Mama Mia…It’s a Pizza!

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Pizza Dough- (1,12-inch pizza)
-3/4 cup Whole Wheat Flour -3/4 cup All-Purpose Flour -Flour for dusting surface -1 ¼ tsp or ½ packet Active Dry Yeast – 1 tsp Salt -1 tbs Corn Meal or Grits *Optional -1/2 cup Warm Water -1/2 tbs Olive Oil or Cooking Spray (to grease bowl)

Beginning with the Pizza Dough, pour the Warm Water in the bowl and then sprinkle in the Yeast. I like to give it a swirl or two, ever-so-gently, as to get the two mixed without disturbing the process. When in doubt, leave it still. After 5 Minutes is up, slowly add the Flours and the Salt, using a wooden spoon to incorporate everything well. Once the dough has formed a ball- like form, sprinkle your surface with reserved dusting Flour, and put Dough on surface. Work the dough as a mass, pulling a bit and pushing with the heels of your hands, getting the dough nice and elastic. Fold over and continue to work the dough for 2-5 minutes. Coat the bowl with the Oil or Cooking Spray. Return dough to the bowl and cover with a clean towel. Place in a warm place for 30 minutes or dough doubles.

Mushroom and Greens with a Shallot and White Wine Sauce.
Pizza Topping:
– 3 ounces Baby Bella Mushrooms – 1 shallot -1/2 tbs Olive Oil/Canola Oil -2 tbs White Wine – ¼ cup Baby Spinach, Chard, Kale, and Mizuma mix (Just baby spinach could work here too). -1/4 cup Parmesan, grated -4 ounces Fresh Mozz -1 tbs Fresh Rosemary -Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

While the Dough is rising in a warm cozy spot, we can work on prepping the toppings. In a small bowl (sometimes I just use a toddler snack bowl if it is handy) mix the Oil and White Wine. Set aside. Using a wet paper towel, wipe the Baby Bella Shrooms and then slice them thinly. Set aside in a medium bowl. Take your washed Greens (Spinach and Kale mix) and wind then in a bunch tightly. (Occasionally I Use a leaf of one of the greens to hold the bunch in place.) Take a sharp knife through the bunch perpendicularly, slicing it thinly. If you have toddlers, you may want to also want to cut down the center of the bunch. Add the greens to the bowl with the Shrooms. Still waiting on the dough to rise, peel your Shallot and put the shallot on the cutting board on its flattest side. Run you knife perpendicularly from tip to hairy end, discarding that hairy end. Put your shallots in the bowl with the veggie mixture as well. Lastly in prep, you can chop your Rosemary and sprinkle it in the bowl of veg. Mix the bowl so that each veg is incorporated.

Once the dough has risen, uncover and place dough on a floured counter or on lightly greased (if necessary) baking surface. Preheat the oven to its highest setting. Dust the rolling pin with a touch of flour. Roll out the dough to desired form. Flip over the crust to the side you want to be the bottom. Sprinkle the Cornmeal or Grits over the surface evenly, if you opted to use this. Turn it back over and onto the baking surface. First sprinkle an even layer of Parmesan cheese. Next toss your Veg Mix over the Dough and then drizzle the top of that with you Oil and Wine mixture. Tear apart the Fresh Mozz and scatter evenly. Finish it off with Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste. Bake in the oven for 9-13 minutes. Cheese should be melty and golden to your liking when done.

