Tag Archives: pizza

End of Summer Pizza

Summer is over, or at least it seems to be now that Labor Day has come and gone. However, my garden is just starting to come into it’s own with tomatoes and zucchini. Anyone else?

I saw this trick of shredding zucchini in with cheese on smitten kitchen awhile ago. I loved it in the original grilled cheese sandwich, and I have taken to trying it in other “cheesy” foods like quesadillas. Pizza seemed like a no brainer.

Full disclosure: I thought this was delicious. It tasted fresh and just like late summer/early fall. My kids definitely picked out all the zucchini they could. BUT, I have tried the zucchini/cheese trick with older kids (8 years old) and they liked it; even the kids who said they hated vegetables generally.

End of Summer Pizza (Serves 4)

(Sorry, I was too busy eating to take a picture. Oops!)

½ recipe pizza dough
½ cup marinara sauce
1 zucchini, shredded
1 cup shredded part skim mozzarella cheese
2 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup basil, chopped or torn into large pieces

1. Heat oven to 400. Prepare pizza dough through parbake.
2. Spread sauce over dough.
3. Squeeze zucchini between towels to remove much of the moisture. Toss the zucchini with the cheese. Sprinkle over the pizza. Top with tomatoes.
4. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until desired doneness. Finish with basil before serving.

Nutritional Information (amount per serving):

Calories: 147
Protein: 9 gm
Fat: 7 gm
Saturated Fat: 3 gm
Cholesterol: 18 mg
Carbohydrates: 13 gm
Fiber: 3 gm
Sodium: 246 mg

Notes: I’m writing the recipe here for one large pizza. For a quick dinner, we actually ate this on naan breads, which was great. English muffins would also work. Sometimes fun “dough” makes it more interesting to kids, too.

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Too much pizza?

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A recent radio show broadcasted that research from the CDC stated that kids in America are eating too much pizza, which is not a healthy food. I was a bit puzzled, so I wanted to get a little more information on the actual research.

The CDC report is actually on sodium intakes in children and adolescents in the US. Like adults, children and adolescents are consuming more sodium than they need. And even in children, this can lead to increased blood pressure.

Why do we care? First, we don’t want to start kids off with health problems, like high blood pressure. This will only increase the likelihood of these problems as adults. Second, sodium intake is a taste preference. As children are developing their tastes and dietary preferences, we want to give them a healthy palate. Reducing intake when young will hopefully help prevent them from over consuming as adults.

So where does pizza come in? Pizza is the number one contributor of sodium to children and adolescent diets. Bread, poultry, cold cuts, and sandwiches round out the top five. Noticably, these are foods that naturally have high sodium. This isn’t about teaching kids to not salt their food. It is about teaching them to watch their consumption of foods naturally high in sodium.

So can your kid eat pizza? Of course! But, beware of the amount of cheese and cured meats on your toppings. Stick for less cheese, fresh cooked meats, veggies, and homemade sauce if possible. All of these allow you greater control of the sodium going in. Here are a couple of my favorites for pizza:

Marinara

Artichoke Pesto Pizza

White Chicken Pizza

Homemade Pizza Dough

What are your favorite adaptations to make pizza more healthy? Share them in the comments!

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Thanksgiving Leftovers

Does anyone else enjoy the leftovers almost better than the actual Thanksgiving meal? It just isn’t Thanksgiving without the leftovers. That being said, I’m over it within 3 turkey sandwiches. Here a couple other ideas to spice up your leftover routine.

Thanksgiving Pizza

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This is more of a general outline than an actual recipe. Start with pizza dough, parbaking per the instructions. After parbaking, spread on a thin layer of cranberry sauce. Top with leftover mashed potatoes, leaving a few mounded areas. Add shredded turkey, scoops of stuffing if desired, and any remaining vegetables. Lightly cover with shredded cheddar or colby cheese. Drizzle gravy over the top. Bake until heated through and crust is browned.

Turkey Noodle Soup

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Don’t throw out your turkey bones! You can freeze them if you want to make soup later. But cooked down, they will give up plenty of meat and tons of flavor to make the best batch of soup ever. This is the only way my mom made “chicken” noodle soup when I was a kid.

Thanksgiving Shepherd’s Pie

I don’t have a picture of this one. But my sister-in-law does it every year. Place shredded turkey in the bottom of a casserole dish with corn, peas, carrots, or whatever vegetable you have handy. Pour on gravy to moisten. Top with a layer of stuffing, then a layer of mashed potatoes. Bake until heated through. It’s amazing.

Have a safe and Happy Thanksgiving! See you next week when the mayhem is over!

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Artichoke Pesto Pizza

As a parent, I have to find a balance of serving foods I like (grown-up foods) and foods I know my daughter will eat.  Serving grown-up foods is essential, as she won’t learn to like them without being exposed.  But I do want her to actually eat dinner.

I have found pizza is good ground for testing grown-up flavors.  Kids love simple pizzas, such as cheese or pepperoni.  While I’m not opposed to those, I prefer something a little more interesting.  The white sauce pizza I shared last week goes over well with kids, as does this.  I was honestly shocked when I saw my little girl downing the pesto, but she loved it.  The artichokes can be a little much for some young palates.  You may want to try just a pesto sauce with regular mozzarella cheese first, and then gradually diversify the toppings.

This is my favorite pizza to make.  Delicious and very simple, you can’t beat it.  Enjoy!

