Monday, February 28, 2011

Pumpkin-flax granola, and healthy granola bars


I've been meaning to attempt a healthy, low-carb granola for a while now. My husband is taking a long plane ride tomorrow, so I figured it was as good an excuse as any to whip up some granola bars for his trip. This does have some soy in the form of TVP (texturized vegetable protein), but you could easily just replace it with more nuts and seeds. Or, perhaps make the flakes from this cereal recipe. Or use whey protein crisps. It's up to you!

You could really use whatever mix of nuts and seeds you prefer, and play around with the spices as well. You could also mix in dried fruit and/or chocolate chips when you're done. In retrospect, I wish I had added cacao nibs and perhaps sunflower seeds. This particular recipe was inspired by Nature's Path pumpkin-flax granola.

A couple tips:
-It is important to have all of your ingredients prepped and measured before beginning, trust me. 
-The granola bar recipe makes the chewy style of bars. They are a bit delicate, so I highly recommend keeping them in the fridge. 

PUMPKIN FLAX GRANOLA
Makes 4-5 cups

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 Tbs fat of choice (I used coconut oil)
  • 1 cup dry TVP 
  • 1 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (make sure it is FLAKES, not shredded coconut)
  • 1 cup sliced almonds
  • 1 cup chopped pecans
  • 1 cup pepitas (raw, immature pumpkin seeds)
  • 6 Tbs flax meal
  • 2 Tbs sesame seeds
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp pumpkin pie spice or apple pie spice or nutmeg
  • 3 Tbs sugar-free syrup of choice. I used this syrup recipe, but I used only 1/4 tsp maple extract plus 1/4 tsp molasses and 1/2 tsp pumpkin pie spice. You could also use a storebought syrup, such as one of these. Or use honey or maple syrup if you can deal with the carbs
  • Powdered sweetener of choice (I used erythritol plus two stevia packets, you could alternately use Truvia or Splenda), to taste or up to 1/3 cup. 1/3 cup will have the level of sweetness of most commercial granolas, but I like mine much less sweet.
  • Large pinch of salt
  • Optional: 1 fresh raw egg white, if you prefer a clumpy granola
DIRECTIONS
  1. Warm the coconut oil or other fat in a large Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the dry TVP and cook, stirring, for a minute or two or until the oil is mostly absorbed.
  2. Add the coconut, almonds, pecans, sesame seeds, salt, and spices. Stir until well-combined.
  3. Add powdered sweetener to taste. It should be slightly less sweet than you like, as you will be adding the syrup.
  4. When well-blended, add the syrup and stir. The syrup will likely evaporate. Taste and adjust seasoning, adding more salt or sweetener if desired.
  5. Take off the heat and immediately stir in the flax meal.
  6. For a clumpy granola, follow these directions. Otherwise, just bake at 300 degrees. In either case, check on it every ten minutes. Mine was done after about 35 minutes.
GRANOLA BARS
Makes 6-8 bars



INGREDIENTS
  • 2 cups granola
  • 2 Tbs creamy almond butter or other creamy nut butter
  • 1 Tbs coconut oil or butter
  • 1-2 scoops protein powder. I used 1 scoop of True Protein milk protein isolate in cookie dough flavor. You will probably use 2 scoops for pure whey, 1 scoop for a blend which includes milk or casein. Alternately, just use erythritol to taste
  • 2 Tbs sugar-free syrup (I used more of the homemade syrup)
  • 1/4-1/2 cup raisins or other dried fruit (optional, I didn't use this)
DIRECTIONS
  1. In a large saucepan, melt the nut butter with the coconut oil on medium-low. Whisk until smooth.
  2. Add the protein powder and sugar-free syrup and mix well. Add enough water to thin it out to a thick but pourable sauce. I used about 1/4 cup water. The amount really depends on the protein powder you use.
  3. Stir in the granola until evenly coated.
  4. Press the granola in an even layer in the bottom of a loaf pan lined with foil or parchment paper. Refrigerate for at least an hour.
  5. When completely cool, cut into bars.

Pepperoni Pizza Puffs


Yes, I'm done with The Great Pizza Experiment, but this is an idea I had that I wanted to try. These are little pizza puffs, waiting to be dipped in tomato sauce. They are based on the thick crust pizza recipe, baked in mini-muffin cups. You can freeze these on a baking sheet, transfer them to a gallon zip-lock bag, and keep them around for an easy, reheat-able snack (eat your heart out, Totinos pizza rolls!). Or, these would make great dippable party food if want something different from the usual raw veggies and dip.

