Pizza My Heart: The Healthy Guide to Our Favorite Fall Food

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My name is Jacqueline (Jax) Stone and I’m a fitness instructor and mom of two rambunctious boys, ages 2 and 4 years old. I try quite hard to cook my family most of their meals so that my young boys are exposed to eating healthy (and delicious) food. Like most people, our family loves pizza, so I’ve become creative with alternatives that boost nutrition, save on empty calories and avoid processed carbohydrates.

Take a look at this pizza. Would you ever guess that the crust is less than half as many calories as standard crusts, almost 75% less carbohydrates and no sugar whatsoever? It’s also loaded with nutrition!

The “secret” ingredient is spaghetti squash. This is my most delicious substitute for making vegetable-based pizza crust and my kids (the guinea pigs) were on this like white on rice. See below for the recipe and for a few more highly nutritious ways to enjoy your favorite pizza!

Spaghetti Squash Pizza Crust Pizza

Ingredients (for the crust)

1 medium spaghetti squash yields about 4-5 cups of cooked spaghetti
2 eggs
½ cup flax seed
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Split the squash in half with a large knife and scoop out the seeds with a spoon. Lay the halves in the oven, husk down and cook them for about 70 minutes. Let them cool completely and scoop the spaghetti into a bowl. Make sure the squash is pulled apart without clumps. Alternatively you can cook the squash whole before cooking it, I just find it has a strange texture and flavor when doing it this way. You can also do this step in advance–if you know you want to do a pizza night ahead of time, you can prepare this the day before.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. In a medium/large mixing bowl, mix together the eggs, flax seed and salt until evenly combined. Add the spaghetti squash and fold it together with a wooden spoon until it’s evenly mixed.

Line a baking pan with parchment paper and spray it lightly with nonstick cooking spray. Press the squash into the pan until it’s flat and evenly distributed (see below). Bake it for about 45 minutes or until slightly browned. It shouldn’t feel wet when you press down on it.

Take it out of the oven and turn the broiler on low. Put as much sauce as you want on top of the pizza and add your cheese and toppings. Don’t forget to chop up some fresh spinach to mix in with the cheese for an extra boost of nutrition! Broil the pizza on low for 4-5 minutes until the cheese is melted. Slice with a pizza cutter and enjoy!

 

Eggplant Pizza Rounds

Ingredients

1 large eggplant
Salt for sprinkling
2-3 tablespoons of extra virgin olive oil

This is probably the simplest pizza recipe out there.

Slice the eggplant into one-inch thick rounds and lay them on a cutting board or plate. Sprinkle both sides lightly with salt, then on one side, lightly brush the extra virgin olive oil over the top. Let this sit for about 20-30 minutes. The salt will help dehydrate the eggplant a bit. Preheat the broiler on high and lay the rounds down on a lightly greased baking sheet, lined with aluminum foil. Make sure the baking sheet is in the oven vertically so the rounds bake evenly. Broil one side for 10 minutes, turn the rounds and broil for another 5 minutes. Remove them from the oven and turn the broiler to low. Add your sauce, cheese and toppings to the eggplant rounds and broil it for another 5 minutes or so (or until the cheese is melted and bubbly). Serve immediately!

Tip 1: You can also do this with zucchini, but the rounds will be smaller.

Tip 2: To make a delicious and less traditional pizza round, try topping the rounds with baby spinach, a slice or two of soppressata, a sprinkle of pine nuts and some goat cheese! This makes for decadent and healthy appetizer!

 

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Ingredients

1 large head of cauliflower, cut into florets (about 4 cups, it may be more when it’s in floret form)
½ cup mozzarella cheese, shredded
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 teaspoon dried oregano and basil
½ teaspoon of salt

First you want to start by turning your cauliflower into “rice” by using your food processor. In batches, pulse the florets until they look like rice (be careful not to puree them). Transfer them to a microwave safe bowl and heat in the microwave for 8 minutes. You can also cook the rice by boiling it in water and then straining it through a fine-mesh sieve. After you cook it, wait patiently and let it cool! Trust me, if it’s hot you will definitely burn your hands during the next step.

Once cool, use a dishtowel or something similar to squeeze the liquid out of the cauliflower. Transfer the dehydrated cauliflower into a mixing bowl. If you don’t squeeze a good amount of liquid out of the cauliflower, the pizza crust will taste great but you won’t be able to eat it with your hands the way you can with traditional pizza crust. Quite frankly, I’ve been lazy with this step and we usually eat this pizza with forks!

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add the remaining ingredients to the mixing bow and mix until evenly combined. Pour the crust batter onto the paper and using your hands, mold it into your desired shape (circle or square) about ½ inch thick. Bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until it’s lightly browned. Add your toppings and sauce and broil on low for 4-5 minutes (until the cheese is melted and bubbly). You can alternatively bake this on 400 degrees for another 5-10 minutes; I ‘ve just had more success with broiling my toppings.

Again, you may have to eat this with a fork and knife but the flavor is out of this world…much more flavorful than standard crust!

Jacqueline Stone, #FableticsMaster