Review & Giveaway: Heart Healthy Pizza, & an Interview With Author Mark Sutton!

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Imagine digging into a fully-loaded pizza that isn’t greasy, heavy or “bad for you” in any way.  Perfect crust just the way you like it with as many toppings as will fit, sandwiched between a pair of homemade sauces that are free of added oils and salt.

Yes, great-tasting, nutritious pizza can happen.  And it does in Mark Sutton’s phenomenal book, Heart Healthy Pizza.  I first spoke to Mark on Twitter while he was working on the book and was so intrigued by the idea that I contacted him again after it was in print.  I’m incredibly grateful that he gave me the opportunity to review it and to share a copy with one lucky QV reader (details at the end of the post)!

Vegetarian for 20 years and vegan for the past 10, Mark Sutton is clearly passionate about pizza.  His mission in creating Heart Healthy Pizza was to show vegetarians that pizza without dairy is not only possible, but also delicious.  After being turned on to the benefits of a low-oil diet via an interview with Dr. Caldwell Esselstyn, Mark took his endeavors a step further and set out to create a variety of doughs and sauces that were low in fat yet full of flavor.  I interviewed Mark about his transition to veganism and the process of creating his book, and he had so much great stuff to share that I gave it its own page.

Heart Healthy Pizza is comprised of four main sections: pizza doughs, bottom sauces, topping sauces and complete pizza recipes.  In the crust section, there are instructions for making dough by hand or in a bread maker.  Mark is very detailed in each step of this process, so you can follow right along even if you’ve never made pizza from scratch before.

But it’s the sauces that really steal the show.  With over a dozen “bottom sauces” and more than 60 “non-cheeses,” you can create literally hundreds of unique pizzas.  Bottom sauce recipes range from classic tomato-based sauces to concoctions with the flair of Eastern cuisines.  The topping sauce section is broken up into sauces made from grains, legumes, tofu and veggies, and you’ll find no end of interesting combinations there.

Why so many sauces?  With his focus on no added oils, part of Mark’s goal with the book was to create pizzas that don’t rely on faux cheeses, many of which are high in fat.  If you’re still smothering your pizzas with vegan cheese replacements, I challenge you to try some of Mark’s ideas instead.  Don’t get me wrong; I’ve always been a fan of Daiya.  But there’s something about making a pizza topping out of millet and avocados that changes the whole way you think about pizza in general.

It’s clear that Mark wants his readers to be as excited about pizza as he is.  The way the book is set up, you can “build” pretty much any kind of pizza imaginable from the crust on up.  Each recipe can be timed in such a way that the sauces and ingredients are prepped and ready by the time the dough is done rising.  And since many of the sauce recipes make enough for two pizzas, you can use the leftovers for quick pizza assembly on a busy weeknight.  To make it even easier to have healthy pizza whenever you want, Mark offers tips on how to store extra dough for future use.

In fact, every chapter includes tips and tricks to help make your pizza experience the best it can be.  Mark’s attention to detail is part of what makes Heart Healthy Pizza such a great book.  By referring to his readers as “heart healthy cooks” and encouraging experimentation, he sets the stage for anyone to start whipping up unique, delicious pizzas with confidence.  And if you find yourself enthralled with one (or all) of the sauces, there are many tips on how to use leftovers on things other than pizza.  (Fans of “the bowl” rejoice; you now have 60 new ways to top your favorite go-to dinner!)

In addition to recipes, Mark gives readers several useful resources and appendices.  Whether you’re looking for further reading or need a reminder on how to cook a certain grain, you’ll find it in these handy guides.  Mark also gives insights on some reasons for going plant-based and makes a case for eliminating added oils from your diet.  I liked how he doesn’t focus on “heart healthy” as a weight loss method or quick fix.  Instead, he encourages overall health while offering information to back up why he thinks a no-oil vegan diet is the way to go.

I can’t say enough good about Heart Healthy Pizza.  It’s straightforward, inspiring and fun to read.  Mark’s writing style is open and encouraging, and his enthusiasm is contagious.  All you have to do is glance through the book to see how many different pizza creations are possible.  Each recipe for dough, bottom sauce and topping sauce can be mixed and matched to create unique pizza combinations.  Mark also offers a section of “Powerful Pizza Possibilities” in which he gives some delicious suggestions of his own.

But just a glance won’t give you the full effect of what Mark has created in Heart Healthy Pizza.  Take the time to sit down and read through it all the way and experience everything it has to offer.  I’ve been making pizza at home for years and still learned a bunch of interesting things that I never would have considered, like chopping onions and mushrooms up small and sprinkling them on before other toppings for a “juicier” texture.  Some other things that caught my eye and must be tried:

  • Tempeh anchovies.  Pure genius!
  • Gumbo pizza with okra and gingery sauce
  • Mashed potato sauce
  • Indian samosa-style pizza
  • Curry pizza

The list goes on!  If for some reason you’re still not convinced that a healthy pizza can be a delicious pizza, I offer you a run-through of two that I made using recipes straight out of Mark’s book.  (You might want to lean back so you don’t get drool in the keyboard.)

