Getting Keiki Started On Healthy Pizza

A hearty, healthy pizza made with whole wheat flour DIANA HELFAND PHOTO

A hearty, healthy pizza made with whole wheat flour

Born and raised in Honolulu, Pauline Sato is executive and program director of Malama Learning Center, a non-profit organization based in Kapolei. Pauline has a deep appreciation for protecting the environment and Hawaii’s unique natural and cultural heritage, making it a commitment and dedicating her life to that for the past 30 years.

The mission at the Learning Center is to teach and inspire communities to live and work in a healthy, sustainable way through education. Malama means to “take care” or “care for,” and the group believes it’s important to malama not only the environment but also ourselves and each other.

Healthy eating is one way to do that, and being aware of what one is eating or drinking, growing some of our own food, having access to healthy food and supporting local agriculture all work toward that goal.

The Learning Center conducts a variety of programs throughout the year, such as the Malama ‘Aina Field School for Nanakuli High & Intermediate School students, and Makeke Kapolei, a farmers’ and green market run in partnership with Waianae Coast Comprehensive Health Center and Kapolei High School. The market is open every Thursday from 3 to 6:30 pm at Kapolei High School.

Recently, the center took the students from the field school to MA’O Organic Farms in Wai’anae to learn about organic farming and marketing, and the students made their own pizzas.

They used homemade whole-wheat pizza dough and topped the pizzas with vegetables and cheese — no pepperoni!

They also made a fresh fruit salad and vegetable salad with ingredients picked from the farm. The kids loved it! For more information, visit or email

This column is dedicated to Pauline for helping to make a difference in our community.

Flatbreads with toppings were consumed by Egyptians, Romans and Greeks, but pizza was a food eaten by the poor of Naples in the 18th century, as it was easy to eat and inexpensive. They used much of the same toppings as pizzas of today: cheese, olive oil, tomatoes and vegetables.

Immigrants from Naples coming to the United States for factory jobs replicated their pizzas in New York and other American cities, and this fast, fun food with delicious aromas and toppings became very popular.

The first licensed pizzeria is said to be Lombardi’s, which opened in 1905 on Spring Street in Manhattan. It is still in operation today at a different location, using a coal oven the way the original restaurant did. The great Italian tenor Enrico Caruso was among its devoted clientele!

Whole-wheat pizza dough recipe (courtesy Pauline Sato)

* 3 cups (16.5 ounces) good quality bread flour (e.g. King Arthur brand)

* 1 cup (5.5 ounces) whole wheat flour

* 3 teaspoons yeast

* 2 teaspoons salt (kosher or fine sea salt)

* 2 tablespoons olive oil (plus extra for the bowl)

* 1 3/4 cup warm water (105-115 degrees F)

Combine flour, yeast and salt together. Slowly pour the oil then water into the flour mixture until dough forms a sticky ball that clears the side of the bowl. (If using a mixing machine, this is about 1-2 minutes. If after a minute the dough is sticky and clings to the blade, add extra flour, one tablespoon at a time, as needed, until it clears the side of the bowl.)

Turn dough onto lightly floured counter and form into a smooth, round ball. Place the dough in a lightly oiled bowl and cover tightly with greased plastic wrap. Let rise in a warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Then punch down. It’s ready!

Note: Once risen, dough can be sealed in a zipper-lock bag and frozen for up to one month; let thaw on counter for 2 to 3 hours or overnight in the fridge before using.

To make the pizza, roll a portion of the dough (1/8th of the ball if a thin crust is desired) on a floured counter and flatten it by hand or with a roller. Put flour on your hands and on the roller to keep the dough from sticking. Roll it into the shape of a circle, square, or rectangle – whatever you desire onto a lightly oiled baking sheet. Then top with your choice of healthy pizza toppings and bake in the oven at 400 degrees F for about 10-15 minutes.

Some suggested toppings: Marinara or pesto sauce, zucchini, onions, tomatoes, fresh basil, spinach, mushrooms, low-fat mozzarella cheese, goat cheese.