Category Archives: Diet

The Perfect Health(ier) Pizza!

I haven’t blogged lately, and it’s not because we haven’t been cooking and eating at home.  In fact, I’ve cooked quite a bit.  We’ve had blackberry-ginger glazed salmon, chicken biryani (these will all appear on the blog, eventually!), and homemade pizzas.

I love Pizza.  There is just something so mouth-watering about dough smothered in tomato sauce and topped with gobs of cheese.  So mouth-watering…but so unhealthy!!!!  Therefore, I don’t  eat pizza, or “zah”—as I affectionately call it, very often anymore.  Piyush really dislikes pizza (blasphemous!), and much prefers his “pizza” on a crispy tortilla instead of a soft, chewy dough.

I decided to try and change his mind, to convert him into a pizza lovin’ maniac.  But, it would not be easy!  With the goal of creating a crispy—yet somewhat doughy (and possibly a little healthy)—crust, and a flavorful homemade sauce…I got to work.  I scoured the internet and found a couple dough recipes that had possibility.  I tried a few, but couldn’t find perfection.  So, I mashed them together—taking what I liked from some, and discarding what I hated from others.  Some would show promise, only in the end to puff up into a more bread-like crust.  That wasn’t going to work!

Eventually I combined recipes to come up with the perfect recipe, and the perfect technique.  I think both are really equally important…and you can get a totally different crust using the same recipe depending on how you prepare it.  I found that rolling the dough out with a rolling pin yielded the exact texture I was trying to achieve for the crust.  After it was rolled out I pricked it all over with a fork to keep the dough from bubbling up.  I sprayed it really quickly with olive oil, using my Misto (I love the Misto!).  Then, I pre-cooked the crust for a few minutes in a 450 F degree oven using a pizza stone—just to make sure it got ultra crispy.

Next step…the sauce.  I wanted something that had a fresh, rustic taste.  Something that was everything canned/jarred pizza sauce you find at the grocery store was not.  I don’t know how I did it, but I got the sauce right the very first time!  Piyush proclaimed it the best he’s ever tasted, and he said Italy would be proud.   (Haha—thanks, honey!…but I don’t know if I’d go that far!)

Aside from tasting really good, this sauce is also ultra easy!

fresh mozzarella, basil and mushroom pizza

After I had both the crust and the sauce figured out…I had to decide what to top it with.  I wasn’t really in a meat eating mood and I wanted to stick with something simple and flavorful.  We had lots of mushrooms in the fridge, and basil too.  I knew Piyush loves Mozzarella…and since I was trying to convince him that pizza is a food he should love…that decision was easy.  Mozzarella, it was! We bought a 8oz ball, and I used about half of it.  I thinly sliced the ball and then flattened those slices even more with my hands.  I dried them off with a paper towel (they were a little wet), cut them into halves, and slapped them on the the zah.

This pizza was simply delicious.  It was so easy, inexpensive, and flavorful.  And the best part….Piyush loved it!  In fact, he ate half of it!  I had two slices and it left me feeling full and satisfied.

easy homemade healthy pizza

Calorie-wise, each slice is equal to approximately 150 calories.  How awesome is that?!  I’m not sure how it tastes when it’s reheated yet…but I have a couple slices left for lunch tomorrow!  Yum!

Aside from the results…the other thing I love about both the crust and the sauce recipes are that they freeze up awesome!  If you keep a little dough and sauce in the freezer, making a pizza will be way faster than waiting for delivery (and just as easy, too)!

Whole Wheat Pizza Crust

(makes two 12″ crusts—8 slices/ea)

  • 1 1/2 c. all purpose flour
  • 1 c. whole wheat flour (plus more for kneading) I use Indian atta flour, for the best texture
  • 1/4 tsp. sea salt
  • 1 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1 c. warm water
  • 2 1/4 tsp. active, dry yeast
  • 1 tbsp. honey


  • Combine the warm water, honey and yeast in a bowl.  Let this sit until it becomes foamy— about 10 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, in a large bowl combine the flours and salt.  Once the yeast mixture is foamy add it to the flours.  Stir, using a wooden spoon, until the dough begins to come together—then add the olive oil.
  • Knead everything together, adding additional flour (a little at a time) until the dough is moderately stiff and no longer wet.  Cover the bowl and let the dough rise for about a half hour.
  • Sprinkle a cutting board or parchment paper with some cornmeal.  Divide the dough into 2 portions (freeze one, if you’d like) and place one portion on the cornmeal covered surface.  Roll the dough out to a thin circle using a rolling pin.
  • Poke holes all over the crust using a fork.  Then, pre-bake the crust for 5 minutes in a 450 F degree oven (that has been preheated with a pizza stone for about 30 min).  Remove. Spread the crust with sauce and the toppings of your choice.
  • Bake at 450 F degrees (again, on the pizza stone) for about 10 minutes—or until the crust gets a little browned and the cheese gets all melty.

