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It's the fourth meatless Friday in Lent and Whole Wheat Pizza is on the menu

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It’s the fourth Friday in Lent, which means that once again, observing Catholics will be eating meatless meals today.

Over the last few Fridays, Vegetable Lasagna, Black Bean Soup, and Spice-rubbed Salmon have been on the menu. Today it is Whole Wheat Pizza.

Typical toppings of cheese and high-fat meats like pepperoni and sausage make pizza notorious as a high calorie food. Still, thirteen percent of Americans eat pizza daily, according to a survey published on pizza.com.

The white flour used to make a traditional pizza crust has no nutrition and is mostly empty calories. One way to rev up the healthfulness of pizza is to substitute the white flour with whole wheat flour.

The recipe below for 100% whole wheat pizza crust is adapted from one that is published on the Tablespoon.com website. It is essentially a recipe for white flour crust using whole wheat flour. Other whole wheat crust recipes, such as the one on the Food Network website, use a mix of both whole wheat and white flour. Some recipes call for honey, others for parmesan cheese. Clearly, a pizza crust can be adapted to fit anyone’s tastes.

To make the pizza meatless for this week’s Friday night dinner, the toppings are broccoli, mushrooms, and sun dried tomatoes. Part-skim mozzarella keeps the fat and calorie content low.

Ingredients for one pizza crust:

For the crust:

2 ½ cups whole wheat flour, plus more for dusting
2 ¼ t active dry yeast
3/4 t salt
1 cup warm water
1 T extra virgin olive oil
1 T sugar

For the topping:

1 cup (more for an extra cheesy pizza) part-skim mozzarella cheese, grated
1 cup steamed broccoli florets
1 cup mushrooms
1 cup black olives
1 cup jarred sun dried tomatoes, drained of oil and chopped

Directions for the crust:

1. In a small bowl, combine yeast, water and 1 tsp sugar. Let sit for five minutes.

2. In a large bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer, combine 2 cups flour, salt and remaining sugar. Make a well in the center and add yeast mixture and olive oil.

3. Stir using the paddle attachment or a spoon until the dough just comes together, then knead, either by hand (about 5 minutes) or in a stand mixer fixed with the dough hook (3-4 minutes).

4. Add remaining flour in 1 tsp. increments just until dough pulls away from sides of the bowl or is no longer sticky.

5. Shape dough into a ball, place in a lightly greased bowl and cover with lightly greased plastic wrap to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

6. Punch down risen dough, shape into a ball and place on a lightly floured pizza stone. Roll out into a circle of desired crust thickness and let rest about 10 minutes.

7. Sprinkle the cheese over the crust. Place broccoli, mushrooms, olives, and sun dried tomatoes on top of the cheese.

8. Bake for 10-15 minutes (or until crust is golden brown and toppings are baked) in an oven that has been preheated to 500 degrees. Let pizza rest for about 10 minutes before slicing.

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