Monday, August 10, 2009
Pizza Bases - A Journey
My thinking about food and health has evolved quite a bit from when I was first diagnosed with celiac disease about 9 years ago...and I keep learning each and every day. I'm a pizza-lover, so one of my main searches during this time has been for yummy pizza bases and crusts. My journey to find a pizza crust based on current thinking about health and what I needed to avoid for a period of time has lead me to have a variety of ideas on the subject. I thought it would be fun to share my favorites with you...
Post Diagnosis Desperation, 2002:Bette Hagman's Seasoned Pizza Crust.
I stumbled upon this recipe in my blind search for all things GF that taste like the original. By far, this is the tastiest homemade pizza crust I have ever had. It produces a thicker crust that crisps on the outside but remains soft on the inside. The flavor and texture are incredible! Non-GFers in my circle have enjoyed this immensely. The downside: it takes a good amount of time, a lot of ingredients, and it contains yeast and rice flour - two things I'm trying not to have too much of these days...which explains why I haven't made it in, oh, probably 2 years. Looking over the recipe now makes me yearn for it, though - it is sooooo yummy!
Wanting a Quick Version, 2003: Foods By George English Muffins.
Not often having time to devote to making Bette's recipe, I reached for a quick version. Foods By George makes a wonderful english muffin. It is light, tasty, and has a nice pillowy texture. I would toast them up, then top them with my favorite stuff, and broil until the cheese melted. A quick, satisfying pizza fix!
Going Raw, Summer '06: Alissa Cohen
Starting to realize that just substituting GF foods for our old non-GF favorites isn't exactly the healthiest thing to do, my sister got trained as a raw foods teacher by Alissa Cohen, so she got me to try it out. I'll never forget it - it was the summer that my condo got taken over by mold following what we New Englanders call "The Mother's Day Storm." I had to move in with my parents for several weeks. It was unsettling, and I decided to try out raw foods in an effort to give me something to focus on and to eat more simply. I still take a lot of my diet cues from the raw foods revolution - you can't ignore the benefit of eating foods in their natural state with maximum potential enzymes for absorption. Alissa has three versions of raw pizza bases (all dairy, egg, soy, and nut free) - gourmet, easy, and easier. The gourmet version calls for sprouted barley (I substituted buckwheat) and spouted wild rice. The easy one uses buckwheat and flax seeds, and the easiest uses mostly flax seeds. To make them truly raw, a dehydrator is recommended. All of these are very yummy and very good for you!
Learning to Incorporate More Veggies, 2007: Portobello Mushrooms.
So I wasn't going to drag out the dehydrator on a weekly basis (hey, I said I love pizza!). My solution to incorporating more veggies was to use a grilled portobello mushroom cap as a pizza base. Top with your favorite things. You can also cut eggplant into 1 inch thick pieces and grill on both sides for another pizza base option.
Trying Out Improved Store-Bought Options, 2008: Against the Grain.
Having opted out of the GF substitution game for quite some time, I hadn't tried any store bought options. Against the Grain's pizza crust was recommended to me, so I picked one up. It's made in a dedicated GF facility by some folks in Vermont that have celiac disease and want to make some convenient options that taste like their non-GF counterparts. The products also do not contain yeast, corn, soy, rice, or sugar, but they do contain dairy and eggs. I have to say, the crust was quite tasty, though it is a thinner type, which tends not to be my favorite. I really enjoyed it.
Today, Reducing Grains: Shirley's Flourless Pizza.
After embarking on another elimination diet for the past several months and discovering that I can tolerate some dairy (cheese and yogurt), but overall feel much better when I stay away from rice, potatoes, and other starches on the Specific Carbohydrate Diet's no-no list, I had basically resigned myself to the fact that it would be only mushroom or eggplant pizza bases for me...that is, until I became acquainted with Shirley at Gluten Free Easily through the "Go Ahead Honey, It's Gluten Free" recipe roundup. While perusing her blog, I happened upon her flourless pizza crust recipe. I promptly ran out and got what I needed to give it a try...and oh my goodness! I loved it! Very satisfying and very close to the real thing! You've got to try it for yourself!
Pizza is back, baby!