Southwestern Avocado Pesto Pizza w/ a Black Bean Crust

Monday, on my 6am flight, I had an idea for a pizza recipe.

….because that’s what normal people do on a 6am flight….

I finally had the opportunity to try it out this weekend, and was thrilled that it worked! In my opinion, if you can make a healthy, low-carb, high protein pizza crust, why not go for it? Any way to make pizza healthier and I’m in!

But first…. my wonderful Father In-Law came to town on business this week. He stayed an extra day just so we could have a Father/Daughter date night!

We went to a wonderful little restaurant, frequented by locals. It is a tiny, authentic Cuban restaurant, called Cuba Cuba, tucked quietly in a residential neighborhood. It masquerades as a little blue house with yellow trim. But, the moment you set foot inside, that perception changes. The place is alive with color and the sounds of laughter. Everyone is happy and relaxed, and the food….. How do I even begin to describe the food? Subtle and complex, each dish is as close to Cuba as you are going to get outside of Havana. And get this, they have a Gluten-Free Menu!!!!!!!

We started with drinks. He got a Mojito, and I went with the nightly special, a Paloma.

….Which I may have ordered because it was pink….

While we were deciding on our entrees, the owner, a firey Cuban woman who moved here from Miami, came over to chat with us. She and my Father In-Law (who is also Cuban) hit it off immediately, discussing the different dishes on the menu, etc… She recommended he try a thin, lightly breaded steak (I’m blanking on the name). He did, and raved over it’s authentic flavor. I, however, went with a light, spicy Seafood Stew served with rice. Scrumptious does not even begin to describe it! It was the nightly special, and I can only pray that they add it to the regular rotation.

Cuba Cuba is now our date night place whenever my Father In-Law is in town. AND if you are ever visiting Denver and in the mood for great food away from the tourist hustle and bustle, you MUST try Cuba Cuba.

Now, on to my recipe!

Southwestern Avocado Pesto Pizza w/ a Black Bean Crust

(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Southwestern Avocado Pesto (see below)
  • 1 recipe Black Bean Pizza Crust (see below)
  • 1 large Organic Tomato, sliced
  • Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • Salsa & Dairy-Free Sour Cream, for serving

Directions:

  1. Spread Pesto over the par-baked pizza crust.
  2. Top with slices of tomato and sprinkle with nutritional yeast.
  3. Bake in a 400 degree oven for 10 minutes. (425 degrees F if at a high altitude)
  4. Serve with salsa and dairy-free sour cream, if desired.

Southwestern Avocado Pesto

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 Avocado, diced
  • 1/4 cup fresh Cilantro
  • 1 Tbsp Chives, chopped
  • 2 Tbsp Nutritional Yeast Flakes
  • 1 clove Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 tsp Herbamare
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground Black Pepper
  • 1/3 cup Hot Water (may use more or less)
  • 1 tsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Directions:

  1. Combine Avocado, Cilantro, Nutritional Yeast, Garlic, Salt and Pepper, Olive Oil, and 1/4 cup of the Hot Water in a food processor.
  2. Process until smooth, adding more water if needed.

Black Bean Pizza Crust

Ingredients:

  • 1 can Black Beans, drained & rinsed
  • 1/2 cup Brown Rice Flour
  • 1 large Egg
  • 1 Tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1/2 tsp Xanthum Gum
  • 1 tsp Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp Baking Soda
  • Pinch of Sea Salt
  • Pinch of Black Pepper
  • 1/4 cup Water, as needed (if cooking at a low altitude, you may only need 2 Tbsp)
  • 1/2 tsp Paprika
  • 3/4 tsp Oregano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. (425 if at a high altitude)
  2. Place all ingredients in a food processor and pulse until smooth.
  3. Mixture will be wetter than traditional pizza dough.
  4. Spray a round baking tray with non-stick cooking spray and lightly dust with brown rice flour.
  5. Using moist fingers, spread dough into a thin even circle covering the tray. Have a bowl of water nearby to re-moisten fingers frequently.
  6. Bake dough in the 400 degree oven for 15 minutes.
  7. After baking, remove from the oven and proceed with the above recipe.

This post is linked to Slightly Indulgent Tuesday at Simply Sugar & Gluten Free.

