There’s no denying the popularity of pizza, they are delicious and the ultimate comfort food for the many. Additionally, there’s no denying that they are not the healthiest of meals, and all those toppings of cheese, sauces and loaded crust is a recipe for a coronary disaster! Furthermore, if you’re on a healthy eating plan or weight loss programme, you more than likely have to sacrifice the beloved pizza. Fear not though, for by the end of this article you’ll have uncovered tips on how to make a healthy homemade pizza that rivals your favourite takeaway pizza, only with less of the saturated fat, salt and calories. Who knows, we may even divulge tips to increase your protein content and your serving of fruit and vegetables!
As a bonus, we reveal the jaw-dropping amount of calories in a garlic pizza dip. Have a guess as to how many calories are in a 100g serving of garlic dip.
Avoid stuffed pizza crusts: All that extra cheese and meats added to a pizza crust can add considerable calories to your pizza slice, in fact it increases by as much as twofold! Avoid stuffed pizza crusts at all costs.
Swap thick crust for thin crust: It probably doesn’t come as a surprise to you that a thinner pizza base contains less calories, fat and carbohydrates compared to their thick crust counterparts. A simple swap, but highly effective at the same time. This thrifty exchange could salvage as much as 70 calories per slice of pizza.
Use alternative bases: There are endless choices of non-traditional pizza bases to choose from. Below are a list of some that you can try, all of which will significantly slash calories and fat associated with pizza bases.
- Tortilla wrap
- Round pitta bread
- Cauliflower base
- Portobello mushroom caps
- Zucchini slices
- Sweet potato
Pizza dips have been one of the latest additions to a takeaway meal. At the start of the article, you were asked to guess how many calories are in a garlic dip. Recently, the much-loved dip came under fire for the astonishing amount of calories that a large garlic dip contains.
In a 100g dip, you will find an astonishing 675 calories! Yes, the equivalent to a whole pizza, 2 healthy dinners and more than 2 McDonald’s burgers! So, step away from the dip.
There should be an abundance of flavour in a pizza without needing a dip. Below are some healthy sauces you can add to your pizza.
This sauce provides 21 calories, 0.2g fat and 3g sugar per 100ml, and is the premier choice when compared with other pizza sauces available. Why not add some basil or your favourite herbs for an extra kick of flavour?
A trend that I have noticed is that some of the pizza sauces contain substantially less sugar and calories when compared with tomato puree. These sauces were fresh and flavoured with garlic and herbs, which probably quantifies why they could eradicate most of the sugar. Such sauces offer 27 calories, 0.7g fat and 2.5g sugar per 100ml, a superior alternative to tomato puree.
In the grand scheme of things, tomato puree isn’t the worst of sauces available to flavour a pizza. It contains 85 calories, 0.5g fat and 14g sugar per 100ml. Yes, the sugar is rather high when you consider it should be no greater than 5g per 100g to be considered a healthy amount of sugar (remember the +353 rule?). So you could opt for better sauces, such as the ones mentioned above.
Make your own sauce:
Nothing quite compares to a homemade sauce from a nutritional standpoint. From having control of the sugar and salt, to picking your favourite herbs and spices to add some zest to your pizza, you can really spice up your pizza and not be confined to the basic set of pizza sauces available in supermarkets.
If you want to reform your pizza or feel the need for a change, you can switch things up by opting for one of the below sauces instead of a tomato-based sauce.
- Greek yoghurt flavoured sauce
- BBQ sauce
- Romesco sauce
- Curry sauce
Tip: Opt for low fat, low sugar, low salt sauce variations to minimise the presence of hidden ingredients in sauces.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, take ease with the cheese! If you’re thinking about replicating the double cheese pizzas, then be prepared to deal with the consequences. Double cheese pizzas incorporate anywhere from 150g – 300g extra cheese, so bear this in mind when you read the nutritional values of cheese provided below.
The type of cheese you select can end up reducing the fat content by as much as 50%. Mozzarella cheese is one of the cheese lowest in fat and calories and provides 236 calories, 18g fat and 0.6g sugar per 100g. Opting for the reduced fat mozzarella cheese reduces those values to 164 calories, 9g fat and 0.7g sugar per 100g.
Other cheeses you could opt for include feta cheese, ricotta cheese and reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Alternatively, you could omit the cheese altogether and just top your pizza with a sprinkle of freshly grated parmesan cheese.
Tip: Shredded cheese, e.g. shredded mozzarella, is a simple serving trick that helps reduce portion sizes while still getting cheese distributed throughout the pizza.
If asked what fruits can be added to a pizza, you probably would have been stumped to conjure up a list. That’s probably because many of us don’t know that peppers are considered a fruit and not a vegetable. The only one that typically comes to mind for many people is the pineapple. The contentious question that always sparks rivalry is whether pineapple belongs on a pizza, so consider this your forewarning that it is included on the list below.
- Apple: Thinly slice your apples and add them to the pizza before popping it in the oven. They tend to compliment strong cheeses well.
- Fig: Goes well with goats cheese.
- Jackfruit: An excellent substitute if you’re vegan or want to imitate the appearance of pulled meat.
- Jalapenos: Be warned, they are hot. So add sparingly, or if you can’t handle the heat, don’t add them at all.
- Olives: Add a handful of thinly sliced black or green olives.
- Peach: Diced or thinly sliced, it’s up to you.
