Today is pi day, nope, not like pie, but like the 3.14 mathematical number - pi. The total geek in me loves that we celebrate Pi day with fun recipes, memes and puns. But, while I've seen so many pies all over social media, I haven't seen a lot of the savory kind. Pot pie, shepherd's pie, or pizza pie are nary to be found. But, why are we only interested in posting the sweet kind?
Oh, I know - our bodies are obsessed with sugar. We convert sugar to energy and body fat. Evolutionary processes dictated that storage of body fat was "good" since we were not guaranteed to find enough food each and every day. Vegetables were in great abundance, fruit not so much, so we intrinsically crave the sugary high we get from fruits.
The sugar we source today, though, are not in the natural whole food forms that our evolutionary behaviors have dictated. Rather, they are concentrated, extracted and evaporated forms of sugars from plants. The most common form of sugar is from sugarcane, but a close second is beet sugar. Adding to that, all the newer versions of sugar on grocery shelves such as monkfruit, stevia, agave, coconut, and more; it is clear that we have an unhealthy craving for sugar, and our relationship with the sweet stuff has become toxic. Toxic for our waistlines, and toxic for the planet.
Sustainability Spotlight: Sugarcane, as mentioned above as the most "popular" kind of sugar, is a very "...water-intensive crop that remains in the soil all year long. As one of the world's thirstiest crops, sugarcane has a significant impact on many environmentally sensitive regions...(with) historic planting of sugarcane around the world (leading) to significant impacts on biodiversity." (www.worldwildlife.org). Sugar is a large component to any foods that you find on the grocery shelves that have been processed, pre-prepared, and frozen. It's loaded in fast food, making guest appearances at restaurants, and has steadily become a household staple. The market demand just keeps increasing and our resource usage continues to accelerate to meet that demand.
While the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has started projects for sustainability certification in partnership with a third party (read more about that HERE) to reduce in the impacts of sugar on our world, the industry is a far cry away from being anywhere close to sustainable. What can we do?
Working together to reduce our impacts by limited our sugar intake will be a good way to convince the food industry that sugar may be a huge part of our past, but it is not the way of the future. We can limit our intake my removing processed foods that have high sugar content. We can limit our intake by making food at home and limiting our sugar content. We can limit our intake by reducing our recipes / need for desserts like cake, cookies, and cupcakes.
We can take a day, like today (Pi Day), and instead of thinking of all the things we can create, eat, and craft from sugar like peach pie, cherry pie, or the quintessentially American dessert; apply pie, we can look to savory foods, like this pizza pie and celebrate our ability to find ourselves in a "fun" place while considering sustainability. Even on a day where you can geek out, pie doesn't have to be sugary for Pi Day.
1 yellow onion (cut into 8 wedges and broken apart with fingers for the layers)
2 shallots (cut into 4 wedges and broken apart with fingers for the layers)
10 garlic cloves (chopped coarsely)
1 pint cherry tomatoes (whole)
1 zucchini (cut in half lengthwise and then into slices on the bias)
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
1 tbsp avocado oil
Italian Pizza Seasoning:
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp dried basil
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/2 tsp dried parsley
1 lemon (zested)
1/4 cup pizza sauce
1 handful fresh basil (sliced)
1 lb fresh pizza dough
White Cheese Sauce: - from my Smothered Garlicky Rapini & Mushroom Toasts
1 cup water
1 cup raw unsalted cashews
1.5 tbsp white miso
2.5 tbsp nutritional yeast
3/4 tsp salt
Pre-heat oven to 425 degrees F
Add all ingredients onion through zested lemon (including Italian Pizza Seasoning) to a large shallow casserole (or roasting) dish. Mix with your hands until all ingredients are combined and vegetables are coated evenly.
Slide pan into oven and bake for ~30 minutes. Remove and set aside to cool slightly - keep oven on.
While your vegetables are roasting, add all ingredients of White Cheese Sauce above to a high-powered blender and blend on high for ~1 minute (or more depending on your blender) until smooth. Set aside for now.
Once your vegetables are done, roll out pizza dough into an 16-18 inch pizza round and place onto a pizza sheet (or other flat cooking sheet).
Spread pizza sauce (or more to your liking) over dough within 1 inch of edges. Now, top with all the roasted veggies evenly.
Drizzle White Cheese Sauce over the top of the pizza and bake for ~10 minutes in the oven. At the end of the cook time, broil on High for ~2-3 minutes to brown your "cheese."
Once the pizza is removed from the oven, top with fresh basil, slice and then serve.
With love & hope for a better future for all of us - Jamie