Cauliflower Crust Pizza

Cauliflower Crust Pizza ~ Delicious and Gluten Free! ~ Our Cozy Den

I’ll admit, when I was diagnosed with PCOS, I cried a little. Okay, a lot. Not because I was devastated by my illness, but because I was grieving my old lifestyle — you know, the one where I ate whatever I wanted. Including my favorite food: pizza. I could literally eat pizza all day, every day, and not get tired of it. So I was ecstatic when my friend made me some cauliflower crust pizza! It was SO good! {Not as good as Papa John’s, but really good!}

So today I’m here to share the recipe with you!

Ingredients:

For each pizza crust, you need the following ingredients. I keep making crusts until I use up all the cauliflower, so I usually end up with 5-6 crusts from a head of cauliflower. I freeze the rest for future use.

  • cauliflower
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tsp each of oregano and garlic powder
  • dash of salt
  • pizza sauce
  • additional mozzarella for topping
  • any other toppings you like (pepperoni for me!)

Instructions:

  1. First, chop up your cauliflower really really small. Like rice-sized. You can use a food processor, but I just use my Pampered Chef Food ChopperCauliflower Crust Pizza ~ Delicious and Gluten Free! ~ Our Cozy Den
  2. Cook the flower in the microwave for 8-10 minutes, until it is soft.
  3. In a bowl, mix together 1 cup of the cauliflower with the egg, 1 cup of mozzarella, and spices.
  4. Put the mixture on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Pat the glob with your fingers and push outwards until it is about 3/8ths of an inch thick, and shape into a circle (or whatever shape you desire). Cauliflower Crust Pizza ~ Delicious and Gluten Free! ~ Our Cozy Den
  5. Bake at 450° for 15 minutes.

    Cauliflower Crust Pizza ~ Delicious and Gluten Free! ~ Our Cozy Den

    At this point, the crust will be sort of soft, almost like an omelette.

  6. Remove from oven. If you are freezing for future use — stop after this step, let cool, then freeze in a large freezer safe ziploc bag. If you are eating now, continue:
  7. Add pizza sauce and toppings.
  8. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and bake until cheese is melted. Cauliflower Crust Pizza ~ Delicious and Gluten Free! ~ Our Cozy Den

Enjoy!!!

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Pasta-Free Chicken Alfredo

Pasta-Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den This is a GREAT recipe for anyone who has to eat gluten-free, low-carb, or people who have PCOS like me!

This specific recipe is for Chicken Alfredo, but you can read the directions for how to prepare the spaghetti squash and use that to replace any pasta in any recipe. Sometimes I use it for mac & cheese, spaghetti, chicken parmesan, and lots more.

Ingredients:

  • 1 spaghetti squash
  • broccoli (optional)
  • chicken, cooked
  • alfredo sauce
  • mozzarella cheese

(I don’t have specific amounts listed, because the amount of broccoli, chicken, alfredo sauce, and cheese you use are up to you, based on your personal preference!)

Instructions:

Pasta Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den

First, cut your spaghetti squash into rings, about 1.5″ wide.

Pasta Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den

Then, take out the seeds, and arrange them on cookie sheets.

Pasta Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den

Bake at 350 degrees, until the edges start to turn golden brown. (This takes about 30 minutes in my oven.)

Pasta Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den

Use a fork to separate the squash into “noodles” and dump into a big bowl.

Pasta Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den

In the bowl, add alfredo sauce and steamed broccoli. Stir it up.

Pasta Free Chicken Alfredo ~ Our Cozy Den

In a sprayed 13×9 baking dish, layer the noodles /sauce/ broccoli on the bottom, cooked chicken next (I like mine breaded, you can bread it with coconut flour to keep it GF), and then mozzarella cheese on top. Bake again at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, just long enough to make it all melty.

This recipe is PACKED with veggies & nutrients, and it tastes like delicious Italian comfort food. Hope this helps you to get your kids (or husband) to eat a little healthier and cut out some of that dreaded processed flour! It also freezes really well, so I take extra servings, and pop them in the freezer for a quick microwavable meal on those nights I don’t have time to cook.
Enjoy!

