Gluten Free For Good


 

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Posts Tagged ‘gluten-free pizza’



My top 5 gluten-free products

Montana Processors Gluten-Free Oats

Before I get to my favorite gluten-free products, let me start by saying, I’m not fond of food “products.” I’m a nutritionist specializing in healthy, active, gluten-free living. That means a focus on whole foods and an active lifestyle, not gluten-free Dunkin’ Donuts, processed food, and unlimited couch time. I advise people to stick with the real thing (vegetables, fruit, nuts, seeds, a few naturally gluten-free grains, small amounts of high-quality meat). That’s straight forward and simple enough.

Hey wait—back up. No, it’s not simple. It’s hard and frustrating at times!

What if you want an oatmeal cookie, a pumpkin muffin, some pancakes, a grilled cheese sandwich, or a pizza?

These are the most common questions/comments I get from people who are newly diagnosed with gluten-related issues. Help! Tell me what I can eat. Tell me what bread to buy. How can I possibly survive without wheat? All the gluten-free products taste like ground styrofoam.

I know. I get it. I like pancakes, cookies, and grilled cheese sandwiches, too. And there’s nothing better than a pizza piled high with fresh vegetables.

Here’s the deal, though—those should be occasional treats, not daily indulgences. We thrive on real food, not meals from boxes with futuristic expiration dates. But don’t despair, there are ways to navigate the super market and make wise choices when it comes to gluten-free packaged food.

We have to live in the real world, right? Every once in awhile we’re going to want something we didn’t grow from scratch, hunt down, or buy at the farmer’s market. Here are my top 5 favorite gluten-free products.

Montana PrOatina Gluten-Free Oats
Ingredients: Whole-Grain Rolled Oats (see photo above)
These are 100% whole grain oats and although they’re  processed to some degree, the processing is minimal and done with great care (dry milled, no heat applied). These aren’t your typical oats. They’ve been carefully selected (by nerdy plant scientists) for their high protein content and favorable amino acid profile. They’re also very low in avenin, the peptide thought to be responsible for allergic reactions. Yes, I know—as part of a gluten-free diet, oats are somewhat controversial, but recent research indicates that pure, uncontaminated oats are safe for most people with celiac disease and gluten-related issues. This study found no immune response to avenin in people with celiac disease, but check with your health care provider if you have concerns. It’s often the high fiber content that bothers people and not the protein. Aside from hearty oatmeal, these oats make the best cookies. If you don’t want to do the baking yourself, check out Gluten-Free Prairie. They use these oats for their “Granola Bites” and “Hunger Buster Oatmeal Cookies.” They’re delicious.

Tinkyada Organic Brown Rice Pasta
Ingredients: Organic Brown Rice, Water
I love pesto, but it needs to be tossed into a bowl of pasta for optimal enjoyment. I make pesto out of a variety of different greens, from spinach to mustard micro-greens to baby kale (check out this recipe on my other website, Artful-Aging.com). Tinkyada pasta is the best gluten-free version I’ve found. It’s organic, easy to work with, and never mushy. They also have a great selection of pasta types (spaghetti, elbow, penne, etc.).

Pamela’s Baking & Pancake Mix
Ingredients: Brown Rice Flour, White Rice Flour, Cultured Buttermilk, Natural Almond Meal (may appear as brown flecks), Tapioca Starch, Sweet Rice Flour, Potato Starch, Grainless & Aluminum Free Baking Powder, Baking Soda, Sea Salt, Xanthan Gum
I no longer blend my own gluten-free baking mixes because Pamela’s general baking mix is as good as it gets. This gluten-free mix rivals the best out there, whether gluten-free or not. I’ve use it for pancakes, waffles, muffins, quick-breads, and cookies and haven’t had any trouble substituting it for wheat flour. If you have a nut allergy, this mix is not for you as it contains almond meal.

