Monday, August 17, 2015

Review: Enjoy Life Pizza Crust With Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Soy-Free Basil, Mushroom and Onion Pizza Recipe!

For some, the bond between children and grandparents is unlike any other.
My mini-fridge from my attempt to move out of my house last year is now in my bedroom due to family cross-contamination reactions and a certain senior family member (bless his heart) eating my food as well as any leftovers of mine in the fridge.

Growing up, this person was one of my favorite people in the entire world and still is. As a toddler I remember him holding me and scratching me until I fell asleep. We also shared the bond of music, because he sings like Perry Cuomo and used to follow me around the house with a tape recorder while I sang songs he taught me. It seems to be a culture thing where Filipino elderly members forget, disregard or just don't understand the whole concept of cross-contamination and that we cannot eat the same things they do. Maybe this happens in many other cultures, too...I don't know. After a couple decades of the same fights over and over, you realize that people are who they are and you have to accept it while taking measures to protect yourself.

Of course, many of you know I have to cook everything at home because with my list of allergens along with severe gluten intolerance (you can read my 'gluten challenge' story here) its just too risky and I have the past experiences to prove it. Some of my allergy list includes garbanzo beans, (chickpeas), peas and lentils, however, I am able to eat black beans, red beans and white northern beans. So for those of you with legume allergies, definitely talk to your doc before experimenting with northern white beans! If you do decide to play food roulette (because I once knew that kind of stupidity) please park outside an emergency room!

No, I no longer eat in a single restaurant, except a trusted sushi place named Kotobuki where I notify them of "deadly allergy to peanuts and tofu" then order a sashimi lunch or dinner (without the small salmon/mayo-based sauce appetizer (contains soy and gluten) which usually comes with it and they give me extra salmon sashimi instead). Like many with soy allergy, I cannot eat farm-raised fish, due to soy feed (literally knocks me out within two hours, along with itchy skin and mouth and big mood shift) so it's usually a trial and error even for sushi places, however most of the ones I've been to serve wild-caught fish only. I also bring my own bottle of Coconut Secret Coconut Aminos Soy-Free Soy Sauce (I also like to add Celtic Sea Salt to it since it's close but not salty enough) or I go to Chipotle but heed numerous rules due to severe soy allergy.

These lazy, hot summer months have turned me into a mad scientist in the kitchen; experimenting, failing and then experimenting some more! And since it's taking me forever to learn a video production program for some surprises I have in store, I'm going to post this homemade Gluten-Free Dairy-Free Pizza using Enjoy Life Pizza Crust which came out absolutely freaking amazing! 

Check out that texture. Now who wants to experience the best dairy-free soy-free gluten-free pizza, ever?

If you have soy allergy, dairy allergy, anaphylaxis to nuts or even peanut allergies, pizza might have become a distant memory, just as it has for me. With soy allergy you can't trust olive oil at restaurants. With nut allergies you cannot guarantee cross-contamination issues in the restaurant or even cross-contamination from the company that makes the sauce. Of course there's also those of you with celiac disease or severe gluten intolerance like I developed, who don't trust any restaurant that is not a dedicated gluten-free establishment.

  You also know the feeling of watching a guy nonchalantly walking by, like this...

I might have to tackle you for the teal shirt
...and staring him down like a hawk from our safe little corner while he innocently devours his pizza. Of course, sooner or later, you look genuinely creepy as he turns his head and your eyes meet. Your heart drops to your stomach as your brain screams a steady bunch of  worst-case-scenario assumptions, "Great, now he thinks I'm checking him out. Ugh. He could be my son. Ew." or, "Great, now I just look greedy and hungry. My stomach sounds like aliens talking and he probably can hear it. I didn't eat anything, yet. I'm starving..." You quickly look away, now looking more guilty than ever. And then he...

...trips. Yeah, you heard me. Falls right on his gosh darn face. I know some of you probably liked that ending. I know others of you are concerned whether he was okay. He was fine. *wink*

My point is that many of us go through various mixed emotions watching others eat things we can't. Or even worse, maybe you used to be able to eat a food from one of the main food groups, like gluten or dairy but now can't have a crumb or you will basically have to endure some unmentionable symptoms which we won't talk about here. Or maybe others of you have or care for someone with anaphylaxis to wheat or dairy and eating at a restaurant literally becomes a life risk. I can relate to all of the above and then some.

