Thursday, November 7, 2013

Pizza and Cranberry Yogurt for Dessert

This evening I decided to make pizza for dinner. I thought about waiting and having it tomorrow night, but was in the mood for it tonight. Since I still have half of my pizza left...that means I can have pizza for Friday night's dinner, too! So...I see that as a win/win! I love being able to enjoy a wheat free pizza that's so good that even the wheat eaters like it. This recipe was one of those pivotal recipes for me early on in my elimination of wheat and grains. Once I created this recipe that restored a sense of "normalcy" to my meals...I had hope and comfort that this might just be doable...and not just for a few weeks or months...but for the long haul. Anyone can modify their way of eating for a period of time., that's nothing special. The real problem lies when we return to our previous way of eating that created or contributed to many of our health problems in the first place...whether it be weight gain, diabetes, insulin resistance, inflammation and a host of other maladies. This pizza recipe is what helped me see the forest for the trees so to speak. I realized that it wasn't about what I "couldn't have any more" was more about learning how to find ways to still enjoy some old favorites like pizza, but in ways that wouldn't be detrimental to my health. It also helped rediscover the beauty and simplicity of eating a simple piece of meat and fresh vegetables with butter; single ingredient foods not tainted and contaminated with additives like wheat, sugars, starches and other appetite inducing ingredients and fillers put there for one purpose -- to make you crave more. Additives that had no business being there in the first place. It was an awakening of sorts! This recipe has a lot of significance for me -- and not just because I like it. It was a turning point for me and when I realized that I could just sit back, relax and enjoy the "wheat-free ride". For the last 16 months, I have sought to make every day a new adventure and new challenge and to defy the odds stacked against us in navigating how to eat in a world where we are continuously bombarded with food choices that are detrimental to our health and well being. I look at every meal I prepare and each recipe I create as a challenge and a triumph in defying those odds. I haven't just adopted a wheat-free lifestyle; I have embraced it. What a truly liberating feeling that is!!!  Below I snapped a quick photo of my pizza (topped with onions, red peppers, mushrooms, fresh baby spinach and fresh mozzarella cheese) as well as the recipe for my pizza crust. I've also posted a photo of the simple dessert I had this evening -- a cup of Fage Greek yogurt with a spoon of my Cranberry Orange Walnut Sauce swirled in it -- it was awesome. Enjoy!

Almond-Flax-Parmesan Herb Pizza Crust
Makes 1 10-inch round pizza (approximately 2 servings)

Dry Ingredients:
1/4 cup blanched almond flour
1/4 cup golden flax seed meal (organic golden flax is milder in taste than brown)
2/3 teaspoon baking powder (aluminum free)
1/2 - 1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon onion powder 
Dash cayenne pepper, optional
1/4 teaspoon sea salt, or to taste (decrease salt if using saltier cheeses and toppings)
Few grinds of freshly ground black pepper
4 - 5 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Wet Ingredients:
1 egg (or 1/4 cup egg substitute such as Egg Beaters)
1 tablespoon olive oil (a little more, if desired)
1 to 2 tablespoons water (start with 1 tablespoon of water and add the second, if necessary)

Toppings (Optional):  
Pizza sauce, pesto sauce, etc.
Cheese: shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced or diced fresh mozzarella, etc.
**Pre-cooked vegetables of choice: onions, green peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc. 
**Pre-cooked meat of choice: sausage, ground beef topping, etc.
Other: artichokes, olives, pepperoni, etc.

**Tip: Fresh vegetable and meat toppings should be pre-cooked and drained to prevent crust from becoming soggy

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Mix dry ingredients together; add wet ingredients and mix well. Let the dough sit for approximately 5 minutes to thicken. 