Canyon Bakehouse 7 Grain Bread
Ingredients: Water, Brown Rice Flour, Tapioca Flour, Whole Grain Sorghum Flour,  Eggs, Organic Agave Syrup, Whole Grain Teff, Whole Grain Millet, Xanthan Gum, Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Sugarcane Molasses, Whole Grain Quinoa, Whole Grain Amaranth, Whole Buckwheat Flour, Yeast, Cultured Brown Rice Flour, Sea Salt, Natural Enzymes
Canyon Bakehouse is a dedicated gluten-free bakery located in Loveland, Colorado. This 7-grain bread is my favorite, all-purpose, ready-made bread. It’s packed with healthy, whole grains like teff, quinoa, and amaranth and has a wheat-like texture. It’s even good without toasting it (the litmus test for good gluten-free bread).

Outside the Breadbox Pizza Crusts
Ingredients: Filtered Water, Tapioca Starch, Brown Rice Flour, Rice Starch, Olive Oil, Organic Tapioca Syrup, Egg White, Turbinado Sugar, Yeast, Xanthan Gum, Sea Salt, Cider Vinegar, Enzymes
Outside The Breadbox is a dedicated gluten-free bakery located in the historic district of Colorado Springs. These 12-inch pizza crusts are easy to prepare and make a delicious, thin crust. They’re hard to come by, especially if you don’t live in Colorado, but you can order them directly from the bakery.

Do you have any favorites that should be on this list?

Peace, love, and occasional treats!
Melissa

Gluten-free tomato and arugula pizza

Gluten-free pizza

Gluten-Free Tomato and Arugula Pizza

I have a half-written blog post on weight loss, carbohydrate and fat metabolism, and mitochondrial dysfunction, but it’s taking me some time to sort through the material and make it marginally readable. I want to share my findings with you, but it’s a tough subject to make entertaining. I’ve discovered some interesting variables in my attempt to get back in shape and lose the weight I gained while co-writing (with endurance athlete Pete Bronski, founder of No Gluten No Problem) a book on gluten-free sports nutrition and training.

Yes, I do see the irony.

Anyway, I know you’re dying to hear all about metabolic flexibility and why boosting the density of your mitochondria will help you burn calories more efficiently, but you’ll have to wait until next week. This whole weight loss thing is not easy, at least not if you plan to keep it off FOREVER. That’s the point, right?

But for now, although not exactly “diet” food, let’s talk about gluten-free pizza. Yes, I know — I have an excessive number of pizza-centered posts here on my blog. Pizza is my comfort food and I’m not afraid of carbs (decent carbs), so I usually make some version of vegetarian pizza at least once a week. This was the “Friday night special” last week. I served it with a nice, semi-chilled glass of red wine. There’s no reason a couple of slices of this pizza can’t be part of a healthy eating plan, especially if you top it with low calorie, nutrient-rich vegetables.

As some of you know, I have a CSA share through Grant Family Farms. It includes organic veggies, fruit, pastured eggs, and micro-greens. I’m loving the micro-greens and have been experimenting with everything from mustard micro-green pesto to komatsuna salads. This recipe is for fresh arugula topped pizza.

Gluten-free tomato and arugula micro-green pizza
what you need
1 package (2 crusts) Udi’s gluten-free pizza crusts (or, your favorite version)
1 to 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 cloves garlic, finely minced (more if you like garlic)
tomatoes, thinly sliced, juice and seeds removed *
sprinkling of cheese
fresh arugula micro greens, about 2 cups washed and dried

what you do
1. Brush the pizza crust with a small amount of olive oil. Don’t use too much, but cover the crust with a thin brushing of oil.
2. Sprinkle with minced garlic and top with sliced tomatoes. I like to use a lot of tomatoes and cover the whole pizza with a single layer.
3. Top with shredded cheese. I used a small amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese on this pizza, but any cheese is fine.
4. Bake according to pizza crust directions. I’ve been baking the pizza on the outside grill because it’s been too hot to turn the oven on. The crust comes out nice and crunchy.
5. Once the pizza is cooked, top with fresh arugula.

* I slice the tomatoes and spin them in my salad spinner to de-juice them. Then I save the juice to add to homemade salad dressings.

