A Life without Pizza Is Not the Life for Me

Pizza, oh Pizza. Is there any other way to start this post than with a Haiku I found via Google? I think not.

5NMlCYu

Simple. Moving. Accurate. Delicious.

I have a very hard time choosing ‘favorites’ in nearly every category, but when it comes to food, you really can just forget it. Too many delicious options to pick one. However, let’s just say that if I had to make a Top 8 List, Myspace style, Pizza would definitely have a permanent spot.

url

I couldn’t resist this reference.😂

My appreciation for pizza and all the never ending options out there is serious, so you can imagine the internal struggle I faced when I willingly decided to embrace a paleo way of eating. I knew I felt better when I ate this way, but, but pizza. No grains or cheese? No problemo my friend! I’ve GOT this. That doesn’t apply to pizza though, right? RIGHT?! In the timeless words of the Arrested Development cast, I couldn’t help but think to myself “I’ve made a huge mistake.

Slowly, I came around to the idea that this was what I wanted to do for myself and health and if I didn’t do it then, I don’t know if I ever would have. Many of my processed and unhealthy favorites (i.e. junk food) got the boot when I changed my eating habits and I truly did/do feel better, but it was a process getting to where we are today where I very rarely miss them. Vanessa, the mastermind behind Clean Eating with a Dirty Mind , put it perfectly in her new book regarding the “stages of paleo.”

Screen Shot 2016-06-07 at 10.00.57 AM

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

Part of the journey to acceptance and where we are now is an 80/20 approach. We stick to the paleo guidelines 80% of the time, and the other 20% we enjoy foods that fall outside those guidelines and ‘treat’ meals that are SO not paleo. This helps us to keep our balance and feel our best. Another part of the journey was learning how to cook and bake. I am a big fan of spiralized veggies or spaghetti squash in place of noodles, cauliflower rice/mash/crust, etc., and all substitutions that help you enjoy close to your old favorites without feeling deprived. There are plenty of Pinterest recipes out there that can get you close to the real thing, (I’ve pretty much pinned them all!😁) but when I need to recreate something as dear to my heart as pizza, I don’t mess around. I go straight to the genius that is Brittany Angell. This woman knows what’s up. She never ceases to amaze me with her skills of taking healthier ingredients, often grain/dairy/sugar free so that people with allergies and intolerances can enjoy their food too, and turning these ingredients into masterful dishes you would NEVER guess are healthy. I discovered her Grain Free Thick Pizza Crust about a year or so ago and it has been a staple in our household ever since. I thought I’d pay it forward and share that with y’all today.

 

 

Screen Shot 2016-06-08 at 2.39.45 PMNotes:

I didn’t have Psyllium Husk when I first discovered this recipe, so I have always substituted Xantham Gum in its place.

Brush the partially baked crust with a little oil before adding the toppings. Confession: I use Olive oil spray to grease the parchment paper, my hands when spreading the dough, and the partially baked crust. I’ve found it to be easier and less of a mess.

Brittany mentioned that this crust doesn’t absorb much sauce and she was definitely right! (I may or may not have learned the hard way.) I personally use tomato paste cut with a little oil or watered down and seasoned to my liking. If you do use a pre-made pizza sauce be mindful about how much you use, or else you could end up with a mess on your hands.

The great thing about having a tried and true crust like this is that you are free to tailor it to whatever type of pizza you’re feeling that day. Go paleo and do a ‘meatza’ with just sauce, toppings, and meat of your choice! Go Hawaiian and add pineapple and ham! I’m personally a big fan of mushroom, onion, green pepper, garlic, black olives, spinach, and some sausage. YUM! The more veggies, the better in my book. James loves his sausage or pepperoni. If you tolerate it well, go classic and even add your favorite cheese…in moderation of course! 🙂 Another option that we have used from time to time is Daiya, a non-dairy ‘cheese’ that is a close enough substitute when you’re avoiding dairy. What is your favorite kind of pizza? I’m always up for new suggestions for us to try and would love to hear from you!

Baked Coconut Chicken Nuggets

One thing that I have really come to appreciate as I’ve matured into my mid-twenties is discovering my passions. Some have been slower to develop than others, but one passion that just feeds my soul is cooking. (Try telling me I’m not your punniest friend) It wasn’t until I moved to Baton Rouge that I really began to experiment with cooking and fell in love. Don’t get me wrong, Louisiana has some of the BEST food you’ll find in the U.S. of A., but when it comes to healthy eats it doesn’t quite take first place. As I became more aware of what I was putting into my body I realized I had the most control over my health in the kitchen. And so, I began to cook. I definitely have a long way to go, but I’ve been testing out my skills cooking for James (Shoutout to the best guinea pig er, husband out there) and he has yet to find a recipe that I’ve prepared that he doesn’t like. Say it with me, winning!

One of the very first recipes I prepared after we got engaged was this Baked Coconut Chicken recipe, adapted from paleodietmentor.

I’m a sucker for flavorful, but relatively simple paleo versions of some of my old favorites. This recipe fit the bill and has since become a staple in our house. Here is my James approved and 24 Day Challenge friendly version:

BAKED COCONUT CHICKEN NUGGETS

  •  1lb. boneless, skinless, hormone-free Chicken breastsPaleo Chicken Nuggets
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
  • *1/2 tsp paprika
  • *1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper
  • 1 egg
  • coconut oil
  • cutting board
  • pan/cookie sheet with foil

*Depending on my tastes for the day I will swap out the paprika for cinnamon as a fun/sweeter twist.

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. In a bowl or on a large plate combine almond flour, shredded coconut, paprika, sea salt, and black pepper.
  3. In a separate bowl beat egg well.
  4. Cut chicken breasts into 2 inch ‘nuggets’ then dip into bowl with egg until well coated.
  5. Roll chicken nuggets into dry ingredient mixture, coating all sides evenly.
  6. Coat pan with coconut oil, or lightly coat cookie sheet with coconut oil.
  7. Place chicken on pan and bake for 25 minutes, watching for them to turn golden.

That’s about it! I serve these bad boys with honey, organic dijon mustard, or organic ketchup, but the sauce is up to you.

Enjoy!