Restaurant Review: ZPIZZA – Gluten-free, vegan options

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I have not had a ‘real’ pizza in so long. It has been SO long that when I took a bit out of this pizza, I actually had tears in my eyes. Serving in US, Vietnam, South Korea and UAE, this pizza joint has stolen my heart (and my stomach). Thin gluten-free crust that tastes delicious, fresh tomato sauce, topped with delicious zucchini and olives – ah, pizza pizza pizza! Guys, you have definitely got to give this gluten-free pizza a try! The crust was so delicious. I wouldn’t even mind eating it plain! It was that good! They even give you the option of having vegan cheese, which I have yet to try. They were out of it the last two times I visited. Here are the pizzas I tried:

  • California Veggie Pizza: My favourite out of the three. Topped with zucchini, tomatoes, and olives.
  • Tuscan Mushroom Pizza: Had it without mushrooms since I’m not so fond of them. The caramelized onions and garlic sauce was fantastic! Tasted so good! A little too garlic-y and onion-y for me but still pretty damn good.
  • Napoli Pizza: I’m guessing it would’ve tasted much much better with the cheese but since they were out of vegan cheese, it was basically garlic sauce, and tomatoes so I didn’t enjoy it all that much.

Located in Dubai Marina. Gluten-free crusts available in Regular size only. Ingredients and prices listed on the website here.

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Protein Packed Pancakes – GF, Dairy Free, Low FODMAP, Vegan

These pancakes are AMAZING!

Usually, in the middle of the night, I get hungry and start brainstorming for new recipe ideas. I google for recipes late into the night and try to mix some up to create one suitable for me. This recipe was inspired by these recipes here and here, which resulted in the BEST gluten free pancakes I have ever tried! I have tried making pancakes with:

  • Soaked quinoa seeds and banana. It wasn’t that great. Turned out to be rather dry.
  • Sorghum + white rice flour. It was gummy and musty. Probably because I didn’t add any starch but this was my most preferred combination of flours for pancakes.
  • Amaranth + white rice flour. It was gummy and musty. Again, probably because I didn’t add any starch.
  • White rice flour + almond flour. Very nice and toasty but burned rather quickly, and ever since I found out heating up almonds isn’t really all that great for health, I’ve quit baking with almond flour.

GF, Dairy Free, Vegan, Low FODMAP Protein Packed Pancakes with Raspberry Jam

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup white rice flour
  • 1 flax egg. See directions below
  • 1 tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 1 tbsp oil (I use olive oil)
  • Water or (dairy free) milk. See directions below

DIRECTIONS

  • Make your flax egg so it can set while you’re preparing the pancakes. 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds and 2-3 tbsp of water. Set aside for at least 15 minutes to gel. I usually keep mine in the fridge for 10-15 minutes.
  • Put the quinoa, white rice flour, baking soda, salt and sugar in a bowl and give it a stir.
  • Add the lemon juice and oil and pour in a little milk/water, maybe a 1/4 cup to begin with. I have stopped going by recipe directions for liquids. Somehow I end up adding too much and my batter ends up very liquidy. It’s almost as if I have no control over the glass that I use for adding liquids. Weird. Anyway, a great tip I read once was to add only half the suggested amount of liquid and keep adding little by little until you reach the desired consistency. So add a quarter cup, and using a hand mixer, blend everything together. You can also do this using a regular blender. If it’s still too dry, add some more liquid.
  • Once you reach the consistency of pancake batter (I usually add enough liquid until it is like cake batter – pourable but still thick), add your flax egg. Either blend it with the blender/hand mixer or mix it in with a spoon.
  • With the flame on, using a non-stick skillet or a greased skillet, do the water droplets test to make sure the pan is hot enough. Sprinkle some drops of water on to the pan and if they dance around before evaporating, your pan is hot enough.
  • Pour batter according to how big or small you want your pancakes. Mine always turn out to be miniscule. I don’t know why.
  • It is time to flip the pancake when you see bubbles forming on the surface of the batter and popping, leaving behind pock marks or holes. The sides will also look slightly dried out. If you’re not sure, take a little peek before completely flipping it over.
  • Flip the pancake and cook the other side. Again, if you’re unsure whether the other side is done, take a peek. It usually takes about 2-3 minutes though, but don’t take my word for it. Sometimes they cook faster, sometimes they take longer.
  • Serve with either jam, maple syrup, chocolate syrup, honey, fruit… the possibilities are endless!

