How do you define a healthy pizza? Oh wait, is that an oxymoron? Shopping in the aisles with customers always brings up questions like “What do you think of pizza?” Well, pizza happens to be my favorite food and the theme for this month’s Recipe ReDux round-up of recipes.
“Pizza Party! Give the delivery guy a day off; whether it is for Friday Fun Night with the kids, a pizza chef competition among friends, or for Super Bowl Sunday (February 2). Share your healthy pizza recipe that we can all look forward to after a long week…or a long day.”
If you think pizza can’t be part of a balanced diet, think again. There are many opportunities to turn this favorite into a MyPlate meal. Here are some ideas:
1. Try a whole-grain crust. Now, you can purchase pre-cooked whole wheat crusts as well as use things like flat bread or tortillas made from whole grain. You can also find pizza crust mixes with a direction of just adding water. All of these methods are quick. If you feel the need to “knead”, then try out my whole wheat pizza recipe here.
2. Add a lot of veg (or fruit). Pizza is so versatile it begs for vegetables to add flavor. I’ve tried everything from broccoli, pineapple, peppers, onions, carrot shreds, mushrooms, cauliflower and more. I challenge you to try to just add one new vegetable to your favorite pizza.
3. Stick with lean meats. The reason pizza gets a bad reputation is because of the toppings (similar to how we think of potatoes – it’s not the food itself, it’s what we put on it!) I love using 93% lean ground beef, shredded pork tenderloin, skinless chicken breast, or chicken sausage on my favorite pizzas.
4. Say cheese! Let’s face it, the reason we love pizza is because of the cheese. But lay down the guilt and pick up the fork. Cheese is a great source of nutrients and here are 6 reasons to smile about cheese from my friend and fellow registered dietitian, Stephanie Cundith. I also tend to just use 1 cup of cheese total for the whole pizza. Say what? What about the “2 pounds of cheese” we hear about from pizza delivery chains? Sprinkle the cheese you need and add a little real Parmesan cheese and you won’t need a single ounce more.
So, I was inspired to make this recipe after I saw something similar in the Hy-Vee Seasons Magazine. I changed it up quite a bit and the results were delicious two times over with multiple oohs and ahhs. My kids ate it up (even the one that doesn’t love vegetables yet) and my co-workers raved. Give it a try, you will be glad you did!
Chicken Sausage & Sautéed Pepper Pizza
Serves 4 (2 slices each)
Your favorite whole wheat pizza dough
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (or a fresh garlic clove, minced, if you have it)
1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 cup diced red and yellow bell peppers
1/2 cup diced red onions
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 large links (6 ounces) fully cooked Sweet Italian chicken sausage (Al Fresco brand), diced
1/3 cup pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese + 2 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese
1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Prepare pizza dough according to package directions. Roll dough onto 12-inch pizza stone.
3. In medium bowl, toss 2 tablespoons olive oil, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, basil, bell peppers and onions. Set aside.
4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add one tablespoon olive oil and diced chicken sausage. Stir occasionally until lightly browned. Remove from pan.
5. In same pan, add bell pepper mixture and sauté for 3-4 minutes or until softened and lightly caramelized.
6. Spread dough with pizza sauce, sausage and bell pepper mixture. Sprinkle cheese lightly over top and place in oven. Bake 10 minutes or until cheese is light golden brown and bubbly.
Check out this whole list of dietitian-approved pizza recipes!