Peace, love, and gluten-free pizza!
Melissa

P.S. Stay tuned for mitochondrial density, movement, and weight loss.

 

Mustard micro-green pesto (the best)

Micro-greens are the cute (yes, cute), early versions of most vegetables, leafy greens, and some herbs. They aren’t the same as sprouts. They’re more like baby, leafy-green houseplants that you can eat. Sprouts are grown in water, micro-greens are grown in soil and harvested when the leaves open, but before they mature. The main difference between the two is the size of the root and the length of time before harvest. Although neither take long to grow, sprouts are quicker to reach harvest size.

I love micro greens — partly because they’re fun to experiment with and a nice diversion from regular vegetables, but also because of the vibrant colors, zippy taste, and low calorie nutrition. They pack a lot of nutrients in their tiny leaves and stems. Plus, they really are cute. They’re the puppies of the plant world.

My friends (thank you, Andy) at Grant Family Farms added micro-greens to the CSA share options this season. I jumped on that bandwagon immediately.

These feisty little mustard plants start with a sweet, mellow taste, but finish with a peppery bite. I love them. Here’s what I did with last week’s 20 x 12 tray of mustard micro-greens.

First up — pesto. And, oh-my-gosh, this is the best pesto ever.

Mustard micro-green pesto
what you need
2 cups mustard micro-greens (washed and dried)
2 tablespoons chopped garlic scapes, about 2–3 scapes *
2 tablespoons pine nuts
2–3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh-squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
pinch of sea salt

* I used garlic scapes because they came in my CSA box, but you can use 2 garlic cloves in place of the scapes.

what you do
1. Place micro greens in a food processor. Add garlic scapes (or, peeled and coarsely chopped garlic cloves), pine nuts, and lemon juice and pulse a few times to chop and blend well.
2. Add the Parmesan and slowly add the olive oil while pulsing to reach the consistency you desire. I don’t like pesto to be overly oily, so adjust to your liking.

Serve on grilled salmon, which is what I did the first time I made it and it was divine. The second time, I used it to make grilled pizza (recipe below). Try it on pasta or as a topping for crackers. Pesto is user-friendly. Be creative.

Outdoor grilled pizza with mustard micro-green pesto
what you need
2 Udi’s pizza gluten-free pizza crusts (1 package), or your choice of par-baked pizza crust
mustard micro-green pesto (recipe above)
vegetables (I used cauliflower, asparagus, zucchini, red onions, and tomatoes)
olive oil
Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning
freshly grated Parmesan cheese

what you do
1. Brush outdoor grill with oil and bring to medium heat. Cut vegetables in chunks and place in medium bowl. Drizzle with a small amount of olive oil and sprinkle with Simply Organic All-Purpose Seasoning. Toss to coat.
2. Place vegetables in a grilling basket on the grill. If you don’t have a grilling basket, you can place a piece of tin foil on the grill, spray with oil, and put the veggies on that. Using tongs, turn the vegetables on occasion to prevent burning. They should have a nice brown “grilled” look, but not be burned. Remove to a heat-safe bowl.
4. Spread a layer of pesto on crusts and top with the roasted vegetables. Shred a small amount of fresh Parmesan cheese on top and place pizzas on oiled grill. If you used tin foil while grilling the vegetables, make sure you remove it first. Shut the lid and cook for 6 to 10 minutes. Make sure the bottom of the crust doesn’t burn. You may have to turn the grill temperature down. Keep an eye on it as the bottom can burn quickly.
5. Serve immediately.

Peace, love, and micro-greens!
Melissa

Gluten-free pesto pizza recipe

Gluten-free pesto pizza

This whole Domino’s pizza controversy got me thinking. And experimenting in the kitchen. And baking. And eating.

I won’t weigh in on the Domino’s debate as it’s been hashed-out, bantered around, discussed, argued about, and solved at this point. If you’re interested in a rundown, there have been plenty of gluten-free bloggers dishing up the details.

