So one of the things about being keto, or being on any kind of calorie counting diet, is craving pizza. We have a ritual chez Rhomboid of the Fabulous Friday Family Film Feast, when the school/work week is over and we all snuggle up on the sofas with dogs and watch family movies and have cheat meal treat foods and generally a jolly time. Back in the pre-Keto era, this was fairly easy. The rest of the week, even though we ate carbs, we ate very clean and Fridays the kids could choose whatever they wanted: burgers and fries, bottles of pop, Doritos, fish and chips etc. I would commonly have steak and a beer. Pizza was. However, the number one choice. Margarita for my younger son, pepperoni for my elder son and, flying in the face of all that is decent and holy, ham and pineapple for my heathen daughter. Frequently there was even garlic bread.
since we have entered the Ketoclean Era however, things have gotten a little more complicated. We do still have Family Film night but now the burgers are bunless and there are Lentil curls instead of Doritos. Hah, sounds miserable. To be completely honest, I do slacken the Lowcarb reins every now and then and let the kids have a carbcentric cheat meal/day… I am not a total keto monster parent, and I am increasingly into the idea of metabolic flexibility, as Mark Sisson discusses in The Keto Reset book, but not every Friday certainly.
I have experimented a lot with finding keto alternatives or replacements for the family’s carb favourites. The hardcore Keto Police who patrol social media insist this is bad and wrong and we should all just put all thoughts of past pleasures behind us; that keto desserts are the devil and paleo pasta is purgatory, but y’know, fuck them. I am much more interested in finding a balanced healthy and enjoyable sustainable lifestyle for my family than I am in any keyboard warrior dietary dogma.
The real problem with the majority of low carb alternatives is that you can’t replace wheat without it tasting like whatever’s you used as a substitute. You can get away with using an alternative sweetener in place of sugar most of the time, but to make anything bready you need gluten and wheat flour. I have tried any number of variants of rolls and bagels and pasta and so on made with cheese or almond flour or whatever, and while they are, to varying degrees, successful in an edible sense, and popular, they never actually taste like bread or pasta. Pizza bases are a particular challenge, because of the high ratio of base to topping. Cheese-based bases just taste like you have spread some tomato paste on top of a slice of cheese and then what do you put on top of that? More cheese? And Meatza, whilst it is an interesting dish in its own right is not really in any way like a pizza. Certainly none of the options are going to pass the fussy Friday night kid test.
So, when an advert appeared on my Facebook feed for Lo-Dough, I was very intrigued.
Each Lo-Dough pizza base contains only 2.2g carbs and 39 calories… WTF? Really? Did I read that right? Do they mean per slice if you share it 10 ways? No, that is what it says… per pizza base… that’s astounding! This definitely bore further investigation.
So we put in an order for a sample box of 2 pieces, which was £5. Not the cheapest but heyho, if it delivers what it promises, well worth it. It arrived in about 3 days, well packaged in a stout recyclable box. Full marks so far.
First impression, even before it was out of the packet was how unbelievably light it was. I actually wondered if we had been sent an empty packet by mistake, but no, the dough seems to be made of something only marginally heavier than air. On closer inspection this turned out to be not far from the truth: each base weighs only 28g! Which goes some way to explaining the super low calorie count.
Out of the packet, it certainly looked like a circle of pizza dough, but the lack of substance to the feel of it was slightly disorienting, and the texture to the touch was a little like a chamois leather or a makeup sponge.
Which was kinda odd, and not immediately ‘foodlike’, but the proof of the pizza is in the eating not the dough groping, so onwards.
The sample pack we got was two fairly small pizza rounds. Back in the day, I would have been a bot sneery at them being too small, but one of the things I have noticed about fulltime keto is that one’s portion size expectations shrink quite considerably. I would have had both of these to myself easily in the Carb era, now we had 2 between 3 of us for lunch and that was just about right, sizewise.
I did one simple tomato with Cheddar, Mozzarella, Provolone and a little Parmesan for the Keto Kid, who views any other toppings than cheese and tomato with grave suspicion,
and one with the above plus spinach, rocket, green bell pepper and some shreds of very finely sliced salami. Waffer theen.
The instructions said 10 to 15 minutes at 220. I checked at 10 and should have checked at 7. The exposed edges of the dough were just beginning to catch. It was okay, but if I had left it till 15 it would have been ruined. It is a curious think about pizzas in general: if you buy ready-made or (God forbid) frozen pizza, the cooking instructions are always about 30 percent overcooked. Perhaps its just me and my definition of pizza is underdone? Maybe most people who cook pizza from a box like it burned to a frazzle? who knows? If you buy that pizza with pineapple on it is probably advantageous to have it burned beyond recognition…
But on to the important bit: what did it taste like?
Well, pretty good actually. I had caught it just before it would have been overdone and apart from the edges the base was just right: crisp but not brittle. Cooking it had given it substance and to all intents an purposes it was just as good as any shop bought thin crust pizza dough. Fans of deep crust are going to be disappointed, but that’s okay because deep crust is a filthy abomination. If you want to eat soggy sponge don’t eat pizza, FFS.
The crust coped well with the toppings. Whilst I did not overload the sauce and cheeses, there was a decent mount and often thin crusts can remain a bit uncooked in the centre and flop about when you pick up a slice. admittedly these were smallish slices but it held up perfectly.
the crucial test, that of Keto Kid approval, was passed with flying colours. One of the aspects of Max’s condition is that he has hyperacusis: his senses are greatly heightened. His ability to detect very subtle flavours is acute. I can never smuggle spices or herbs or even pepper into dishes without him knowing. Getting keto alternatives to regular dishes past him is a major challenge.
The Lo Dough passed with flying colours, I am pleased to say. He did not question it as not being regular pizza at all. Just eulogised about how long it had been since we last had pizza and asked if there was any garlic bread. Which… well, no, there wasn’t, but I’m pretty sure I could rustle up a garlic bread flatbread type experience next time using the Lo Dough.
which brings us onto the $64,000 question: will I be buying it again?
Yes definitely, is the answer. It is not particularly cheap. The 2 piece starter pack was £5,and looking at the options on the website, even buying in bulk only brings it down to just under £2/piece, but it is a general truth that you have to pay through the nose for low carb alternatives, and until they become more popular and mainstream that is just going to be the way it is, and also, for an occasional treat meal ingredient, that isn’t too terrible. Even if we have one each and counting in the cost of the toppings, it’s still cheaper than ordering from Dominoes.
So, a thumbs up and solid 8.5 on the Rhombometer for the Lo-Dough. It would be good if there were a larger size available – a 12” at least, but I wonder if there is some technical issue that limits its size or perhaps the price point would be too high? Who knows? For now though, the key thing is that pizza is back on the Fabulous Friday Family Film Feast menu and the good times roll again.