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Monday, February 1, 2016

Pizza Can Be Nutritious and Delicious

If you're like most people, pizza is one of your favorite foods. But pizza can be unhealthy if made with too many high-fat ingredients, such as cheese and sausage. Fortunately, you can enjoy pizza that's both nutritious and delicious if your make your own. And what better time to make your own pizza than during Great American Pizza Bake Week, starting February 14. Here are some tips for creating a tasty and tempting pizza you and your family will like.

Craft the Crust
The base of any pizza is the crust. You can make the crust more nutritious by substituting whole wheat flour for part of the white flour. For example, if your favorite pizza crust recipe calls for 2 cups of flour, use 1 cup of whole wheat flour and 1 cup of white (all-purpose) flour. Try this easy to make whole wheat pizza crust, which contains both whole wheat and white flour.

Stir the Sauce
Most pizzas contain a tomato sauce base, which often has a high sodium content. To lower the sodium content of your pizza, choose a low-sodium variety of pizza sauce. You can also make a pizza sauce with a lower sodium content than that in pre-made sauces sold cans and jars. 

Try (Different) Toppings
There are endless possibilities for topping your pizza, but the key to making a healthy pizza is to top it with more vegetables than less-healthy options, such as cheese and sausage. Common vegetable toppings for pizza include onions, tomatoes, red peppers, and green peppers. You can also get adventurous and add less frequently used vegetables to your pizza, such as broccoli, asparagus, or zucchini.

You don't have to forego high-fat toppings altogether, but just use less of them. For example, sprinkle half the amount of cheese and pepperoni than you'd normally use on your pizza. 

Make it a Meal
Another way to make "pizza night" a more healthy night is to serve healthy side dishes, such as a fruit or vegetable salad. You might also try simply serving raw fruits and vegetables on their own. For example, carrot sticks or cucumber coins are quick and easy, and orange and apple slices make a refreshing dessert all by themselves.

Now It's Your Turn

❏ Make a healthy homemade pizza using this pizza recipe from Cooking Matters®.

❏ If you don’t want to make a pizza crust from scratch, use a refrigerated pizza crust — whole wheat, if possible. However, even if you can't find whole-wheat refrigerated crust, rest assured that simply adding healthy toppings will improve your pizza.

❏ The next time you have pizza, make it a meal and serve healthy side dishes containing vegetables and fruits, too.

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