In a world where sugar-laden, greasy junk is absolutely everywhere, maintaining the willpower to keep your diet clean can seem impossible. It’s made even more difficult when your own world — your home, your sanctuary — momentarily conforms to the outside world, like when your mother jets off to Paris for three weeks, leaving your wonderful yet willpower-less father in charge of the shopping list. God Bless him. We often joke that if he didn’t run as much as he does, my dad would be obese. He really would be.
Since mum abandoned us a week ago, my treasured little health food-filled den which I spend faaaaar too much time in, otherwise known as our butler pantry, now resembles a mini 7/11 store. The shelves are chockablock with Tim Tams, Mars Bar cookies, Doritos, Milo cereal, Mi Goreng and various blocks of Cadbury Marvellous Creations, and the fridge is another story altogether; think tubs of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, apple crumble pie and double cream, cheese and bacon tart, a giant box of assorted Krispy Kremes, soft drink, BBQ pork ribs and an array of ghastly meat that turns solid white with all the fat. Needless to say, my precious pantry has become a danger zone which I do my best to avoid until I absolutely have to venture in there. I can’t even prepare meals in there at the moment – I grab the ingredients and bolt straight into the main kitchen for safety. I just simply don’t trust myself around all those endearing open packages and boxes.
You see, I have this really creepy habit where I smell everything. Glue sticks, books, pens, pillows, food. I’ve always done it. I think it’s due to my over-inquisitive nature. As you can imagine, this habit either totally captivates me, or puts me right off. Anyway, my point is that I can painlessly turn down sweet, greasy, nutrient-less treats in sealed boxes and containers because that’s all they are to me – sealed packages that elicit no aroma. Conversely, no matter how strong my cravings are and no matter how hungry I am, the only thing that ever breaks my willpower is when this little habit of mine hijacks my subconsciousness and forces me to lean in and take a concentrated whiff of those hot chips or that fresh-outta-the-oven cake. Before I know it, my salivary glands are going mental and I’m left fiending like the hyenas in The Lion King. In these moments, I’m dangerous.
So, I’m sure you can fathom how painfully challenging it is to open my fridge and opt for the spinach when I’m smacked in the face with the smell of strawberry-glazed Kirspy Kremes, or to grab only the LSA packet when it’s leaning against the Mars Bar cookies. Considering what I’ve been put up against, I actually can’t believe how well I’ve done! I only picked a thumbnail-sized piece off of last night’s apple pie (I was determined not to go near it, but then, naturally, I lent in and smelt it and just had to taste it). Apart from that, I haven’t touched any of the other marvellously evil creations, not even the blocks Marvellous Creations themselves. I didn’t even have a single piece of the giant Crunchie block that Dad shoved under my nose last night. I did, however, bolt straight to my room straight after that altercation, to grab a piece of Lindt 85% just to avoid having a craving-induced seizure. I don’t want to speak too highly too soon of my willpower, though. I still have eleven days to go.
I’m not sure whether I’m missing mum so terribly and am so desperate for her to return because I can’t stand the separation from her, or because I know she’ll restore order in our pantry (and thus my LIFE) and do my laundry again once she’s home.
Anyway, last Friday night, Dad was ordering Pizza from “this awesome as new Pizza and pasta joint” for him and my brother. When he’s ordering these things, Dad knows very well not to bother asking me if I want any, because as much as I want it, I won’t have it. Besides, I’m intolerant to most things that traditional pizzas involve. He also knows to guard his seafood pizza from me once it’s delivered. This is because I have another habit/tendency to pinch all the prawns off any unattended pizza slices. I’m a scab like that.
The smell of hot, cheesy pizza filled the air the way pizza does, and the fact that I was starving wasn’t doing me any favours. I soon realised that I wasn’t craving pizza on the basis that my nostrils had been violated by its aroma alone – I was genuinely craving everything about it: the crispiness, the carbs, the cheese, the meat, the warmth and the fact that I could eat it with my hands in front of the TV.
