When I was in grade school, there was exactly one boy (let’s call him Jerome) in our school who had a food allergy (to peanuts). Jerome was already a bit too large (he towered over the rest of us; even in grade three, he was already level with our teacher, Mrs. B’s shoulders); a bit too goofy (he had one of those snorty-hiccuping laughs, sounding slightly porcine and aquatic at the same time); and a bit too fleshy, with excess skin seeming to hang from his waistband and cheeks, his complexion as white and matte as newly painted classrooms after summer break.
I always felt sorry for him. Even though he sometimes played the class clown out in the school yard, I never saw him smiling around food. He carried his dietary restrictions around like a backpack full of rocks–at once too heavy, yet requiring great attention to avoid causing injury–while the rest of us flaunted our peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for lunch.
When I first began the Anti-Candida Diet (ACD) in earnest in March, 2009, I felt a long-lost connection to poor Jerome. After all, not only did I have to eschew peanuts, but also gluten, most sweeteners, yeasts, alcohol and all moldy foods as well. No, I won’t be eating any PB&J sandwiches in the foreseeable future. And yet, after three years on the diet, I no longer feel like I’m missing out on very much (the one exception is social occasions–when we’re invited to someone’s house for dinner, or to a major event like a wedding or bar mitzvah; the industrial kitchens seem to have a tough time producing something I can eat that also tastes good). I’ve more or less accepted that this will be my diet for the rest of my life, and I don’t mind cooking my own foods. I’ve discovered that, if you keep an open mind, there’s an infinite number of new food combinations and flavors to try, even on a restricted diet.
(“It’s true, Mum–we don’t think of our diet as restricted, either, even without chocolate! We happen to love the combination of apple, cauliflower and salmon blended together in the food processor.”)
In fact, for me it’s become a kind of game, a little personal challenge whenever I spy something that looks delicious but which I’m not supposed to eat: how can I recreate that dish in a way that’s ACD-friendly? When I saw Cara’s Caramelized Onion, Shaved Butternut and Goat Cheese Pizza over on the Clean Eating webiste, I knew immediately that I’d have to reproduce it–or, at least, an allergy-friendly, low glycemic, ACD-approved version of it. I saved the recipe on Pinterest (so much more fun than bookmarking!) and thought about what I’d change.
I ended up tweaking my own Grain-Free Pizza Crust to make it not only grain-free but also starch-free; used this goat “cheese” instead of the dairy-based one; and concocted an ACD-friendly version of the condensed balsamic that worked beautifully. The HH (who, by the way, has no food allergies and can eat whatever he wants in whatever quantities he wants–don’t you just hate him?) went bonkers over this pizza. I think he wants Cara to come live with us now.
The pizza features thinly sliced, deeply browned onions, slow-cooked until sweet and languorous. They’re topped with shaved squash that’s wilted and beginning to curl at the edges, accented with crisp, toasty pumpkinseeds and bitter greens, all accented with dollops of tart, creamy goat “cheese.”
Savoring a big slice of this pizza, I felt completely happy, sated and even somewhat spoiled by the perfect symphony of flavors, colors and textures on my plate. In other words, it was the very antithesis of a “restricted” meal. Now, if only I could invite Jerome to join us. I’m sure this pizza would make him smile aound his food, after all.
Cara’s Caramelized Onion, Shaved Butternut and “Goat Cheese” Pizza, Anti-Candida Friendly (grain-free, dairy-free, sugar-free, vegan); Suitable for ACD Stage 2 and beyond.
The toppings on this pizza would work beautifully on any crust. If you don’t wish to eat a grain-free crust or if you can consume gluten, go ahead and use a store-bought crust to speed the process.
