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Pizza: Cheese-Crusted, Gluten-free, Grain-free!

Now, if you are not a low-carber, you may want to avert your eyes…

No really, do it now. I’ll wait.

If you are still reading, I am going to assume that a pizza crust made with 3 kinds of cheese, eggs, and no flour is RIGHT up your alley! I will admit that while I am 99% grain free (other than an occasional delectable sushi roll, oops) even I was feeling a little guilty with this cheesy indulgence, but it sure was good!

Many of you have either found me through my posts on the Wheat Belly blog or Facebook page, and even if you found me through the wonderful world of food and health blogging, you likely know how enthusiastic I am about the wheat free lifestyle! One of the cool things about being part of a thriving Wheat Belly (WB) community online is that everyone is more than happy to share their experiences, advice and recipe tips! In a recent post, after I suggested the Socca Pizza crust with Garbanzo flour, a fellow WB’er shared her favorite gluten-free pizza crust recipe (which is veryyyy low carb), and I gave it a whirl… YUMMO!

So, since one good turn deserves another, I am sharing the link to the original page HERE, at Gluten Free Easily, with pictures of a very classic-looking pepperoni pizza. I will definitely have to make this version when I have pepperoni on hand, but since I didn’t, I improvised with what I did have.

Here you see the crust ingredients spread into a parchment-lined pan.

Cooked up and ready to be decked out!

Sauteed crimini mushrooms

Wilted spinach and garlic.

Our Pizza toppings included: spinach sauteed with minced garlic, sauteed crimini mushrooms, left-over pork chop, thinly diced and crisped in a pan, and some crumbled feta cheese, along with the Organicville spaghetti sauce and some shredded mozzarella cheese mixed with chopped fresh basil.

Our first cheese crust pizza! Mushrooms on one half only 😉

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Italian Stuffed Mushrooms {Grain free, Gluten free, Low Carb}

Pizza Stuffed Mushrooms

An appetizer that we enjoy making at home in a wide variety of flavors, is stuffed mushrooms. Traditional recipes usually call for bread crumbs or some sort, and being gluten free, we no longer use the crumbs, but have no problem finding delicious fillings. This variety was intended to be sort of a pizza-inspired treat. You can use any mixture of ingredients that sounds good to you including cheeses, meats, seafood, veggies, seasonings. This is just one option out of endless possibilities! I honestly did not measure any of the ingredients, just threw them together., so just use your own judgment for amounts, and of course, feel free to change anything that suits you!

*** Another variation would be to use shrimp and seafood as a stuffing with celery, onion, garlic, and make an easy cheese cream sauce instead of using a tomato-based sauce. To think outside the box, consider a cheeseburger filling, a Mexican inspired filling or certainly vegetarian would be great too!

Stuffed MushroomsPizza Stuffed Mushrooms:

  • 10-12 large mushrooms, cleaned and stems removed
    (keep stems for another use or dice some for stuffing)
  • Healthy oil
  • diced celery
  • chopped garlic
  • diced ham
  • chopped greens (such as spinach or mustard greens)
  • chopped walnuts
  • fresh chopped basil
  • Italian cheese blend
  • low carb spaghetti sauce (I used Organicville)
  • salt, pepper and seasonings to taste
  1. Heat oven to 400. Clean large button-style mushrooms and remove the stems. Save the stems for another use, or finely dice and include in the stuffing (which I did.)
  2. Place mushrooms rounded side up in a lightly oiled baking sheet and bake for 10-15 minutes just to get a jump on the cooking process.
  3. While caps are cooking, saute filling ingredients except cheese and sauce, and cook to desired done-ness.
  4. Mix filling with enough sauce to coat well, but not runny, mix in chopped basil (or any other herbs and spices as well.)
  5. Remove mushroom caps from oven and turn over (drain mushroom liquid from the pan if needed.) Place a tsp or so of cheese in each cap, then top with about 1Tb of filling and a little more cheese.
  6. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and mushrooms are cooked through.
 