Zucchini “Pizza”

Zucchini Pizza - Our Cozy Den

So I was making my husband a pizza sub for lunch today. It looked SO good. But alas, I cannot have subs, since I can no longer have bread. As I was opening the fridge, I spied a zucchini sitting in there, and I decided to experiment.
First, I sliced the zucchini into 4 thin strips, and laid them on a cookie sheet.

Then, I covered it with pepperoni and cheese.

Finally, I baked it for about 20 minutes at 375 degrees.

I ate it with a fork, and dipped bites into marinara sauce.

It turned out delicious! It satisfied that pizza craving, but without all the carbs or calories. Because, after all, we can’t just eat a bowl of pepperoni and cheese. Wait, can I? Is that an option?…

 

I have another recipe I’ll post soon for cauliflower crust pizza. It has more of a pizza feel than this one, because you actually pick up the slices and eat them with your hands. But this is MUCH easier, and great for a quick lunch!

Homemade Protein Bars & Bites

PCOS bars & bites

Since being diagnosed with PCOS a few months ago, I’ve been really stepping out of my comfort zone when it comes to new recipes and trying new things. Cutting all sugar and most carbs out of my diet was no easy task. One thing that I really needed was a grab-and-go snack, since most of my actual meals took a lot of prep time.

Companies do sell bars that I could have, but they are crazy expensive, like $3 a bar… no thank you! The homemade granola bars that I usually made for the kids, though healthy, did have added sweeteners (honey) that I could no longer have. So this is my adjusted protein bar recipe, now friendly to those with PCOS and/or diabetes.

The ingredients:

ingredients

Almonds, peanuts, sunflower seeds, or whatever else you like

A SMALL amount of whole grain oatmeal

Unsweetened coconut flakes

Natural peanut butter

Sugar free chocolate chips
*(make sure these are sweetened with sugar alcohols. They usually end in -itol, like xylitol and maltitol. Sugar alcohols have almost no impact on insulin/blood sugar levels, which is our main issue. Steer clear of artificial sweeteners that end in -ose, like sucralose and dextrose. Those are 0 calorie and often in “sugar free” things, but they cause the same insulin spikes as sugar, so we PCOSers need avoid these.) 

The instructions:

1. Chop your nuts and seeds really small. I usually chop until I have about 2 cups.

chopper

2. Stir in 1 1/2 cups coconut and 1/2 cup oats.

mix

3. Add 1/2 the bag of chocolate chips.

4. Stir in about a cup of peanut butter. This step is a little tricky. Too much and they get too sticky. Too little and they fall apart. Experiment, and add more if needed. I stir until mine looks clumpy, like this.

done

5. If you’re making bars, spray a cookie sheet, and press the mix into the cookie sheet. Refrigerate for a few hours, then cut apart with a pizza cutter. Then you can transfer bars to a container with a lid (put waxed paper in between layers). It will keep several weeks in the fridge.

6. If you’re making protein bites, roll the mix into balls, and put on a cookie sheet in the freezer. Once they are frozen, put them in a ziploc bag and take them out as needed. You can thaw them on the counter for a while, or eat them frozen.

I hope this makes your snacking a little easier!

My diagnosis: PCOS ~ What it is, how it’s treated, and my journey so far

Last week I finally got an answer that I had been seeking for years: I have PCOS. Let me backtrack a little and tell you how I got to that point.

After I had Finn in 2012, I was eating healthy and exercising and I lost a lot of baby weight very fast. When he was about 9 months old, I was still eating well and exercising, but all of a sudden I gained 25 pounds in 5 weeks. I went to the doctor, insisting that something was wrong. He tested my thyroid, and said that I seemed to be healthy. He told me to diet and exercise (which frustrated me to get advice to do something I was already doing), and sent me on my way.

