8 recipes for a healthy pizza

Since 40+ million Americans eat pizza on any given day, we decided it’s time to turn one of the nation’s favorite junk foods into a meal with more merit. Your average slice packs in more fat, sodium and refined “bad” carbs than can ever be claimed healthy. Enter the deep dish arena and you run the risk of piling 770 calories onto your plate in just one slice. Yikes!

Luckily, pizza has the potential to be an award-winning meal if you power it up with the right ingredients and give its crust some care. In fact, it presents the perfect platform to load up on summer veggies, which you’ll see in many of the recipes included below. Let your mood and your meal help you choose which to try first!

8 recipes to power up your pizza:

Carrot and Kale Farm Pizza

Click here for recipes…


Happy National Fruit & Vegetable Month!

green and red healthy food

“Hey June, don’t make it bad.
Take a sad diet and make it better.
Remember to let produce into your bowl.
Then you can start to make it better.”

In honor of National Fruit & Vegetable Month, we’re calling on the Beatles for a little celebration. (If it’s sounding like we drank too much carrot juice and you have no idea what we’re referencing, you best take a few moments to watch the original Hey Jude.) The month’s farm-to-fork designation has officially made June our favorite time of year.

We’d like to invited you to join us in using the month-long holiday as extra motivation to fill up on fruits and veggies. Here’s the research on why you simply can’t say no:
  • A study released this past March suggests people who eat up to 7 servings of fruit & vegetables a day can cut their risk of premature death by 42%. Um, yes peas!
  • The unfortunate news? Research shows most people are consuming less than half of what the government recommends. And when we do plate up on produce, the #1 items in America are potatoes and tomatoes — in the not-so-nutritious forms of french fries and pizza, according to a report from the U.S. Dpt. of Agriculture. With that comes a hefty side of fat and sodium.
  • Are your readings showing high blood pressure? Filling up on produce lowers blood pressure and your risk for type 2 diabetes since fiber tempers blood-sugar swings by slowing the absorption of carbohydrates into your bloodstream after meals.
  • They’re also packed with cancer-fighting antioxidants, and a recent study released by the American Heart Association suggests with every 200 grams per day, you could cut your risk of stroke by 1/3.

We could have a never-ending sing-off about the benefits of fruits and veggies. Instead, however, we’re going to move on and highlight some of this month’s prime produce.

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Celebrate the holiday and the month of June with these 3 seasonal S’s:
If you want to make your diet smile like a banana, fill it with tons of fruits and veggies. And if you recall from our farmer’s market email, seasonal produce is often the best. (Remember – local produce needn’t travel as far, meaning it can be picked closer to its prime ripeness. This results in both tastier and more nutritious food for you.) This month, cook up a few of the items below, all cropstars of June.

  • Strawberries: 8 medium-sized berries yield 150% daily value (DV) of vitamin C at just 50 calories. That sounds pretty sweet to us, as does this recipe for Fish Tacos with Strawberry Mango Salsa.
  • Sugarsnap Peas: This hybrid of both a green pea and a snow pea is known for its high levels of B vitamins, which help your body convert food to energy. Pair them with shrimp and toss over brown rice in this light coconut curry recipe for a satisfying meal.
  • Spinach: Spinach is a vitamin K superstar, a vitamin essential for bone health. One cup contains nearly 200% DV, and also contains twice the amount of iron as most other greens, which is important for keeping your energy levels up. Serve this Spinach and Pumpkin Seed Pesto over whole wheat pasta for a Popeye and LifeVest approved meal.

Want more farmers’ market inspired ideas? Check out this recipe generator from the New York Times.


Go local: 5 reasons to shop at your area’s farmers’ market

From train station parking lots to urban city parks to suburban strip mall blacktops, farm-fresh food is everywhere. Raspberries are no longer a novelty most common in your neighbor’s backyard. And rarely do you ever need to pull over at the “Eggs 4 Sale” sign if you want a carton of local eggs.

