Is gdfree pizza & pasta any good?

I must resist baking today and post a nice savoury recipe for you readers out there. The thing is I suppose it seems more difficult to bake gdfree than to cook gdfree because there are a lot of regular meals that are gdfree anyway. Most Asian dishes, roast dinners, shepherds pie, salads, omelettes, rice dishes etc etc are all naturally gdfree – so what’s difficult about regular cooking gdfree you ask?

One obvious problem is with most Italian food – pizza and pasta. Pasta is much easier to replace with a nice gf pasta alternative than you might think. I remember a few years ago when I first started dabbling with gluten free pasta a lot of it was pretty nasty. It would go all squishy when you cooked it and had a distinct cornflour type of flavour. I could always tell the difference between normal and gluten free.

But now, 4 years later, my goodness there a lot of great gluten free pastas out there, it’s amazing really.

My favourite brands are: Le Veneziane is the winner on taste and variety of what’s available. You can get love  ly taglietelle, there’s penne & fussili as you’d expect, lasagne, smaller soup pastas and of course spaghetti. I find it sometimes in Waitrose, online at Ocado, at Tescos and whenever I see it I grab as much as I can! I also really like Hale & Heartys rigatoni and they also do a penne. They make various different types from a mix of either corn, rice of buckwheat. You can get it online and from independents (they also do bread mixes and other baking ingredients). And then there’s Garofalo: they do a lovely linguine and a spaghetti as well as a penne and a nice curvy type called casarecce. Dove’s Farm do a wide range aswell and then all the supermarkets do their own supermarket brand and I prefer the Sainsbury’s one.

Try them out, honestly you’ll be impressed, it really is hard to tell the difference with the good ones and once you’re used to them you won’t feel the need to change back.

Onto pizza. Now this is much more difficult to get right.

IMG_7943
My gdfree pizza experiments today

You can get some basic margarita cheese & tomato gluten free pizzas in the ready made frozen section at the supermarkets and they’re not totally inedible but they’re really not great. And obviously if you’re off dairy too then they’re a no-go.

So most supermarkets stock (in the freefrom bread section) some ready made gluten free pizza bases which is a good option because you can then top it with whatever you want. I tend to keep some in the freezer for those emergency can’t-be-bothered-to-cook pizza moments. I make my own pesto (minus the parmesan) or a nice rich tomato sauce and then chuck on every single yummy veg, olive, herb and meat I have lurking the fridge.

Domino’s do an ok gluten free one you can order, it only comes in a small size but you can choose some variety of toppings and they will do it with no cheese if you ask. Again, not amazing though, but good if you’re in an order-pizza-now type of mood.

So what’s a better option? Make your own?

And I have to admit something here – I never have done. I have been researching and have saved a load of amazing looking recipes on my Pinterest page which you should take a look at if you’re interested. There a recipes for sweet potato, cauliflower, millet, polenta, oat and even courgette made pizza bases. You name it, if you’re creative enough apparently you can make a pizza base out of it!

So you know what, as I’m writing this I’m full of cold, as are 2 out of my 3 children, and so we’ve had a pretty lousy stuck at home sort of half term holiday this week. Boo. We were planning to go into London today but none of us have the energy. Waste of a week….sigh. But I’m thinking it would be a fun activity for us to try as a family to get to work on some of these gluten free pizza base options….so this is going to be a ‘live’ blog post today!

Pizza 1 Sweet Potato Crust

  • Servings: large
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Took the recipe for this one from www.thesoccermomblog.com as I have lots of sweet potatoes in the cupboard and it seems easy:

3-4 medium sweet pots, peeled, boiled & mashed
90g almond flour
tsp of dried herbs: basil/oregano/garlic granules/turmeric/seasalt
1 egg
1tbsp apple cider vinegar

  1. Mix it all together in a blender until it turns into a loose dough then shape into a circle onto a lined baking sheet
  2. Bake for 30mins at 180c before topping and then baking again for another 10mins

Verdict:

  • Making crust was easy, smelt yummy and was easy to work with.
  • Dough seems soft but after cooking had hardened a bit and looks a lovely colour.
  • Tasted really good but you need a fork to eat it with as it’s not ‘hard’ enough.
  • Would make it again though and call it a tart rather than a pizza.
  • You could try toppings like caramelised onions, curried chicken or even make it a breakfast type of tart with egg, bacon and avocado mmmmmm

Pizza 2 Gram Flour & Olive Oil Crust

  • Servings: large
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

I completely made this one up and so it will probably be a disaster:

200g gram flour
100g rice flour
1tsp xantham gum
tsp paprika, s&p
tbsp apple cider vinegar
2 eggs
4tbsp olive oil
2tbsp water until it comes into a pliable dough

  1. Mix it all together in a blender until it turns into a sticky dough then shape into a circle  onto a lined baking sheet
  2. Bake for 20mins at 180c before topping and then baking again for another 10mins

Verdict:

  • Making crust was easy, dough eventually came together and was easy to work with
  • Dough seemed bread-like and after cooking has gone crispy.
  • Actually it was too hard and chewy and too thick, although the taste was fine.
  • Needs more work!

Pizza 3 Quinoa Crust

  • Servings: large
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Took the recipe for this one from Going Grainless blog as I have a huge bag of quinoa flour to use:

130g quinoa flour
100g potato starch (recipe said tapioca starch but didn’t have that)
tsp of dried herbs: basil/oregano/garlic granules/turmeric/seasalt
tsp baking powder
tbsp apple cider vinegar
4tbsp water (after adding water it was much too liquid so then added…
100g quinoa to try to thicken it back up to a dough)

  1. Mix it all together in a blender until it turns into a loose very sticky dough then shape into a circle (easier said than done!) onto a lined baking sheet
  2. Bake for 12mins at 180c before topping and then baking again for another 10mins

Verdict:

  • Making crust was hard, couldn’t get the right consistency.
  • As mentioned above after adding the water the dough was too liquid so adding some raw quinoa thinking this would thicken it and it sort of did.
  • But dough was still incredible sticky and smelt strange.
  • After cooking it looked pretty yuk, smelt yuk and tasted yuk so I binned it!

It’s funny but it makes me questions all these ‘alternative’ pizza bases because I read so much about them and see so many lovely pictures of them (and think mine look pretty good in the pictures too right?!) but actually are they really any good? You read things like ‘best pizza ever made with cauliflower!!!’ and click on the link to the site and it all looks very convincing but I suppose taste is the only real true verdict you can count on.

It actually, ironically, makes me realise that the pre-made supermarket bought bases are actually not that bad ha ha!!! That’s perspective for you.

Looks like I’m going to have to give it some more time and experimenting to see if I can get it anywhere close to right! Cauliflower will be on my shopping list for next week.

 

9 thoughts on “Is gdfree pizza & pasta any good?

  1. Hi Abi

    Just like to say how interesting and helpful I am finding your blog and appreciating all the hard work you must be putting into for the benefit of others – a big thank you.

    I have Hashimotos too and haven’t actually gone GF yet but am reading up on it just to see how difficult it would really be to do. I did read an article in the paper the other day which said how the supermarkets are charging a good bit extra because it is GF when in fact if you look in the normal aisles you will find the same product much cheaper because it is naturally GF anyway. One example they gave was tomato sauce.

    Keep up the good work – we use cauliflower rice to go with our curries etc and you would not know any different – very similar to a cous cous. There are people on the diabetic sites who use cauliflower as a base for pizza and swear by it so give it a go and see what you think.

