Gluten Free Pizza Review: Gallo Lea

gf-pizza-crust-box

Pizza is a staple of food in the US, but because of wheat in the crust of the vast majority of pizza, most Celiacs have had to avoid one of tastiest and most convenient foods available. However, there are many gluten free pizza products available. Rebecca and I have tried many different types of gluten free Pizzas with varying success. This one from “Gallo Lea” we picked up at Earthfare yesterday. It turned out great! It was prepared differently from some of the other gluten free crusts we have tried. Below are the steps we used to prepare this pizza.

The package included the crust mix, sauce and a circular piece of wax paper. The paper was for a 12 inch pizza. This was something different than what we had seen the past. This can be used as a barrier from the pizza pans that have been using in past that might lead to inadvertently contaminating the crust from gluten.

pizza-package-contents

Both Rebecca and I like meat and cheese on our pizza, so the toppings on our pizza’s do not vary that much. For this pizza, we topped it with fresh, grass fed ground beef, pre-cooked and simmered in the pizza sauce, organic shredded provolone and colby jack cheese and fresh yellow pepper. Here is how it was prepared:

I cooked 1 pound of organic, grass feed ground beef in coconut oil. I did this at low heat (2-4 on our stove dial) until all the meat was brown. I recommend cooking on low heat when cooking with oils, we have found it adds taste, and takes away from the greasy feeling you get after eating. We like cooking with coconut oil or grass fed better, we’ll do a separate blog on it.

coconut-for-pizza

I then drained the meat slightly of the left over oil, and combined the pizza sauce and spices including approximately 2 teaspoons of oregano, cinnamon and stevia. I like the sweet sauce, so cooking in coconut oil, stevia and cinnamon should be avoided if you don’t like this sweetness. As a concept, I like to add one or two things that are different every time I cook a repeating meal like this, it keeps it fun. Plus, if you like the change, you can continue to do it, if not, don’t repeat. This time it worked out for us, although Rebecca did not like the cinnamon. This then simmered on low, in this case for about 1 hour.

Following the directions on the package, I took a half cup of water in a glass measuring bowel, and microwaved it for 25 seconds, then added the crust mix. With a spoon, I stirred for the 50 specified strokes until I had a dough ball the size of my fist. I then covered the bowl, and let it sit in a warm area on our stove for 10 minutes. It did not rise much.

While the dough was rising, I cut 1 yellow bell pepper (sweeter than other peppers) and re-heated the pizza sauce and meat. We have a pizza sheet that has small holes in the bottom. I unfolded the wax paper included in the package. I took a spoonful of coconut oil, and heated in the microwave for 15 seconds. Coconut oil is solid in room temperature, so the microwaving is necessary for easier spreading. With the wax paper spread out on the pizza pan, I spread the oil over the wax paper in a thin layer, not too much.

pizza-crust-prepared

The dough was then formed into a ball, and by hand, I spread it out on the way paper until it cover the whole thing. This took about 5 minutes; the dough had to be very thin in order to get the entire wax paper covered. Surprisingly, the dough did not tear. I did have coconut oil on my fingertips while spreading, so the dough did not stick to my fingers. In my past experiences with dough (both gluten and gluten free), spreading the dough is a messy process, this was not the case with this dough. I also rolled the edges of the dough to give it a pizza like end crust, and spread the remaining liquid coconut oil over those edges, as well as over the entire top of the pizza center. This is in hopes of making it a little extra crispy.

What I have found with the gluten free pizza crusts, it is very hard to get them crispy, so I do everything possible to make that happen. During the middle of rolling out the pizza dough, I pre-heated the oven to 450 degrees. In our oven, the burners are at the bottom, and I want them very hot when initially put the pizza in. I put the rack at its lowest, and without any toppings, I placed the pizza on the bottom rack. The oven had been pre-heating for approximately 5 minutes.

