Gluten-free Pizza Crust Throw-down
September 25, 2015
Pizza is part of the American food culture (check out why pizza tastes so good here!). According to statistics 93% of Americans eat at least one pizza per month, which equates to an average of 100 acres of pizza daily or 350 slices per second! At the same time, the preference (or need in the case of celiac disease) to eat gluten-free is also increasing. Inspired by this, dietetic intern Melissa Owens tested 3 popular gluten-free pizza crusts on a quest to identify the best option for the gluten-free pizza lover.
Following a strict gluten-free diet can be a challenge, especially when eating away from home, so it’s important to find ways to replace a favorite food at home with gluten-free alternatives. Additionally, home cooking allows people on a gluten free diet to better balance their nutrient intake and create healthier alternatives for themselves.
Having experimented with gluten-free recipe tweaking in my food science lab, I know the key to successful gluten-free baking is finding the right balance of ingredients by using a mixture of flours. Rather than reinvent the wheel, we opted to try two packaged mixes on the market, selecting pizza crust blends from Bob’s Red Mill and Cup 4 Cup (note there are many others out there and we aren't endorsing these brands specifically...these were chosen because they were easily available and represented two typical brands). Then, for the low-carb crowd, we included a cauliflower crust to see how this grain-free vegetable-based alternative stacks up.
Both Bob’s Red Mill and Cup 4 Cup’s mixes include a packet of yeast and step-by-step instructions for adding olive oil, eggs and water. To keep the saturated fat down, we topped these crusts with caramelized red onion, arugula, cherry tomatoes and a bit of goat cheese.
The cauliflower crust recipe we choose was from ifoodreal and called for a head of cauliflower, egg, fresh basil and 1/2 cup of mozzarella cheese. For the toppings we used more fresh basil, cherry tomatoes and sprinkled with a tad more mozzarella cheese. This one does have quite a bit of cheese in the actual crust, so keeping the cheese added as a topping to a minimum helps keep the saturated fat down.
OK, now that we’ve made you hungry, are you ready for the results?
Bob’s Red Mill
Cup 4 Cup
From a nutritional standpoint, Bob’s and Cup 4 Cup are quite similar, although with it's whole grains, Bob's has more fiber. Cup 4 Cup also has more sodium than the Bob's. Without the carbs, the cauliflower crust comes in with the fewest calories, is a bit higher in protein and packed with vitamin C. See below for the complete nutrition facts information for the crust.
We’re not sure any of these held up to the chew and crispiness we expect from a traditional wheat flour pizza crust, however they were tasty in their own right. If our testers had to pick, Cup 4 Cup was the closest to a traditional pizza but also the priciest, while Bob's was more like a focaccia. And everyone liked the cauliflower crust for its flavor and unique texture, Not to mention the cauliflower crust is a great way to sneak more vegetables into your kid's meals!
We are excited to continue exploring all the different varieties of gluten-free pizza crusts, so if you have a favorite you’d like to share, please let us know!
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