Someone asked me recently how I maintain my weight as I edge into my mid-30s. First off, why THANK YOU!!! It doesn’t always feel like I’m maintaining anything when I spend 80% of my time sitting (and studying). But this prompted me to really think about what it is that I do to try and keep this body of mine feeling strong, healthy, and looking fiiiiiiiiiiiine [finger snap]. (Ok, If you don’t already know me, that’s a joke.)
One way that I feel and look my best is by eating healthy food most of the time (80twenty). I think that I’ve been clear about my LOVE of food before. I love eating. Period. Eating good food with the people that I love brings a tremendous amount of joy to my life. Life is too short not to live a life that is healthy and vibrant. But life is also too short not to live life and love what you’re eating. Am I right? The good thing is, it doesn’t have to be one or the other. We can have both.
Since we alI have a different definition of what healthy looks like, this is the start of a new series of posts where I share my tips for how you can easily up the health-food ante on your body no matter what you’re already doing. If you’re paleo, gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, carnivore, or not paying attention at all, what I’m going to share with you are, straight-up, simple ways to work with what you’ve already got going on… just amped up a little. I’d love for you to join me on this journey. What have you got to lose?
So, are you with me? Here we go!
Tip 1: Start each meal with the question, “what vegetable(s) am I going to eat today?” Then build your meal around that. This can be a really fun question because there are so many options to choose from–artichokes, carrots, broccoli, squash, kale, sweet potatoes, tomatoes, spinach… I could go on forever. You can keep it simple or get really creative with it. And if you’re not sure where to start, this is a good resource.
We all know that vegetables are incredibly good for us, but sometimes eating them feels like a challenge. Here are a few reasons why eating more vegetables could be good for you: Many veggies are high in anti-oxidants which help to reduce oxidative stress on your body. You want this!! Oxidative stress is what can lead us to developing cancer. Veggies are also a good source of fibre. So when eaten with adequate water they will move relatively quickly and easily through your digestive systems, helping to cleanse your body of toxins. Lastly, (but certainly not the last reason we should all eat more vegetables) because they’re high in fibre, they’ll also help you to feel full for longer. If you feel full, you’ll be less likely to reach for extras of other things. I also find that if I am eating more vegetables, it means that I’m eating less of something else which can sometimes be a good thing. Not dessert though. There’s always room for dessert. Fact!
But if even reading about all of this information feels exhausting, let’s just keep it simple and go back to the main point: Start each meal with the question, “what vegetable am I going to eat today?” Then build your meal around that. In this recipe, cauliflower really is the foundation (no pun intended) for the pizza. It makes a light crust that’s perfect for topping with your favourite pizza accoutrement. Enjoy!
Cauliflower Crust Pizza with (optional) Hazelnut Arugula Pesto
Cauliflower Pizza Crust “Dough”
(makes 3 pizzas, enough for 6 people or 2 people with leftovers for 2 lunches)
1 medium cauliflower, riced (see below)
1/2 cup almond flour
1/2 cup coconut flour
3 eggs, whisked
1 cup grated cheddar cheese (or cheese of your choice. I’ve used mozzarella before. You can also try nutritional yeast, but you’ll have to experiment with the amount.)
1.5 tsp italian seasoning
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 450°F.
Put the cauliflower through the grating attachment on your food processor. It should come out in small pieces, like grated cheese and little pebbles. The consistency should be light and fluffy.
Pour about 6 cups of the riced cauliflower in a large bowl and add the remaining ingredients. Mix it together with your hands to form a ball. If it’s too wet, you can add more flour alternating coconut flour with almond flour, 1 tablespoon at a time.
Press the dough into a circular shape on a pizza stone or pan lined with parchment paper. It will be different than real pizza dough, but trust the process. Spread it so that it’s about 1/4 inch thick.
Put the crust into the preheated oven for about 15 minutes, or until it seems like it’s coming together and is slightly golden. Then remove it from the oven and top with whatever pizza toppings you like. Bake for another 15 minutes, but check it after 10. It should look a lot darker around the edges.
I topped this one with arugula pesto (recipe below), sliced jarred artichokes, grape tomatoes tossed in a bit of chile flakes, maple syrup, and salt, and finally, I topped it with feta cheese. I also made another that was topped with sautéed kale, roasted red peppers, and a few cracked eggs.
This is not the kind of pizza you can pick up and eat with your hands. It’s more of a fork and knife meal. But it’s delicious! And it’s the kind of meal that you can eat knowing you’re doing your body good.
Hazelnut Arugula Pesto
1/4 cup of hazelnuts
3-4 cups arugula, depending on how thick you like it
1 clove garlic, minced
1/8 cup parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 cup olive oil
Place the hazelnuts in a dry skillet and toast over medium-low heat until golden, about 5-10 minutes. Place them in a dry towel and rub vigorously until the skins come of. Place the hazelnuts in the small bowl of your food processor and process until a fine powder forms. Add the garlic, arugula, parmesan, and salt and process until reasonably well mixed. With the processor running, slowly add the olive oil until everything comes together.
You’ll have some extra pesto left over. Drizzle it over soup, mix with hot pasta, top your eggs with it, put it on a sandwich, the possibilities are endless. If you want extra, you can double or triple the recipe. If you don’t want to use your extra just yet, freeze it in individual ice cube trays until frozen, then place in a resealable freezer bag for future use.