Wednesday, October 17, 2012

College Exam #2: Heart Healthy Pizza Gets Another "A"

As noted in a previous post, I've always felt that one of the Ultimate Tests of a good pizza (plant-based, plant-strong, or not) is what College Students think of it. Having accomplished their 1st test, the infamous (and plant-strong) College Greens graciously sacrificed their intensive late-night weekly Saturday Night Study Period and Angry Bird Marathon (kidding... a fowl joke), to try another recipe from my book, "Heart Healthy Pizza."

A couple of days ago, via e-mail at the Engine2Extra Online Community, the results came in, with photos as well!  Here's what Tara had to say (unedited, and with her permission):


This time, we made the whole wheat black bean crust with the quick italian tomato sauce. We loaded the pizza with spring mix greens, red cabbage, orange bell pepper, portobello mushrooms, and green peas. Then we topped it off with tofu and lemon sauce.

Yum yum yum YUM!!!! A deliciously delightful Saturday night treat :)  
We took pictures this time!! [Note: click on photo for larger version]

College Greens Photo of Pizza Before Topping Sauce
Just showing the veggie-licious toppings before we added the un-cheese sauce :)

College Greens Pizza w/ Tofu Lemon Topping

Fully prepared and cooked!!! READY TO EAT! yaaaaaaaaay :D

College Greens Pizza After Being Visciously Assaulted

Forty minutes later....

I don't know whether you saw or not, but Craig took a slice with him as his lunch the next day when he went hiking at Rickett's Glen. His friend took a picture of the half-eaten slice of pizza over the waterfall and I tagged you in the picture on facebook :)

Anyways, it was another weekend of plant-strong pizza yumfest!!! Thanks SO MUCH for letting us play around with this book, it's been so much fun and so deliciously scrumptious :) We plan to make at least one more pizza before doing the full review. But I don't think you have anything to worry about. We're already sold :)

Hugs, happies, healthies,
  Tara :)"

So cool!  I did tell them that plant-strong people are advised by the Engine2 Diet Team, and rightly so, to use tofu sparingly and as a treat as it's high in fat (and being processed, lacks fiber).  Regardless, I was intrigued by the toppings the students chose. Am very proud of their ingenuity and continued dedicated efforts to eat a healthy no-added oil plant-based diet. They are setting a high bar, but still taking the time to share the results (and their advice) with others.  Here's some of their articles.

After feeling a tad cantankerous with a recent birthday, it's refreshing to see such well-placed optimism, creativity, and joie de vivre!

Namaste... Mark

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Heart Healthy Pizza Passes 1st College Exam

What is the ultimate test of a good vegan pizza?
"The South American" Sweet potato, quinoa, corn "cheese-like" topping, collards, tomato slices, + Trader Joe's Mix: chopped broccoli, carrots, green cabbage, red cabbage, jicama, green bell pepper, radish, celery.
I've often wondered about this serious and sociologically earth-shattering issue while spending close to six years researching alternatives to the fatty, saturated dairy and non-dairy cheeses used with abandon on what could be a very nutritious meal, but in the United States has degenerated into a savage nutritional orgy of calories, animal flesh, fat, salt, and general dietary undesirables promoting a biological descent into the ravages of cardiovascular disease, obesity, and Type II diabetes... and that's just the watered down summary of what I think (trust me, it's not a pretty picture inside)... moving on...

Still, the Big Questions kept arising during my research: would a meat or dairy-eater enjoy one of my vegan pizzas?  Would someone of native Italian descent relish one of my recipes?  What would Oprah think?

But the test that had me worried the most, The Ultimate Eval (pun intended) that had me wake up in a cold sweat at night, trembling with anxiety in the wee hours of the morning as I drifted, ghost-like through my internal house of fears was:  college students.  That unique and feral species of energetic quasi-humans destined to eventually guide us into assisted living and run the planet.  What would THEY think?

Even now, I can remember the anxiety of wondering whether or not one of my heart-healthy plant-based pizzas could pass an examination by carnivorous and/or plant-strong college students, well known for their highly discriminate palettes (unless the food is free or cheap or is food).  Would it pass muster?  Would they show up at my door, pelting me with left-over globs of "cheese-like" sauce, chanting "Daiya! Daiya!?"  Would a big red "F" replete with a dripping font, be plastered across my book's website, and an animated giff show up of Guy Fawke's smiling face, taunting me? Laughing?

Well, I'm proud to say that the first test results are in.  Below I've posted, with permission, a letter I received from the newly and growingly infamous "College Greens." 
The College Greens (Ann Esselstyn in red) from ""

This idealistic group of plant-strong college students have vowed to "get healthy while their warranty is still valid" through following the recommendations of Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Rip Esselstyn, and the whole Engine2 Diet team:  a no-added oil, plant-based diet.

A few weeks ago, intrigued by what I read about them (as part of the fantastic Engine2 Extra online community) and their dedicated efforts to encourage other college students everywhere to eat a healthy plant-based diet.  I tempted fate, rolled the Dice of the Gods, threw RDA's of salt over my left shoulder, and sent them a copy of my cookbook.  Part of me giggled, part of me was wondering "WHAT HAVE I DONE?"

Patiently I waited, day pages from printed calendars flying in front of me like in an old black'n'white cartoon (just got to get that window fixed)... then, the word came back, October 4th, 2012 A.D.  The first test results were in.  Shaking and stirred, I opened the e-mail.  And...
"Hi Mark!! 
Craig and I (Tara) did end up making a pizza last weekend for the party. And it was a HUGE hit!!!! We made the oat crust, with raw tomato sauce, then onions, mushrooms, spinach, and artichokes, and topped with the cannellini bean, oregano, and walnut sauce! :) Herbies and Omnivores alike were impressed :) We had a number of different people ask about the recipe, and we told them about your awesome book!!!  
One critique that we got, as cooks, was to make the pizza crust thinner. It wasn't overly thick, but a couple of people mentioned that they would have preferred a crispier crust. I don't know whether these crust recipes have the potential to be crispy or not, but we will experiment with crust thickness in our next attempt :) 
I'm not sure when the next pizza-making extravaganza will occur, but we will keep you posted!!! :) 
And as for your black halloween pizza... how about olives and carrots? :) 
Wishing we had more pizza leftovers, 
Tara, -The College Greens"
That's just so [expletive deleted] cool! Survived mid-terms. Hot [short series of very disturbing juvenile expletives deleted].  Of serious note, too, is that the C.G.'s  are planning to run some more tests and do their own review of the book to be published online (I did tell them that reducing the water in the gluten-free oat crust might enable it to be "rolled" thinner (between wax paper sheets, but in general, getting a thin crust with some GF recipes isn't easy). Experimentation is always advised.

But, so far, so good.  Now onto the Finals!  Maybe I can finally sleep again... for awhile...  (huh? what's this "pizza leftover" concept they speak of?"... I keep wondering and mumbling incessantly in the wee hours of the morning...).

Who ARE these people, you ask??  Find out more below: