Eating for Life

Calzones offer portion control

This recipe brings together the ease of refrigerated dough with a healthful serving of mushrooms and spinach in a convenient calzone carrying case.

On the face of it, a veggie pizza seems like a healthy choice.

That is until you’ve wolfed down an overly cheesy pie the size of the moon.

Enter the calzone — a good choice for health-minded pizza lovers who might be tempted to eat the whole thing. Originally from Naples, a calzone automatically limits you to an individual portion size and cuts down on the need for excess cheese.

A few years ago, the watchdog nutrition group Center for Science in the Public Interest measured the impact of the $30 billion pizza industry on America’s bulging waistline and found it to be significant. (To read “What Pizza Delivers” go to .html and click on related link.)

Just one slice of Pizza Hut’s Stuffed-Crust Meat Lover’s Pizza is equivalent to a McDonald’s Quarter Pounder, and one slice of Pizza Hut’s Big New Yorker Sausage pizza has more fat than a McDonald’s Big Mac.

“While most people wouldn’t unwrap and eat a second Quarter Pounder or Big Mac, many people reach for a second, third, or even a fourth slice of their favorite pizza,” the center’s report concludes.

In addition to promoting portion control, The Star’s Vegetable Calzones offer a substantial helping of veggies. Mushrooms are loaded with B vitamins and selenium, an antioxidant mineral that may protect against cancer and macular degeneration.

Spinach packs a wallop with disease-fighting carotenoids. Canned tomatoes in the sauce are a great source of lycopene, an antioxidant that prevents cell damage.

Shopping tip: This recipe uses a tube of refrigerator pizza crust to turn out a quick, delicious crust. In addition to convenience, the ready-to-bake dough eliminates the need to deep fry or brush the crust with olive oil like some commercially made calzones. Look for tubes of it the refrigerated cases, usually near the cookies and biscuits.

Vegetable calzones

Makes 4 servings

1 teaspoon olive oil

1/2 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

3 Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped

3/4 cup coarsely chopped fresh spinach leaves

2/3 cup pizza sauce

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves

1 (13.8-ounce) tube refrigerated pizza crust

1/2 to 3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Heat olive oil in medium-size skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and garlic and cook, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in Roma tomatoes and cook, stirring frequently, 1 minute. Stir in spinach and cook just until spinach wilts. Stir in pizza sauce.

Cut log of pizza dough into fourths. Using the heel of your hand, press each part into a circle about 7- to 7  1/2 -inches in diameter on lightly floured board. (You may also use a lightly floured rolling pin.) Spray a large baking sheet with nonstick spray coating. Place dough circles on prepared pan. Top each with 2 to 3 tablespoons mozzarella cheese and 1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese. Spoon 1/4 of vegetable mixture into center of each. Gently fold half of dough over filling and press edges to seal. Bake 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown.

Per serving: 391 calories (24 percent from fat), 10 grams total fat (3 grams saturated), 12 milligrams cholesterol, 58 grams carbohydrates, 17 grams protein, 896 milligrams sodium, 2 grams dietary fiber.

Recipes developed for The Star by professional home economists Kathryn Moore and Roxanne Wyss