Some pizza previews:

oat flour pizza slices
whole wheat pizza with tofu lemon sauce
whole wheat tofu lemon pizza slices
Want your own copy of the book?  Enter to win one!  All you have to do is leave a comment on this post, telling me your favorite pizza combination!  Entries will be accepted until Friday, April 27th.  Giveaway is now closed.  One random winner will be chosen soon using RANDOM.ORG.  Good luck, and happy pizza creating!


About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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  1. Sierra Hawksley  April 23, 2012

    WOW, those look delicious! I’m still working on finding a yummy combo of toppings without involving faux cheese. I do love a gluten free crust topped with fresh pesto, pine nuts and sun dried tomatoes!

  2. sameul stoval  April 23, 2012

    My favourite (even though blandish) is a crust (very thin) with sliced tomatoes, extra garlic, spinach, carrots, garbanzo beans with a sprinkle of brewers yeast..

  3. Lori  April 23, 2012

    My favorite pizza combos are mushrooms, onions, green peppers, and black olives. I’ve made homemade pizza with a whole grain crust, homemade Pesto made with red chili pepper flakes, a sprinkling of Follow Your Heart mozzarella (used sparingly), and a sprinkling of pine nuts. It was the best!

  4. Mary Jean  April 23, 2012

    I love pizza! I am a new vegan so that has been one of the hardest things to eliminate. Now there appears to be a delicious alternative. Hope I win this one. No matter what I need to get this cookbook!!!

  5. Mary Jean  April 23, 2012

    forgot to say favorite—-love veggies; especially tomato, basil and roasted peppers

  6. Mar  April 24, 2012

    I love veggie pizza. Any pizza with veggies is MY pizza!

  7. Emma  April 24, 2012

    Oooh a book devoted to pizza sounds right up my street! I love pizza and have started being more experimental with crusts using different flours etc but am always pretty boring with toppings. Indian samosa style and gumbo pizza sound very exciting though and that tofu/lemon sauce looks delicious too.
    I don’t even know if I’m eligible for the giveaway being in the UK but I’d love the chance to win!

  8. Wayne  April 24, 2012

    17 years in the pizza business eating the product every day left me with heart disease.

    Time for HEALTHY pizza. I can’ wait!

  9. Wayne  April 24, 2012

    My favorite is thin sliced green tomato with bell pepper and onion.

  10. Halcyon Morrison  April 24, 2012

    I love the sound of this book and I can’t wait to check it out. My favorite toppings are onions, mushrooms and summer (yellow) squash covered with nutritional yeast and fresh herbs from my garden.

  11. Courtney  April 24, 2012

    Mushrooms and artichoke hearts–yum!


  12. vegAnn  April 24, 2012

    Roasted red peppers, cashew ricotta, basil, and olive. Very important for an italian vegan!

  13. Mary L.  April 24, 2012

    Pineapple, bell pepper, olives, artichokes!

  14. Craig  April 24, 2012

    Onion, garlic, bell peppers with fresh tomato sauce on the thinnest possible crust!

  15. Karen  April 25, 2012

    I love plain old peppers and onions!

  16. Amanda  April 25, 2012

    That’s awesome! My favorite is Daiya cheese and mushroom sauce on storebought crust. I’m not very creative… I could really benefit from this book! 🙂

  17. Melissa Barley  April 25, 2012

    We love onions on our pizzas!

  18. Calla  April 25, 2012

    Morel mushrooms (they’re in season!), shallots, garlic, spinach, red peppers, broccoli, and tomato. mmmmmm.

  19. Tiffany  April 25, 2012

    This cookbook sounds wonderful! As much as I’ve begun to enjoy some of the faux cheeses now available, I try to stay away from them and welcome the idea of trying various sauces instead. My current favorite pizza combination is spinach, marinated artichoke hearts, sun-dried tomatoes, and fresh basil.

  20. Kelly  April 26, 2012

    Hmm! I really love pizza with tomato chunks (and tomato sauce), roasted red peppers, and mushrooms. But really… anything goes. 🙂 Thanks for the giveaway!

  21. Kim  April 27, 2012

    My fave is just a simple combo of tomato, basil and {vegan} cheese. I also enjoy some sauteed mushrooms sometimes! Thanks for the chance to win!

  22. Jason  April 27, 2012

    I want to make a vegan white pizza with fake shrimp and fake bacon, bad.