By: Abbie Kilgore
It can be really easy for us to not make much of our meals. Living busy, active lives leaves little room for three-course meals – especially when you are living on a tight budget. As a college student, I find myself swinging by my sorority’s house, grabbing a quick bite, then heading off to the next class or meeting or shift at work. While schedules might demand that kind of meal-on-the-go, forming a habit of it can shortchange us from the experience food is supposed to provide.
I don’t want to romanticize food. It shouldn’t have that kind of influence over us. After all, at the core of it, food is meant to sustain us. But that doesn’t mean we can’t get creative, or make a simple sandwich into a delicious meal. One thing that I have started to find enjoyable is making my own pizza. Pizza just might be one of the best things ever gifted to this world. If you are feeling adventurous, you can make your own dough from scratch. That would be quite the accomplishment. But if you are like me, the pizza crust they sell in the store next to the break-and-bake cookie dough (convenient placement) will do just fine. Depending on the grocer, there are many different options for pizza dough. I like Pillsbury whole-wheat crust.
Now lets talk sauce and toppings. Here is where you have creative license. If you’re a classic cheese pizza kind of gal, all you need is marinara and mozzarella. But don’t be afraid to get crazy in the produce section. Most of the time, vegetables are a lot better tasting when paired with cheesy goodness, so you can sneak in some easy nutrition points here. For me, pesto is the go-to. The Barilla brand is a tasty choice, and it is offered at a great price. From there, I add chicken. There are two options for this: you can cut up some raw chicken tenderloins into bite-sized pieces, and cook them with olive oil, salt, and pepper in a skillet. Or you can buy a rotisserie chicken. If you do this, the chicken could dry out a little more when you cook it on the pizza. But the rotisserie chicken does provide you with lots of savory meat, and that can be eaten through several different meals.
After the pesto and the chicken comes ample amounts of shredded mozzarella. When it comes to cheese, I find the cliché, “the more the merrier,” very applicable. Mind you, this isn’t the healthiest advice, but it is the tastiest. If you’re worried about it, the next ingredients could settle you: spinach and cherry tomatoes. I find spinach to be a great addition to any pizza. It adds nutritional value without overpowering the taste of the overall product. Cherry tomatoes are perfect because they are sweet, but also contain acid. The acidity rounds out the other flavors of the pizza. Roma tomatoes are also a great option.
Now, you just have to bake it. About 10-14 minutes at 400° should do the trick. Make sure the cheese has browned a bit – that’s the good stuff. This will make about 4 or 5 servings. I like to make it earlier in the week, and – voila – you have lunch ready for the next couple of days. Or if you wanted to have a dinner with friends, pizza is always a crowd pleaser. Remember: customize it to fit the foods you love. Try new things and figure out foods that go well with each other. Creativity goes hand-in-hand with our diet. We can choose to run in and out of the kitchen, and not allow ourselves to enjoy it, or we can use food to our advantage. I believe that happens when we try new things, and savor what is in front of us.