    Hannah

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    1. That’s a really nice thing to say Hannah, thanks so much. It’s a strange thing blogging because you’re never really sure who you’re reaching! I’m glad to be reaching you and I’m very glad you’re finding my ramblings and experiments helpful! It is definitely a big step going gluten free and I wouldn’t bother if it weren’t for how bad my digestive problems were. Do you suffer too? And yes it is definitely more expensive for bread and pasta and biscuits and things like that but that’s the only stuff I buy ‘freefrom’. I saw the same program the other day about tomato ketchup and I’ve also seen things like gf mayonnaise and gf pesto – neither of which have gluten in in the first place! You have to know your stuff I suppose and a lot of people can be easily mis-directed. Good luck with your decision making, let me know if I can be any more help or if you’d like to me research anything in particular for you, Ax

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      1. Thanks Abi – I do suffer digestive problems (big time!) as I have an Hiatus Hernia – I suffer from acid-reflux. I do take a PPI every day which I understand isn’t really very good for thyroid but i have no choice as i have have had some damage done to my gullet and have to be checked for that every couple of years. i don’t want that to get worse so scared not to take the PPI.

        The other thing I would like to ask you is what kind of symptoms do/did you get when you have a Hashi’s flare-up? A few weeks ago i started with awful anxiety-type symptoms e.g. palps, trembling etc. At the time i just put it down to anxiety and stress from an awful stressful year that I had last year. The GP gave me beta blockers which do help a lot when I get the palps. Since then i have had private blood tests done whereby my antibodies came back quite high confirming I have Hashi’s and so I am wondering if these attacks have been Hashi attacks. does this ring any bells with you?

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  2. My mum has a hiatus hernia too and so I know how uncomfortable that is and how much acid you get. Horrid. I take omeperazole too as I get a lot of night time acid that wakes me up and then I suffer with insomnia. I feel the same about not taking it too, I think I need to give it some time to heal my gut before I trial being off it. Also I have had similar anxiety panic attack type symptoms on and off for years actually so I sympathise with you there. I hate the out-of-control feeing it leaves me with. I was on anti-depressants for a long time but now I know it’s part of Hashis. You will always have hyper as well as hypo symptoms with Hashis, it’s such a roller coaster disease, and what you’re experiencing is your body temporarily having hyper symptoms. Racing heart, palpitations, feeling manic, panic attacks, hot flushes – they are all related. I often get them at night which is awful. I thought it was an allergy reaction to something I’d eaten but after all my tests were inconclusive I now just take a precautionary anti-histamine before I go to bed and it seems to work although I don’t know why! What meds has your doc put you on out of interest?

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    1. Hi Abi

      Regarding your acid control – you are doing the right thing by controlling it as I have done some damage to my cells and so they do check me every 3 years now to make sure all ok. I would have thought that maybe going GF would help in getting rid of the reflux as I have heard many say that it has helped them so I hope you see a difference in that problem too.

      You describe it all so well and i just never thought that it could be connected with my thyroid until I had the Hashis diagnosis from the antibody tests. I just thought it was all stress related as i had had a bereavement last year (brother) and my husband also had open heart surgery a month after my brother died so a lot of worry and stress. I was doing reasonably well until I began to feel awfully unwell towards the end of last year.

      To answer your question my GP offered me anti-depressants and i tried them but they gave me awful side-effects so did not stay on them very long. She then gave me Propranolol (sp) which are beta blockers. I have them at the lowest dose of 10 mg. These have calmed me down really well – they get rid of palps and heart racing etc – I only take 2 per day – one at night and one first thing in the morning and it has sorted out those symptoms really well. What is also good about them is that you can take them on a ‘as you need them’ basis and are non-addictive. However, i do see them as just a prop until I can get myself sorted (hence researching GF etc) and then I hope to come off them and maybe just keep some handy and use them as necessary. I also get a slight off-balance feeling some days – do you have that symptom? What kind of anti-histimines have you tried? Are you finding that by going GF that your flare-ups have disappeared etc?

      Regarding GF – what kind of cereals and bread do you have – are oats such as porridge ok?

      Sorry for all the questions but lovely to talk one to one to someone suffering the same things.

