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Now That’s a Healthy Pizza!

Who doesn’t love pizza? With a crust that is chewy and crispy all at the same time, gooey melted cheese, tangy tomato sauce, and of course any topping imaginable! We all love pizza—but does pizza love us back? Pizza has this bad reputation for being a greasy, calorie-laden “junk food”—but the surprising and delicious fact is, pizza can actually be GOOD for you! Where else can you find all the food groups packed into one delicious pie? Read on for some tasty, HEALTHY pizza tips that will leave you feeling good instead of feeling guilty!

When making pizza, you always start with the crust. For a quick and easy meal, pre-made pizza shells can be found at your grocery story in healthier whole-wheat or “thin” varieties, or make individual pizzas using pitas or flatbread. But if you want a truly spectacular pie, you can make your own crust with a few simple ingredients.

Pizza just wouldn’t be the same without the sauce. Tomatoes are an immense source of essential nutrients, including a slew of vitamins and minerals, antioxidants, and lycopene. Choose a jarred sauce (preferably organic) made with all-natural ingredients that is low in fat. Or better yet, make your own pizza sauce using crushed garlic, a little extra-virgin olive oil, a can of crushed tomatoes, and your favorite Italian herbs and spices. Just be sure to look for canned tomatoes packaged without Bisphenol-A (Click here for a list of BPA-Free brands of canned tomatoes). BPA is a plastic used to line canned foods, that when combined with acidic foods like tomatoes, may leach chemicals that could be harmful when ingested. If you are feeling ambitious, you can also make your sauce from scratch, using fresh tomatoes.

Many people believe cheese is the best ingredient in a pizza—and the more the better. Here is a good rule of thumb. Always choose a cheese that is naturally lower in fat, such as mozzarella, the quintessential pizza cheese. One ounce of all natural, part-skim mozzarella contains 72 calories, 4.5 grams of fat, and almost 7 grams protein—not too bad, but certainly don’t go overboard.

And finally, what pizza would be complete without the toppings? The best choice is to always pile on the fresh veggies—and not just peppers or mushrooms! Get creative. Try artichokes, grilled eggplant, broccoli, spinach, red onions, zucchini, asparagus… the “pie’s” the limit! If you are a meat-lover, choose lean meats such as grilled chicken, or ham, instead of greasy pepperoni or sausage. The same rules apply when eating out of course!

Once your masterpiece is ready, bake it in a preheated, 435-degree oven for around 15-30 minutes, or until the crust is crispy and golden, and the cheese is bubbly and melted. Let your pizza cool slightly and enjoy—here’s to good food AND good health!

 

Resources: http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=44

http://www.babybulletblog.com/safe-packaged-tomatoes-bpa-free-options/

http://www.livestrong.com/article/268074-nutrition