If you stopped by hoping to see who won the two cookbooks I featured last week (cookbook #1, cookbook #2), the winners haven’t been chosen yet. I plan to give away a few more books over the next two weeks to promote May as Celiac Awareness Month, so stay tuned. I’ll do a final post to wrap things up and announce the winners soon (hopefully the first week in June).

In the meantime, let’s celebrate with gluten-free pizza.

Gluten-free pesto pizza
what you need
prepared gluten-free pizza crust (I used Udi’s)
1/3 cup macadamia nuts (plain, not seasoned)
2 cups loosely packed fresh basil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
sea salt
fresh tomatoes, juiced
kalamata olives, pitted and sliced (just a few, they can be overpowering)

what you do
1. Preheat oven to desired temperature (according to pizza crust directions). Udi’s directions call for a 375 degree oven. Place macadamia nuts in a food processor and pulse until finely ground. Don’t over do it, or you’ll end up with nut butter.
2. Add basil and garlic to processor and pulse a few more time to mix the ingredients.
3. Slowly add the lemon juice and olive oil and continue pulsing. Scrape down the sides of the processor bowl with a spatula to insure even mixing.
4. Add the Parmesan cheese and pulse again. Season with salt.
5. Lightly spread a light, but even layer of pesto on a prepared gluten-free pizza crust.
6. Top with tomatoes and olives. Sprinkled with a small amount of freshly grated Parmesan cheese.
7. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or according to crust directions. Pizza should be lightly browned with cheese melted.
8. Remove from oven, let pizza rest for a couple of minutes, slice, and enjoy!

Note: store the remaining pesto in an airtight container in the refrigerator. It’s delicious on gluten-free pasta, roasted chicken, or crackers.

If you’d like to try making your own crust, Alta at Tasty Eats at Home has a fantastic quinoa pizza crust recipe. I’ve also been experimenting with oat flour to make pizza crusts. I haven’t quite perfected my recipe yet, but there’s a lot of potential with oat flour. Check Gluten-Free Prairie for product details. These are the same wonderful oats I’ve always been in love with.

Next up for the bookapalooza giveaway:

The Anti-Anxiety Food Solution, by Trudy Scott, CN
Go Dairy Free, by Alisa Marie Fleming
Drop the Fat Act & Live Lean, by Ryan D. Andrews, MS, MA, RD, CSCS
Plus some other surprises. Stay tuned.

Peace, love, and homemade gluten-free pizza!
Melissa

my new favorite gluten-free pizza topping

I have a new favorite pizza topping. Actually, two new favorites, although one of them is hard to come by. Remember the quinoa greens? This is a pizza I made with quinoa greens, scallions (my new favorite pizza topping), garlic and tomatoes. If you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you’ll know I like thin crust, gluten-free pizza, but I like it with fresh, wholesome vegetables and I don’t like tomato sauce.

The thinner the crust, the better. Less “bready” calories and I like the crunchy texture of cracker-thin crusts. But you must try pizza with scallions cut the long way and spread out on the crust. They’re over-the-top delicious. Seriously good. The quinoa greens are wonderful as well, but after two deliveries to my local organic market, they’ve disappeared.

Half of the ingredients in these before photos came from my Grant Family Farms CSA veggie share. I’ve been getting the most amazing organic scallions, broccoli, spinach, beets and fresh garlic lately (along with a lot of other nutrient-dense goodies). I used Udi’s Gluten-Free Pizza Crusts, brushed them lightly with olive oil and spread a bunch of chopped garlic over that. Organic, farm-fresh garlic is incredible, especially topped with fresh, sliced tomatoes. I washed the scallions, trimmed the ends (but left them fairly long) and then sliced them the long way. After spreading them over the crust, I topped that with the quinoa greens and a light sprinkling of raw cheddar cheese. I did exactly the same preparation with the other pizza crust (olive oil and fresh garlic), but topped it with broccoli, spinach, beet greens and a sprinkling of cheese.

I baked them in a 375 degree oven for about 12 minutes. Divine!

You might also like some of my other strange pizza combinations.
radicchio and squash pizza (with some extras)
beet pizza, red chile enchilada pizza, BBQ chicken and onion ring pizza, etc.

