On the surface, pizza doesn’t seem like it’s really that bad for you. At it’s most basic, it’s bread, tomatoes, and cheese, all of which are relatively healthy considering some of the other things you could choose for lunch and dinner. But is pizza a healthy option or should it be lumped in with other fast foods and only eaten occasionally?
The reality is, whether a pizza is healthy depends entirely on your ingredients. Of course, extra cheese, meat, and loads of other toppings will only add to the caloric content and take the meal from “not that bad” to “you’re eating a week’s worth of calories in one meal” territory.
Let’s start with the base of the pizza: the crust. When you’re making a pizza yourself, you have many more options in terms of ingredients compared to a chain restaurant. I do realize that there are some pretty wacky pizza crust recipes out there, many of which are gluten-free or made with vegetables, but I’ll keep things traditional.
Like choosing bread to eat, you’ll want to choose a pizza crust that’s 100% whole grain. Making your own will require more effort than buying a pre-made pizza crust or a flatbread, but you’ll have more control over the ingredients and you can skip any necessary chemicals and preservatives. You can also control the thickness. As you can imagine, thinner is better, since you’ll be eating less of the dough.
For sauce, tomato is the obvious choice, but not your only option. If you do prefer a tomato base, choose a simple tomato paste with as few ingredients as possible. Store-bought “pizza sauce” often has a lot of ingredients you may not want, but with a simple tomato paste as your base, you can tailor it to your tastes. Or, you could go in a different direction and try salsa, humus, garlic paste, or pesto in place of tomato sauce.
Mozzarella is the classic cheese used for pizzas, but you could try and branch away from this and still arrive with a satisfying and delicious pizza to eat. Some of the healthiest cheeses to consider include feta, part-skim mozzarella, Swiss, or a combination of the three. Also, use the cheese sparingly to cut down on the calories. You should be able to see the sauce underneath!
Finally, we come to the toppings. This is the tipping point between healthy and Dominos. Obviously, you’ll want to choose vegetables rather than meats for toppings, but this doesn’t mean you will sacrifice flavor. Onions, sun-dried tomatoes, peppers, and even pineapple are all healthy and tasty choices.