Spread dough on a lightly oiled large pizza pan or cookie sheet lined with greased parchment paper (you can also use Reynolds non-stick foil, lightly brushed with olive oil).  Using a lightly oiled rubber spatula, press the dough out to desired shape and thickness (I usually make it about 1/4" thick -- *see note below).  Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cooked through (check crust after 15 minutes and remove from oven when it looks and feels done).  Spread with a thin layer of sauce, cheese and desired toppings (fresh vegetable and meat toppings should be pre-cooked to prevent soggy crust); place back into the oven to bake an additional 5-10 minutes to melt cheese.  If desired, run under the broiler for a few minutes to lightly brown the toppings and make the cheese bubbly (be careful not to burn it).

*Note:  For a crust that is flat, smooth and even in thickness, lightly spray a 2nd sheet of parchment paper with olive oil spray and place it on top (oiled side down) of the ball of pizza dough that is centered in the middle of your prepared pizza pan or baking sheet.  Using either your hands or the flat edge of an object (I use a big container of black pepper) press the dough smooth by swiping it the direction you want the pizza crust to go.  When it is the desired thickness and shape, carefully peel off the top layer of parchment paper...and "Voila"...perfectly flat, smooth, thin pizza crust! If you don't have parchment paper, pressing the dough out with a lightly oiled rubber spatula works just fine, too.


Unknown said...

Have you tried to freeze this crust ? It would be marvelous to have it frozen and pull out for a quick dinner when the mood for pizza strikes. Thanks so much for sharing !

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Debbie -- I haven't tried freezing it yet -- I did make a couple at once though and keep the extra refrigerated to use later in the week and that worked out fine. I need to freeze one and use it as a test to see how it does. I don't see why it wouldn't work. I would think we would put the frozen crust directly into a hot oven to heat/thaw (so it doesn't get soggy thawing on the counter or in the fridge)...then once heated, add toppings and bake until cheese is melted, etc. I will try and make a point of testing that next time I make it. If you try it before I do, let me know how it works. But, it is a great are right about that! :-)

Anonymous said...

Hi, wanted to let you know I finally tried your tortilla today for lunch and I loved it! I really love having a sandwich for lunch and although I like leftovers just fine, I do get bored with that so the option of using a tortilla as a wrap sandwich is awesome. I totally agree with another person who commented on here a while back saying that this recipe is genius, it totally is. It is delicious and holds a lot of stuff without breaking. I had it with a couple of slices of turkey and I made a side salad that I just piled on top and that sucker held together just fine. Thanks so much. You rock!!! Maria

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Maria! Thanks so much -- and glad you are enjoying the tortillas, too -- I have found numerous uses for them myself. I agree, it is nice being able to make a quick and simple wrap to make a sandwich with -- I would actually rather use a wrap to make a sandwich with than grain free breads which don't hold up as well and tend to be smaller slices. It really does hold a lot of stuff without breaking which surprised me, too, when I first tried it out. Glad you are enjoying them, too! :-)

Anonymous said...

I love this post! I have been feeling like I am an island in my family lately and sometimes I just want to fit in and eat the garlic bread and pasta too...which is exactly what I have been doing recently. To be honest it was halloween candy also. I started new this week and have been feeling great until lunch our with the sis where i promptly ordered a bunless burger and then devoured the fries that came with it!!! Then Gourmet Girl, I come to your site and see a perfectly normal meal I know I can prepare tonight and we can all eat together. I thank you again for being the best source for real life food ideas this side of the grain. - ally

mary eleazer said...

Thanks again GG well said you always say what I am thinking I am reading your blog saying Yes Yes I love this pizza I make it all diff. ways with your basic crust my hubby loves it too. 10lb weight loss going on my 3rd month yeah :) it was so nice to go thru holloween with no candy cravings and not feeling deprived I just want to scream to the world go wheat free and be free :)

Kathy said...