Artichoke Pesto Pizza (serves 3-4)

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1 pizza crust (½ batch of homemade dough
1 ⅓ cups fresh spinach
⅔ cup fresh basil leaves
¼ cup parmesan cheese
3 ounces walnuts
¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
2 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons low sodium broth or water
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 (13.75 ounce) can artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained well or about 9 ounces of frozen artichoke hearts, thawed and drained
3 ounces feta cheese
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 400. Par-bake pizza crust if using this recipe.

2. In a food processor, combine spinach, basil, ¼ cup parmesan cheese, walnuts, red pepper, and garlic. Pulse until finely chopped. While processor is running, add broth/water, olive oil, and lemon juice. Add more broth, water, or oil if needed to make a paste-like sauce.

3. If necessary, chop artichoke hearts into at least quarters.

4. Spread pesto over pizza crust. Top with artichoke hearts, feta, and 1 tablespoon parmesan cheese.

5. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, until crust is browned. Serve immediately.

Nutritional Information (Amount per Serving):

Calories: 457
Protein: 16g
Fat: 38 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 59 mg
Carbohydrates: 19 g
Fiber: 6 g
Sodium: 461 mg

Recipe Notes: I like this pesto recipe, but you can use your favorite recipe or jarred pesto. It all works. Just be careful to not spread it on too thick.  Also, it is important to par-bake the crust for this pizza, as the oil from the pesto can seep into raw dough, making it stick to the pan.  Please note that the picture is of a half pizza, but has a full can of artichokes on it. This many artichokes actually makes it hard to eat. Don’t worry if your pizza doesn’t look full of toppings. All of these toppings have strong flavors, so you don’t need as much to pack a good punch. Some chopped chicken also is good on this pizza.

Source: Pesto from Cooking Light, toppings inspired by Christian’s Pizza in Charlottesville, VA

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White Chicken Pizza Plus Homemade Pizza Dough

Does Friday night feel like pizza night to anyone else?  Whenever I plan my menu for the week, I’m always tempted by pizza on Friday night.  It just feels right.  While getting takeout or delivery is inticing, homemade pizza can actually be very simple.  As always, I like being able to control the ingredients and add a lot more veggies.

I’m sharing two recipes with you, both of which I use all the time.  This pizza dough is fairly foolproof, and I love the short rising time.  The white sauce on the pizza adds a cheesy element, so you don’t need a ton for the topping, which cuts down on calories and sodium.  Enjoy!

White Chicken Pizza (Serves 3-4)

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½ batch of pizza dough (see recipe below)
1 teaspoon olive oil
½ chicken breast, chopped into bite size pieces
1 bell pepper, sliced
½ red onion, sliced
1 tablespoon butter
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon black pepper
2 tablespoons flour
¾ cup skim milk
½ cup grated parmesan cheese
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated parmesan cheese

1. Prepare pizza dough per recipe. While dough is par-baking, prepare toppings and sauce.

2. Heat olive oil in a skillet over medium to medium-high heat. Add chicken; sauté until cooked through, about 5-7 minutes. Remove to a plate. Add bell pepper and onion to pan; sauté until slightly softened, about 3 minutes. Add to plate with chicken.

3. Heat butter in a small sauce pan over medium heat. Add garlic and pepper when melted; cook 1 minute. Add flour; cook, stirring constantly for 1-2 minutes. Whisk in milk, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture is thickened and begins to bubble, about 3 minutes. Stir in ½ cup parmesan until melted.

4. Spread sauce over par-baked pizza crust. Top with chicken, peppers, and onions. Sprinkle mozzarella and 2 tablespoons parmesan evenly over the top. Bake at 400 for 12-15 minutes, until crust is browned and cheese is melted.

Nutritional Information: (Amount per Serving)

Calories: 327
Protein: 26 g
Fat: 17 g
Saturated Fat: 9 g
Cholesterol: 64 mg
Carbohydrates: 18 g
Fiber: 2 g
Sodium: 511 mg

Recipe notes: You could easily use some leftover chicken or grill the chicken as well. Make sure to chop it into small enough pieces for the pizza; big chunks are hard to eat. You can mix up the vegetables however you like. Fresh tomatoes are also great on this pizza. You could skip cooking the vegetables before putting on the pizza, but they don’t get fully cooked on the pizza.

Homemade Pizza Dough (Makes 2 pizzas)

1 tablespoon yeast (instant or active dry)
1 ½ cups warm water (110-120 degrees F)
4 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
¼ cup olive oil
Cornmeal, for dusting

1. Dissolve yeast in water. Stir in 2 cups of flour. While mixing, add in salt, olive oil, and enough of remaining flour that dough forms a ball that is tacky but not overly sticky. Knead for 5 minutes.

2. Divide dough in half. Roll each half into desired shape. Place onto baking pan that has been lightly greased (if desired) and dusted lightly with cornmeal.

3. Preheat oven to 400. Pizza dough will “rise” during this time.

4. Par-bake for about 7 minutes. You may need to prick the dough with a fork if it starts to bubble up too much.

5. Top with desired toppings and bake for 12-15 minutes more.

Recipe Notes: I usually use a mix of white whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. It works equally well with all of one kind of flour, too. This does have to roll out fairly thin, but it isn’t a crispy, cracker-like thin crust. I have an “air-bake” pizza pan, but I still use the cornmeal. Along with par-baking, the cornmeal helps prevent the pizza from sticking to the pan.

Source: adapted from Cooking Light and a family recipe

Low-iodine adjustment: The pizza dough works for low-iodine. Red sauce with the chicken and vegetables would work. But no cheese, which may kind of defeat the point of pizza.

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