 

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My Kind of Town….

Hello everyone! I am still in Chicago visiting my wonderful Hubby! I have been a bad blogger and not taken many photos. 
I made a decision to spend this time focusing on my husband instead of taking pictures for the blog. Sorry, but I decided to be selfish on this one.
Since I am hanging out at the hotel tonight while GF Guy is at the theater, I have a bit of time to do a quick mid-trip post.
Food wise, I have only gotten sick once! I know, I know.. that’s one time too many. But, considering all we have done is eat out, it’s not too shabby. 
The culprit was a breakfast place called Yolk. I called ahead and spoke to the manager over the phone and after I arrived. We discussed cross contamination, etc… but to no avail. I ended up stuck in the hotel room for the remainder of the day. 

Aside from Yolk, the food and service has been wonderful! Maybe I am having a charmed trip, but I’ll take it! Our favorite restaurants from this trip to Chicago include:

  • Big Bowl (GF menu and awesome service- Get the Tofu & Vegetable Pad Thai!!!!)
  • Flat Top Grill (GF menu and again awesome service)
  • Epic Burger (no special menu, but the only thing “unsafe” are the buns; just ask for extra lettuce or bring your own)
  • Su Casa (no special menu, but plenty of options)
  • Noodles & Co. (they messed up my order, but apologized profusely, the manager made me a new meal, & gave me a voucher for a free meal)
  • Argo Tea (they sell GF/DF cookies in addition to having some amazing herbal teas!)
 It is so much easier to eat out here, in Chicago, than it is at home! Most of the restaurants have GF menus or are, at least, knowledgeable about it. 
I also stocked up on Glutenfreeda Instant Oatmeal packets and Larabars and have been eating fruit like a little champion!
But enough about the food, on to the fun!
I spent a few days exploring the city by myself because GF Guy had matinee and evening shows. The first day I visited the Adler Planetarium. It was about a 2 to 2.5 mile walk to the planetarium, not a bad little jaunt!
I haven’t worked out much since coming to Chicago. I am rationalizing my laziness by saying that I am walking a lot more than normal, which is true. I am walking at the very least 2 miles a day. That is if I go straight from the hotel to the theater and back, with no stopping in between or veering from the main path for food, etc…. 
The following day, my favorite museum, The Art Institute, was calling my name! I spent four hours visiting my favorite painting by Georges Seurat 
and reveling in the beauty, color, and light of the countless other great works of art housed in that wonderful building.
Don’t worry, I haven’t spent all my time by myself! I tagged along with GF Guy and the cast of Rock of Ages for a few Broadway in Chicago sponsored activities! My favorite by far was a 3 hour guided Segway tour of the city by Absolutely Chicago Segway Tours. 
There is no better way to see the city! We were surprised to find a few news crews waiting for us at the Segway Tour location. They interviewed Constantine and a few other cast members and followed us around filming and taking pictures. We also took an architecture boat tour that was delightful. This city has some of the best, most diverse architecture!
Today, the weather was gorgeous so GF Guy and I took our lunch to a small park by the “beach” and Navy Pier for a picnic
It’s days like these that make me wish I was touring with him again. **sigh**
Okay, I will catch up with you all later!

The Grand Caper….

Last night, my mom and I made plans for a girl’s night. 
She was coming over, and I was all geared up to make Turkey Burgers and roasted Red Kuri Squash Fries. The meat was even thawing on the counter. 
Then, in our typical fashion, plans changed. 
We went on a grand caper the likes of which would only happen to us. I can’t really go into detail due to privacy concerns. Just imagine 2 little white women in a sketchy area of town, a bingo hall, 2 bouncers, and a broken GPS.
It was “AWESOME”!
By the time we were safe and sound back on our side of town it was late and food was an immediate necessity. 
Thank goodness for this little pizza place! They have an amazingly safe restaurant with Gluten-Free, Vegan Pizza, breadsticks, salads, etc…. They use Daiya Cheese & buy their crusts from Ivan over at Viitals. Ivan trained the entire staff on how to avoid cross contamination. Their kitchen is so safe it’s almost ridiculous!  
But I digress….
We each ordered a half salad and split a delicious pizza topped w/ Portobello Mushrooms, Caramelized Onions, Spinach, and Red Cabbage. It was perfection! Then we headed back to my place to chat. All in all it was a lovely evening!
However, we returned home to find thawed turkey on the counter. It needed to be cooked… TODAY! Not wanting to go to the grocery store after church tonight, I whipped this together with whatever I had on hand. Feel free to add whatever veggies you have that need to be used. Bon Appetit!
Creamy Skillet Turkey & Kale
(Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free)

