Pizza Party!

little chef in the kitchen preparing food

Recipe from Lisa & McKenzie of Nourish RDs

When we think of tomatoes, the first thing that pops into our mind?  Pizza!

Pizza is one of our favorite foods, and it usually makes an appearance on our dinner tables a few times a month.  And while we love discovering great pizza on our travels, we really love making our own pizza at home.  Pizza parties are fun and easy, especially if you have kids to entertain.  Make a large batch of dough (or buy a good dough from your local pizzeria) and have a variety of toppings available, so everyone can make their own individual pizza.  Everyone loves it!

People always seem surprised that we love pizza.  But, as registered dietitians and nutritionists, we love good food.  And we believe that all real foods can be a part of a healthy eating plan.  Let’s put pizza to the test!

Made with real ingredients? Check! Especially if you make your own, you control the quality of ingredients.

Gives you a serving of vegetables?  Check!  Pizza is a great vehicle for getting kids (and adults!) to eat their vegetables.  Especially if you have picky eaters in your household, you can blend vegetables such as peppers, onions, carrots, and even broccoli into your tomato sauce. Tomato sauce, in particular, is something we feel so good about incorporating into our meals. Tomatoes are one of those really amazing foods that when cooked, they actually become more nutritious, as cooking converts the lycopene into a form that is easier to absorb.  And since lycopene has been shown to offer cardiovascular protection, cancer fighting ability, and anti-inflammatory properties – adding tomato sauce and canned tomatoes to your favorite recipes such chili, lasagna and soup is a very healthy and delicious idea.

Is a source of protein, fiber and healthy fat?  Check!  We suggest getting protein, fiber and fat at each meal, to give you energy and keep you full and satisfied.  You can boost the fiber content of your pizza by making your own whole wheat pizza dough.  But even if you buy a regular dough, pile on the vegetables and you have a fiber-filled dinner.  A drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil in the tomato sauce adds a great source of heart-healthy fat, and the cheese on the pizza is a good source of protein.

Add a side salad to your pizza dinner, and your end result is a wonderfully nutritious, balanced meal.

Here is a recipe for Pizza Margherita, otherwise known as tomato, basil and fresh mozzarella.  Simple and delicious, it really lets the flavor of the tomatoes shine through.  And because you’re using canned tomatoes, this pizza is great year-round.

We hope you try this recipe and host your own pizza party!

nourish Pizza

The Perfect Pizza Margherita

Makes one large pizza

1 homemade or store bought whole wheat pizza dough

1 cup roasted tomato sauce

4 ounces fresh mozzarella, sliced

6 – 8 fresh basil leaves, torn

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil

Place a pizza stone or cast iron griddle in the lower half of your oven.  Preheat oven to 500 – 550 degrees F for at least 30 minutes.

Place the dough on a pizza wheel (or a cutting board, if you don’t have a pizza wheel) that has been dusted with flour.  Stretch the dough to your desired thickness and place on the pizza wheel.  Top the pizza with the roasted tomato sauce and the slices of mozzarella.

Carefully slide the pizza from the board to the pizza stone that has been preheating in the oven.  Use a back and forth motion to get the pizza to slide off.  As long as you’ve floured your board, it should be easy.  Bake the pizza for 10 – 12 minutes, or until the crust is golden brown and the toppings are bubbling.  Top with fresh basil leaves and drizzle with a little extra virgin olive oil.

Roasted Tomato Sauce

Makes about 2 cups

1, 16 ounce can whole tomatoes, drained*

2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

pinch of sea salt

pinch of red pepper flakes

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F.

Place the whole canned tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with a little olive oil, sea salt and red pepper flakes.  Place the baking sheet in the oven and roast for about 20 minutes, or until the tomatoes start to brown brown.  Remove from the oven and immediately pour into a bowl, with all of the juices.  The tomatoes will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for 3 or 4 days.

*reserve the juice for another use

Nourish RDsNourishRDs is a nutrition communications and consulting company founded by registered dietitians McKenzie Hall and Lisa Samuel. NourishRDs‘ (non)diet advice? Eat real food and share it with those you love! McKenzie and Lisa are nutrition spokespersons, who write, speak and present on nutrition, real foods cooking and body image. You can read their blog, and follow them on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram.