Easy Food Swaps for Healthier Pizza
Often high in carbs, fat, and lacking quality nutrients, 'fast food pizza' as we know it needs a lot of work. Our experts have assembled several easy food swaps you can use to make healthier and more delicious homemade pizza creations.
Traditionally, pizza is topped with high-fat meats and cheese which makes this dinnertime favorite a relatively unhealthy choice. But it doesn't have to be this way. You can enjoy the delicious flavors that you love without sending your blood sugar through the roof. We'll show you a few easy food swaps that you can use to make delicious better-for-you pizzas.
Back to Basics
The Crust. When it comes to the crust, choices these days go beyond just thick, thin, and hand-tossed. With honey wheat, gluten-free, and many other options, how do you choose? While some options seem healthier than others, there are a few that you may not have considered. For instance, gluten-free crusts still loaded with carbohydrate, as are whole wheat varieties. If deciding to have a pizza night at home, try to stick to a thinner crust. Better yet, try swapping out a premade pizza crust with whole grain tortillas or zucchini slices. Both will provide healthy nutrients without breaking the carbohydrate bank.
The Sauce. The rich, red color of pizza sauce can be deceiving. Even though it's often filled with nutrients from tomatoes, it can also be a hidden source of sugar. If having a pizza night at home, be mindful of the nutrition label regarding sugar content. Swap out the traditional, jarred sauce with a homemade pizza sauce. Any sort of homemade food item allows control over the ingredients. To move further away from traditional red pizza sauce, have fun with other sauces. Pesto sauces are rich in omega 3 fats as well as other nutrients from the fresh herbs.
The Toppings. Oh the fun to be had when it comes to the pizza toppings! Even if you have little control over the other ingredients used in restaurant pizzas, aside from simply not eating there, the toppings you choose offer endless opportunities to make healthier choices. Exchange high-fat sausage and bacon to leaner protein sources like chicken or shrimp. And go crazy with vegetables! Veggies offer bulk to help you fill up, but with maximized nutrients and fewer calories. Even if the gooey cheese may sound appealing, ask for light cheese at the restaurant. If making at home, the amount of cheese can be better controlled even still. Sprinkle a part-skim cheese over the pizza until lightly covered and use healthy toppings to cover the rest.
4 Easy Pizza Ideas
1. Breakfast Pizza
Pizza for breakfast? Sure some gas stations may offer a convenient slice on the go, but preparing in the comfort of your own home will reduce the grease and fat. Atop a pizza crust with eggs, colorful bell peppers, spinach, and whatever else sounds appealing for an alternative to a big bowl of sugary cereal.
2. Mexican Pizza
Swap out the calorically-dense burrito with a light, crisp Mexican dish. Layer a crust of your choosing with salsa, lean beef, black beans, peppers, jalapenos, onions, and lightly sprinkled cheese. After baking, dollop nonfat Greek yogurt on top along with fresh cilantro. Replacing sour cream with Greek yogurt will reduce fat yet provide an ample amount of protein.
3. Chicken Pesto Pizza
Go green with a pesto pizza. Pesto is an olive oil based sauce filled with basil and other green herbs, offering a significant amount of healthy omega 3 fats and antioxidants. Layer a thin crust with pesto sauce, spinach, artichokes, and chicken and reap the healthful benefits without compromising flavor.
4. Dessert Pizza
Pizza does not just stop at breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Although desserts are typically loaded with sugar, sprinkling cinnamon on a whole grain tortilla will provide a sense of sweetness without all of the added sugar. Bake the tortilla until crisp then layer with Greek yogurt and any sort of fruit toppings. Sprinkle coconut or a few dark chocolate chips for a little extra sweetness.