After 9 minutes on the lower rack, I took the pizza out. The crust and not risen much, but the bottom was crispy.. yes!. The toppings were then added; I used 75 percent of the meat and sauce, 75 percent of the bag of cheese, the entire pepper, and some grated Parmesan cheese. I put the pizza back into the oven on the top rack, and cooked for approximately 10 minutes. However, I was watching the top of the pizza to make sure the cheese was melting but not burning. For the last two minutes, I broiled the top of the pizza until I had just the right amount of melted cheese and was a little brown.

finished-pizza

The result was a thin and crispy pizza (both on the bottom and the crust) with sweat sauce and just the right amount of cheese to make it almost impossible to put down. It was just the right amount for Rebecca and I, but we were both hungry and I ate the extra piece that Rebecca could not finish.

Enjoy!!! Aaron
The Trophy Husband

Ingredients needed:

  • 1 pizza crust package http://www.gallolea.com/
  • 1 Pound of grass fed ground beef (used 75 % of it for pizza)
  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil (1 for cooking the beef, one for the pizza dough preparation)
  • 1 package of organic shredded provolone and colby jack (used 75 % of it for pizza)
  • 1 Yellow bell pepper
  • Approximately 2 teaspoons of oregano, cinnamon and stevia
  • Approximately 1 tablespoons of parmesan cheese

My wife is the Pretty Little Celiac and this is our Celiac Journey…

The Trophy Husband

Diaries of the Pretty Little Celiac’s Husband

“Watch the cart” This is the first thing that comes to my mind when I think of Rebecca and her relationship with food. There are too many times to count when we would be speeding home from a night of eating out, screaming at me to go faster or she was going to “bleep her pants”. One time in particular, I had marks on my shoulder when she was grinding her nails into my shoulder as I was turning the corner, coming into our sub-division. We were forced to stop behind a car of an elderly couple who seem to be lost and to my dismay going under 10 miles per hour. I can’t even count how many times this happened. For a while, we would go to the grocery store immediately after eating out. Within 5 minutes of arrival, somewhere between the produce and bakery (rather ironically), she would eventually tell me to “watch the cart’, and she quickly walked to the restroom to ‘check out the facilities’. What was tough for me to understand was the relationship between what she was eating and her sometimes explosive reaction to the food. She would have what we thought was a very healthy dinner, chicken, veggies, whole wheat bread… explosion.. Then we would eat something that would be considered bad or greasy, like cheese fries or nachos loaded with cheese, and nothing. It was like trying to dodge land mines, but they were invisible or at least mis-labeled.

I Have Allergies too!
To give this some perspective,I have always had an allergy to nuts, more specifically, tree nuts. I have been to the emergency room about a dozen times in 30 years. If I have something with nuts in it, I have an immediate reaction. My reaction is much more severe than what Rebecca has with gluten. Certain nuts, if I ingest enough of them, will swell me up to the point where I will not be able to breathe, and die within minutes. Other nuts will give me hives so bad that I become almost unrecognizable. That being said, I find my allergy much more manageable than having celiac. Why? I pretty much know what food has nuts and what doesn’t. Nut allergies are well established in the manufacturing industry the labels on food are done in a way where there is no ambiguity, which I think has to do with the severity of the allergy. If someone eats a product that has nuts but it was not on the label, and dies, the lawyers come in. In the case of Gluten, if gluten is in a product and it says it is ‘Gluten Free’ and it irritates my stomach, it is pretty hard to sue for that. How could you prove it? I can’t even picture how that would play out in court!

In restaurants, it is very easy to find out what has nuts and what doesn’t, most of the time you can see them and there are well established foods that I know to stay away from.. IE Chinese (cooking in nut oils), desserts with walnuts, pecans , cashews…. For gluten, it’s not that straight forward, even to the most veteran celiac. We typically get looks of confusion if Rebecca asks if an item has gluten or not. Sometimes the quick response of “no’. That is even more concerning, since it is hard to determine if the waiter waitress is truly understanding the question. Lastly, the reaction to the gluten is not as automatic as the nut allergy. I am so sensitive to the nuts, I can of just smell them in the food and know. One bite (not even swallowing) and I immediately know. With gluten, sometimes it happens hours later or at times…days…so there is no immediate feedback. The gluten reaction can also be days in length, and can be one of many things for Rebecca. Mostly notably multiple trips to the bathroom. I know way more about her poop then I would ever care to admit.

More than that, it negatively affects her mood, her joints and at times our relationship. Damn you gluten!