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil 
  • 1 lb. Lean Ground Turkey 
  • 1/2 Yellow Onion, chopped
  • 5 cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1/2 Red Bell Pepper, chopped
  • 2 handfuls Kale
  • 1 Tomato, chopped
  • Salt & Pepper, to taste
  • Rosemary, Thyme, Sage, & Poultry Seasoning, to taste
  • splash Organic Chicken Stock
  • 1/4 cup Tofutti Better Than Sour Cream

Directions:

  1. In a large skillet, heat oil. 
  2. Add turkey, onion, & garlic, and cook until turkey is almost done.
  3. Add spices and thoroughly combine.
  4. Add pepper, kale, tomato, and dash of chicken stock. Cook down slightly.
  5. Stir in sour cream, remove from heat, and allow to rest about 5 minutes before serving.
Do you have one person you always seem to get into shenanigans with? What was your last caper?
P.S.- Dickens says “hi!”
*This post is linked to The Crazy Kitchen Recipe Round-up.

Too Long….

Oh my friends, I have been gone too long!!!! I have missed your comments and reading your blogs, as well. You see…. here is the thing….

On Tuesday, I received a HUGE promotion at work! I am super excited about my new position. It is something I feel passionately about and for a company I truly believe in. (Check out a little of my work so far) However, on top of my new duties, I have to continue working my old position until they find a replacement for me. This being said, I have been working 12 and 13 hour days AND I am sick. Sooo…. things have been a bit crazy around here. (I’m not complaining. I thrive on the business and I LOVE my new job.)

Last night, I had no clue what GF Guy and I would do for dinner. Enter Ivan from Viitals GF Bakery and Cafe .
You may remember, I interviewed him a while back about his high protein muffins and crackers. I also visited his newly opened Cafe and had the BEST sandwich of my life! Well, since that time, he has become a dear friend. He stopped by my work last night, after working all day at his Cafe, to drop off 2 of his GF, Vegan Sandwich Rolls and 2 of his high protein GF, Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. (my favorite!) I was surprised and overwhelmed by his kindness. He has such a pure, genuine heart. Not one to simply rest on his success, he continues to improve his products. He is also expanding his menu to include GF, Vegan Birthday Cakes and is supplying 2 local pizza restaurants with his GF, Vegan Pizza Crusts! (*sigh*) He is wonderful! If I wasn’t married….. I’M JUST KIDDING!!!!!! 😉
But enough about that, here is where my night became fabulous. I arrived home to find GF Guy had dusted, vaccumed, and “swiffered” the entire house. He was also defrosting the leftover Ham Bone Soup that we froze for emergency purposes. We each enjoyed a steaming bowl along with our Sandwich Rolls from Viitals . Forget about the soup! Look at that bread!
It was unbelievably fluffy, moist, soft, pillow-like,…….. I think you get the picture!
(Pardon the horrendous lighting.)
Absolute perfection! Thank you Ivan! You made dinner exceptional!
For dessert, GF Guy and I split one of Viitals GF, Vegan Oatmeal Raisin Cookies. Keep in mind, GF Guy does not like Oatmeal or Raisins. He ate his entire half… and liked it! I obviously loved my half as well. The cookie practically melts in your mouth!
Seriously, If you have not stopped by Viitals GF Bakery and Cafe in Tampa, FL, you must! They have a menu online and are working on updating the website. They take online orders and will ship to anywhere in the US. So…. TRY THEM TODAY!

Gluten Free Dining & Me….


Your palms are sweaty. You are jittery and nervous. You convulsively sip water and wring your damp hands. No, you are not someone coming off of a drug induced high. You are a gluten free diner attempting to dine out at a restaurant.
For those of you with Celiac Disease or severe gluten intolerance, you know exactly what I am talking about. GF Guy and I rarely dine out due to such circumstances. It is just not worth getting so worked up over, not to mention the risk factor.