Easy Tomato Pizza Sauce

  • 3 or 4 large garlic cloves
  • 3 medium tomatoes
  • 1 tbsp olive oil, plus more for cooking garlic
  • 5 or 6 large basil leaves
  • salt and pepper—to taste
  • 1/2 tbsp sugar


  • Peel, smash and chop garlic.  Add about 1 tsp. of oil into a pan and saute until garlic begins to turn a little brown (watch it closely—garlic burns easily!)
  • Put garlic, tomatoes (quartered), 1 tbsp olive oil and basil leaves in blender.  Blend until everything is combined, you can leave the tomatoes a little chunky if you want.
  • Pour sauce into the same pan you cooked the garlic in—add some chopped tomatoes if you’d like.  Add sugar and stir everything together.  Simmer on medium heat for about 30-40 minutes or until it thickens.
  • Season with salt and pepper.

So easy…and so perfect!!!

Also…How cute is this?!  It’s my cat wearing a mini scarf!  I’m starting to get the hang of this knitting thing…

Harry modeling his scarf


Monday Madness! and a Greek Inspired Dinner

I really enjoy Mondays.  Though, I haven’t always.   In fact I used to spend Tuesday-Sunday dreading the upcoming Monday.  Extreme?  Probably; but when I was young(er) with few(er) worries and responsiblies, Monday meant that the weekend was ending…and work/school was starting.  Mondays were an unpleasant jolt back to reality, and I hated them for that.  Now, I work every other weekend.  And sometimes Monday signifies the end of my week, not the beginning.  Monday is the new Friday.  Sort of.

Mondays also mean I’m obligated to go to the gym.  I need routine and consistency.  I also need to feel accountable, and the only thing I’ve found that works is to sign up for a program where I know people are expecting me.  For some weird reason I feel worse letting down complete strangers than I do letting myself down.  How screwy is that?! So, Monday night has become Cable Class night.  And I look forward to it!

I really like all the trainers at the gym, but I’ve got to say I’m partial to either Paula or Angie.  I feel that they know my limits and know how to push me.  They also know when I’m being lazy, and that’s important…If they have all this faith that I can do something, maybe I really can.  And that’s usually how it works.

Tonight’s cable class was extra hard, probably for a few reasons.  The first being that I haven’t really worked out since returning from India—call it an extended holiday, if you will.  Secondly, I decided to wake up this morning and take a yoga class.  My arms were on fire!  Now, they are jello.  …But I feel good.  Like, real good!

After the gym I came home and heated up dinner.  Because my class is at 7:45 pm and I don’t really want to work out on a full stomach, I usually put together a meal and have it all ready to heat up when Piyush and I get home around 9.  I know 9 seems like a really late time to eat a big dinner, but it’s what works for us…so we do it.

Tonight we had Greek!  We love Greek food and tend to order take out way more than we should!  I decided it was probably time to make something healthy that had those same flavors, and today was as good of a day as any other.  This dinner was really simple and honestly there aren’t really any “real” recipes.

Basically it’s brown rice with a little lemon juice and greek seasoning, grilled and seasoned chicken, and steamed summer squash/zucchini.  I also smothered it in tzatziki sauce!

I wish I could say I made the sauce, but I had a container of tzatziki left from the restaurant here in town.  It’s a yummy yogurt based sauce that makes a great dip for celery sticks, so I always try to have some on hand.  It’s really easy to make too…and next time I actually make my own I’ll definitely share the recipe!

But now I have to sleep!  I have to work early tomorrow.

Tuesdays….sigh.  The only good thing about Tuesday is “Teen Mom!”  Hah!