Farmers’ markets are popping up everywhere, and with them come a haul of local eggs, cheese, and veggies serving communities all over. In fact, according to the USDA, farmers’ markets are one of the fastest growing segments of agriculture, with the latest Census of Agriculture showing a 40% increase in the number and concentration throughout the U.S. since 2008.

Why is this important? Since these markets are built from farmers all around the surrounding area, your food will be traveling far fewer miles than most items at the supermarket. This means fresher, more flavorful ingredients for you, with often more vitamins in tact, too. Need more motivation to make a trip to your local farmers’ market? Check out the USDA Farmers Market Search to locate a farmer’s market in your area. Then read on for five more reasons you should go local.

Shop local

5 reasons to take a trip to the Farmers’ markets:

  1. From chore to chill: Unlike the drudgery of shopping at a crowded supermarket, wandering around at a farmers’ market can be a relaxing experience. As you stroll, you are drawn in to each stall with its vibrant colors, smells, and tables that overflow with fresh, colorful items. This turns typical grocery shopping under artificial fluorescent lighting into a sunny experience for all the senses.
  1. Going social: Farmers’ markets often include not just carrots and kale, but music, entertainment, and other activities, too. This allows you to check out what else is going on in your local community and connect with others who are nearby. Consider striking up a conversation with that person in front of you, or perhaps swapping a recipe with the other person touting home a basket of broccoli. These types of interaction can make the experience both fun and memorable.
  1. Farmer knows best – knowledge from the source: At a grocery store, if you pick up an apple, its grower could likely live 1,000s of miles away. At a farmers’ market, however, you’ll get face-to-face contact with those who planted, picked, and sold you the fruit right within your hands. Have questions on how it was grown? Or maybe you’d like to know more about the flavor discrepancies of multiple varieties being offered. Regardless of where your curious mind might take you, farmers are generally glad to share their knowledge about the plants they grow. Plus, they’ll be onsite for you to pick their brain on how to prepare the items you’ve selected for when you get home.
  1. The opportunity to be bold & try something new: Many farmers’ markets offer fruits and vegetables that are not typically found in supermarkets, providing a variety that can be both tasty and nutritious. Spring boasts unique items like ramps, kohlrabi, and fava beans, all of which farmers can inform you on how to select the best quality, storage techniques, etc.
  1. Direct support to the hand that feeds you: Shopping at farmers’ markets supports your local farmers and keeps the money you spend closer to your neighborhood. When you purchase food at a farmers’ market, the money you spend goes directly to the farmer, rather than through a middleman that will reap some of the reward. It also forms a relationship between farmer and consumer. The hand that pulled the potato, or fed the chicken, is the hand of the farmer who answers your questions, accepts your payment and provides a handshake. That handshake is his or her seal of approval that the food that was just purchased is fresh, clean and safe. This kind of relationship and guarantee of quality food is one you can’t get unless shopping locally.

Next time you are at a farmers’ market, take the time to walk around and let the sights and smells of the offerings guide you. Use your shopping list as a template. It could say something like, “vegetables for roasting” or “fruits to grill on Sunday”. This leaves flexibility for whatever the market has to offer that week and is a true lesson in cooking off the land. The idea is to find inspiration from the sights and smells around you. Start there and you’ll be guaranteed a tasty, seasonal meal every time.

If you need a little inspiration, check out this Farmers’ Market Pizza, with spring asparagus, scallions, and goat cheese!

Trish Ryan is the founder of Time for Dinner, a service designed to simplify the meal planning process and help you enjoy dinner with your family.

Time For Dinner members are provided recipes for five simple, healthy, seasonal meals including side dishes each week. Meal plans are created to be efficient and eliminate waste. Ingredients are maximized to create balanced dinners that play off each other. Members are also provided with an organized shopping list, cost estimates to help keep you on budget, a list of pantry items you will need, and guides to meal preparation.

As a LifeVest reader, enjoy a special rate ($14 off an annual membership). To join visit:http://timefordinnerplanning.com/get-started/annual-offer/.