Pizza: it’s a carb lover’s dream and the number one food choice of lazy people and kids everywhere. But just because pizza is a guilty pleasure doesn’t mean it has to be unhealthy. In fact, it can be a good source of vitamins and nutrients when you prepare it with wholesome ingredients — and you don’t have to give up your favorite toppings to enjoy a tasty slice. Here are some tips for making pizza healthier without sacrificing its deliciousness.
1. Use whole wheat dough or a cauliflower crust
One of the unhealthiest parts of a pizza is the crust made of refined white flour. Whole-wheat dough is a better option, as it’s higher in fiber than regular dough. Whole grains are better for you than processed grains because they’re rich in fiber and nutrients like B vitamins, iron, zinc, and magnesium. You might want to try making your own dough from scratch with whole-wheat flour instead of white flour.
Cauliflower crust is another alternative to traditional pizza crusts, but it may also be high in carbs unless you make it yourself. Some commercial pizza crusts are made with white flour with only a small amount of added cauliflower. You can find recipes for making your own cauliflower crust online.
2. Use a thin crust
Choose a thin crust for your next pizza. The thicker the crust, the more calories and carbohydrates you’re consuming. A thin crust typically has less than half of the calories of its thick counterpart. Avoid deep-dish pizza, as it’s the most calorie and carbohydrate-dense of all. Pizza crust offers little nutrition, just lots of carbohydrates that cause blood sugar spikes. So, the thinner the crust, the fewer carbohydrates you’ll consume, and the easier on your blood sugar that slice of pizza will be.
3. Add more veggies
To make your pizza healthier, try adding more veggies. They’re full of nutrients and can make your pie taste better. Add in-season or leftover veggies that you already have on hand. It doesn’t matter if they’re chopped or shredded; just toss them on. Try bell peppers, tomatoes, mushrooms, olives, and spinach (fresh or frozen). You can even slice up an avocado and add it on top of the cheese before baking.
Roast the vegetables you use before putting them on top of your pizza crust, so they’ll have extra flavor when they bake into the pie later. After roasting, mix them with tomato sauce before spreading them over the pizza. You can also add other healthy toppings, such as basil leaves or crushed red pepper flakes, which would go well together. Herbs and spices are good sources of antioxidants.
4. Scale back on meat and dairy
Use cheese and meat sparingly. Cheese is a major contributor to calories on pizzas, so use less of it or substitute low-fat cheese instead. If you use meat, use leaner cuts of meat, like lean chicken or turkey. You can also use mushrooms instead of pepperoni or sausage. If you’re trying to reduce your meat consumption, a veggie pizza is a tasty way to do that.
5. Make a pizza with tomato sauce and no cheese
If you have a craving for pizza but don’t want to eat all the cheese, try making a cheeseless pizza. This is a delicious option that will satisfy your hunger and taste buds. When making this type of pizza, use only tomato sauce and no cheese. You can add garlic powder or basil if you want more flavor on top of your white crust. Adding vegetables to a cheeseless pizza makes it even healthier. If you want extra veggies on top of your crusts, look for options like spinach leaves, mushrooms, and tomatoes, which are already in marinara sauces anyway (and will add more fiber).
6. Make your own sauce
Making your own sauce is a great way to reduce your pizza’s sodium and sugar content. Many commercial tomato sauce products contain added sugar and salt. Who needs more sugar? You can find recipes for making tomato sauce online or look for tomato sauce at the grocery store that contains no added sugar. Use herbs and seasonings, too. Spices and herbs are a fantastic way to enhance the flavor of the sauce without adding more salt or sugar. If you’re looking for inspiration, try garlic powder, oregano, basil leaves, crushed red pepper flakes, or onion powder. Tomato sauce is loaded with lycopene, a nutrient and antioxidant linked to heart health.
If you’re looking to make pizza healthier, there’s no shortage of options. Pizza has a reputation for not being the healthiest food, but there are ways to reduce the calories and carbohydrates while increasing its nutritional benefits. These tips will help you enjoy pizza without the guilt!