PIZZA PUFFS
Makes about 16 thick, fluffy puffs or about 32 flatter, crunchier puffs

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 ounces cream cheese (I used Philadelphia brand low-fat)
  • 2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg whites or egg substitute)
  • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 ounce
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I love Penzeys Italian herb mix or pizza seasoning)
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 8 ounces Italian cheese blend or mozzarella cheese, shredded (low-fat is fine, do not use fat free)
  • 2 ounces (weight) pepperoni, chopped (I used turkey pepperoni). Or use any topping you'd like!
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 375
  2. Soften the cream cheese by microwaving for 30 seconds at 50% power. Whisk it with the eggs or egg substitute until smooth. Beat in the parmesan, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, and baking powder. Stir in the shredded cheese and chopped pepperoni.
  3. Grease the cups of a mini-muffin tray with olive oil or Baker's Joy. A silicone pan is ideal as it will prevent sticking. Fill the cups all the way for thick, fluffy pizza puffs; if you would rather have thinner, crunchier pieces, only fill them halfway.
  4. Bake for about 20-30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes, or until the tops are browned.
  5. Serve with heated tomato sauce for dipping. 
  6. To freeze (if desired), let the pizza puffs cool. Freeze them on a baking sheet, then transfer to a gallon zip-lock bag. Reheat at 350 degrees for 5-10 minutes.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Hybrid pizza

This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment

Gyro pizza! Leftover homemade gyro meat (recipe forthcoming!), feta, tzatziki sauce, and Greek-salad-type veggies.
Finally! The last remaining recipe in my pizza series. Originally, I was not going to make any hybrid recipes, as there are endless combinations that can be made. However, there is one particular recipe that is especially popular around the web, so I thought that I should give it a shot. It uses shredded cheese, eggs, flax meal, and coconut flour. I believe it originally appeared here at Healthy Indulgences, but I've seen it posted and reposted all over the place, each time with rave reviews. My photo does not really show off the texture of the crust, largely because I piled so much stuff on it, but you can see photos of the same recipe on other blogs: here, here, and here. In the above photo, I quartered the recipe and made a single personal pizza.

Thick or thin crust: Medium, but closer to thin and definitely crisp
Taste: 8. Like the shredded cheese pizza, it was a tad excessively cheesy. But the flavor was great, and you can easily punch it up with the addition of herbs and spices.
Texture: 9. This was the sturdiest of all the pizzas, by FAR. You could easily pile this up with thick, wet toppings and still have hand-holdable slices that don't droop. It was very nice and crunchy.
"Realness": 9. It was crispy and crackly with lots of little air bubbles throughout, making it kind of resemble pizzeria pizza. I think this one is the most likely to fool people.
Ease of preparation: Very easy

It would seem like this pizza is the winner; however, I'm not 100% pleased with the nutrition. It's still mostly a big glob of cheese, and I love the pizzas that hide pounds of veggies in the crust. So, I decided to experiment. I replaced half of the cheese with a half-pound of spinach. I sauteed it until wilted, chopped it finely, and squeezed out the liquid by wringing it in a paper-towel-lined tea towel.


This was GREAT, though the dark green spinach detracted somewhat from the "realness". However, if you use the riced, drained cauliflower from the cauliflower pizza recipe, I think you'd have low-carb perfection (albeit I like the original cauliflower recipe for a cracker-thin crust). 

ETA: Here it is with cauliflower in the crust instead of spinach:

HYBRID PIZZA
Serves 2-4

INGREDIENTS
  • 8 oz (weight; about 2 cups) shredded mozzarella cheese (low-fat is fine)
  • 2 eggs, beaten, or 1/2 cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute
  • 2 Tbs golden flax meal
  • 2 Tbs coconut flour
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder (optional)
  • Sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 350
  2. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. 
  3. Mound the cheese mixture on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Using damp hands, spread it out into a disc about 1/4" thick.
  4. Bake for 30-45 minutes, flipping it over halfway through.
  5. Spread on your sauce, cheese, and toppings and broil for 2-3 minutes.
NUTRITION (crust only, using egg white and low fat cheese)
Per 1/4 pizza: 191 calories, 10g fat, 2g net carbs (5g total + 3g fiber), 21g protein
Per 1/2 pizza: 382 calories, 20g fat, 4g net carbs (9g total + 5g fiber), 41g protein

VARIATION
Use 8-16 oz (weight) of a well-drained finely-chopped vegetable in place of half of the cheese.

Zucchini pizza crust

This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment


The veggie pizza crusts are definitely my favorite; there's nothing like packing a POUND of vegetables into a pizza crust! So of course when I saw this recipe for zucchini pizza, I knew I had to try it. 

