You could cook a decent sized pizza in 9 seconds if you were standing on Venus. True story. Well according to Neil deGrasse Tyson anyway.
As far as I’m concerned, pizza is deliciously angelic food from the gods. There’s something about the hot, cheesy, interactive finger food that gets my mouth watering worse than a basset hound at dinner time.
And as much as I wish we could get giant American style floppy pizzas in New Zealand, I’m really a sucker for the home made version.
Poor pizza tends to have a bit of a bad rep these days though, so I felt that it was high time someone batted on pizza’s side for once.
So today I would like to tell you about some of the good deeds pizza does for you. It really is a kind food, and although it is a little on the fatty side, it means well.
The secret is in the sauce
When you’re making a pizza, you always start with a deliciously tomatoey base paste. The thing you might not have known though is that this tomato paste is doing wonders for your health.
Tomatoes are high in an antioxidant compound called lycopene. Lycopene is the stuff in tomatoes that makes them red, and some studies have found it to be pretty darned fantastic. A number of studies, like this one, have found that lycopene can reduce the risk of us getting prostate cancer, yay! The racy red caroteniod has also been found to protect our skin from getting burnt! BBC even conducted their own study to test the effectiveness of this wonder compound and found that people who ate 55g of tomato paste a day were a third more protected from sunburn! That’s pretty convincing stuff.
But we eat lots of things with tomatoes right? And often the tomatoes on pizza are in paste and cooked form and not as fresh as the ones, say, in a salad, so why they hype? Well, that’s just the thing! It turns out that the more processed and cooked the tomatoes, the more of their lycopene becomes available to us. So cooked, canned, mushed up tomatoes are ideal, and that’s just what we spread all over the bases of our pizzas because it’s just so darned delicious.
And there are more pros for pizza! Lycopene is fat soluble, which means that if you eat it with fatty, oily foods it is absorbed better. So the oily, stringy, outrageously scrumptious cheese that we cover our pizzas with is halping us really get the most out of this magical pigment. Who’d have thought?
But what about the base?
A group of heroic food chemists from the University of Maryland have been looking into pizza doughs. They want to use chemistry to give this popular and magnificent food a few more health benefits, such good guys right? They found that if you cook your pizza base for longer and at a higher temperature it actually increases the antioxidant content of the dough.
So, for the best possible base, go for one which is wholewheat and deep dish, because the thicker the base, the longer it will have had to have been cooked for.
Plus, pizza is helping out brain surgeons!
A bundle of scientists from Monash University in Australia are studying the art of pizza tossing to make tiny tiny brain surgery tools. They are using the forces applied in pizza tossing to design very small motors which can be used in minimally invasive neuro-microsurgery. So the humble pizza is even influencing the medical world, horay for pizza!
Admittedly, pizza isn’t the healthiest choice for your hips, but it clearly isn’t as much of a bad guy as you might think. And on that note I would like to share with you a delicious pizza recipe, because nothing beats a home made pizza. Aand thins little beauty is specially formulated for maximum health benefits, wohoo!
Magnificent Margarita Pizza
For the base
- 1 1/4 cups of very warm water
- 1 tsp sugar
- 1 tbsp dry yeast
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 1 tsp salt
- 3 1/4 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tbsp mixed herbs (optional)
- Tomato paste
- Mozzarella cheese
- Cherry tomatoes
- Fresh basil
Dissolve the sugar in the water and sprinkle the yeast on top. Let this sit for about 1o minutes, until it gets all foamy and funny looking.
Stir in the olive oil and salt, and then add most of the flour gradually as you stir. When you just have a little bit of flour left, sprinkle it on the bench and knead your dough into it. Keep kneading until the flour has been absorbed and the dough is smooth. This usually takes 10-15 minutes.
Put the dough into an oiled bowl, cover it with a tea towel and let the mixture sit for about an hour. It will get way bigger, about doubling in size.
Roll your dough out into one or two bases, keeping them nice and thick so you can cook them for longer.
Add all of your toppings and bake at 220°C for about 20 minutes, or however long it takes for your base to be crisp and deliciously brown.