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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 October 5, 2020

            Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss (The Ultimate Weight Loss Hack)

            Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss (The Ultimate Weight Loss Hack)

            Intermittent fasting weight loss is a type of diet that’s rapidly growing in popularity and becoming the way to lose weight. Scientists and nutrition experts like it, too. New books and articles on the topic are being published daily. Intermittent fasting is also popular with followers of the Paleo diet since our ancestors appear to have eaten this way for thousands of years.

            I’ve been following this type of diet myself for 2 years. Doing so helped me lose and keep off 70 pounds without ever having to count calories, limit carbohydrates, or eat 6 to 7 meals a day.

            This article teaches you all about intermittent fasting weight loss and details why it is one of the best weight loss diet hacks around. Once you finish, you will be able to implement into your diet and experience the benefits it offers almost immediately.

            What Is Intermittent Fasting?

            As you may have figured from its name, intermittent fasting weight loss is a diet plan where you set fasting periods during the day. This is usually between 16-20 consecutive hours, but it can be as little as 12 hours or as much as 24 hours (or even 36 hours).

            While fasting you can eat and drink low calorie or calorie-free foods. Think coffee, tea, water, and vegetables.

            The more time you spend fasting every day, the better your results. You can do these fasts as often as you like. Again, the more often you do so, the better[1].

            Getting Started With Intermittent Fasting

            Following this diet plan is super simple. All you have to do is choose a period of time during the day that you will fast. This should be between 16-20 hours.

            The longer you fast each day, the better. Don’t worry about calorie restriction or measuring carbohydrates. Just focus on going about your day until it’s time to eat.

            It’s best to choose a set period of time to conduct your fast. I like to fast from 8 PM to 4 PM the following afternoon. I’ll then have my first meal of the day and a snack or two a few hours later. Once 8 o’clock rolls around, it’s back to fasting.

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            My experience with intermittent fasting is that it’s best to start with a 16 hour fast (i.e. 8PM one evening to 12PM the next day) for the first 1-2 weeks. Once you are comfortable with this schedule, you can increase the amount of time you spend fasting. Do this by adding 30 minutes to each fast until you get to where you are fasting for 20 hours at a time.

            You don’t have to fast every day in the beginning either. You may be more comfortable breaking in slowly with 2 or 3 days per week, or trying alternate day fasting. Add additional days of intermittent fasting as you become more comfortable with this style of eating.

            Tips To Make Intermittent Fasting Easier

            1. Drink Plenty of Water

            Squeeze a little lemon or lime juice into your water to help get rid of any cravings you experience. You can also drink coffee, tea, or other calorie-free beverages. After a few weeks, you will find that intermittent fasting keeps you from craving sugar entirely.

            2. Take in Caffeine in the Morning and Early Afternoon

            The caffeine in coffee and tea may actually make intermittent fasting weight loss a little easier since it’s good for curbing your appetite. Be careful not to overindulge as this may lead to you feeling a little too wired. I also recommend these natural energy boosting tips to keep you going during the day.

            3. Avoid Artificially Flavored Drinks

            One type of calorie-free drink that should be avoided are diet sodas and other beverages that use artificial sweeteners like Splenda and Sweet & Low. Studies show that the can actually stimulate your appetite[2] like a drink that contains sugar and cause you to overeat.

            4. Don’t Gorge at Your First Meal

            The first meal after your fast should be the amount of food you typically eat. Binging will only make you feel awful and diminish the benefits you get from the fast.

            To avoid this, try creating meal plans, at least for the first few weeks. This will help you get into the rhythm of eating regularly portioned meals during your eating window.

            5. Minimize Processed Carbohydrates and Sugars

            While intermittent fasting does make it possible to eat a little looser than normal, you should still eat as little bread, pasta, rice, etc. as possible.

            Focus instead on eating protein from beef, fish, or pork, carbohydrates from vegetables, fruit, and sweet potatoes, and healthy fats from foods like almonds, avocados, fish, and olive oil.

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            You can find some carb sources that will aid your weight loss journey here.

            How Intermittent Fasting Helps You Lose Weight

            Eating this way has many benefits with regard to weight loss. The first is that when you’re fasting, your body will be forced to use its stored body fat for energy. Burning calories this way, instead of from the food you’re eating throughout the day, will help you experience significant weight loss, but specifically lose weight from any excess body fat you’re carrying.

