Is gluten-free pizza better for you?

 

When you bite into a great slice of pizza, the crust should be just right. Crispy on the outside and perfectly chewy on the inside, with just enough thickness to hold together all the delicious toppings. But finding a great crust might seem like an impossible task if you eat gluten-free. Most gluten-free pizza crusts are pre-made and frozen, making them much too dense. Plus, the scientific properties of gluten are exactly what give bread that special bite that is somehow airy and chewy at the same time. So what happens when you take gluten away without the proper substitutions? Often times, you end up with a crust that feels and tastes like a piece of cardboard.

At Mangia, we’re strongly committed to baking the highest quality of breads and doughs, whether they are gluten-free or traditional. Gluten-free pizza doesn’t have to taste like cardboard. It can actually be just as good as the real thing.  

“All types of food are good if they are pure and locally sourced,” says Elena Consta, Mangia’s Sales and Marketing Director.

This means that all of Mangia’s dough is always made from scratch, and never frozen or pre-made — even if it’s gluten-free. Our recipe for gluten-free pizza dough was developed by a group of passionate and talented Italian chefs, who believe in using only the finest ingredients available. The star ingredient of our gluten-free pizza dough is the gluten-free version of Caputo 00 flour, the historically beloved go-to among Neapolitan pizzaioli, the grandfathers of classic, thin-crust Italian pizza. According to an article from Saveur magazine, Caputo 00 flour is the “ideal” for making pizza dough because it is so finely ground. The brand’s gluten-free blend is also special because it is additive-free. Most gluten-free flours use additives, like xanthan gum, to give dough the structure and stretch that comes from gluten. Gluten-free Caputo 00 is made from only natural ingredients, like starches and soy flour.

Developing a quality gluten-free pizza dough recipe was no easy feat. Gluten is the protein component of wheat, rye, barley, and other grains, but it’s also often called the “magic” ingredient that gives bread that deliciously chewy texture. Since gluten-free flour does not have the same chemical properties as regular flour, most gluten-free dough tends to be rubbery and dense, with too much chew. According to an article from America’s Test Kitchen, the use of multiple different gluten-free flours, plus the addition of specialty ingredients, like psyllium husk or guar gum, will create a gluten-free dough that mimics dough with gluten, which will have a crust that is crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. For Mangia’s gluten-free pizza crust, the gluten-free Caputo flour is blended with rice flour, more soy flour, and a mix of rice and potato starches to give the finished product that perfect crispy bite.

A few years ago, searching for gluten-free pizza in New York City might have sounded like an impossible feat. But today, gluten-free pizza is everywhere. Even chains like Domino’s and Pizza Hut offer gluten-free pizza options. Since the early 1980s, the gluten-free diet morphed from a trendy fad to a heavyweight influencer in the food and beverage market, with a gluten-free industry valued at more than $10 billion, according to research cited by CNN.

The gluten-free diet was originally prescribed decades ago to treat celiac disease, a digestive disorder that causes the body to reject gluten. During the 1940s and the outbreak of World War II, access to wheat and wheat products was scarce. One doctor, a Dutch pediatrician named Dr. Willem-Karel Dicke, noticed that the absence of wheat seemed to strengthen the health of his young patients with celiac disease. Dicke soon published a paper about the positive effects of a wheat-free diet for celiacs, which included the eradication of symptoms such as bloating, diarrhea, constipation, nausea, gas, and stomach pain.  

But of the 3.1 million Americans who eat gluten-free today, only 28 percent of them actually have celiac disease. The other 72 percent have non-celiac gluten sensitivity, which can present a range of symptoms from skin rashes to stomach problems. Non-celiac gluten sensitivity was first recognized in the early 1980s, when it was described as a medical condition with similar symptoms as celiac disease, but without signs of the immune system doing damage to the intestines. People with non-celiac gluten sensitivity will also find relief from symptoms when they remove gluten from their diet, but their condition is not an autoimmune disease.

By 2010, one medical study noted that even people without celiac disease or non-celiac gluten-sensitivity were choosing to remove gluten from their diets. Many people, including a handful of celebrities, endorsed the gluten-free diet as a healthy way to lose weight.

Does that mean that eating gluten-free pizza is a healthier choice? Should people choose gluten-free without medical reason?

Not necessarily. According to Everyday Health, there is no medical evidence that eating gluten-free is healthier for those without celiac disease or gluten sensitivities. Those who choose to go gluten-free should do so only if advised by a doctor after being tested for celiac or gluten sensitivity. Many people falsely associate the gluten-free diet with weight loss, but according to several medical studies, there is no scientific evidence that eating gluten-free will lead to weight loss. Everyday Health also advises that processed foods always be consumed in moderation, whether they are labeled gluten-free or not, as they are usually high in calories and carbohydrates.

 

At Mangia, we believe that those who are medically prescribed a gluten-free diet still deserve great food and quality restaurant experiences. We choose to serve gluten-free pizza so that everyone can enjoy classic, rustic Italian meals, regardless of dietary restrictions. Eating gluten-free pizza doesn’t require sacrificing taste or texture. We want to show our customers that all types of food can be delicious if they are made with passion and care. Come in to any of our locations for lunch and give our gluten-free pizza a try!

 

Buon appetito!