Articles published on this blog are my opinion only, and may not necessarily reflect the views of any organisations with which I am associated. Please be aware that articles posted on this blog are not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice. If you have a medical problem relating to breastfeeding, please seek further advice from a Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) or trained Breastfeeding Counsellor.

Saturday, 2 April 2011

Putting pizza back on the menu

Life is full of quietly inspiring people. One such quietly inspiring person is a friend of mine, who is generous and kind and always seems to be helping everyone else out, but asks very little of others herself. Life wasn't easy for her after the birth of her youngest baby: he always seemed unsettled, was an expert producer of green nappies, had trouble gaining weight and spent his entire little life scratching constantly at his inflamed skin. As time went by, it became increasingly apparent that this fussiness was not normal. Thinking he must be allergic to something, she tried eliminating various foods from her diet to see if it made any difference. Avoiding some foods seemed to make small improvements, but she could never quite put her finger on the exact culprit. After enduring this for months, she took him to have a test to find out whether he was allergic to anything. When the results came back, the list was surprisingly extensive. Her baby has multiple food intolerances, including some serious, life-threatening allergies. The cuplrits are:
  • wheat
  • dairy
  • eggs
  • soya
  • tomatoes
  • potatoes
  • red peppers
  • aubergines
  • chili
  • cape gooseberries
  • tobacco smoke
Obviously, the baby cannot eat anything on this list now that he has started solid foods. But my friend cannot touch anything on this list either. Because she is breastfeeding him, and the allergens from these foods have been passing into her breastmilk.

Most breastfeeding mothers don't have to watch what they eat because most babies have no problems with what their mother eats (1). So most breastfeeding mothers can eat whatever they like (hurrah!). However, a few babies will have obvious reactions to certain foods their mother eats (1). My friend has one such baby.

When I read the above list, I felt slightly overwhelmed: but those foods are in everything! Even specialist foods for people with allergies substitute foods on that list with other foods which are also on the list. What would my friend eat?!

Yet I watched in awe as she just got on with eliminating each of the foods on the blacklist from her diet. And I watched as her baby went from being a miserable, unsettled baby who struggled with weight gain, irritated skin and never slept, to being a happy, bright, chirpy little fellow with flawless skin and a healthy appetite. The difference has been dramatic.

For further information about breastfed babies and allergies, please take a look at:

So, what's the obvious thing to do for a dear friend whose diet has been impossibly restricted? Invite her round for Pizza Friday of course! (What can I say? I love a culinary challenge!)

Feeling confident I could create a wheat-free, tomatoless, cheeseless pizza, I did a bit of research, scratched my head over ingredients lists in the supermarket, and transformed my kitchen into a laboratory of experimentation. Everyone thought I was completely mad (I'm not disputing that), especially when I explained that I would not be eating normal pizza myself: no, I would be joining her in eating this creation! ...And, with a little help from my husband (he made the pizza base) I did it!!! The result was delicious, and surprisingly like pizza too, albeit a bit more orange.

The following recipe is dedicated to all the unsung heroes out there who have to make dietary sacrifices for a happy breastfeeding relationship. Different people have different allergies, but I'm sure that with a few inventive tweaks here and there, this recipe can be altered to accommodate most people's requirements.

Harry's Special Pizza

The pizza before baking.
(I didn't get a photo after it had baked - it got polished off too quickly!)

Pizza Base (makes 3)
175g brown rice flour
175g gram flour
2 tablespoons olive oil
half teaspoon salt
220ml warm water
1 teaspoon yeast
1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Mix the sugar into the warm water until it has dissolved. Add the yeast to the mixture (this activates the yeast) and leave for 10 minutes.
  2. Place the brown rice four, gram flour and olive oil in the bowl. Sprinkle the salt around the outer edge of the contents of the bowl.
  3. Make a well in the centre of the contents of the bowl and add in the yeast mixture.
  4. Knead the mixture together until dough forms.
  5. Cover bowl with a damp cloth and leave to rise (preferably overnight).
  6. Knock the air out of the dough, knead and separate into 3 balls.
  7. Sprinkle brown rice flour onto a kitchen surface & roll out one of the 3 balls into a pizza base.

No-mato passata

3 medium carrots
1 small onion
a third of 1 butternut squash
a quarter of 1 beetroot
1 clove garlic
a dash of cider vinegar
rosemary, thyme, sage, oregano and basil to taste

  1. Juice the carrots, onion, butternut squash, beetroot and garlic in a juicer. Scoop the pulp out of the juicer and place in a saucepan. Add the vegetable juice and a little water.
  2. Add the cider vinegar and herbs and allow to simmer until the passata has reduced enough to be able to spread on the pizza base.

Cheese-free topping

1 can cannellini beans, drained & rinsed
2 cloves garlic
olive oil
pinch of salt and black pepper

  1. Heat the oil in a saucepan, add the garlic and cook until softened. Add the beans, salt and pepper.
  2. Take the saucepan off the heat and use a hand blender to blend it into a creamy "cheese".

I can't take the credit for this topping: I found it on No Meat Athlete, who found it in Robertson, R (2010) Vegan on the Cheap.

To assemble the pizza, spread some of the no-mato passata evenly on the base. Then flatten chunks of the "cheese" and place it on top. I added ribbons of butternut squash and chopped onion.

Bake for about 10-15 minutes on about 180 degrees C (in a fan-assisted oven). As the pizza dries out a bit during baking, brush all over with a little olive oil about halfway through.

Served with rocket, this pizza is delicious! It's also completely vegan. And for my friend, it means Pizza Friday is well and truly back on the menu.


Mini pizza party bites

(1) Bonyata, K (2010) Dairy and other Food Sensitivities in Breastfed Babies


  1. Two amazing women. One who continues to breast feed even though it means omitting so many foods when many would have ended up formula feeding their baby on a prescription milk - and one who treats her friend to a meal even though it means spending probably quite a lot of time researching and thinking out of the box.
    Both inspirational women who I will look at with different eyes from today.

  2. Being an extended breastfeeding mother of a now toddler with multiple food sensitivities myself I have to say I LOVE this post. I absolutely respect both your friend for making sacrifices in her diet to care for her little one (I KNOW what that's like) and you for being willing to cook something that she could eat. I usually have to take food when I go visit people around meal times because no one can "handle" our allergy list. You have my undying respect.


Please feel free to comment!
All comments are moderated, so may take some time to appear.