It would be an understatement to say that I like pizza. I’m sure I’m not the only one when I say pizza tastes flippin’ awesome. The perfect combination of bread, sauce, cheese, and toppings pales in comparison to other fast foods. I was really upset when I was diagnosed with Crohn’s Disease and Celiac Disease. A big part of my despair, believe it or not, was that I couldn’t eat pizza! Pizza is definitely a big party food, and something that everyone can come together for and enjoy. The thought that I wouldn’t be able to participate in that process anymore really got to me.
The good news is, I’ve found a new way to eat and enjoy pizza again. Making a gluten free pizza crust isn’t always easy, but after trying a bunch of different recipes, I finally developed an easy cauliflower pizza crust. No, you don’t need to cook the cauliflower before hand. And no, you don’t need to ring out all the excess moisture with a cheesecloth. I’ve also included a secret ingredient that I think completely changes the taste and texture of the crust for the better: ground rice cereal. Using rice cereal as a faux bread crumb acts as a fantastic binding agent, giving you a great texture and dough. Use this formula for a pizza crust instead that’s 100% gluten free and 100% delicious.
11 Ways to Make Pizza Healthier
Before we get into today’s recipe, I’d like to talk about pizza and how to make it a healthy meal you can occasionally consume for a quick weeknight meal. Check out these 11 simple ways to cut excessive calories and boost the nutrient content of your pizza.
- Make it yourself–When ordering from a local pizza joint, you really have no idea what you’re getting. Between sodium-loaded jarred sauces and cellulose-ridden grated cheese, ordering a takeout pizza is a fast food land mine that could explode at any minute. If you have the time, make pizza at home. Sure it might take a little getting used to, but you’ll be in control of the ingredients and how the pizza is prepared.
- Try a thinner crust–Deep dish crusts might taste decadent, but they have considerably more calories than thinner crusts. Remember that when making pizza at home, you don’t even need to make a traditional dough. Sprouted grain English muffins, whole-grain tortillas, and even matzoh are all healthy alternatives. Also remember that certain dough varieties like stuffed crust are out of the question.
- Use a low-sodium pizza sauce–Pizza sauce is usually pretty high in sodium. Make sure you read the nutritional label before purchasing a sauce. If you want, you can even use leftover homemade tomato sauce from a pasta dinner earlier in the week. I’ve done this plenty of times, and honestly I’ve never noticed a difference. If you’re the kind of person that like to freeze giant batches of tomato sauce, this would also be an appropriate choice.
- Grate your own cheese–I mentioned in my post about making Italian food healthier that grated cheese is fraught with cellulose. Food companies argue that this keeps the cheese from lumping together. But I say any food that uses a derivative from wood-chips doesn’t belong in my body. Save yourself a few dollars by grating cheese yourself.
- Use half the cheese and twice the sauce–Speaking of cheese, do you really need that much? Often you can use only 6-8 ounces and have more than enough to cover an entire large pizza. Pizza companies use way more cheese than you need and sure it tastes good, but is it really good for you? Since you’re using less cheese, add a lot more pizza sauce. It will keep the pizza moist and flavorful.
- Get creative with toppings–Gone of the days of an extra cheese pizza that’s so hot it burns your tongue. Try using a variety of topping to make a tasty pizza that’s also healthy. Mushrooms, bell peppers, tomatoes, onions, and olives are pretty classic choices. But don’t forget about eggplant, zucchini, leeks, peas, butternut squash, artichokes, and even brussels sprouts! These unconventional pizza toppings will pack an awesome nutritional punch and awaken your taste buds.
- Add protein–Adding protein is an essential way to make your pizza and worthwhile nutritional investment. Great choices include grilled chicken, grilled turkey, tofu cubes, lean ground beef or turkey, and even mini turkey or beef meatballs. Make sure that you cook your animal proteins completely before adding them to your pizza. No one wants pizza with a side of salmonella!
- Incorporate salads and other greens–I’ll be honest when I admit that I could easily eat three
okay fourslices of pizza and not come even close to being full. As great as pizza tastes, you want to incorporate other foods to make it a complete and balanced meal. Serving a side salad of nutrient-dense greens like spinach, arugula, and watercress is a great investment in your health. I personally like placing my focus on my salad, having only a slice or two of pizza after I eat my greens.
- Practice portion control–Even when you make pizza super healthy, it’s easy to go overboard. Try to have at most 1-2 slices. This should be plenty of food for the average person. If you’re still hungry, make sure you’ve topped your pizza with enough fiber-rich veggies and eaten a large salad to satiate your appetite.
- Make your own frozen pizzas–If time is a concern for you, try making pizza crusts ahead of time. Simply double or triple a typical dough recipe and make several large pizza crusts. Wrap each crust in several layers of aluminum foil to ensure a sturdy and freezer-burn proof case. When you feel like making a pizza, simply defrost the crust and add toppings. This way you can easily cut the cooking process down by half.
- Make it a family affair–Don’t feel overwhelmed and think you need to make the entire pizza yourself. If you have children, a partner, a family member, or even a roommate, get them involved as well! It’s as easy as asking one person to chop veggies and another person to shred cheese.