Who doesn’t love pizza? Oh, I suppose there are a few misguided fools who don’t drool at the smell of this glorious food (no offense to those fools :-). The problem for many of us, though, is that pizza is loaded with fat and calories and since most of us are overweight … Then there’s the problem of health since pepperoni and a pound of cheese aren’t exactly artery-healthy foods. However, luscious healthy pizza most certainly can be a friend to weight loss. Here are a few ideas.
Healthy Pizza Begins At The Bottom: The Crust
Obviously, we need to start with the crust. If you’ve ever watched pizza makers tossing their crusts high into the air then you know that without a tasty crust the other ingredients are useless. And we’ve all eaten pizzas with crusts that taste like rubber. Yuck. Health and calorie-wise, though, most doughs rate a giant F in the health department because they’re made of processed white flour loaded with sugar.
This translates to lots of calories and a very high score on the glycemic index which is a carbohydrate rating system. Foods that receive high ratings – usually 50+ – will cause your blood sugar to dramatically spike, then later to fall just as quickly. This is a sad state for dieters who struggle to keep theirr blood sugar level. Usually when the dramatic drop occurs we feel sluggish and tired. The answer? More carbs, of course. Enter the classic vicious circle.
The escape is to choose a whole wheat pizza crust. Whole grains are lower on the glycemic scale and your energy will remain stable and so the wild cravings either won’t occur or will be much easier to resist. You can either buy a crust at the grocery store or, even better, make your own. If you’d like to be brave and try making your own crust, this recipe from All Recipes is delicious.
Healthy Pizza With Rich, Red Sauce
Fortunately, pizza sauce itself is usually pretty healthy. Tomatoes are loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant found in some red food like tomatoes, watermelon and papaya. It’s an anti-cancer substance, especially for prostate cancer (pay attention, men!) and it’s great for any vision problems or maintaining the good eyesight you currently have.
Keep in mind that the longer you cook anything, the fewer the remaining health promoters, so you can prepare the best possible sauce by using organic tomatoes and cooking them as short a time as possible.
Healthy Pizza Needs Healthy Toppings
I admit that my favorite topping is pepperoni. But do you know that the turkey pepperoni is really delicious – or at least I think so? At the least, give it a try. Other possibilities are lean chicken and turkey or Canadian bacon which is much less fat than regular bacon.
And there are vegetarian pizzas. I pile my pizzas high with artichokes and mushrooms, but there are lots of other choices like green pepper, onions and even pineapple, which I love but not on pizza. Fresh veggies look and smell delicious.
Now we get to the toughest part of a healthy pizza: the cheese. The mouthwatering pictures on TV of strings of cheese draped from mouth to pizza plate are tempting, but we know how fattening and unhealthy cheese is. Especially in huge quantities. But there are ways to cut down the cheese. For instance:
Use low fat cheese and grate it yourself
Mix your cheese with a bit of olive oil so that it spreads out better than normally and will appear to be more than it is
Use some of the soy cheeses, or mix some soy with ‘regular’ cheese
And don’t forget the spices! Garlic is THE spice for pizza but whatever tastes yummy to you is what you should use – forget ‘tradition’ and ‘shoulds’. If you want cinnamon, go for it (yuck! Love cinnamon but not on pizza).
Healthy pizza is easier when YOU are in charge. You can be sure your pizza is low fat or healthy when you have prepared it, so take advantage of fresh ingredients and create a flavorful treat that won’t blow your weight loss efforts. And then indulge to the max. And don’t forget to save me a piece. :-)