Vegan Whole-Food Pizza
Healthy clean eating has many benefits for most people. Many people making this transition can find it difficult at first as they move away from their former favorite foods. In this articles, we will provide some whole-plant, healthier alternate to one of everyone’s favorites – pizza! With a couple of substitutions, these recipes give back your old friend in a new way. You’ll incorporate fresh, crisp veggies with wholesome crusts, and tasty toppings to make a great meal. The best part is that these pizzas won’t leave you feeling bloated or tired as you perhaps have in the past with standard North American pizza. If you fool additional restrictions due to sensitivities to soy, dairy and/or gluten – no problem. With these sensational recipes, you can hop on the pizza train and enjoy these whole-food hearty alternatives. Reinvent your pizza by loading it up with natural, fresh foods and feel great!
There is quite a bit of information in the recent years about possible health benefits form avoiding gluten. Indeed, gluten in excess is difficult for our bodies to process. Some people are not able to eat it at all. Individuals with a celiac condition need to remove gluten to keep from getting ill. Others are ‘gluten-sensitive’ and react less intensely – feeling lethargic and unwell in-taking gluten. These people find they feel more alert and energized by removing gluten from their diets. A gluten can impact the way we feel on a physical level as well as on a mental one (moods). I always suggest that each of my clients undertake an elimination diets to learn which foods they tolerate and which they do best to avoid. A whole-food, plant-based lifestyle encourages us to find the best alternatives for processed ingredients. Eating clean (and for some, soy-free, dairy-free, and gluten-free) can be life-changing. Even without a sensitivity, it’s great to have some choices to reduce dietary gluten.
Do you aspire to eat gluten-free? The market for gluten-free products has expanded and so have the products. Remember that even though something has a gluten-free label, it may contain undesirable ingredients. Be aware of what is in your purchased food so that you can cut out the ingredients that are best to avoid. Processed foods often sneak in GMOs and chemical additives. Sometimes if we have trouble understanding it, we struggle with digesting it as well. Not all additives are bad, some are there to give us nutrients that we don’t come across in most of our food. No need to toss out everything in a box but stay informed. It is always best to veer on the side of fresh, whole-part ingredients and cook your meals at home whenever possible.
Alternatives to Soy Products
Soy has been a miracle food and a low-fat replacement for meat and dairy. While this is a great option for protein in a plant-based diet, soy in excess can have some drawbacks. It is high in estrogen, which can exacerbate hormonal irregularities in women. Many people don’t do well with high-soy diets. Soy contains signficant amounts of phytic acid that can slow the absorption of certain nutrients, such as calcium, zinc, iron, and magnesium. I suggest to my clients that soy not be the mainstay of a vegan diet. Integrating it into recipes occasionally is a acceptable for some but watch how you feel if you do eat it.
Cheese-alternatives are now available both soy- and dairy-free. Many are a made from combinations of gluten-free flours and oils. Products such as Daiya, Vegan Gourmet, and Go Veggie are good in a pinch. Be sure to choose products without casein as well as additives like carrageenan. The best vegan cheeses I’ve ever had are from Miyoko’s in California. Thankfully, they have an online store and ship for 2-day delivery! However, yummy non-dairy cheeses are not difficult to make yourself. You’ll have the advantage of controlling the ingredients, ensuring freshness, and saving money. This article includes pizza recipes that with vegan, soy-free, non-dairy cheese toppers. You’ll find an almond milk alfredo sauce, creamy cashew pizza cheese, and a nutty parmesan. Sound great? Some of the ingredients may be a bit hard to find in local stores but Amazon has a great selection of awesome products.
A word about nutritional yeast: Many cheese alternative recipes include nutritional yeast. It adds a very cheesy flavor. Some claim however that nutritional yeast is processed in the body in a similar way as MSG, acts as an ‘excitotoxin’ in the body, and should be avoided. The jury is still out on nutritional yeast but is a very good idea if you want to include it, to try small amounts to see how it works for your body. I do like it and seem to tolerate it. When noted in these recipes, it is listed as ‘optional’ or ‘if tolerated’.
Recipes (click links for print friendly recipes)
More Toppings and Crust Ideas:
Mix and match crusts and toppings on these recipes. The ingredients lists included divided crust recipes so you can create your own pies. Top any pizza with some extra vegetables and finish it off with a sprinkling of nutty parmesan. Switch out a traditional tomato sauce for a creamy alfredo or fresh garlicky pesto. The more color, the better!
It can be helpful to make a bunch of personal sized pizza crusts and freeze them. Having these on hand knock out a bunch of steps while making dinner. You can have your pizza ready in the same amount of time it would take to order in. Pre-making the cheeses is also a great time saver. While these cheeses are non-dairy, they are still perishable. You should store the cheeses in the refrigerator in an airtight container. Most of the recipes will last in the fridge for a week but you will finish them before then because they are that tasty!
The recipes we included are a balance of a more traditional pizza flavors with a whole-food spin. There are so many options for pizza eating. Create a unique crust or top with your favorite blend of vegetables. Get innovative with your pizza bases. Use vegetables like butternut squash rounds, Portabello mushrooms, eggplant rounds or spaghetti squash patties. You can use gluten-free pitas or vegan tortillas as great options as well. Recreate a Hawaiian pizza theme with pineapple chunks, red onions, and some cashew cheese. Go the spicy route by pairing a red pepper oil, sweet peppers, jalapeños, and some nutty parmesan. Experiment with different flavored olive oils. You can spread any flavor over your baked crust to elevate your dish to a new level. Your choices are only limited by your creativity!