Pizza gets a heart-healthy makeover

February 2018, Xtend-Life Expert

Summary

Eating right for your heart needn’t mean giving up all your favourite foods. With a few simple tweaks, takeout favourites like pizza, burgers and kebabs can be made a lot healthier, so you can enjoy a treat without guilt.

Eating right for your heart needn’t mean giving up all your favourite foods. With a few simple tweaks, takeout favourites like pizza, burgers and kebabs can be made a lot healthier, so you can enjoy a treat without guilt.

To show you how easy it to create healthier versions of your favourite foods, we’ve given pizza a heart-healthy makeover. Most conventional pizzas are loaded with sodium, saturated fat and refined carbohydrates – all of which are bad news for the heart. Our healthier version significantly reduces the salt and fat content and is packed with antioxidants to help keep hearts healthy. We’ve replaced the standard refined flour base with wholegrain pita bread, reducing the carbohydrate content and adding valuable fibre.

Traditional high-fat, high-salt toppings like pepperoni, bacon and cheese have been swapped for heart-healthy ingredients that deliver both flavour and nutrition:

  • Tomato puree is packed with lycopene, a carotenoid that offers powerful antioxidant benefits and helps manage inflammation.[1]
  • Olives contain oleic acid, a special kind of monounsaturated fat which helps protect against heart disease by managing inflammation, increasing beneficial HDL cholesterol and lowering harmful LDL cholesterol levels. Olives are also loaded with antioxidant Vitamin E to help protect LDL cholesterol from oxidation.[2]  Both tomatoes and olives are key ingredients in the Mediterranean diet, which has been extensively studied for its heart protective benefits.
  • Capsicum offers a rich source of Vitamin C to help keep arteries healthy and prevent LDL cholesterol from harmful oxidation.
  • Mushrooms are high in soluble fibre to help lower LDL cholesterol levels, along with B Vitamins to help control harmful homocysteine levels. Mushies are also packed with Vitamin C to help fight free radical damage.
  • Garlic and onion deliver a powerful flavour punch, while helping thin the blood, balance cholesterol levels and keep blood vessels healthy.
  • Basil is super high in antioxidants to help keep blood vessels healthy and manage inflammation. Basil also promotes healthy blood pressure and helps prevent platelet aggregation (clumping) which can cause blood clots. [3]
  • Spinach is packed with potassium to help regulate blood pressure.

Packed with flavour and goodness, this pizza will satisfy all your cravings. Plus it’s super simple to make, so you’ll have dinner on the table faster than it takes to dial in takeout.

Heart Healthy Pizza Recipe – Makes 4 mini pizzas

Ingredients

  • 4 mini wholemeal pita pockets
  • 400g pumpkin
  • 200g tomato puree
  • ½ - 1 whole onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, chopped or crushed
  • 1 tablespoon Extra-Virgin Olive Oil
  • 1 sliced red capsicum
  • 6 button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/4 cup black olives, sliced
  • Baby spinach leaves
  • Fresh basil leaves, torn
  • ½ cup grated edam cheese.

Method

  1. Preheat oven to 200⁰c.
  2. Chop pumpkin into 1cm cubes, drizzle with olive oil and roast for 30-35 minutes.
  3. While pumpkin is roasting, prepare the rest of the pizza. Lay pita breads on an oven tray.
  4. Heat olive oil in a fry pan over medium heat. Add sliced onion and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until translucent.
  5. Spread two teaspoons of tomato puree on each pita bread.
  6. Divide sautéed garlic and onion between the four pita breads.
  7. Top pita breads with sliced mushrooms, capsicum and olives.
  8. When pumpkin is cooked, remove from the oven and divide between the pizza bases.
  9. Sprinkle pizza with torn basil leaves and baby spinach then sprinkle over grated cheese.
  10. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until cheese is melted and golden and pizza bases are crispy.
  11. Season with cracked black pepper and enjoy with a side salad.

References:

[1]  Lycopene and Heart Health. Molecular Nutrition & Food Research. Volume 26, Issue 2. February 2012. Pp 296-303.
[2] WH Foods. Olives. www.whfoods.com
[3] Dr Axe. 12 Benefits of Basil + Recipe Ideas,.

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