Who doesn’t like pizza?
It’s one of the most enjoyed meals of all times; at least that’s what my kids think. Pizza is so popular because it comes in so many variations; from one topping to fifteen toppings; the sky’s the limit when it comes to pizza. But pizza gets a bad rating sometimes as being not the healthiest of foods one can eat. Either it’s healthy and tastes bad or it’s not healthy and tastes great. Lucky for all the pizza lovers in the world there are solutions to make pizza a healthy meal.
healthy pizza with lean chicken meat, low fat cheese and few slices of mozzarela, homemade tomato sauce, corn, squash, red paprika and rucola:
How can Pizza be Healthy?
What makes pizza fall into the “unhealthy” category of foods are the ingredients that go into making a pizza, such as the crust, cheese, and certain toppings. Traditionally, pizza crust is high in carbohydrates which tend to add a great deal of calories and if you aren’t of the athletic nature to burn those calories, those extra carbohydrates are going to turn into fat and cause you to gain weight. Also, traditional pizza piles on the cheese, which in moderation is ok, but when it comes to pizza, cheese and moderation don’t mix. The key to making a healthy pizza is to eliminate or substitute the bad crust and cheese with better choices. The best part is that you will never be able to tell the difference; the pizza will be just as enticing and satisfying as it always was; minus the abundant calories and fat.
Types of Healthy Crusts
There are quite a few different types of crusts that are healthier than traditional pizza crust; a few you can try are the following:
- Low carbohydrate crust made with soy flour
- Crust made with corn meal
- Crust made with whole wheat flour
Traditional pizza crust can also be used if you make the pie thin crusted instead of thick. Most of the bad calories in pizza comes from the crust, so the less there is of the crust, the healthier it is for you.
Believe it or not, there are low fat cheese products that still have a great deal of flavor. If you are looking to make a pizza that is healthier you will have to use low fat cheese, which comes in all varieties such as mozzarella, cheddar, goat, and many other types of cheese products. This is where you will have to experiment to see which type of cheese works best and tastes best for you and your family. Generally speaking, low fat cheese tastes just as good as the high fat cheese; I suggest you not tell your family you are using low fat cheese until they have devoured the pizza; then you can surprise them with the knowledge that they just consumed a healthy pizza. I say this because most people equate low fat to having no taste; it will surprise them to find out that the low fat cheese you used tasted just as good as the high fat cheese.
Vegetables and Meat
This is where you need to be creative; eliminating the high fat toppings such as sausage, pepperoni, and bacon will be a challenge; people want meat on their pizza. If you must have meat on your pizza such as sausage, find the leanest package of sausage you can. Same goes with the other types of meat you put on your pizza. Better yet, eliminate meat from the pizza and go all vegetable toppings. You can’t go wrong by topping your pizza with green peppers, onions, olives, mushrooms, or any other kind of vegetable you can think of. I’ve used squash, asparagus, corn and many other varieties of vegetables that most would never think of using. You would be surprised how wonderful it tastes with all those vegetables combined.
Healthy Pizza Sauce
Certainly a pizza wouldn’t be pizza if it didn’t have a tasty tomato sauce; the trick is using a sauce that has less calories and sodium. You can buy already made pizza sauce at the grocery store, but generally it is high in calories and sodium. To cut back on those unhealthy aspects of the sauce, make your own; it’s quite simple and is more cost efficient. Buy either fresh tomatoes or cans of tomatoes that are sodium free. Get a can of tomato paste. Mash or puree the tomatoes in a blender until it is at the consistency you like. Add the paste and a few spices such as garlic, Italian spice, and a pinch of sugar. You will find that making your own sauce is much healthier than what you can buy already prepared.
Putting the Pie Together
Now that you have gathered all the right ingredients it’s time to make your healthy pizza. Remember, your family just thinks you are making regular, traditional pizza so don’t let them peek. Your crust should be thin; not thick as you traditionally fix it. A thin crust means less fat. Spread your home made sauce on thinly; it doesn’t have to be a thick coat; just enough for taste and to hold the toppings on better. Then add the cheese; don’t overdo it; too much cheese will take away from the flavors of the vegetables. Then add your toppings; however many different vegetables you want; just keep adding them on. You can make half one way and the other half another way; be creative and have fun. Throw it in the oven and bake at 350 degrees until the crust is brown; about twenty minutes should be just right.
All that’s left is to serve it up and watch your family enjoy a healthier pizza with all the great taste of a traditional pizza. They may notice the thinness of the crust, but other than that, they shouldn’t find anything else different besides the variety of vegetables you used. Your family will love it and you’ll feel better about serving pizza knowing the healthier way to prepare it.