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Recipe: how to build a healthy pizza

How to build a healthy pizza

What’s for dinner tonight? If you’re in my house, the answer is likely pizza. When I tell my family and friends that I eat pizza several times a week, they look at me slightly puzzled. Surely it can’t be healthy to eat bread and cheese as dinner staples on the regular. Right?

Thing is, if you make pizza the way we make pizza, it might be your best nutritional bet. On a single pie, you can get in most of the food pyramid. And after a long, hard workout, who doesn’t need a complete, filling meal? To make it the healthiest it can be, I like to break up our meal into several components, each with its own opportunities for healthy tweaking.

  1. Crust. For a healthy pizza, first examine your base. I always use a mix of white and whole wheat flour (1:1 ratio) versus standard white. I have experimented using all wheat, but sometimes the crust is more dense and doesn’t come together quite as nicely (it’s all in the gluten production). Aside from that, I like to go beyond traditional flour, yeast, water mixtures and add vegetable purees. I’ve made crust using pureed pumpkin, beets, chickpeas, pesto, carrots, purple cabbage, leftover soup – basically anything and everything I can get my hands on.
  2. Sauce. Canned tomato sauce is fine and dandy, but if you’d like to sneak in some more nutrients, try making your own at home. Other great choices include homemade pesto, salsa, hummus (yes – hummus!), simple garlic and olive oil, and many more alternatives.
  3. Cheese. When I was younger, I’d always order double cheese pizza. Nowadays, I go light and think quality over quantity. We definitely do our fair share of shredded mozzarella, but we also crumble a modest amount of feta or slice some goat cheese to have the flavor go farther all while using less cheese. Pepper Jack is another great option for some spice where a little goes a long way. If you’re feeling really adventurous, skip the cheese and just top with veggies. I promise with enough on there, you won’t miss it!
  4. Toppings. We load our pies with roasted vegetables – anything from eggplant to zucchini to mushrooms to onions and beyond. Then we get a little creative. As vegetarians, we love plopping on some chickpeas or other beans for protein. After the pizza has baked, my husband often tosses on a handful of greens, like arugula, for good measure. Oh, and sliced avocado is on my slice 100 percent of the time.

An idea to get you started on your road to healthy pizza success (pictured above) is pumpkin dough topped with homemade spinach pesto, mozzarella, and roasted veggies plus chickpeas.

What’s your favorite healthy pizza?

Written by Ashley Marcin.

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