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:

1 comment:

  1. I am really interested to know soon if your healthy pizza recipe would do well with thin crusts! But I think it’s good enough in regular crust. I’m a born pizza lover and I’m mindful of my health as well. A healthy pizza should be something that I eat regularly. It is sure to have a delight and a healthy meal at the same time.