The last thing one associates with a pizza is nutrition. Often described as the world’s most popular junk food, most pizzas available commercially are extremely unhealthy. Made with ingredients like highly refined dough and topped with heavily processed meat, they are extremely calorie rich and linked to obesity and a host of other diseases. The large servings of cheese and the artificial colours usually added to the crust compound the problem.
So given this Corona lockdown and the repeated warnings about maintaining your immunity levels, the last thing on your menu should be a pizza.
But are pizzas really as unhealthy as we think?
“No food is ever healthy or unhealthy on the whole. It has to be made healthy,” says nutritionist Bipasha Das.
The same goes for pizza, particularly if you make one at home with the right ingredients.
For instance, vegetables like onions, capsicum and mushrooms are extremely healthy toppings to use. Onions are rich in anti-oxidants which play a huge role in building up the immunity of our body. Capsicums are rich in vitamins A, C, E and B6, as well as being a good source of dietary fibre and folate. Mushrooms contain protein, fibre and B vitamins as well as a powerful antioxidant called selenium, which helps strengthen the immune system and prevent damage to tissues and cells. Then there’s tomatoes, which are again loaded with nutrients, antioxidants which help counter heart disease, and lycopene, a pigmented antioxidant which protects against several ailments, including cancer.
So what are you waiting for? Here’s how to make a healthy, nutritious, pizza at home.
While pizza bases are available are most markets, you can also make it at home.
•Mix wheat flour, olive oil, salt, and honey with dough in a food processor, adding water to retain the consistency. You can also knead this mixture by hand, but remember that it has to form a fine and fluffy crust.
•Use a big bowl and grease it with some vegetable oil all around. Place the dough inside the greased bowl. Apply oil on the surface of the dough using a brush.
•Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and leave it for about one and half or two hours in a dark and a warm place.
•While waiting, prepare the toppings using vegetables and herbs mentioned earlier.
•While you start with rolling and assembling of the pizza, pre-heat your oven to 450 degrees F or 230 degrees C for at least 15 minutes.
•Line a baking dish with aluminium foil and keep aside.
•By this time, the pizza dough should have doubled in size.
•Knead it again and divide into three parts. Use a roller to prepare the base of about 6 inches or more in diameter, depending on your preference. Brush the
surface gently with olive oil.
•Transfer the rolled pizzas to the baking dish, with the oiled side down.
•Brush the surface gently with olive oil again.
•Bake the pizza in the pre-heated oven for about 7 to 8 minutes. The base will then begin to look brown.
•Once done, spread about 3 or four tablespoons of pizza sauce on the base. (Available at most stores, you can also make this at home by boiling a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic, crushed
tomatoes, a pinch of sugar and salt, some basil, oregano, black and red peppers)
•Sprinkle the toppings evenly with a little bit of cheese on the base. (If you want, you can also add a few slices of boiled and lightly fried chicken)
Switch on your favourite channel on television or play some soft music, sit back and enjoy.