KANSAS CITY — Cauliflower is cropping up in numerous new applications in 2019 as food manufacturers swap the vegetable in for customarily carb-laden components. The trend caters to consumers seeking to cut out carbs, go gluten-free or sneak more vegetables into their or their children’s diets.
Green Giant Fresh, a Growers Express brand, added two new regionally inspired varieties to its line of plant-based Veggie Bowls — which feature cauliflower crumbles chopped cauliflower — in June. The new Korean BBQ Bowl and Southwest Tortilla Bowl contain 200 calories and include chopped and pre-portioned vegetables that cook in five minutes or fewer.
“We are constantly exploring ways to delight consumers with ways to incorporate vegetables into one’s day,” said Jamie Strachan, chief executive officer of Green Giant Fresh. “The Veggie Bowl concept is about providing a healthier take on traditionally calorie-heavy regional cuisine, and we are proud of the way we’ve brought to life these satisfying flavors for a smarter grab-and-go meal experience.”
In September, Cali’flour Foods built on its portfolio of frozen cauliflower pizza crusts and flatbreads with a new line of frozen topped pizzas. Containing 7 to 8 grams of carbs and 18 to 21 grams of protein per serving, the gluten- and grain-free pizzas feature crust made with cauliflower, mozzarella cheese and egg whites. Varieties include uncured chicken pepperoni, classic cheese, supreme veggie and artisan Margherita.
“This new launch will be the lowest-carb frozen cauliflower pizza on the market,” the company said. “Cali’flour Foods’ newest innovation aims to reinvent the frozen section, making delicious and indulgent foods available to those with dietary restrictions or dedication to a healthy lifestyle.”
Conagra Brands, Inc. is going against the grain in favor of vegetables in new product lines that launched in June under the Healthy Choice and Birds Eye brands.
From Healthy Choice comes a new line of grain-free Power Bowls featuring combinations of greens, vegetables, lean proteins and riced cauliflower. The gluten-free bowls come in four varieties: Spicy Beef Teriyaki, Basil Pesto Chicken, Spicy Black Bean & Chicken, and Chicken Marinara.
“We’re excited to launch new Healthy Choice Power Bowls for people looking to power through their days while avoiding or limiting their gluten and grain intake,” said Alan Brooks, senior brand manager for Healthy Choice. “People are looking for delicious meals with key nutrients to help with their overall wellness and provide a good source of protein to stay fuller longer.”
Under the Birds Eye brand, Conagra introduced a Cheesy Chicken & Broccoli Family Favorite Meal that contains riced cauliflower, grilled white meat chicken, broccoli florets, cheddar cheese sauce and a bread crumb topping.
“Today’s families have busy schedules that often demand quick meal solutions, and sometimes those easy solutions are not inherently nutritious,” said Anne Murphy, senior brand manager for Birds Eye. “Plus, there’s always the struggle to get picky eaters to eat. These new Birds Eye meals deliver popular family favorite dishes in under 15 minutes, while also making it easy and enjoyable for families to eat more vegetables by swapping in pasta made from vegetables and riced cauliflower rather than traditional carbs.”
In April, Conagra announced its plan to extend the Healthy Choice brand into the salad dressing category with new plant-based Power Dressing made with cauliflower. The dressing comes in ranch, green goddess and garden french varieties.
“They’re made out of cauliflower, lentils and white bean, and they’re made out of healthy oil,” Mr. McGough said. “When I started getting deeper into this category, I was shocked to realize that most of the healthy dressings, even those in the natural channel, are made with soybean oil. We won’t do that. These dressings are made with avocado oil. And on Healthy Choice, we know how to add flavor through a great combination of spices.”
Perdue Farms in June launched a new line of chicken products blended with cauliflower. New Chicken Plus Nuggets, Tenders and Patties feature blends of cauliflower, chickpeas and plant protein combined with no-antibiotics-ever white meat chicken. Perdue Chicken Plus is available in panko dinosaur-shaped nuggets, crispy rice tenders and panko patties.
“Perdue Chicken Nuggets have been a staple for families for years, but we wanted to provide an easy way to round out the meal and help parents put an end to the ‘eat your vegetables’ battle,” said Eric Christianson, chief marketing officer for Perdue. “By blending plants and vegetables with the Perdue chicken families love, not only are we helping to meet demands for millions of parents but we are appealing to the growing number of flexitarian families who have an increased commitment to getting more plants and vegetables in their families’ diets.”
A new gluten-free option also debuted in the pasta aisle in June. Veggiecraft Farms’ new gluten-free Cauliflower Pasta comes in penne and spaghetti varieties and is made with three ethically sourced ingredients: lentil flour, cauliflower flour and pea flour.
“Veggiecraft Farms is finally bringing great tasting pasta back into the lives of ingredient and gluten conscious consumers,” said Oliver Bogner, founder and chief executive officer of Veggiecraft Farms. “With nearly 25% of Americans opting for gluten-free or plant-based diets, we wanted to address a big gap in the market for a gluten-free pasta that tastes like traditional pasta. Parents can also rejoice: we are offering an easy, no-fuss way of getting kids to eat vegetables.”