We need to take our power back. The only way to do that is to keep supporting the companies that truly go out of their way to make their dedicated facility free of the top 8 allergens. The companies who push their allergy friendly standards to the highest levels possible and who truly stand at the top of their game. These are the companies that give us our independence from the need to play by society's food rules and social norms. Of course, many of us don't have the time to cook from scratch every day and it these companies that help put the power back into our hands.

Gluten-Free Soy-Free Dairy-Free Pizza brings me to a happy place, for sure!
For many of us with school-age children and for those of us who are adults with food allergies since childhood, Enjoy Life has become somewhat of a grocery store enigma. Whenever I see their products in a store I wouldn't suspect (ahem, Pathmark!) I hear in my imagination the faint singing of they're protecting me while I literally scream out like a kid who just saw heavenly lights shine down from the ceiling upon these boxes of safe, beautiful, smile-evoking boxes of happiness.

And now they have a new baking line.

Disclaimer: Enjoy Life Foods sent me Enjoy Life Pizza Crust mix, Enjoy Life Muffin Mix, Enjoy Life Pancake Mix, Enjoy Life Brownie Mix and Enjoy Life All-Purpose Flour Mix along with a few kitchen tools. I was not compensated financially in any way for this review. So everything I'm writing is my own opinion, unbiased.

 There are new ingredients in the flours such as konjac flour and even probiotics to boost the immune system! Of course, with a delayed dairy allergy, I found it impossible to find any soy-free, guar gum free, pea protein-free cheese. And cheese is kind of a huge deal for many of my favorite kinds of foods and recipes. So I made one up.

Note: I used Northern White Beans which are one of the beans I can have. Within the legume family, besides peanut anaphylaxis, I am severely allergic to garbanzo beans, lentils, soy and peas...however, I can have red bean, black beans and this Northern White Bean. Once again, if you have severe allergies in the legume family, please check with your doctor before proceeding. If you decide to take a risk, you'd better take it to go and sit outside the ER with four unexpired EpiPens/Auvi-Qs!

       Maya's Gluten Free Homemade Basil Mushroom and Onion Vegan Pizza 

(Nut-Free, Soy-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free, Gluten-Free, Lupine-Free, GMO-free)

Serves 2 healthy portions 

Vegan Cheese Alternative Ingredients (dairy-free, soy-free, lupine-free)

1 Can Organic Northern White Beans RINSED (I use 365 Everyday Value Whole Foods brand)
1 and 1/2 Soy-Free 'Chicken' Bouillon Cube (I love Edward and Sons 'Not Chicken' packs)
1 Bay Leaf (I use McCormick Bay Leaves)
4 Tablespoons USDA Organic Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
3 cloves of garlic, minced 
2 dashes of USDA Organic Cumin (Peanut allergy warning: I only trust Simply Organic brand due to a very bad recent incident and nationwide industry recall due to peanut flour posing as cumin!)

1 tsp fresh Organic Oregano, minced (may be subbed with dried oregano)
1 tsp fresh Organic Sage, minced (may be subbed with ground sage)
1/2 tsp corn starch (I use Rumford Non-GMO brand
1/2 packet or 1/4 tsp Pure Sweetleaf Stevia

Directions For Vegan Cheese Alternative for Pizza Step #1

In a medium saucepan, heat olive oil on low-medium; since olive oil heats to very high temps quickly, it can easily burn. Add your sage and oregano. I pre-froze mini cubes of them by mincing them then stuffing them into the squares, then fill each square with olive oil and softly mix each with toothpick. If you do this (always an amazing time-saver and keeps you from wasting herbs you don't cook in time), simply omit 1 tablespoon of olive oil for every cube you use. Add the minced garlic and bouillon cubes, softening them and pressing them with a wooden spoon or spatula to melt them into the oil.

This is the part where people will show up and ask what you're cooking.

Once everything is fragrant and boiling, add the beans while stirring thoroughly. Fill the bean can with water and pour in. Once it starts boiling, add the bay leaf, two dashes of cumin, stevia and corn starch. Turn down the heat and allow the dish to simmer at a low boil for about 10 minutes. Until most of the liquid is gone and when you scrape the bottom, it doesn't move itself back over the spot like in the picture you see below. Note: Make sure to move it quickly to another cool stove to cool and to avoid burning your savory new 'cheese' alternative!

