Pizza vs. Pizza

Without realizing it, my husband and I raced against each other last night to have separate pizzas ready for dinner. It was Friday afternoon after a long week for me, I had the afternoon off work. At 4:00, he asked “Can I just go to the grocery store and buy a frozen pizza for dinner?” Of course we’re talking gluten-packed, highly processed pizza here. No problem I said. I can always eat eggs; kind of my SCD hunger mantra, if nothing else, I can have eggs.

I can’t force others to eat healthy. My husband doesn’t eat SCD, nor do the kids, but he tries to help me as much as he can. I’ve been reading a blog called Paleo non Paleo and am heartened to read that someone else has the courage to write about living with a spouse who’s not on the same restrictive diet path. Of course, her husband jumped on board after 14 months, but she still writes Paleo non Paleo. Don’t get me wrong, I am grateful for my husband’s support; he cooks dinners most nights, and he does his best to provide me with SCD meals, which I appreciate, it’s just that some days are easier than others to resist non-SCD treats. And as I’ve said, I don’t experience severe consequences for straying, so my penalty for imperfection is transient or nonexistent.

But I just didn’t feel like eggs. Then I remembered reading about a coconut flour pizza crust. I looked it up and decided to make a herbed version right after my husband left for the grocery store. We didn’t realize it yet, but the clock started ticking. I quickly whipped up the ingredients and cooked two medium-size crusts in the frying pan, because it was quicker than baking them. I fried up some sliced mushrooms and caramelized some onions while the crusts cooked.

My husband came home, preheated the oven, and sat down at the kitchen table with a glass of cider. I called my daughter upstairs to help with grating the white cheddar. She asked “Why isn’t Dad making dinner tonight?” He joked “I am making dinner.” Because by this time, his pizza was in the oven.

My crusts were ready, the sauce was made quickly. I put two different toppings on each pizza. My first pizza was ready at the same time as the frozen pizza came out of the oven. It was only when we were sitting down that I realized we had just raced each other: store-bought frozen pizza vs. made-from-scratch-at-the-last-minute pizza. It was a tie for time. But the home-made pizza won for flavour, hands-down!

Coconut-flour crust SCD Pizza

Coconut-flour crust SCD Pizza

Here’s a brief run-down of what I did.

Crust (based on the herbed crust from Free Coconut Recipes)

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ cup water
  • ½ cup SCD yogurt
  • ½  cup coconut flour, sifted
  • ½  teaspoon baking soda (baking powder isn’t allowed on the SCD)
  • ½  teaspoon salt
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • ¼  teaspoon dried oregano

Mix wet ingredients together until smooth. Mix dry ingredients together and add to wet ingredients. When working with coconut flour, you need to give it a few minutes to absorb the liquid before cooking. If it’s still too liquid, add more coconut flour until desired consistency.

To cook, use a large frying pan, and either butter, olive oil, or I used pastured lard, to fry half the batter. Fry like a large pancake and flip halfway through until it is cooked. You can try dehydrating it (I did with pizza #2, while I was cooking #1), but it didn’t make much of a difference.


  • ½ cup SCD-legal tomato paste
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • ¼ tsp oregano
  • ½ tsp salt

Mix everything together (too easy, but it works).

Pizza #1 Toppings:

  • ¼ cup pizza sauce
  • mushrooms, sliced fried
  • ¼ onion, sliced & caramelized (fried until brown)
  • sliced kalamata olives (as many as you can afford)
  • thinly sliced green peppers (enough to cover one layer deep)
  • 1 cup grated white cheddar (mozzarella isn’t allowed on the SCD)

Pizza #2 Toppings:

  • ¼ cup pizza sauce
  • ¼ cup white cheddar

Spread sauce on crust and sprinkle with cheddar. Bake 5 minutes at 350F at this point to melt the cheddar, then add:

  • thinly sliced brie cheese (about ¼ cup)
  • ¼ onion, sliced & caramelized (fried until brown)
  • thin layer of grated Parmesan (about 2 tbsp)

To construct the pizza, put the crust on a cookie sheet, add sauce, toppings, and cheese, then bake at 350F long enough for the cheese to melt, about 10-15 minutes.

