juices. They will not keep your satisfied and they will not fuel your body for very long.

5. Offer to prepare dinner.

If you’re staying with family or friends, offering to cook dinner for everyone one night is a great way to keep to your eating habits while also thanking them for their hospitality. You get to plan the menu and could even pick up some extra snacks for yourself for the remainder of the stay.

6. Fit in movement wherever you can.

Traveling often means hours on end spent sitting as you make your way to your destination so it’s important to try to offset that with movement whenever you can get it. Take the stairs instead of the elevator, take a walk around the airport while you’re waiting for your flight, go for a walk after dinner, take advantage of the gym or pool if your hotel offers them. If you’re into strength training, resistance bands are small and easy to travel with and you can get a whole body workout in with those in your hotel room.

7. Be gentle with yourself.

This is probably the most important tip on this page. Sometimes you have to be OK with good enough. Being healthy doesn’t mean being perfect all the time. What matters is that you make the healthful choice most of the time. It’s about balance. You have to indulge occasionally  and sometimes you’re just not going to be able to stick with your health plan. In those situations, it is very important that you not beat yourself up about it. Beating yourself up is how you get into unhealthy patterns of guilt and even self-hatred. Pursuing a healthy lifestyle should be done out of love for yourself. It shouldn’t be used to punish yourself for eating that slice of cake. If you can’t stick to your healthy routine as much as you’d like to or if you decided to just go all out and indulge the whole trip, the best thing that you can do for yourself is say “I ate those things and I enjoyed them and that’s OK, but now I’m going to go back to eating healthy again.”

 

You’re Not a Bear – Don’t Hibernate

Those of us who live in cold winter climates know that this time of year comes with special challenges to living an active lifestyle. It’s cold. It’s slippery. It’s snowy. It takes twice as much time to get dressed to go out. But this time of year our bodies naturally slow down and store more fat, which means that it’s still very important that we keep active throughout the winter.

There are lots of ways to stay active when the snow flies other than spending a fortune for a day of skiing or snowboarding. Here are some tips for keeping active when all you want to do is snuggle up in your flannel and wool socks.

  • Try a new winter sport – Never tried snow shoeing or cross country skiing? Why not now? Outfitters like REI offer classes in these with equipment included and they offer equipment rentals for your own excursions at very reasonable prices. That’s how I discovered I love show shoeing. The great part about sports like this is you don’t need to go to a mountain or make a project of it. You can do them in the backyard or at a local golf course.
  • Ice skating
  • Buy some crampons and get out there – You can buy a pair of crampons that stretch over the bottoms of your shoes for $20 on Amazon so you can go for a run or a hike without worrying about slipping and breaking something.
  • Bundle up and go for a walk – Take a brisk walk by yourself or make a romantic evening of it and go out with your partner during or after a fresh snow.
  • Do a workout video – I’m a big fan of Daily Burn and Zumba fitness, but there are also a ton of free videos on the Internet. Get your family or partner involved for more motivation and group fun.
  • Go sledding! It’s still fun as an adult! – Sledding down is fun but hustling back up that hill works up a sweat. Plus your kids will get a kick out of seeing mom and dad sledding, too.
  • Shoveling is also a workout but it’s very important that you take it slow and be careful. It’s easy to overexert yourself or hurt your back doing this.

Try out a couple of these and see what you think. What are some ways you’ve figured out to stay active this time of year?