One of our favorite meals at my house is homemade pizza… LOVE family pizza night! We average this once every 1-2 weeks. Pizza? you say? I say, Yes, it can be healthy!
Here is a customizable way to make it healthy:
- Start with the crust. I am fortunate to have a grocery store in town that has an amazing whole wheat pizza dough (and no, this is not a health food store) . I just purchase the dough ball, spray my pizza pan with cooking spray and roll it out. Easy peasy! Or you can make your own- check out this whole wheat pizza dough recipe. You can also purchase already made pizza crusts (including whole wheat) at most grocery stores, although I’m not a huge fan of the taste or texture of the ones I’ve tried. If you need gluten-free, some stores have gluten-free crusts/mixes (such as Bob’s Red Mill brand).
- Then the sauce. I’ll be honest… I don’t make my own fancy sauce, although making a homemade sauce can be a great way to go… here’s a recipe. But I just use our favorite jarred marinara sauce (tomato basil), and spread it on top of the rolled out pizza dough… just enough to fully coat the dough but not too heavy (about a 1/2 cup). Sometimes to change it up, I will add pesto (either a light coating before I add the marinara, or in place of the marinara). This will add a rich garlic flavor to the pizza.
- Lean protein- If you’d like meat on your pizza, go with a lean choice such as chicken, canadian bacon, ham, lean ground beef, or turkey sausage.
- Load on the veggies! This is where you can get really get creative.
There are so many veggies that go well on pizza and in so many combinations. The more veggies, the better as they are a
great source of fiber and can fill you up… plus, they can add a lot of flavor! Here are some good choices: bell peppers, onions, mushrooms, tomatoes, spinach, basil, broccoli, zucchini, olives, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes, sliced jalapeños or banana peppers, etc.
- Light on the cheese, please! Usually with pizza comes cheese, but that does not mean it has to be loaded or “extra” cheese. You can choose to sprinkle your pizza very lightly with cheese (in other words, it does not have to completely smother the toppings). Mozzarella (which is a naturally lower fat cheese) is the most common choice for pizza, and you can even look for a reduced fat version for a lighter option. I probably wouldn’t choose fat free though, as it will not melt all that well.
- Practice portion control- Now, here’s a big point to remember: you could eat the healthiest foods ever, but if you eat too much, the calories, etc. can add up… and “healthy” pizza is no exception! Consider 1-2 slices (3 at the very very most!). You can practice portion control by starting out with just 1 slice first… take your time in eating it before going back for a second. Give yourself 20 minutes to eat 1-2 slices. That’s how long it takes for the brain to get the signal from your stomach that you’re full and satisfied. This will lessen the chance of overeating. Another strategy may be to include a salad you can fill up on along with the meal.
Some Yummy ideas:
Chicken and veggies – This is our usual favorite! For sauce, I use marinara. I top with grilled or baked chicken breast (usually prepared ahead of time or leftover from another meal), fresh basil leaves, bell peppers (red, green, and/or yellow), red onions, and broccoli. I also add jalapeño slices to one half of the pizza (for the adults). I top with a mixture of shredded reduced fat mozarella and pepper jack cheese.
Hawaiian- Spread on marinara sauce. Then top with cooked canadian bacon or ham, and pineapple. Optional would be to add some veggies (bell peppers, mushrooms, and/or onions would go well). Then add shredded mozzarella and/or pepper jack cheese.
Green pizza- Use pesto for the sauce. Then add variety of green veggies including fresh basil leaves, chopped spinach, chopped broccoli florets, and/or artichoke hearts. Top with shredded mozzarella.
BBQ chicken- For sauce, mix 1 part marinara with 1 part of your favorite BBQ sauce. Add pieces of cooked chicken breast, choice of peppers (bell and/or jalapeños,), red onion, and chopped fresh cilantro. Top with shredded mozzarella.
Tomato Basil- Brush olive oil on the pizza dough. Optional: then sprinkle with small amount of minced garlic or garlic powder. Add fresh basil leaves and sliced roma or cherry tomatoes. Top with shredded mozzarella.
P.s. Not only will the kiddos love to gobble it up, but they will also love to help out!
So try making some homemade pizza this week! Please share your creation!