Just about everyone loves pizza, myself included. However, traditional restaurant pizza is generally made with refined (white) flour, and loaded with saturated fat and sodium – things that can quickly lead to weight gain and harm your health. To make pizza something I can feel good about eating regularly, I’ve found ways to make my own healthier versions. The key is using whole grains, less cheese and loading up on lots of cancer-protective veggies.
This weekend I wanted to make a quick, personal-sized pizza using seasonal, winter veggies.
Eating produce that’s in season helps you save money and also ensures you are getting a good variety of foods and nutrients.
This pizza included some of my favorite veggies and herbs: Brussels sprouts, butternut squash and fresh sage. Pizza can be fairly labor intensive if you are making the dough, but the whole wheat pita pockets in this recipe made this dish incredibly easy and was perfect for a personal-sized pizza.
The ingredients only required about 10 minutes of prep time, starting with chopping the Brussels sprouts and tossing them in a little olive oil for roasting. With the Brussels sprouts in smaller pieces (quartered) they roasted quickly and I was able to cook them simultaneously with the squash. I made more than the recipe called for to have some extras on the side (these veggies would also make great leftovers for a later meal).
Time saving tip: buy pre-chopped butternut squash.
Adding a little cinnamon to the squash adds nice flavor (and makes your kitchen smell amazing during cooking!). In addition to its great taste, winter squash is also one of AICR’s Foods that Fight Cancer due to its concentration of carotenoids, vitamin C and fiber. Brussels sprouts also pack in cancer-fighting nutrients including magnesium, folate and fiber.
While my super-food veggies were roasting I gathered and prepped my other ingredients. The pita pockets only required a thin spread of part-skim ricotta to provide creamy texture and cheesy flavor.
The sprouts and squash were done once they were slightly crisped and fork-tender, and I spooned them over the ricotta-spread pitas. I finished the pizzas off by topping them with the remaining ingredients: chopped sage, red onion, pecan pieces and a sprinkle of parmesan cheese.
The last step involves popping the pizzas in the oven – I chose to set them directly on the wire rack for a crispier crust.
They only needed about 5 minutes to heat up and for the Parmesan cheese to melt.
I loved the contrast of the creamy ricotta and butternut squash with the crunch from the pecans on this flavorful pizza!
Feel free to play around a bit with the ingredients in this recipe if you make it yourself. Other nuts (walnuts, pumpkin seeds) would be great, and you could also skip the ricotta all-together and instead mash the cooked butternut squash as the sauce/base.
Pizzas like this can be enjoyed as a quick and easy lunch or dinner, and make a tasty addition to a cancer-protective diet.
What other winter-veggies would you try on a pizza?
Sonja Goedkoop, MSPH, RD, is a registered dietitian at Zesty, Inc. She is passionate about helping others improve their health through diet and physical activity and believes eating nutritious food should be easy and taste great. You can follow her on twitter @SonjaGoedkoopRD.