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.

Protein Packed Pizzas – GF, Dairy Free, Vegan

I finally ate a gluten free pizza that actually tasted like pizza! OMG!!!!!!!!

Inspired by this recipe for quinoa pizza crusts and by this recipe for cheesy cauliflower cream, I set out this morning to experiment. I just bought a new non-stick baking tray and it was, I don’t know, useless. I greased it just to be safe but the batter kept getting stuck to the pan and we had to scrape it off. Eventually, I ended up cooking it on the stove in a frying pan with a lid on top. Long ago, when I was making pancakes for the first time in my non-stick pan, I had greased it lightly and the pancake batter got stuck to it. The second time, I skipped greasing the pan and my pancakes turned out beautifully. Maybe I should try just placing the batter on the baking tray without greasing it first? Will experiment next time!

The pizza crust was a bit on the soft side but it was quite pleasant. It’s rather floppy so you would have to eat it with a knife and fork. I’m not complaining about that though. I usually avoid eating with my bare hands anyway! While it was cooking, I was just amazed at how “pizza-like” it smelled! This is so fantastic. It’s like junk food that’s not really junk! It’s clean and it’s fresh and it’s healthy! Extra protein too!

Protein Packed Pizzas - GF, Dairy Free, Vegan

Protein Packed Pizzas – GF, Dairy Free, Vegan

 

The following recipe makes 2 small sized pizzas.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3/4 cup cooked quinoa
  • A quarter of a cauliflower for preparing something I like to call Caulicheese
  • Salt
  • Lemon juice
  • 1 flax egg. See directions below
  • Your herbs: Oregano, basil, parsley, etc. according to preference
  • Diced tomatoes
  • Pizza sauce. See directions below
  • Olives
  • Onions/green onions
  • Capsicum
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • Rice flour (optional)

DIRECTIONS

  • Make the Caulicheese: Cut up the cauliflower into smaller florets and place in a pot. Add water, salt and 1/2 tbsp lemon juice. Bring to a boil, then simmer for around 15-20 minutes until cauliflower is soft and tender. When the cauliflower is done, drain the water and put it in a blender, or in a bowl if using a hand mixer. The cauliflower should turn into a creamy puree. Add a pinch of salt to this. If you can still smell that cauliflowery smell, add some more lemon juice. Add 1 tbsp coriander powder for flavour. Add any other flavours you like – onion powder, garlic powder, etc.
  • Make the pizza sauce: To make your own pizza/pasta sauce, heat up some oil in a saucepan and add onions, herbs, coriander leaves, and coriander powder and saute until fragrant. Then add a little tomato paste and cook for a minute or so until the flavours have all combined.
  • Make the flax egg: While the cauliflower is being cooked, prepare flax egg by mixing 3 tbsp of water with 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds. Set aside for 15 minutes at least to gel.
  • Make the batter: To the quinoa, add a pinch of salt and your herbs – I used only oregano. Blend using a hand mixer or blender until the quinoa forms a doughy like texture. It’s rather sticky. I added 1-2 tbsp of rice flour. If you skip the rice flour, the crust will be very difficult to flip. You will need two pans then and will have to slide it off one pan and into the other. Adding rice flour holds it together.
    Once your batter is ready, add the flax egg and mix in using the blender or a spoon.
  • Scoop an amount of the batter and with wet/oily fingers, flatten the batter in a non-stick frying pan.
  • On medium heat and with a lid on, let the pizza crust cook for about 7-8 minutes. Check for doneness. If you feel like you want it crispier, cook it for a little longer. When it’s done, flip it over using a spatula and add your toppings.
  • First top your pizza crust with tomato sauce. Then add the caulicheese on top. Sprinkle any herbs or flavours you might want. Top with tomatoes, onions/green onions, capsicum, olives, etc.
  • Put the lid on again and cook for another 8 minutes. Check for doneness. Again, cook for a little longer if you want it to be crispier.
  • Sink your teeth in and enjoy! 😀

Dairy Free Alfredo Pasta? Is it true?!

IT IS! IT REALLY REALLY IS!

I bought some rice milk the other day. Since I’m the only person having it at home, there’s quite a lot left over and I didn’t want it to go to waste. I started looking for recipes I could make using the rice milk. I googled for pasta sauces with rice milk and happened to find this AMAZING recipe for dairy free alfredo sauce by Chocolate Covered Katie.

It tasted so similar to the white pasta sauce that I used to make before my gluten free/lactose free days! I have been craving white pasta for so darn long and honestly, I wasn’t expecting it to taste like this. Why? Because this sauce is made from…

CAULIFLOWERS!

