Tips on making a healthier pizza.
Who doesn’t like pizza? It’s a favorite meal that’s simple, delicious, and can be topped with all sorts of foods. Unfortunately, the way pizza is often prepared makes it high in saturated fats, calories, and sodium. With one slice of pizza ringing in at 300 calories, it’s easy to ruin your best dieting intentions with one meal. Add high-calorie toppings and the count goes even higher.
So if you’re watching your weight, pizza usually isn’t an option. But if you’re craving a slice or two of pizza, there are ways to make it diet friendly while keeping that delicious taste you crave.
From the crust to the sauce to the cheese and toppings, here are tips to make your pizza night low in fat and high in nutritious goodness.
Whether you prefer thin crust or thick crust, the best way to make it healthy is to buy or make whole-wheat dough. Find simple, easy recipes online for whole-wheat dough or substitute white flour for wheat in your recipe. Crust made from whole-wheat flour will increase the fiber in your pizza by 50 percent. And as you know, foods high in fiber are great for your digestive system and keep you feeling full for longer. (What a great trick for eating less!)
Make an even healthier crust by adding a vegetable in the dough. Look for a recipe that adds zucchini, cauliflower, or squash to the ingredients. Your taste buds and health will both benefit!
Pizza sauce can either make or break a pizza. Red sauce, pesto, garlic sauce, and hummus are healthy options. Red sauce has half the sodium of white sauce and less saturated fat. If you love white sauce, find a recipe made without butter or cream but uses skim milk and Parmesan cheese. If using tomato sauce, use lots of it. Tomato sauce contains high amounts of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that fights disease.
What would pizza be without cheese? Unfortunately, the majority of calories and saturated fat found in pizza come from cheese. Cheese may be a great source of calcium, but it is high in calories. With many different types of cheese to choose from, your best bet for a healthy pizza is to go easy on the cheese, use a low-fat option, or substitute with a vegetarian cheese alternative.
The processed meats commonly used on pizza are not options if you’re trying to eat healthily. Sausage and pepperoni are greasy and high in fats, and they’re associated with an increased risk of colorectal and stomach cancers. If you’re craving meat on your pizza, try lean options such as chicken or shrimp. If pepperoni is your favorite topping, try seasoned chorizo instead. This cured meat has 80 mg less sodium and 20 fewer calories than pepperoni. Replace Italian sausage with chicken sausage to cut the calories and fat in half. Because of the high sodium content of anchovies, try olives. Better yet, keep the meat off your pizza and become a pizza vegetarian.
Next come the toppings. Load your pizza with as many vegetables (or fruits) that you like. You can’t have too many! Low in calories, veggies and fruits will add extra flavor, as well as ample fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Great veggie topping options include onions, fresh or sun-dried tomatoes, spinach, olives, mushrooms, peppers, broccoli, zucchini, peas, potatoes, corn, or asparagus. Fruit can even be yummy on certain types of pizza. Try pineapples, pears, figs, or apples.
Whether you get creative or go traditional, your pizza topping options are endless. Plan a family night in the kitchen and let the kids help make their own pizzas. That way everyone can be happy and healthy at the same time!
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