Quick and Simple Tomato Sauce

As I was just writing my review of Flatzza sprouted grain pizza crusts, it occurred to me that I should share my recipe for a quick and easy pizza sauce. I prefer to make my own sauce for pizza and pasta for a couple reasons: 1. it’s cheaper than buying store-bought sauce, 2. I can avoid that added sugar and sodium found in jarred sauces, and 3. I can make it taste however I want. I came up with this in a pinch one night and it’s been my go-to ever since: simple, quick, easy, yummy.

Ingredients:

  • 2-3 tsbp tomato paste
  • 1 28-oz can of whole peeled San Marzano tomatoes
  • 1-2 tsbp of fresh or dried oregano
  • Garlic powder
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Extra Virgin Olive Oil

Process:

  1. In a large sauce pan, heat about 2 tbsp olive oil over medium-low heat. Add the tomato paste and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring and mashing it in the oil.
  2. Add the oregano and stir around, cooking for about a minute.
  3. Using your hands, squish and smoosh the tomatoes into the pan (be careful of splatter!) and pour in the liquid from the can.
  4. Further smoosh up the tomatoes with your spoon or spatula and bring to a low simmer. Add garlic powder, salt, and pepper to taste. Allow sauce to cook for at least 5-10 minutes. The tomato paste will thicken it as it cooks and the flavors will further incorporate the longer it goes. You can add any additional seasonings you’d like!

Super easy, right?!

Load it up for a veggie-loaded pasta sauce

Have a hard time getting your kids to eat their vegetables? Working veggies into your pasta sauce is a great way to get them to. Simply take this pasta sauce and add the following veggies to it. If your kids are super picky and will balk at chunks in the sauce, simply dump it in the blender and puree it all together.

  • 1/2 large onion, finely diced
  • 1 bell pepper (any color but green), diced
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, chopped
  • 1/2 cup broccoli, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, finely chopped

Simply sauté these veggies in the pan until they’re soft before adding the tomato paste in Step 1 above. You can add other vegetables to this as well, like finally chopped spinach or kale. Adding a chopped mushroom with a meaty texture, like oyster mushrooms, can give this sauce a bolognese feel.

Product Review: Flatzza

Sooo I have a bit of a pizza obsession…honestly I could eat pizza every day but I don’t because it’s not good for me. However, that doesn’t mean that I am not constantly looking for ways to make my pizza habit healthier. You may recall my review of the Trader Joe’s Cauliflower Pizza Crust that was a heartbreaking disappointment. That was why I didn’t want to get my hopes up too much when I found the Flatzza Sprouted Grain Pizza Crust but I had to give it a try.

7GrainFlatzza12oz-2016-1This is from a company called Angelic Bakery which makes it seem even more virtuous. They come two in a package and are super thin crusts made from a mixed sprouted grain mash. They don’t carry the USDA Organic label, but they are non-GMO and are also produced in a very allergy-friendly facility (according to the label). As with the frozen cauliflower crust, there were a lot of factors I took into consideration here, including ingredients, nutrition information, texture, and flavor.

Verdict: We have a winner!

I have a new favorite pizza product and it’s these pizza crusts.

What’s the Deal with Sprouted Grains?

Sprouted grains are a bit of a fad right now, and for good reason. Sprouting the grains used in breads actually increases many of the key nutrients found in whole grains, such as B vitamins, vitamin C, folate, fiber, and certain amino acids. Sprouting the grains may also lessen their impact on individuals with food sensitivities as they have a lower gluten content and higher soluble fiber content than grains that have not been sprouted. These factors make sprouted grains a nice addition to your diet.

Now onto the product itself…

Nutrition

Looking at the Nutrition Facts, a serving of 1/4 of this crust contains 140 calories, a impressive 5 grams of fiber, 5 grams of protein, and just 1 gram of sugar. It’s also a good source of Calcium and Potassium and a source of Iron. Depending on what you put on your pizza for toppings, you could feasibly up your serving size of this crust as well. As a heath coach, I love seeing 5s in the fiber and protein categories – not only is this good nutrition, it also means that these thin crusts have a surprisingly high satiety factor.

Ingredients

Talk about clean eating! The first 6 ingredients in these crusts are the various sprouted grains found in them. From there, it’s all good, real food ingredients that you would expect to find in real food – no strange chemicals or artificial ingredients. Again, loving this.

Flavor

OK so these are nice and nutritious, but do they taste like cardboard? They’re actually really yummy! They taste like pizza crust, not like cardboard. They have a very slight nuttiness from the grains. Because they’re a thin crust, it’s easy for the flavor to be kind of overpowered by the toppings but I found them to be just right for my tastes.

