It’s probably safe to say that at one time or another, pizza was your favorite food. Some individuals are so into it they truly believe happiness is a slice of pizza. The average American eats about 23 pounds of pizza annually (that’s about 46 slices). With 1 in 8 Americans eating pizza on any given day, pizza adds pizazz to meal planning.
Pizza can be a healthy choice if prepared low-fat and with salt-alternatives. One slice of pepperoni and cheese pizza has approximately 250-400 calories, depending on the size of the slice. Pick your portion and stick to 1-2 slices of pizza. Complete your meal with fruit and a salad.
With a few adjustments, you can enjoy this favorite food without guilt. It can be high in nutrition, low in calories and tasty.
Tips & Techniques
Give the following tips a try to make a healthier pizza:
- Lighten up the cheese. Substituting low-fat mozzarella for regular cheese lowers saturated fat.
- Load up your pizza with fruit and vegetables; anything goes. They make a colorful plate and increase nutrition. Consider tomatoes, pineapple, mushrooms, dried cranberries, onion, broccoli, peppers, corn, squash, carrots, avocado and zucchini.
- Popular pizza meats are typically high in sodium such as sausage, pepperoni, and ham. Try to choose one favorite and skip the rest.
- Make your own whole wheat crust for extra fiber.
- Choose thin crust over regular to save 50-100 calories per slice.
- Choose a low-sodium pizza sauce or make your own from scratch.
The following pizza recipes are delicious, healthy and easy to serve anytime.
Easy Flatbread Pizza
Courtesy of Texas A&M Extension
- Preheat oven to 425°.
- Toss sliced tomatoes, zucchini and mushrooms with olive oil, salt and pepper.
- Place vegetables on baking sheet and roast for 20-25 minutes.
- Spread pesto evenly on flatbread.
- Sprinkle mozzarella over pesto.
- Add roasted vegetables.
- Bake pizza at 400° for 8-10 minutes until cheese is bubbly.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories: 280, Fat: 10g, Carbohydrates: 34g, Fiber: 2g, Protein: 13g, Sodium: 480mg. Serves 6.
Adapted from Virginia Cooperative Extension
- Preheat oven to 400°.
- Combine sauce and seasonings, blend well with a fork or whisk. Let stand for 5-10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Spread sauce over the pizza crust, leaving about a 3/4-inch rim of crust.
- Sprinkle cheese over top of the pizza. Top with various vegetables. Bake in oven for 20-25 minutes.
Nutrition Facts (per serving): Calories: 108, Fat: 5g, Carbohydrates: 28g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 9g, Sodium: 290mg, Cholesterol: 8mg. Serves 8. (Adapted from Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Homemade Vegetable Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust).
For additional ideas for preparing healthy pizza, check out Texas A&M Agrilife Extension’s link to view their video demonstration for making Easy Flatbread Pizza. Try the American Heart Association’s recipe for Classic Margherita Pizza with Whole Wheat Crust. Utah State University’s Food $ense - Create a Pizza encourages you to make a delicious pizza from simple foods using your imagination!
- Ag in the Classroom. Pizza for Everyone.
- American Heart Association. America has some of the world’s saltiest pizza – 5 tips for a healthier slice. 2014.
- Michigan State University Extension. Joyce McGarry. Choosing a healthy slice of pizza. 2013.
- Texas A&M Agrilife Extension. Easy Flatbread Pizza. 2015.