Can you believe it?! Holy Jalapeno! Cauliflowers?! But it tastes so so so gooooood! It tasted creamy and cheesy and so awesome! I generally hate the smell of cauliflowers when they’re boiled but this one didn’t smell much like cauliflowers at all! I can’t believe it! Finally a dairy free alfredo sauce that can be made without mock cheese and nutritional yeast (both of which I can never find in the supermarkets)! I tweaked the recipe a bit to suit my tastes. This isn’t low FODMAP, mind.

Creamy, Dairy Free, Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

Creamy, Dairy Free, Cauliflower Alfredo Sauce

INGREDIENTS

  • Cooked pasta
  • Half a medium-sized cauliflower, cut into smaller florets
  • 1/4 cup rice milk (or any other milk you like). You might need more milk though. Read directions below
  • Salt
  • Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • A handful of coriander leaves
  • 1 tbsp dried oregano leaves
  • A little freshly squeezed lemon juice. 1 tbsp should be enough
  • Olives, tomatoes, and any other veggies to top with

DIRECTIONS

  • Put the cauliflower in a pot and pour in some milk. The milk should be enough for boiling the cauliflower in so it’s cooked well. Put as much is needed to cook the cauliflower. I would say for half a cauliflower, 1/4 – 1/2 cup of milk should be enough.
  • Add 1 tbsp olive oil, salt and lemon juice. Bring to a boil and then cover the pot and simmer. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the cauliflower is soft and tender.
  • Pour contents into a blender or use your hand mixer and make a puree out of this.
  • In a saucepan, add some olive oil. Throw in some oregano, coriander leaves, and coriander powder. You can also add parsley, basil, garlic powder, etc. Saute until fragrant.
  • Add the cauliflower sauce and mix everything up so it’s all evenly distributed.
  • Add the pasta and mix.
  • Add olives, tomatoes or any other veggies

I actually forgot to add the lemon juice before boiling. I added it later, before making a puree out of the cauliflower and milk. Prior to that, the pot smelled like cauliflowers and that smell really puts me off. I hate eating cauliflowers that smell too cauliflowery. But adding the lemon juice made the smell go away! I was googling how to get rid of the smell when cooking cauliflowers, and an interesting tip I read online was to add a bay leaf to the pot. I might just try that some other time! Sounds cool!

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

Review: GF Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

I went to the Spinney’s store today while I was at the mall with a friend and picked up a box of this gluten free, vegan snack: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. Pretty tasty! It was nice to have something to snack on. I really miss the luxury of just hopping into the store and coming out with a packet of crisps or biscuits, maybe chocolate, and washing it down with a carton of flavoured milk. I want my childhood back!

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Gluten Free, Vegan Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes

Anyway, have a look at the nutrition information.

9g per packet. Quite a fair bit of sugar, right? It actually was very sweet. Because of the cover image on the box, I assumed that each packet would have 2 rice cakes. When I opened up a packet, I was so surprised to find 5 in there! Holy Jalapeno! FIVE cakes?! WOW! Talk about value for money! The box cost 9.75 AED ($2.65) for 4 packets of 5 cakes each.

I found an offer on Amazon for Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes. 6 packs for $21.60. That’s $3.60 per box. Cheapest I’ve seen online so far! Click on the image below to know more.

Click on image: Mrs Crimble's Apple Flavour Rice Cakes - $21.60 for 6 boxes

Click on image: Mrs Crimble’s Apple Flavour Rice Cakes – $21.60 for 6 boxes

There was another brand of rice cakes there called Kallo. I avoided that one though because on the label, it said that it was manufactured in a facility that also handles dairy products.

Mrs Crimble’s Rice Cakes were quite nice. Tastes so much like apples. It’s quite nice to pack with you on the go since they come in little packets. Drop one into your purse or keep some in the car and have a cake every now and then – travelling and working gets hard with gluten intolerance since snacks aren’t readily available when you’ve got the munchies. Long gone are the days of glorious Nature Valley and Alpen cereal bars! This is a good alternative for when you’re wandering on the city streets and there isn’t a gluten free restaurant in sight and your stomach starts making noises you didn’t think your body was capable of. I found it far too sweet though. By the time I reached the 3rd or 4th cake, I was starting to feel like I had just gulped down spoonfuls of sugar. It was like that sick feeling you get after eating too many chocolates. I would suggest eating it with something else to sort of lessen the sweet taste. I’m thinking of having it with a glass of almond milk, kind of like having cereal. Except I might have to mix it in my mouth. OR I could break it into smaller chunks and drop it in a bowl of almond milk. Yes, that makes so much more sense than mixing it in my mouth.