It’s National Pizza Day! And we Americans love our pizza pies. Everyday an estimated 40 million people across the US eat pizza. That makes it a huge source of the daily calories and nutrients we take in. And while pizza isn't technically junk food, it’s not exactly a health food either. But there are ways to make your pizza healthier.
Top it off with veggies: Feel feel to load up on toppings as long as they are vegetables. Skip the meat toppings, like pepperoni and sausage (which are laced with fat, nitrates, salt and more). Instead opt for veggies that pack a punch of nutrients such as onions, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli and garlic, which all have lots of vitamins A and C along with plenty of fiber.
Be creative: We typically think of pizza as a wheat crust, tomato sauce, loaded with extra cheese and pepperoni, but it doesn’t have to be. Think outside the pizza box and make a pizza with flat bread, a little garlic olive oil, fresh or stewed tomatoes instead of sauce, and then load it up with things like butternut squash, arugula, garlic, onions or more. It’ll be like eating the most delicious salad but it’s still satisfies that pizza craving.
Consider the crust: Say no to deep-dish crust, pan pizza, and especially stuffed crust pizzas. Eating the tricked-out crusts can add up to 300 extra calories per slice. Opt for a thin crust slice, which has 50-100 fewer calories than regular.But you can also think about gluten-free crusts or whole grain crusts. Even high fiber, nutrient-rich grains and veggies - like lentils and cauliflower - make great homemade crusts.
Say cheese - but only to mozzarella: Because mozzarella naturally has slightly less fat, including saturated fat, than other types of cheese, go with it over three-cheese blends, which will pack more fat and calories. It’s best if you can get your pizza with fresh mozzarella, which will be lower in sodium than the processed, pre-shredded kind. Or, if you aren't a huge cheese person anyway, go ahead and ask for light cheese or no cheese.
Ditch the oil: If you do order a pizza and there is a layer of oil on it, blot it off with napkins. Simply removing the excess oils from your slice can save you from high-fat calories - 50 or more calories depending on how greasy the pizza is.
Eat your pie early: There’s often a temptation to grab a late-night slice, but that’s not a good idea. Pizza can give you heartburn and depending on the sodium content, it can lead to bloating the next day. Plus, eating heavy food late at night often causes sleeping issues.