Pizza and nuts…Lots of nuts…

With enough ingredients remaining in our food supply before we leave Italy on Sunday, it was time once again to make pizza, one large pizza for each of us hopefully lasting a few days. 

It may seem that we have pizza quite often, when actually we make it once every three weeks or so, probably not more often than those that have a menu consisting partly of carry-out meals.

For us, it’s always a treat. Tom now confesses that our cheese crust pizza tastes better than any pizza he’s had in any restaurant, including a few here in Italy. 

Often, we’ve received email requests for our recipes, but with the fact that everyone has preferences for their own toppings, we emphasize that our pizzas are made of a gluten-free, low carb, grain-free, sugar-free crust along with a sugar-free marinara sauce along with low carb toppings of choice:  cheese, sausage, mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, pepperoni, shrimp, ham, non-starchy vegetables and more. 

My formerly all-time favorite pizza was Domino’s Hawaiian which was only a once or twice a year treat. The sweet pineapple has been off of my “approved” list at allowed foods for over two years. Other equally delicious options have replaced it. Tonight my pizza crust is made with cauliflower, cheese, and egg. With a few cups of fresh cauliflower remaining in the fridge, this was a perfect and healthy way to use it.

Jess’ Low Carb Cauliflower Pizza Crust:
Mix 2 cups cooked cauliflower, chopped into small bits with 1 cup grated cheese (any type of hard cheese), and 1 egg in a bowl.  Pour this mixture onto a parchment-lined pizza pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375F degrees.  Remove from oven and cool.  Top with low carb marinara sauce and low carb preferred toppings, finishing off with grated cheeses.

Jess’s Toppings:  marinara sauce, bacon, shrimp, mushrooms, onions, zucchini, basil, tomatoes, fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmesan cheese

Tom’s Low Carb Pizza Crust:
Mix 2 cups grated cheese (any type of hard cheese) and 1 egg in a bowl.  Pour this mixture onto a parchment-lined pizza pan.  Bake for 30 minutes at 375F degrees.  Remove from oven and cool. Top with low carb marinara sauce, adding low carb preferred toppings, finishing off with grated cheeses.

Tom’s toppings:  marinara sauce, pre-cooked Italian sausage, mushrooms, onions, olives, fresh mozzarella cheese and topped with Parmesan cheese

In the US, there are several marinara sauces with our recommended “less than 6-grams carbohydrates” per half cups, which usually means no sugar. In Italy, we’ve been able to purchase sauce with 3 grams per half-cup. 

Carefully read the label to determine if sugar is included.  In Minnesota, we used Rao’s Marinara Sauce, but it was pricey at US $8.95 per jar. However, each large pizza only uses a half cup.  One large jar will make 3 or 4 pizzas. There are many other options without sugar. Who needs sugar in a pizza?

For those NOT on a low carb way of eating, our pizza is very high in fat and calories (if you count calories. We don’t count anything). Since our diet is a high fat, low carb way of eating we don’t worry about consuming fat. Consuming sugary, starchy, grain-related carbs results in raising insulin levels which results in fat gain. It’s not due to the consumption of fat.  

This scientific fact is outlined in this website, one of literally hundreds of medically based sites supporting the low carb, high-fat concept. Science is finally discovering that it is not the fat we eat that makes us fat. Its the combination of carbohydrates and fat. Eating low carb foods and fat results in weight loss, or in my case, weight management.

To simplify the science, it goes like this, a quote from the above link:

“Excessive amounts of carbohydrates (especially refined carbs/sugar) increases insulin and results in fat gain.”

Also, this way of eating has been highly instrumental in improving our health, in enormous ways, as described in many other posts on this site. I don’t need to lose weight. Thus, I must eat larger portions of what I do eat to ensure that I don’t.  In itself, that’s a challenge but certainly, one that I readily enjoy. 

For Tom, who struggles with a propensity to eat “junk food,” this way of eating has been a lifesaver. When he strictly follows our way of eating (minus sugary high carb snacks) he easily loses or maintains his weight hunger-free. Having quit smoking almost a year ago, he weighs considerably less now than when he was smoking. 

For those considering quitting smoking, adopting a low carb diet at the same time is a sure-fire way to avoid gaining the typical 30 pounds. We’re talking about saving lives here, not a fad diet so one can “look good” and fit into small sizes!

Much to our delight, we can eat nuts, the perfect evening snack. We enjoy low carb nuts, even peanuts in the shell (which are a legume, not a nut). Arriving in Italy months ago at that time I’d been eating cheese for dessert. Without preservatives in cheeses in Italy, it spoiled within days of purchase becoming impossible to keep fresh with our bi-monthly grocery trips. Thus, we switched to nuts, readily available at the grocer. At the bottom of today’s post is a chart with the nutritional content of nuts.

If you take the time to read a profound scientific book written by Gary Taubes, “Why We Get Fat,” available everywhere, it explains the science of low carb and how the world has become obsessed with eating high carbohydrate foods, increasing the obesity rates and diabetes to outrageous proportions. 

A vital factor regarding eating low carb is to commit to it. Your body will only begin to burn fat stores in a totally low carb environment.  It’s not a “mix and match” environment. 

(In no manner am I attempting to provide medical advice nor am I claiming to be a medical professional of any type. Please refer to scientific studies readily available at many university websites and by medical professionals worldwide. I’ve spent well over a year researching this topic).  

If you have trouble finding information, feel free to contact me by posting a comment at the end of today’s or any other day’s post and I will post a list enabling you to do your own research.

Tonight, the amazing smell of our pizzas baking will be wafting through the air.  Add a lofty side salad or plate of coleslaw and a fabulous dinner is to be had.  For dessert tonight? Nuts, nuts, and more nuts as we’ll watch Iron Man 2!

Here’s the chart of the nutritional content in nuts. Refer to the “net carb” since fiber apparently reduces the absorption of the carbs (not proven as yet but being researched on the horizon):

Carbohydrates and Fats in Nuts and Seeds (1 Ounce Unshelled)

Cal Tot. Carb Fiber Net Carb Sat. Fat Mono Fat ω-3 Fat ω-6 Fat
Almonds 161 6.1 3.4 2.7 1 8.6 0.2 3.4
Brazil Nuts 184 3.4 2.1 1.3 4.2 6.9 0.05 5.8
Cashews 155 9.2 0.9 8.1 2.2 6.7 0.2 2.2
Chestnuts 60 12.8 2.3 10.5 0.1 0.2 0.03 0.22
Chia Seeds 137 12.3 10.6 1.7 0.9 0.6 4.9 1.6
Coconut* 185 6.6 4.6 2 16 0.8 0 0.2
Flax Seeds 150 8.1 7.6 .5 1 2.1 6.3 1.7
Hazelnuts 176 4.7 2.7 2 1.3 12.8 0.24 2.2
Macadamia Nuts 201 4 2.4 1.6 3.4 16.5 0.06 .36
Peanuts 159 4.5 2.4 2.1 1.9 6.8 0 4.4
Pecans 193 3.9 2.7 1.2 1.7 11.4 0.28 5.8
Pine Nuts 188 3.7 1 2.7 1.4 5.3 0.31 9.4
Pistachios 156 7.8 2.9 5.8 1.5 6.5 0.71 3.7
Pumpkin Seeds 151 5 1.1 3.9 2.4 4 0.51 5.8
Sesame Seeds 160 6.6 3.3 3.3 1.9 5.3 0.11 6
Sunflower Seeds 164 5.6 2.4 3.2 1.2 5.2 0.21 6.5
Walnuts 183 3.8 1.9 1.9 1.7 2.5 2.5 10.7