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Pepperoni and Fresh Mozz Pizza with a Bite:
Pizza Toppings-
– 1/4cup Parmesan, grated -1/2 Red Bell Pepper or 1 -2 whole Peperoncino peppers (for more heat), – 4 ounces Fresh Mozz -2 tbs Fresh Basil, chopped – ¼ cup diced Fire Roasted Tomatoes (Add pinch of sugar if you use regular diced tomatoes or tomato sauce) -Pinch of Sea Salt and Fresh Ground Pepper to taste -1/2 tbs Olive oil/Canola Oil -18 slices of Turkey Pepperoni

Now that the Dough is rising, let’s do some prep work for the toppings. First we will work on the Red Pepper. Cut the top and bottom tips of the Red Pepper off. Slice the Pepper in half and place it on the cutting board insides up. Use the knife to carefully remove the white bits on the inside and the seeds. Discard. Thinly slice the Red Pepper working your way from one side to the other. Set aside on a plate or small bowl. Next chop your Fresh Basil into thin strips or tear into pieces. Set aside.

When the dough has doubled, roll it out onto the floured surface. Transfer to baking surface. Preheat your oven to the highest setting. Flip to the rear side to sprinkle Cornmeal or Grits if you opted to do this step. Flip back over. Layer the pizza evenly in this order: Fire-Roasted Tomatoes, Fresh Basil, Red Peppers, and Turkey Pepperoni. Tear Fresh Mozz over the pizza and drizzle the Oil to finish. Sprinkle on the Sea Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste. Bake for 9-13 minutes depending on what your oven is like and preference on doneness.

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Happy Pi Day!

pie day Since today is about Pi and pizza happens to be a circle and refereed to as “pie” I thought it would be a great time to talk about the truth on pizza. When we think of pizza and its wonderfully round shape topped with ooey gooey goodness, a few key terms tend to come into mind. Words like grease, fat, calories, bad, and unbuttoned pants tend to accompany the food most of us crave at some point. The truth is that pizza does not have to be those descriptions. Pizza can be a very healthy meal if done properly.

    Crust things crust, we need to look at the base and foundation of this staple. The problem here lies in the grains. When you choose a crust with a white grain, you are giving your body empty calories. Only 100% whole grains give you a true source of fiber and nutrients that are stripped from the white and even wheat flours. They have to add in nutrients, but it isn’t absorbed as well into your body. The reason this matters is that while you are eating your pizza it takes more food for you to feel full. I understand if for texture and taste reasons you supplement with some white or wheat flour. Adding the 100% whole grain flour will boost your nutrient intake and help you feel fuller faster. Whole grains also help regulate blood sugar levels so you do not crash into a food coma. If you order out, at least see if the pizza place has a wheat option. If not, go thin, so you can fill up on toppings not empty carbohydrates.

 The next layer is the sauce. There are many sauces out there that contain different amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. Another incentive to make it fresh. When sauces are made sometimes sugar is added to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. If you can use Italian tomatoes in your sauces, because they need minimal sugar to do so. You can kick up flavor with a variety of spices. Crushed red pepper is always a nice way to kick up the heat a notch without being overpowering. Spice helps you feel fuller faster too.

Let’s look at the cheesy layer of love. Most people really like cheese on their pizza. Most cheeses however can contain a lot of grease and fat. Limit the amount of cheese you put on a pie. Add a little less and supplement with Parmesan. You still get the ooey gooey without the heart attack. If you make it at home, you can choose reduced fat cheeses. Please do not mistake that for fat-free!!! Those taste terrible, because that is not how cheese is supposed to taste. Or you can always sprinkle a specialty cheese like blue or fresh mozzarella to give quality to your flavor.

How many times have you seen a comic moment on TV or in a movie, where the cherry lands on top and everything just tumbles to the ground? The toppings of a pizza can really make or break the healthfulness of the pie. Sausage, pepperoni, and bacon can add a lot of fat to a pie if not limited. Load up on some veggies like peppers, a few olives, spinach, Roma tomatoes, pineapple, and mushrooms. You can get creative and see who can create the best flavor combination while keeping calorie count in mind. You can also choose leaner meats like grilled chicken, fish, and turkey sausage.

Don’t let the bad connotations of pizza keep you from enjoying a healthy bite of goodness. Your pie hole will thank you and so will the circumference of your waist. Who feels great an hour or so after overeating on greasy pizza anyhow? Eat well and be merry!