In light of growing awareness around obesity and chronic disease, however, pizza is often presented as a food that should be eliminated or restricted for health reasons. While not all pizza is created equal – some store bought and restaurant types can be nutritional nightmares – I believe that you CAN enjoy pizza without breaking your commitment to healthy eating! Here are my top tips for making a healthy pizza:
1) Make your own crust. I don’t think that people know just how easy it is to make your own pizza crust. Traditional pizza dough involves a minimal number of ingredients and it’s perfect for making ahead of time. With a little planning, you can spend just a few minutes putting together the dough one night for dinner the following night! Here’s my simple, go-to recipe:
Pizza Dough (enough for 2 crusts)
- 1 1/2 cups warm water
- 2 teaspoons active dry yeast
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 3/4 cups white or whole wheat flour, or a blend of the two
- 1 teaspoon oregano
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1-2 teaspoons crushed hot red pepper flakes (optional)
- Combine the water and yeast in a large bowl and let sit for 2 minutes.
- Add the remaining ingredients and stir until combined. Add a bit more water if necessary.
- Let the dough rise for 2 hours on your counter (or overnight in the fridge).
- When ready to eat, divide your dough in half and use a rolling pin to roll each ball into a thin crust. Then add your sauce and toppings and bake at 425 degrees for 7-10 minutes. If you don’t plan to use your second ball of dough, you can pop it into a large Ziploc bag and put it in the freezer for another day!
2) Make your own sauce. Instead of buying pre-made sauce that tends to be loaded with sodium, you can make a simple sauce using canned, no-salt added tomatoes. I also love the jarred Strained Tomatoes because they have just one ingredient – tomatoes. From there, you can jazz up your sauce by adding seasonings. I typically add oregano, basil, thyme, (lots of) garlic and a bit pinch of salt and let the sauce simmer on low heat for 40 minutes or so – or throw everything into a crock pot and let it cook on low all day.
Want to kick your sauce up another notch, nutritionally? Throw some chopped veggies and/or pureed white beans into your sauce. This will add protein and fiber and no one will even notice!
3) Load up on healthy toppings. Think beyond just traditional pepperoni or sausage. There are all sorts of healthy toppings you can add to your pizza, like:
- Grilled Chicken
- Sweet Potatoes
Really, the sky is the limit when it comes to choosing healthy toppings! This is also a great opportunity to get your kids involved in the kitchen. Once you have your toppings chopped, have them select and sprinkle on their favourite toppings.
- Go light on the cheese. In my world, every pizza needs some cheese. However, that doesn’t mean it needs a whole bag of cheese. Go for a flavorful cheese where a little goes a long way and use it sparingly. Try fresh mozzarella, goat cheese or parmesan!
Put these tips together and you will have a delicious and nutritious meal that all of the kids and adults in your home will love.
Barb practices a holistic approach to health and wellness, which means that she looks at how all of the areas of her client’s lives – activity level, eating habits, stress, relationships, and work – are interconnected. She then helps them work towards the results they desire, such as such as achieving an optimal weight, reducing cravings, incorporating more healthy foods into family meals, and minimizing fatigue, in realistic and enjoyable steps! Barb doesn’t believe in magic pills or fad diets, and has seen firsthand how dramatic results can be achieved through simple nutritional and lifestyle improvements!