Or, great ideas from other gluten-free bloggers
flourless pizza with pears, candied bacon and caramelized onions at Simply Gluten Free
To learn to make your own crust, check out Gluten Free Girl (and the chef) for directions and a video

Peace, love and scallions on pizza!
Melissa
P.S. Do you call them scallions or green onions?

 

Udi’s gluten-free pizza party

Look at these beets. Of all the vegetables, beets are the most ardently impassioned (nutritionally speaking). This torrid root vegetable is at the top of my list of vibrant and nutrient-dense super foods. I love beets.

The above mixture made for a surprise hit at my recent Udi’s Gluten-Free ultimate pizza and ski party last Thursday night. The annual SIA Snow Sports Show was here in Denver. I had a pizza party at my house on opening night for ski-rep friends from out of town, shop owners and a few manufacturers. Since I’m gluten-free, my guests are always gluten-free. Why not? Gluten-free isn’t what it used to be, especially when you have help from visionaries like the good folks at Udi’s.

Udi’s Gluten Free Foods is located here in Denver. How lucky is that? I’ve watched their artisanal drift into the gluten-free product world for some time now and have run into Heather (marketing coordinator) and Jillian (social media maven) at various conferences, shows and events. I’ve even done some early taste-tasting at one of their unveiling parties. I don’t do product reviews, book reviews or give-aways on my blog. I decided early on that I didn’t have time for it or enough interest in processed foods to bother with it. I prefer whole foods and if I’m going to advocate for anything, it will be organic plants and my support for local CSAs (community supported agriculture). Having said that, I do use a few pre-made, gluten-free flour mixes on occasion and I’m a huge fan of Udi’s gluten-free pizza crusts. If I use a specific product in a recipe, I say so, but I don’t accept products for blog endorsements. I’m a nutritionist, not a professional blogger.

When I decided to have this pizza party, I knew I’d need to make about 28 to 30 pizzas. If you’ve noticed how popular Udi’s gluten-free crusts are, you’ve probably also noticed that sometimes they’re hard to find. (I think gluten-cootie people are buying them as well. Grrrr.) I have two Whole Foods and one Natural Grocer nearby and they’re often low or out of the crusts. They’re that good. I contacted Jillian a week before the party and asked her if I could order 15 packages of crusts and pick them up myself. I didn’t want to freak out if I couldn’t find enough. Jillian said she’d have the crusts delivered to my house at no charge. To be honest, that wasn’t my plan and I didn’t want them for free (seriously). We emailed back and forth and she finally said, “Hey, we’re Colorado ski and snowboard people here at Udi’s and we know the SIA Show is in town. We just want to contribute to the energy and fun of it all.”

Thank you Udi’s! They delivered 16 packages of gluten-free pizza crusts (32 crusts) to my house, fresh and ready for me to top with my bizarre creations. I don’t make mainstream pizzas.

Pepperoni and cheese? No way.

Roasted beets and beet greens pizza? Delicious.

New Mexican red chile enchilada pizza. OMG!

BBQ chicken and onion ring pizza? Huge hit.

Bacon, LETTUCE and tomato pizza? Another winner.

Plus, I did lots of mixed veggie pizzas with exotic cheeses.

It was a lot of work, much more than I anticipated and even though I have a double oven with convection settings, it wasn’t easy to shuffle 28 pizzas in and out of the ovens. There were too many people here to have a sit-down dinner so I used groovy-looking, palm frond eco plates and forks that eventually went into my composter and lined my dining room table with butcher paper. Easy clean-up. We pulled the pizzas out six at a time, cut them up and slid them onto the butcher paper. People drank local beer and Red Truck wine (not local) and hung around the table testing the weird assortment of pizzas. My guests loved it.