I ended up making this twice, as the first time I made it exactly according to the recipe, it was much too mushy and soft. So, I added the following steps. First, I initially halved the zucchini lengthwise, scooped out the seeds, and discarded them. Next, after shredding, I tossed it with salt and let it sit in a colander for ten minutes. The salt helped a lot in drawing out moisture, and then when I squeezed the shreds in a tea towel, the water just poured out. This created a crust that was very nice and crispy on top but the bottom was still soft, so the final recipe modification is to flip the crust over halfway through baking.

I did prefer the cauliflower pizza but if I have a lot of zucchini to use up I would make this again. Also, if you're doing something super-strict like Atkins induction, zucchini is slightly lower in carbohydrates than cauliflower. In particular, my cauliflower pizza recipe has a few extra carb grams due to my use of pre-seasoned frozen cauliflower, which you can of course replace with fresh or unseasoned frozen.

Thick or thin crust: Thin
Taste: 7. It tasted like cheese and zucchini -- sounds good to me!
Texture: 7 with my modifications, albeit even after making those changes it was still softer than the cauliflower pizza.
"Realness": 5 if you use unpeeled zucchini. To make it look more like a pizza crust, you can peel the zucchini, though I neglected this step since the skin is so nutritious. If you do peel the zucchini, bear in mind that there is a greenish layer underneath the skin so you'll basically have to double-peel each one. So buy more than you think you need, as you lose a lot of veggie matter. I would say a 6 with peeled zucchini. However, the shreds are still distinct which detracts from the "realness". The cauliflower pizza fools people more easily.
Ease of preparation: With my extra steps, probably medium. It's not difficult, just kind of annoying. Pizza-stuffed zucchini boats would be a simpler alternative.

WELL-DRAINED ZUCCHINI FOR CLEOCHATRA'S ZUCCHINI PIZZA

  • 24-32 oz (weight) zucchini (use the high end of this range if you plan to peel it) 
  • 1.5 tsp table salt or 1 Tbs kosher salt
DIRECTIONS
  1. Peel zucchini, if desired.
  2. Use a small spoon to scoop out and discard the seeds from the zucchini. Shred the seedless zucchini using a grater or the shredding disk in a food processor.
  3. Toss the zucchini shreds with the salt. Let it sit in a colander for ten minutes.
  4. Transfer the zucchini shreds to a clean tea towel lined with several layers of paper towels. Wring it out to get as much water out as possible. You should be left with about a cup of zucchini.
  5. Proceed to use it in Cleochatra's zucchini pizza crust! After it is done baking, flip it over and bake it for an additional 5-10 minutes.
 NUTRITION (1/2 pizza, crust only, using egg whites and low-fat cheese)
198 calories, 9g fat, 5 net carbs (6g total carbohydrate + 1g fiber), 19g protein
Note: I am not sure how draining the zucchini ultimately affects the nutrition values. I am using the counts for undrained zucchini.

ETA:  I have since used the well-drained zucchini to make hybrid pizza, with zucchini replacing half of the cheese. I like that preparation even more! It is pictured below, topped with peanut sauce, crushed peanuts, chicken breast, and broccoli slaw.



Monday, February 21, 2011

Eggplant pizza

This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment

Topped with roasted red pepper strips, cherry tomato slices, kalamata olives, ricotta, and fresh basil
I've seen a couple of recipes for pizza crust made out of eggplant (notably, here and here) so I thought I should give it a shot. It is touted as a veggie crust where you don't have to squeeze out the moisture. Well, after I grated the eggplant, it was basically in a pool of its own liquid. I can assure you that the pizza would have been extremely soggy had I left it as-is. I squeezed out the excess liquid by putting it in a tea towel and wringing it out. I weighed the eggplant before and after, and I had 20 oz undrained but only 7 oz after squeezing. With that much water I think it was a necessary step!

Thick or thin crust: I'd say medium
Taste: Depends on how much you like eggplant. It's a stronger-tasting vegetable so if you like eggplant, the flavor is great. If you don't like it, there is certainly no mistaking it for anything else.
Texture: 5. It did get browned on the outside, and I like that you can easily eat it with your hands. However, there was something...cardboard-like about the texture. I like eggplant either roasted and pureed (i.e. baba ghanoush) or cooked at a very high temp with a caramelized outside and soft, creamy inside. The outside was browned but not really caramelized, and the inside was kind of dry. I think that next time I may add some extra fat, such as egg yolk and/or olive oil and see if that helps.
"Realness": 2. This is an interesting dish, sort of an alternative to eggplant parmesan, but I don't think of it as a true pizza.
Ease of preparation: Easy to medium. It takes a little while to grate the eggplant if you do not have a food processor with a shredding disk. Also, flipping the crust over halfway through requires some finesse.

