Think back to one of the original HYBRID foods.
It’s cheesy and gooey…
Remember them? Those bite-sized mini bagels topped with tomato sauce and cubed cheese…While I couldn’t eat quite as many as my brother (I think he once ate 15…no joke), these pop-able pizzas were a go-to after school snack. They even came with a “crisping tray” to achieve a from-the-oven bite in the microwave! Talk about innovative snacking…or just another convenience food…
Some frozen pizza bagel companies claim to be “wholesome,” but when you’re mass producing ANYTHING some of that wholesomeness is easily lost. But there are such easy AND healthy swaps to make to boost the nutrition of this classic snack you can make right at home!
I declare it time for the pizza bagel to get a MAKEOVER!
On my journey of experimentation, I bought some bagels, scooped them out (obviously) and started playing with veggie-licious toppings. I was unimpressed with the nutritional stats, so I axed the pizza BAGEL and focused on it’s cousin: PIZZA on a PITA!
It may not be a bagel, but who doesn’t love pita?!? It’s readily available, comes in 100% whole grain varieties (*health bonus*), and won’t throw a wrench in your diet (but still feels indulgent for those weight-conscious folk)!
Not to mention, it’s still SO EASY!
The next time you’re ready for a PIZZA PARTY, re-create a childhood fave with a more sophisticated adult flare.
Here are some nutritional benefits you’ll reap from this re-created hybrid classic:
- Whole grains. The USDA recommends 6-11 servings daily, HALF of which should come from whole grains (Try for ALL whole grains!!!)
- VEGGIES. Who doesn’t love a spiced up way to fulfill one of your (minimum) 5 servings of fruit/veggies per day? I love munching on some crudities, but on pizza? Even better!
- Low-fat dairy. There’s some controversy surrounding health pitfalls versus benefits of dairy, but if it doesn’t negatively affect your stomach, I say go for it…with a mindful eye on your portions and frequency of indulging.
- A recent “report card” featuring the changing American diet was released last month and we scored a C- in DAIRY!!! Our cheese intake is on the rise — since 1970, our cheese consumption has increased 15 pounds per person per year! The average American now eats up to 23 pounds of cheese a year!
- Protein. An average serving of low-fat cheese contains 5-6g protein for around 80 cals. With the protein in whole grains and veggies, you’ll stay satisfied until your next meal.
Let’s get to it!
Directions: On a baking sheet, place your sliced 100% whole grain pita bread (aim for 100 calories) OR a scooped out whole grain bagel, cut side up. Spray with nonstick cooking spray and toast in your oven at 350ºF for 2-3 minutes, just until slightly crisped. Remove from oven, load up on toppings (see below for details), sprinkle cheese on top, if using, and place back in the oven for about 5 minutes. Then switch oven to broil and leave tray in for another 2 minutes. Cheese should be browned, edges should be crispy, and it should be delicious! Top with basil, oregano, granulated garlic, or hot chili flakes and be careful not to burn the roof of your mouth!
Here are some of my blue-ribbon topping combos…Just follow the baking instructions above!
- Pomodoro Classic: Coat toasted pita with a thin layer of ricotta cheese and granulated garlic. Layer a hefty slice of tomato, shredded mozzarella cheese, and dried oregano.
- Sweet Potato and Kale. Mash ¼ cooked medium sweet potato with minced garlic and chili powder (to taste), top with kale drizzled with olive oil. Top with a dusting of parmesan cheese. The kale provides a potato chip crunch and loads of vitamins! (Nutritional note: ¼ of a cooked sweet potato has 30 calories, 1g fiber & 0.5g protein. Use minimal olive oil to keep calorie count low!)
- Eggplant Parm Pita. Slice eggplant, sprinkle with black pepper and olive oil, and cook stovetop while pitas are toasting. Spread a thin layer of tomato sauce, top with eggplant, and sprinkle with fresh and shredded mozzarella cheese. (Nutritional note: You can eat a CUP of eggplant for under 40 calories. Again, be mindful of the amount of olive oil used to cook this veggie!)
- White Out. Combine 3 tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese, ½ clove of garlic, minced, ¼ cup cooked spinach, finely chopped, a sprinkle of oregano and black pepper. Mix, then scoop onto pita, top with sliced mushrooms and cover with a pinch of low-fat mozzarella cheese & basil.
- Mexi Pie. The most un-pizza like, this mexi pie is perfect if you’re in the mood for something with a bit more of a kick. On your freshly toasted pita, layer mashed avocado, mashed black beans, granulated or fresh garlic (minced), fresh salsa, and top with a sprinkle of part-skim mozzarella.
Nutritional Note: I tried to keep each pita pie within approximately 200-250 calories, with 4g fiber, and a decent sized serving of veggies. 200 calories, with the combo of complex carbs + protein, is the perfect snack or mini meal. If making pita pizza your lunch, try pairing with a large side salad and a piece of fruit! Here are some nutrition facts to know:
- 3 tbsp part-skim ricotta cheese: 64 cals, 3.7g fat (2.3g saturated), 5.3g protein
- 1 oz fresh mozzarella cheese: 60 calories, 4.5g fat (2.5g saturated), 6g protein
- ¼ cup low-moisture, part-skim mozzarella cheese, shredded: 80 calories, 5g fat (3.5g saturated), 6g protein
- 1 tbsp Parmesan Reggiano, shaved: 20 calories, 1.5g fat (1g saturated), 2g protein
Now go quick and make your own batch! Let me know what toppings you use!