Pizza. It’s one of America’s most beloved foods. But with obesity, diabetes and heart disease on the rise, many people are looking for ways to cut back on the fat and cholesterol. Pizza doesn’t exactly have the reputation for being the most healthy option on the menu.
The good news is, if you’re trying to eat healthier, you don’t have to cut pizza out of your diet. Of course, if you prefer greasy pizza loaded with cheese and sausage, then well, you will have to make a few sacrifices. But don’t fear, you can still get a great tasting pizza by making a few simple changes to your cheesy, greasy pie.
Every great pizza starts with a great crust. But a great crust doesn’t have to be thick, greasy and gooey.
The best way to assure a healthier crust is to make your dough at home as opposed to ordering take-out. Making homemade pizza crust gives you the control over the ingredients. Here are a few tips for making healthier pizza crust at home:
- Use whole wheat flour instead of white.
- If you’re not ready for full whole wheat, try using 1/2 whole wheat and 1/2 white flour.
- Use 1/2 of your prepared dough, and put the 1/2 half in the freezer or fridge for another day.
- Roll the dough out for a thin crust, instead of thick.
- Limit the use of melted butter on the crust, or use a low-fat option or olive oil.
Of course, it’s not always possible to make a homemade pizza, so if you find yourself buying a pizza in the frozen food section or a restaurant, look for these options:
- Cracker-thin crust! This will almost always save you on fat and calories.
- Wheat crust, or other low-fat crust option.
- Opt for a smaller pizza since it’s way too easy to have too much of a good thing.
Pizza sauce can be fairy easy to make at home by taking some fresh tomatoes, adding some herbs and olive oil in a blender and mixing well. You can also use store-bought sauce, but careful to look at the label. Pizza sauce is notoriously high in sugar, so look for a low-sugar option or stick to making a simple sauce at home.
Try and stay away from Alfredo and cream sauces. Stick with blended fresh tomatoes or use a light drizzle of olive oil in lieu of traditional pizza sauce.
Here’s where you can easily convert a gut-busting pizza into a more figure-friendly pizza.
First off, the cheese. Most of us love cheese, and lots of it. But by cutting back on the amount of cheese on your pizza, you are shaving off a lot of fat and calories. This is hard to do with restaurant and delivery pizza since most places love to pack on the cheese for extra flavor, so again, try making your pizza at home using thin slices of fresh mozzarella cheese. Mozzarella is one of the more lower fat cheeses and goes great with pizza (and a drizzle of olive oil instead of pizza sauce).
Unless you’re vegetarian, you probably like meat on your pizza. If you must have it, use only lean meats such as ground sirloin or lean beef. For an even healthier option, use chicken or turkey on your pizza.
Of course, loading your pizza up with veggies is your best option for a healthier, lower fat option. Piling on the green peppers, mushrooms, onions, spinach leaves and olives will fill you up fast without the fatty meats and cheeses.
You can be very creative with your veggie toppings. Try using asparagus, cauliflower, eggplant, zucchini, hot peppers and roasted corn to load on flavor. Use your imagination!
Yes, healthy pizza is possible!
There’s no reason altogether to give up pizza if you are making healthier food choices. Just make some wise decisions when ordering pizza, or try to only eat homemade pizza… where you control the ingredients.
A couple more simple tips…
- Dab your pizza slice with a napkin to soak up extra grease.
- Practice portion control! Limit yourself to two slices of any pizza. Hard to do, but a must!
- Everything in moderation, right? If you are craving that meat lover’s pizza, indulge yourself now and then, just don’t overdo it – and remember portion control.
Enjoy that pizza!