There are few comfort foods that allow the same innovative creativity of pizza.
First, there’s the crust: Wheat or white? Thin or thick? Gooey and doughy, or crunchy and brittle?
The sauce: Vodka, creamy Alfredo, spicy, meaty, or tomato basil? Minimally spread, or thickly glopped? Homemade with herbs and spices, or straight out of a Prego’s can?
The cheese: Gouda, mozzarella, sharp cheddar, parmesan, or maybe a little bit of each? Cheap bag of mixed Italian from Walmart or artisan squares from Whole Foods? Delicately dusted with thin shreds, or topped with handfuls of rich cubes?
And of course the toppings: Meaty pizza or veggie deluxe? The light combination of mushrooms and spinach, the spicy mix of sausage and jalapeño, the sweet Hawaiian concoction of ham and pineapple, or the savory fusion of bacon and basil? Funk it up with unique toppings—such as avocado, egg, corn, bell peppers, and sweet potato—or keep it bland?
The possibilities are endless. Truly.
And as warm weather approaches, who doesn’t love a pizza picnic? Picture it now, sunglasses propped on your nose, a light breeze blowing through the sweet blossoming trees, lemonade (or beer) in hand, and pizza. Lots of pizza. Regardless of if it’s delivery or handmade, pizza rarely disappoints. It’s probably one of the only foods that’s nearly impossible to mess up. Even Domino’s will suffice.
But it’s also a food that constantly causes remorse.
The morning after too much drinking undoubtedly brings many regretful hangovers, and thus is also true with pizza.
“How did I just eat an entire large pizza by myself?” Someone wails, arms thrown to the skies.
“I ate three day’s worth of calories in one sitting. Why?” Another smacks hand to forehead.
I think the answers are pretty clear. Pizza is just…So. Dang. Good.
Following hearty binge-eating sessions of pepperoni pizza, diets may ensue. Tears may fall.
But fear not, because there is a similarly delicious and nutrient-packed alternative.
Yes, indeed, ingenuity just got a whole lot weirder. Eggplant to the rescue!
Eggplants—also referred to as aubergines—are surprisingly among the healthiest vegetables. Well-known for their royal purple color and glossy exterior, eggplants are similarly unique in taste and health benefits.
Eggplants are comprised of various vitamins and minerals, as well as phytonutrients—which can help protect the body from diverse diseases. Phytonutrients in eggplants help lower cholesterol, improve circulation, support cognitive function, regulate iron quantities in the bloodstream, prevent damage to cell membranes that may cause cancer, decrease risk of/manage existing diabetes, and lessen risk for joint injury and arthritis.
Similarly, bioflavonoids in eggplants help to relieve stress and aid blood circulation, strengthening capillaries and diminishing risk of blood clots.
Eggplants also consist of fibers, which assist digestion and can protect you from colon cancer. Because eggplant is also low in calories and contains no fat, the high fiber content helps aid weight loss, while keeping you feeling full and satisfied.
Ok, ok. Enough of this mumbo jumbo. So how do you make a “healthier pizza” with eggplant?
Cut your eggplant horizontally into centimeter-thick slices. Pop the slices into your oven at around 400 degrees for approximately five minutes, until softened. (Frying eggplants can strip the plant of its advantageous properties, but baking actually increases intense flavor and maintains nutrients.)
Then, top your mini pizzas with whatever you would normally want on pizza. Lather them in sauce, smother them in cheese, top them with artichoke hearts and chicken, and toss your tray back in the oven until the cheese has melted.
After just a few minutes back in the oven, you’ll have nutrient-packed miniature pizzas, without the added calories and fats of typical pizza dough.
No amount of cheese or vodka sauce can make you feel guilty with this alternative pizza option!