Total success! Thank you Udi’s and thank you Jillian. I would have said good things whether you gave me the crusts or not, but I do appreciate it and love having you in my backyard. Colorado is such a great place to live. Glad you guys live here, too.

gluten-free red chile enchilada pizza
(see top square plate above loaded with 3 pieces of this pizza)

*This was one of my odd-ball creations and it came out great. I made four of these pizzas and didn’t write down a detailed recipe, so I’m generalizing here. You’ll have to adapt the recipe amount to your needs, but use this as a basic guideline.

what you need for the sauce
U
di’s gluten-free pizza crusts
Bueno’s Basic Red Chile Purée (see my recipe instructions below, adapted from Bueno’s)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon gluten-free rice flour (or whatever basic GF flour you have on hand)
sea salt, ground pepper and Mexican oregano
* Make the sauce ahead of time as it needs time to cook and simmer down to the consistency appropriate for a pizza. You want it thicker than traditional red chile sauce. This recipe from Bueno Foods is a good basic one, although I tweaked it slightly. I used a little less water (so the sauce would be a touch thicker), more oregano (I love Mexican oregano), omitted the sugar and used 1 tablespoon of rice flour. Using this recipe as a guideline – heat the oil, saute the onions and garlic, add the flour and mix well. Add the thawed red chile purée, water, Mexican oregano, salt and pepper and blend well. Simmer for an hour or longer. This is what it should look like.

what you need for the topping
shredded, cooked chicken
Hatch canned whole green chiles (1 small, 4 ounce can per pizza)
1/2 cup corn kernels (or more)
1/2 cup black beans, rinsed and drained (or more)
shredded colby-jack cheese

what you do
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. I start with thawed Udi’s pizza crusts.
2. Brush prepared (and warm) red chile sauce on the Udi’s pizza crusts. I used just enough to fully cover the pizzas. You want the flavor and coverage, but you don’t want it wet and sloppy.
3. Place the shredded chicken in a bowl and add 2 or 3 spoonfuls of the red chile sauce to moisten it and add more flavor. Mix well. Place the chicken on the pizza crusts. You don’t need a lot, just enough scattered around so you get a few bites of chicken here and there.
4. Place strips of green chile over the chicken. Make sure you drain the green chile well (pat it with a paper towel so it’s not wet).
5. Sprinkle some well-drained corn kernels and black beans over the pizza.
6. Top with shredded cheese and bake for 10 to 12 minutes. The Udi’s directions say 5 to 7 minutes, but I always cook them longer. I like the cheese to be lightly browned and bubbly. Set the timer for 7 minutes and see what you think. Rotate pizzas and bake for a few more minutes. Watch closely as they can burn and overcook easily.
* Tip: line the bottom of the oven with tin foil to catch the drippings.

You might also like my Udi’s roasted beet, spinach and zucchini pizza. Or, my Udi’s ridacchio and squash pizza.

Peace, fresh powder and Udi’s gluten-free pizza.
Melissa

gluten-free veggie pizza

I figure if I’m going to eat pizza, I better load it up with antioxidant goodness.

Wednesday is my Grant Family Farms CSA pick-up day, so Tuesday nights are often spent making pizza or rice bowls out of the leftover odds and ends in my crisper drawer. It forces me to explore the dark corners of my fridge and make room for the new arrivals. Never one to color inside the lines, I’ve come up with some creative ways to use the tail-end of my farm-fresh food deliveries.

Beet or corn ice cream, anyone? Sweet potato tacos?

How about radicchio, mixed squash and beet pizza?

Radicchio?

Radicchio (see above) is a leafy chicory plant. Most people use it in salads, although I find it bitter. But guess what? If you cook it, the bitter taste disappears and it becomes mellow and slightly sweet. It’s wonderful stuff and according to The Journal of Nutrition, it’s also very high in antioxidants. Right up there with Swiss chard, spinach and broccoli.

Last Tuesday night I dug around in my fridge and found some radicchio, a piece of already cooked corn-on-the-cob, a beet, a small grilling onion, two roasted green chiles, and a few big chunks of delicata, crookneck and zucchini squash. I also had several garden-fresh tomatoes, all from the farm.

Radicchio on pizza? I’ll give it a try. And, how about roasted green chile, black olive, onion, corn and tomato pizza?