- Peppers: Red peppers are the most popular due to providing a strong, sweet flavour, but don’t forget to add green and yellow too.
- Pineapple: Choose from round slices or diced pineapple. Did somebody say Hawaiian pizza?
Most meat pizza toppings are often highly processed, and unfortunately pepperoni, salami, and sausage are but a few offenders. When choosing meats, opt for ones with no visible traces of fat or skin. The healthier options include meats that you cooked yourself as opposed to packaged meats which are often high in salt and preservatives.
The preferred cooking methods include roasting or grilling the meat, if it needs to be par-cooked before being added to the pizza. Boiling is also a healthy cooking method, but it does introduce moisture, which may contribute to a soggy pizza.
Tip: Swap bacon rashers and sausages for turkey rashers and sausages as these are generally a leaner meat that is lower in fat and higher in protein.
For those of you who celebrate meatless Monday or don’t eat meat or seafood, here are some suggestions which you can use as alternative toppings:
Meat is synonymous with pizza toppings, however, there’s no reason you can’t opt for a fishy pizza instead. Such ingredients are often a healthier alternative to meat, especially when you compare them to processed meats, such as sausage and pepperoni.
- Garlic powder
- Onion powder
- Chilli flakes
- Crushed red pepper
- Ground black pepper
- Italian seasoning
Tip: Opt for fresh diced herbs over dried herbs for a milder flavour.
Vegetables are one of the healthiest ingredients that can be added to a pizza along with being the lowest in calories, fat, sugar and salt. So with that in mind, load up on your 5 a day to add bulk, nutrients, texture and flavour to your pizza.
- Garlic: Finely chopped or minced, 1 clove is plenty
- Mushrooms: Fresh, sliced baby mushrooms are a nutritious addition, 75g is loads
- Onions: Sliced or diced, spring onions, red onions or white onions, you choose
- Rocket: Also known as arugula. Sprinkle small arugula leaves throughout the pizza for extra texture, colour and nutrients
- Spinach: An alternative to rocket leaves, adding spinach also makes you feel slightly healthier
- Tomato: Large, thinly sliced tomatoes and small cherry tomatoes are a popular topping to compliment the tomato sauce
Tip: Some ingredients have a high water content, e.g. peppers, fruit. Ensure any excess water is removed and they are patted dry before topping your pizza with them. Nobody wants a soggy pizza!
- Choose a thin crust over a thick crust to save on calories, fat and carbohydrates consumed
- Healthy pizza bases include tortilla wraps, pitta bread and cauliflower bases
- Processed meats should be minimised if not eliminated, e.g. pepperoni, sausage
- Healthier meat alternatives include turkey, chicken and beef
- Cheese toppings provide significant calories and saturated fat
- Fruit and vegetables are some of the healthiest toppings that can be added to a pizza
Have you a pizza lover in your life and want to get them a gift? Or perhaps you enjoy novelty gifts yourself! Well treat yourself or someone you know to an Axe Shaped Wheel Cutter Pizza Cleaver Knife. Make cutting pizza the highlight of the night!
If you’re having a pizza night, chances are that you are indulging in some of your favourite drinks too. Whether they are alcoholic or non-alcoholic, they’re bound to contain calories, sugar and/or fat. Now that you’ve made a healthy homemade pizza, why sabotage your efforts by guzzling on a calorific, sugary drink? Ditch the sugar dips, the extortionate calories, fat and even the horrible hangovers with these tasty best low calorie beverages – cut 100+ calories per drink. We may even shock you with the calories in your favourite beverages!
Congratulations, you are now equipped to build yourself a healthier pizza that you can enjoy with all the taste and less of the guilt. Of course, feeling guilty about eating food and labelling foods as bad and good is a dangerous path towards a poor relationship with food. Nevertheless, I hope these tips and swaps can aid you to incorporating healthier foods and pizza toppings into your lifestyle without feeling the need to sacrifice them entirely.
Have you omitted pizza in the past in an effort to follow a healthier lifestyle or as part of a weight loss programme? Do you think pineapple belongs on a pizza? Or even fruit for that matter? What unconventional pizza toppings or sauces do you use? As always, please contribute your opinions and thoughts below.
Geer, D., 2016. 5 Recipes That Prove Fruit Belongs On Pizza | Pizza Today. [online] Pizza Today. Available at: https://www.pizzatoday.com/news/pizza-headlines/5-recipes-prove-fruit-belongs-pizza/#
Links, Z., 2019. The 7 Most Popular Seasonings, Sprinkles, And Herbs You Need To Try On Your Pizza – Slice Pizza Blog. [online] The Sauce by Slice. Available at: https://blog.slicelife.com/the-7-most-popular-seasonings-sprinkles-and-herbs-you-need-to-try-on-your-pizza/
Pizza Planet. 2018. 10 Nutritious Topping Choices For A Healthy Pizza. [online] Available at: https://www.pizzaplanet.com/10-nutritious-toppings-healthy-pizza/
Ross, M., 2015. 7 Pizzas For People Who Hate Crust. [online] Bustle. Available at: https://www.bustle.com/articles/101950-7-healthy-pizza-crust-alternatives-that-are-surprisingly-delicious
Good Food. 2020. Seafood Pizza. [online] Available at: https://www.goodfood.com.au/recipes/seafood-pizza-20130806-2rbz1