Oh!  Before I go, I also have to just say that I am so proud of my little sister!!!  She had an interview today at the Mayo Clinic School of Med….and I couldn’t be more excited for her!!!!!  There are only 2 more spots open…and 12 more to interview, but I know she’ll get accepted!  They’d be goofy not to accept her!  She looked just like a little doctor, all dressed up in her suit and pearls.  Yay!, Michelle!

Vegetarian Bean Taco Salad

I must be in a Mexican kinda mood, because it seems that’s all I feel like cooking lately!  I’ve also felt like eating beans.  Lots of beans.

source (you can also click this link to learn about the health benefit of beans)

When I was planning dinner the other day, I decided I’d make a vegetarian taco salad for three reasons:

1. Tacos are delicious.

2. Salads are good for you.

3. I can eat the bowl I serve my salad in.  Now, that’s exciting!

I decided to get a little head start on my taco filling.  Not that it takes a long time or anything- in fact, it takes hardly any time!- but mostly because I didn’t want to do it later.  My theory when it comes to dinner preparation is the sooner the better.  The longer I put it off, the lazier I become.

Before I started turning regular cans of black and pinto beans into delicious, taco-flavored delicacies, I chopped up some veggies and had myself a little snack.

I made a simple Indian inspired salad (I’ve blogged about it here), and added a tablespoon or so of aloo bhujia—fried, spiced potato noodles—for a little crunch.  I think the weather outside has me craving Summer.  It seems like spring and was even 50 degrees today!  This salad screams Summer, but sadly the tomatoes and cucumber screamed “out of season”! …Back to reality.  I still have over 5 months before Summer arrives!

After eating my snack, I decided to get started on my tortilla bowls.  When I lived with my grandparents, after moving home from college, this was a meal I often made for dinner.  It all started when I was at the supermarket and had a mad craving for a taco salad.  I picked up some ground turkey, grabbed the lettuce and veggies and I found the pre-made taco shell bowls.  I flipped over the package, and realized that one bowl was nearly 500 calories!  Whoa!  Then I got to thinking (I know, right!?!)…A taco shell bowl is really just a tortilla!  So I went home and draped torillas over glass pyrex bowls and baked them at 400 degrees, until they were crisp.  Genius!  I used whole wheat, low calorie tortillas and was able to knock the calories of my taco shell bowl down to a measly 80 cals.  Awesome!  Now, I have a couple fancy taco shell bowl molds.  They make awesome bowls, but they’re really completely unnecessary.

After my bowls were baked, I started on the bean mixture.  I used a combination of pinto and black beans because I really love the creaminess of smashed pinto beans.  Weird?  Probably. Delicious? Oh.My.God.YES! I heated them through, had a fun time smashing them, and then set them aside.

Then all I had to do was chop the romaine and assemble.  Easy!

It's a taco! It's a salad! It's a taco salad!

Bean Taco Filling

  • 2 tsp. olive oil (you don’t need much)
  • 2 cans of beans (any kind), rinsed (alternatively you could use dried beans.  3 cups total.
  • 1 small red onion
  • 3 fat garlic cloves
  • 1/2 c. green bell pepper
  • 1 serrano chile
  • 1 package low-sodium taco seasoning (or make your own!)
  • 1 1/2 c. water
  • lime juice, to your taste
  • salt, to your taste (you probably don’t need any with the canned beans and taco seasoning, though)


  • Heat your pan over medium heat and add the olive oil.  Once the pan is hot, saute the onion, chile and green pepper until they’re all soft and cooked through.
  • Add garlic and saute about a minute, then add the taco seasoning (or spices, if you make your own) Cook for about a minute until the spices are no longer raw.
  • Add the beans and the water.  Once it starts to boil, smash as many of the beans as you’d like.
  • Cook until water disappears and the mixture thickens.  Squeeze in a little lime juice, and give it a good stir.

I topped my salad with about 1/2 c. bean mixture, some of my Indian salad, a tiny bit of cheese, and a dollop of greek yogurt.

All healthy meals should be this good!

Black Beans and Rice…Fancy Style!

Happy 2012!

Everybody make some stellar resolutions for the new year?  I did!  …I resolve to see Paris in the spring (or summer)!  …That’s a resolution, right?  I haven’t thought all that much about it yet, but I’m going to figure out how to make it happen!