EGGPLANT PIZZA
Serves 1-2

INGREDIENTS

  • About a pound of eggplant, shredded
  • 1 whole egg, beaten (I used an egg white but I think that a whole egg would be better)
  • 1 oz, weight (about 1/4 cup) grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 Tbs flax meal or almond flour (I used golden flax meal)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • Olive oil 
  • Sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450
  2. Toss the eggplant shreds with the salt while you prepare the other ingredients. This will help draw out some moisture.
  3. Squeeze out as much moisture as you can from the eggplant by wringing it out in a tea towel.
  4. Combine the drained eggplant shreds with the other ingredients.
  5. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper. Lightly spray it with olive oil. Press the eggplant mixture into a round shape about 1/4" thick.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  7. Flip the pizza crust over and bake for 5-10 more minutes or until browned on the other side.
  8. Add your toppings and bake for 5 minutes more.
NUTRITION (1/2 pizza, crust only)
110 calories, 4g fat, 5g net carbs (14 total + 9g fiber), 7g protein,
Note: I am not sure how draining the eggplant ultimately affects the nutrition values. I am using the counts for undrained eggplant.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sugar-free maple syrup


In the comments of my French toast recipe, there was some lamenting about the lack of availability of maple syrup made with erythritol. Erythritol is a type of sugar alcohol, and is one of the only sugar alcohols that does not affect blood glucose levels (source). While I normally use stevia or Splenda, I thought I'd give this one a go. Besides, I needed a break from all the pizza posts ;) You can easily use whatever sugar substitute you prefer.

SUGAR FREE MAPLE SYRUP

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/4 tsp flavorless oil
  • 1/4 tsp xanthan gum
  • 1 Tbs butter or coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 cup erythritol, powdered in a spice grinder
  • 1 dropperful (about 28 drops) vanilla-flavored stevia such as Sweetleaf Vanilla Creme OR 2 packets stevia + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract OR 4 tsp additional erythritol + 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp maple flavoring or maple extract
DIRECTIONS
  1. Pour the oil in the bottom of a microwave-safe dish. Sprinkle the xanthan gum over it, and stir with a fork to combine. Add the butter or coconut oil and microwave on high for 40 seconds or until butter is melted. Stir again to combine.
  2. Whisk in the remaining ingredients and microwave on high for 30 seconds. Let it sit for a few minutes to thicken. Syrup will thicken as it cools.
You can store this in the refrigerator, but you will want to nuke it for 30-60 seconds and shake well prior to serving to melt any globs of butter or coconut oil. Thus I recommend storing it in a microwave-safe container. I used a glass cruet.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Cheesy pizza

This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment

Topped with turkey pepperoni, garlic-stuffed green olives, green pepper, mushrooms, and parmesan cheese
This was an interesting recipe. Many of the grain-free pizza crust recipes use a liberal amount of shredded cheese as a binder. This one uses shredded cheese only, along with an egg or egg whites. I suppose it seemed only natural to give that a shot! I adapted the recipe from this one on Genaw, which was originally posted here on Low Carb Friends. I made one-fourth of the recipe for a single-serving mini-pizza.

Thick or thin crust: Thin
Taste: 5. I was not crazy about this pizza. It wasn't unpleasant per se, but there was just something unappealing about eating a big glob of melted cheese. While other recipes may use quite a bit of cheese in the crust, this uses far more. I guess that I would describe this as stoner food. Personally, if I am going to eat a huge hunk of unadulterated cheese, I'd rather put the calories toward raclette or plate of quality cheeses, not a baked disc of shredded supermarket mozzarella. I also think that the addition of cheddar in the recipe was a mistake, as I used sharp cheddar and the flavor was too strong. If you make this, I would recommend mild cheddar instead. I do think that this would be a nice pizza to make for Pesach/Passover, as it doesn't require any weird ingredients like flax meal or coconut flour and thus most people would likely have the ingredients on hand.
Texture: 6. It did get nice and crispy and can be easily eaten with your hands. But it was still, y'know, just melted cheese. I don't think one would mistake it for anything else.
"Realness": 6
Ease of preparation: Very easy

THIN AND CRISPY CHEESE PIZZA (adapted from http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/thinandcrispy_pizza.html)
Serves 1

INGREDIENTS
  • 2 oz (weight) (about 1/2 cup) shredded mozzarella (low-fat is fine)
  • 1 oz (weight) (about 1/4 cup) shredded mild cheddar (low-fat is fine)
  • 3 Tbs liquid egg whites or egg substitute (could use a small beaten egg instead)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Italian seasoning
  • Sauce and toppings of your choice (saute any vegetables first)
DIRECTIONS
  1. Preheat oven to 450.
  2. Combine all the ingredients with a fork.
  3. Spread the cheese mixture evenly into a very thin disk on a sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake 10-15 minutes or until golden brown.
  4. Leave your oven rack in the center of the oven, but turn off the oven and turn on the broiler. Add your sauce and toppings to the crust. Broil for 2-3 minutes.
NUTRITION (Crust only, no toppings, using low-fat cheese)
243 calories, 14g fat, 3g carbohydrate, 28g protein

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Spinach pizza

This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment


Yay, a veggie-based crust! I was excited to try Jamie's spinach pizza; I've been curious about spinach-based "breads" after seeing recipes such as this and this.