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Socca Saga! Or Chickenpea Flat Bread Pizza Crust (tried and tried again…)

Socca pizza is new to me, but I think I may be on the tail-end of this trend, as I found numerous recipes and blog entries about this flatbread style pizza made from chickpea flour. The quest for socca actually started out as a quest for a good grain free pizza crust recipe using garbanzo bean flour, as I scored a nice bag of organic at a local bulk store, and was interested in using it in recipes. Chickpea flour is one of the healthier alternatives on my flour chart, because it is low in net carbs and has a decent amount of fiber and protein.

This is the “flopped” version. Still delicious!

The concept of this crust is pretty simple, but it took me a couple tries to get a pan that cooperated with my intentions 😉 The recipes that I found all called for a cast iron skillet, but the only cast iron one I have is enameled, and unfortunately it didn’t work the way I had hoped. The flatbread wouldn’t come loose from the bottom to be flipped, so I ended up broiling it for a couple minutes to get the top set before adding toppings and baking it. It turned out more like a pizza casserole, but my son was totally thrilled with it, and thought it tasted like lasagna!

 

 

The next attempt was MUCH better (at least in terms of making a flippable crust), as I used a stainless steel Cuisinart skillet that I have had for ages (it is really heavy and beautiful); it was a garage sale score for just a few dollars! I have been very lucky to combine retail purchases with amazing finds at thrift stores, garage sales, and flea markets to help outfit my kitchen with the essentials (and NON essentials as well!)

 

Basil fresh from the garden

Basil and Mozzarella

For toppings, use whatever you wish that fits into your dietary plan. I love tomato sauce, but am careful to choose those that are low in carbs. Organicville Gluten Free tomato basil sauce has only 6g of  carbs per serving, while many others are well into the teens… so be sure to read labels! I love garden fresh basil on pizza, so I combined chopped basil with the mozzarella cheese to be sure the flavor was infused into every bite!

 

Tomatoes on my half!

Socca Pizza Crust (Chickpea)

  • 2/3 C chickpea flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 C cold water
  • 1 Tb olive or coconut oil
  • optional: add seasonings such as garlic powder, cracked pepper and dried herbs
  1. Mix all ingredients together and let sit for 30 minutes, then whisk in the oil. The batter will be relatively thin.
  2. Batter

    Heat skillet over medium/high and grease well with oil (I used coconut oil.)

  3. While skillet is heating, also preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  4. Gently pour the batter into the pan in a round shape, smoothing out if needed. It’s best to do this quickly, as the batter will begin to cook as soon as it hits the heated surface.
  5. As the edges start to get set, I worked a sharp spatula underneath to keep it from becoming too stuck. When the edges are browned and it seems set (a few minutes), carefully flip. I used two spatulas to make this easier.
  6. You can bake on the same pan if it is oven proof, or transfer to another baking sheet. Add whatever toppings you desire and bake until the cheese is melted and starting to brown.

Delicious with crispy edges!

 

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Tuscan Shrimp, Full of Flavor!

Tuscan Shrimp, Full of Flavor!
Tuscan Shrimp and Veggies over Spaghetti Squash

Tuscan Shrimp and Veggies over Spaghetti Squash

Back in the pasta days, it was the norm for me to whip up a pan-full of something yummy every so often to dish out over the top of linguine or penne, but even then, it was all about the concoction on top, and the pasta was very much secondary. Luckily for us, this translates well to gluten free eating and using a base of spaghetti squash. This is one of those Tossed-Together dishes, where I was cooking on the fly, and really didn’t measure anything at all, but I have tried to recap as accurately as I can.. though there is plenty of room for improvisation here.

