Pizza is not known for being healthy, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make a pizza that’s slightly healthier than the take away pies you get from corporate chains such as Domino’s and Pizza Hut. These pizzas are typically loaded with excess fat and sodium, ensuring that even one slice will raise the heart rate and make you sluggish for the rest of the night. Here are some simple ingredients to help ensure your pizza is the healthiest pizza around.
The Crust: Depending on the way it’s made, the crust can be considered one of the unhealthiest parts of the pizza. It’s often loaded with excess oil and sodium, and if it’s made with standard flour, it’s nothing more than empty calories and yeast that will do nothing more spike your blood sugar.
While a true pizza is made with a crust of dough, substituting it entirely isn’t an option. But if you want to make a healthier pizza, one of the best things you can do is substitute regular dough made with refined flour for a dough made with 100% whole wheat flour. Whole wheat flour is rich in nutrients, especially iron, and best of all, it tastes great!
Conversely, a gluten-free crust, which is simply made with gluten-free flour. Gluten is a type of protein found in wheat, and helps dough rise and gives it its elasticity. This is an ideal option for those who suffer from Celiac Disease, an auto-immune disorder that is alleviated through the elimination of gluten.
Finally, when it comes to a standard crust, thin crust is the healthiest option, as it simply means you’re eating less dough than you would if the pizza were regular or thick crust )also known as “deep dish”).
Sauce: Pizza sauce, which is typically a red sauce, is often considered one of the healthiest aspects of a pizza. Tomatoes are high in the antioxidant lycopene, as well as the vitamins A and C. Unfortunately, many pre-made sauces are loaded with extra sodium and sugar, severely diminishing their healthy aspects.
The best way to fully enjoy the health benefits of tomato sauce without any of the bad stuff is too simply make your own. You can use a combination of crushed tomatoes and tomato paste seasoned with your favorite spices, or simply take some vine-ripened tomatoes and crush them yourself! This way you can ensure there are no added preservatives.
Cheese: While fatty mozzarella cheese is always the best way to make a tasty pizza, there are ways to cut down on unneeded calories. Low-fat mozzarella and parmesan cheese is, of course, the obvious method of making your pizza just a bit healthier, though there’s always the option of leaving the cheese off entirely, or only using half the normal amount.
Although not the same as real, gooey cheese, vegetable-based “cheese,” rice cheese, and soy cheese provide a slightly healthier option than standard mozzarella cheese. They melt the same way, but the taste might not be to everyone’s liking.
Toppings: Everyone loves picking the greasy slices of pepperoni off a freshly cooked pizza, but that grease, combined with the high fat and salt content in the meat, is definitely not healthy for you. Other toppings, such as bacon and sausage, are loaded with sodium and therefore ensure a less-than-healthy pizza experience.
As an alternative, why not try turkey pepperoni, or turkey bacon? These have significantly less fat than their pork-based counterparts, yet add plenty of flavor to the pizza. Instead of meat, you can also add fresh vegetables, such as spinach, cauliflower, green peppers, and mushrooms.