UN-L For Families: Pizza–Can it be healthy?
Who doesn’t like pizza? It can be a quick and easy meal, picked up on the way home from work or an activity or popped in the oven from the freezer. If you live in the right place it can be delivered right to your door. But pizza has a bad reputation for being unhealthy, high in fat and calories, and for not very nutritious. All of this can be true but pizza can also be a healthy option for most people.
Generally, we think of pizza as lunch or supper with a crust, red sauce, some kind of protein and mozzarella cheese. But there also is breakfast pizza that usually has some kind of a white sauce, eggs, meat and cheese on the crust. Have you ever had fruit pizza? Fruit pizza usually has a sweet cookie type crust, a cream cheese type filling or sauce, fresh fruit and sometimes a glaze. With all these choices can be pizza be a healthy choice for most people? Fortunately, the answer is yes!
Start by thinking about the MyPlate recommendations for healthy eating. It recommends eating foods from each food group at every meal. Pizza can be a ‘no-brainer’ as every food group can easily be included. It is the food choices you make that can make a healthy pizza.
Consider making your own pizza at home. Once you have a plan you can have your own semi-homemade pizza on the table ready to eat in the same length of time it would take to order and go get a pizza or have one delivered.
Start with a good base (the crust), choose a thin crust to reduce calories. Try a whole grain crust. It can be whole wheat, corn, or oat. Most grocery stores offer premade packaged crusts that are very convenient to use and tasty too. There are also many pizza crusts mixes available and of course you can always find a recipe and make your own from scratch. If you are eating out ask if they have any whole grain options.
Next, add veggies and fruits. The pizza sauce counts as a vegetable if it is a tomato based sauce. But in addition to the sauce try adding other vegetables, peppers and onions are traditional but consider others that your family likes. Why not add corn or green beans? Consider fruit, pineapple and mandarin oranges can add interest when paired with other ingredients.
Add some lean meats like, Canadian bacon, chicken or lean hamburger. If you have to have pepperoni or sausage try the turkey versions of these to lower the fat and sodium grams.