I had prepared to share my opinion of the recent USDA decision to not promote Meatless Mondays. As I was writing, however, I felt that I was getting preachy, and I hate it when I get preachy. I was upset for a number of reasons, but what concerned me the most was how this would affect the USDA's already distorted and misguided regulations for nutrition in schools. The USDA is following a set of standards set along ago with good intentions, but have since abandoned listening to what science tells us is good for us and the earth, and have chosen to listen more closely to what pays them the most money. Rather than let myself let my frustration escalate, I sought to find the good in this situation. The more I thought about what message this sends to our nation, I realized that this is a reminder, to Chris and I at least, but hopefully to all parents, that it is up to us to teach our youth how to live healthfully by setting a good example at home instead of relying on schools or what the USDA mandates as "healthy" to do the job for us.
Chris and I have the twins each weekend, and Sophia (vegetarian) and Max (omnivore, for the time being) have chosen to be vegan when they are with us. They know that our house is 100% cruelty-free and all that Chris and I will give them is vegan foods, but if we are visiting family for example, where a variety of foods are offered, they still choose to eat vegan since they "are vegan on the weekends." When they are with their mother, she does her best to provide them with healthy meals, but it can be tricky when there is one vegetarian and one very picky eater to feed. Recently, Sophia decided that she wants to be vegan all of the time (Yay!), but since her mother is concerned about Sophia getting all of the nutrients she needs on a plant-based diet, they worked out a deal that Sophia could be vegan all the time once she learns how to prepare her own food. Sophia's goal is to be fully vegan by the time she's 13 and she has asked that I teach her how to cook.
I am delighted to be able to help Sophia with this goal and I am so proud of her for making this decision at such a young age. Her determination is inspiring. Because of this decision, she has been helping me out in the kitchen a lot more, all the while taking notes in her little notebook. Because of this decision, I will be posting more of Max and Sophia's favorites, to serve as guidance for Sophia when she needs it.
This pizza is one of those recipes. When I first met the twins, they did not like marinara sauce, or even pizza for that matter. Somewhere along the line, they learned to accept marinara sauce, and pizza as long as it's a plain cheese pizza. Pizza is so versatile, that if I make a more elaborate pizza for Chris and I, I can easily make another plain cheese one for the twins. This time, however, I enlisted Sophia's assistance. I made the dough (though you could just as easily buy a premade crust), while Sophia watched (and took notes), and I had to help her roll it out, but Sophia took great satisfaction in dressing it with sauce and cheese. She had even helped me make the mozzarella-style cashew cheese the day before, and she was surprised at how simple it was. Her response: "That's it?!" After she set the timer, she stood very close to the oven, keeping an eye on her work. I would be lying if I said I wasn't proud to see her excited about taking steps to live healthfully.
Once we sat down to dinner, and Sophia handed her brother his plate, Max immediately, as per usual, said "Thank you, Kristy! This looks so great!" It was so great to watch Sophia very proudly tell her brother that she helped make dinner. It was even better to watch her eat something that she helped create, knowing that she was getting closer to her goal.
makes 3 12-14 inch pizzas
- 1 package active dry yeast
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 cup warm water (110 deg.)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 T olive oil
- 3 cups unbleached bread flour, plus more for dusting
- In a measuring cup or small bowl, combine the yeast and water until yeast has mostly dissolved. Add in the sugar and gently stir until dissolved. Set aside for at least 10 minutes, until a thick layer of foam has developed on the top.
- Pour your flour into a large bowl and make a small “well” in the middle. Add the salt and olive oil to your yeast mixture and pour into the well in the bowl of flour. Use a wooden spoon (or other strong spoon) to stir, until it becomes too tough. Then you can use your hands to knead the dough. If it is too sticky, add more flour, 1 tablespoon at a time. If it is too crumbly, add water, 1 tablespoon at a time. Knead the dough until it forms into a solid ball. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and fold it over itself a few times; kneading until it’s smooth and elastic.
- Form the dough into a round and place in a lightly oiled bowl, turn it over to coat. Cover with plastic wrap or a damp towel and let it rise in a warm spot until doubled in size, about 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 500. Prepare your pizza-cooking device of choice (pan, stone, or paddle) by lightly sprinkling with flour or cornmeal.
- Once the dough is domed and spongy, turn it out onto a lightly floured counter. Roll and stretch the dough into a cylinder and divide into 3 equal pieces. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes so it will be easier to roll out. Roll or pat out a piece of dough into a 12-14 inch circle, about 1/8-inch thick.
- Transfer your rolled-out pizza dough to your cooking device and top with desired toppings. Transfer the pizza to the oven and cook for 10-15 minutes, until crust is golden and crisp. Repeat with remaining balls of dough, or wrap in plastic and refrigerate for up to 5-7 days.