Hi GG! This appears to be the same crust from your "Pizza Night -- YAY!!!" blog post here... - in which you stated, I decided to keep it simple and pull out the pizza crust I froze a couple of weeks ago. I intentionally froze it to see how well it would reheat. I frequently get asked whether the crust freezes well, but had never actually tried to before. I'd like to report that it freezes excellently, which is good news for those that like to get a head start on meal prepping or those that just want to be able to make a few crusts ahead of time to pull out later and use as a "convenience food". I'm confused b/c in your response to Debbie above you mentioned not freezing this crust yet but in your August 30, 2013 post you had frozen this crust. Please advise what I'm missing here. Thank you! :)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Kathy -- I went back and read that post -- and saw it was August 30th when I posted it. When I read that I wrapped it in saran wrap -- I actually do remember that yes I did actually freeze one. I had made several crusts ahead of time (and froze 1) -- I did a taping for a program in mid-August and made several ahead of time for that. I actually forgot I did that until I read about wrapping it in saran wrap and I remembered doing that! I do not usually make more than 1 at a time -- thank you for pointing that out and reminding me! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Ally! Thanks so much for your note! I know how hard it is being the "lone wheat/grain-free ranger" in the house. But the more I experiment with different recipes, the easier it becomes to feed everyone the same thing most of the time...and when I don't think I can please everyone, I make us almost the same meal, I just do additional add-ons (potatoes, etc.) for them in addition to the same main dish we are all eating. It is easy to get discouraged sometimes, which is why I work so hard at trying to keep it interesting and varied. Your post made my day -- thanks so much for sharing that with me. I will do my best to keep posting meals that will inspire even the non wheat-free folks, too! :-)

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Mary! First of all...congratulations on your 10-lb wheat loss -- that is awesome in almost 3 months! I think one of the best parts is that usually to lose that kind of weight, we usually end up feeling hungry and deprived and just can't wait to finish this diet -- but with this plan, I don't feel that way...I am not hungry and I am not deprived and I am not waiting for it to be over! Rather, I just wish I had found this little secret out a loooong time ago! I'm so glad you and your hubby enjoy the pizza too. I did my Costco shopping after work tonight and it was nice coming home afterward and reheating some leftover pizza from last night. Thanks for sharing your enthusiasm with me! :-)

CyberSis said...


What a wonderful and inspiring post. My sentiments exactly. Real food for real people ... what a concept!

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi CyberSis -- Thanks. While real food seems like such a simple concept -- it's amazing how far we had gotten away from that concept with the proliferation of convenience foods and fast foods filled with "junk"...we became so accustomed to eating foods that contained ingredients we couldn't pronounce much less know what they were or why they were even in there! It's nice being back in the "real world" again, isn't it! :-)

Viola said...

Good morning GG, I tried your cheddar cheese summer squash dish a few weeks ago. It was really delicious. I dont like squash because of the softness of it. But i really enjoyed it. I had a bit too much at one time, so I ate it for breakfast, lunch and dinner for the next five days. I started a gf way of eating on 9/9/13. I did not know that food could taste so good even though I was raised up on real food. My mom and grandma never cooked anything from cans or packages. They grew everything. My mom would make her own sausage, ice cream, butter, etc. She grew her cows, chickens and hogs. I am so happy that I found your site. I enjoy looking at your meals. It is just my husband and myself that i have to cook for. He has not converted to gf totally but some of the dishes he will eat once. When I first went gf I was trying to cook a different meal for him. But now I am trying to cook meals that he will eat. Some days I feel like I am in the kitchen all day every day cooking and washing dishes. But I am enjoying being gf and I have loss 16 lbs since Sept. Thank you again for posting. I receive them through email and now Iam zipping them in ziplist for handy retrieval.

Gourmet Girl Cooks said...

Hi Viola! Thank you. Congratulations on losing 16 lbs! I know how hard it can be trying to cook this way when your husband isn't completely on board (because mine isn't either but he eats almost everything I do...he just eats the other stuff too...LOL). How lucky you were to have grown up eating everything grown at home or homemade -- I think part of the problem with the deterioration of our health is all the "convenience foods" -- they focused solely on making it quick and easy to prepare and didn't care whether it was actually "good for us". It is nice getting back to eating food where you know the ingredients that went into it and don't rely on lots of chemicals and preservatives being added. Congrats on your weight loss -- so glad you enjoy my blog, too. :-)