Mash up your vegan cheese alternative as much as possible and allow to cool for about 10-15 minutes while you prepare the crust.

Crust and Sauce Step #2 Ingredients

1 cup Enjoy Life Pizza Crust Mix 
1 Tsp Non-GMO Canola Oil
USDA Organic Olive Oil (I use Kirkland Signature USDA Organic from Costco) 
1 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
1/2 cup and two Tablespoons of water
1 jar of Organicville Organic Pizza Sauce (one jar can last for like 8+ mini pizzas!)
Directions For Crust and Sauce

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. In a medium bowl, combine Enjoy Life Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix and Celtic Sea Salt. Add water and oil, mixing everything together until crumbly pieces join all together to form one ball of dough. I use nitrile gloved hands (since almost any food makes my fingers itch) to softly knead the dough just so that everything is well combined and one texture. If the dough is sticking to gloves, simply dip your gloved hands into the crust mix bag and rework the dough until it's a consistency similar to what you see here. 
Enjoy Life Pizza Mix dough ball
Enjoy Life Pizza Crust Dough: The Beginning of Something Magical...
 The next step is to throw a bit of the Enjoy Life Pizza Mix flour onto a cookie sheet. This will help keep the dough from sticking to the pan. Separate the dough ball in half. Shape and press each ball down to a medium-sized 'mini' pizza using fingertips...almost as if you're 'creating' a 1/4 inch thick pizza with Play-Doh. You don't need a rolling pin or other tools; the final cooked crust is surprisingly very sturdy and held a good weight of toppings. You want the dough to be dry as you knead and press it flat. The only moisture you should really notice is going to be the oil on top when you add it. Add about 1 Tablespoon of USDA Organic Olive Oil to each top. This will help lend a nice crunch to the crust and keep it from becoming too dry. 
Two delicious Mini Enjoy Life Pizza mix crusts coming right up!

The next step is to add sauce. Don't go overboard but definitely make sure to cover the pizzas as far to the edges as possible. Try not to leave white spaces; make sure each entire pizza has enough sauce.

I like my pizza a bit more saucy than 'cheesy'
At this point, your pizzas are ready to go into the oven! Bake about 10-12 minutes if you want your crusts just 'tanned' like you see in my final pictures. Now, time to saute the toppings!

Sauteed Basil, Mushroom and Onion Topping Step 3 Ingredients:

1/4 Cup Fresh Basil (I grabbed them straight off of the plant in my kitchen! You can sub this with 1 Tbs dried basil)

1 package of Organic Portobello Mushrooms which I bought from Whole Foods produce section (about 1 1/2 cups sliced)

1 Organic Red Onion (thinly sliced) 

2 Tbs USDA Organic Olive Oil 

1/2 tsp black pepper

pinch of Celtic Sea Salt  

Directions for Pizza Topping

Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl. Heat a medium-sized saucepan to medium or until a drop of water thrown on it sizzles. Throw in your combined ingredients. Cook 5-7 minutes until vegetables are tender. Quickly move pan to a different stove to let cool.

sauteeing vegetables in saucepan

Your pizza crust and sauce should be done by now if not very soon. Scoop your cooled cheese alternative onto the pizza crust while its still hot and smooth into a thin layer (just like with regular cheese, you don't want to overpile this since it can overpower the taste combination. My pizza had a bit too much on the second piece, which I did end up digging into even though I only planned to eat half of the first one. Nope. I ate one and a half large servings. It was that good..)

Enjoy Life Pizza Crust box, Enjoy Life oven mitt and homemade pizza
You can make four mini pizzas or two of this recipe with this box! Crunchy, tender and delicious!
I know you want to make this. And now your craving for real pizza won't stand a chance against this healthy pizza you'll never be able to get outside of home. I definitely want to hear your feedback below! Please make sure to +1 this post if you found it useful and share on social media! Follow me on Twitter @Mayasgallery for all kinds of recipes, food allergy info and gluten-free news.

Until next time, have an amazing week, everyone!

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