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Cauliflower Crust Pizza

(originally posted on The Fitness Dish 09/10/2012)

I read “wheat belly” and while I don’t buy into the whole “lose the wheat, lose the  weight” fad (which I believe was more of a marketing tool, if you read the actual book there’s MUCH more to it), there was some scary stuff about the wheat of today (GMO’s, hybrids, franken-wheat) that freaked me out big time.

I still enjoyed a wide variety of foods. I try to eat mostly foods from nature, how mother nature intended. When you take a grain that us as mankind ground down ourselves, and cross-breed it making it unrecognizable to the wheat of yesteryear– it’s not that natural now is it?

This prompted me to start a 30-Day grain-free, sugar-free challenge.

I have been eating a higher fat/protein diet for a while now.

By upping my protein coming off of eating a more vegetarian/pescitarian (higher carb plant-based diet)  for years, to some more animal proteins (I hate to say it) actually helped me to lean out and get off the last bit of baby weight.

 

I was still eating grains … but not as much. At this point I cut my sugar intake back a good bit as well. I felt really good. I noticed when I DID eat sugar I got a horrible headache and felt overall terrible. Something I just looked at as “normal” before. Now I could clearly make the connection. I was no longer “ravenous” for something sweet all of the time. I was able to control portions more when my days were less grain heavy. Grains triggered sugar cravings. However I was pretty relaxed about it. Some days I ate pasta or homemade pizza–others my main source of carbs was from veggies and fruit.

 

The first 30 days went great! I think I was so concerned about getting enough calories/bulking up my meals  that I actually gained a little weight. That was simply from just eating a lot more than I was before to prove a grain-free diet wasn’t restrictive.  Even though I was swapping for cauli- crust, and regular pasta for lower calorie  zucchini I made sure to add in full-fat dairy and upped my portions of healthy fats and even adding in other animal proteins. I have since gotten a handle on proper portions for my activity level and everything is evening out.

As far as grain-free goes my stomach definitely went down, it flattened out.

Yet another issue erupted.

Weeks 7-9 of going completely grain-free…my skin freaked out on me.

My face got so incredibly dry I had no idea what to do! Under my eyes were like scales, and around my cheeks and mouth, it was TERRIBLE! I eat SO many essential fatty acids/healthy fats,  and my water intake is freakishly high- so I knew it was not that. I mean, I SLATHER coconut oil all over every single night. And all of a sudden, my skin was eating it! Eating EVERYTHING! The oil, it was eating my makeup. I never ever had this issue in my life. I have always had oily/combination complexion. Now I feel for my friends who have complained of dry skin because it’s DEFINITELY worse!

Since eating a more whole foods diet and not depriving myself/yo-yo dieting and all of that crazy jazz in my teens/early 20’s—I have had great skin. I pride myself on that. My healthy skin and hair was a reflection on how I nourished my body.

 

I realized this was a “carb-flu” or “detox” symptom I was experiencing. Within a week my skin plumped back up and got back to normal, and it is now better than ever!

Is going grain-free healthy?

Mark’s daily apple has a great article answering many common questions about going grain-free. Some may feel this is a little extreme, but I really disagree with that. After much reading, I don’t necessarily believe that grains are essential.

Although whole grains may look nutrient-dense, simply looking at the mineral content of a whole grain on a nutrition website tell you very little about how your body absorbs (or doesn’t absorb) those minerals. 

“Since they’re bound up to phytic acid, the minerals in grains aren’t really even all that bioavailable to your body. What you see listed on the nutritional facts isn’t what you’re actually absorbing and assimilating. You get minerals from plants, fruits, {and animals}, which our bodies can actually absorb.”

Another issue is digestion. Many people just don’t digest grains. We have all heard that about wheat gluten, but grains all together may be an issue. The more I read about it, the more it all makes sense. This 30 days will only tell me whether or not the proof is in the grain-free pudding.

What about pizza?

I have a solution for that.

I am not going to lie … this is a lot of work. It is DELICIOUS and fun to make, but since I do not have an allergy to wheat or gluten I am not going to completely nix take-out pizza with my family every once in a while.

I made this last week, and I CANNOT wait to make it again!

A few tips:

  • the caramelized onions make it! If you dig onions, don’t skip them (start with this step first, skip below for the recipe).
  • get a nut-milk bag or a paint strainer bag to get all of the moisture out (kitchen towels will work too, but it is a little more work)
  • buy pre-riced cauliflower if you want to cut back steps.

First thing I did was rice 2 heads of cauliflower in my food processor (chop it up first):

you then need to steam it in a stock pot with a little water until it is soft, then ring the HECK out of it in a nut-milk bag or some kitchen towels (this is the trick to get the crust not to be soggy):

Make sure it is cooled off a bit before doing this. I burned the crap out of my hands the first time I made it because I was impatient!

Once you get the moisture out, place the riced cauliflower in a bowl with the other ingredients and hand mix together, then place on a cookie sheet with parchment paper to form the crust and bake about 34 minutes:

 

Place your toppings on (I love Raos sauce in a pinch):

Fresh basil is a must in the summertime.

and bake another 7-10 minutes to cook the toppings.

 

Carmelized onions:

ingredients:

  • 1 medium sweet onion
  • 1-2 TBSP grass-fed butter
  • sea salt, just a pinch or they will be really salty

Cut onion so they are thin and long. Place butter in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add onions and sea salt and stir frequently. Lower heat and cover, stirring often until the onions become caramelized.

Cauliflower Crust Pizza:

  • 2 heads cauliflower
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup soft goat’s cheese
  • 1 teaspoon parsley
  • 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Chop up cauliflower and place in your food processor until it looks like rice (or buy it pre-made). Place water at the bottom of a stock pot and bring to a boil and then place cauliflower in a mesh sieve on top of the pot to steam it. Once soft, allow it to cool completely, then place the cauliflower in a nut-milk bag or several large dish towels and ring all of the moisture out. This is the trick to get a crispy crust, not a soggy crust. Once it is dry, add it to a bowl with the other ingredients and hand mix until you form a crust. Lay it out on a cookie sheet lined with parchment and bake about 30-34 minutes until the edges start to brown. Add toppings of choice (for me it was  pizza sauce, fresh basil, goat’s cheese and caramelized onions) Serve immediately.

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