Texture

When it comes to the texture of a pizza crust, I will admit I am a huge snob. Floppy, soft, or soggy pizza crusts are an abomination. I like a nice, crispy pizza crust and was a little worried that these wouldn’t be able to deliver since they are thin and could presumably become water-logged by the liquid in the tomato sauce. This wasn’t the case though! It took longer to cook than the packaging says, but we got them nice and crispy, just the way I like. If you like your crust softer, just don’t bake it as long. If you are a crispy crust person like me, I also suggest pre-baking it for just a few minutes before you top it to further protect against the liquid in the sauce.

Price Point

For any of you who buy Ezekiel or other sprouted grain breads, you are probably bracing yourself for the price on these crusts – I know I was expecting $5+. We paid $2.99. For two crusts! My frugal little heart was very happy with this!

It’s Important to Note…

that the crust is just one component of the pizza and that what you choose to put on it can really make or break your meal nutritionally. While the crust may be 140 calories per serving, if you load it with 3 cheeses, pepperoni, and sausage, you’re going to be eating way more than you probably should be. I recommend keeping the cheese to a single layer and using veggies for your toppings. We typically buy sliced provolone cheese and use that to top our pizza so it’s just a thin layer of cheese. Then, we top it with peppers, onions, mushrooms, and sometimes broccoli and spinach. Making your own pizza sauce is also a great way to keep track of what you’re putting on your pizza. Store-bought sauce often contains a lot of added sugar and sodium whereas a homemade sauce doesn’t have to. Plus it’s actually super easy to put together a simple but delicious tomato sauce.

 

All in all, I am super happy with these pizza crusts and would definitely suggest them for your occasional pizza night.

Baked Fish Tacos with Mango Salsa

This recipe is so quick and easy but packed full of zesty, refreshing flavor. It makes a great summer dinner and you could also cook the fish on the grill wrapped in foil instead of baking it.

If you’re not a huge fan of fish, I really recommend that you give this recipe a try. Cod is a very light-flavored fish and the combo of the spicy fish seasoning and the sweet, tangy salsa is really delightful. Plus, this is such a ridiculously easy recipe, you have nothing to lose!

As a certified health coach, I am constantly urging people to eat more fish or, at the very least, take a fish oil supplement. When we think of fish, we typically think of the Omega-3 fatty acids found in them. However, there are a number of other important health benefits to consuming fish.

Health Benefits of Cod

Omega-3 fatty acids, found in fish and certain plant sources, are critical for a number of important health benefits, such as heart health, depression, and brain health to name just a few. Admittedly, cod is not the greatest source of Omega-3’s compared to other species of fish, like salmon. However, it does contain about 8% of your daily value of these critical fatty acids.

Beyond that, cod is very high in Vitamin B12 which is a key nutrient for cardiovascular health, DNA production, metabolism, and brain and nervous system health. B vitamins are a set of vitamins that need other vitamins present in order to be properly absorbed, so getting your B12 through a food source is the best way to ensure proper absorption. (Second best would be a B complex supplement rather than an isolated B vitamin supplement.)

Finally, cod is also a great source of lean protein in your diet.

Choosing Your Fish

When it comes to purchasing fish, the fresher the better, as is the case with pretty much all food. However, a large and increasing amount of fish on the market is farmed rather than wild caught. I strongly recommend that, as often as you possibly can, you buy wild caught fish.

Wild caught fish are more nutritious than farmed fish because they are able to consume more nutritious food sources, such as the phytoplankton that contains Omega-3s. You are also getting better quality meat from a fish that swam around in the vast ocean than a fish that was confined to a small pen and is, therefore, fattier. Farmed fish are often given antibiotics and treated with pesticides and have been found to have higher levels of toxic PCBs in their bodies. There are also many ethical considerations to be made when it comes to farmed fish.

Bottom line: wild caught > farmed.

OK that’s enough education. Let’s get to the recipe, shall we?

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Spicy Mango Salsa

Ingredients

  • 1/4 of a large red onion, finely diced
  • 1/8 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 lime, juiced
  • 1 jalapeño, deveined, deseeded, and diced
  • 2 cups mango, finely diced (I used frozen but fresh works as well as long as it’s ripe)
  • 1/2 orange or yellow bell pepper, finely diced
  • 1 lb wild caught cod
  • Old Bay seasoning
  • Organic corn tortillas

For the Salsa

  • Combine the onion, bell pepper, jalapeño, cilantro, and mango in a large bowl. Pour the lime juice over it and mix to ensure all the ingredients are combined and coated with the lime juice.
  • Cover and place the salsa in the refrigerator while you prepare the fish. The acid in the lime juice will macerate the ingredients and help combine the flavors.

For the Cod

  • Preheat your oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • Place the cod on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with the Old Bay seasoning until it’s coated.
  • Bake about 20 minutes until the fish flakes with a fork.

Serve the cod on the corn tortillas topped with the salsa and garnished with sliced avocado and fresh lettuce.

Serves 2 people 2-3 tacos each.

That’s it! Ridiculously easy, right?

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Fish tacos with mango salsa