It’s the end of the week, and you’ve got pizza delivery on speed dial. But now that you’re trying to eat healthier, do you have to give up a favorite food? Pizza typically means a high-calorie meal laden with saturated fat and sodium, but that doesn’t always have to be true. Many basic ingredients and usual toppings—tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, onions, peppers, olives—can fit into a healthful diet. And a few of the less-than-ideal components such as pepperoni, sausage and Alfredo sauce can be OK in moderation.
Pizza can even be quite healthy when you make your own at home and control ingredients and toppings. It’s easy to reduce fat, cholesterol and sodium and boost vitamins and antioxidants. Just follow the tips below to learn how to build a healthy pizza pie.
Make your own pizza crust and substitute whole-wheat flour for bleached flour. Or buy ready-to-bake whole-wheat or whole-grain pizza crust. Other alternatives: Create mini pizzas with whole-wheat pitas, lawash bread, tortillas or English muffins in place of traditional crust.
Stir up a batch of your own sauce using fresh tomatoes or reduced-sodium tomato paste, sauce or puree. Instead of flavoring the sauce with meat, add plenty of fresh basil, oregano, crushed black pepper and garlic. (Freeze your sauce for future use.) If you buy bottled pizza sauce, look for a low-fat, low-sodium version. Or skip the sauce and layer on chopped or thinly sliced ripe Italian plum tomatoes instead.
Load up your pizza with vegetable or fruit toppings such as onions, olives, broccoli, spinach, mushrooms, peppers or pineapple. Reduce preparation time by buying precut produce. In place of high-fat, high-sodium meats like pepperoni or sausage, top with grilled chicken breast, shrimp or something truly different like scallops, clams, barbecued tofu, dried beans or lentils. Pass on the salt and chop fresh herbs to bring out the flavors of other ingredients.
Use low-fat or nonfat versions such as part-skim mozzarella or grated Parmesan. Try a soy- or rice-based cheese alternative. Use nonfat ricotta or low-fat bottled Alfredo sauce for white pizza.
Round out your meal by adding a big salad of fresh greens with a light vinaigrette and enjoy. Now, that’s amoré!