EASY CHEEZY PIZZA
- 1/3 recipe pizza dough (or use a pizza dough recipe of your choice or a pre-made crust)
- ½ cup marinara sauce (you can make your own, or used jarred. I like Trader Joe’s Organic Tomato Basil Marinara)
- 1 cup shredded vegan mozzarella-style cashew cheese (I used this recipe, but Daiya is great too)
- Preheat oven to 475.
- Prepare pizza dough according to directions (ahead of time) and roll out into desired shape and place on pizza pan/peel.
- Spread the marinara sauce over the top, leaving a little room for the crusts.
- Spread the cheese out on top of the marinara sauce and place the pizza in the oven. Cook until crust is golden and cheese is melted. Slice, serve and enjoy!
All Photos taken by Kristy Turner
© Kristy Turner and Keepin' It Kind, 2012. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material (content and images) without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kristy Turner and Keepin' It Kind with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
Where to begin with how much I love this post? First, it made me think of your grandma and how she taught you to cook, and how that was both transformative then and also has become one of your greatest passions. That you are able to pass that knowledge to Sophia is a wonderful turn of a gift. I hope someday she'll have those notes she took in your kitchen, then yellowing and stained from years of cooking, and will be using them as a starting point for her own blog!
Second, I love that your blog will serve as a resource for her now to access some of her favorites. Third, I think it's awesome that she wants to go vegan, even though it requires learning some new things. Fourth, how great is it that the twins are vegan on the weekends, even when they're visiting the homes of non-vegans?
Thank you so much, Cadry. I does remind me a bit of my time in the kitchen with my grandma, and I feel so blessed that I get to be here for Sophia. I am so darn proud of her, it feels like my heart might burst. Her determination and willingness to try something new is inspiring. Seeing her begin to understand that she's not giving up anything, but actually adding more to her diet is so awesome to watch. Sophia is truly an amazing young lady.
The twins are pretty impressive in that they choose to be vegan, no matter what, on the weekends. We've even told them that it's their choice, but it is very rewarding to see them choose to be vegan. They've been staying with us during the week for the last 4-5 weeks, instead of the weekends, and Max said the other day "After eating vegan all week, the regular food we eat at mom's house just doesn't taste that good anymore. I'm always wondering what's in everything." He seems a little more concerned about having to make a change completely, but I like seeing that he's questioning it. I couldn't be more blessed to know these two human beings. 🙂
I am liking the twins more and more! :))
What a lovely post! That pizza looks amazing. I, too, am trying to keep my mouth shut about the USDA decision, although it kind of burns me up. I'll put that energy instead into creating wonderful vegan dishes like this one!
Thank you! It's so great to see there are others who feel the same way that I do. On one hand, it irritates me, but on the other hand, am I really that surprised? How often does the USDA actually side with vegan/vegetarian ideals? Not ever, really. You're totally right- it's time to take that energy into the kitchen!
I love your blog, though I'm not the best at always commenting. Thank you for stopping by! 🙂
such a great thing that sophia wants to go vegan! i have a feeling it wont take as long as she might think to learn how to cook once she has a handful of basic recipes to work with. and i love how hands on you are with your step children. it warms my heart.
Thank you, Caitlin. Isn't Sophia great? I am so impressed with her, and I think she is going to be doing just fine when she is on her own. I am so proud! 🙂
Sophia is off to a great start!
Her determination is inspiring. 🙂
this is super awesome Kristy. I totally agree with Cadry! The simplest faves are the best to healthy-fy instead of long complicated new and tastes. 🙂
love love the pizza and love this post. i'd give the twins tight hugs i was there( which maybe they dont necessarily like at this age;). I miss being that age and being able to use simple logic to connect the dots. I turned vegetarian when i was 13-14 but then with peer pressure and other floozy teenage priorities was slightly off track during undergrad and then totally off of it during grad school since that was here in the US with meat and meat everywhere.
Hahaha! "Floozy teenage priorities!" That totally just made my day- you are so funny! I totally understand, though- it is hard at that age to be different than everybody else, even if it is just the way you eat.
Thank you, Richa! I'm so proud of Sophia- I think she's going to do so well! 🙂
Gabby @ the veggie nook
Wow, look at you inspiring vegans of the future 🙂 What amazing memories you too are creating! You must be so proud of her! I wish I had a positive influence such as yourself around when I was that age. She is a very lucky girl (and so smart by the way- she is showing wisdom beyond her years!).