Hands down, pizza #1 was the favourite. Pizza #2 was actually kind of bland, next time I’ll add some kalamata olives or use Cambozola cheese.

And the crust was pretty good too. It tasted great, and though it had more of a doughy consistency than I would have liked, it was much better than the grainy almond flour crusts I’ve made in the past. It was hearty enough that I could eat it by hand without having it fall apart. Next time, I’ll try a thinner batter, poured over greased parchment paper and baked at 375F, but when I’m tired, that sounds like too much trouble. The thing is, gluten-free or SCD pizza crusts will never have the stretchy, doughy, yeasty flavour of a good home-made gluten dough, but this recipe is the best substitute I’ve found so far. And if I have some extra energy, I might make a batch of them to freeze up so we can make home-made pizza next time the mood hits.

My husband said he much preferred my pizza to his. Next time, I’ll ask him to make it for dinner.


What is SCD?

What is this restrictive diet anyway? (estimated reading time 8 minutes)

I have lived with intestinal distress for as long as I can remember. I have a vivid memory of being in the hospital, in isolation, as a small child with very bad diarrhea; actually it’s a vivid olfactory memory. During my teen years, I didn’t like my Mom’s cooking so I drank large quantities of milk to fill up, and suffered badly from constipation; at the time, I thought breathing through the pushing would be good practice for giving birth (it wasn’t). As an adult, I swing between the two extremes, abbreviated in the SCD world as D and C, rarely settling into normal bathroom habits.

In 2005, my big sister was diagnosed with Celiac Disease. I started doing some reading and Voila! Here was my problem. Yay! Everything fit. So I went to the doctor. Blood tests came out negative. I was so sure, and my family history pointed in that direction, so the doctor performed a duodenal biopsy. Nada, zip. Nothing. Colonoscopy, same thing, though the doctor removed two small polyps. Small bowel barium follow-through. Again, nothing. Had a follow-up colonoscopy two years ago, perfectly healthy colon.

For me, medical tests usually come back “normal,” though I feel anything but. Two areas that don’t come out normal are my weight, I’m obese, and my blood sugars, which are borderline diabetic. Everything else – including thyroid, free T4, iron, kidney and liver function, electrolytes – normal. But my bathroom experiences and inability to lose weight are anything but.

Did you know that they call an illness a syndrome when they don’t know what’s really going on? You’ve probably guessed by now, my diagnosis: IBS, Irritable Bowel Syndrome.

So I thought I’d try the gluten-free diet anyway. It worked a bit, but I started feeling worse. Luckily, someone on one of the forums suggested I try the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD). The science fit and I’ve come a long way.

However, it has been a rough seven years. I was extremely faithful for the first year and a half. Then I was faced with the seven-day bounty that was an Alaskan Cruise and my number was up. It’s been a see-saw battle and since then, I’ve never succeeded in being 100% SCD compliant for more than a full month, maybe six weeks. Which is why I feel like a fraud talking about a diet I can’t stick to.

However, I still believe that the science is sound and the diet is a healthy one, especially for people with severe intestinal damage who have Crohn’s disease or ulcerative colitis, and of course, for people with Celiac disease. For someone like me, where the consequences of non-compliance are less severe, the diet is hard to stick to. During that first year and a half, I lost a lot of weight (since re-gained), ditched my depression (never fully came back), and re-gained my energy (so-so lately, depends on what I eat, duh!).

Many other diets can be successful too if they limit or remove prepared or pre-packaged food. The Paleo diet and Weston A Price Foundation’s Traditional Diet are two examples. If you eat only foods you have prepared yourself, or only whole fruits, vegetables and fresh meat, eggs or cheese, you can’t help but be healthier.

So here’s a bit of a primer about the Specific Carbohydrate Diet, or SCD.

The official book for the SCD is Breaking the Vicious Cycle: Intestinal Health Through Diet by Elaine Gottschall. If you’re at all serious about this diet, you should buy the book.  It’s not well-written or well-organized, but all the information is there.

