Let’s talk about superfoods.
According to Wikipedia, the word “Superfood” is a marketing term used to describe foods that are healthy.
It is also described as a nutrient-rich food considered to be beneficial for human health and wellbeing.
According to Julie Morris, the author of the cookbook “The Superfood Kitchen”, even though nowadays, the term “superfood” is being used very commonly, it was discovered a very long time ago.
The following is an excerpt from her book:
“It was around 10,000 years ago that humans first got the whole “farming” thing down- most likely beginning with figs, and then moving on to grains. With the progress of agriculture, many superfoods were selected as the go to crops. Archeological records show that flaxseed was sown in ancient Babylon for over 5,000 years and chia seeds were a well-known staple food of Aztec warriors. Acai berries were used in early Amazonian folk medicine, and in more recent history hemp was one of the first vital crops grown in the American colonies before the revolution.
Meanwhile, as modern culture has evolved, our food ironically, has not. It goes without saying that we have an exciting amount to learn from the simpler, more natural diets of civilizations long before us.”
I am pretty new to creating recipes with superfoods. Lately I have been trying different “superfood-rich” recipes and am reading a lot about how to incorporate them in my daily cooking. My goal here is to understand their benefits, how to use them to create healthy recipes, and share them with you here on my blog.
This recipe and article is just the beginning of my journey of cooking with superfoods and I am planning to share more as I learn along the way.
If you want to know why and how superfoods are good for us I’d recommend reading this article.
Cooking with superfoods requires an initial investment. If you are like me, you may not have acai powder, lucuma powder, chia seeds, flaxseeds, or goldenberries in your pantry. I had to go out and buy them.
However, I promise you that after you read the benefits and learn how to use them to create recipes, you will quickly realize that they are a pantry staple worth the money.
What I like most about superfoods is how easily they can be integrated into your favorite dishes by simply swapping out some of the not-so-good ingredients with them. Superfoods are an easy way to make your meals instantly healthier, without sacrificing the taste.
So I decided give it a try in my own kitchen by making this Spinach, Tomato and Olive Flatbread Pizza. In this flatbread pizza I used the two most popular superfoods, flaxseeds and chia seeds, in addition to the usual healthful suspects like tomatoes, spinach, and Portobello mushrooms. We all know how healthy it is to eat fresh vegetables in our diets, so I will not go into detail about the nutritional values of spinach, tomatoes, or mushrooms.
Instead, I would like to focus on chia seeds and flaxseeds.
Here are some notes from my research:
- Chia means “strength” in Mayan language.
- Aztecs, Incas, and Mayans used chia seed to increase strength and endurance during their long journeys.
- It is rich in fiber, essential fatty acids (Omega 3 and Omega 6), calcium (1 tablespoon of chia seeds have more calcium than a glass of milk), vitamins, and antioxidants (more than blueberries).
Scientists believe that due to its high fiber content it absorbs water (9 times of its weight in water) very easily and will plump up when combined with liquid to create a gel-like texture. When using it in your daily life, think of it as more of a textural component.
- Some popular ways of using chia seeds are:
– As a binding agent, they are a great egg substitute: for recipes calling for 1 egg, mix 1 tablespoon of finely grounded chia seeds with 3 tablespoons of water.
– Sprinkle it on salads as a slightly crunchy topping
– Use them as a thickener for soups and gravies
– Make puddings
- Originated from Mesopotamia and have been used since the Stone Age.
- They contain a great supply of lignans. Lignans are a group of chemical compounds found in plants. Due to their estrogen-like chemical structure they are known to help balance hormone levels. They are also high in antioxidants, fiber, and fatty acids (like Omega-3).
- When eaten as a whole, they are more likely to pass through the digestive system without their healthful components being absorbed by our bodies. Therefore, in order to enjoy all of their nutritional attributes, they should be ground. (I use my spice grinder to grind them.)
- Like chia seeds, they absorb moisture easily and as a result, act like an ideal thickener and binder.
- The best way to store them is in a dark and cold place like your refrigerator.
- They are sold under many names like flaxseed meal, flaxseed powder, powdered flax, ground flax… and they all mean the same thing. I, personally, prefer to buy whole seeds and grind it at home myself.
- You can incorporate them in your daily cooking by:
– Adding them to muffins, granolas, cookies, and pizza crust (just like I did in this recipe). Impact of high oven temperatures does not affect the quality of the flaxseeds.
