Over the past few weeks, I have been busy grading diet study assignments for my college nutrition classes, and thought I’d share a few observations that might ring true at your house. My students eat A LOT of pizza and VERY FEW veggies, which sets them up for not only tipping the scales when it comes to body weight, but also drives their sodium, saturated fat and cholesterol intakes through the roof! While they can all relate to the “heavy, greasy feeling” they experience afterwards, most are amazed when they learn that each slice of their favorite meat lover’s pizza can pack more than 500 kcalories! Some students eat as many eat 4 slices in a single sitting! That calorie overload doesn’t even include the ranch dressing they use as a dip, which slathers on nearly 100 additional calories per measly tablespoon! My students also learn all about how high sodium intake can drive up blood pressure and put their kidneys at risk. We talk about the increased risk of developing all types of cancer that goes hand-in-hand with eating processed meats (traditional toppings) and with not eating a wide variety of vegetables. So, what is a pizza lover to do? Make your own! Turn pizza into something that helps your body get the nutrients that it needs, not sabotages it! The recipe below is an insanely easy, and absolutely delicious take on pizza that will have your cells singing! You can even watch me make this pizza on California Bountiful TV!
Thin Crust Kale Pizza
This delicious recipe is super quick to put together, so it works well for a weeknight dinner or if you are feeding more than just a few, it can be a fun way to get everyone involved in the preparation! You might hesitate when you see kale on the ingredient list, but go ahead and MAKE IT! You will love it and be amazed that you are eating kale! When we were shooting the TV segment, our cameraman, who was very skeptical, and “even braced himself” before taking a bite, thought it was GREAT and ate the rest of the samples that I made! The amounts are approximates, as everyone likes their pizza a little different when it comes the amount of each topping. You may also want to add other toppings, like finely chopped steamed broccoli, very thinly sliced zucchini, garlicky mushrooms, or bell peppers.
Ingredients: (serves 2)
~3 cups raw kale (any variety)*, cleaned and finely chopped (confetti-sized pieces)*
~2-4 TBSP sun-dried tomatoes, chopped into strips
~4 TBSP artichoke hearts, diced small
~2 TBSP olives, diced small
~2-4 TBSP red onion, sliced thin (or pickled red onions – recipe)
~1/3 cup Marinara sauce (your favorite recipe or brand)*
Whole wheat lavash* bread, large piece ~12 in x 8 in
Clean and dry the kale (see instructions below), then chop it finely, to about the size of confetti. Cut the lavash Bread in half to make 2 “pizzas” and toast in 400F oven for a few minutes on a pizza screen, until crisp. Spread a layer of sauce on the bread, sprinkle on some sun-dried tomatoes, then add a GENEROUS layer of kale (don’t be scared!), followed by the chopped olives, artichoke hearts and onions. Put the pizzas back in the oven for 5-8 minutes, just to heat the toppings and begin to wilt the kale. Slice each pizza into six pieces with a chef’s knife to make it a bit easier to eat, and start munching as soon as it is cool enough to pick up!
*Prep Smart, Cook Smart Tips:
-Any variety of kale can be used for this recipe (green curly kale, lacinato or dinosaur kale and red/purple kale). Rinse the kale under cool running water, rip bite sized pieces of the leaves off of the stems and let them soak in a large bowl of ice water for 5-10 minutes (or up to several hours if you are busy with other tasks). Reserve the stems for later use.* Dry the kale with a salad spinner or by wrapping in paper towel.
-I buy my favorite Whole Wheat Lavash Bread at Trader Joe’s, as the quality is consistently excellent, it has very few ingredients, is ridiculously cheap and freezes well! Trader Joe’s also makes a fantastic Organic Spaghetti Sauce with Mushrooms that I use when I don’t have time to make my own sauce.
-I finely chop the kale stems and add them to our weekly salad mix, add them to my mirepoix (carrot, celery and onion) when making soup or throw them into stir-fries.
Timaree Hagenburger, is a registered dietitian and certified exercise physiologist with a master’s degree in public health. She is a nutrition professor at Cosumnes River College, conducts corporate wellness work, and has a regular segment on California Bountiful TV. This delicious recipe, as well as a fun Pizza Foodie Bar, is part of her innovative cookbook – The Foodie Bar™ Way: One meal. Lots of options. Everyone’s happy. available at www.FoodieBars.com
Read my article as published in the Lodi News Sentinel.