Simple, Healthy Meals: Pizza
We all love pizza, right? And generally with pizza, you’re taking on a load of calories, fats and the bloat to go with it all. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Many times (like recently), I’ve been very busy with work so when it comes to dinner time, I turn to some of my quick, healthy meals. Last night? It was gluten-free veggie pizza.
Because gluten free crust is hard to come by and takes forever to make from scratch, we’ve been using our high-fiber, gluten-free lavash as the basis for our pizzas for 5 or 6 years or longer. (I’ve mentioned the lavash before in my quick morning go-to for my husband when he needs the energy to play 18 holes of golf in the searing heat.)
All you need to do is to decide on your sauce and toppings. Your choices are limitless!
I start with the lavash and spread with my sauce du jour.
If you prefer a red pie which we do sometimes, and I have a homemade marinara on hand, I use that since it will be organic. You can buy jarred organic pasta sauces but be warned – they’re generally loaded with sodium.
If you like a ‘white’ pie, I spread on a herbal butter/olive oil blend that I make. For that, mix in a jar equal amounts melted organic butter and organic olive oil with a few cloves of garlic that have been pressed, and a tablespoon of mixed herbs (usually oregano and thyme). Warm slightly in the microwave for 15 seconds. Shake or stir well. Refrigerate and use for toppings for pizza, for garlic bread or for anything else you desire. Tip: Udi’s makes a nice baguette that can be brushed with this garlic/herb oil/butter mixture and baked in minutes. Yum!
If you like a pesto base, a homemade pesto is simple! In a small food processor, add fresh basil, pine nuts, a bit of citrus (lime or lemon) salt, pepper and olive oil. All are available in organic.
Simple is always good so my choice for simple is the classic Pizza Margherita: Add pieces of torn basil leaves and your favorite shredded Italian cheeses.
Veggie toppings, to name a few: mushrooms, onions, artichoke hearts, black olives, broccoli, zucchini, sliced tomatoes, green onions, eggplant, red, green or yellow peppers, broccolini, pepper flakes and grilled Portobello mushrooms. Some like a Hawaiian pizza with pineapple and ham. The produce section offers many veggie treats for your creative pizzas!
Meats: While pepperoni is preferred by many, it is high in sodium and fat, and has no vitamins, no fiber and very little else to offer. Some alternatives include parma ham, grilled chicken, or crumbled, cooked chicken or turkey Italian sausage. Grilled and sliced (or chopped) portobellos give a meaty flavor without the meat.
Cheese: You MUST have cheese! The standard Italian cheeses just can’t be beat. Parmesan, Romano, Asiago are hard cheeses that melt well. Pecorino is flavorful and a slightly different twist. You can add Gorgonzola for a bit of a bite. As you may remember, when it comes to cheeses, I prefer cheeses that are not made in the US (and thus guaranteed to becontaminated with GMO). You can find, by the way, organic cheeses made in the US that will not have GMO’s. Organic Valley has a small selection. When I can find true Italian Fontina, I use it. This isn’t a hard cheese but it is a wonderful-gooey mess when it melts. Experiment!
Finally, don’t be afraid to use pizza for other courses and other meals.
Dessert pizza: Spread with cream cheese, top with fresh berries and bake just a few minutes. You can also add any fresh-fruit organic marmalade or jam. Just be sure that you stay away from the chemicals and high-fructose corn syrup.
Breakfast pizza: Whip your eggs as usual, carefully pour on the crust, add a bit of cheese, perhaps a bit of ham, veggies, bake and you’re good to go.
If you’ve forgotten how much I love cheese (the ONLY dairy we eat), please feel free to check out this August post: Cheese, Glorious Cheese!