How to say “YES” to Pizza
Don’t fret, pizza lovers! You can still have your pie and eat it, too. We all know pizza is delicious, but believe it or not, it can be a surprisingly healthy snack or meal. With a little bit of creativity and some basic portion control, we don’t say no to pizza. Check out some fun and informative ways to keep it healthy:
- Pile on the veggies! Think of your pizza as a blank canvas to add some key food groups. Low on iron? Try adding broccoli rabe or fresh spinach. And lots of sauce!
- Bring on the lycopene! Are you a tomato lover like us? Ask the server for a side of tomato sauce for dipping your crust!
- Opt-in for thin crust. Many restaurants these days offer a thin crust option for your favorite pizza. There are often wheat, gluten-free and even cauliflower options at many pizzerias now.
- Get creative. Cooking at home can be a great way to spend quality time with the kids while being more aware of what we eat. Try setting up a pizza station with multiple toppings so everyone can customize.
- Say yes to quality. A great way to make sure you’re staying on the right side of healthy is to make sure you’re using quality ingredients like fresh mozzarella and basil.
- Salad pizza. Yes, we said “salad pizza”. This fun combo can be surprisingly delicious! Just take your favorite crust, marinara sauce or crushed tomatoes, top with grated cheese and your favorite chop salad. Voila! Many restaurants will even do this for you, even if its not on the menu!
Do you have any tips on keeping pizza healthy? Let us know by tweeting them using #SmartPizza and #TomatoLover and we’ll be sure to add them to the list!
The Healthy Side of Pizza
Pizza can fit into a healthy eating plan, and here’s why:
- Whole grain crust pizza can help kids get more healthy whole grains into their diet, according to research. (Public Health Nutr, 2014)
- Every slice of pizza can contribute almost 2,000 mcg of lycopene! (Based on 1 Tbsp sauce per serving.) That’s the equivalent of eating ½ cup of cherry tomatoes! (USDA)
- Pizza is a traditional wholesome food that is part of the Mediterranean diet, which has been linked with myriad health benefits. In fact, consuming lycopene-rich dishes, such as pasta and pizza with tomato sauce, as part of a Mediterranean-style, low-glycemic diet protected against oxidative stress in women in one study. (J Nutr Biochem, 2012)
- One medium slice of vegetable pizza contains 270 calories, 10 g protein, 3 g fiber, 20% DV vitamin C, and 10% DV for iron and calcium. Saturated fat comes in at 4 g and sodium at 510 mg. Add a side green salad for only 49 calories (and a variety of other vitamins and minerals), and the meal comes in at under 320 calories. That’s a nutrition bargain, considering a tiny kids’ meal cheeseburger rings up at 310 calories, 5 g saturated fat, and 820 mg sodium.
Here’s a great example of a super healthy pizza; Arugula Salad Pizza from Sharon Palmer, RD.
Also check out these recipes for some more healthy, smart pizza ideas:
Like any dish, pizza can be as healthy as you want it to be, and it just takes some common sense and portion control to enjoy the most popular food in the world.