Going Gluten-FreeJune 25, 2014

I Miss Cheap Pizza

Pizza is one of my favorite things in the universe. I grew up on it. I had pizza parties throughout middle school and high school. I’d order it from the local mom-and-pop shops and from national chains like Little Caesars. I used to horde Papa John’s garlic dipping sauce and marinate bites of pizza in it before I stuffed them in my mouth. I loved cheese-stuffed crust. I loved pepperoni rounds shining with grease. I loved pizza nights at home and pizza with friends at the local joint after sporting events. Pizza was my BFF (best food friend).

After my celiac diagnosis, I discovered that gluten-free pizza was unlike most pizza I used to enjoy. The texture was different—and it wasn’t cheap.

I shouldn’t have been surprised that gluten-free pizza was different, since that’s how most things are when you take the gluten out of them. Even when I roll out my own dough, I never achieve the pizza I remember. The kind I could fold into a pizza burrito.  The kind where the slices would bend and not crumble. I had to break up with that kind of pizza.

Granted, some conventional restaurants attempt to make gluten-free pizzas – but many aren’t careful enough about cross contamination. I wrote about this when Domino’s launched their “gluten free” pizza. When people with celiac disease want to eat pizza, we’re often left to our own devices.

Most of the pizza I eat these days comes frozen. We have pizza at least once a week and I don’t have the time or patience to make homemade. Right now, my freezer is full of Daiya frozen pizzas (I’m dairy-free, too) and frozen crusts from Udi’s and Rudi’s. I feel lucky because various brands of gluten-free pizza are available at multiple grocery stores within a few miles of my house. Pizzas like Oh Yes, Udi’s, Smart Flour, Amy’s Kitchen, Glutino, Bold Organics and Against the Grain are available in the freezer section at my Whole Foods. I’m now used to their texture, my new normal.

WHAT I’VE LEARNED: A pizza stone or a perforated pizza sheet helps achieve a crispy crust and a better texture.

CONFESSION: When I walk by a pizza shop and see “normal” people eating their tasty (and pliable) dough, I find myself staring into the window and sighing.

The Price We Pay

And then there’s the cost differential. Let’s compare a gluten-free and gluten-full pizza from the same brand at the same grocery store: Freshetta’s gluten-free pepperoni pizza is $.62/oz. Freshetta’s regular pepperoni pizza is $.18/oz. If we look at Udi’s gluten-free pepperoni pizza, the cost jumps to $.77/oz.

I understand that gluten-free food is more expensive because of several factors – ingredients, safety, cost of manufacturing, etc. Restaurants often charge more for gluten-free, too. At True Foods Kitchen, I get charged an extra $2 for gluten-free pizza. I don’t blame them (in fact, I’m thankful when restaurants provide gluten-free items) but it doesn’t make the surcharge easier to swallow.

I have a dream where gluten-free pizza is cheap, pliable and tasty, where gluten-free-only pizza shops offer fresh pizzas in every town and we can all walk to get a safe pie. Until then, I’m glad the grocery stores in my town are stocking the frozen varieties.

Comments (13)

I also agree there is nothing like going out and getting a great ready made pizza....ahh and ravioli! Someone else posted this already but I have to agree with using rice tortillas for personal pizza crusts. Excellent. Keep them frozen until you put them in the oven or they stick to the pan.

Posted by: sueathome | July 8, 2014 7:29 PM    Report this comment

~~ I make breadsticks out of this, and thought I'd try pizza.. its very good. (You can probably use water to sub the milk)

1 1/4 tsp yeast 1/2 cup warm milk 1/2 tsp sugar

1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour 2 TB Potato Starch 2 TB Tapioca Flour 3/4 tsp xanthan gum 1/2 tsp onion powder 2TB parmesan cheese pinch oregano pinch basil pinch garlic powder 1 1/2 TB EVOO 1 tsp vinegar Proof the yeast in 110* milk/sugar... Whisk together flours, x-gum, parm cheese, and spices. Add proofed yeast, EVOO, and vinegar. Mix about 3 minutes. Oil parchment paper on baking pan Spread out on parchment paper covered pan Place in warm oven, let rise 15min -til poofy Set oven to 375, bake for 8-9 min-remove from oven topped with sauce, cheese, and sauteed toppings bake for an additional 15-20 minutes til bubbly

Posted by: susanlynnf | June 27, 2014 7:30 PM    Report this comment

This is really difficult for me because I, as well, love pizza! My mother owns a pizza shop and has since before I was born, so I grew up on it. But now I have sensitivities to wheat, soy, egg, dairy, and corn... I have found some products that are not a terrible substitute (though definitely no where near as good as normal pizza!) these brands include Daiya and Ian's. Though they are not cheap, they are free of all of the things I cannot eat. Non-dairy cheese is definitely something I need to get used to though!

