Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Soy-Free Challenge #4: DF CF Cheezy Pine Nut Pizza Recipe

December 19th, 2008 yum Posted in Cooking for Karina, Dairy Free, Garlic-free, Italian, JM friendly, Mushrooms, Nuts, Pizza, Soy Free, Sweet Potato, Tomato-free, Vegan, portobello mushrooms, soy-free challenges, walnut 7 Comments »

Thin gluten-free crust with pine nut “cheese”, roasted sweet potatoes, fresh basil, roasted mushrooms and roasted red pepper, prior to baking.

One big challenge to the dairy-free, soy-free lifestyle is that of a cheesy pizza. Sure, you can make a tomato sauce and just skip the cheese, but it doesn’t have that rich mouth feel or decadence. I’ve played with a variety of solutions to this problem. There are a number of lactose free or dairy free cheeses on the market, including almond, rice, and soy cheeses that are also gluten-free. However, finding a commercial w”cheese” that is truly 100% dairy-free as well as soy-free can be another story. Besides, if you’ve ever tried these cheese “substitutes” you know that they taste almost nothing like real cheese, and often don’t seem to add anything good to a recipe besides the idea of cheese. Luckily vegan cookbooks such as The Uncheese Cookbook have more creative alternatives using a variety of “real” foods as the base for their un-cheese recipes. Some of these recipes use soy (frequently) or gluten (less frequently), but there are many options that do work for a gluten,dairy, and soy-free diet.

However, interestingly one of the most successful soy and dairy-free cheese substitutes I found was not in a vegan cookbook, exactly, but on a related raw foods cookbook. Raw foodists might find it sacrilege, but I used it in a baked lasagna to wonderful effect. This recipe for soy and dairy-free lasagna has been one of the most popular recipes at the Book of Yum because it answers a real need in the food-sensitive community for TASTY cheese substitutes. This recipe came to mind when Mother was visiting us this week. She can eat gluten, but is allergic to soy and dairy, so she doesn’t often have the chance to have “cheesy” dishes. She is also allergic to garlic and avoids tomatoes due to RA. When I decided to make a dairy-free pizza, I thought immediately that I should try using the yummy pine nut sauce on it as the “cheese” base. I was also inspired by the season to roast sweet potato cubes and mushrooms for toppings. I decided to simplify the pine nut recipe a bit and found it was just as good, if not better than the original. It was a big hit with my allergy-sensitive Mom, and the DH and I enjoyed it as well. The combination of pine nut sauce, fresh basil, and roasted vegetables was absolutely addicting. Because I had extra pizza crusts I decided to also make a dairy-free walnut pesto and top it with roasted vegetables as well. Yum! And nobody missed the cheese (or soy) at all.

Looking for a gluten-free pizza crust recipe?
Here’s a fun thin-crust recipe- it doesn’t rise much but makes enough for 6 pizzas that you can enjoy over a week’s time.
And, here’s my personal favorite crust- Carol Fenster’s classic gluten-free Pizza recipe with allergen-free pizza topping recipes

Dairy-Free Soy-Free Pine Nut Cheesy Pizza
1 gluten-free pizza crust

Pine Nut “Cheese” (new version)
1/2 cup pine nuts
1 to 1 1/2 tsp. brown rice vinegar
1/4 tsp or less salt
1/8 cup water or more

1 sweet potato, peeled, cubed
handful fresh basil leaves, julienned
4 baby portabella mushrooms (between crimini and portabella)
1 red pepper for roasting
olive oil
salt, pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Soak 1/2 cup pine nuts in enough water to cover for an hour. Then drain, rinse, and blend in food processor with dash of salt, vinegar and water until you have a creamy consistency. Put in small container and reserve, refrigerating.

Prepare toppings:
Toss sweet potato cubes with dash of olive oil, salt and pepper if you like. Place on baking sheet. Remove stems from mushrooms and rub with a little olive oil. Season with salt and pepper if you like. Place whole red pepper on baking sheet or on oven rack along with rest of your veggies. Roast for 15 minutes and check your mushrooms. If they seem done, remove mushrooms from oven, dribbling juices over them and letting rest. If not, check mushrooms again in another 5 minutes. After they have rested, you can slice them. Roast sweet potatoes until they are fork tender but not mushy. Roast red pepper (turning occasionally) until sides are all slightly charred. When you take red pepper out of oven, place in freezer safe ziploc bag, seal, and let steam for 10 minutes on counter before removing. Rub off skin with paper or cloth towel, cut in half and de-seed. Slice and/or cut into bite sized pieces and reserve.

