Homemade Pizza in 5 simple steps

Mhh… As the weather is getting cooler (I can finally say that! I live in the Bay area now and I am ‘freezing’ after Florida), the need for warm wholesome eats starts to grow. And soon “wholesome” gets replaced with “comfort”, and we are craving PIZZA in no time!

There are a few reasons why Pizza is on the ‘no-no’ list for healthy eaters, dieters, exercise junkies and alike. It’s kind-of-not-so-healthy. I had to say it! I know it, you know it, let’s just get it out of the way. However (here it comes), you can healthify it! Start by making it yourself! Then, swap up the ingredients, and voila - you’ve got yourself a nice comfort food that you can enjoy guild-free from time to time.

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Pizza? Who said pizza?[/caption]

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Healthier ingredients breakdown:

Pizza crust - At least Whole wheat, can go for Gluten-free. Many stores, including Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s carry pre-made doughs! Your pizza will be ready in less than 20min, just as long as it takes for the delivery. No excuses!

I do not want to start a whole discussion here, but sometimes gluten free pre-made products are less healthy than wholesome grains (if you are not gluten intolerant). The reason for that is the additives and all kinds of hard to pronounce ingredients that are often added into GF products, specially to keep that non-sticky flour together. Read the ingredients, go for organic whenever you can, and make a choice that works for you. I have not perfected my own gluten-free dough recipe yet, but as soon as I do you will be the first ones to know!

Toppings - Veggies all the way. Pile them up and do not over-cook them. The possibilities are endless. You can even add fruit - Pineapple that is! For a Hawaiian flavored pizza.

Cheese - You can totally omit it, or go with your favorite Vegan cheese. Don’t have a favorite yet? I love Daiya, and Trader Joe’s Mozzarella shreds. If you frequent farmers markets, keep your eyes open - I had a vegan cheese guy at my market in FL (Yellow Green Farmer’s Market). His cheese was simply amazing, and all homemade.

Another wholesome option is making your own cheese. Homemade Cashew cheese is pretty awesome.

Now gather your ingredients, warm up the oven, and get to baking! A great way to spend a Friday night is making your own pizza, preferably with friends or your guy (who will step in the kitchen if pizza is promised, I guarantee it!). Fire up the blue-ray player, and you’ve got yourself a home party!

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Homemade Pizza in 5 simple steps

 

{Vegan, Dairy-free, Egg-free, Nut-free, Homemade, Gluten-free option}

Ingredients:
Pizza dough or flatbread (Whole Wheat, Gluten Free)
1 small zucchini
1/2 green bell pepper
1/4 cup cherry tomatoes
1/2 Veggie Italian Sausage
1/8 cup Olives
1/2 cup+ Vegan Cheese (Trader Joe’s Mozzarella shreds)
1/4 Daiya Yellow Cheddar cube, sliced
Tomato sauce:
1/4 cup organic ketchup
1/8 cup water
Pinch Pink Himalayan Salt
Pinch Oregano and Basil

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1. Prepare the dough.

Pizza in the making[/caption]

I purchased a pre-made whole wheat dough for this occasion (it was after I ran the US Half Marathon, so pizza was waiting for me in the fridge like a reward!). I got an organic one at Trader Joe’s. This makes the process a whole lot easier (duh!).
Another quick option is using pizza crusts, tortilla wraps, flatbreads, and alike, and they require only a few minutes of baking as they are basically ready-to-eat.

You can find frozen pre-made pizza base at most health food stores, and that is where I usually get my gluten-free crusts.

If you are getting a dough ball, you will have to stretch it out and prep it for baking. Shift a handful of flour on a flat surface and knead the dough for a few minutes. It has to feel a bit warm and easy to manage (specially if you pulled it out of the fridge or freezer). Spread it into a thin layer - the thiner the crust, the healthier it is!

I popped mine in the oven (preheat at 350), to bake the dough a bit before putting on the toppings. This way I don’t overcook my veggies, since all of them can be eaten raw. Not necessary if you are using a ready-to-eat pizza crust or flatbread.

While your dough is pre-baking, prep your toppings and sauce!

 

 

2. Add the sauce

Here is where the fun begins! I got my hubby to play and add the toppings - he was like a kid in a pizza place.

After about 5 minutes baking, pull the dough out and let it cool just a bit. Then add on the tomato sauce.

 

I made my own super quick tomato sauce using ketchup. I know, it’s a shame to the original pizza. Back in the day in Croatia, my fridge was always stuffed with marinara or tomato sauce, but I eat very little tomatoes now otherwise, so I don’t keep any at home. If you can get original marinara or make your own, even better!

I mixed 2 parts of Organic tomato ketchup with 1 part water. Added just a bit of salt, and the herbs. Can add more spices here, like black pepper or smoked paprika.

 

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3. Add your veggie toppings

 

And the fun continues! Be as creative as you want, it’s almost impossible to screw up a pizza!

 

I like to start with a full-on layer of zucchini. Zucchini is a great veggie because it has such a mild taste with sweet undertones, so you can pile up a lot of it without overpowering the meal! Pack on that veggie power!

Next, a tightly-packed row of bell peppers. Use green, yellow or red, the more colorful the better. Peppers and tomatoes go great together, and although it may seem strange to people used to traditional cheese or pepperoni pizzas, this veggie is a winner on your pie!

 

 

Now it’s time to get fancy. I had some veggie sausages at home and decide to add some vegan meat to my pie, as well as fresh cherry tomatoes. I absolutely adore sun dried tomatoes on a pizza, so if you have some at home pile it up! I was unfortunately out this time.

4. It’s time to get cheezy

 

I am sure many will agree pizza is not a pizza without cheese, and you do not have to skip on this fabulous ingredient when you are Vegan!

There are so many options out there, just do your research (by that, I mean try as many as you can). I had two different flavors of cheese in my fridge, mozzarella and cheddar. I like to add cream cheese or even sour cream on my pizza, a tbsp here and there.

According to what I have been taught, olives go on top of the cheese. Finish off with a pinch of your favorite Italian herbs. A sprinkle of Extra Virgin Olive Oil wouldn’t be too shabby either.

Once you are done decorating your pizza to your outmost delight, pop it in the oven. If you pre-baked the dough for about 5 minutes, you have only 3-5 minutes left to go! Read the instructions if you bought a pre-made dough you are unfamiliar with.

 

5. You pizza is done!

Pizza? Who said pizza?[/caption]

 

You will know because your whole house will smell like pizza!

A must side dish for pizza is tons of raw salad! The best trick to healthifying any comfort foods is filling up your plate with more salad than the main dish. Make something easy and light, sprinkled with lemon juice or balsamic, without any cream or heavy dressings.

Hope you enjoy it! (Who am I kidding? It’s pizza, of course you will enjoy it).

 

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