Thick or thin crust: Thin
Taste: 8. This was very good, and the yummy toppings certainly didn't hurt! Even if you don't like spinach, you can likely still enjoy this.
Texture: 6. You can hold slices with your hands and it even got crispy in parts, but it was still kind of floppy like the pork rind pizza. It's still very good, but the cauliflower pizza texture remains far superior.
"Realness": Maybe a 6? It's hard to say because the deep green color definitely made it look less like a real pizza.
Ease of preparation: Easy

SPINACH PIZZA
You can view the recipe on its original site here. Be sure to check out my tips for making low-carb pizzas! 

ETA: I have since found that I prefer to add spinach to the hybrid pizza, as described here, as opposed to this particular recipe. The crust is much sturdier, plus by pre-cooking and draining the spinach, I can add a whole huge bag, rather than a mere cup.

NUTRITION (Per 1/2 pizza)
Using a whole egg + full-fat cheese: 208 calories, 15g fat, 1.5 net carbs (2g carbohydrates + 0.5g fiber), 17g protein
Using egg whites + reduced-fat cheese: 164 calories, 8g fat, 1.5 net carbs (2g carbohydrates + 0.5g fiber), 20g protein

    Meatza

    This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment

     

    Do a Google search for "meatza" and numerous recipes will pop up. It has become a very popular item among those who eat low-carb and/or grain-free. It's easy to see the appeal; rather than attempting to simulate a traditional pizza crust, you just make a "crust" out of ground meat and top it with sauce and cheese.

    I can't really rank this the way that I did the other pizzas. The husband and I both loved this. The taste was great. The texture was great. However, it was NOTHING like eating a pizza. I added seasonings to the ground meat (I used chicken) which made it taste a lot like sausage, so it had the flavors of a sausage pizza but the texture was something else altogether. But it is definitely a recipe that I will make again because it was so quick and easy while still being tasty. It was much less time consuming than meatballs (it takes me forever to roll all the meat into balls) and meatloaf (which takes a lot longer to cook).

    MEATZA
    Serves 2-4

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 lb ground meat of choice. Ground chicken, turkey, lean pork, or a combination would be ideal.
    • 1 egg (or two egg whites + 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil)
    • 1 oz (about 1/4 cup) grated Parmesan cheese
    • Sausage seasonings of choice. I used 1 tsp Italian seasoning, 1 tsp Adobo seasoning (basically a combo of salt, pepper, onion, and garlic), and 1 tsp fennel seed. Another option would be the Italian sausage seasoning that I used in this recipe, though I'd halve the salt and sugar. Or Penzey's sausage seasoning. Whatever you want!
    • Sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 450
    2. Beat the egg with Parmesan and seasonings. Add the ground meat and mix thoroughly.
    3. Line a large pan with parchment paper (I used a round cake pan) or spray with olive oil. Pack the meat into the pan, making it slightly thicker at the outer edges to resemble a crust. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until done.
    4. Spread with sauce, cheese and toppings. Broil until cheese is melted and bubbly.
    NUTRITION (crust only, using 80% white meat ground chicken)
    Per 1/4 pizza: 175 calories, 5g fat, 0.4g carbohydrate, 30g protein
    Per 1/2 pizza (that's a half pound of meat!!): 350 calories, 11g fat, 0.8g carbohydrate, 60g protein

    Wednesday, February 16, 2011

    Almond flour pizza

    This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment

    Eggplant, roasted cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and fresh basil. Leave off the goat cheese if you avoid dairy.
    Almond flour aka almond meal is a staple in flourless baking. It's very tasty and tends to make for baked goods that are crispy on the outside and moist on the inside, such as the low-carb ladyfinger cookies in my pumpkin tiramisu. I do try to avoid its use, however, as it is very calorie-dense and high in pro-inflammatory omega-6 fatty acids. But for the purposes of The Great Pizza Experiment, I wanted to give it a fair shake.

    Thick or thin crust: I made it thin but you could easily make it thicker.
    Taste: 8. Both the husband and I agreed that it tastes terrific. I added some garlic, herbs, and a little bit of extra-virgin olive oil which also boosted the flavor profile. 
    Texture: 6. I rolled it out quite thin because I like that style of snappy thin-crust pizza, but you could easily make it thicker. It crisped up nicely but it was a bit crumbly. I am confident that the addition of some grated parmesan cheese (1-2 ounces perhaps?) would greatly improve the texture as well as adding flavor.
    "Realness": 7. It was definitely pizza-like, although I don't think anyone would mistake it for a wheat crust.
    Ease of preparation: Easy to medium. The dough is a tad difficult to work with if you're a complete newb at baking.