Tuscan Shrimp and Veggies

Tuscan Shrimp and Veggies

Shrimp with loads of healthy veggies over a bed of spaghetti squash… what’s not to like?? Well, according to my son, the shrimp and spaghetti squash, ha, so I made two different versions of this dish 😉 I have to say that the flavors were absolutely stunning together, and it was one of those meals that kept giving us flashbacks later, wishing like crazy that we had some leftovers! I guess I’ll just have to make it again, SOON.

Tuscan Shrimp and Veggies over Spaghetti Squash

Cook your spaghetti squash ahead of time, I did mine the day before.
I used a good amount of coconut oil (maybe 3 Tb) to saute the following veggies until tender:

  • Sauteing brussles sprouts and vidalias

    Sauteing brussels sprouts and vidalias

    1/2 lb brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered. I add these first because they take longer to cook

  • 1 slivered vidalia onion, added next
  • 1/4C soft sundried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1/4 of a large yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced

When the veggies are tender, remove to a dish and set aside. Saute the following over medium heat, stirring occasionally:

  • 1lb large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste

When the shrimp are nearly done, about 5 minutes, add:

  • handful of fresh herbs, chopped. I used mostly fresh basil, with some oregano and savory added in
  • 1/4 C pinenuts
  • 1-2 tsp black sesame seeds
  • 2 tsp balsamic vinegar, or to taste

Heat through and then add the veggies back in. Add more coconut oil or butter as needed during cooking to keep from sticking. Serve immediately over a bed of spaghetti squash.

Veggies (no shrimp) over seasoned beans for the kidlet

Vegetarian version: Veggies (no shrimp) over seasoned beans for the teen

We are big fans of veggies at our house, and this dish was a major hit. It would be fantastic even without the succulent shrimp (vegetarian) or wonderful using chicken breast as well. The meatiness of the shrimp and brussels sprouts were well matched, and the sundried tomato and balsamic added a little zing. The sesame seeds were pretty in black, but the white ones would work just as well. My son is not a fan of food that swims, so his was shrimpless and served over a small serving of northern beans that I heated in butter and seasoned with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

 

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FAST FISH! Tahini Lemon Salmon

Salmon is my go-to fish of choice! I love that it is insanely easy to cook (400 degrees, 15-20 minutes), and that you can flavor it in so many ways… PLUS it is healthy! We all know by now that it is a great course of healthy fats and omega 3’s, and to top it off, it’s strongly anti-inflammatory.

This is another one of my recipes that I will call more of a method, because it is so unstructured when I do it…

  • Take a fresh salmon filet, rinsed and patted dry… 
  • rub both sides with coconut oil and place skin side down in baking dish…
  • salt and pepper to your taste…
  • smear about a tablespoon of tahini over the flesh side…
  • top with the zest of one lemon and a couple tablespoons of fresh parsley…
  • bake 15-20 minutes at 400 degrees.
  • SIMPLE delicious!

As a side, we sauteed chopped baby broccoli (put in the pan first for 2+ minutes because it takes longer to cook), along with napa cabbage and spinach in coconut oil, finishing with a squeeze of fresh lemon and sesame seeds.

 

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Mojito Green Tea (Gluten Free Goodness)

One of the summer drinks that I really love, is a garden fresh mojito, mmmm! This concoction of mint, lime and rum is refreshing and crisp, perfect for summer weekends. Even without the alcohol, the flavors of lime and mint are wonderful together, and in this sun tea recipe, I also added a little Truvia for sweetness and green tea bags (gluten free) for a dose of anti-oxidants. On top of tasting delicious, the ingredients are good for you!

Lemon Balm is one of those fragrant herbs that I have had forever in my herb garden, probably because it’s one that mom always grows and uses herself. (She is to blame for my interest in herbs and healing!) According to the encyclopedia of spices, lemon balm has many medicinal uses such as helping relieving spasms in the digestive tract, relieving stress and tension (which can help with migraines), aiding in treatment of insomnia, as well as helping to fight cold and flu due to anti-viral properties. Nice benefits from a glass of iced tea!

