I woke up this morning feeling vaguely dreadful about today, the first of seven days with no grains, no chocolate, no fresh milk, and no chickpeas. Breakfast, I knew, would be the hardest meal of the day because more than any other meal, it’s the meal in which grains are front and center for me. I woke up already missing my cereal.
So I let myself doze in bed until 9 AM and then I padded out into the kitchen to break the fast. Last night I had made a big batch of grain-free granola, and my sample tastings had made me hopeful that breakfast would be delicious. I puttered around the kitchen, filling the tea kettle for a mug of Earl Grey tea (black—no milk, no sugar) and squeezing Texas oranges for a glass of fresh orange juice. Oh, Texas, you woo me with your oranges, strangely yellow but with juice as sweet as candy. Good morning indeed!
At the center of breakfast was a fruit and yogurt parfait featuring my new batch of granola. I layered about a quarter-cup of whole-milk yogurt with a scattering of defrosted raspberries (fruit only—no added sweetener) and a generous spoonful of granola. I made two three-part layers in a juice glass and called it breakfast. Without adding any honey to the parfait, it was a little tart for my taste—the only sweetness came from the granola, which was mildly sweet, soft and a little chewy with nuggets of dried apricots. To wash everything down, I drank a big glass of water and gulped my multivitamin.
This breakfast was small compared to my usual big bowl of whole-grain cereal and I didn’t feel very full after I finished. My hunger, however, was mild this morning, so I decided to let my belly tell me when it was time to eat again. I was surprised to find that except for a few hunger pangs before I started cooking lunch, I felt satisfied for several hours.
I cooked lunch accompanied by the local classic rock station:
Take me down to the Paradise City
Where the grass is green and the girls are pretty!
Oh won’t you please take me home!
Can you tell I’m a good back-up singer? College Station has a plethora of country music stations, but I’ll take Guns ‘N’ Roses over Taylor Swift any day. Rock on!
I’d been craving tomato soup for three days, and yesterday I found a can of Central Market Organics Italian San Marzano Tomatoes at HEB, which is one of the local grocery stores. These tomatoes contain NO CITRIC ACID, which I was very pleased to find! I’m not entirely sure how canned foods fit into the SCD, but I figure if they don’t contain any unwanted additives or preservatives, then I’m going to use them. I haven’t had great luck with the grocery store produce here in College Station, and I’d rather use canned organic tomatoes than dodgy fresh tomatoes. These San Marzanos contain tomatoes, tomato juice, and basil. Perfect.
I made a modified version of this tomato soup, leaving out the white beans and sugar and adding a leek and a quarter-cup of canned pumpkin for flavor and sweetness. While I was cooking, I nibbled on half of a fresh cucumber. Once the soup was simmering away peacefully, I whipped up an almond crust pizza, which you must try immediately. I’ve made this pizza every day for the past three days, and it is so good. I’m going to save the recipe for the end of this post, where I’ll tell you a little more about the pizza. You can skip ahead to the recipe now if you like—I don’t mind!
After a long hard day of cooking and writing, I went for a quick run and then treated myself to a snack: a gigantic Golden Delicious apple and a flourless peanut butter brownie plated with a few defrosted raspberries left over from this morning. I ate this snack with a side of True Blood, The Complete First Season Disc 1. The best part of True Blood is the part where Jace Everett sings the theme song!
