5 Tips For Making A Simple Pizza A Healthy Dinner
When it comes to foods that seem almost universally loved, pizza certainly ranks as a crowd favorite. This takeout go-to comes in so many iterations from so many great places that it may seem like a waste of time to make it yourself, but it's actually a super fun way to spend a night.
And not only that, making your pizza at home gives you more control over the ingredients that go into it. You can use it as an opportunity to sneak in extra nutrients and to add your favorite flavors, which is a win-win in our book.
1. Make your own crust, or opt for a healthier alternative.
When it comes to the wide world of baking, pizza crust is actually on the easier end of the spectrum for make-from-scratch simplicity. It's also manageable to make your own paleo-friendly or even a cauliflower or zucchini-based crust for an alternative to the bready classic—though you can recruit your sourdough starter for a chewy bread crust. The crust can also be a great place to sneak in some protein, through the sneaky means of a chickpea-based crust.
If you do opt for purchasing a premade crust, you're in luck: Recent years have seen a ton of innovation in the world of pre-prepped pizza crusts. With everything from cauliflower crust (of course) to almond flour mixes, the options also give you a choice for how much work you want to do: For the simplest, opt for a pre-rolled crust, or buy a mix that you just need to add a few ingredients to.
2. Load it with veggies.
At the pizzeria, there may be a limit to how many veggies you can choose, or you may have to pay up for those extra leafy greens—but at home, you're free to add as much as you like, no charge necessary. When it comes to which veggies you add, you can let your preferences, and the contents of your fridge, guide you—or you can take your cues from whatever nutrients you're hoping to add to your pizza.
Kale and spinach are perfect pizza pairings—especially when lightly precooked with a bit of garlic to add a punch of flavor. Some other great options to add warm are mushrooms, cruciferous veggies like broccoli, eggplant, and zucchini, or your favorite varieties of onions or peppers. But some veggies are best added after the pizza comes out of the oven: a handful of fresh bitter arugula or watercress offers a lovely contrast to the hot pizza.
3. DIY your sauce.
Though you wouldn't look at a pizza and think "added sugars," many canned tomato sauces might include a bit of sugar to offset the slight sourness of tomatoes. While you can find healthier store-bought sauces, making your own is a surefire way to bring some healthiness to your pizza pie.
For a pleasantly balanced sauce without the sugar, this goji-berry-powered marinara is a great place to start. But making your own sauce also gives you the chance to opt out of using tomatoes or other nightshades, if they bother you. Luckily, that doesn't mean sacrificing the tomato-y goodness: This nightshade-free sauce uses a blend of other veggies (like carrots, beets, and sweet potatoes) for a truly tasty alternative.
You also don't have to feel locked into the classic tomato base when cooking at home: Other sauces, like a pesto, can be great too. Pesto, especially, is a great way to sneak in an extra serving of veggies (like with this recipe).
4. Be deliberate about your cheese.
Sure, you could skip the cheese altogether, but that doesn't sound very nice to us. If it's health reasons that might lead you to skip it, there are healthier cheese options that also add punchy flavor to your pie (like a creamy goat cheese or a salty aged Parmesan).
If it's a plant-based diet that's guiding you away from cheese, we kindly invite you to come back to a cheese-covered pie with this simple recipe for vegan buffalo mozzarella or with a homemade vegan ricotta to spread across the crust.
5. Don't feel trapped into the crust + sauce + cheese formula.
Broadening your definition of "pizza" will only bring you joy; we promise—whether it's swapping out the classic crust for a keto-friendly base of scrambled eggs (which also makes it breakfast-friendly!) or even using chicken as a crust for a taco-inspired take on pizza. Go even further afield by filling sweet potatoes with your favorite pizza toppings.
So next time you're hankering after a pizza night, skip the takeout and instead dive into making your own perfect pie at home. If it's a different Italian classic you're after, try one of these healthier pasta sauces for a bowl of nutritious comfort.
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