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How to make a frozen pizza healthier + good news

Sometimes we get a bit overwhelmed, a tad too hectic, a smidgen couldn’t-go-to-the-grocery.

It happens. And when it does, the first things to slide down that hill into the abyss are our nutrition and exercise.

Last week was busy. I hate to admit it, but I ate lunch out a couple days due to poor planning and had happy hour with Dr. P that included some high calorie (and super delicious) sushi. But for good reason…

We’ve been searching for a house for the better part of a year. We started to think maybe we’d have to settle for a less desirable combo of qualities, like appliances from the early 80s or only one bathroom with multi-colored neon tiles.

As a born and bred Ohio girl, the Washington DC price:accommodation ratio seemed cray cray.

But then, after belly dancing class, I checked my phone and found a text from Dr. P. There was a link to a house the just came on the market.

“We should put an offer on this. Today!” it read. I opened the link and flipped through the pictures, scanning for our minimum dream checklist.

Room for dining room table? Check.

Two bathrooms? Check.

Open floor plan and extra space in the basement? Double check.

Added bonus: It was in the best possible location for us!

A hop, skip, and a week later. This.

champagne-house

We got the house! We’re so happy!

Always good to celebrate joy!
Always good to celebrate joy!

But with the competitive nature of the DC housing market- there were 7 other offers on our house after only 3 days on the market- before we found out we got it, I had been losing sleep and feeling zonked all week. The result?

Frozen pizza for dinner, baby.

I think to be our healthiest selves, we should try to avoid frozen pizzas most of the time. They are heavy on processed flour, high saturated fat cheeses, and loaded with sodium.

A better option would be to make our own whole grain or cauliflower crust or get a whole wheat Boboli crust, which has 4 gm of fiber per serving, and then add our own veggie toppings.

Alas, in a crunch, frozen pizza has its place for those, very-low-energy days.

One of my food rules, however, is to always squeeze in micronutrient-packed food, especially alongside nutrient-poor Standard American Diet (SAD) fair. Focusing on nutrient density is pivotal for vivacious health.

Nutrient density: adjective

  • (of food) relatively rich in nutrients for the number of calories contained

The most nutrient dense foods are vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes, fruits, and whole grains. Adding low calorie, non-starchy vegetables and an ounce of nuts to a SAD meal is a great way to up the health benefit.

To pack my pizza full of more phytochemicals and yummy goodness, I started by assessing what I had on hand in my poorly stocked fridge. This is what I discovered in my vegetable drawer:

–       A head of broccoli

–       Green chives

–       Half a head of bok choy

–       Some fresh basil leaves

And a bag of rotten tomatoes. Oops.

And this is what happened:

broccoli-pesto-pizza

I love basil, and pesto pizza is one of my favorite entities on this earth.

Pesto is typically made from pine nuts, basil, parmesan cheese, olive oil, and garlic. A standard store-bought pesto is very high calorie and fat and is super salty with 330 calories per 1/4 cup, 30 g total fat with 5 gm saturated fat, and 630 mg sodium. It does offer about 6 gm of protein, though.

I think being creative in the kitchen is fantastic. 

I didn’t have parmesan cheese or pine nuts so I decided to make a low saturated fat eclectic pesto using the bok choy, the bunch green scallions, about 1 oz walnuts for the omega-3s, fiber and protein, 2 tbsp soy milk for moisture, the remaining basil leaves, and a bit of minced garlic.

The calories will vary based on the type of soy/dairy/almond/rice milk you use, but 2 tbsp unsweet soy milk only provides 20 calories, 1 gm of fat, no saturated fat, less than 20 mg sodium, and a couple grams protein.

Walnuts are a bit higher calorie, but the calories are mostly from polyunsaturated fats such as omega-3s which are good for brain and heart health.

pizza-no I covered my pizza in my pesto, and then loaded it with the washed and chopped head of broccoli.

bok-choy-basil-pesto

 

Bodacious Tip: Crowd out the bad with the good. Work with what you have on hand and make your own versions of sauces and dressings to lower saturated fat and added salt.

pizza-broccoli

And if you are wondering what the heck bok choy is, don’t worry- I got ya.

It’s a type of Chinese cabbage also called Chinese mustard cabbage. It looks like a long, tall hybrid of a head of romaine with big, thicker round leaves and celery-like stalks.

The leaves can have a bitter taste if you aren’t used to eating greens, but when cooked, they become more mild. When roasted or sautéed, the stalks almost develop a sweet taste.

Bok choy supplies an ample amount of plant-based calcium and beta-carotene, a precursor to vitamin A, and hefty helpings of vitamin C, folate and fiber.

Definitely nutrient dense!

By topping my pizza with broccoli, I gained 155% of the daily value of vitamin C and about 3 gm of plant-powered bodacious protein. It only has 28 calories per cup which we can burn by walking to our car after work. So that’s awesome.

broccoli-pizza-feature

Dr. P got back from his workout class right when I was pulling this beauty out of the oven.

“Whoa! You made a pizza!” he smiled.

I fooled him into thinking I cooked. Bam. Job well done. And it was delicious.

Have a bodacious day!

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