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How To Make A Healthy (And Delicious) Homemade Pizza

How To Make A Healthy (And Delicious) Homemade Pizza

The humble pizza is a regular part of many millions of people’s diets, and in the 24 hour high-stress modern world it’s far too convenient to get them delivered to your door from a takeaway, choose one at a restaurant, or pick up a readymade frozen pizza from the local shop. Unfortunately these varieties tend to be laden with excess salt, saturated fat, sugar, and have very little nutritional value. Indeed, just two slices of a full fat cheese laden pizza can deliver 640 calories, 24g of fat (of which up to 12g can saturate), and 1600mg of sodium (this is 4g, with Guideline Daily Amounts for salt being 6g)!

This is should be a real alarm bell for anyone health conscious, but the good news is you can (and should) make homemade pizza which is nutritionally suprerior to anything you can buy off the shelves/in a restaurant. Here is the LifeHack guide to perfecting a healthy pizza, one which shuns unhealthy traditions for a very tasty, and nutritionally rich, food experience.

1. Ingredients and Tools

    The main part of the pizza is the base, which is made from flour. As this is a healthy pizza you should be going for 100% wholemeal flour, and purchase organic versions if you can. You’ll also need to pick up a pizza tray (most supermarkets will stock them for around $2), a rolling pin, mixing bowl, and a sieve will prove handy. Here are the basics for what you will need to make the dough, and a suggested assortment of famously healthy toppings (yes, the dreaded vegetables, although they always work very well on a pizza).

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    • Organic wholemeal flour
    • Active dried yeast
    • Olive Oil
    • ½ Tablespoon of salt
    • Half a pint of lukewarm water
    • Wheatgerm
    • Black pepper
    • Low-fat shredded cheese
    • Tomato puree
    • An assortment of vegetables (onions/spring onions, asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms)
    • Anchovies/prawns/chicken/turkey (these are well known low fat, healthy meats)

    2. Making the Dough

      Preparing dough can be messy, but it’s great fun. Teaching your kids would also be a very positive, creative life lesson.

      You’ll need to get your mixing bowl and sieve ready to sift the wholemeal flour. You don’t really need to weigh the flour, but around 500g will be required to create several pizzas. This is about 3 full cups, and you should sift this through the sieve (and make sure you wash your hands before you start!) into your mixing bowl. Make a hollow into the centre of the flour mound and add in three tablespoons of active dried yeast, and you can also add lots of black pepper and a small amount of wheatgerm (a very healthy cereal germ with all manner of health boosting attributes). Next up, add two or three tablespoons of olive oil and you’re almost ready to mix.

      Now the messy bit; pour around half of the lukewarm water into the mix and get stuck in with your hands. The idea is to knead all the ingredients together. Work away at this until they begin to set together and a ball of dough takes shape (after a few minutes it should start to look like the dough in the above picture). You may need to add more water if everything becomes too dry, but add more flour if things become too sticky. Eventually you will have what looks like a small football in front of you. You’ll need to get pockets of air out of it, so feel free to give the blob a few punches as you knead away! Refer to the pictures for assistance, and if you mess up don’t worry – start again and learn from any errors!

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      3. Rising and Rolling

        With the dough complete you’ll need to let it rise. For this you should clean out your mixing bowl, dry it off, and place the dough ball into the middle. Cover the bowl with a damp towel and leave it to one side for around an hour and a half. Expect a surprise next time you see it. The blob will have risen quite considerably!

        Now is the time to pre-heat your oven to 190C, and make room inside so your pizza tray can sit comfortably in the middle of the oven. Whilst this is heating up it’s time to start rolling out the dough. Fling down some flour onto your kitchen work surface and pull off a chunk from the dough ball. Roll in into a ball shape and cover it with flower. You’ll need to experiment here with your rolling pin. Gradually press on and work the dough into a traditional pizza shape. With a bit of practice you’ll get the hang of it, and don’t be afraid to use your hands to work the dough into the correct shape.

        When you’re happy with your pizza base you should fit it into your pizza tray (throw some dough onto it first to avoid any sticking) and lightly press the edges of the dough into the sides of the pizza tray.

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        4. Toppings

          There’s no stopping your creativity here, but to be on the healthy side of things it’s best to choose fresh vegetables. Most pizza recipes begin with adding a small amount of tomato puree to the pizza base, and then stacking your selection of vegetables and meat around the pizza. Top it all off with a handful of grated cheese (as pizzas tend to be cheese heavy go for a low fat variety to ease up on superfluous fat) and you’re ready to cook!

          Some successful recipes I’ve tried include Pepper, Asparagus, and Anchovy (with added cheese, of course!), and Mushroom, Garlic, and Thyme (with cheese topping, you don’t need a tomato puree base for this). Experiment with foods you enjoy, but do keep it as healthy as possible! And if you’re adding meats such as turkey or chicken, make sure you cook them traditionally on the hob before you add them to the pizza top.

          For any further ideas you could try online resources, such as the BBC‘s website.

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          5. The Oven!

            Everything should be looking somewhat professional by now, with your pizza set for 10-15 minutes of cooking in the centre of your pre-heated oven. Using oven gloves place the pizza inside and leave it to cook. After 10 minutes have a peek to see how the pizza is going (you don’t want to burn it to a crisp, after all this effort), but, generally, I’ve found around 15 minutes does the trick.

            After the time has elapsed you can pull the pizza from your oven (don’t forget those gloves) and allow the pizza to cool for a few minutes. Once it’s not going to burn you prise the pizza from the base and cut it into traditional triangular shapes. Voilà le pizza! You are now a dough making extraordinaire capable of making healthy pizzas for friends and family! Experiment with recipes as much as you wish in order to develop your skillls, but this is how you should now be enjoying all of your pizza based antics in the future. Fun, simplistic, and nutritionally rich.

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            Alex Morris

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            Last Updated on November 11, 2019

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

            Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

            To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

            Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

            1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

            Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

            Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

            To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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            2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

            Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

            If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

            Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

            3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

            Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

            Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

            4. Feed Your Brain

            Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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            This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

            Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

            Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

            5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

            According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

            Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

            Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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            6. Write it Down

            If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

            It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

            You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

            7. Listen to Music

            Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

            8. Visual Concepts

            In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

            Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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            Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

            9. Teach Someone Else

            Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

            Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

            10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

            Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

            So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

            Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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            Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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