Gluten Free Review: Amy's Kitchen Rice Crust Cheese Pizza
Amy Tries (She Really Does)
Some things to know about Amy's Kitchen with regard to gluten free meals:
- They test everything to meet the FDA guidelines (less than 20ppm)
- They test raw ingredients in-house to ensure they're also less than 20ppm.
- They clean areas where gluten is used and minimize gluten use in areas where GF items are produced.
- They train their employees to be careful.
- They do a lot lot lot of testing during the manufacturing process.
That said, they're not exactly a gluten free environment, as they do produce things like cakes and pizzas, among other gluten containing items. They're taking every step they can to ensure that there is no cross-contamination, and they are very very allergy-conscious as a company.
But accidents can happen. It's a teensy-weensy risk, so you need to analyze and see if it's worth it for that .000001% chance (guesstimate) of a glutening.
Now, on to the review.
I had to buy this pizza a few times before I figured out what to do with it.
First of all, you need to bake it a lot longer than the instructions say. I believe they say to bake the item at 375° for around 12 minutes. I find that anything less than 20 minutes is asking for a mushy pizza that falls apart when you pick it up. When I bake it, I want to see the crust around the edges turn a dark brown. That's when I know it's done. (Your oven may vary--check it around the time the package says, then check back every 4-5 minutes thereafter until it looks done.) If the cheese is a little browned around the edges, that's also a good sign.
When you do cook the pizza "enough," the crust has a nice flavor, which is great considering that it's a fairly thick crust. A lot of gluten free pizza is pretty thin, but this one is substantial and flavorful--more than just a vehicle for toppings and cheese. It's a little crumbly and grainy--a bit like cake in texture--but it doesn't fall apart anywhere except in your mouth (unless you undercook it--don't undercook it!).
How It Looks Out of the Box
Sauce and Cheese: Essentially a "Naked" Pizza
The sauce on a frozen pizza should have a flavor so that you know it's there, but can easily forget. There should be enough that you see it and taste it, but not so much that you have to scrape it off or squeeze it out.
This pizza is pretty perfect in that regard. It's rare that I find a spot of the pizza with too much sauce on it.
The mozzarella cheese on this pizza looks really sparse at first when you take it out of the package, and it is a little bit sparse if you don't add anything to the pizza.
The cheese has a good mozzarella flavor and is a little bit stringy, which is a quality I enjoy in a pizza. I find mushy cheese (especially the kind that goes clear when you melt it) to be kind of gross. This is definitely not that--it's pretty nice quality cheese. (Maybe that's why there isn't a whole lot of it?)
If you like a plain cheese pizza, you might need to add a little if you don't like your pizza seeming naked. But this pizza is perfect for adding toppings. My favorites are green pepper, black olives and mushrooms, but you can add any old thing you like to the top (gluten free, of course) to cover it.
Because of the rice crust I don't think I could recommend heating this up in the microwave if you have leftovers. It may fall apart. I find that it does reheat rather nicely in the oven at the same temperature you bake it--375 for 10-15 minutes. It does make the crust a little browner, giving it a slightly darker taste. But I personally like that "singed crust" flavor.
Cost to You and Your Body
The price for this item varies wildly from store to store.
(Standard disclaimer: I live in Hawaii and things are expensive here.)
If I go to Safeway, this pizza is usually $8.99. If I go to Whole Foods, it jumps to about $13.99. I've seen it at independent health food stores for anywhere from $10-17.
When you consider that a plain gluten-free cheese pizza at a place like Domino's or Z Pizza would most certainly cost more than $10, the price seems fairly reasonable (compared to other GF pizzas, of course). Plus you get the peace of mind of knowing that the company is trying their best to avoid cross contamination, which you don't get with your local pizza chains (for the most part).
Even when you factor in the cost of toppings you're still not paying a whole lot more. A can of olives is $3 and a pack of mushrooms is $4, but I'm not using all of those on one pizza. I can use them again later on something else. Even on another Amy's pizza if I like. (Which is sometimes what I do.)
Amy's considers 1/3 of this pizza to be a serving. Which is fairly generous in my view. A lot of companies make it 1/4 or even 1/8 to give a very misleading calorie count.
Personally, since the pizza is roughly the size of a dinner plate, I find I can polish the whole thing off in one sitting. Otherwise I just eat half.
1/3 of an Amy's pizza (without any extra toppings) is
16g of fat
590mg of sodium
10g of protein
You're also getting 15% of your calcium and 8% of your iron.
Now multiply that by 3 for the whole pie. It's not low-fat by any means, but less than a thousand calories for a whole pizza is pretty good (as pizzas go). That's a lot of sodium in one serving, but also a fair amount of protein too, as well as calcium.
I don't think anyone is under the impression that pizza is a health food. Sometimes you just need to eat a pizza to feel happy. And as pizzas go, it could be a lot worse.
Why the Score?
I actually really like this pizza. I think it's pretty good.
But I had to buy it three or four times before I figured out how to make it good.
I had to play around with the temperature, the length of cooking, and of course, the toppings, before I made it a tasty pizza.
And you know, that's not an insignificant amount of money I spent trying to like this pizza. But after trying Udi's, Conte's, and Whole Foods, I decided to go back to this one. It cooks better than Udi's (had to do a LOT LOT LOT of tinkering with that one and never got it right), the crust is tastier than Conte's (= cardboard), and while the Whole Foods pizza is pretty tasty, it's so very tiiiiiiny.
This pizza gets major extra points for being delicious, having good cheese, and having a substantial crust that reheats well. But experimenting with cooking is always annoying, and I wish I didn't have to buy my own toppings to make a decent pizza. It's kind of a nice thing--to make the flavor of pizza you want--but at the same time, the cost is a little too much for someone like me who doesn't have a whole lot of cash and wants to just eat pizza like everyone else (and doesn't have the time to make one).