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Healthy Pizza with PIZZAZZ!

Who doesn’t like pizza? Nearly every mouth waters at the thought of sweet tomato sauce, tangy toppers, and that rich golden-brown crust, baked to perfection. This combination food can be a healthy choice, filled with complex carbohydrates, B-vitamins, calcium, protein, vitamin A, and vitamin C. However it often ends up being an indulgent, high fat, calorie-packed nightmare. Whether you're starting from scratch, opening a convenient frozen creation, or placing an order at your favorite pizzeria, the following pizza pointers will surely come in handy.

Consider the Crust
Crust is the foundation of your pizza, so be creative and open your mind to new crust possibilities, such as lower calorie versions. Keep in mind that whole-grain breads or crusts add fiber and additional nutrients to your pizza as well. 

Type of Crust
Homemade, 1/4 of 12"
Plain bagel, 2 oz.
Pita Pocket Bread, 1
English Muffin, 2 oz.
French Bread, 1/4 of loaf (4 oz.)
Ready-Made Crust, 1/8 of 12"
Tortilla, 1
Spread It On
Pizza sauce is loaded with lycopene, an antioxidant carotenoid thought to protect against several cancers, heart disease, and possibly bone loss. Many tasty, low-sodium versions are now available.

Load It Up
Pile on the vegetable and fruit toppings—mushrooms, olives, green peppers, broccoli, onions, spinach, pineapple, tomatoes, jalapeno peppers—for less fat, less calories, more fiber and more vitamins A and C.

If Meat is a Must…
While pepperoni may be the favorite, opt for leaner meats such as ground turkey, extra lean ground beef, white meat chicken, lean ham, or Canadian bacon instead. Cooking meats first and draining the excess fat (grease) will save lots of fat and calories. Seafood lovers can try water-packed shrimp, tuna, or crab. But everyone should skip that pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and prosciutto.

Say "Cheese…Just a Little, Please"
Use part-skim mozzarella, part-skim ricotta, a little Parmesan, or reduced-fat varieties. When ordering, ask for light cheese, and when unpacking a frozen delight, brush off some of the excess cheese before baking. Don’t be afraid to blot off some of the grease with a napkin—you’ll save even more calories and fat, but retain taste and texture.

Frozen Pizza Delights
Over the years, frozen pizza has come a long way. Gone are the cardboard crusts, tasteless sauces, and skimpy toppings. However, today’s frozen pizza can tip the scales when it comes to calories, fat and sodium. To improve your odds, select a frozen pizza that is loaded with vegetables and follows these guidelines for each serving— be sure to look at the number of servings on the box. Even a small or personal size pizza can be 2 or more servings:
  • Less than 375 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 4 grams of saturated fat
  • Less than 675 milligrams of sodium
  • Choose vegetable toppings on a thinner crust (or select plain cheese pizza and add your own vegetable toppings at home)
  • Start with a salad and low-calorie dressing and limit yourself to two slices of pizza.
  • Select a single-serving pizza for built-in portion control
  • Stay away from stuffed crust pizza
  • Pass on the pepperoni, sausage, bacon and extra cheese
Dining Out Tips
  • Ask about pizza ingredients when you are ordering
  • Resist the urge to order double-cheese
  • Go for vegetable toppings such as mushrooms, green peppers, olives, tomatoes, and onion. Try some of the new toppers such a broccoli florets, asparagus spears, and artichoke hearts
  • Go easy on the meats. Each meat addition adds 10-40 calories and 1.5 to 3.5 grams of fat per slice
  • Try to hold it to two slices of pizza and order a salad on the side
Lickity-Split Pizza 
If you are looking for a quick way to pacify your pizza taste buds, then try the Spinach Feta Personal Pizza. This lickity-split pizza recipe is ready in 5 minutes or less!
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Member Comments

thanks Report
I love pizza Report
Ole Xtreme Wellness tortillas are nice and soft and only 50 calories apiece.
Also a good crust is the Joseph's Lavash (available at WalMart). Report
I always top my pizza with pineapple. Report
Good article Report
great ideas Report
I use tomato salsa instead of pizza sauce. The toppings depend on what is in the fridge - usually mushrooms, sweet peppers, oninon (red), and left over chicken or possibly sliced ham. I mix up the cheese flavours/types too. Report
I love pizza!!! Here in scottsdale there are a lot of options, and of course the homemade option is great. Sometimes you just want to get a good old fashioned chicago style though. Am I right?

zza.com Report
We almost always make pizza from home (delivery perhaps once a year). For some reason people think from scratch is hard or time consuming but that's so not the case. Pizza crust is very easy to make, and if you mix the dough first, by the time you've finished chopping veggies, the dough has risen and is ready to be thrown. Occasionally we grill meat and chop it finely to put on top. We don't really eat sandwich meat anymore - and I don't miss it. A homemade pizza piled high with veggies and fresh herbs: Delicious! Report
I make amazing pizza from scratch (whole-wheat dough & flavorful sauce without the added sugars). Yes, there's a bit of labor involved - but honestly, the flavor is unbeatable.

While I'm fairly generous with the cheese and dough for the family's pizzas - I make a personal pizza for myself. I weigh out a 5 oz. portion of dough, 1.5 oz of mozzarella, and really max out on the veggies (red onions, red/green/yellow&
orange bell peppers, black olives, tomatoes, eggplant, spinach, and artichoke hearts). The 1.5 oz of cheese is just enough to act as a cohesive for all the veggies without weighing down the pizza with added calories and fat.

After I roll out the dough to where it's not too thin and not too thick - I get a very generous sized personal pizza. In fact, while I can eat the entire pizza if I wanted - I'm often too full after 1/2 of the pizza and a big plate of salad. I don't feel deprived or as though I cheated - it's a very well balanced, healthy meal! Report
I love healthy pizza even more than the traditional! Report
My favorite frozen pizza is Publix Greenwise Spinach and Feta. It's 210 calories for 1/3 pizza, or only 315 for half. Report
I have discovered Flatout Whole Wheat Flatbread for 100 Calories. I use it for my crust. I put it in the toaster oven to crisp it ever so slightly so it is a little stiff to load up with my pizza sauce and veggies. I use 1 TBSP of grated Parmesan and Romano cheese. This is a wonderfully filling and flavorful treat for just about 200 calories. Report
CINDYKC2000 I love your idea of wholewheat flour pizza crust with flax seed added. I've been making my own bread and pizza crusts for a while now. This would certainly give me another way to make this occasional treat a bit more healthy. For sauce I generally use a good quality, no salt added, tomato puree with a good helping of oregano, ground garlic, parsley and basil. Toppings usually include fresh sliced tomato, sauteed onion and a small quantity of cheese. Report
I love homemade pizza!! There are so many different ways to make it. Report
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About The Author

Becky Hand
Becky Hand
Becky is a registered and licensed dietitian with almost 20 years of experience. A certified health coach through the Cooper Institute with a master's degree in health education, she makes nutrition principles practical, easy-to-apply and fun. See all of Becky's articles.