For me, cooking is more than a chore or the means to produce something yummy to eat - it's a creative expression. Food is art, and not just for experienced restaurant chefs. Combining and layering different flavors, creating new dishes, and reinventing old are all expressions of creativity for the home cook as well. And for me, as someone who has pretty much zero artistic skill, it's my main creative outlet.
It's well established that art affects the brain in positive ways. It improves memory, resilience and mood. Children who engage in arts have been shown to do better in school and have better social skills.
Although the research has been done for more typical forms of art, like music, art and dance, I think cooking would demonstrate similar results. Really, it's such a similar mental process. And it's much more approachable than picking up a paintbrush or signing up for a glassblowing class :)
I once read the average family has only seven recipes they recycle each week. This makes me sad. I know many people don't get the same kick out of trying new things as I do, but I won't accept eating the same seven dishes over and over again. .
When I try to get clients to step out of the box, we usually start by remaking a favorite dish. They're excited to create something they love in a healthier, but equally satisfying way. From tofu burgers to lentil meatballs to avocado fudgesicles, it's something I do in my own kitchen as well.
This pizza is a perfect example. With a crust made from soaked quinoa and millet blended with water, it couldn't be further from a traditional yeast and wheat dough. The crust is thin and crispy around the edges with a tender middle. The grains start to ferment an even sprout a bit, which adds a complex, fermented taste to the dough - kinda like traditional wheat dough!
- 3/4 cup quinoa, soaked 24 hours in water
- 3/4 cup millet, soaked 24 hours in water
- 1/2 cup water
- 3 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/4 cup lightly packed basil
- Heaping 1/4 cup pesto , homemade or store bought
- 1 summer squash or zucchini, cut lengthwise into 1/2-in slices
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 bunch small leeks or green onions
- 1 bunch spinach, chopped
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 1/4 cup crumbled feta
- Fresh basil to garnish
- First, prepare the toppings. Heat a grill to medium-high. Spray the squash and leeks/green onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill about 3-5 minutes per side until lightly charred and tender.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat. Add spinach and red pepper flakes and cook until wilted. Season lightly with salt and set aside in a bowl.
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
- Rinse grains in a fine-mesh sieve then scrape into food processor. Add water, 1 tablespoon olive oil and salt. Blend until you get a thick, pancake batter-like consistency. Add basil and another 2-4 tablespoons water if needed to thin (I added another 3 tablespoons water).
- Put two (oiled if not nonstick) cake pans in the oven for 4 minutes to heat. Remove from oven and divide remaining tablespoon of olive oil between the two pans. Place back in the oven to heat the oil 1 minute, without letting it hit it's smoke point. Remove from oven and divide the batter between the two pans, quickly spreading it even with a spatula. Return to the oven and bake 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, carefully flip the crust, and return to oven to bake another 6-8 minutes. Remove crusts from the oven and set aside to cool slightly.
- When cool enough to handle, spread pesto evenly on the crust. Top with spinach, squash, feta cheese. Place back in the oven to reheat the ingredients if needed, just for a minute or two.