Turtle power: A healthier pizza option for the TMNT speedrun

By Tara Williams, Manager, Corporate and Foundation Relations, Prevent Cancer Foundation

I tried out the arcade game in person. You can see a small smattering of the coins I used to get through the game!

Awesome Games Done Quick 2024 is in full swing and gamers from around the world are gathered to cheer on their favorite speedrunners while raising funds for the Prevent Cancer Foundation. At the Foundation, AGDQ is always one of our favorite times of the year. Over 100 games will be played during the weeklong tournament, including Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles arcade game is a classic quarter-eating “beat ‘em up” where you and up to three friends play as the four titular turtles trying to defeat the villainous Shredder. In true AGDQ fashion, this game will be played solo on “1CC,” which means that our intrepid competitor aims to complete it using only one virtual quarter!

In real life, turtles have a wide variety of diets depending on their species. The leatherback sea turtle eats mostly jellyfish, while snapping turtles are omnivorous and eat a combination of plants, insects and other small animals. However, the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles prefer pizza. In the television show from the ’80s and ’90s, the turtles order topping combinations that might offend the less adventurous eater, like peanut butter with clams or marshmallow and asparagus. In the game, pizza can be used to restore a character’s health bar after ninja battles.

If you’re looking to replenish your health bar between AGDQ runs, making your own pizza can be healthier than ordering it. It’s easier than you might think, and you can get as creative as you like with toppings. Just remember—even though a mutant turtle might put licorice and granola on his pizza, we don’t condone the combination.

I asked around the Prevent Cancer Foundation office, and my colleagues shared their favorite toppings to add to pizza:

  • Kyra likes to use goat cheese instead of mozzarella. 
  • Amanda loves to put pineapple on her pizza. (I know what you’re thinking, but I like pineapple on my pizza, too!) 
  • Cassie prefers a combination of artichoke, roasted red pepper and olives. 
  • Lorelei enjoys Greek flavors on her pizza, like spinach, feta, olives and tomato. She also loves pesto pizza.

Without further ado, it’s pizza time!

Pizza with arugula, bell peppers, mushrooms, tomatoes, pepperoni and shrimp.

AGDQ Homemade Pizza

For this recipe, you will need:

  • 2 mixing bowls 
  • Pizza stone or baking sheet
  • Stand mixer or large spoon 
  • Cutting board 
  • Saucepan 
  • Knife 
  • Oven

Pizza dough ingredients:

  • 2 to 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 packet instant yeast
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ¾ cup warm water
  • 2 tbsp cornmeal (optional)
  • 2 tbsp all-purpose flour (optional)

Pizza sauce ingredients:

  • 1 28 oz can whole tomatoes
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • ½ minced yellow onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt

Pizza topping suggestions (mix and match or add your own!):

  • Low-fat mozzarella cheese
  • Goat cheese
  • Feta cheese
  • Pineapple
  • Diced bell peppers
  • Diced button mushrooms 
  • Artichoke hearts
  • Roasted red pepper
  • Sliced olives
  • Arugula
  • Chicken
  • Pesto
  • Spinach
  • Sliced tomatoes
  • Balsamic glaze
  • Shrimp

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Pizza dough:

  1. Combine warm water, sugar and instant yeast in a large bowl. Use a stand mixer or wooden spoon to combine. Water should be warm but not too hot—yeast will not rise if the water is hotter than about 120° F.
  2. Add salt, flour and 1 tablespoon of olive oil to bowl. Use paddle attachment of mixer and beat on low speed or mix by hand for a few minutes until the dough has combined into a ball. The dough should be soft and slightly sticky, but you should still be able to work it with your hands. Add more flour if the dough is too sticky.
  3. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil to a large bowl (you can use the same bowl that you used to mix the dough). Roll the dough in the olive oil. Cover the bowl with a towel and let the dough rise until it has doubled in size. Depending on the humidity and temperature, this will take 30-60 minutes.
  4. While waiting for the dough to rise, prep your toppings and pizza sauce.
  5. Preheat oven to 425° F.
  6. Once the dough has doubled in size, roll or stretch it to form the pizza base.
  7. Mix remaining flour and cornmeal together in a small bowl and spread over a baking sheet. This mixture will keep the pizza from sticking to the baking sheet while it cooks. Alternatively, cover the baking sheet with parchment paper.
  8. Transfer rolled pizza dough to baking sheet. Make holes throughout the dough with a fork to prevent large bubbles. Fold the dough around the edges to form a crust.
  9. Prebake the dough for about 5 minutes.
  10. Add pizza sauce and toppings. A little sauce goes a long way—if you add too much, the pizza will be soupy.
  11. Bake pizza for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve and enjoy!

Pizza sauce:

  1. Cook onions and spices and a splash of olive oil for a few minutes in the saucepan on medium heat. Add garlic and cook for another minute. Onions should be translucent, and nothing should be burnt.
  2. Add tomatoes, sugar and salt to saucepan. Let sauce simmer, then turn heat to medium low. Let sauce simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Use an immersion blender to blend sauce to desired consistency. Use on pizza.

Need a shortcut? Use pre-made dough and sauce to conquer your mealtime faster.