Think outside the (pizza) box! With a few simple ingredient substitutions, you can turn any pizza recipe into a healthy recipe full of nutrition. A homemade pizza will always be better for you than delivery when it includes a healthy pizza dough; smart pizza sauce choices; and lean, nutrient-rich toppings. Start slimming your slice with these healthy tips.
Who says crust has to be made of pizza dough? Build your pizza on a whole grain pita half, flatbread, tortilla, English muffin half, or other nutritious, low-calorie grain, suggests Bethany Thayer, RDN, a spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
"The crust is a great opportunity to get some whole grains into your diet," Thayer says. Substitute whole wheat flour for one-third to half the amount of all-purpose flour called for in your pizza dough recipe.
"Simple low-sodium tomato sauce instead of pizza sauce is healthier because it's lower in sugar and sodium," says Jessica Crandall, RD, CDE, spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. You can add fresh herbs for more dynamic flavor.
Use lots of herbs -- such as basil, oregano, and thyme -- and spices in the pizza sauce, as toppings, or in the pizza dough to boost flavor without adding sodium.
Add unexpected nutrition to pizza by sprinkling it with chia seeds or flaxseeds. Pizza recipes usually lack in fiber and protein, so flaxseeds or chia seeds, which are high in those nutrients, are a great addition, Crandall says.
"Double up on your veggies instead of meats," Crandall says. Roasted beets, arugula, kale, broccoli, artichokes, asparagus, zucchini, carrots -- anything goes! Grilled veggies in particular add loads of flavor to pizza while providing nutrition.
Many pizza recipes and pizzas ordered at restaurants are topped with vegetables that have been tossed in oil, which adds unnecessary fat and calories. Instead, toss veggies in vinegar before roasting or grilling, then add them to your pizza for bold flavor without the fat, recommends Crandall.
Use low-fat or reduced-fat cheeses to top your healthy pizza, and be mindful of how much you're adding. "You can tremendously cut the saturated fat as well as the calories by cutting back on the cheese," Crandall says. Think of cheese more like a garnish, she suggests.
Save money and get a creamier cheese melt when you skip the store-bought shredded cheese and shred your own using these tips.
Top your pizza with bold-flavor cheeses such as blue cheese, goat cheese, or Parmesan. The stronger the flavor, the smaller the amount needed.
Start putting these tips to work tonight with our healthy pizza recipes.