Also, the good thing about using quinoa for this is that it turns out nice and toasty! The pancakes can be cooked for a little longer and then the outside becomes a little crispy! While I was cooking them, I was getting a whiff of something buttery and nutty – it kind of smelled like I was toasting buttered bread! These were the best pancakes I’ve had so far. I had my brother test them, just like I’ve made him test all my disastrous cooking experiments before. He said these pancakes were better than the other flour combinations. Hurray! Bonus: PROTEIN PACKED PANCAKES! OH YEAH!

The Wait Is Killing Me!

OMG, THERE ARE SO MANY THINGS I AM WAITING FOR RIGHT NOW! IT’S DRIVING ME INSANE! I usually have endless patience (ask anyone – I can wait for you for hours if I don’t have anywhere to be). But this is like dangling meat, or actually, something else vegetarian that I can eat – like a fluffy baked potato, in front of me and expecting me not to go crazy. It’s RIGHT THERE!

  1. I am absolutely dying to bake these gluten free, dairy free, allergy friendly cookies. Everytime I want to bake them, my mom or grandmother aren’t there to help me. I’m only just starting to cook and bake so I need a little (read: a lot) of help.
  2. I have ordered lipsticks from Red Apple Lipstick and they have reached Dubai. They now need to be delivered to me.
  3. I bought a popsicle mould today from Ikea (they’re pink and yellow!). I obviously had to make popsicles as soon as I got home. Obviously. THEY ARE NOW IN THE FREEZER AND I AM WAITING FOR THEM TO FREEZE! IT HAS BEEN ALMOST THREE HOURS!

The popsicles are literally just killing me right now. I wish I had Jedi-like powers and could make my popsicle freeze. I am dying to try them out. I haven’t had a nice frozen treat in so long! I haven’t had ice cream or yogurt in so many months. This is so hard. I just hope they turn out good! I’ll be so sad if they suck.

Right now, all that stands between me and my popsicle is time. 

Quinoa Pilaf – Gluten Free, vegan, low FODMAP

I put up a pasta recipe before, suitable for those on the low FODMAP diet. I pretty much used the same recipe but used quinoa instead of pasta.

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Quinoa Pilaf

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooked quinoa (Click here to read about preparing quinoa)
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • Spring onions (green part only if low FODMAP)
  • Tomatoes
  • Olives
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • Other flavours you can use if you like are oregano, parsley, basil, cumin powder, fenugreek, garam masala, etc.

DIRECTIONS

  • In a saucepan, pour the olive oil and let it heat up
  • Add coriander powder, coriander leaves, and spring onions. Saute until fragrant
  • Add tomatoes. Stir it all and mix everything up so its distributed evenly. Do this for a few minutes until the tomatoes become soft.
  • Add some salt to taste
  • Toss in some quinoa and mix it all up so everything is nicely heated
  • Take the pan off heat and add olives
  • You can top it with broccoli, carrots, corn, green beans, etc.

ANOTHER IDEA

I just tried this and I’m eating it right now. It is phenomenal! Really really good! I used the leftover quinoa to make potato quinoa patties. Since there was a fair bit left over, the quinoa formed a sort of crust for the patties making them nice and crispy without breaking apart!

Gluten Free, Vegan, Low FODMAP Potato Quinoa Patties

I am crazy about potato patties. I absolutely LOVE burgers and I miss them so much since going gluten free. I used to make potato patties in a burger bun with lettuce, tomatoes, some onion slivers, cheese and ketchup. They used to be amazing! Now I can just have the potato patties. I’ve thought of making a ‘greenwich’ out of them by enveloping the patty with large lettuce leaves. Never got around to trying it.

I realized that since going low FODMAP, my protein intake has been on the low side. I work out a few times a week as well. I am also vegetarian. All of this meant that I needed to up my protein levels. BUT HOW?

The answer is quinoa.   This is a fantastic way to increase protein intake. You won’t even taste the difference!

