Localicious: Two North State Companies Make Pizza Healthy

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To get our kids to eat enough vegetables, many of us become the parental equivalent of covert operatives; we find ourselves hiding veggies in food the way cold-war spies hid microfilm in luggage.

Cauliflower, for example. This underappreciated vegetable is loaded with Vitamin C and low in carbohydrates and calories, yet it is a hard sell to kids. That’s why parents often smother it in cheese or disguise it as mashed potatoes, rice or even fried buffalo wings.

Now a pair of North State foodpreneurs – with the help of an Orland grower – are using the humble cauliflower to turn one of America’s most-loved, least-healthy foods into a low-carb, gluten-free vegetable delivery vehicle that’s perfect for on-the-run families.

That food? Pizza.

Turning Cauliflower Into Cali’flour

Amy Lacey and Dana Grant are Chico-based entrepreneurs, certified health coaches and moms. They understand the value of eating well while appreciating time constraints and picky, young eaters.

In fact, Lacey’s son flatly refused to eat vegetables.

“But he would eat pizza,” she noted. “He’d wolf down a pizza with veggies.”

Grant said, “That’s one reason we focused on an unhealthy American favorite like pizza.”

Their startup – aptly named Cali’flour – sells a crisp, tasty, gluten-free, low-calorie pizza crust made from four ingredients: cauliflower, cheese, eggs and spices.

A 9-inch Cali’flour crust contains a whole head of cauliflower and no wheat or gluten. This healthy alternative has a mere five grams of carbohydrates and only 180 calories, while traditional pizza crusts typically contain three to four times the calories.

With a little sauce, cheese and a handful of vegetable toppings, Grant suggests it’s easy to make a 9-inch pizza that has only 300 to 400 calories.

“And it really tastes good,” noted Lacey. “I like to sauté summer vegetables and use them for toppings. It’s tasty, healthy and very convenient. And it’s not like you’re gnawing on cardboard like with so many other gluten-free crusts.”

Not surprisingly, demand for Cali’flour’s low-calorie, gluten-free crust has skyrocketed, causing Grant and Lacey to rapidly ramp-up production. What they needed most was a consistent supply of very high-quality cauliflower. This would help them fulfill their mission to revolutionize pizza, improving the lives and health of many.

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Going Local

Despite it’s status as an agricultural powerhouse, the United States isn’t among the top-five global producers of cauliflower. And while Grant and Lacey wanted a local supplier, they didn’t know if they would be able to find one.

Then fate intervened; a chance meeting in a doctor’s office led the women to local grower Greg Yancy of Yancy Farms. Yancy is well known in the area for his family-run produce stands and their anchor position at the Corning Farmer’s Market.

Lacey and Grant asked Yancy to dedicate a sizable portion of his farm’s fall and winter output to cauliflower. Yancy was skeptical at first – until he sampled Cali’flour’s pizza crust for himself.

“I tried the crust and it’s great,” Yancy said. “It’s amazing. I knew this was going places.”

Yancy typically sees little local demand for cauliflower and hasn’t grown it for years. But he believes in Cali’flour Food’s pizza crust enough to commit to growing 20,000 heads of cauliflower this fall and winter.

Lacey said Yancy was “someone we wanted to work with – his values and his farm are a perfect fit with our mission. He takes so much pride in the quality of his vegetables and he really wants to help people eat better. We could never find those qualities at a corporate farm.”

Yancy loves the idea of working with local companies on worthwhile products.

“My family’s been in farming since the early 1900’s. Every produce stand is run by a family member and every plant is put in the ground by a family member. Contributing to a family-friendly product like this is something that’s meant to be. We love the idea.”

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Resources

Cali’flour Foods pizza crusts are current available at:

Yancy Farms

The Yancy Farms produce stand opens each April. Their central location is the ranch-based stand at the corner of FF Road and 23 in Orland. You can find them on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/YancyFarms

Localicious is a monthly column celebrating food in the North State. If you would like to suggest a food-related business or organization, email us at localicious@northstateparent.com

Tom Chandler
About Tom Chandler

Tom Chandler lives in Mt. Shasta with his wife, and remains under the total and absolute control of his two daughters. He writes and consults for a living and wonders where his spare time went.

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