Many of my friends and clients are almost in a panic when I say "no bread", when it comes to following the Body Ecology Diet. (There are a few rare types of bread that are almost approved and (eventually) fine in moderation, once you've achieved balance in your body, including: Grindstone Bakery's gluten-free options found on their website and Food for Life's new Sprouted gluten-free options you can find at most health grocery stores.) I somehow went over the two year mark before I decided that it would be might be wise/ fun to start exploring my options-- so that I could hold a hamburger in between something other than lettuce AND so that I could give my clients a silver lining to this "no bread" rule. After surfing the internet for a recipe that didn't include yeast or cheese, I tried a few that were good, but required random ingredients that were either not ideal for your body, or weren't very accessibile. Just recently, I finally fell on one that worked AND I didn't have to make a handful of replacements and modifications (which is usually always the case)! Thanks to The Lucky Penny blog and a few changes by me, here is a fabulously satisfying bread replacement that you can enjoy for pizza, burgers, sandwiches, with hummus, or solo!
Depending on how many people, you will need to adjust the volume. I am going to list the amount it took for me to make a top and bottom hamburger bun for 7 people (14 pieces total). Since this recipe is slightly tedious and delicious, I do suggest you make a relatively large batch because it can keep but you probably won't have the opportunity to store it for too long, considering it's delicious and multi-purposeful.
- 3 medium-sized heads of cauliflower
- 3 eggs
- 3 tablespoons of organic, extra-virgin olive oil
- 6 tablespoons of almond meal (or almond flour)
- approx. 1/2-3/4 teaspoons of pink salt or sea salt
(You can add oregano, garlic, basil and other Italian seasoning if you are making it for pizza but since I was using it for burgers, I stuck to salt.)
1. Place baking sheet or pizza stone in oven and preheat to 450 degrees.
2. Pull out a piece of parchment paper and lightly coat with olive oil. (Do not use wax paper- it will melt using such a high temperature.) Leave on counter until "dough" is ready for baking.
3. After rinsing cauliflower, remove leaves and bottom base of florets. In Lucky Penny's instructions it says to remove the base completely and only use florets but I used most the of the cauliflower and it worked just fine utilizing more of the goods!
4. In shifts, add cauliflower to food processor and blend into a snow-like consistency. Make sure you get it into a fine texture without blending it into mush. (That's why I suggest doing small to medium bunches at a time, removing the processed cauliflower into a large bowl as you go.)
5. After all cauliflower is blended into snow, in a large baking pan or wok, heat on stove covered on medium-high heat for approximately 5-8 minutes, mixing every few minutes. It's okay if some of it browns a little but you don't want to cook it all of the way- just until it's tender, keeping its texture.
6. Once it's tender, remove from heat and let cool.
7. KEY STEP! Place cheese cloth or clean kitchen towel* on a large plate and spoon cauliflower on it. Over a large bowl or sink, squeeze out as much moisture as you can. (One of my trial and errors occurred because I didn't remove enough moisture and the vegan pizzas I made pretty much fell apart the second you picked them up.) I do really suggest using a triple-ply cheese cloth because it allows you to strain the cauliflower better than a kitchen towel. And by "triple-ply" I mean, since it comes in a large piece (I bought mine at Natural Grocers), you can cut it so that you can use the other portion for later use but use enough so that you can fold it and there are 2-3 layers- because the cauliflower will squeeze through otherwise. If using a towel, try to use one that's not tightly woven- to insure a better strain- and one that isn't too plush- to avoid a fuzzy, matted mess.
8. Place the grainy lump of cauliflower into large bowl. Add egg, almond meal, olive oil, and desired ingredients and stir until completely mixed.
9. On the parchment paper you have set aside, make desired size rounds. This mixture will not rise or grow so make them the exact size you'd like and feel free to place them tightly next to one another on sheet.
10. Remove baking sheet or pizza brick from the oven, hold it level to your counter, and carefully slide parchment paper onto the baking sheet. By now, the baking sheet is crazy hot so be sure to use your thickest mitt or double up since you will be gripping it for a bit.
11. Bake in oven for approximately 12-15 minutes, or until the edges are browned. This step is optional but I flipped the bread and cooked for an additional 5 minutes or so to crisp the other size a bit. If you don't flip, you may want to cook up to 20 minutes total.
Sometimes, when we are experiencing a difficult day or season in our lives, we think we deserve to splurge a little. Maybe start our Monday morning with a few doughnuts, pick up some take-out after a long day of work, or enjoy a bag of chips on the couch, just to unwind. While it's definitely necessary to make sure we are taking care of ourselves daily and become especially nurturing when we're going through hard times, we need to sit and reflect on how we can truly honor ourselves. Those fleeting and temporary moments when we are enjoying the release we experience while eating something that's good, but not good for us, in the long run, you're really only masking the upset. Don't get me wrong. I know eating a treat during a stressful day can sometimes be extremely effective to make the situation subside, bringing you to a “happy place”. I used to have a tea and cookies break at 4 pm almost every day. But, clearly, that wasn’t something that was conducive to living a healthy life and it wasn’t really helping me since the "fix" was so short-lived.
My challenge for you: check in with yourself during one of those moments when you're seeking release with food, (or shopping, alcohol, etc.) and ask,
"What is really going on right now that is making me want to splurge on ______________?"
"How can I really serve myself in this time of need?"
When you think big picture, you will realize that there may be some inner work you need to focus on. If you need to let off steam or you’re feeling depressed, go exercise. If you are stressed and need an escape, try a new delicious clean recipe that will encourage a healthier lifestyle. Or, maybe, read or watch a funny TV show. Any positive replacement or real solution that will help serve that inner urge, not just mask it. Again, bigger picture. 10 minutes of enjoyment while eating a snack that has negative long-term effects on your health? Or, a healthy alternative that will not only quiet that inner voice and craving, but, also, will generate a positive outcome! (Weight loss, increased energy, clear mind, etc!)
If you’re on the go and want to enjoy a little refreshment, grab a water or tea and flavor it with lemon and a few drops of stevia. That may not sound like a treat but the more you train yourself to entertain alternatives and realize that “it” really is a temporary fix, you’ll see that "it" is really not much more than a placebo.
Those of you who are addicted to sugar and have candida overgrowth will realize something similar but it’s no joke that you could be experiencing withdrawals. In that case, remember that it’s not you who “needs” the sugar, it’s the bacteria that is wanting to multiply and wreak havoc in your system.
Taking this a step further, here is another technique that has helped me and continues to help me make good decisions. When I have plans to go to the gym or skip out on that pile of dishes or laundry, I check in with myself asking “Why don’t I want to get that done?” Most of the time, I will find that it has been a taxing week or the weather isn’t ideal and I think, “I want to treat myself to a work-free morning/evening.” And while sometimes it is extremely necessary to not only give yourself a little break but many little breaks or pauses throughout the day, I will realize, to really genuinely serve myself, I will get at least one of those tasks completed. Not only will it give me a sense of accomplishment, but, it will also keep my world of wellness in alignment and that’s a bigger favor that I can do for myself than having an overly restful morning or evening…that’s not even really restful because I’m thinking about what I should be doing.
Give it a try. You may surprise your body, mind, AND soul! : )