This month I would like to talk about Pizza! I’ve been into them. What’s more is they are super balanced with their macronutrients. What’s that you say? Basically, they provide you with a nice blend of carbs, protein, healthy fats (the 3 macronutrients) and a serving of veggies! Lots of fiber, flavor, and ease too. It takes less than a few minutes to assemble if you are home making it (you know I like the assembly and not the cooking), but maybe 30 minutes to bake. While it’s baking you can spend time with your family or make some fun cocktails! Don’t you worry, I’ll also give you tips on ordering too. I got you.
Why Pizza is Healthy
Pizza can be a very healthy food because it can have almost all the food groups in one dish and bring balance to your meals. This is why choosing quality and high-nutrient ingredients is a must to increase your pizza’s health factor. Pizza is loaded with vitamins and minerals (tomato sauce and vegetables), calcium (low fat cheese), protein (lean meats, or plant proteins like tofu or beans), and fiber (whole-grain crust).
Dine-in and Carryout
Yes, you can have healthier pizza when dining out and without changing much of the flavor. When ordering, here are some healthier pizza tips:
Crust. Ask if a whole-grain or whole-wheat option is available. If it is not, always choose the thinnest crust option to keep your starch servings in check.
Extra sauce. Always choose a tomato-based sauce and ask for extra. Pizza sauce is a great source of the antioxidant lycopene that helps keep our cells happy.
Load up with vegetables. Many restaurants offer a long list of vegetable options for pizza. I recommend choosing a vegetable pizza as your base and then adding the protein you like.
Less cheese, please. I love cheese, and cheese is a very important component of pizza, but a pound of cheese is not necessary. I recommend asking if they have a low-fat cheese option or asking for half the cheese amount.
Meats. If you like meat on your pizza, I recommend chicken, shrimp, or grass fed beef. These are usually going to be the healthier meat options. A lot of the pork may be leaner, but highly processed. Think about plant protein options too, such as tofu, beans, or tempeh. I usually skip adding protein, since I choose high protein crusts and add cheese, which has adequate protein.
Skip their Parmesan and add the red pepper flakes. The red pepper flakes add more flavor to each slice, which will encourage you to eat less. Add in your own parmesan if you wish, since you can control the amount (there might be a cheese source already on the pizza).
Easiest of all… here are a couple local San Diego pizza places that will provide consciously healthy options:
If you find more San Diego options, let me know!
Making Pizza at Home
At home, the healthier pizza possibilities are endless! You can get creative and try new flavor combinations. Follow the tips above for dining out, and then add these:
Pick a quality crust. Sure, you can make your own (recipe here), but if you’re short on time and energy, have one ready to go in the freezer. I get mine at Sprouts. See 2 crust ideas below!
Herbs and spices. Adding flavor to your pizza is important, because the more flavor it has, the less you need to eat to be satisfied. Dried herbs like oregano, basil, parsley, red pepper flakes, and fennel have antioxidants similar to fruits and vegetables.
Get your veggie servings in: Add in already cut broccoli slaw, bell peppers, cauliflower… the list goes on. Get creative with this.
Sauce: You can always make one from scratch, but if you’re like me, you probably won’t. Choose sauces that have whole food ingredients, without added sugar and additives. Organic Bertolli from Costco works great.
When choosing a cheese, choose ones with richer and stronger flavors. I enjoy using parmesan, and low fat feta cheese instead of mozzarella. The more flavor, the less you need.
Check out the pizza I made with Flatzza below! All I added was organic marinara (Bertolli), broccoli swirls (already cut from sprouts), organic low fat white cheddar cheese, low fat feta, and cauliflower bits. To reheat, I just stuck it in the toaster oven. Easy Pizzzzaeeey.
Studio SWEAT’s Registered Dietitian