All super-healthy ingredients. Every veggie on this list is filled with high-quality antioxidants. That’s a good thing. Our bazillions of hard-working little cells need all the help they can get.

gluten-free antioxidant veggie pizza #1 (see above, top left corner)
what you need
1 gluten-free Udi’s thin pizza crust *
1 & 1/2 tablespoons butter (I prefer organic, pastured, full-tilt butter)
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (1-2 teaspoons)
1 cup thinly sliced ridacchio
1 cup mixed squash chunks (3/4 inch squares)
1 beet, washed and cut into chunks, no need to peel (3/4 inch squares)
cheese (I used a mix of 3 different kinds)

gluten-free antioxidant veggie pizza #2 (above, bottom right corner)
what you need
1 gluten-free Udi’s thin pizza crust *
1 & 1/2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (1-2 teaspoons)
2 roasted green chiles, peeled, de-seeded and chopped
2 tomatoes chopped *
1 can sliced black olives
1/4 cup corn
1/4 cup diced onion
cheese

what you do
1. Because the beets and squash take longer to cook than the pizza itself, I like to roast them first. It also adds a nice taste to the pizza. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared beets and zucchini in a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Gently mix to cover with oil. Spread out the veggies on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast on center rack of the oven for about 15 minutes. Watch closely and flip using a spatula to make sure they’re roasted evenly. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. While the veggies are roasting, melt the butter over low heat, add the garlic and honey and stir until blended.
3. Brush the melted butter-garlic-honey blend over the pizza crust. Add the ingredients, sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and cook in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Cut into 4 slices and enjoy! Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are.

Melissa’s cooking notes (if you dare):

* Udi’s is a local gluten-free product company. These crusts are thin, delicious and store well in the freezer. This is one of the few pre-made, gluten-free products that I buy. I love them!

* Put the ridacchio on first so it doesn’t burn (that goes for ingredients like kale as well, they tend to cook faster than the big chunky ingredients).

* When I use tomatoes for cooking and don’t want the extra liquid, I chop them and spin them in my salad spinner to get rid of the excess moisture. Then I save the juice and use it in my homemade salad dressings.

* Photos above are the “before” versions. I dislike messing with my camera when it’s time to sit down and enjoy dinner.

Peace, love and antioxidant goodness!
Melissa

gluten-free spinach beet zucchini pizza

Pizza — laden with roasted golden beets, zucchini and vitamin-K-packed SPINACH.

I picked up my CSA delivery box this past week and guess what I found inside?

Whoa, how did you know?

Spinach, glorious deep-green spinach. And lots of it.

I’m not complaining because it’s the best spinach on the planet. It’s just that you have to get very creative with your recipe development when you’re in the deep-end of spinach season. Beet, zucchini and spinach pizza, anyone? Trust me, this was over-the-top delicious. But, before I launch into the recipe, please humor me (or skip this part) and let me wallow in my geek-ness.

Ready?

I have a theory about hearty greens (like spinach and kale) and celiac disease and gluten-intolerance.

Celiac disease is a genetically predisposed autoimmune disease in which gluten (the main storage protein in wheat, barley and rye) wreaks havoc on the small intestine, inhibiting nutrient absorption. That’s the super-duper, shortened definition. If you want the unabridged version, leave me a comment and I’ll fill you in on anything and everything you might want to know about celiac disease and gluten-intolerance. But for now, my theory about spinach and it’s role in healing.

Spinach is one of the most nutrient-dense (calorie for calorie) foods available. I bet the deep-green, leafy, organic stuff I get from Grant Family Farms is on the far-side of pharmaceutical grade. It’s packed with vitamin K – 1110% of the recommended daily value. It also contains a zillion other health-promoting nutrients, but to keep this post from becoming a thesis paper, I’m going to focus on vitamin K and celiac disease.