– Sprinkling/adding them to salads, hot&cold cereals, soups, smoothies, dressings, etc.
Now let’s talk about this Spinach, Tomato and Olive Flatbread Pizza recipe. This recipe has 4 steps.
1. Make the crust:
Process all ingredients in a food processor until they form a dough. Using your hands form the dough into a compact ball, cover it with stretch film, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
Rolling the dough: Since this dough is not made by using traditional all-purpose flour, it is much softer than the usual flour-based dough. Therefore, it requires more of a gentle approach when rolling it out.
Here is how I did it:
- Lay a big piece of aluminum foil on your counter.
- Lightly dust the surface and the rolling pin with brown rice flour.
- Place the dough on top and start rolling the dough, gently, into a 1/8 inch thick layer. Along the way you may need to patch and reshape the dough.
- Place a large plate on top of the dough and trim the sides to make a perfectly round shape.
- While the plate is still on the dough, roll the overhanging aluminum foil around the plate and turn it upside down. Gently peel the aluminum foil from the dough. At this point, the dough will be on the plate. Put the lightly oiled baking sheet upside down on the plate (place it exactly where you want it to be because once you turn it, it may be very difficult to move the dough) and flip it over. Gently remove the plate.
- Place it in a pre-heated (350 °F) oven for 18-20 minutes.
2. Make the olive spread:
Simply mix all ingredients in a food processor.
You can also use this spread for sandwiches or like a dip for parties.
3. Make the pizza topping:
Heat oil in a large non-stick pan. Cook the onions until they are fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the yellow peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes and salt for seasoning. Cook for 5 more minutes and turn the heat off. Add the spinach and close the lid. Let the spinach cook with the heat of the other vegetables in the pan for 5 minutes. Using tongs, toss the vegetables in the hot pan to wilt the spinach and combine the flavors.
4. Build the flatbread:
When the crust is ready, evenly spread the olive spread on the crust.
Using tongs, top it with the cooked vegetables. I use tongs in order to avoid getting too much liquid on the crust. I want it to maintain its cracker-like texture.
Return it to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes. To serve, sprinkle with more chia seeds and red pepper flakes and cut into slices with a pizza roller.
This is a flatbread pizza with a cracker-like crust high in protein and boosted with super seeds. The savory olive spread gives it an unusual kick. Regardless of what you put on top, it is bound to be an amazing flatbread.
It is a keeper in my kitchen and I highly recommend it.Print
Spinach, Tomato and Olive Flatbread Pizza
- FOR THE CRUST
- 1/2 cup brown rice flour, plus some for extra dusting
- 1/4 cup flaxseed powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 can (15.5 oz) garbanzo beans, drained and washed – preferably unsalted
- 2 tablespoons tahini
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds, divided
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- OLIVE SPREAD
- 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives
- 1 tablespoon chia seeds
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard
- 1 large clove garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- FOR THE TOPPING
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1/2 medium red onion, thinly sliced
- 1 yellow pepper, seeded and chopped
- 2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
- 1 cup Portobello mushrooms, wiped clean and sliced 1/4 inch thick
- 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, freshly grounded
- 4 cups (approximately 5 oz.) spinach leaves, thoroughly washed
- Red Pepper flakes – optional
- MAKE THE CRUST
- Process all ingredients in a food processor until they form a dough. Using your hands form the dough into a compact ball, cover it with stretch film, and allow it to rest for 15 minutes.
- In the mean time make the olive spread. Mix all ingredients in a food processor. Set aside.
- Roll the dough. (A detailed explanation on how to roll the dough is explained above.)
- MAKE THE TOPPING
- Heat oil in a large non-stick pan. Add the onions and cook until they are fragrant, 4-5 minutes. Add the yellow peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, and salt and pepper for seasoning. Give it a gentle stir. Cook for 5 more minutes and turn the heat off. Add the spinach and close the lid. Let the spinach cook with the heat of the other vegetables in the pan for 5 minutes. Using tongs, toss the vegetables in the hot pan to wilt the spinach and combine the flavors.
- BUILD THE PIZZA
- When the crust is ready, evenly spread the olive spread on the crust.
- Using tongs, top it with the cooked vegetables.
- Return it to the oven and bake for 10 more minutes.
- To serve, sprinkle with more chia seeds and red pepper flakes and cut into slices with a pizza roller.