pizza

Who knew pizza could actually be healthy? There are not many foods that you can fit all of the food groups in! The key to a healthy pizza is making a healthy crust, the cheese you choose, and loading on the veggies. Pizza can be one of the unhealthiest foods you can eat or a healthy meal choice. It’s all in how you prepare it.

Building a healthy pizza:

» Crust: Thick crust pizzas made with bleached white flour is a terrible crust option. But, today there are countless ways to get a healthier crust. Cauliflower, quinoa, buckwheat, eggplant, zucchini and almond flour crust are a few examples of crust you can use to create a healthy pizza. One of my favorite store-bought brands is Simple Mills pizza dough which only has 8 ingredients including almond flour, flax meal and cauliflower.

» Sauce: A homemade pizza sauce is a great option because you can control the ingredients and leave out the sugar. If purchasing a sauce, make sure the sauce does not contain sugar, which is an unhealthy ingredient added to most sauces. I like Newman’s Own Roasted Garlic Pasta sauce which does not contain sugar.

» Cheese: Healthier cheeses include goat cheese, fresh mozzarella (try Bel Gioioso brand) and buffalo cheese. The key to choosing any cheese is reading your ingredients. White cheeses are usually best because they do not contain artificial coloring. Also, look for cheeses that contain only milk, enzymes and salt.

» Toppings: Toppings are an easy way to pack on the vegetables and protein. You can’t go wrong adding any of your favorite vegetables to a pizza. I love adding spinach, eggplant and onions. For added protein, shredded chicken and organic beef make delicious meat toppings.

» Healthiest Frozen Pizza options: If you need a quick dinner, there are some healthier frozen pizza options that I would recommend: Amy’s frozen pizzas and Caulipower pizza, which are found at most grocery stores.

Pizza recipes:

Zucchini pizza bites

-1 tablespoon olive oil

-3 zucchini, cut into 1/4-inch thick rounds

-salt and ground black pepper, to taste

-1/3 cup marinara sauce

-1/2 cup finely grated mozzarella

-1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Preheat oven to broil. Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Working in batches, add zucchini and cook, flipping once, until golden, about 1-2 minutes on each side; season with salt and pepper. Place zucchini rounds onto a large baking sheet. Top each zucchini round with marinara & mozzarella. Place into oven and cook until the cheese has melted, about 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle with Italian seasoning if desired.

Almond flour crust pizza

- 1 ½ cup almond flour

- ½ cup coconut flour or grated parmesan cheese

- 1 teaspoon baking powder

- 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning (or a mixture of garlic powder, onion powder and oregano)

- ½ teaspoon salt

- 2 eggs

- 1 tablespoons ground flax seed

- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil

- 2 tablespoons water (or more if needed)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine the dry ingredients until blended. In a separate bowl, whisk together the wet ingredients. Pour wet ingredients into dry ingredients, stirring until a dough is formed. Add additional water if needed. Roll out between two sheets of parchment paper. Transfer to a pizza pan and remove the top paper. Bake 20-25 minutes or until crust is golden brown. Remove from the oven and add pizza sauce and desired toppings. Bake an additional 5-10 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Mandy Nix is a registered dietitian in Morganton who writes a weekly nutrition column for The News Herald. For questions, contact her at mandynix85@gmail.com.

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