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Iowa's Winning Recipe: American Gothic Calzones

“My goal is to be a veterinarian and because I love animals and healthy food, I enjoy inventing recipes that are plant based. Iowa is known for Grant Wood's painting American Gothic. My calzones include Iowa grown ingredients. During World War I when Hoover was appointed U.S. Food Administrator, his slogan was ‘Food Will Win the War.’ In order to feed our American army overseas, his food conservation campaign successfully reduced domestic food consumption by 15 percent. With calzones, I serve a ‘Food Will Win the War’ vegetable medley. Applying Hoover's ‘Food Will Win the War’ approach to obesity, I vow to be part of the solution.”

Lola Shorney, Age 11, the 2016 Healthy Lunchtime Challenge winner from Iowa

Makes 6 Servings


For the Spinach Filling:

  • ½ cup water
  • ½ cup raw unsalted cashew pieces
  • 8 ounces firm tofu, crumbled
  • Dash to 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 5 ounces chopped fresh spinach

For the Calzones:

  • 1 ¼ cup warm water
  • 1 package active dry yeast
  • 2 tablespoons unsweetened applesauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 ½ cups whole-wheat flour

For the ‘Food Will Win the War’ Medley:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 15-ounce can corn
  • 1 15-ounce can lima beans (you can substitute with chickpeas)
  • 1 15-ounce can hominy
  • ¼ cup diced red bell pepper
  • ½ cup diced green bell pepper


  1. To make the Spinach Filling: In a blender, combine water and cashew pieces. Blend on high for 1 minute until smooth. Pour into a medium bowl. Add tofu, salt, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, lemon juice, and spinach and mix well.
  2. To make the Calzones: Preheat the oven to 425°F. In a large mixing bowl, combine water and yeast. Let sit for 5 minutes. Add applesauce, honey, salt, and flour and stir well to combine. (You can also use a stand mixer or a food processor.) When dough forms a ball, knead it for 2 minutes on a work surface sprinkled with flour. Divide the bread dough into 6 equal pieces and roll into balls. Flatten dough with a rolling pin to 1/8-inch thickness. Divide the filling among the circles. Lift the edge and stretch the dough over to the opposite edge, enclosing filling, and pressing the edge of the dough gently to seal. Arrange calzones seam-side down on a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper, and bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. To make Food Will Win the War Medley:  In a medium saucepan, warm the oil over medium heat. Combine all ingredients, heat for about 15 minutes, until heated through. Serve with American Gothic Calzones.

481 calories 12g fat 82g carbohydrates 19g protein

Lola likes to serve this recipe with the Go Ride Your Bike dessert, which has cantaloupe, bananas, and other fruits.