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Giddy for Gluten-free Pizza

by Marissa on September 4, 2010

What a delightful weekend! There is no better way to say goodbye to summer and enjoy a holiday weekend than indulging in delicious healthy and some not-so-healthy food. This weekend, I clearly had pasta and pizza on my mind. My boyfriend is a lover of both and I on the other hand, despite being Italian, have never had quite so much of either in my life since I met him!

I’m always looking for ways that he and I can share a meal while satisfying both of our palates which brought us to Pala. There’s vegan pizza and there’s gluten free pizza but I’ve never really been successful at finding the two in one pie. Pala literally has something for everyone with a diverse menu that includes gluten-free, vegan and vegetarian pasta and pizza options for those with special diets while also catering to those who don’t have dietary restrictions so everyone can eat what they like. I’m diggin’ this concept! Why don’t more restaurants do this?!?

As an added bonus, the restaurant even uses dedicated cooking facilities for the gluten-free menu items to avoid cross-contamination (important for those who have true gluten allergies).

We started with a salad as I usually do when dining at a restaurant. This helps me fill up on greens and avoid overeating my main course. The favetta fresca salad, pictured here, had plenty of greens and fava beans for some added protein. I requested the pecorino on the side so my boyfriend could add the cheese to his salad.

I chose the vegan, gluten-free arrabiata pizza with fresh cherry tomatoes, garlic and hot pepper. I asked for just a sprinkling of daiya cheese, a vegan, non-soy based cheese that taste and melts like the real thing. My boyfriend had the funghi e salsiccia (mushroom and sausage).

Sharing food together is important to us and by the end of our meal, we were both satisfied because could get the food we like while enjoying a meal together.

What is your favorite NYC pizzeria?

I have to give props to the pizza bar at Whole Foods which has a variety of fresh and yummsy pizzas to choose from daily and includes a number of vegan options. However, I’m still waiting for a gluten-free crust from them.

Why gluten free? Gluten is a protein found in wheat and some other grains that can be difficult to digest for some people. It is literally in almost everything we eat and the more of it we consume, the less tolerant our bodies can become. It’s important to keep in mind, that everyone is different so this is not the case for everyone. An elmination diet can help determine an intolerance to gluten.

For a select number of people, those with Celiac Disease (CD), this intolerance to gluten can have serious health consequences and therefore they must be extra cautious to avoid it. To read more about food sensitivity and intolerance, click here. If you suspect you may have CD, please see your doctor or alternative healthcare practitioner for further diagnosis.

For myself, I find gluten-free foods easier to digest and it eliminates abdominal bloating (this, I have only discovered through experimentation and elimination diets) so I avoid gluten when possible and stay away from processed bread, crackers and cereals.

I always remind my clients, though, that just because an item is vegan or gluten-free doesn’t make it the healthier option. When buying packaged food, always read food labels for ingredients and be on the lookout for added sugar or words you don’t recognize. When attempting special diets, it’s best to stick with whole foods. A health coach can offer support around this. Also, when dining out, keep portion control in mind and ask how items are prepared. And just like everyday baked goods, the vegan and gluten-free versions are best as once-in-awhile indulgences.

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