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Low-Cal Homemade Spinach Pita Pizza with Tomatoes and Red Onion

Despite a very long week filled with pre-term meetings and course preparation I have managed to cook two new recipes with a third planned for tonight and a fourth tomorrow. The first in this string of yummy-low-cal-goodness was a nice little spin on Pizza. Remember that “how bad is it anyway” post – well, I discovered that not all pizza is equal and one of the best ways to enjoy this favorite guilty pleasure is to make it at home with better alternative ingredients.

So, I made this recipe up as I went using basic common sense and some time in the grocery store reading labels and looking up nutrition info on my smart phone. The result – a really low-cal and yummy pizza recipe that is uber-quick and suitable for semi-regular rotation during the work week.

The key: whole grain PITAS instead of an actual pizza crust. Of course, this could be tailored to suit your own pizza preferences – we kept it simple. You could substitute cheeses or add feta, use vegan cheese, add some turkey-pepperoni, etc. – just make sure you watch the calories – I think you could easily get away with loading these things down with every veggie you could want and still be in good shape.

Spinach Pita Pizza

Time: 20-30 minutes      Serving Size: 2-3*

(267 calories and 5.9 fat grams** per pizza)

Ingredients:

  • 3 Small Whole Wheat “Pocket” Pitas (I used King of Pita Bakery brand. Note: the “pocket” will make for a crunchier thin crust experience.)
  • 1 cup shredded Part-Skim Mozzarella (I used the regular Kroger brand)
  • 1/4 cup pizza sauce (I used Ragu’s “Homemade Style” Pizza sauce)
  • 1 small tomato, sliced thinly
  • About 1 cup + of fresh spinach cut up
  • 1 tbsp of finely chopped red onion

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat the metal cookie sheet or pizza stone you’ll be putting the pizza on with the oven. (I used a pizza stone.)
  2. Lay out your pitas.
  3. Spread equal amounts of pizza sauce on top up to the edge of each pita – this is a little over 1 tbsp a sauce.
  4. Sprinkle on the onions, lay out the tomatoes, and toss on some spinach.
  5. Distribute 1/3 cup cheese to the top of each pizza. Honestly, I realized I could get away with less. 1/4 cup would be plenty for a small “regular” size pita.
  6. Put in oven for 12-15 minutes or until cheese is bubbly and slightly browning on edges.
  7. EAT and enjoy!

* So – again with the non-specific serving size… here’s why: We split the third pizza in half so I actually ate 1 and a 1/2 pizzas (for a total of 400 calories and 9 fat). I made Hubby an appetizer too, he needed more food but I really felt that 1 pizza would be great for lunch and 1 and a 1/2 was perfect alone for dinner. You could always throw a side salad of some red leaf lettuce and tomato with a light dressing with as few calories as this ends up being if you’re still hungry. Hubby already wants me to make this again and it’s only been 3 days… so – SCORE!

** The fat comes almost entirely from the cheese so to reduce this you could find a better alternative or limit the amount uses as suggested, 1/4 cup is actually pretty perfect rather than the 1/3 used. This reduces 2.5 fat grams alone… 

Spread the pizza sauce as best as you can – most of these types of pocket pitas are rather uneven. You could easily stuff the pitas with sauce and other toppings too if desired – just make sure to warm the pitas before slicing up one seam of the pocket to prevent breaking.

I’ve found that finally chopped red onions add just the right amount of flavor to the sauce which can sometimes be bland depending on the brand – Ragu is decent though. Additional topping suggestions: black olives, feta, boiled/baked/grilled chicken, bell pepper, mushrooms, and/or broccoli (yes, broccoli!).

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In other news….

Starting a new job at a university means lots of marathon orientation sessions, and training workshops. With these come daily “paid-for” lunches which seldom cater to those who are at all concerned about their health, much less weight loss. 

Our institution bought us Chik-fil-A the first day (BOO for a number of reasons). Um… not great… fortunately as a vegetarian I was able to get a salad. Aside from the lifeless and nutrition-less iceburg lettuce, it wasn’t horrible in terms of taste and calories when paired with 1/2 the bag of light Italian dressing…. Much better then the fried chicken sandwhich and waffle fries everyone else consumed. I got some envious eyeballing for this one. I trashed the non-baked chips that came on the side but ended up eating the damn cookie on the way home when I got stuck in traffic… it was damn good too and I refuse to regret it after endless bureaucratic policy discussions. 

The rest of the time I was good – I gracefully avoided the doughnuts and muffins, drank my coffee nearly black (thankfully it was good), and downed a couple of bottles of water a day. I brought an orange the following day and ate a granola bar (a delightful change in offering) for breakfast.

Campus services brought these absurd meat-trio wraps for lunch the second day – mine only contained lettuce (at least it was green leaf this time), cabbage, carrots, and tomato but it was good and had a spinach wrapping. I didn’t use dressing. I ate only 1/2 of one with about 5 lime tortilla chips and a good cup and a half of fresh veggies with a tbsp of ranch dip and a very small cup of sweet tea. I snacked on a few almonds later in the day to give me a protein boost when I was feeling drained… with a full bottle of water.

I’m feeling pretty good about all of it – I felt a little odd at first being the one to ask for a vegetarian “diet” meal – I was the only one too. They were really supportive and accommodating and I thought back to all the times I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be “that girl” – all the times I ate what they had because it was free and there and I didn’t want to stand out or seem problematic – all the times I ate the chips and cookies and side items because the main offering had meat too. Turns out – I probably should have asked the whole time!

Sigh… So… lesson learned for the future. And, who knows, if enough people start asking (and I’m pretty sure that the 5-6 women who were jealously eyeing my salad will do this) then maybe the administration will start ordering healthier options to begin with. After all, after simply speaking up about my own needs the first day (and explaining why I wasn’t partaking of breakfast since these options were “vegetarian”) they had some granola bars the following morning AND fruit instead of just crap. 

If you don’t ask you won’t know – AND what have you got to lose? Besides weight… 

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