Celiac disease is an autoimmune disorder that causes damage to the small intestine when gluten is ingested. Gluten is a protein found in wheat, barley and rye. For those with celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response that attacks the small intestine and inhibits the absorption of nutrients into the body. This can lead to symptoms like abdominal pain, bloating, diarrhea, constipation, vomiting, fatigue and in children it can stunt growth. The only treatment for celiac disease is following a strict lifelong gluten-free diet, which allows the intestinal villi to heal and nutrients to be absorbed properly.
So for those with celiac disease, following a gluten-free diet is essential. But does that mean having to say goodbye to beloved foods like pizza? Thankfully, the answer is no! Gluten-free pizza that is safe for celiacs absolutely exists, providing the dough and toppings are made completely gluten-free.
What Makes a Pizza Gluten Free?
For a pizza to be considered gluten-free, both the crust and all of the toppings must be completely free of gluten. Here are the key things to look for:
The pizza dough or crust must be made without any wheat, barley or rye flours, which all contain the protein gluten. Instead, gluten-free pizzas are typically made with flours like:
– Rice flour
– Tapioca flour
– Potato starch
– Corn flour
– Nut flours like almond or coconut
– Bean flours like chickpea or lentil
Some gluten-free doughs combine several gluten-free flours for the best texture.
Gluten-Free Toppings & Sauce
In addition to the crust, any pizza toppings and the sauce must also be gluten-free. Some things to watch out for include:
– Sauces made with wheat flour
– Meat toppings with fillers or breaded with wheat flour
– Vegetables fried in contaminated oil
– Cheeses or other dairy with additives
Ideally, look for simple ingredients and ask questions to ensure all toppings are naturally gluten-free.
Risk of Cross-Contamination
Even when a pizza crust and toppings are made completely gluten-free, there is still a risk of cross-contamination during preparation and cooking. This occurs when gluten-containing foods come into contact with gluten-free foods. Some common risks include:
– Pizza cooked on same surface as wheat dough without thorough cleaning
– Toppings prepped on contaminated surfaces or with utensils touched by gluten
– Pizza baked in oven with shared air circulation as gluten-containing pizzas
– Pizza cut with contaminated pizza cutter
To avoid cross-contamination, the safest options are pizzas from dedicated gluten-free restaurants or pizza places with strict protocols in place. At minimum, surfaces and utensils should be thoroughly cleaned between pizzas.
Buying Gluten-Free Frozen Pizza
For convenience, many grocery stores now carry gluten-free frozen pizzas. When selecting a frozen gluten-free pizza, check that it is certified gluten-free, meaning the product has been tested to verify gluten levels are under 20ppm. Some reputable gluten-free brands include:
– Against the Grain
Carefully read all ingredients and nutrition labels, as manufacturing processes can change. Do not eat if there is any risk of cross-contamination from wheat-based foods produced in the same facility.
Ordering Gluten-Free Pizza Delivery
Many national pizza chains like Domino’s, Pizza Hut and Papa John’s offer gluten-free crusts and procedures to avoid cross-contamination. However, the kitchen environment is difficult to fully control so there is always some risk.
Your safest bet is to order from a restaurant that specializes in gluten-free foods. Some gluten-free pizza delivery options include:
– Pie Five Pizza
– Blaze Pizza
– MOD Pizza
When ordering, always confirm that they have protocols in place for gluten-free prep and ask any questions about potential cross-contamination. It’s also smart to reiterate your need for gluten-free when the pizza arrives.
Making Homemade Gluten-Free Pizza
For the most control, making your own gluten-free pizza at home is a great option. This lets you control all the ingredients and prevent cross-contamination by thoroughly cleaning cooking surfaces and using fresh utensils.
When making homemade gluten-free pizza:
– Prepare your own dough or use a reputable brand
– Use tomato sauce and gluten-free cheese
– Choose fresh vegetable toppings or gluten-free meat
– Use a pizza stone or thoroughly cleaned pan
– Follow recipes from trusted gluten-free sources
With the right ingredients and precautions, homemade gluten-free pizza can be perfect for those with celiac disease.