For the Crust:
1 can (19 oz or 540 ml) white kidney or navy beans, rinsed well and drained (about 2 cups/480 ml)
1/4 cup (60 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic, plus about 1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra
1/2 cup (120 ml) unsweetened plain soymilk or almond milk
5 drops plain stevia liquid (or 1 tsp agave nectar)
4 tsp (1 Tbsp plus 1 tsp or 20 ml) apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) coconut flour
2 Tbsp (30 ml) whole psyllium husks
2 Tbsp (30 ml) garfava flour
1/4 cup (60 ml) buckwheat flour
1/2 tsp (2.5 ml) baking soda
3/4 tsp (7.5 ml) baking powder
1/8 tsp (.5 ml) fine sea salt
1 tsp (5 ml) dried basil, optional (omit if you’ll be topping with sweet ingredients)
For the Toppings:
1 Tbsp (15 ml) extra virgin olive oil, preferably organic
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
1/4-1/2 cup (60-120 ml) vegetable broth or stock
225 g (4 oz) peeled and shaved (with a vegetable peeler) butternut squash (about 1/4 of a sqash–I just did the thin neck part)
1/2 recipe this goat “cheese” (omit peppercorns; the remainder is great on muffins, toast, etc.)
2 cups (480 ml) thinly sliced chard or kale
2 Tbsp (30 ml) raw or lightly toasted pumpkin seeds
For the Balsamic Drizzle (ACD Stage 3 or beyond; for ACD Stage 2, see variation below):
1/4 cup (60 ml) balsamic vinegar
1/4 cup (60 ml) apple cider vinegar
5 drops plain stevia liquid
Make the crust: Preheat oven to 375F (190C). Line a large pizza pan with parchment, or spray with nonstick spray.
In the bowl of a food processor, process the beans and 1/4 cup (60 ml) oil until relatively smooth. Add the soymilk, stevia, vinegar, coconut flour, psyllium, garfava flour, buckwheat flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and basil and process again until the mixture comes together in a ball. Do not overprocess!
Take the ball of dough and, using your hands, pull of chunks the size of baseballs and distribute them evenly over the pizza pan. Use the final 1 Tbsp (15 ml) of oil to grease your palms and fingertips; then press the dough evenly in the pan until all the chunks come together in a single crust. Keep greasing your hands as necessary to avoid sticking. If desired, make a slight rim all around the edge of the dough. (Instead of using the extra oil, you can also wet your palms to prevent sticking while you press out the dough, but if you apply a tomato-based sauce to the pizza, it’s more likely to remain moist in that case).
Bake in preheated oven 35-45 minutes, until the crust is dry and lightly browned on the edges and bottom (if you underbake at this stage, the inside of the dough will remain moist after the toppings have been added). Top with desired toppings, then return to the oven for another 25-35 minutes, until heated throughout and toppings are cooked. Slice and serve. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen. To freeze, wrap slices individually in plastic and freeze until solid, then store in a ziploc bag.
While the crust bakes, make the toppings: heat oil over medium-low heat and add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, until onion is translucent, 5-7 minutes. Add 1/4 cup (60 ml) broth and cover the pan. Allow to cook another 20-25 minutes, stirring frequently, until the liquid has evaporated and the onions are soft and golden. If the onion sticks to the pan, add more broth as needed. Set aside.
Once the dough is ready, remove it from the oven and increase the heat to 450F ( C). Spread the onions evenly over the crust. Top with the greens, then the shaved squash. Scatter dollops of cheese over the top and sprinkle with the pumpkin seeds. Bake for 15-20 minutes, until the greens and squash are wilted and the cheese has begun to brown a bit.
While the pizza bakes, make the drizzle: Combine the balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar and stevia in a small pot and bring to the boil. Lower heat to medium-low and cook until reduced to about 1/4 cup (60 ml), about 5 minutes. Remove pizza from the oven and drizzle with the vinegar. Serve immediately. Makes 4-6 servings. May be frozen. To freeze, wrap slices individually in plastic and freeze until solid, then store in a ziploc bag.
For ACD Stage 2, use this vinegar drizzle instead: Replace the balsamic with unsweetened cranberry juice and increase the stevia to 10 drops instead of 5. Prepare as described above.
Three Years Ago: Herb and “Feta” Polenta Appetizers with Sundried Tomato Tapenade (gluten free; ACD maintenance only).
© Ricki Heller, Diet, Dessert and Dogs