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Butternut-Sage Pizza

Pizza has never been considered to be acceptable diet fare. In 1971, when I lost 50 pounds on Weight Watchers, pizza was an "illegal" food. I couldn't wait to go "off" the program so that I could rejoin my friends at the pizza parlor. No surprise, I regained all 50 pounds when I left Weight Watchers, because I went back to eating like a typical college student. I'd learned zilch about managing my weight in a world filled with tempting food.

How times have changed, as illustrated by this pizza. It was created by none other than Weight Watchers! Yes, you can eat delicious pizza and lose weight. My thanks to Pam, fellow WW member and avid home cook, who found the recipe on the Weight Watchers website, made it and immediately contacted me with a rave review..

The topping for this pizza begins with jarred marinara sauce, then mozzarella and pecorino cheeses and finally, roasted butternut squash. After cooking, you sprinkle on fresh sage leaves that you've crisped up in the microwave. The result? Utterly crave-worthy and very filling. The recipe calls for whole-wheat pizza dough. You can make your own, but I was too eager to try this pizza ASAP, so I used Trader Joe's refrigerated, ready-to-use pizza dough, which isn't whole wheat. It's the perfect size for one rectangular pizza.

Champ had a great idea for leftovers. He cut the remaining pizza into 2" squares and refrigerated them. I re-heated them in the oven and served them as bite-sized appetizers with salad for dinner. Delightful!

Cooking spray

3 cups peeled, cubed, uncooked butternut squash (about 13 oz.)

1 tsp. olive oil

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

10 oz. whole-wheat pizza dough at room temperature

1/2 cup jarred marinara sauce

3/4 cup shredded, part-skim mozzarella cheese

2 Tbsp. grated Pecorino cheese

12 fresh sage leaves

Place pizza stone or inverted rimmed baking sheet on center rack of oven and preheat to 450°F. Line another baking sheet pan with parchment paper. Place squash on pan. Drizzle with oil and sprinkle with salt and black pepper. Toss squash until coated. Coat squash with nonstick spray. Place sheet pan directly on top of preheated pizza stone. Roast squash, stirring after 15 minutes, until browned and tender, about 25 minutes total. Remove squash from oven, leaving pizza stone in oven.

Increase oven temperature to 500°F. Place large piece of parchment paper on large cutting board or inverted rimmed baking sheet. Roll out dough to 13- to 14-inch-long oval. Spread marinara over dough, leaving 3⁄4-inch border. Sprinkle with mozzarella and Parmesan and top with squash. Carefully slide pizza on paper onto preheated pizza stone. Bake until crust is browned and crisp, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, arrange sage leaves on double layer of paper towels. Lightly coat both sides of leaves with nonstick spray and arrange leaves, dull-side up. Microwave on High until leaves are brittle and crisp, 1 1⁄2 to 2 minutes, checking after 1 minute. Transfer pizza to cutting board. Scatter sage leaves on top. Cut into 8 slices.

Serving size: 2 slices

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