So here’s what I’m having for lunch:
The best part? The whole kit and caboodle, depending on options, is right around 300 calories- not bad for TWO pizzas, right?
Here’s how I do it:
For the crusts, I use pitas- here are some thoughts on what to use and why: You’ve got to use something that’s fairly low in calories, yet sturdy enough to hold up to your topping. Some weight conscious recipes call for tortillas; all I have to say to all of the tortillas out there is, “you can’t handle the stuff!” (Sorry- couldn’t resist!) I don’t know about you, but I’m going to need to put a whole lot more on my pizza than any tortilla I’ve ever seen can handle.
Pitas are another option- unless you want to make your crust from scratch, of course, but if might make for a late lunch… So when I started working on making pizzas I could eat and stay within my program, I looked at lots and lots of different pitas. Most of them were out of the running right off the bat because the calorie count was too high… so that led me to the ones I love and use all the time- my very favorite, hands down- the ones made by Joseph’s Bakery.*
*I do not receive compensation to favorably review or recommend any product- you can see my policy on this here.
Joseph’s actually makes lots of different things, and I’ll discuss some of them in future posts, but for this recipe I use their regular size pitas- either the Heart Friendly Oat Bran and Stone Ground Whole Wheat or their Flax, Oat Bran, and Whole Wheat variety- both are great.
Don’t let the names of all of those whole-this-and-that ingredients in the names throw you- they are very healthy, but definitely have the very best balance of non-wholiness (yes, that’s a new word!) taste and healthy wholesomeness I’ve ever found- not to mention the regular size loaves have just 60 calories each!! It doesn’t hurt one bit that they’re nice and thin, which makes for a perfectly crispy and crunchy pizza crust! If you can’t find them, you can get them here. (This is not an affiliate link.)
So, now that the issue of crust is settled, spray the pitas lightly with non stick cooking spray. As much as I love these sprays, I need to tattle on them just a bit- you have to be careful- the nutritional labels say there are no calories, but there are!! Just look at the ingredient list and you’ll see what I mean. So, in order to keep the calories to a minimum, you must learn to spray very lightly and quickly… and aim well, or you end up with the stuff everywhere except where you want it. It’s a learned skill… took me awhile… hopefully you’ll catch on quicker.
Or you can use a pastry brush- natural bristle is the only way to go here because it’s easier to get a really light coating of oil. (See mine below) Those synthetic ones are great for some things, but they’ll deposit way too much oil for our purposes here- they’re better for spreading things like BBQ sauce. Ooooh, yummy… BBQ sauce… I need to work on developing something with BBQ sauce?! (Sorry- distraction happens a lot when I’m thinking about recipes!)
So just pour the tiniest amount- like a teaspoon or less- of extra virgin olive oil into a little bowl and dip the brush in, getting just a little bit on the end, and brush the entire surface of the crust, concentrating on the edges.
Next, spread some pizza sauce around, leaving the edges bare- don’t worry too much, it doesn’t have to look perfect to taste fabulous! At this stage I sprinkle oregano- fresh if you can get your hands on it- all over the whole thing. And maybe some basil too!
Just so ya know, here’s what I look for in sauces. First, if you don’t look at nutritional labels, you’ll need to know they differ significantly, not just in taste, but in fat and calorie content! I’ve tried a lot of them over the years, and what I look for is one that’s not too sweet, not too watery, and as low in possible in fat and/or calories. (I mean, seriously, if I’m going to eat fat, it’s not going to be in a tomato sauce! It’s going to be some form of butter- like in and/or on a baked something… probably cookies…. or cookie dough… (insert dreamy expression and wistful sigh here….) Anyway, back to pizza! With all of that in mind, the best sauce I’ve found is Ragu Pizza Sauce. Not Pizza QUICK Sauce, because it has 50% more fat in it, and therefore 50% more calories. So, not to beat a dead horse here, but I look at it this way- if I think of my daily allowance of calories (or PPV for Weight Watchers members) as a budget, this is not where I want to allocate any more of mine than I have to.
Onto making so we can EAT!!
Next, I put the cheese on, and I use Trader Joe’s Lite Shredded Mozzarella because it has the lowest calories per ounce I’ve been able to find (45) but it melts well and tastes fantastic!
You might notice I diced mine- when I’m working with ingredients with tons of flavor, like this one does, but I can’t use them indiscriminately, I spread what I do have out as much as possible- I like to get a smidge in every bite!
Finally, I like a nice dusting of Pecorino Romano cheese to give the whole thing a really nice finish of Italian flavor. Instead of sprinkling it from the measuring spoon, I put it in my hand and distribute by pinches- much less chance of accidentally getting it all in one place. Your pizza won’t be nearly as pretty if you do, then try to fix it. Trust me.
So, now that you’ve built your Italian beauty, put it in the oven and let it get all melty… and toasty…. and nicely tanned! If you’re using a toaster oven, set the temperature about 25 to 50 degrees lower than if you’re using a big oven.
And, a word to the wise… keep your eye on it. I’ve heard stories (not that I’d know myself…) that it’s ridiculously easy to set these things on fire. Such an event can result in a panicky phone call from kids to a mom who is out shopping, resulting in a mom having heart palpitations brought on by a massive panic attack, followed by near fainting when the kids blow the fire out, then promptly hang up rather than passing this information along. I’ve even heard of a family who’s had three of these ovens (not to mention very nearly a brand spanking new house) destroyed when the things caught on fire. Don’t let this happen to you. Keep your eye on it, especially when running it at high temps!
When it comes out, if you like oregano as much as I do, sprinkle a little more on there, just for fun, and let the PIZZA PARTY begin!
Here’s a pic of the mozzarella package- just so you know what you’re looking for. It’s in with the other sliced and shredded cheeses at Trader Joe’s. I love this stuff- it’s half the calories of most “light” mozzarella, but looks, tastes, and melts almost like the regular stuff!