The Experiments
Now that she has found out, initially there was a sense of relief. However, quickly a hard realization. Things that she loved to eat were slowly poisoning her. It has been tough. It is tough for me to find the correct way to support her in these struggles. I am a problem solver at work, however, in my experience with Rebecca, it is best to give her unconditional support and someone to listen to ,as opposed to offering any solutions. I don’t have to live with this condition, and I am learning along with her. I don’t have to live with the mistakes or mis-steps that happen along the way. The first few months she stuck to the four of five things she liked and could eat…but those would quickly come and go… Chipotle for a month, then Noodles and Company… then Annie’s Gluten free Mac and Cheese. Trips to gluten-free bakeries, gluten-free bagels, pizza.. some of it will disintegrate in your month… some of it was actually better than the gluten-free product, but you always pay 2x as much for it. We continue to find things we like, and don’t. Rebecca is very vocal either way.. no ambiguity.

How it affected me and my own weight struggles…
One unintended side effect of the discovery that Rebecca had gluten, was that it had positive effects on my health. To be supportive, and also because  I didn’t want to make two different meals (yes, I am the cook in the house), I began eating mostly gluten-free. I have struggled with keeping my weight down, and in the past I combated that with working out more and eating less of the foods I really enjoy! I was smack dab in the middle of one of my most ambitious cycles to get in shape. I was working out, sometime 2x a day, and I was actually gaining weight. The I had started to eat the gluten-free diet, again, the reason of convenience and sanity. I first noticed more energy in the afternoon while I was at work.

Before this, energy from caffeine was the only way I could get through the afternoon. But after eliminating the majority of the gluten in my diet, I was feeling more energetic and didn’t feel I needed caffeine in the afternoons. I began to feel as if there was something to this. I have now embraced eating this way, as well as more small improvements, and have lost 27 pounds in 12 weeks. I am working out less than once a week and not counting calories! My body seems to respond better to not having gluten, and I have never felt better and more energetic.

How I am trying to help…
I listen, I empathize and I learn. As mentioned before, I was not familiar with Celiac disease and gluten. In fact, my knowledge of truly good nutrition was greatly out of date. I have spent the past 5 months researching nutrition and in particular how it affects us on a daily basis. There are great resources on the internet. I particularly like some podcasts I have found on iTunes (search the ‘Health’ category). I listen to these on my to work or when I have the time. Rebecca and I have listened to them on the way to and from some our trips and we have found information that is consistent with what she is experiencing. Cooking for Rebecca continues to be a learning experience. We are constantly trying to find ways to cook the foods we like in a gluten-free manner. Sometimes is works, sometime it doesn’t, and we have to eat the failures. I know immediately if Rebecca doesn’t like it, and we now have at least a few things we can eat consistently. For the most part, we don’t eat out, and when we do there are specific restaurants we target.

What’s next?
We continue to try to find ways to have a lifestyle that we both enjoy. We have had many ups and downs.. mentally, emotionally, physically.. those won’t stop, at least not in the short-term. We are doing it together, but we stumble. She has to live with her body and it’s crankiness, but I see it getting better, although some days there are setbacks. We now celebrate eating out and not getting sick, we celebrate finding a pizza crust that is close to what she used to experience. We celebrate normal bowl movements… yes I said it.

Rebecca started her blog to help people find those little celebrations, to dodge the pitfalls she has found, and to inspire those who have this disease. She is also are looking to collaborate and learn from those who are fighting to maintain a normal and happy life. One day at a time, one meal at a time, we will get there.

Aaron

 

 

  • Becky

    It was as if you were writing about my life! Thank you.

     

    • PrettyLittleCeliac

      You are so welcome! Thank you for stopping by and I just plan on posting more and more…. Stay tuned and let me know if you’d like any specific blog posts…
      Rebecca

       

  • Victoria Rutigliano

    I have a VERY similar story as well. It took years for me to get diagnoised. So great that you are spreading the word to help others. This is a great website.

     

    • PrettyLittleCeliac

      Thank you Victoria for stopping by and I’m thrilled you enjoyed my website. That was the whole point in doing it to educate people. Did they say you had irritable bowel syndrome too?