top of page
  • Writer's pictureThe Pink Elephant Lady

Pizza Subs: Four Ingredient Easy Kid-Pleasing Lunch. Oh, and a bit of discussion about the sodium hy

My three boys really love this pretzel bread! It also comes in little pretzel balls in addition to the buns. They can also be used for brats, dogs, sausage, etc., but we use them as sub buns. We get them at Whole Foods.

The pizza sub is super easy and super quick!

1) Cut the bun in half lengthwise with a serrated bread knife.

2) Put a few spoonfuls of pizza sauce on one side.

3) Add pepperoni to the other side. Put cheese on top of the pepperoni (otherwise the pepperoni it can get burned, dried out, or crispy!) I usually use cheddar, but traditionally it's mozzarella for pizza; mozzarella also melts better. You can also use provolone. It's much easier to use sliced cheese but I had the shredded handy, so shredded it is. Kids can sometimes be a little weirded out by cheddar that isn't orange. You can use this as an opportunity to talk about the fact that cheese isn't naturally orange.

4) Put both sides in the toaster oven for 3-4 minutes.

5) Put the sides together and viola! Pizza sub!

I don't know where else to find nitrate/nitrite-free pepperoni but Whole Foods; I've never seen it anywhere else.

And now , take a look at the label on the pretzels:

Did you notice the sodium hydroxide there? Now go ahead and Google sodium hydroxide dangers (I'll wait). And go ahead and look up "Sodium Hydroxide EWG" (EWG stands for Environmental Working Group). Did you see "Sodium hydroxide is strongly irritating and corrosive. It can cause severe burns and permanent damage to any tissue that it comes in contact with. Sodium hydroxide can cause hydrolysis of proteins, and hence can cause burns in the eyes which may lead to permanent eye damage"? And did you notice EWG gives it a rating of 3, or "moderate hazard"? Sodium Hydroxide also goes by the name LYE. You know, drain cleaner. But I'm feeding this to my kids?! Yup! And if you or they have ever had a bag of pretzels or a soft pretzel at a county fair, you've eaten it before. Sort of.

Dipping pretzels in a solution of a small amount of food-grade lye (usually 1 to 3%) dissolved in water gives them that unique pretzel flavor. Unfortunately, food-grade lye is unavailable in most retail stores, making it difficult to source and use for home cooks. That’s why most recipes for homemade pretzels substitute baking soda (which is much less alkaline), but the pretzel flavor and the quality of the crust are substandard with this method.

"All natural" bar soap (yes, including Dr. Bronner's) is made with lye (sodium hydroxide mixed with liquid). The liquid soaps are typically made with potassium hydroxide. Any skin or hair cleansing product made without sodium hydroxide is NOT SOAP, it is DETERGENT. Is there lye actually in a bar of soap? The answer is "No." Once the process of saponification is complete, the lye and oil molecules have combined and chemically changed into soap and glycerin. There is no lye present in the finished bars of soap. While all real soap must be made with lye, no lye remains the finished product after saponification.

I love EWG. I really do. I use it all the time to help make assessments about this products I use and the products I sell. I told the pretzel and soap stories because I wanted to make a point: we need to avoid knee-jerk reactions about ingredients when we don't have the whole story. It is easy for ingredients to become vilified in our social-media saturated society. Whether or not you can pronounce an ingredient, or how many syllables the ingredient has, is really NOT a good gauge of whether or not it is safe. Alpha-tocopherol, anyone? Also called Vitamin E. See what I mean? And of course we all know about sodium chloride (which sounds A LOT like chlorine - but isn't. It's just salt.) and the hoax about dihydrogen monoxide (which of course is just water). These examples demonstrate the kind of fallacious reasoning that's thrust at us every day under the guise of "important information": how with a little effort, even the most innocuous of substances can be made to sound like a dangerous threat to human life.

But do check out the DHMO website ( It's pretty darn funny. Just remember it's a JOKE.


30 views0 comments
bottom of page