    ALMOND FLOUR PIZZA (adapted from a recipe at Son of Grok)
    Serves 2

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1 cup almond meal/almond flour or 4 oz blanched almonds, finely ground
    • 1 egg, beaten
    • 1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning such as Penzeys 
    • Sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees
    2. Using a large fork, combine all ingredients in a large bowl
    3. Line a pizza pan with a piece of parchment paper. Scrape the dough onto the center of the parchment and form it into a ball using your hands. For a thick crust, spread out the dough using dampened hands. For a thin crust, spray another piece of parchment with olive oil. Place it on top of the ball of dough and use a rolling pin to roll it flat.
    4. Prick the crust all over with a fork and bake for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.
    5. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings, and bake for about 5-10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.
    NUTRITION
    Per 1/2 pizza, crust only
    375 calories, 33g fat, 6 net carbs (12g carbs with 6g of that from fiber), 16g protein

    Sunday, February 13, 2011

    Flax pizza

    This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment

    Philly cheesesteak pizza? Oh yes.

    Milled flax seed is a popular ingredient in low-carb baking, and for good reason. It is extremely high in insoluble fiber and omega-3 fatty acids and it has a pleasant nutty taste. I found a recipe for flax pizza on lowcarbdiets.about.com. I halved the recipe, nixed the sweetener, made a few other tweaks, and baked it in a 9" cake pan.

    Thick or thin crust? Thick
    Taste: 4. I think it tasted kind of like a bran muffin. It had a bit of a wheaty taste, I think with the addition of a little bit of honey it could taste sort of like honey-wheat dough.
    Texture: 3. It was spongy and a tiny bit slimy. Like the coconut flour, it tasted too much like bread with stuff on it rather than a true pizza.
    Realness: 2. There was no mistaking this for a regular pizza.
    Ease of preparation: Easy, though kind of a pain spreading it around in the pan.

    My husband absolutely HATED this and didn't finish his. He made me promise never to make it again. I thought it was okay.

    FLAX PIZZA
    Serves 2-3

    INGREDIENTS
    • 3/4 cup flax meal (I used golden flax seed meal)   
    • 1 tsp baking powder
    • 1/4 tsp salt
    • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
    • 6 Tbs egg white or egg substitute
    • 2 Tbs olive oil
    • 1/4 cup water
    • Sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 425
    2. Mix dry ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix wet ingredients. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir to combine. Let sit about 5 minutes to thicken.
    3. Line a 9" cake pan with parchment or spray with Baker's Joy. Spread the batter out evenly in the pan.
    4. Bake for about 15 minutes. 
    5. Add sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. Broil until cheese is hot and bubbly.
    NUTRITION
    Per 1/2 pizza, crust only
    383 calories, 32g fat, 1 net carb, 12g fiber, 14g protein  

    Coconut flour pizza crust

    This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment.

    Yeah, that's a kimchi pizza

    I'm a big fan of coconut flour for the reasons I outlined here. So, it seemed only natural to attempt a pizza crust made out of this stuff. Many recipes use a couple tablespoons of coconut flour in a base of cheese and eggs. This, however, is a batter made from coconut flour, eggs, almond milk, and seasonings. I adapted it from this recipe at Eat The Cookie. The carb count is on the high side as it uses a LOT of coconut flour, so for me it's not really worth it. However, if your only concern is gluten, it may not matter to you.


    Thick or thin crust: Thick. Theoretically you could make this thin, but I think it would fall apart easily. Gluten-free flours tend to cook up somewhat delicate and crumbly so I would stick with a thick crust. You could cut the recipe in half though and give it a try.
    Taste: 4. There was some detectable coconut flavor, I don't usually notice it with sweet recipes but it was noticeable at least upon the first bite.
    Texture: 3. I did not like the texture here. Don't get me wrong, I love coconut flour for fluffy baked goods, like biscuits and muffins but it was not satisfying as a pizza crust. I like either a thin crust that is crispy or a thick crust that is chewy; however, this crust was thick and fluffy with no chew at all. Not unpleasant, just not a pizza. I do think that has potential, though. If you cut the amount of coconut flour and almond milk in half and added a lot of shredded mozzarella cheese (probably about 8 ounces), I think the shredded cheese would give it chew and stretchiness while the coconut flour adds heft and thickness. ETA: This recipe adds quite a bit of cheese and looks like it might be an improvement.
    Realness: 2. Due to the texture, this didn't feel like a pizza, It was more like, "bread with stuff on top". I guess it could possibly pass as a focaccia.
    Ease of preparation: Extremely easy, just make a batter and pour it into a pan.