Lovely post Kristy 🙂
Thank you, Gabby. I really am so proud of Sophia. I am so impressed with her determination and I am so happy to help her with her journey. 🙂
Bex @ Vegan Sparkles
Nawww, I got all teary reading that post. YAY Sophia! I think it's a gorgeous thing you are creating together and what better way to start than with pizza? xx
Thank you, Bex. Pizza always seems like a good starting point to me. 🙂
I love this post! Can't wait to see more of your and Sophia's favorite recipes. 🙂
Thanks! Maybe someday, I'll let her do the whole post! 🙂
WOW well done Kristy - I am SO PROUD of you and your Family. It is so amazing to see Young Adults wanting to make healthier choices and actually seeing and understading how their choices impact the enviroment and the animals - high fives all around to you and your clan!
Sophia is going to be a pro - she is certainly learning from the best 🙂
If I cold I would totally do a cheer for her and you - lets just pretend I did an awesome cheer with tumbles and everything!
You are the best cheerleader, Heather! Thank you so much for your kind words and high-fives. 🙂
Jackie @ Vegan Yack Attack!
That's so sweet. You are an incredible mentor, especially to young Sophia, I can't wait to see how she progresses; she may become a lil' vegan chef before we all know it!
Also, that pizza looks DELISH! It has my tummy grumbling right now. 🙂
Thanks, Jackie! I am so proud of Sophia and I am so thankful to be helping her on her journey. She is amazing!
Sometimes, there is just nothing better than a good cheese pizza, so it seemed like a good place to start. 🙂
Great post. It's wonderful that you are passing such good values on to the kids, yet still accepting of their individual decisions.
Thank you, Reia. We want the twins to appreciate veganism, rather than feel like it's a burden that we put on them. They are at an age where they are beginning to understand the implications of their choices, so it's really neat to be able to watch them figure out how they want to live their lives. It's pretty great. 🙂
Wow Kristy, I'm all fired up about the USDA decision as well. You're totally right to take it into the kitchen and fire up something creative. Kinda like how I do my best runs when I'm mad 😉
I love that you are teaching Sophie to cook and that she has decided to be a vegan. Of course my children are now vegan by default, but my oldest is 9 and old enough to understand all the reasons "why" she has been doing a lot of cooking with me lately too and I can't help but think how we are shaping their health and their prospective families health for life. Pretty Cool.
Oh and your cashew cheez looks brilliant. I'm emailing pamona's pectin today to ask about bulk pricing on pectin. I'll let you know what I find.
Thank you! And it's more like "Somer's Cashew Cheez," than my cashew cheez! Can't wait to hear about the pectin!
It is pretty awesome that the twins and your children are learning about veganism and healthy eating at such a young age. It really is shaping their health for life. Go us! 😉
Wow I can't believe you made pizza from scratch. This is all kinds of amazing!
And it's amazingly easy! 🙂
Tara A Tempting Vegan
This just made me sooooo happy!! How absolutely rad. Thanks for being awesome, and inspiring the younger generation to make cruelty free choices on their own. This is a big lesson. Making choices that resonate with oneself at a young age is so important. As a kid I think we sometimes are not give the opportunity to exercise this. We are much more likely to stick with a decision we have made on our own, rather than one someone else has made for us. T
Thank you, Tara! I completely agree with you- the choice has to be your own, not someone else's. I am so proud to see Sophia (and Max a little) both choosing veganism on their own. 🙂
At 6, my favourite thing in all the world was Grandma's Lemon Blueberry muffins from the Best of Bridge. She would let me help, and I felt so grownup on my stool. I even had my own apron at her house! At the tender age of 8, I told my Grandma that I wanted to sew like her. So she took me to the fabric store, helped me pick out my fabric and my pattern, then taught me how to sew on her old Singer from the mid 40's. When I was in near tears after accidentally cutting a hole while snipping a thread in the fabric, she calmly took me to her "secret stash" and let me pick out an iron on patch. And told me nobody would notice.
My parents always encouraged us to be creative in the kitchen, and would happily devour all our 'creations'. When I became vegan however, it was my 81 year old Grandma who immediately went to work researching everything, and prepared special Christmas dishes just for me. She did think vegan also meant celiac, so I even got gluten free brownies! I got her Veganomicon, and at 88 she proudly makes these dishes for her friends, and phones me up across the country to ask questions - on her continued quest to "veganize" the recipes she learned 60+ years ago.
What you are teaching Sophia (and Max!) goes beyond the kitchen. These are memories that will stay with them forever. In my experience, when they become teenagers and realize that you (and Chris) are the stupidest people on the PLANET and love to bust the jam (goth-emo, of course), the kitchen memories will stick.
As for the USDA - I'm from Canada, and we don't have meal programs at school. But in the last Parks and Recreation episode there was an awesome quote regarding nutrition in schools:
(Leslie): "You convinced the school board that napkins are a vegetable!"
(Woman): "They're made from plants!"
I love how your grandmother is learning to cook vegan food for you! My grandmother taught me how to cook too, but she is still a little baffled by veganism. Thank you so much for your kind words- Chris and I truly hope that some of what we're teaching them will stick with them for the long run. 🙂