Gluten-Free Pizza Crust Tips
Finding or making the perfect gluten-free pizza crust is key. Here are some helpful tips:
– Combine flours like rice, tapioca and sorghum for best texture
– Let dough proof longer to allow flours to fully hydrate
– Add xanthan gum to help mimic gluten structure
– Use milk or eggs to add moisture for softer crust
– Brush crust with olive oil to prevent drying out
– Bake crust before adding toppings to crisp up
– Use pizza stone or pizza pan for ideal crust
It can take some trial and error to find your perfect crust, but the effort is worth it for pizza night!
Favorite Gluten-Free Pizza Topping Ideas
While the crust is the hardest part, coming up with tasty gluten-free topping ideas is the fun part of pizza night. Get creative with these ideas:
|Cheese & More
Feel free to get creative and add any gluten-free toppings you enjoy!
Delicious Gluten-Free Pizza Recipes
Ready to get baking? Here are some amazing gluten-free pizza recipes to try:
1. Classic Margherita Pizza
– Gluten-free pizza dough
– Olive oil
– Fresh mozzarella, sliced
– Tomatoes, sliced
– Fresh basil
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Stretch or roll out dough into a 12-inch circle.
2. Brush crust with olive oil and par-bake for 5 minutes.
3. Top with sliced mozzarella and tomatoes. Season with salt.
4. Bake 10 more minutes until cheese is melted.
5. Finish with fresh basil leaves.
2. BBQ Chicken Pizza
– Gluten-free pizza dough
– BBQ sauce
– Cooked chicken, shredded
– Red onion, chopped
– Cheddar cheese, shredded
– Fresh cilantro
1. Preheat oven to 425°F. Par-bake crust 7 minutes.
2. Spread BBQ sauce on crust and top with chicken and onions.
3. Sprinkle cheddar cheese over top.
4. Bake 10 more minutes until crispy.
5. Garnish with cilantro.
3. Hawaiian Pizza
– Gluten-free pizza dough
– Marinara sauce
– Ham, sliced
– Pineapple tidbits
– Mozzarella cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450°F. Shape dough into crust.
2. Spread marinara sauce and sprinkle mozzarella.
3. Arrange ham and pineapple on top.
4. Bake for 12 minutes until cheese is melted.
Finding a Gluten-Free Pizza Restaurant
Dining out with celiac disease can be tricky, but finding a great gluten-free pizza restaurant makes indulging much easier. Here are some tips for finding a safe option near you:
– Search restaurant finder sites like FindMeGlutenFree.com
– Call ahead to ask about dedicated prep areas and training
– Look for gluten-free certifications or accreditations
– Stick to restaurants with majority gluten-free menus
– Visit dedicated gluten-free pizza chains if available
– Ask about protocols to prevent cross-contamination
– Read online reviews from fellow celiacs
With the right restaurant, you can comfortably order gluten-free pizza off the menu and not have to worry!
Traveling and Eating Gluten-Free Pizza
Pizza is a popular food when traveling, but how can you enjoy it safely on a gluten-free diet? Here are some tips for traveling celiacs:
– Research gluten-free-friendly destinations in advance
– Pack snacks or meals as a backup if unsure of options
– Look for gluten-free restaurants near your hotel or rental
– Use an app like Find Me Gluten Free to locate safe eateries
– Stick to major chains with gluten-free menus like Blaze Pizza
– Ask hotel staff for local restaurant recommendations
– Explain your dietary needs clearly to restaurant staff
– Carry gluten-free cards to communicate in foreign languages
– Take gluten-free pizza dough and make pizzas in your rental kitchen
With planning and precautions, you can still satisfy your pizza craving while traveling gluten-free. Don’t be afraid to try new pizza places, just do your homework first.
Ingredients to Avoid on Gluten-Free Pizza
When ordering or making your own gluten-free pizza, there are certain ingredients you’ll want to avoid. Watch out for:
– Wheat flour doughs
– Semolina flour
– Beer in the dough
– Soy Sauce
– Flavored pizza sauces with malt extracts
– Meats with breading or fillers
– Imitation bacon bits or crumbles
– Croutons or regular bread crumbs as topping
Stick to basic ingredients and ask questions anytime you are uncertain if something contains gluten or not. Simple pizzas are often the safest and most delicious anyway!
Is Fresh or Frozen Pizza Better?
