Yes, Pizza can be Healthier!

. October 1, 2016.

Pizza doesn’t have to derail a healthy eating plan. With a little care selecting ingredients – plus some experimenting – pizza can be a part of a balanced diet.

“If we eat pizza in moderation it’s not bad,” said Martha Gonzalez, a registered dietician and clinical nutrition manager at Blanchard Valley Health System. “We do require a certain amount of fat and sodium in our diet. If we watch the other things we eat, pizza can be worked into a meal plan.”

Topping Choice Makes a Big Difference

The best part of making your own pizza, said Gonzalez, is you get to pick the ingredients and you know exactly what is going on your pie. Some of the culprits in pizza’s bad rap are the very things you can control – the toppings.

Pepperoni and sausage are very fatty, highly-processed meats. Cheese can be a high-fat food. The crust, if made of all-purpose flour, might have been stripped of nutrients during processing. And the sauce can have added sugar. Substitutions abound, however, limited only by personal taste.

Crust can be Healthier Too

Use whole wheat flour in the crust. Better yet, look up some un-crust recipes that use ground cauliflower or zucchini, or even whole wheat tortillas.

Toppings can be as versatile as grilled chicken, refried beans, hummus or tofu. And, of course, lots of veggies. Look for low-fat and low-sodium cheeses.

The key is to change a few things at a time to see what you like and what tastes good. After all, pizza should still taste like pizza, even if you substitute things due to diet or allergy concerns.

“Pizza can be made better,” said Gonzalez. “Try to do more vegetables than meats. And if you make it yourself you can control how much cheese you put on it.”