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Fresh Vegetables Create Heart Healthy Additions to Zesty Summer Pizza Recipes

Article first posted on Benzinga.com, July 21, 2011

Dr. Mike Fenster, The Grassroot GourmetTM, creates delicious pizza alternatives for summer.

Summer is the perfect time to eat healthy by enjoying the bounty fresh produce available from local farmers. Salads are an excellent source of good nutrition, light calories and a cool meal on a hot day. But let’s face it, after a while those salads begin to look and taste the same. Dr. Mike, The Grassroots Gourmet, provides a unique way to enjoy a summer salad: put it on a pizza. “Take your favorite salad elements and combine them on a light crust you can make yourself,” Fenster explains. “Add in seasonal seafood like blue crab, grouper, shrimp, mahi-mahi, snapper, black sea bass or oysters and you have a total meal that is not only low in calorie but heart healthy.” In addition to being a certified chef, Dr. Mike is a practicing interventional cardiologist, who specializes in combining his medical knowledge with his love of food to create delicious recipes that are easy on the waistline and good for your heart.

Eating fresh and natural foods is part of Dr. Mike’s Grassroots GourmetTM (GG) concept (and his forthcoming book titled Eating Well, Living Better: The Grassroots Gourmet Guide to Good Healthy and Great Food – January 2012) that is derived from his beliefs and studies as a physician and as a chef that we are what we eat. Grassroots Gourmet is his easy-to-follow guideline for navigating between deprivation and gastronomic gluttony and follows three basic principles, what Dr. Mike calls the Threefold Path of Be’s:

  • Be Aware and Avoid the Siren Call of Junk and Fast Food
  • Be Fresh – eat as much fresh and naturals foods as possible
  • Be On-Time and In Proportion

“There are so many ways to create tasty and fun summer pizzas. You can combine your favorite vegetables into a spicy salsa and guacamole and top a pizza crust with fat free refried beans, melted cheese and chicken for a way south of the border Mexican-pizza. Or, if you have fired up the outdoor barbecue, grill up a lean steak, roast garden fresh tomatoes and pears, and top with a nice blue cheese. You can even top a pizza crust with some vanilla yogurt, slices of fresh fruit a drizzle of honey and a dab of sweet whipped cream for a coolly refreshing dessert pizza.”

With Blue Crabs in season, Dr. Mike has developed this easy summer pizza.

Summer Blue Crabby Pizza
Serving size 1 – 5 oz slice (8 slices per pie); 120 Calories per serving; 3 g Total Fat; 15 g Carbohydrate

  • 1 pizza crust, baked (see recipe below)
  • Avocado cucumber dressing (see recipe below)
  • 8 oz fresh blue crab, jumbo lump***
  • 1 pound small grape or pear tomatoes, roasted
  • 4-6 oz mixed greens
  • 2 Tbs toasted pine nuts
  • 1 Tbs peppadew or piquant pepper, finely chopped
  • 2 Tbs red onion, finely chopped

Remove the pizza crust from the oven and top with salad greens. Add all the ingredients and then drizzle with the avocado cucumber dressing. You can add any variety of additional fresh veggies and toppings you would like.

***Variation: You can substitute Blue Crab with 8oz fresh Salmon grilled, baked or poached. Calories change to 160 per slice and total fat is 6 grams per slice.

Avocado Cucumber Dressing

  • 1 ½ cups Greek style yogurt
  • 1 Tbs fresh thyme
  • 1 Tbs fresh oregano
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ½ tsp fresh ground black pepper
  • 1 medium cucumber, peeled seeded and chopped
  • 1/4 cup good quality olive oil
  • 1 tsp chile powder

Combine all the items in a food processor and pulse until well combined.

For a variation that makes the salmon pizza amazingly scrumptious, simply add 1 Tbs chopped dill to the dressing!

Pizza Dough Recipe

The crusts can be made ahead of time. You can bake them all at once and refrigerate or freeze them for later use. Likewise, the dough will keep in the refrigerator for several days if you want to bake the crusts up hot and fresh. Just remember to let the dough come up to room temperature and then sit an extra hour or two to rise before rolling out.

  • ¼ cup warm water (between 90 and 110 degrees F)
  • 1 packet yeast
  • 1 Tbs honey
  • 16 ounces bread flour
  • 4 oz whole wheat flour
  • 4oz AP flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1 ½ cup cold water

Combine the yeast, warm water and honey in a bowl and allow the yeast to bloom. Place the flour, salt and olive oil in a stand mixer equipped with a dough hook. Add the bloomed yeast mixture. Slowly add the water and mix until the dough comes clean away from the bowl. Using the dough hook, mix an additional five minutes, then remove and divide into 2 to 4 dough bowls. Cover with a light coating of olive oil and loosely wrap in cling wrap and set aside in a warm area to proof for about 2 hours or until doubles in size.

Recipes may be reprinted with the following credit:
Copyright Michael Fenster