Last week I attended the launch of N_K_D Pizza (alias for Naked – oooh, far too naughty for the Middle East!) with a bunch of my famished foodie friends, including Ms Custard Pie, The Spontaneous Euphoric, The Scribblelishesse, Dubai Biter, and Mezzaloonie (she’s not really a loonie). They already wrote pieces on the opening, and rightly beat me to it, because I have been languishing in bed since with the Flu (real influenza, not just the man-flu variety).

So in the interest of differentiated information, I am going to discuss the best part of Naked Pizza, the thing that differentiates them from all other pizza companies – their dough. This is of particular interest to me, because though (disgustingly) I am an avid fan of fast food, I am also hypoglycemic, and have a wheat-intolerant husband. Bread is not our friend – for me, it results in an immediate large insulin response then drop, causing tiredness. crankiness (WHAT!) and intense sweet cravings. For Hambone it means bloating of the stomach, pain, heartburn, and lots and lots of farting (lucky me).

So back to Naked Pizza’s dough:

“Our crust is made from an Ancestral Blend® of 10 grains plus prebiotic agave fiber and probiotics (healthful bacteria like the ones found in yogurt for balance and digestive health) bound by water and made by hand. The grains we use include oats, brown rice, buckwheat, quinoa, amaranth, teff, spelt, tapioca, and two kinds of wheat. This diversity of grains, fiber and probiotics are the main reason for that satisfying feeling after eating Naked Pizza, contributing a slow, sustained release of energy without the crash from eating other single grain, highly processed pizzas.”

These grains are my friends, and they should be yours too. I’m going to ignore the two strains of wheat, assuming they are common wheat (bread wheat) and Durum wheat (semolina). Both of those are naughty grains, and although I know they probably make up half the blend, maybe if I don’t talk about them it will be as if they’re not there. Brown rice and oats are easy peasy – so lets look at the other stuff:

Spelt Muesli

Firstly, Spelt because it is closely related to wheat – they are two different species in the same genus, but it has lower carbohydrate and higher protein, and the greater solubility of the particular protein in spelt makes it both easier to digest, and gives it a lower glycemic load. It also has slightly less gluten than common wheat. It is a good wheat replacement for some wheat intolerant, but definitely not for coeliacs.

Teff (a strain of lovegrass – how sweet) is in another genus, but still a cereal – it is however completely gluten free. Like spelt, it is higher in protein than common wheat, and, in fact includes all 8 essential amino acids for humans – making it a good wheat substitute for vegetarians. It is also particularly high in minerals such as phosphorus, magnesium, iron, copper, zinc, boron, barium, and thiamin.

Buckwheat
, and all the othes following, are not cereals, but a psuedocereals. Buckwheat is a remarkably pretty flowered plant that produces seeds and more closely related to the sunflower, a fellow Achene, than it is to wheat. Like teff, it is gluten free, high in protein, has all eight amino acids. It is also particularly rich in selenium, zinc and iron. Foodies would be no strangers to buckwheat – it can be found in Japanese soba noodles, galettes in France, and blinis in Russia. It can also make a decent gluten-free beer. The added benefit of buckwheat is that it contains D-chiro-inositol, which is useful for insulin signal transduction for those with type-II diabetes and polycystic ovary syndrome.

Amaranth is a herb, and also has no gluten. It has been declared “a food of the future” due to it’s ability to be easily cultivated even in arid environments, it’s grow-anywhere giant-beanstalk nature (9 varieties are considered noxious weeds in North America), it’s excellent nutritional profile (protein 30% higher than cereals like wheat, amino acids etc), and it’s overall eatability. It is one of the only agricultural crops (like some other herbs), where, depending on the variety, the entire plant is used in cooking – leaves, seeds, stems and root. Along with also being great for vegetarians, it has also been found useful in reducing blood pressure and cholesterol.

Quinoa grains

Quinoa – pronounced “kinwah” is a chenopod. Closely related to species such as beets and spinach, it’s leaves can also be eaten. Like amaranth and buckwheat it is not a grass, is gluten free, and is chock-full of protein, with that lovely vegetarian-friendly amino acid profile. It was embraced by hippies and health food store owners over a decade ago as a “superfood”, and now is being considered by NASA as a possible crop for future long-duration manned spaceflights. I buy it as a grain, and cook it and serve it like rice.

Tapioca
, Sago and Cassava refer to the same plant, in different stages of the processing process.The root is most commonly used, although the bitter leaves are appreciated by some cuisines. It unfortunately requires quite a bit of treatment to get to our table as it contains toxic amounts of cyanide in it’s raw form. Cassava is the raw plant, and one of the largest source of carbohydrates for meals in the world. The cassava plant provides more food energy per square metre of cultivation than any other crop besides sugarcane. It is particularly  important in Africa (e.g. in Ghana, it makes up 30% of daily caloric intake) it is the fifth largest crop in china, and is an excellent source of GDP for Thailand. It is also looking to be a useful ingredient in biofuels. Nutritionally, it is gluten free, but unfortunately lacks the healthy properties of the other ingredients listed above – it’s benefits are in its ability to be digested easily, and it’s caloric intake for famine-prone nations.

If you want to try out some of these ingredients for yourself, you can find most of them in their seed or flour form at the Organic Foods Cafe at the Dubai Mall. Park’n Shop in Jumeira sell a great spelt loaf, and quinoa and tapioca can be found in almost any supermarket. Both Choithrams and Galeries Lafayette sell some great spelt pasta, and I even spotted an amaranth/corn blend fusilli at the Umm Suqeim Choithrams last week. Or of course, you can do your fast-food-loving body a favor and try them all together in the N_K_D Pizza dough (Dubai marina)

Pizza on Foodista

Ps. I haven’t forgotten about my recycling mission – it’s on for next week when I am over the flu.

8 thoughts on “The Dough Stripped Bare”

  1. Very informative post and one that Naked Pizza would do well to replicate on their website. I'm a bit sceptical when given lots of large semi-scientific words about food and that pre-briotic phrase from NKD had my sceptical attenna twitching. The comparison to the probiotic yoghurts is unfortunate at a time where the EU has basically banned the big dairy companies from making these health claims about their products. It's the claim that certain foods are almost like medicine and not only better for you than other foods but actually make you healthier if you eat them regularly. It has started to blur the line between medicinal claims (and of course the drug companies are tightly regulated in the claims they can make) hence the clamp down. No concrete evidence has been made for these health-boosting properties (e.g. Yakult which is sold in vast quanitities in Japan). This has been on my mind since the opening to explore in a seperate post but I seem to have splurged it all out in your comments box! Hope you're feeling better. The low glycemic properties of these grains is a completely different topic as well as the benefits of eating less refined foods. Glad you can indulge without all the farting!

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  3. this is such a different take on the place, and I'm really impressed with your level of knowledge about all the grains above…putting my business hat on, I wonder how it's economical to churn out pizzas with those many (surely pricier?) grains in the crust, especially at prices competitive with others in the fast food market. Or maybe I'm hallucinating and all grains have the same price tag…Either way, I'm glad I didn't have to pay a bomb for something with all that nutritional goodness going on in there!

  4. The pizza looks good, and I like all the healthy grains in the dough.I came across your site from the foodieblogroll and I'd love to guide Foodista readers to your site. I hope you could add this pizza widget at the end of this post so we could add you in our list of food bloggers who blogged about pizza,Thanks!

Some other suggestions or opinion to add? Please comment