Peppermint is also widely known to aid in relieving upset stomach, and can be beneficial for symptoms of IBS. Like lemon balm, the oil can help relieve stress (when used topically.)

While green tea is credited with aiding in a wide range of ailments from cancer and heart disease to dementia, it is unknown how much must be consumed to have these effects. WebMD states “Green tea’s antioxidants, called catechins, scavenge for free radicals that can damage DNA and contribute to cancer, blood clots, and atherosclerosis. Grapes and berries, red wine, and dark chocolate also have potent antioxidants.”

Mojito Green Tea

I first gathered a handful of lemon balm leaves (on the left in the photo above) and mint leaves (on the right) from my herb garden. The smell is so fresh!

Next, using a mortar and pestle, I muddled the herbs along with the juice of 1/2 lime and 2 tsp of Truvia to release the oils and juices. Truvia has a granular texture like sugar (while being free of carbs), and the texture acts as an abrasive to help grind the herbs.

Next, pour the herbs and juice into a sun tea jug, and add the rest of the fresh lime juice (from 2 limes total), and 4 green tea bags (gluten free).

Fill the jug partway with water and set outside in the sun (where did my sun go for this pic??)… where the warmth will brew the tea over the course of a couple hours. The longer it steeps, the stronger it is likely to be.

When it’s reached the stage you like, remove and chill, serve over ice.

 

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Spicy Crab Cakes (Low carb, Gluten free)

When avoiding wheat flours that contain gluten, there are many other types of flours that one can use in its place, such as rice, sorghum, or tapioca flours which are still high in carbs. Since we are also on a low carb diet to promote weight loss, we choose to use the alternatives of almond or coconut flours.

This is a crab cake recipe that I came up with for our Friday night treat, and I chose to use coconut flour because I felt that the slightly sweet taste would work well with the sweetness of the crab meat and the heat of the chipotle pepper, while acting as a glue to hold the delicate patties in shape. Crab cakes often have fillers such as potato, which increases the carbs and can also disguise the flavor of the crab… I skipped this, since we like our crab cakes to be ALL about the crab.The Parmesan cheese takes the place of breadcrumbs as a coating, and browns up nicely in the oven. This is similar to the method used in Parmesan Perch.

Crab cakes should be refrigerated for a minimum of 30 minutes prior to baking, to help them hold their shape.

Spicy Gluten Free Crab Cakes

  • 1/4C celery, finely diced
  • 1 medium leek, washed well and finely diced
  • coconut oil for sauteing
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 2T mayonnaise
  • 2T heavy cream
  • 6 oz crab meat (I used refrigerated in a packet)
  • 1/2 chipotle pepper, canned, finely diced (seeded if you prefer milder)
  • 2tsp capers, diced
  • 2Tb fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • 2 Tb coconut flour
  • kosher salt and ground pepper to taste
  • 1/4-1/2 C Parmesan cheese, finely grated

Saute the celery and leek in coconut oil until tender, 2-3 minutes, and set aside. In a medium bowl, mix together egg, mayonnaise and cream. Gently fold in the crab meat. Add the leeks, celery, chipotle pepper, capers and parsley, mixing gently. Add coconut flour, 1 Tb at a time, mixing well. Add salt and pepper to taste. The mixture will be soft, but should be manageable. If it is too delicate, add a small amount of additional coconut flour. Divide mixture into about 6 medium patties, dredging each one in the grated Parmesan cheese before setting on a plate. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes to chill cakes and make them a little easier to handle. When they are chilled, bake at 450 degrees on a silicone baking mat or parchment-lined sheet for 10-12 minutes, or until lightly browned. Serve immediately with tartar or roumelade sauce.

Sauce: The sauce I used was a base of 1/2C mayo and 2Tb cream seasoned with a finely diced gerkin pickle, dash of hot sauce, 1/2 diced chipotle and 1tsp dijon mustard with a squeeze of lemon.

 

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