Pizza is one of the foods many people give up when trying to lose weight or when they want to eat more healthfully. That doesn’t have to be the case. There are several ways you can make pizza more nutritious:
- Load up on veggies like mushrooms, spinach, peppers, tomatoes, asparagus and onions. Other good choices are olives and artichoke hearts as long as they are packed in brine or water and not oil.
- Use low fat ricotta for white pizza and low fat mozzarella.
- Make your own homemade tomato sauce or use a canned tomato sauce that has no added sugar. I like Muir Glen’s pasta sauces.
- Use lean proteins like shrimp, chicken and tofu.
- Use fatty meats like ham and prosciutto sparingly.
- Experiment and have fun!
Using whole wheat pizza dough is another way to healthify your pizza. My favorite whole wheat pizza dough recipe is based on Barbara Kingsolver’s Friday Night Pizza (PDF) from her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life.
All purpose healthy whole wheat pizza dough
Makes one large pizza crust or six “party size” individual pizzas
- 1 packet of yeast or fast rise yeast (don’t use pizza dough yeast)
- 3/4 cup warm water
- 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil (or other heart healthy oil)
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 1/4 cups white flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- To make crust, dissolve the yeast into the warm water.
- Add oil and salt to that mixture.
- Add the the flours and knead them into the liquid mixture using a dough hook on your stand mixer. (I use my Kitchen Aid mixer but you could knead the dough by hand.)
- Cover and let dough rise in a warm place for 30 to 40 minutes.
- After the dough has risen, place your pizza stone in the oven and heat to 425 degrees Fahrenheit. (If you don’t have a pizza stone, preheat the oven and use a pizza pan instead.)
- Take the risen dough and roll out into a 12 inch pizza crust on a clean, floured countertop or cutting board.
- Using your fingers to roll the edge into an outer crust. Make it as thick as you like.
- Carefully slide your crust onto a pizza peel or pizza pan. Add toppings – first sauce, then meat and/or veggies, then cheese last. If you have to slide your pizza on to a pizza stone, don’t overload your pizza. The heavier it is, the harder it is to slide.
- Carefully slide the pizza onto the heated pizza stone. (Or place your pizza pan in the oven.) Bake your pizza at 425° for about 15-20 minutes or until crust is brown and crisp but before cheese starts to brown too much.
To make pre-cooked party sized pizza crusts:
- Preheat the oven and your pizza stone (if using one) to 425 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Take the risen dough and divide it in six small balls. The balls should be the size of a racquet ball, about what you can hold between the cupped palms of both of your hands.
- Roll each ball and roll out using a rolling pin on a clean, floured countertop or wooden cutting board. The thinner, the better. Your premade crusts can be round, rectangular or square – up to you.
- Slide the dough on to a pizza peel. Then slide the crusts onto a baking stone. (You can use a cookie sheet if you don’t have a pizza stone).
- Bake pizzas on a pizza stone at 425° for about 15-20 minutes until crust is brown and crisp.
- Remove from oven and cool on a rack.
- Top with your favorite healthy party toppings and serve.
This Mama’s tips
- If you are cooking up several batches of mini pizzas, make sure that dough does not rise too much on rolled out pizza crusts. If it does, just roll it out a a few times more before putting it in the oven.
- If you notice your dough is “bubbling” and puffing up like a giant chapati, score the dough with a sharp knife.