Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Fortune Favors the Bold

While the only allergen I look for when buying food for my 12-year-old is gluten, avoidance of other ingredients - like milk, eggs and nuts - is equally important to many shoppers. Finding an tasty allergen-free frozen pizza is challenging, but a new product now fills that niche admirably.

Bold Organics is a New York City operation run by Aaron Greenwald, whose idea for a gluten-free/dairy-free frozen pizza started in college. Greenwald collaborated with award-winning chef Eric Brenner to develop a line of four organic, allergen-friendly pizzas: Vegan Cheese, Veggie Lovers, Meat Lovers and Deluxe. The 11 oz. pizzas are free of gluten, milk, lactose, casein, whey, egg, peanut and tree nut products, and are sold at Acme Markets (I bought the Vegan Cheese there for $7.99; the others were one dollar more), Food Lion and natural foods stores throughout the tri-state area.

Not being a vegan, I was skeptical of liking a cheese alternative - "cheeze," if you insist. I was impressed, however, with the Vegan Gourmet-brand faux mozzarella used by Bold on all of its pizzas. Although the imitation cheese wasn't spread evenly across the crust and didn't melt entirely, it was creamy. The crunchy base is made with a blend of potato starch, brown rice flour and yellow corn meal. The savory sauce made up for the absence of any additional toppings.

With this combination of tasty ingredients, then, is there a downside? The nutrition facts on the box provide data for half a pizza and most people wouldn't be satisfied eating just that amount. Start laying on the pepperoni and sausage and the calories, sodium and fat content escalate significantly. On the plus side, an entire Vegan Cheese pizza satisfies about half of a day's recommended fiber intake.

If I tried Bold's pizza without knowing it was dairy-free, I probably wouldn't have been able to make the distinction. That's the standard I often use in comparing gluten-free products to their traditional counterparts - and one I'm certain Bold Organics has aspired to meet.
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