Without getting into the poopy (literally) details, unmanaged celiac disease can cause nutrient malabsorption. Fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E, and K), iron, folic acid and a large part of our calcium are absorbed in the proximal section (the top part) of the small intestine. That’s the area that receives the most damage when you have celiac disease. If you have a trashed small intestine and you’re not breaking down your food adequately or absorbing your nutrients efficiently, you won’t be absorbing your fats (to make a long story short). If you’re not absorbing your fats, you won’t be absorbing your fat soluble vitamins. If you’re not absorbing your fat soluble vitamins, you won’t get the full benefit of vitamin K.

This is a generality. Our bodies are amazing and we compensate in many different ways, but if you become deficient in vitamin K, your blood may not clot properly. Isn’t it interesting that our blood has this amazing ability to flow quickly throughout the body; up and down and all around? Think about it, it remains a flowing liquid. But if you cut yourself, it can become a solid within seconds. Whew, that’s a good thing. If blood didn’t clot, one pinprick could drain the entire body of all its blood. Imagine a water balloon with one tiny little hole in it. Eventually all the water would slowly drain from the balloon.

Does anyone out there bruise or bleed easily? Anyone with celiac disease? Hmmm?

Vitamin K also plays a role in the synthesis of bone proteins. Without adequate vitamin K, the bones produce a funky protein that can’t bind to the minerals that normally form bones. You see, it’s not just the calcium you need for strong bones, it’s also vitamin K (and a bunch of other things, including exercise).

Anyone with osteopenia or osteoporosis? And celiac disease? Hmmm?

One more geeky thing (maybe two) and I’ll get on to the pizza recipe. Vitamin K can also be obtained from a nonfood source. GI tract bacteria can synthesize vitamin K, but you need to have a healthy balance of intestinal bacteria for that to happen. Antibiotics also kill the vitamin K producing bacteria, so there are lots of ways to become deficient, especially if you have celiac disease.

Now, don’t go taking vitamin K supplements unless your doctor prescribes them. Fat-soluble vitamins aren’t excreted as easily as water-soluble vitamins, so the risk of toxicity is much greater. I’m a big fan of getting my nutrients from high-quality food. This kind of focus is called nutrition therapy – this is what I do and this is how I live (most of the time, anyway).

So, let thy food be thy medicine and go eat some spinach!

gluten-free, spinach, roasted beet and zucchini pizza
what you need

1 gluten-free pizza crust (I used an Udi’s pre-made thin crust on this pizza)
1 & 1/2  tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
squeeze of honey (maybe 1-2 teaspoons)
2 small golden beets, scrubbed, trimmed and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes (no need to peel)
1 zucchini, washed and chopped into 3/4 inch cubes
2 cups spinach, washed, stemmed and chopped
grated cheese (I like a mix of  shredded Parmesan, Romano and Asiago)

what you do
1. Because the beets and zucchini take longer to cook than the pizza itself, I like to roast them first. It also adds a nice taste to the pizza. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place the prepared beets and zucchini in a medium-sized bowl and drizzle with a small amount of olive oil. Gently mix to cover with oil. Spread out the veggies on a lightly oiled cookie sheet and sprinkle with sea salt. Roast on center rack of the oven for about 15 minutes. Watch closely and flip using a spatula to make sure they’re roasted evenly. Remove from oven and set aside.
2. While the veggies are roasting, melt the butter over low heat, add the garlic and honey and stir until blended.
3. Brush the melted butter-garlic-honey blend over the pizza crust. Add chopped spinach first, then beets and zucchini. Sprinkle shredded cheese over the top and cook in 375 degree oven for 10 to 12 minutes or until the cheese is lightly browned. Remove from oven and let rest for 5 minutes.
4. Cut into 4 slices and enjoy! Serves 1 or 2, depending on how hungry you are.

* I’ve also made this pizza with red beets, but I kept the beets separate while preparing them so that everything else didn’t turn pink (not that it matters).

Udi’s is a local company. The pizza crusts are gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free, nut-free and delicious. Gluten-cootie-eaters don’t even know they’re gluten-free. No apologizing, no explaining needed!

Peace, love and vitamin K!
Melissa

Disclaimer: All material on this website is provided for informational and educational use only and should not be used for diagnostic purposes. Consult with your physician regarding any health or medical concerns you may have.
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