If you feel like clicking around to learn more about the SCD, here are a few links to get you started:

  • a summary of the diet from the official SCD website;
  • the Pecanbread website has information about using the SCD for children with autism; it discusses the strong brain gut connection;
  • an excerpt from the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle (BTVC) about Autism and SCD.
  • Chapter 1 from BTVC giving the history of Elaine Gottschall’s involvement with the SCD.

If you’re a reader, not a clicker, below is a brief summary of the theory and science behind the diet. Dr. Sidney Valentine Haas used the Specific Carbohydrate diet almost 100 years ago to treat Celiac disease. The diet is also used by people with severe digestive problems such as Crohn’s Disease and ulcerative colitis. It has recently proven helpful for children with autism, and the list of disorders that the SCD heals or helps continues to grow.

I believe very strongly in the the gut-brain connection. I feel that diets which heal digestion are also healing for psychological problems, though they are by no means the only answer.

In a Nutshell

The main thrust of the SCD is the elimination of all complex carbohydrates, including grains, sugars and starches, and allowing only simple, or specific carbohydrates. It is not a low carbohydrate diet.

The three most common simple carbs (monosaccharides) which are allowed are fructose, glucose and galactose. Anything other than a simple sugar needs enzymes to break down in your digestive tract and is therefore not allowed.

Anything with -ose at the end is a sugar, but if it’s not frutose, glucose or galactose, it’s not allowed on the SCD. Maltose, lactose and sucrose are examples of disaccharides, and are therefore right out. White table sugar and maple syrup contain sucrose=illegal. Honey has fructose and glucose=legal. Potatoes, corn and all grains are starch, and they too are just…don’t even think about it.

A diet mandating avoidance of complex carbs of course flies in the face of the currently accepted dietary standard that whole grains are healthier. Grains are in fact very difficult to digest and can make bad digestion worse. That is why I call my website Health Against the Grain. To maintain or improve my health, I am not only going grain-free, I am going against the grain of common wisdom, on many fronts.

More about the SCD: undigested carbohydrates make their way into the lower intestine, feeding the bad bacteria and yeast, creating excess acid and toxins, which cause dysbiosis and an imbalance in the gut flora. This leads to: a distended abdomen filled with intestines that are bloated, inflamed, gaseous, painful; diarrhea; constipation; cramping; autoimmune disorders; skin problems; lack of nutrient absorption; anemia; mental confusion and on and on.

The SCD works to slowly starve the bad bacteria and re-populate the intestines with good bacteria. The starving happens through the elimination of all complex carbs. All of them. That is where the difficulties come in. You can’t get away with just having a little bit of complex carbs. For the diet to be truly effective, to truly heal your intestines, you need to follow the diet fanatically. You may get some healing if you cheat, but the diet simply will not work if not followed 100%.

That is where some people fall off the wagon; guilty as charged. They are unable to maintain fanatical adherence to the diet. Or, many people are too daunted by the prospect of such a restrictive diet and never start it. But the gut doesn’t have a chance to heal if you keep eating foods that cause problems.

Re-population of good gut flora is done through the use of home-made yogurt which is high in probiotics. It has no lactose, unlike commercially-made yogurt which isn’t incubated long enough to digest all the lactose. Also, most commercial yogurts and probiotic supplements have bifidus bacteria, which though beneficial, can be opportunistic and take over the gut flora, crowding out the good bacteria. For this reason, bifidus bacteria are not allowed on the SCD.

Of course, if you are one of the lucky few with perfect digestion and optimum health, consider yourself fortunate. But if you ever find yourself sliding towards ill health, you might want to consider the SCD as a way back towards equilibrium and balance.

“Why don’t you just use a simple rule, eat mostly vegetables, mostly whole foods, and you’ll be fine.” That might be good for healthy people, but for people like us with compromised digestion, I feel very strongly that the SCD is the way to go. And as much as I struggle to stay on the diet, I keep trying. My food addictions keep getting in the way.


The SCD is a diet that is difficult to manage alone, there is a lot to learn. There are some great online resources and support groups. Two excellent places to start are Yahoo groups: Pecanbread, with over 7,000 members, and SCDinfo with over 1500 members. You can join these groups and just lurk and learn, but if you post your struggles, you’ll move along much faster. Jordan and Steve have a wonderful website as well, and if you wade through the product ads, their content is solid. And of course, the official SCD website is the definitive source for all things SCD.