            This means that you won’t just be thinner, but you will also look better and be much healthier than if you lose weight the old-fashioned way[3].

            Intermittent fasting can help optimize the release of the key fat-burning hormones in your body. This is especially true for the two most important hormones: human growth hormone (HGH) and insulin.

            Human growth hormone plays a key role in turning on your body’s fat-burning furnace so that it gets the calories you need to work and play from stored body fat. Studies show that fasting can significantly increase the production of HGH[4].

            The influence intermittent fasting weight loss has on insulin is just as impressive and possibly more important. Keeping your insulin levels low and steady is key to losing excess fat and keeping it off.

            Diets that are rich in processed carbohydrates (bread, pasta, rice) and simple sugars (candy, cookies, and soda) have the opposite effect. They cause your insulin levels to rapidly spike and then crash every time you eat one of these foods. The net result of this phenomenon is that your body will store more of what you eat as excess body fat instead of burning it off as energy.

            Chronically elevating your insulin levels like this can also lead to the development of type II diabetes, obesity, and other chronic health problems. Intermittent fasting easily solves this problem.

            One study found that men who participated in intermittent fasting had “dramatically lower insulin levels and significantly improved insulin sensitivity”[5].

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            This happens because you’re not giving your body food, so it will not produce insulin, allowing insulin levels to balance out until you eat again. This helps your body stay in a calorie and fa-burning state. You’ll also find that it gives you more energy throughout the day.

            Another great weight loss benefit of intermittent fasting is that hunger pangs and cravings that may normally plague you throughout the day will be reduced, if not altogether eliminated. This is probably due to its ability to balance your insulin and blood sugar levels and, in turn, help correct other hormonal imbalances.

            Intermittent Fasting Weight Loss FAQs

            Now that you know what intermittent fasting is and how to get started, it’s time to answer your other questions.

            Below are answers to the questions frequently asked about intermittent fasting. These answers should help you and make getting started a lot easier.

            How Much Weight Will I Lose?

            The amount of weight you lose with fasting is determined by how often and long your fasts are, what you eat afterward, and other factors. Fasting for 16-20 hours a day can help you safely lose 2-3 pounds of fat every week.

            While losing this much weight every week is great, it’s how it makes it happen that’s really cool. Losing weight with intermittent fasting means that you will never have to count calories or plan and prepare several meals a day.

            Can I Work out While Fasting?

            Yes, you can. In fact, doing the right type of workout while fasting will help you lose weight faster and even build muscle.

            The best workouts to do while fasting for weight loss are 3-4 intense strength training workouts weekly. This means anything from standard strength training to kettlebell or body weight workouts.

            Focus on doing 3-4 total body exercises per workout with as little rest as possible between sets. Doing this will help you burn more calories during and after your workout. You’ll also build muscle, which will help you look and feel better as the weight comes off.

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            Won’t I Lose Muscle When I Fast?

            First of all, you aren’t fasting long enough for your body to start breaking down muscle for energy. You have, perhaps, hundreds of thousands of calories from your stored body fat to use before that will begin to happen. Studies actually show that even after fasting for 3 days, no muscle is lost.

            Is Fasting Safe?

            As long as you are healthy, not pregnant, and aren’t taking medications, fasting is safe. Like all diets, you should discuss it with your doctor before beginning an intermittent fasting style of dieting.

            I also feel that it may not be smart to follow this type of diet when you’re especially stressed. Since this diet can be a little stress-inducing at first, doing so when your ability to be relatively stress-free and rested probably isn’t a good idea.

            Are There Any Supplements I Can Take to Make Fasting Easier?

            As with any other weight loss plan, it’s a good idea to take a few nutritional supplements to ensure that your daily requirements are met. This includes a once or twice daily multi-vitamin, fish oil, and vitamin D.

            I’ve also found taking 10 grams of branch chain amino acids before and after my workouts really helps, too. They’re great for giving you more energy during your workout and decreasing post-workout muscle soreness.

            For supplements to specifically help with digestion, check out this article.

            Conclusion

            Now you know what intermittent fasting is and how it can help you lose weight quickly, safely, and pretty much effortlessly.

            If you want to give it a try, find a fasting schedule that fits with you lifestyle and give it a go.

            More About Intermittent Fasting

            Featured photo credit: Toa Heftiba via unsplash.com

            Reference

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