However, in the past 2 weeks, I have had the distinct pleasure of dining at 2 restaurants where I had no fear!

The first:

Viitals Specialty Bakery and Lifestyle Cafe

6605 N Florida Ave, Tampa, FL 33604
Tel: 813.443.4567
Hours of operation:
Tuesday – Friday – 10am – 6pm
Saturday – 10am – 7pm
Sunday – 10am – 4pm
Monday – Closed

You may recall my review of Viitals crackers and muffins from a while back. Since that review, Ivan and his wife have opened a little cafe and bakery here in Tampa, FL. It is 100% gluten free, nut free, and soy free.
GF Guy and I stopped by one Saturday on our way to the dog park with Dickens. We ordered 2 Mediterranean Sandwiches, to go. (His with no onions or olives. Mine with no feta cheese.) Our sandwiches were prepared by Ivan, himself! He came out and gave us a big hug before taking our order from his adorable wife.
When we unwrapped our sandwiches, about an hour after they were prepared, we were in for the shock of our lives. These sandwiches were 100% crumb free! The bread did not fall apart or crumble in our hands! The in house made hummus and dressing were creamy and delicious! The veggies were crisp and fresh! I can not stop raving about our meal! We also bought some of Ivan’s Vegan & Raw Chocolate Avocado Mousse. It was, in a word, A-MAZING!!!! So decadent and creamy, you would never guess it was vegan.
I am also addicted to Viitals’ Sesame & Flax crackers. They are a new flavor since my review, and are, in my opinion, the BEST!
If you live anywhere near Tampa, FL, you MUST visit Viitals Bakery and Cafe for a salad or sandwich. Trust me on this one! If you are not in the Tampa area, you can still order Ivan’s crackers and muffins online. He ships to anywhere in the U.S.!
See other reviews on Urbanspoon.com
VIITALS Specialty Bakery & Lifestyle Cafe on Urbanspoon

Number Two:


Queen of Sheba Ethiopian Restaurant

3636 Henderson Blvd.
Tampa, FL
phone: 813-872-6000
fax: 813-872-6007

Hours of operation:
Mon – Thur 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Fri and Sat 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.
Sunday 4 p.m. to 1o p.m.

Ethiopian food, in general, is naturally gluten free. Traditional Injera Bread is made from Teff flour, a gluten free grain flour. Unfortunately, most Ethiopian restaurants in the US have “americanized” their cuisine. Often, the Injera Bread is made from a combination of Teff flour and regular wheat flour. At Queen of Sheba, they are ready willing and able to prepare their Injera 100% gluten free using only Teff. They are extremely aware of the risks and dangers of cross contamination and address Celiac disease/gluten intolerance on their website.
GF Guy and I visited Queen of Sheba last night after I got off work. We sat outside at a tiny cafe table, where they allowed us to tie Dickens’ little red leash to the table legs. (Yes, we bring our dog everywhere we can.) I ordered the Vegetarian Sampler, a delicious sampling of Ye Misr Wot (Red split lentils simmered in finely chopped onion, garlic, ginger and seasoned with berbere), Ye Kik Alecha (Yellow split peas simmered in finely chopped onions, garlic, ginger and turmeric powder), Ye Tikil Gomen (Chopped cabbage and carrots stewed in a mild sauce) and Gomen (Chopped collard greens steamed and seasoned with garlic and jalapeno peppers) and the Gluten Free Injera Bread. The owners’ wife prepared our Injera Bread and meals, herself! (I love when the owners are the ones running the restaurant!)
The meal itself was an aromatic blend of spices and flavors. The experience of traditional Ethiopian dining was something unique all together! We LOVED using the soft, spongy Injera Bread and our fingers to scoop up our food. It was like being a little kid all over again!
If you are in the Tampa area and enjoy unique dining experiences, this is the restaurant for you!

Two wonderful Gluten Free dining options right here in Tampa Bay! Who would have thought?

Today’s Birthday Question:
What is the best birthday gift you have ever given?