To assemble your pizza, top with even coating of your pine nut “cheese”. If you have some, you could rub the crust first with a bit of blended sundried tomato and olive oil to give the crust a more attractive golden color that will stand out from the pine nut “cheese”. (I didn’t do that this time, Mom is also sensitive to tomatoes). Sprinkle with julienned basil, roasted sweet potato, mushroom slices and red pepper pieces. Bake following pizza crust instructions. The thin-crust pizza recipe I used requires a short bake time (12 min or less) and so is ideal. For a long baking recipe, you might bake the crust halfway before topping the pizza.

My dairy-free, soy-free Mom loved this pizza, and loved the pine nut sauce.
Walnut Dairy Free Pesto Recipe
1/2 cup walnuts
2 cups fresh basil leaves
sprinkle salt
1/8 cup roasted fresh onions
1/4 cup olive oil
Combine ingredients in blender or food processor, drizzling in olive oil as you blend it. Taste and season with more salt or other spices if desired. Enjoy!
I used this pesto on a gluten-free pizza crust topped with roasted sweet potatoes, roasted potatoes, roasted red pepper, roasted onion, and even half roasted chard. Yum yum yum!
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Gluten free, Soy free, dairy Free Challenge #3: The allergen-free chocolate bar

November 14th, 2008 yum Posted in Chocolate, Dairy Free, soy-free challenges 14 Comments »

It might seem obvious, but many people’s favorite sweet- chocolate- can pose an unexpected challenge for the gluten-free, allergen sensitive individual. Gluten can sneak into chocolates unexpectedly, so it is always important to read the label. Some of the higher quality chocolates produced in the United States and other places dust machinery or molds with wheat flour, making an initially safe product off limits. Although I am not generally a “contact the manufacturer” type of girl, I will make an exception for chocolates, because I’ve been surprised several times by (appalling) manufacturing procedures not mentioned in ingredient lists.

I was disheartened to find on my first trip to Europe that the ever-popular and available Lindt truffles contained barley malt, and they are not the only ones. On their faq page, Godiva states that “ALL of our products including solid chocolate pieces may contain gluten. Any person with a gluten allergy should NOT consume ANY of our products.” (allergen page). Well, I guess I didn’t want any of your nasty gluten-infested chocolate anyway. Besides, Godiva puts wheat in their chocolate ice cream- who DOES that? I was also unpleasantly surprised by Joseph Schmidt truffles. They are sold in the cute deli in Half Moon Bay, among other places, without ingredient lists. I thought they would be safe, but contacted the company. In 2007 I was told that “None of our Joseph Schmidt truffles or chocolate products are considered safe for people with gluten intolerance because of risk of cross contamination in our facility. Our sister company, Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker, does make a baking bar of chocolate that is gluten free and manufactured in an exclusive environment (the 9.7oz home baking bars in semisweet, bittersweet, and unsweetened).” Exciting as baking bar chocolate is (cough cough), I was disappointed, to say the least. However, some companies likes See’s reportedly have many gluten-free gourmet chocolate options. There are also many safe options in ordinary candy.

While finding chocolate without gluten can have its challenges, the search becomes even harder for those with multiple allergies. Although it is possible to find some dark chocolates that do not contain milk, they are often produced on the same lines as those that contain milk, soy or nuts. For those who can tolerate no amount of soy (even that in soy lecithin), the options start looking nonexistent. Luckily, recently Enjoy Life came out with a line of gluten-free, allergen-free chocolate bars that don’t even contain soy lecithin. They are called Boom Bars, and are offered in dark chocolate, (rice) milk chocolate, and crispy rice chocolate varieties.

My opinion? The rice milk chocolate is nice, although I tend to prefer dark chocolate. It is slightly better than Hershey’s chocolate, in my opinion, and has a slight crunchiness that may come from sugar crystals or the dehydrated rice milk. I rather like the crunch, but I’m funny that way. The dark chocolate is more satisfying, with more chocolate impact, and also has a slight crunch to it. I haven’t tried the crispy rice variety yet, but look forward to trying it.

The cool thing? You can print out a 75 cent coupon for Enjoy Life Chocolate Boom Bars at Enjoy Life’s site. Whole Foods has also had these bars on sale recently, although the sale may end soon or not be applicable at your local Whole Foods.

Also, if you have been dying to try Enjoy Life allergen-free baking chips (which I must admit are also delicious for snacking), but can’t find them in your local stores, they are currently available on Amazon. Granted, you have to buy them in quantity- possibly enough to start your own gluten-free, allergen-free cookie company, but at least they are available.

These products have been needed by the gluten-free, allergen sensitive community for some time now, and I’m so glad Enjoy Life has stepped up to the plate with these products for gluten-free baking or snacking. Thank you, Enjoy Life! Please share your experiences with these products in the comments!

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