One of my favorite things to do with food is make something that’s traditionally unhealthy and give it a healthy spin. A makeover if you will.
That’s what so great about quinoa. It’s easy to add to recipes and it instantly gives your dish an upgrade in the health department.
I think one of the recreations I’m most proud of is pizza. When I came up with my quinoa pizza crust, I honestly didn’t think it would take off like it did. So many of you have tried it and shared your own creations with me! I love that using quinoa has given you the opportunity to enjoy a food that you love in a healthy way.
Now I know this can be a tricky time of year when it comes to balancing healthy eating with all the indulgent food that’s ever-present during the holidays. I know it’s something I personally struggle with and in all honestly, I usually end up gaining a few pounds. This year though, I’m hoping it will be a little different.
One thing I think really helps is learning how to make the foods that I love in a more nutritious way. That goes for everything from holiday cookies, creamy casseroles and even those addicting finger foods.
Holiday cookies I’ll be chatting about next week (stay tuned for gingersnaps…mmm!) and creamy casseroles are still in the works, BUT the perfect party appetizer? I’ve got that for you right here!
And it’s comin’ at you in the form of pizza bites. Topped with hummus and crispy roasted chickpeas. Mmmmhmmmm!
These luscious little bites are perfect for your next holiday party or if yours is a family of football fans like mine, they’re the best football finger food. Once of those things that people will gobble up without even thinking about what’s inside. And because they taste like pizza, all those picky eaters in your life will assume they’re eating something totally unhealthy.
Don’t you just love when that happens?
This recipes starts with the my quinoa pizza crust base, but with one small addition. Instead of doing just water, I swapped half the water for Sabra’s Pizza Hummus! It doesn’t change the texture at all but ends up adding a subtle pizza flavor AND gives each bite more protein.
I also found a new trick to making the dough in a shorter amount of time. It does require a high powered blender (ideally in the TwisterJar from BlendTec or a Vitamix with the stamper thing), but it cuts the soaking time in almost half. I found that if I soak my quinoa in hot water, it’s soft enough to blend after about 2 hours.
One caveat is that because you’re using hotter water, you’re likely killing off some of the nutrients, but it makes prep a little bit easier!
So once you’ve got the dough (or batter) made, you just pop them into a muffin tin and bake them for about 20 minutes until they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside.
Then it’s time for topping!
I just used some more pizza hummus, some finely chopped basil and crispy roasted garlic chickpeas. The combo was phenomenal. It tastes just like pizza but without all the junk! And the chickpeas on top remind me of little croutons.
Okay, I need to go on a crispy chickpea tangent for just one sec.
You guys, these are seriously my life. If you haven’t tried them yet, you MUST. They’re so simple to make and you can have so much fun with the flavors. I add them on top of salads, onto my soups, sometimes my smoothie bowls (when I make them on the sweet side) and now I’m putting them on pizza. Oh and I also just eat them as a snack. They’re seriously amazing.
I do have a semi-unconventional way to make them, but it’s all good. I drain and rinse them in a strainer (the same type you would use for rinsing your quinoa), then I dump them onto my sheet pan and pat them dry. Then, rather than drizzling them with olive oil, I take a dollop of coconut oil in my hands, rub my hands together and then rub the chickpeas. This not only helps loosen some of the skins — which I pick off before roasting — but it also gives the chickpeas a mellow coconut oil flavor which I’m crazy about.
Once I’ve flavored them, I roast them in the oven for about 45 minutes until they’re crispy. Rather than just removing them there though, I actually like to turn the oven off and then let them sit for an hour or two. Although not a necessary step by any means, it helps make the ULTRA crispy and helps them stay crispy for longer. So yum!
Anyway…back to these pizza bites.
They’re honestly everything you could ever need in an appetizer. They’re bite-sized, easy to serve, are healthy AND since they’ve got lots of protein they’re fairly filling. Not to mention they’re allergy-friendly! There’s no gluten, dairy, eggs or nuts in here!
Oh yeah…and they taste like pizza. Need I say more?
So while I hope you take this time to enjoy yourself, don’t feel like you need to compromise your health in the process. Sticking to your eating habits can be tough, but now is your chance to get creative. Think about the foods that you love to indulge on or that you really wish were healthier and see if you can find a way to make a few substitutions to make them more nutritious.
And to help you out even more, I’ve put together a quick holiday survival guide which you can download for free! It’s a quick daily checklist that you can follow that will help you stay on track this holiday season.
- ¾ cup quinoa, uncooked
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 tablespoons Sabra Pizza Hummus
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- ½ teaspoon garlic powder
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup Sabra Pizza Hummus
- ½ cup garlic roasted chickpeas
- ¼ cup finely chopped basil
- Crushed red pepper, salt + pepper (optional)
- 1 (15oz) can organic chickpeas, drained + rinsed
- 1 tablespoon coconut oil, softened or melted
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- Salt + pepper to taste
- Soak uncooked quinoa for 6-8 hours (or for 2 hours in hot water).
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with strips of parchment paper and drizzle ¼ teaspoon of oil in the center. Spread around with your finger until evenly coated and set pan aside.
- Thoroughly rinse quinoa, then add to a blender. Add remaining crust ingredients and blend on high until smooth and creamy. It should resemble a thick pancake batter.
- Pour 1 tablespoon of batter into each prepared muffin tin and bake for 10 minutes. Remove pan, flip crusts onto a baking sheet and return to oven baking for another 10 minutes until browned and edges are crispy.
- Remove baking sheet from oven and top each pizza round with 2 teaspoons of hummus, a sprinkle of basil and a few crispy chickpeas. Garnish with pepper flakes, salt and pepper (totally optional of course) and serve immediately! If you're taking these to a party, simply reheat for 10 minutes in the oven on 250ºF.
- FOR THE CHICKPEAS: Place chickpeas on a baking sheet rub with coconut oil. Remove any skins that come off on the pan. Sprinkle with garlic powder, salt and pepper and stir to combine . Bake the chickpeas at 375ºF for 30 - 45 minutes until crispy. Stir them around a few times so as not to burn. If you have the time, turn the oven off and allow chickpeas to sit for 1 - 2 hours until completely crispy. Store in an airtight container.