While I sneakily picked at those unattended prawns, peering over at Dad intermittently to make sure his eyes were still fixated on the TV, I accepted that no lean-meat-and-steamed-veg was going to satisfy my fast-food itch. It was a Friday night, after all, and with that notion I surrendered. Within 20 minutes I had my own mouthwatering Greek lamb pizza before me. As Dad groaned in regret about how much he’d just eaten, I didn’t feel guilty about eating my pizza, not one bit. I had no reason to.
I get so much joy out of ‘healthifying’ fast food. Pizza from take-out joints and restaurants gets such a bad wrap because of its typically heavily refined wheat crusts, fat-laden processed meats, copious amounts of cheese, calorific sauces and all that salt. Then there’s the glass/es of coke that go down oh so nicely with each slice. Rest assured, there is a healthy and totally guilt-free way to enjoy this universal favourite without compromising flavour. Homemade pizza is one of the best ways to trick yourself into feeling like you’re having something naughty. I’ve been making healthy pizzas for years now, and the possibilities truly are endless, but my Greek lamb pizza has got to be my all-time favourite. I always find the combination of lamb, mint, yoghurt and tomato totally irresistable. The best thing is, it actually tastes like a gourmet restaurant-style Greek pizza, and leaves you just as full, but without the what-belly-bloat! I served mine with blistered vine-ripened tomatoes and a green smoothie of cucumber, zucchini, spirulina, spinach and coconut water.
Healthy Greek Lamb Pizza w/ Blistered Vine Tomatoes
- 1/2 large healthy wrap, or 1 small (I use Old Time Bakery brand – they’re my favourites because they’re certified organic, wheat, gluten, sugar, nut, lactose and yeast free so they’re suitable for nearly any allergy/intolerance, and are also very high in protein and fibre and relatively low in carbs, so they make an all-round perfect healthy ‘pizza’ base! You could also use mountain bread or wholemeal lebanese bread if you wish.
- 1 tsp salt-reduced tomato paste
- 2 tbs cottage cheese (optional)
- 1 tsp garlic-infused olive oil (or 1/2 tsp fresh minced garlic)
- generous handful baby spinach
- 100g roast lamb (I used leftover roast lamb from the night before this time, but in the past I’ve also par-cooked lean lamb strips in a little garlic-infused olive oil and herbs prior to making the pizza).
- handful baby roma tomatoes, halved
- 4 baby bocconcini pearls, sliced thinly
- 20g goat’s feta
- 1 tbs fresh mint leaves, chopped (optional)
- 1 tbs chopped chives (or sliced Spanish/purple onion if you can tolerate it)
- 3 tbs fat-free greek yoghurt (optional)
- dried oregano
- 4-5 vine tomatoes, left on the vine (optional)
- Preheat oven and tray to 200 Celsius for 10 mins. Preheating the tray is essential – it ensures a crispy base!
- If you’re serving your pizza with blistered vine tomatoes as I did, simply place them on the tray 10 mins before you put your pizza in, as they take about 20 minutes to cook.
- Spread the pizza ‘base’ with the tomato paste, then with the cottage cheese if using. Drizzle with the garlic-infused olive oil, or with the fresh garlic.
- In order of layers, top with the baby spinach, lamb, cherry tomatoes, chives, sliced bocconcini and dried oregano. Bake in the oven for around 10 minutes, or until the bocconcini has melted and the base has browned and appears crisp.
- In the meantime, combine the Greek yoghurt and half of the mint leaves in a small dish.
- Remove the pizza and vine tomatoes (if using) from the oven, transfer to a large plate and generously drizzle over the mint and yoghurt dressing. Sprinkle crumbled goat’s feta and remaining fresh mint over the top. Devour immediately. As if you wouldn’t anyway.
Note: if you’re lactose intolerant or following a strict low FODMAP diet, simply omit the cottage cheese and yoghurt sauce. You can still use the bocconcini or sprinkle your pizza with a little shaved parmesan instead, as they’re both considered ‘hard’ cheeses and are suitable for most people with dairy and lactose sensitivities. You should also be fine with the goat’s feta 🙂