We quite often make pizza in our house as it can be a really healthy option for kids, a nice balance of carbs, protein, fats and vitamins and minerals (providing you add lots of veg as toppings of course!) I also find it quite easy to make a tasty pizza base and there is nothing like venting any anger out on the dough during the kneading stage!! (Why won’t he do more housework, why can’t I just have 5 minutes of peace, why won’t the kids stop whinging all the time – that sort of thing!!) It’s therapy at its best!
So, when the lovely Michele at Sweetpea Pantry kindly sent me some of their Playful Pizza Mix with flax and chia seed, I was really intrigued to see how it would compare to making your own pizza base at home. Armed with my little sous chef Francesca, we set about putting their pizza base mix to the test.
The very first thing which struck me when I was looking at the packaging was how fun and fresh the graphics look. They are modern and appealing and “trendy” if that word still exists! The colours that are used are lovely, warm and comforting and it really made me excited about what the insides held. I have to admit, I actually had the packet on the side in my kitchen for a couple of weeks and I was always drawn to it – it looks cool even just sitting there on the kitchen surface – a fab accessory!
What I also love about this product is the fact that it doesn’t contain any “nasties”. There is nothing processed involved. Albeit, there is some salt but it is a very small amount. For those like me who are obsessed with labelling and ingredients list, they are as follows:
Stoneground strong wholemeal flour, stoneground strong white flour, chia seeds, flaxseed, yeast, oregano, salt.
I like that they have mixed wholemeal and white flour as in my humble opinion, this is the best way to make a healthy and tasty pizza base. I do find that just having a pizza base made solely using wholemeal flour can be a tad too heavy and hard work.
The next thing which struck me about this product were that the instructions were really easy to follow, only 3 stages to work through before you have your pizza! I also liked the way the instructions were set out on the packet, easy to read font, modern and basic so for those of you who may not be confident cooks, these instructions (or Directions as they call them) are great!
After I heated the oven, I moved onto opening the packet and as directed, I poured the mix into a large bowl. Now what I didn’t expect was the smell which hit me! It was as though I had buried my head into a bowl of fresh herbs! It was earthy, wholesome and delicious! The oregano mixed with the smells emanating from the chia seeds and linseeds was really quite heady. It was clear from the smell and the look of the mix that Sweetpea Pantry hasn’t skimped on the oregano or seeds, they are plentiful!
If you aren’t familiar with flax and chia seeds, they are kings in the seed world in my opinion. I don’t eat fish as I have a severe allergic reaction if I do and this has meant that it is very hard for me to get sufficient Omega 3 fatty acids into my diet (fish is one of the best sources). Omega 3 is really important for brain and heart health and luckily, chia and flaxseeds contain Omega 3 in abundance within their tiny structures!
Something which also struck me when looking at the ingredients is that this product is dairy and egg free! Our own Jesse (Nicola’s gorgeous boy) has allergies to both and I was so pleased to think that she could enjoy this with him (without the cheese on the pizza of course!)
And so, on with the pizza preparation Francesca and I went! The next task was to make a well in the middle of the mix and add the water and oil. I did this and began to stir to bring the mixture all together to form my dough. Now I make pizza bases a lot as mentioned but I always seem to have to add more liquid or flour as it is either too sticky or too hard to manipulate and it takes a few additions before I get dough I am happy with. This was not the case with this mix. I measured out the water and oil as directed and it was the perfect amount of liquid to make the perfect dough. It was instantly soft and not sticky! I didn’t get sticky mixture all over my hands and under my nails as I usually do, it all came together very smoothly and after 5 minutes of kneading, the dough was soft and smooth and perfect! So I’d like to make a “shout out” to the new product development team at Sweetpea Pantry! You have no doubt spent hours testing different amounts of the liquid needed to get this result and it is spot on. I have worked in product development during my working career and I completely understand how this process is time consuming yet vital so you get a “high five” from Happy Tums!
The next direction was to let the dough prove under a t-towel which is what we did. It was a lovely sunny day so after an hour, the dough had risen and we got down to the important part, making our pizza! I don’t enjoy the rolling of pizza dough normally as I find that it can have a mind of its own and run away with you, especially if too aerated! This however, was so easy to roll. Strong enough to keep its shape and not spring back every 5 seconds, yet pliable enough to get the base really thin which is my preference for any pizza!
Once rolled, I spread a simple tomato sauce (made with a can of chopped tomatoes, tomato puree and mixed herbs) over the rolled out base and then Francesca began to add the toppings. We had decided on green peppers, sweet corn, mushrooms, prawns dusted with paprika and some pineapple all topped with handfuls of mozzarella cheese.
So what’s the verdict? Well I love this product! I love its ease of use, the packaging and instructions, the contents and the final product! The pizza base was delicious. Crisp edges, softer base and it held its shape really well once cooked. I have to admit, I did “toast” the edges by accident, leaving the pizza in just a tad too long but the result was still yum! All the family enjoyed the pizza, Francesca and I had such a lovely time making it together and we got a lot of leftovers as it feeds so many.
Food for me is about family and love. This product is so easy to use that it enables even those children (or adults) who are not fans of cooking, to get involved. The fact the mix is ready to go, means it allows young children to really “make” the base. It allows all the family to choose the toppings and make their own pizzas to share or not!. It allowed us as a family to be together in the kitchen, pouring, mixing, kneading, rolling, spreading, topping and eating! It gave Francesca a real sense of achievement that she made our dinner for us! Sweetpea Pantry have created a product which I think should be sitting on everyone’s kitchen surface until you are ready to begin making your own pizza creation as a family and in turn, live by my favourite saying “food is the ingredient which binds us together”
Thanks Sweetpea Pantry for allowing us at Happy Tums to try this product. Also, many thanks for sending us your Grainy Brainy Pancake Mixes for our goodie bags. For those booked onto a workshop in the near future, look out for these amidst the other bits and bobs in your bags and let us know what you think!