    COCONUT FLOUR PIZZA
    Serves 2-3

    INGREDIENTS
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Preheat oven to 375. 
    2. Line a baking sheet or pizza pan with parchment paper. (Note: the original recipe spread this over a pizza pan but I felt the batter was too thin to do so. So, instead, I lined a very large round cake pan with a piece of parchment cut to fit and poured it in there, greasing the sides.)
    3. Whisk together the eggs, almond milk, and garlic powder until smooth. Sift together the salt, baking powder, and coconut flour, then beat the coconut flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Let stand for a couple minutes to thicken.
    4. Spread the batter over a baking sheet or pour it into a large cake pan. 
    5. Bake for 20 minutes, then remove from oven and flip it over, peeling off the parchment paper. At this point I baked it for an additional 10 minutes with that side up.
    6. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. Broil until the cheese is hot and bubbly.
    NUTRITION
    Per 1/2 pizza, crust only
    371 calories, 15g fat, 18 net carbs (43g total carbs - 25g fiber), 19g protein

    Saturday, February 12, 2011

    Porky Pizza

    This post is part of The Great Pizza Experiment.

    Crushed pork rinds have made their way into numerous low-carb recipes. I've seen them used in place of breadcrumbs in many uses: as an outer breading for baked cutlets, a binder for meatloaf, even as a turkey stuffing! I figured I ought to include a pork rind recipe in my pizza trials. This recipe is from Genaw, though I believe it was originally posted here.

    Thick or thin crust: Thin
    Taste: 6. It really depends on how you feel about pork rinds. It does retain some pork rind flavor, so if you hate them, you probably won't like this pizza. However, it is certainly not overpowering, just detectable. I love those salty fried bits of pig skin so I liked it!
    Texture: 4. Here's the problem: for most low-carb pizza crusts, you want to really cook the hell out of them until they're almost burnt, in order to get crispy. However, burnt pork rinds are horribly bitter, so I was a little timid with the oven time. It came out a little bit floppy and less crisp than I'd ideally like, although it was still something that I could easily eat with my hands. However, I think that this has potential to be a GREAT substitute for tortillas, particularly for quesadillas. Stay tuned for that!
    Realness: 5
    Ease of preparation: Easy for the most part, though spreading out the batter was annoying.

    PORK RIND PIZZA (Via http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/mushroom_onion_pizza.html)
    Serves 1

    INGREDIENTS
    • 1/2 oz (weight) pork rinds (about 1/4 cup crushed), ground in a food processor or crushed finely with a mallet.
    • 1 oz (weight) parmesan cheese (Ed note: If you don't eat dairy, you could probably substitute almond flour, though I make no guarantee!)
    • 1 egg, beaten (or 2 egg whites, or 1/4 cup liquid egg whites or egg substitute. I will probably use egg whites next time, I think they make a crispier crust than whole egg)
    • 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
    • Sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl.
    2. Line a 9" pie plate with parchment paper (I traced the bottom of the pan on a piece of parchment, then cut it out). Spread the batter onto the lined pan using damp hands. It may not spread all the way out to the edges, but get it as thin as you can without creating holes.
    3. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-25 minutes or until browned (the original recipe said 10 minutes, I baked it for 25). 
    4. Top with sauce, cheese, and toppings of your choice. Broil until cheese is bubbly.
    NUTRITION
    (Whole recipe, crust only, using egg whites)
    237 calories, 13g fat, 2g carbohydrates, 27g protein

    The Great Pizza Experiment of 2011: Sicilian-style pizza

    The most popular page on my site, by far, is the photo tutorial for cauliflower pizza. Pizza seems to be the number one thing that people miss when they embark on any diet, but particularly when people decide to eat low-carb, gluten-free, and/or grain-free. Fortunately, there are many, many options out there for those missing their favorite treat. The cauliflower pizza has been my standby, but I started to wonder: which is the best option out there? So I got a crazy idea: I'm going to make pizzas using every popular low-carb grain-free substitute. That way I can photograph, rank, and review them all. For you, my readers, I will suffer through all the delicious homemade pizza ;)

    I will make pizza out of all of the following:
    Let me know if I missed something. There are also lots of hybrid recipes out there (i.e. flax + coconut flour) but unless there is one particular recipe that is wildly popular, I will stick to recipes based on a single carb substitute.