Time passed, and I cut more and more things from my diet to make it healthier and healthier, however my weight was still steadily creeping up. I saw more doctors, and the visits went much like the first. I knew that something was wrong with me – I was eating very well, we even switched to eating clean, and I gave up white flour, white sugar, white potatoes, and all processed food. I still gained another 25 pounds after that for a whopping 70 pounds total in 18 months.

Finally my doctor here referred me to a gynecologist for (what I believed to be) an unrelated problem – my periods had suddenly stopped. I broke down in the gynecologist’s office, and she was the first one to finally listen and believe me that something was wrong. She ran a myriad of tests, and the results all pointed back to PCOS.

So what is PCOS?

PCOS stands for PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome. It is an insulin-related hormone disease that affects the whole body. There is no cure, and no known cause. Some believe it is genetic, and others believe it just happens by chance. Since there is no cause, doctors only treat the symptoms. When I was handed a pamphlet with the list of symptoms, my world started to spin, because I had almost everything on the list.

  • unexplained weight gain (check)
  • missing periods (check)
  • excessive body or facial hair (I thought that one was just me turning 30)
  • acne (check)
  • cysts in the ovaries (check)
  • problems conceiving or carrying a child past the first trimester (I’ve lost 7 babies to miscarriage)
  • multiple pregnancies (my first pregnancy was twins)
  • high insulin levels in the blood (check)
  • fatigue (check)
  • mood swings (check)
  • hot flashes (I thought I was hitting menopause)
  • dizziness when suddenly standing or with exercise (I thought this happened to everybody… guess not)

How is it treated?

Several of the problems that are hormone-related (acne, hair growth, periods) are treated with steroids and/or birth control pills. I haven’t been prescribed any of these yet, as my doctor wanted to try the main treatment first, which is diet. Basically, my body is intolerant to carbohydrates/sugars. I had to cut out all carbs from my diet.

To say it’s been a rough week has been an understatement. I used to joke that I was a carbivore, because I didn’t really like vegetables, and I’m picky about meats. Even eating clean, I ate a lot of brown rice, popcorn, corn tortillas, oatmeal, and things sweetened with raw sugar or honey.

Now, meat and vegetables are all I have. I have to read labels and carefully monitor my intake. I am only eating foods that say 0g sugar or <1g sugar, keeping my total carb intake under 20g per day. It’s incredibly hard. Even some foods that I can have like black beans and avocado and nuts have a little bit of carbs/sugar in there, so I can only have a very little.

My doctor told me nothing at all in the bread category – no grains, bread, rice, etc. No dairy, except a TINY bit of cheese. No fruits. No sugar, not even natural sugars like honey. Even some veggies have sugar, so I cannot have corn, peas, or carrots.

I posted a little bit about what was going on with me on facebook, and I got several well-meaning messages from friends and family expressing concern at my new diet. Believe me, I wish I didn’t have to eat this way either. But my body is – for lack of a better word – allergic to sugar.

This diet is a well-known way to treat PCOS. There are several books written on the subject, like the one I bought on amazon here. So it may be a unique diet, but it isn’t radical for my diagnosis.

What happens if I don’t treat it?

With unmanaged PCOS, it’s nearly impossible to NOT gain weight. It’s very common for people with this disease to end up 300-400-500 pounds. They usually end up with full-blown diabetes and heart disease, along with many other insulin and obesity-related issues. Many die young from these problems. PCOS also more than doubles my risk for a bunch of other health concerns. Basically, not treating it is not an option for me.

So what now?

I can finally see a light at the end of the tunnel. The past year or so, I’ve been growing more and more depressed and filled with self-hatred at my increasing weight. It got so bad that I was embarrassed to go in public or get my picture taken. So I’m working on forgiving myself and accepting that it wasn’t my fault.

Looking forward, I envision where I’ll be a year from now.

Hopefully most of the weight will be gone. 

I will feel better, and my body will be functioning the way it should. 

I will be used to eating vegetables and maybe even like most of them. 

The cravings and temptation of the things I cannot have will be fleeting, not consuming. 

I am excited to get to that place. I know I have to walk through this hard patch to get there, but I will do so, knowing the destination is a better place for me.

PCOS