I’m not complaining, but I have to tell you that it is hot here today. Right now, at 8:01 PM, it is 74 degrees outside. That’s insane! My Midwestern body does not know what to do when the calendar says October 25 but the thermometer says 74 degrees. Clearly, it is not soup weather, but I wanted to stock up on homemade soup for the week because it’s my favorite kind of food to have waiting for me in the fridge. To make my soup craving match this Texas heat, I decided to make a chilled coconut-pumpkin soup. I sauteed half an onion in half a tablespoon of coconut oil for a few minutes, then added a diced apple (peeled and cored) and cooked them together for a few more minutes. I wanted just a hint of spice, so I added half a teaspoon of ground coriander and a quarter teaspoon of ground ginger. After a minute or so, I added one and a half cups of water and one cup of canned pumpkin. I cranked up the heat, brought the whole thing to a boil, and then simmered gently for ten minutes. At that point, I wasn’t quite hungry yet, so I turned off the heat and wandered off for a while. When I returned, I added half a cup of full-fat coconut milk (from Thai Kitchen) and blended the whole thing to velvety smoothness in the blender. I tasted the soup, realized it needed salt, and proceeded to salt it generously. To chill it quickly, I ladled out a serving into a soup bowl, tucked it in the fridge, and voila! Chilled coconut-pumpkin soup. It was pretty tasty with a nice rich texture from the pumpkin and the coconut milk, but it could use a bit of heat, perhaps in the form of cayenne pepper. ‘Tis a work in progress, I’d say.
After the soup I ate a big salad made with baby romaine (dressed with olive oil and lemon juice), quartered and sliced cucumber, toasted pecans, and a few cubes of my favorite Organic Valley cheese. Now I’m full and happy, and I owe you a recipe! For this week, although I’ll be talking about a lot of different foods and recipes, I’m going to post only recipes that I think are worth adding to the ol’ repertoire. Generally I like to post recipes that I’ve made more than once or that I’m fairly certain I will make more than once. I’ll provide links to the recipes that I adapt from other blogs and such, and of course, if you’ve got your own copy of Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet at home, you can follow along as I cook more new things out of my SCD cookbook.
Almond Crust Pizza with Shaved Onions and Zucchini
Adapted from Everyday Grain-Free Gourmet
I was floored by how good this pizza crust is. I didn’t expect much of it; in fact, I was just hoping it would be edible. Made of a simple mix of almond flour, shredded Parmesan cheese, a few spoonfuls of herbs, olive oil, and an egg, this crust is a go-to recipe on busy weeknights because it comes together in a snap and it is awesome. It is similar in texture to a nubbly soft flatbread, fragrant with herbs and just the right amount of salt. I topped mine with a simple combination of cheese and shaved onions and zucchini because that’s what I had on hand. I loved it so much that I made it again and then again today.
Because the crust is so rich, I like to use a light hand with the cheese topping. Really, I just scatter a few shreds around and let the flavor of the crust shine. Feel free to play with the toppings to make this recipe your own. Our intrepid cookbook authors top their pizza with poached pears, caramelized onions, and Gorgonzola cheese—ooh la la!
For the crust:
1/2 cup finely ground almond flour (I’ve been using the almond flour from Bob’s Red Mill and it works well for me.)
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. salt (You can cut the salt by a pinch or two here if you tend to like things a little less salty. I’ve made it both ways and think it tastes good either way, but I think the pizza could be overwhelmed by salt if your toppings are salty.)
1 tsp. extra-virgin olive oil
1 large egg
For the toppings:
Handful of shredded cheese, such as cheddar
6 thinly shaved zucchini slices
A few thinly shaved onion slices
Freshly ground black pepper
1) For the pizza crust, preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2) Mix together the almond flour, Parmesan cheese, herbs, and salt. Mix the oil and egg into the dry ingredients. At this point the batter should be thick but not stiff.
3) Scrape the crust batter onto the parchment paper into a circular mound. Place a piece of plastic wrap over the batter. Using your hands or a rolling pin, roll the batter into a thin circle about 6 to 8 inches in diameter. Remove the plastic wrap. Admire how easy that was!
4) Top the pizza with the handful of shredded cheese, zucchini slices, and onion slices. Grind a bit of black pepper over the pizza. Bake for 18-20 minutes or until the crust is a little browned around the edges and the cheese is melted. I find that in my oven, 20 minutes is perfect. You might be able to go a little longer to get a crispier crust, but I make no promises about that—it’s just a guess.
5) Slice into quarters and serve hot.