Avoiding diet culture and eating the things you enjoy
Pizza is one of my favourites treat foods. Note I say, treat and not ‘cheat food’. Using negative or shaming language like ‘cheat food’ and labelling food as good or bad is something that I am trying to avoid. This is because it falls in line with diet culture and consequently does not fit with eating intuitively to sustainably maintain a healthy and balanced diet. It’s important to eat those things you really enjoy every once in a while, and if you can make them healthier then you can enjoy them more!
Domino’s pizza was my favourite hangover treat, but honestly, after gorging my way through an entire medium sized veggie pizza I would feel uncomfortably full, and spend most of the night tossing and turning, feeling sick and wondering why I had to eat that last slice! Which is why I have taken to making my own pizza and I’m thrilled with the results! Trust me, it’s so much easier than you might think.
I love cheese!
Following a largely plant based diet doesn’t mean I beat myself up if I enjoy some cheese now and again. In fact, cheese is a good source of protein and calcium. However, it is also high in saturated fat and salt which can contribute toward high cholesterol and blood pressure, both of which can increase your risk of developing cardiovascular disease (1). This doesn’t mean to say cheese is a ‘bad food’ just that you should be aware of the proper portion sizes and how cheese contributes towards your daily nutrient intakes. However, if you are avoiding cheese or dairy products, for whatever reason, there are plenty of alternative, plant-based sources of calcium and protein that have the added bonus of being lower in saturated fat and salt. For example, lentils, beans and calcium-set tofu.
Calcium: How do plants compare?
Calcium is important to maintain healthy bones and teeth as well as maintaining the functioning of muscles and nerves. Nutrient requirements for calcium increase during lactation (+550mg/d) and peak in both men (1000mg/d) and women (800mg/d) during teens (11-18 years).
Per 30g serving, Cheshire cheese provides 192mg of calcium (2), which is 27% of the reference nutrient intake (RNI) for men and women aged 19 and above (3). Hard goat’s cheese provides 268mg of calcium per 30g serving (4), which is 38% of the RNI. Having said that, there are plenty of plant-based sources of calcium such as calcium set tofu which provides 683mg per 100g (5) (that’s nearly 100% of the RNI). Low oxalate green leafy vegetables like kale, broccoli and rocket are also good sources of calcium. When compared with the absorption of calcium from cow’s milk, the absorption of calcium from kale is found to be comparable, if not marginally better (6). So, don’t be fooled into thinking that a plant-based diet lacks calcium. Although you will need to make sure that you do your research to ensure you’re eating the right veggies. For example, oxalate rich greens like spinach are inferior sources of calcium as oxalates have been shown to inhibit calcium absorption (6,7).
1. British Heart Foundation (No Date) 7 cheese facts that will surprise you. BHF [Online] [Accessed 10th July 2019] https://www.bhf.org.uk/informationsupport/heart-matters-magazine/nutrition/cheese
2. United State Department of Agriculture (2018) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: Basic Report: 01010, Cheese, Cheshire. USDA [Online] [Accessed 10th July 2019] https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/01010?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=cheshire+cheese&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
3. British Nutrition Foundation (2017) Nutritional Requirements. BNF[Online] [Accessed 10th July 2019] https://www.nutrition.org.uk/attachments/article/261/Nutrition%20Requirements_Revised%20Oct%202017.pdf
4. United State Department of Agriculture (2018) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: Basic Report: 01156, Cheese, Goat, hard type. USDA [Online] [Accessed 10th July 2019] https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/01156?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=hard+goats+cheese&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
5. United State Department of Agriculture (2018) National Nutrient Database for Standard Reference Legacy Release: Basic Report: 16426, Tofu, raw, firm, prepared with calcium sulfate. USDA [Online] [Accessed 10th July 2019] https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/foods/show/16426?fgcd=&manu=&format=&count=&max=25&offset=&sort=default&order=asc&qlookup=calcium+set+tofu&ds=&qt=&qp=&qa=&qn=&q=&ing=
6. Heaney, R.P. and Weaver, C.M., (1990) Calcium absorption from kale. The American journal of clinical nutrition, 51(4), pp.656-657.
7. Poneros‐Schneier, A.G. and Erdman Jr, J.W., (1989) Bioavailability of calcium from sesame seeds, almond powder, whole wheat bread, spinach and nonfat dry milk in rats. Journal of food science, 54(1), pp.150-153.
For the dough:
1 package of dry yeast
1 tsp of sugar
Roughly 200mL of warm water
1tbsp oil (I used rapeseed oil)
1 tsp salt
Roughly 2 ½ cups of strong white bread flour
Roughly 1 cup of whole wheat bread flour
For the base sauce:
3 cloves of chopped garlic
1/2 tin of tomatoes
1tbsp tomato puree
Handful of chopped fresh basil
6 Asparagus tips
¼ of an onion chopped finely
½ Sliced courgette
Roughly 60g goats’ cheese
Roughly 30g grated cheddar cheese
- Pre-heat your oven to its highest setting (mine is 220°C)
- If you have a pizza stone or any stone dish place this in the oven to get hot
- Activate the yeast by adding dissolving the sugar in the warm water and adding the dry yeast. Whisk this together and leave for roughly 5-10 minutes until a foam has formed on top.
- Add the oil and salt to this mixture and stir
- In a separate bowl combine the two bread flours and create a well in the middle
- Add the liquid mixture to the flour and combine to form a dough (I use a wooden spoon at first and once it’s coming together, I use my hands to work in any flour left on the sides). The dough should be wet enough to incorporate all the flour in the bowl so add some extra if it’s too dry.
- Knead for roughly 10 minutes to form a smooth elastic dough.
- Place back in the bowl (I tend to add some oil to the bowl to stop the dough from sticking), cover and place in a warm spot to double in size (this can take anywhere from 30-50 minutes but the warmer the spot the shorter the proving time).
- In the meantime, make the base sauce by sautéing garlic in a pan with some oil for a couple of minutes, then add your tinned tomatoes and tomato puree (at this point you can blend to get an extra smooth sauce). Then add the chopped basil and a pinch of salt and pepper to taste. TIP: if the sauce is a little acidic or bitter add a pinch of sugar
- Knock the air back out of the dough. This amount of dough will easily make two large pizzas.
- Roll out the dough to whatever thickness you desire (I tend to hold the dough up in the air, towards the edge, to create a thin base with a slightly thicker crust but that’s just my preference).
- Now take your pizza stone or stone tray out of the oven, lightly oil and lay the dough on top (if you have a tray with holes in it or a wire tray this can also work well).
- Now you can spread over your base sauce and add the toppings and cheese and place in the oven for around 10minutes