Both fresh and frozen pizzas can be great gluten-free options. Here is a comparison:
Fresh Gluten-Free Pizza
– Made to order for you
– Freshest ingredients
– Hot and crispy out of the oven
– Can customize toppings
– Support local business
– Risk of cross-contamination
– Ingredients could change
Frozen Gluten-Free Pizza
– Tested for gluten and celiac-safe
– No cross-contamination risk
– Longer shelf life
– Always available as a backup
– National brand with consistent standards
– Less fresh than made to order
– Limited on topping choices
– Must keep frozen until use
Choose based on your preferences and cravings! Having some frozen pizzas on hand is always smart for busy nights.
Common Mistakes to Avoid
Eating pizza gluten-free takes some extra care. Avoid these common mistakes:
– Not reading labels carefully for wheat ingredients
– Assuming cornmeal on bottom is gluten-free
– Trusting regular restaurants without precautions
– Believing modified wheat starch is gluten-free
– Thinking a well-cleaned shared oven is safe
– Letting pizza touch flour-dusted surfaces or pans
– Using the same cutter on regular and gluten-free pizzas
When in doubt, ask questions and do your own research. Being overly cautious helps avoid unpleasant gluten reactions.
Should Kids with Celiac Follow a Gluten-Free Diet?
Yes, doctors recommend anyone diagnosed with celiac disease follows a strict gluten-free diet, including children. Consuming gluten can damage the small intestine and prevent proper nutrient absorption, leading to poor growth and other health problems for kids.
Explaining the diet to children in simple terms helps them adjust:
– “Your body gets a tummy ache when you eat gluten”
– “The gluten makes your intestines unable to absorb the food you eat”
– “When you avoid gluten, you’ll have more energy and won’t feel sick”
Involving kids in making gluten-free meals, reading labels and helping cook their own special pizza makes them feel empowered. With patience and care from the adults, living gluten-free can become second nature for kids.
Gluten-Free Pizza Options for Kids
Kids want to eat pizza like their peers, so having tasty gluten-free options available is key. Ideas include:
– Personal sized gluten-free pizzas
– Pizzas loaded with their favorite toppings
– Dairy-free options for kids with multiple allergies
– Let them help make their own mini pizza
– Fun shaped pizzas like hearts or dinosaurs
– Pizzas topped with smiley pepperoni faces
Adapting traditional kid foods like chicken nuggets, mac and cheese and snacks to be gluten-free also helps kids not feel left out at lunchtime. With creativity and compassion, you can make living gluten-free positive.
Is Gluten-Free Healthier?
There are mixed opinions on whether a gluten-free diet is inherently healthier for those without celiac disease or non-celiac gluten sensitivity.
Some potential benefits of gluten-free diets:
– Increased intake of nutrients from alternate grains
– Elimination of processed and fried gluten foods
– Avoidance of potential inflammatory effects of gluten
– Improvement in energy and gastrointestinal issues
Some drawbacks of gluten-free diets:
– Risk of missing out on fiber, iron, folate from fortified gluten grains
– Higher fat and sugar intake from gluten-free substitute foods
– Reduced gut microbiome diversity from lack of gluten
– Possible increased exposure to arsenic and heavy metals in rice flour
For true celiacs, the benefits of going gluten-free far outweigh any downsides. But those adopting a gluten-free diet as a lifestyle should ensure they are still eating a balanced, nutrient-rich diet.
Coping Emotionally with a Gluten-Free Diet
Learning you must follow a strict gluten-free diet for life can be an emotional adjustment. Some tips for coping:
– Allow yourself to grieve loss of old food traditions
– Join a support group to share experiences with others
– See a therapist or counselor to process complex feelings
– Focus attention on all foods you can eat, not what’s eliminated
– Learn to cook naturally gluten-free foods in new ways
– Find trusted gluten-free brands and products you love
– Bring your own snacks and dishes to social events as needed
– Explain your needs clearly to friends and family to gain support
– Be kind to yourself – transition takes time but gets easier!
Staying positive, flexible and proactive makes living gluten-free far more manageable. The diet becomes second nature with time.
So can celiacs enjoy gluten-free pizza? Absolutely! Thanks to so many specialty products, restaurants and recipes, those with celiac disease don’t have to miss out on this popular food. The key is finding completely gluten-free crusts and toppings and taking precautions to prevent cross-contamination. With planning and care reading labels, ordering out smartly, and preparing pizzas safely at home, gluten-free pizza can be enjoyed worry-free by celiacs. Pizza night can live on for those on a gluten-free diet.