Pizza, Pizza: You CAN have your cake and eat it too

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Written By

Rhea Dali

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Expert Reviewed By

Dr. Lauryn Lax, OTD, MS

Dr. Lauryn, OTD, MS is a doctor of occupational therapy, clinical nutritionists and functional medicine expert with 25 years of clinical and personal experience in healing from complex chronic health issues and helping others do the same.

 

Weekend nights and pizza go hand in hand like peanut butter and jelly…Lucy and Ethel…and

 

As a kid growing up, most Friday and Saturday nights entailed a handful festivities:

 

A TGIF marathon (“Thank Goodness It’s Friday” TV programming that included 4 different 30-minute teeny-bopper sit-coms, such as “Saved by the Bell”; “Family Matters”, “Step by Step” and “Boy Meets World”).

 

Friday night lights: football games.

 

A sleepover with one of my many best friends.

 

Saturday night birthday parties.

 

Movie nights with my 20 other ‘best friends’ from my 6th and 7th grade class.

 

And takeout pizza.

 

Little Cesars, Papa Johns, Dominoes—I was not picky, as long as it was cheese (please!).

 

 

Then…I grew up…and realized the stomach aches, gas, bloating, and constipation I frequently experienced was attributed to more than ‘just how my body is.’

 

Lactose intolerance– an impaired ability to digest lactose, a sugar found in milk and other dairy products.

 

Couple this with wheat sensitivity, presenting with symptoms like foggy brain, more bloating and constipation, and…

 

Womp, womp: Not pretty.

 

While pizza certainly tasted good, it didn’t make me feel good—and I’ll venture to say, I am not alone in this dilemma.

 

In fact: Approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy and 18-million Americans (about 1 in 6) have wheat sensitivities.

 

 

So what’s a girl to do who enjoys a slice of pie, but doesn’t want to experience the repercussions of indigestion (i.e. abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea, and diarrhea)?

 

Paleo MD Pizza to the rescue!

 

 

The first “convenient”, “delivery” pizza of its kind: Paleo MD Pizza is a local Ohio-based business, gone national, founded by a brother and sister team: Patricia and Dani Urcuyo.

 

I first stumbled across the sibling duo at Paleo f(x) in Austin last year and tried a sample of their homemade secret sauce and was blown away.

 

Mama Mia! It tasted like the real thing.

 

The base ingredients of each pie include: Tapioca flour crust, cashew and nutritional yeast-based “cheese”, and a variety of Italian spices and fresh vegetables, and nitrate-free meats. In as little as 20-30-minutes, consumers have fresh, cheesy pizza on their dinner plates without so as much as crushing an almond, or chopping a bell pepper.

 

Patricia shared her story with me—the inspiration behind the company’s founding:

 

“The founding of PaleoMD Pizzas was a long time coming—technically about 25-years in the making—my age. I struggled with an unhealthy relationship with food while growing up. I would binge on junk food, which would make me unhappy and then I would continue to eat junk food as a coping mechanism for my unhappiness. Occasionally I would have a good streak of eating better and working out, but I’d always fall back into bad eating habits. It was a cycle that I could never really break,” she said.

 

Adding, “It wasn’t until 2013, when I was in college that my brother Dani, who was in medical school, learned about many diseases that could be prevented, treated, and cured by a healthy diet and lifestyle—and he shared his newfound knowledge with the fam. He began cooking real food at home, and shortly thereafter, as a family we decided to take this on. Not surprisingly, we all started to feel better as a family.”

 

During the Urcuyo’s real-food journey, they realized that they really missed pizza. Although there were many gluten free and even some gluten AND dairy free pizzas out there, they were filled with artificial additives and ingredients they couldn’t pronounce. So the family went to work in the kitchen. Soon after, their PaleoPizza was born in 2014 and they began serving their local community.

 

Necessity is the mother of all invention.

 

 

Fast forward to this past month, and the company recently launched their online store—now delivering pizzas to people like you and me around the country.

 

Looking for a quality (convenient) pie? Consider trying this one out with this 10% off discount code.

 

On a side note, if you’re feeling inventive in the kitchen, why not make your own?

 

For the lactose intolerant sufferers out there, there is this amazing substitute called Nutritional Yeast and/or cashew cheese that taste just like cheese!

 

Don’t believe me?

 

I didn’t either.

 

Cashews and cheese?

 

Puh-lease!

 

Try it for yourself:

 

Cashew Mozzarella Cheese

 

Ingredients

1/4 cup raw cashews

1 cup of hot water

2 ½ tablespoons of tapioca flour

1/2 teaspoon nutritional yeast (Preferably B12 fortified)

¾ teaspoon of sea salt

1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice

 

Directions

  1. Wash the cashews and soak in water for at least an hour or longer
  2. Put all ingredients into a high speed blender and blend for about a minute until creamy.
  3. Pour the blended cashew mixture into a small saucepan and cook, stirring constantly over medium heat until the mixture thickens and looks like melted cheese. Let cool slightly and spread over the tomato sauce on your pizza.

 

Basic Cashew Cheese (Spread Like)

 

Ingredients

1/2 c raw cashews, soaked overnight

1 TBSP coconut oil

½ c water

 

Directions

Place the raw cashews into a bowl of room temperature water so that it covers the cashews, drape a paper towel or tea towel over the bowl to prevent dust settling, and soak overnight. Place the soaked cashews, ½ cup fresh water, and coconut oil into a blender and blend until smooth.

 

 What is Nutritional Yeast?!

 

As for “how to” use nutritional yeast (another cheese substitute)—I had heard of it before…but was unsure of what it really was or how to use it!

