By: Marlene Affeld
Do you and your family love pizza but don’t think it can be a part of a healthy diet? Pizza, a takeout staple in many homes, is typically high in saturated fats, salt, and calories and just too expensive for what you get for your money; good reasons to think twice next time you pick up the phone to order.
Not to worry, its possible to have healthy homemade pizza that is low in saturated fat, high in protein and fiber, loaded with nutritious veggies and tastes delicious. Making pizza at home is fun, costs a whole lot less than delivery and doesn’t contain “mystery meat” or artificial preservatives that could have negative accumulative effects on optimum health.
Boost fiber by more than 50 percent by using whole-wheat pizza dough, available in local supermarkets and health food stores. Check the label to make the crust does not contain saturated fat. Select thin crusts rather than thick to reduce calories.
Substituting low-fat part-skim mozzarella, ricotta or feta cheese for fat-laden processed regular cheese lowers cholesterol and saturated fat. Next pile on your favorite fresh organic vegetables in season for extra fiber and a treasure trove of nutrients. In addition to the typical peppers, onions, mushrooms and garlic topping, consider adding chopped spinach or kale, sliced eggplant, and sliced summer squash, zucchini or your choice of the many varieties of sweet and spicy peppers.
Don’t forget to add fresh fruits. Pineapple, mango, pears, kiwi and apples make excellent flavor enhancing toppings.
Be creative with fresh herbs such as rosemary, basil, cilantro, parsley, sage and oregano. Add a sprinkle of extra-virgin heart-healthy olive oil and spices and seasonings for enhanced flavor without adding a bunch of extra calories or carbohydrates.
Try a homemade pizza tonight! You are only limited by your imagination. Here are some additional healthy topping suggestions to get you started on the path to pizza nirvana.
- Reduced-sodium marinara sauce – purchase premade or make your own
- Pine nuts
- Slivered almonds
- Cashew nuts
- Mashed steamed acorn squash, seasoned with a dash of curry as a sauce
- Artichoke hearts packed in extra-virgin olive oil
- Olives – explore the many different nutrient-packed varieties available rather than settle for the cheap sliced black olives from the delivery guy.
- Consider replacing high fat meats with chicken, turkey bacon or turkey sausage for a low-sodium, low-fat solution to high-fat, high sodium delivery pepperoni or sausage combinations.
This season, entertain guests with a sampling of mini personal pizzas or creative a festive spread of fresh toppings and allow guests to create their own pizza. Enjoy!