October is National Pizza month. While many think of pizza as a food for couch potatoes, not athletes, there are ways to make pizza a more nutritious choice.
Toppings are the main way to impact the nutrition of a pizza. Pepperoni or sausage may taste great, but do not generally add to the pie in a nutritional way. Consider toppings that contribute to flavor without subtracting nutrition. Roasted peppers, sweet potatoes and zucchini are all excellent choices for both nutrition and flavor. If you are craving a meaty taste, try some Portobello mushrooms which offer a ‘meaty texture’ without the fat of a true meat topping. If you simply must have meat, opt for something like Italian chicken sausage to get that flavor.
There are also smart options in cheese. Fresh mozzarella is a good option. It is lower in fat and sodium than the shredded variety found in most stores. An ounce of fresh mozzarella contains only 70 calories. Shredded parmesan is another healthy option. It is high in flavor so you do not need to use as much. You can also substitute diced or crumbled tofu as a non-dairy choice.
The sauce is usually not terribly unhealthy, but do be aware of sugar and sodium content. You can also change up the entire flavor of the pizza by using hummus or pesto sauce instead of a traditional tomato sauce. Hummus adds fiber and protein, while pesto adds omega-3 fatty acids.