Potato Quinoa Patties

Potato Quinoa Patties with Indian ‘Khichdi’ style rice

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

Click on image: 12 packs for $38.05 on Amazon

INGREDIENTS

  • Boiled potatoes
  • Cooked quinoa
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • Coriander powder
  • Salt to taste
  • Olive oil (or any other oil you prefer)
  • Additional flavours or herbs you might like

DIRECTIONS

  • Simply mix all ingredients, except the oil, in a bowl using your hands. Make sure the potatoes get completely mashed while you’re mixing everything up.
  • Roll them into little balls
  • Pour some oil into a frying pan and let it heat up
  • Place the balls into the frying pan. This is a tip I learned from my grandmother. Without the chickpea flour or bread crumbs holding the potato patties together, they tend to break apart. Once the bottoms of these balls start browning, flatten them with a spatula and let it cook some more. When the bottom has browned and is as crispy as you like, flip the patty and cook the other side. (P.S. Patties made without chickpea flour or bread crumbs take longer to cook.)
  • When done cooking, place the patties on kitchen paper towels to absorb some of the excess oil

WHAT YOU CAN ‘CRUMB’ WITH You can use a few things to coat the patties with to hold it together. I used to use almond flour. Gets really nice and crispy but ever since hearing that it’s not ideal to heat up almonds or almond flour, I’ve stopped using it.

  • Bread crumbs (GF or regular)
  • Chickpea flour
  • Almond flour
  • Sorghum flour
  • A batter made out of ‘moong daal’ or yellow split lentils

I want to try sort of crumbing the patty with cooked quinoa instead of mixing it up. I wonder if that will create some sort of a crust. Has anyone ever tried this? Let me know if you have!

UPDATE: I’ve tried making the patties with some leftover quinoa pilaf. There was a fair amount left over and while mashing up the potato and quinoa together, some quinoa ended up on the outer sides. Formed a nice, crispy crust that minimized breaking!

WHAT TO SERVE WITH

  • You can have them plain
  • With tomato sauce, ketchup, pesto sauce, cheese, mayonnaise, etc.
  • With rice – I sometimes like to have it with plain Indian khichdi, or with ordinary rice that has been drizzled with lemon
  • With bread
  • In a lettuce wrap
  • Drizzle with a little lemon juice

Gluten free, vegan, low FODMAP pasta

This is one of those recipes you turn to on your “off days.” You know, when you’ve just been glutened or something, and you’re trying to heal and want your digestive system to rest for a couple days so you eat plain and simple foods. Since I found out (the hard way) that too much tomato sauce/paste isn’t good on a low FODMAP diet, I’ve been looking high and low for a pasta recipe that would still have some flavour. For a long time, I was just eating pasta noodles topped with olives and lettuce because I was so afraid I would end up getting sick from eating a more complex meal. Yeah, that was awful. There was barely any taste and I was too afraid to even add any seasoning. Mind, this isn’t one of those extravagant, restaurant style pastas. It’s a simple home cooked meal with simple flavours. A bit bland for some perhaps, but a welcome change from eating only rice and potatoes on “off days.” I browsed recipe after recipe and finally ended up with the recipe below. I just wing it for the quantities. You can add how much ever you like!

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

GF, vegan, low FODMAP pasta with lettuce

INGREDIENTS

  • Pasta (I use Peacock’s Gluten Free Brown Rice Spaghetti)
  • Chopped tomatoes
  • Green onions sliced into small pieces (ONLY the green part if you’re on a low FODMAP diet)
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Dried oregano according to preference
  • Olives
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Any other herbs or toppings you like!

DIRECTIONS

  • Cook pasta according to directions on the packet
  • In a saucepan, pour some olive oil and let it heat up a bit
  • Add the coriander powder, coriander leaves, green onions and oregano. Saute until fragrant. You can also choose to add things like parsley, basil, celery, carrots, onions, etc.
  • Add tomatoes and stir it around a bit. Do this for a few minutes. I usually cook mine until it is a bit mushy but not like pulp or puree.
  • Add the pasta to the saucepan, mix it all up and cook for a few minutes so everything is nice and heated
  • Top with olives, broccoli, anything you like! I usually add black and green olives on top, and serve with a side of fresh lettuce