So, if you’re sitting on the fence about starting the SCD, do some research, think hard about whether you want optimal health, and when you’re ready, jump right in and make sure you get some support.

By the way, the picture on top of my home page is food that I served at my pre-teen daughter’s birthday party, and it’s all 100% SCD-legal. I’ll write about that in another post.

Getting Started with SCD

Buy the book Breaking the Vicious Cycle

Check out the official SCD Website

Read the instructions for starting the Intro Diet

Consult the SCD-legal/Illegal list of foods

Most important, get some support:


Please comment and share your thoughts and experiences, I want to hear from you. If you don’t see the comment box below, click on the bubble beside the title or under my name at the top of this article. Or follow Health Against the Grain on Facebook and comment there.



About Me

Imperfect Mom (estimated reading time 3 minutes)

My name is Theresa. I am a Mom, living in Vancouver, British Columbia, looking for ways to stretch a dollar and find paths to wellness. I do this mostly through diet, but also through natural remedies, meditation, yoga, physiotherapy, massage therapy, community involvement, friendships, gardening, cooking and crafts.  The list keeps growing as I learn more and more, and waste spend more and more of my precious time on Facebook and other sites (but let me reassure you, you won’t waste your time hanging around Health Against The Grain).

Climbing a cherry tree at Sunset Beach, Vancouver

Eating a whole foods diet is more frugal in the long run than eating the Standard American Diet and feeling chronically unwell. I’d like to see the Specific Carbohydrate Diet (SCD) become the Standard Canadian (or worldwide) Diet. My goal is to share my experiences along the road to wellness, focusing on the SCD, sharing other bits of wisdom, recipes and crafts, along the way.

The SCD was developed almost 100 years ago for the treatment of celiac disease and has been found invaluable in the treatment of inflammatory bowel disease (Crohn’s and colitis). People who  use this diet for these severe intestinal disorders suffer extreme consequences when they stray and are therefore highly motivated to remain compliant. Because I only have Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), straying from the SCD has never resulted in serious enough consequences to keep me 100% compliant.

I went on the SCD in 2005, after my big sister was diagnosed with celiac disease, to help me deal with my Irritable Bowel Syndrome. IBS means I get bouts of “urgency” and in  public, I can find myself in trouble if I’m not close enough to a washroom. It has helped my IBS, but I’ve had a lot of problems remaining faithful to the diet.

When I first went on the SCD, I was able to stick to it about 95%. I did occasionally “cheat” with a sweet starchy treat like a donut or cookie, not good. I am very overweight, and when I first went on the SCD, I lost a lot of weight, and felt so much better. A running joke is that I’ve lost well over 100 pounds—I just keep losing the same ten pounds over, and over, and over again.

Another beneficial side-effect of being on the SCD is that my long-term, black-period-suffused depression has lifted for good. I have since had blue periods, but nothing like I did before going SCD, and for me, the cleaner my diet the better my state of mind.

Then in 2007, we went on a cruise and it was too much to resist. It started with some basmati rice, slid into croissants and before I knew it, the sweet pastries had raised their ugly heads and I was a goner. I’ve never been able to go back to fully 100% SCD compliant, though I try, oh I try.

My husband is not on the SCD, but he has high blood pressure and a family history of heart disease, so his goal is counting calories and reducing saturated fat. Kids being kids, they want the sweet treats and the gluten, “I’m just craving donuts Mom!” This makes for some very interesting food preparation challenges in our household.

I am an imperfect Mom, but I try my best. I work full time, and my husband cooks dinners and deals with the day-to-day childhood dramas. We both do the best we can, for ourselves and for our  three children, but there’s always room for improvement.

The focus of this blog is to share information about the influence of diet on health, with a special focus on mental health. I will also throw in a sprinkling of musings, observations and crafts that may only tangentially relate to diet, but all, in some way, relate to physical or mental health. All recipes posted will be SCD-legal. Sign up to be notified of new posts by email, or follow on Facebook. I hope you enjoy Health Against the Grain.

I read or reply to all comments (so far), or I can be reached by email: theresa at healthagainstthegrain dot com.