Monthly Archives: October 2013

My Review of Daiya Foods Pizza

Finding a good pizza that doesn’t interfere with food allergies (or is vegan) can be a challenge. Daiya Foods, a Canadian-based manufacturer, recently introduced a line of pizzas that are vegan and free of the top eight allergens. I first took notice of Daiya Foods when they launched a cheese alternative in 2009 that tasted like real cheese and was free of dairy, soy, wheat and other top allergens. Prior to that, the available cheese substitutes tasted horrible and were loaded with allergens. Daiya Foods’ cheese alternative was a welcome relief. Daiya Foods now offers their cheese product in the form of slices, shreds and blocks, and began offering a cream cheese alternative a few months ago. Based on my past experiences with their products, I was very excited to hear they were launching a line of pizzas. (I obviously need to get out more.)Daiya Pizza

Daiya Foods’ products are not certified organic, nor are they certified by the Non-GMO Project. However, the company’s FAQ Page states the company requires a non-GMO statement from each of their ingredient vendors. It also states that although they are not certified organic, they only use the highest quality ingredients. (I’m not sure how they manage to get non-organic canola oil that is non-GMO, but their ethics are strong enough that I’m going to take their word for it … for now.) My hope is that they will pursue both organic and non-GMO certification. I would feel much better recommending their products if they had one or both of those certifications. All of Daiya Foods’ products are certified gluten-free and certified vegan. All but the pizzas are kosher certified. Their website also states they use no artificial ingredients and no preservatives. That’s always a nice touch.

Let’s be perfectly honest: Pizza is not a food frequently seen at the top of healthy food lists. Pizza is a party food; an indulgence. With apologies to college students, pizza is not a food that should be eaten seven days a week. Regardless of how healthy the ingredients are, frozen pizza is still a processed food. Although not a true “health food,” there are ways to make pizza healthier and ways to make it possible for people with food allergies (and/or vegans) to safely enjoy an occasional slice. (Key word: Occasional.) The Daiya pizza definitely fills that niche.

I’ve tried two Daiya pizzas in the last week. Overall, I thought the pizzas were good. They’re not any threat to Freschetta or other mainstream frozen pizza companies, but they’re also not loaded with chemicals and allergens. We don’t eat frozen meals in our home, so it was a nice oddity to quickly and easily fix a meal in less than 15 minutes and know I wasn’t exposing myself to any potential allergens. The Daiya pizzas are a good backup option when you need a quick meal with little preparation or need an alternative to take to a pizza party.

 Packaging: The box was significantly larger than the pizza, but Daiya isn’t the first company to create false expectations using an overly large box. The front of the box did a good job of displaying that it was gluten-free and dairy-free. The instructions and ingredients were very easy to find and read on the back of the box.
Price:  I purchased the pizzas on sale for $7.99, reduced from $9.99. Pricey? Yes, but it’s still cheaper than a home delivery pizza and you don’t have to worry about allergens. Some things are worth paying more for. Daiya’s pricing is on par with other gluten-free and dairy-free pizzas. As I said, these aren’t indulgences to be enjoyed every night.
Crust:  The crust was undoubtedly the worst part of this pizza. It was far too thin, burned easily and had very little taste. In other words, I prefer my pizza on bread, not a hard cracker. It was primarily made with tapioca flour. Using a combination of tapioca and coconut flours might have created a richer crust with more personality. The crust wasn’t a deal breaker, but be aware that it will burn very easily and long before the recommended 13-minute time frame. 
Sauce:  The sauce was ok. There was enough to keep the pizza from being overly dry, but the sauce didn’t have much flavor. That may have been intentional with the purpose of allowing the flavors of the toppings to shine.  
Toppings:  The toppings on all the pizzas we tried were good. Not skimpy but not overdone, either. Daiya offers a nice selection of veggie toppings. If you prefer meat, I recommend adding your own (cooked) before cooking the Daiya pizza.
Nutrition:  One-third of the pizza provides:

  • 310 calories
  • 15 grams of fat
  • 0 cholesterol
  • 450 mg sodium
  • 48 grams carbohydrates
  • 5 grams protein

With the exception of the carbohydrates, each of those numbers is significantly lower than a mainstream pizza. The low protein does concern me, so I recommend supplementing the pizza with an additional protein choice. This recommended serving provides three servings of carbohydrates, which is a high number for a single meal and is higher than most mainstream pizzas. The company could decrease the carbs by not using as much tapioca flour in the cheese and crust, but creating a low-carb product isn’t their primary goal. If you’re following a low-glycemic eating style, my recommendation is either eat a smaller serving or to combine the pizza with a high-fiber food (such as a salad) and a protein source. Both will help reduce blood sugar spikes. (If you have diabetes, be sure to check your glucose level after eating this pizza so you know how to plan for the future.)

My husband, who has no dietary restrictions, thoroughly enjoyed the pizza. If someone who doesn’t need or choose to eat allergy-free, vegan foods enjoyed this pizza, I figure almost anyone will.

Have you tried the new Daiya pizzas? What did you think?