My cleanse is officially over! I made it through 4 weeks of no dairy, gluten, refined sugar, meat, caffeine, and alcohol (the cleanse I was following is outlined in The Complete Guide to Nutritional Health). I feel terrific - I'm sleeping better, have more energy throughout the day, am more motivated to exercise, and not really craving any of the items I've cut out. Not really craving, however I did complete my cleanse pretty excited to eat some cheese (and chocolate)!
In fact, I've been feeling so good throughout the cleanse that I've decided to continue to eliminate gluten, meat, and refined sugar from my diet. I'm also going to treat dairy as a special treat (like brie and crackers on Bachelorette night), rather than incorporate it into almost every meal, as had become the habit prior to the past month.
My first special treat post-cleanse was this pizza. If you've been following this blog for awhile, you may recall that I've posted before about the dismal pizza options on the peninsula. So when I want good pizza, I've taken to making my own. This obviously also lets you have complete control over the ingredients that go into the pizza, which meant in this case that I was able to test out a gluten-free crust. (You could certainly make this pizza with a non-gluten free crust as well.)
I was optimistic, but skeptical that a gluten-free pizza crust would be as good as a traditional crust. To improve my odds of success, rather than play around with combining various gluten-free flours, I decided to go with a packaged mix. I've had great luck in the past with Bob's Red Mill flours (you may recall the oat flour from my recent post, vegan gluten-free date newtons), so I went with Bob's Red Mill Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Mix (which even comes with yeast, so all you need to add is water).
The crust turned out awesome. I'm not sure if it's because this was the first time in a month that I'd ingested any dairy, but I'd list this pizza in the top 5 (maybe even top 3?) of best pizzas that I've ever eaten. It's based on a recipe from the July 2009 edition of Cooking Light, to which I made a few minor tweaks. Here's what I did:
Amazing Spinach & Ricotta (gluten-free!) Pizza
dough for one large pizza (as mentioned, mine was gluten-free)
1 c. marinara sauce
2 c. baby spinach
3 Tbsp. freshly grated parmesan
5 oz. mozzarella, grated
1/3 c. ricotta cheese
2 plum tomatoes, thinly sliced
about 1/4 c. fresh basil, chopped into thin strips
1/4-1/2 tsp. red pepper flakes
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Lightly oil a perforated pizza pan. Place dough on a lightly floured surface. Roll into a circle. Transfer to prepared pan. (The original recipe calls for you to roll the dough into a 12-inch pizza. The pizza dough mix I was using allowed me to get the crust to 16 inches. I also followed the cooking instructions on the package - which I don't have any longer or would post here as well - which meant some pre-baking and a slightly longer overall cooking time than outlined below.)
Brush dough with olive oil. Spread sauce evenly over dough, leaving a 1/4 inch border. Top with spinach, parmesan, and mozzarella (in that order). Spoon teaspoonfuls of ricotta over mozzarella.
Bake for 12 minutes or until mozzarella melts and crust browns. Let stand for 5 minutes. Top with tomato slices, fresh basil, and red pepper flakes. Cut into 8 pieces. Enjoy!