Healthy Living in the North

Foodie Friday: Make your own take-out!

Pizza

Pizza can be a well-balanced meal – include whole grain dough, lots of veggies, your favourite protein, and skim-milk mozzarella and you’ll have all 4 food groups!

It’s Nutrition Month and this year, we’re Taking a 100 Meal Journey. It’s all about making small changes and sticking with them one meal at a time.

Maybe you’ve decided to eat more vegetables, make a weekly meal plan, or cook from scratch more often. Well, I’ve got a great way to help you stay on track for all 3 of those healthy eating goals! When I plan dinners for the week, I like to designate one night as “Make Your Own Take-Out” night.

We all have our own favourite take-out options – it could be burgers, tacos, pizza, or fish n’ chips. But, let’s face it, these aren’t always the most nutritious choices we can make. Take-out foods are often higher in salt and fat, are made with refined grain products, and tend to be sparse on the vegetables. Sure, they are convenient, especially on busy weeknights. And as a once-in-a-while treat, they aren’t so bad. But when take-out dinners become a regular habit, they can impact not only our health, but also take a toll on our wallets.

Baked pizza

Bake your pizza on a baking sheet or, for a crispy pizza crust, invest in a pizza stone!

Instead of swearing off your favourite take-out foods, why not try making some of them at home? That way, you can control the ingredients and portion sizes, and save a little money while you’re at it. Pizza is one of my favourite “Make Your Own Take-Out” meals to make. Give it a try! It’s a great way to increase your whole grain and vegetable intake. You can keep it traditional or get creative with your vegetable toppings – use up whatever you have on hand. We’ve discovered that corn, cabbage, and even sweet potato make tasty toppings! Bonus: it’s also a fun meal to make with the family! Try making mini pizzas and letting everyone choose their own toppings.

Below is my go-to pizza dough recipe. It’s super easy to make, incorporates whole grain flour, and you can make it ahead of time. Keep a batch in the freezer and you’ll have dough ready for a quick weeknight meal.

Big-Batch Whole Wheat Pizza Dough

Recipe adapted from Dietitians of Canada

Makes enough for two 12-15 inch (30-38 cm) pizza crusts

Ingredients

  • 2 packages (7 g each) active dry yeast
  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ½ tsp granulated sugar
  • 1½ cups lukewarm water
  • ½ tsp olive oil
Pizza slice

Once you’ve topped your pizza, bake in the oven at 400 C for 15 minutes for the perfect at home pizza.

Instructions

  1. In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, salt, and sugar. Attach dough hook and mixer bowl to mixer. With mixer running on low speed, gradually add water; knead until dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes. (You can also knead the dough by hand, or even use a food processor)
  2. Turn off mixer, and pour oil down side of bowl. Set to low speed for 15 seconds to coat inside of bowl and cover dough lightly with oil. Remove mixer bowl and cover loosely with plastic wrap.
  3. Let rise in a warm, draft-free place until doubled in size, about 2 hours.
  4. Punch down dough and cut in half to make two balls. Place each ball in an airtight freezer bag and freeze for up to 3 months, or roll out for immediate usage.
  5. To roll out, place dough ball on a floured work surface and form into a circle. Roll out until dough reaches 12 to 15 inches (30 to 38 cm) diameter.

Tip: Try adding dried or fresh herbs to the pizza dough to give it even more pizazz! Basil, parsley, oregano, and rosemary are all great options!

Once you’ve topped your pizza, bake in the oven at 400 C for 15 minutes for the perfect at-home pizza.

Marianne Bloudoff

About Marianne Bloudoff

Born and raised in BC, Marianne moved from Vancouver to Prince George in January 2014. She is a Registered Dietitian with Northern Health's population health team. Her passion for food and nutrition lured her away from her previous career in Fisheries Management. Now, instead of counting fish, she finds herself educating people on their health benefits. In her spare time, Marianne can be found experimenting in the kitchen and writing about it on her food blog, as well as exploring everything northern B.C. has to offer.

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Get social and eat healthy

fresh food, pizza, whole wheat crust

Pizza is a fun way to gather with friends in the kitchen and make healthy foods together.

Juggling full-time paid work with a busy home life can test my ability to prepare, share and eat tasty, nutritious foods with family and friends. I’ve found it helps to have a few things in place to make it more likely that a fairly balanced family meal is made and served in my kitchen most nights—although frozen pizza sometimes makes an appearance, too!

Here is what works for me:

  • Make a plan for the week’s suppers and post it on the fridge door.
  • Use the plan when grocery shopping so I have what I need.
  • Cooking once and eating twice. I never make just one pan of lasagna, pot of soup or batch of spaghetti sauce. I make two: one to eat and one goes in the freezer for another meal.
  • Making cooking go further. I make a big batch of oven roasted veggies that might get served with a piece of BBQ chicken and quinoa, but the leftovers get added to a pasta sauce, top a pizza, or get pureed with milk to make a soup.

Where I fall down is being social around food. The extra shopping, cooking and cleaning needed to host friends for dinner can put me off—and I know my friends feel the same way. To get around it, we’ve hosted “cook together” nights: we agree on a theme and then each family brings whole ingredients to one house to prepare, cook and eat together.

My favourite so far was the pizza party I hosted. I made whole grain pizza dough and salad dressing and others brought a topping for the pizza and a salad item. The result? Pizza with a pesto-infused sauce, topped with cooked red potatoes, chopped mushrooms, peppers, onions and tomatoes, and Parmesan and Havarti cheeses. Paired with a salad of leafy greens, grated beets, berries and toasted nuts served with my favourite blueberry salad dressing. Yum! Beyond the great food, the laughs and shared experience of hanging out and rolling pizza dough, slicing veggies and grating cheese was so much fun … and we all carried the leftovers home!

How about planning a cooking night with your friends? Here’s my pizza dough recipe to get you started:

Homemade Pizza Dough

1 cup                                      whole wheat flour
1 cup                                      enriched white flour
1 (28 gram) envelope         quick rise instant yeast
1 tsp.                                      salt
1 tsp.                                      sugar
¾ cup                                    hot water (heat for a minute in the microwave until 125 – 130°F)
1 tsp.                                      oil

  1. In a food processor, mix the flours, yeast, salt and sugar.
  2. While running the food processor, add the water and oil and blend until a ball is formed. Continue running for one minute to knead the dough.
  3. Transfer the dough to a floured surface, cover and let rest 10 minutes. Roll out to form one large (12”) pizza crust. Add your favourite sauce and toppings and bake at 450°F for 10 – 12 minutes. This dough recipe can be frozen.

(Source: The Family Table by Marie Breton and Isabelle Emond, 2007.)

Flo Sheppard

About Flo Sheppard

Flo has a dual role with Northern Health—she is the NW population health team lead and a regional population health dietitian with a lead in 0 – 6 nutrition. In the latter role, she is passionate about the value of supporting children to develop eating competence through regular family meals and planned snacks. Working full-time and managing a busy home life of extracurricular and volunteer activities can challenge Flo's commitment and practice of family meals but flexibility, conviction, planning and creativity help!

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