Posted by: klynn9046 | June 27, 2014 8:36 AM    Report this comment

I get the Cooks magazine and just saw the recipe. Soooo OK I will try it but I am a little leary of the outcome folks! Dolly

Posted by: DDT | June 26, 2014 5:35 PM    Report this comment

i am so intune with all of you. I am Italian, and used to make my own pizza crust or go to the most awsome brick fired pizza places and now I just cry and whine about it. Because everything out there does not come close! Pizza is my favorite food outside of my grandmothers ravioli. which of course is another heartbreak. PLEASE! SOMEONE HELP!!!!! Dolly

Posted by: DDT | June 26, 2014 5:28 PM    Report this comment

I am 100% Sicilian and grew up on homemade bread, pasta and pizza. I am now gf. :( I am also in search of a great gf pizza. Lovin' my gf life - what is your gf flour mix? I just ordered The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook by America's Test Kitchen. Can't wait to get it.

Posted by: ciaophx | June 26, 2014 4:43 PM    Report this comment

I love my pizza, but I will live without it , I also love my New York Jewish Rye Bread. That also I will have to live without. Gluten free products { xzxzxz ] Not the same, not even close. I made bread with [ cup 4 cup ] flour. The bread is not bread its something from another world. I don't understand why they call it flour. Or should it really be called FLOWER. I do miss real good food. REAL FOOD. silverbill

Posted by: silverbill | June 26, 2014 4:20 PM    Report this comment

Pizza is also one of the things I missed most, especially that made by a locally owned "joint" where I'd been a regular customer. I brainstormed, and decided to try their toppings on a corn tortilla [they were willing to "build" it for me, and run it through their sandwich oven when the pizza oven turned out to be too hot], but that didn't satisfy. Then I discovered brown rice tortilla wraps [Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Trader Joe's have them]. I took those in and asked them to put their toppings on my base. It worked out great, and they give me the same price as the lunch special - an 8" personal size pizza with any 4 toppings, and a free pitcher of iced tea or any soft drink in the cooler. That's now a regular once or twice a month destination for group lunch after church, and other G-F folks are so happy to be able to have a pizza again. I take enough tortilla crusts for myself, son & daughter-in-law, with extras for others who are joining the group who also need one. If you don't have a local pizza joint who'll do this for you, create your own at home; it's the closest I've come to their original crisp crust version.

Posted by: MsB-CCTX | June 26, 2014 3:34 PM    Report this comment

I too really miss pizza. I can't use any gluten-free pizzas I have found because I am sensitive to dairy, eggs, soy, and several nuts as well as gluten. My husband has many of the same food sensitivities that I do. Life is very different with food sensitivities!

Posted by: Carolyn2725 | June 26, 2014 1:48 PM    Report this comment

I feel you. I dearly miss the days I could just pick up a fresh pizza in the deli at the supermarket, add a few toppings, and enjoy a fresh, hot, ooey gooey pizza with a wonderful crust on the cheap. I found that Mama Mary's makes a pre-made gluten free crust similar to Boboli that is soft and has a nice crumb for a fairly reasonable price and I can top it with whatever I want; however, my usual grocery store doesn't carry it, so I have to make a special trip to get one. They are better than any of the frozen ones I've tried, including Udi's. Around here, Winco carries it.

Posted by: TeriVB | June 26, 2014 12:42 PM    Report this comment

I found a pizza that I absolutely love and eat it once a week and look forward to eating it once a week! It is a frozen pizza and cost $12.99 for a medium that feeds 2-3 people. The pizza is called "Against the Grain" and is made with tapioca starch eggs and cheese. It comes in two flavors. Tomato sauce with cheese or pesto sauce with cheese. I love the pesto sauce with cheese because I'm not supposed to be eating any nightshades like tomatoes. Then I add my own toppings like mild Italian sausage, spinach, zucchini, artichoke hearts, etc. It only takes 12 to 15 minutes to cook and you don't need a special pan or pizza stone. I just put it on the rack in the oven!!

Posted by: Connie of GIG of Portland | June 26, 2014 12:21 PM    Report this comment

I, too, have sadly missed the texture of "regular" pizza crust...UNTIL (drum roll here!) I found a recipe from Cook's Country magazine from America's test kitchen for gf pizza. I've have my own gf flour which I use instead of their suggested blend, but the addition of almond flour& psyllium husk, plus their method of slow proofing the dough before spreading, slow parbaking, & using a pizza stone yields a crust to die for whether you're gf or not! So don't feel you have to settle for the typical gf crust. This recipe is truly amazing!!

Posted by: Lovin' my gf life | June 26, 2014 11:32 AM    Report this comment

I pine for pizza with you and have only been at this gluten free and egg free diet a couple of months. Thanks for listing some brands...I will look for them.

Posted by: play | June 26, 2014 11:06 AM    Report this comment

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