My holiday weekend was spent working the early shift, which to be honest, does not agree with me!  I’m a complete night owl!  When I wake up at 4am (give or take a couple hours…), I’m worthless by the time I get home from work.  I don’t want to clean.  I don’t want to exercise.  I don’t want to cook.  All I want to do is sit on the couch and watch Lifetime movies.  Lame (and incredibly embarassing!), but true.  Sometimes I force myself to get things done, but I’ve got to say…it ain’t easy!

After work yesterday I had good intentions.  I stopped at the grocery store, Bon Appetit in hand, and filled my cart with veggies, organic chicken breasts, and beans.  I even bought a bottle of sparkling pink grape juice (Piyush doesn’t drink…and I had to be up early for work).  I planned on making an easy…but awesome New Years Eve dinner since neither Piyush nor I wanted to go out.  Well, that didn’t happen! Sometimes good intentions aren’t enough.  I needed motivation, but must have hit my yearly limit…because I found none!  …We ordered sushi instead, and I promised myself I’d definitely cook the next day. Piyush and I enjoyed our sushi dinner (kind of.  It wasn’t the best…) and then I went to bed at 8:30pm!  That never happens!  He woke me up at midnight to give me my New Years kiss, then he went back downstairs to watch golf, or something.  I had a full 8 hours of sleep, and it was wonderful!

Once work was over, I came home and started preparing for dinner.  This way I couldn’t decide to be lazy.  I poached the chicken breasts and made the apple salsa.  I was trying a new recipe I saw in January’s issue of Bon Appetit: Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa.

As I was paging through the magazine, the recipe jumped out at me…and I knew I wanted to make it.  Well, I mostly wanted to eat it…but it had to be made to be eaten.  This recipe was super easy and really flavorful!  Like, really flavorful!  I think the apple salsa was my favorite part!

I made a few changes to the recipe, but they were pretty minor.  First, I don’t like rotisserie chicken.  Sure, it’s incredibly easy…and cheaper than organic chicken breasts, but there’s something about the flavor that doesn’t sit right with me.  I think they’re too salty.  Instead, I poached two chicken breasts in a pan with enough water to cover them.  I threw in a bay leaf and a few spices…and wham!  In addition to my super tender chicken, I also had homemade broth.  It didn’t have as much flavor as stock that simmers all day long with bones and herbs, but I’ll tell you one thing.  It was way better than canned or boxed broth that has ingredients listed that I don’t even know if they’re safe to consume.  Bought chicken broth usually has that “off” flavor, anyway…and if you get the organic unsalted stuff, it’s expensive!

A quick note on the organic thing, we don’t buy everything organic.  We’d be broke if we did.  Meat is one item I really try hard to purchase as either organic or straight from the farmer who raised it, though.  It doesn’t always happen, but I get sorta creeped out by a lot of the things I’ve read about hormones and slaughterhouses…and to be honest, I want to eat the meat for what it is…not for what chemicals it was injected with. 

Back to the recipe, I also cooked the rice (white rice, because it’s what we had on hand) in our rice cooker in some of that homemade chicken broth.  The recipe didn’t specify to rinse the beans, but I definitely did.  That bean goo creeps me out…and they’re doused in so much unnecessary sodium.  A quick rinse cured both those problems.

I’m so glad we have a lot of left overs and I can’t wait to gobble up that apple salsa again tomorrow! Wooo! Wooo!

The Recipe:

Black Beans and Rice with Chicken and Apple Salsa

Adapted from Bon Appetit (link to recipe here)

  • 1 cup chopped peeled Granny Smith apple
  • 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, divided
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion, divided
  • 1 teaspoon (or more) fresh lime juice
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 3 cups low-salt chicken broth
  • 2 15-ounce cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 cups cooked brown or white rice
  • 1 2–3-pound rotisserie chicken, skin discarded and meat shredded
  • 4–6 lime wedges


  • Combine apple, 1/4 cup cilantro, 2 tablespoons onion, and 1 teaspoon lime juice in a small bowl; toss to coat. Set apple salsa aside.
  • Combine remaining onion, bell pepper, and oil in a large skillet. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until completely softened, 6–7 minutes. Add garlic and next 3 ingredients; stir constantly for 2 minutes. Stir in broth and beans; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; simmer briskly, mashing some of the beans with the back of a spoon and stirring often, until sauce is thickened, 8–10 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, and more lime juice, if desired.
  • Divide rice and beans among plates. Top with some chicken and apple salsa. Garnish with remaining 1/4 cup cilantro and lime wedges.