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  3. Oh no I love all the questions, I’ve been on this journey a bit longer than you and more than happy to share anything I may have learnt with you and other readers! Gosh it sounds like you’ve had an awful year of stress and no wonder your symptoms are so anxiety related. I think when you’re body is weakening itself from the inside any external stress is going to be the first thing to affect you physically and then mentally and then emotionally. It took me a long time to attribute all my ‘other’ symptoms, that I thought were unrelated, to thyroid disease but then when I made the link it all made so much sense. I only hope that my fixing my gut I will see an ‘eventual’ improvement in flare-ups and day-to-day symptoms but I know it’s going to take a while. Years even. The anti-histamine I take is ceterizine-hydrochloride it’s just a standard over the counter one. No I haven’t had the off balance feeling before, maybe that’s related to inner ear symptoms, do you get tinnitus? And re food: I make my own granola with an oat base and any seeds/nuts/dried fruit I fancy mixed with maple syrup and baked for 20mins – really easy, which I have with coconut milk and fruit for breakfast. For bread I sometimes try to make my own but not a good success rate so far (!) so sometimes I use pre-made mixes, or I buy the Biona millet or buckwheat bread which is a bit like german rye bread, I LOVE the Kelkin sourdough brand and then I sometimes grab a loaf of Genius or Warburtons fresh sliced which are ok. Also there’s a brand called BFree which do sandwich thins and wraps which are also great. If you take a look on one of my posts last week I listed some of my store cupboard ingredients which might be useful for you to print out and take shopping with you!

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    1. Yes I do suffer from Tinnitus so maybe that is where it is coming from.

      Thanks for the advice re the granola – I have bought some GF muesli from M&S but haven’t tried that one yet.

      Where do you get the Kelkin bread (love sourdough) – I normally shop at Sainsburys? I have my own bread machine and so bake most of my ordinary bread – I do a 100 per cent stoneground wholemeal one with pumpkin, linseed, sesame, sunflower and poppy seeds added. But, of course that would be no good for GF. You can buy the GF bread flour but again have never tried it. Interested in your Kelkin one though. Also where do you get the Bfree wraps and thins?

      I meant to say to you that I did get the palps/anxiety at night as well – sometimes waking up in the middle of the night with it but that has subsided with the BB’s.

      I am also taking some very strong probiotics (from Holland and Barrett) which do really help with healing the gut too. I also only ever buy Organic milk (semi-skilled) as that has more iodine in it plus other omegas etc which are good for the thyroid. As I type this I have just remembered that you are dairy-free as well so not a lot of help to you lol.

      Would you be able to tell me what other symptoms you have in your flare-ups beside the anxiety/palps etc?

      Phil Vickery (from This Morning) did a GF recipe book back along that a lot of people said was very good so that may be worth a look too.

      Yes a tough year last year and that is why I didn’t know what was causing what in the end!

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      1. I shop online at either Tesco or Ocado and you can get the Bfree and Kelkin bread from there easily. Just buy lots as it’s freezable! And you should look up gf bread baking recipes for your bread machine, I know there are some good books out there – you’ll just have to change a couple of ingredients. Phil Vickery’s book is ok but it is generally recipes that are gf anyway and I find it more challenging to recreate foods that I love that are full of gluten & dairy originally and then I try to make them successful gdfree versions, if that makes sense. I don’t just want to be told to eat roast dinner or salad every day if you know what I mean! Have a read of my About page on the blog where I go into much more detail about all my symptoms (too many to bore you with here!) and also look on my Health Updates section where I will be charting my progress with how I’m feeling. Think you’ll find that interesting x

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      2. Hi Abi

        I have just read your Health Blog and updates and my goodness you have a lot going on there. I do feel for you as the IBS alone sounds absolutely horrible. The FODMAP diet sounds a nightmare and I would imagine very few can stick with that.

        i will have a look at Tescos to see if i can see the Belkin bread.

        I was thinking the same as you did that maybe if I went on a mainly GF diet then that is bound to help but it does seem you have to do it 100 per cent or not at all. I wonder how long the gland takes to get destroyed as it seems that then we will know some peace with it!!

        I was also severely deficient in Vit D and i must say since I have got my levels into the normal range I do feel so much better – no aches in the hips and not nearly so low in mood.

        I will follow your Blog with interest and i so hope that you feel a lot better with going GF and dairy free. You are doing a great job in doing all of the experimenting with these recipes so that the rest of us can find an easier path.

        Good luck and I will keep in touch

        love Hannah xx

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