 

In short:

 

Yeast, like mushrooms, is a fungus so it is considered vegan. It’s related to brewer’s yeast which is used to make beer. The yeast is grown on a food source, where it is then harvested, heated, dried and crumbled into flakes or powdered. This process also deactivates the yeast, so it cannot be used in baking as a leavening agent.

 

These crispy golden flakes have a mild nutty and cheesy flavor, which makes it a great substitute for cheese in some recipes.

 

Buy a non-GMO version online or at a store like Whole Foods (or other natural grocer); and simply sprinkle in a variety of dishes for the cheese tastes you miss (without the digestive backfire):

 

A few brands to check out:

 

 

Sari Foods

 

Kal

 

Hoosier Hill Farm

 

How to Use Nutritional Yeast

 

  1. Add a taste of “parmesan” to spaghetti squash “pasta”, popcorn, kale chips. For a nutty flavor, in a food processor, process equal parts nutritional yeast and walnuts, plus salt to taste until a fine powder forms. Sprinkle on your food and enjoy.
  2. Mash into a baked potato. Load a spud with nutritional yeast plus nitrate free bacon, chives and some olive oil. Or for a Mediteranean flavor, create a paste made from roasted garlic and nutritional yeast, and then drizzle it with plenty of olive oil.
  3. Concoct a creamy, cheesy sauce. Miss mac and cheese? Or grilled cheese? Quesadillas? No problem with this recipe here from Preppy Paleo. Add to zucchini or sweet potato noodles, spaghetti squash or atop some homemade almond flour bread or tortillas.
  4. Swirl into pesto. Nutritional yeast adds nutty, salty deliciousness to basil pesto.
  5. Add to eggs. Miss cheesy omelets? No more! Combine your yeast with spinach, mushrooms, broccoli ior any other veggie of choice for a savory flavor.
  6. Stir into soups or chili. Whisk in a handful of nutritional yeast to amp up the flavor and get a slightly thicker, creamier texture.
  7. Sprinkle on healthy chips. Try adding it to beet, kale, sweet potato, or zucchini chips.

 

And now on to the MAIN event: non-gut-inflammatory (wheat-free) pizza crust! Here are three kid-tasted, THRIVE approved pizzas to try making at home—each with a unique pie base. Experiment:

 

Primal Cravings Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup potato starch
  • 1 Tablespoon coconut flour
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (plus more for baking stone)
  • 1 egg

 

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400º F.
  2. Mix all ingredients together until well blended. Dough will be somewhat runny and spreadable.
  3. Drizzle additional olive oil on baking stone and spread to cover.
  4. Pour dough onto baking stone and carefully spread to desired shape. Make it thin!
  5. Bake for 16-18 minutes.
  6. When crispy, remove from oven. Crust should be able to be lifted off pan in one piece.

 

Top with sauce or toppings and return to oven to finish baking as desired.

 

Practically Paleo Cauliflower Pizza Crust (primal)

Ingredients

  • ½ Large head of cauliflower (or 2+ cups shredded cauliflower)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 cup finely shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • ½ tsp dried minced garlic
  • ½ tsp onion powder

 

 

Directions

  1. Shred your head of cauliflower with a grater. You can also use a food processor for this step, just make sure that the cauliflower is shredded and not pureed.
  2. Once all the cauliflower is shredded, place into a microwave-safe bowl and microwave for about 8 minutes until cauliflower is soft. No water is needed for the cauliflower to steam in the microwave. Allow cauliflower to cool.
  3. Preheat the oven to 450° and prepare a baking sheet or pizza pan for the crust. Lightly spray with cooking spray.
  4. Mix your cauliflower crumbles (about 1.5 cups because it shrinks after steaming) with the egg, cheese, and spices.
  5. When the mixture is thoroughly combined, pour onto baking sheet and “pat” into a round crust. Lightly spray crust with cooking spray.
  6. Place crust in oven for about 15 minutes until golden and edges have become crispy.
  7. Remove from oven and top with sauce and your favorite toppings (cheese if you like, tomato sauce, turkey, pepperoni, chicken, veggies, pineapple, etc.) Turn oven to broil and bake until cheese is melted and bubbly, about 5 minutes.

 

Meatza

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground beef or ground turkey
  • Seasonings of choice (such as: Italian seasoning, basil, oregano, garlic, salt, pepper and other herbs)
  • Toppings of choice (optional: steam sautéed broccoli, bell pepper strips, black olives, fresh spinach or kale, zucchini, asparagus, pineapple, nitrate-free pepperoni, scrambled sausage, ham, leftover chicken, goat cheese or mozzarella, mushrooms etc.)
  • Jar or Pasta/Pizza sauce

 

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees
  2. In medium bowl, mix the ground meat with spices
  3. Mix well by hand until incorporated
  4. Make the meat crust. Divide the meat in half, roll into a ball, and press evenly into an 8- or 9-inch round pie pan. Cover only the bottom of the pan and smooth the meat with damp hands until it’s an even thickness. Repeat with the other piece of “crust.”
  5. Bake for 10-15 minutes, until the meat is cooked through and the edges are brown. Leaving the oven on, remove the crusts from the oven and allow to cool in the pan.
  6. Make your meatza. Cover a large baking sheet with parchment paper or aluminum foil and place the meat crusts on the baking sheet.
  7. Spread about 1/4 cup sauce on each meat crust, leaving a 1/2-inch border around the edges.
  8. Arrange the vegetables on top, pressing them gently into the sauce.
  9. Pop the pizza back into the oven for 10-15 minutes, until hot and browned to your liking.

 

Try them all for yourself, and see which one you like best!

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