Loving the BITE: Grilled Pizza with Almond Flour Crust
This week, let’s combine 3 all-time favorites: cycling, the outdoor grill, and pizza. In that order. We’ll make a crust that promotes health and energy and doesn’t drag us down. Then, we’ll bombard our cells with the antioxidants of tomatoes, such as lycopene. To top it off, we’ll reduce belly fat and bodily inflammation with our highlighted ingredient, olive oil.
Recipe of the Week: Grilled Pizza with Almond Flour Crust
Ingredients & Instructions:
- 1 cup almond flour
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans
- 3-4 egg whites (about 3/4 c.)
- Extra Virgin Olive oil
- Organic tomato sauce
- Chopped organic tomatoes
- Sliced black olives
- Roasted red peppers
- Cooked organic chicken, cubed or shredded
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Minced fresh garlic
- Chopped fresh basil
- Extra Virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix together crust ingredients and spread on an oiled cookie sheet, about 1/4 inch thick. The dough will be sticky, so use a fork to spread it most of the way, and then get your hands slightly damp with water and press out a bit more to make the crust thinner. Bake in oven at for 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, preheat grill on medium to high heat. After crust has baked in the oven, brush grill grate with small amount of olive oil. Carefully move the place crust to the hot grill using a couple spatulas. Working quickly, brush olive oil over crust, and then brush with tomato sauce. Add toppings through basil. Close the lid, and cook until the cheese melts, about 10 minutes. Remove from grill, and set aside to cool for a few minutes – drizzle with ¼ cup olive oil.
If you’d prefer a regular wheat flour crust, you can use the grill exclusively instead of the 2-step oven-grill process necessary for almond flour crusts (although I strongly recommend almond flour over wheat flour). If this is your preference, use any crust recipe and skip the baking instructions. Then, place crust on a preheated grill at medium-high heat for cook for 10 minutes. Then, preheat the grill to medium high heat. Carefully place one piece of dough on hot grill. The dough will begin to puff almost immediately. When the bottom crust has lightly browned, turn the dough over using two spatulas. Then, follow the instructions above for adding topping and grilling.
This week’s recipe is chock-full of healthy ingredients to fuel the pizza-loving- cyclist. First, you can refer back to Loving the Bite: Almond Flour Waffles and Loving the BITE: Almond Butter Smoothie to review the benefits of almonds and read why we’d use them in place of grain flours in cooking (almond flour can be tricky, so keep experimenting!). Then, you may remember all about the healthful properties of tomatoes, such as its high level of antioxidants, explained Loving the Bite: Roasted Tomato Basil Soup.
And today, we’ll take a look at olive oil.
Olive Oil, especially extra-virgin, is one of the best fats you can use in your diet. And while many people know it’s good for you, they often fail to realize that most of its benefits are only provided in unheated olive oil. While it can still be used in cooking (under 300 degrees F), it’s best when added to raw foods or after they’ve been cooked (drizzled on cooked pizza, on cooked or raw vegetables, as a dip etc). When left unheated, it can:
- Promote an optimal metabolic output
- Improve cholesterol
- Reduce heart disease and blood pressure
- Reduce risk of breast cancer
- Improves blood sugars
- Reduces bone loss
Then, for those of us cycling up hills and over long distances, it can be especially helpful as it promotes less fat accumulation around the belly. Since it increases the insulin sensitivity of our cells, it allows us to process sugars with less insulin. Less insulin means less fat storage and more fat oxidation (breakdown), specifically around the midsection.
And after a good ride, we’ll benefit from a reduction in bodily inflammation. As we’ve often discussed, us athletes tend to accumulate a lot of inflammation and free radicals in our bodies. The more antioxidants we consume, then, the better. Olive oil just happens to contain large amounts of antioxidant polyphenols.
Many cultures use olive oil almost exclusively as their choice fat. It can be used in place of butter/margarine as a spread and to replace fats in cooked/baked foods. It’s perfect over vegetables and can be combined with a touch of vinegar, salt, and pepper for a homemade dressing. Of note, when used in cooking, it is a good idea to keep it as less than 300 degrees F, as it can release harmful fumes above this temperature (all oils can release harmful fumes above their specific smoke point) – leave high heats for organic coconut oil and peanut oil.
When it comes to oil, don’t stop at your chain. Give your body some healthy maintenance, too!
Fuel Your Ride. Nourish Your Body.