    I let my husband rank this one:
    Thick or thin crust: Thick
    Taste: 7
    Texture: 8
    "Realness": 8 (I am using the term "realness" to indicate how much it is like a real pizza. Clearly I am watching too much RuPaul's Drag Race.)
    Ease of preparation: Very easy if you have a standing mixer. A bit more of a pain if you don't, as you have to beat the cream cheese until soft. If you don't have a standing mixer, make sure the the cream cheese is softened before you start.
    Comments: This makes a thick, chewy, Sicilian-style pizza crust. I have seen it referred to as deep dish pizza, but as my husband is from Chicago, he forbade me from referring to this as deep dish. Truth be told, I've had enough Pizzeria Uno to agree. This is a very, very convincing way to make this type of pizza. The husband was in utter disbelief that the crust was primarily cream cheese. If you prefer a crispy thin-crust, this may not be your thing, but this is the first low-carb version of that stretchy doughy sort of pizza that I've encountered.

    I used a recipe from genaw.com. According to her:
    I think I may have discovered the secret to a crispy crust. I left the baked crust uncovered in the refrigerator for several hours. I think that allowed it to dry out a bit so that it became crisp during the second baking with the toppings. I was able to pick the pizza up in my hands.
    I did not take that extra step (I was hungry, dammit) but I can definitely see how that would work. In fact, I think that I would score the crust before refrigerating so that the edges of each slice can dry out. Another option would be a Baker's Edge pan.

    SICILIAN-STYLE PIZZA (Via http://www.genaw.com/lowcarb/deep_dish_pizza.html)
    Makes 8 slices

    INGREDIENTS
    • 4 ounces cream cheese (I used Philadelphia brand low-fat)
    • 2 eggs (or 1/2 cup egg whites or substitute)
    • 1/4 cup parmesan cheese, 1 ounce
    • 1/4 teaspoon oregano or Italian seasoning
    • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
    • 8 ounces Italian cheese blend or mozzarella cheese, shredded (low-fat is fine, do not use fat free)
    • Pizza sauce, cheese, and toppings
    DIRECTIONS

    1. Preheat oven to 375
    2. Beat the cream cheese until smooth and creamy. Add the eggs and beat until well-blended. Beat in the parmesan and seasonings.
    3. Stir in the mozzarella
    4. Spread the mixture evenly in a 9"x13" baking dish. Use either a glass dish sprayed with Baker's Joy or a metal dish lined with parchment paper, otherwise it will stick. 
    5. Bake for 20-30 minutes, until evenly browned but not burnt.
    6. Flip the crust over.
    7. Spread the crust with sauce, then the cheese and toppings of your choice. Bake at 375 about 15-20 minutes or until toppings are bubbly. Let stand a few minutes before cutting. 
    NUTRITION 
    (Per 1/8 of the pizza, crust only, using low-fat cream cheese, low-fat cheese, and omega-3 enriched whole eggs)
    136 calories, 9g fat, 2g carbohydrates, 12g protein
    Per 1/4 pizza:
    272 calories, 18g fat, 4g carbohydrates, 24g protein

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Huevos Rancherfauxs


    Low-carb refried beans, you ask?


    Yep. Well, they're not exactly beans. Okay, they're not beans at all. But they will fool damn near anyone! These accommodate:
    The secret? These are actually made of soaked sunflower seeds. It's sort of like a hummus. It was a bit thick, like bean dip, but you can always add extra water. They were perfect in my huevos rancheros.

    MOCK REFRIED BEANS
    Makes about 3 cups

    INGREDIENTS
    • 2.5 cups raw hulled sunflower seeds, soaked in lots of cool water for 1-2 hours
    • 1/4 cup olive oil (or other oil...I think pumpkin seed oil would be ideal!)
    • 1/2 cup peeled, seeded, diced tomato (I used two medium-sized Romas)
    • 2 Tbs tahini (raw or roasted, I think roasted tastes better)
    • 1-2 tsp salt
    • 2 tsp ground cumin
    • 1/8 tsp garlic powder
    • 1/2 tsp onion powder
    • 2-3 canned chipotle peppers (or chipotle powder to taste)
    • 1 Tbs sweet paprika
    • Juice of two limes
    DIRECTIONS
    1. Drain the sunflower seeds. It's okay if some water still clings to them, just shake them dry in a strainer.
    2. Put all ingredients in the food processor or Vita-Mix. Process until smooth -- it will take a WHILE to get completely smooth. Scrape down the sides as necessary. 
    3. Taste and correct seasonings. Add more oil or a little water if too thick.
    FOR HUEVOS RANCHEROS
    Spread some of the mock refried beans on a microwave-safe plate. Nuke for 30-45 seconds. Meanwhile, fry 1 or 2 eggs. Set the egg in the heated beans and top with salsa, diced avocado, cilantro, hot sauce, and optionally diced chorizo (I happened to have some on hand). If desired, serve with low-carb tortillas, with cheese crisps, or in a zucchini taco bowl.

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