Tuesday Choose Day: Choose this Healthy Pizza Instead of Your Usual!
When asked their favourite fast food, 62% of Americans said pizza! Unfortunately most of the pizzas around have thick crusts, stringy cheese, oily meat…making you hungry, right? Well, if you are one of the ones who would put pizza at the top of your list (it’s definitely pretty high up there for me!) then don’t despair! There are ways you can make your calorific pizza into a healthier, lighter option.
If you’re eating pizza at a restaurant:
- Choose the thin crust, preferably wholemeal if it’s available. ‘I don’t like wholemeal!’ I hear you cry. Well, the taste is almost unnoticeable once you factor in the toppings
- Share a pizza with a friend, and get a salad on the side. You still get your beloved pizza, but half as much as you would normally eat, and a nice nutritious salad to boost your vitamin intake too!
- Ask for low fat cheese instead of mozzarella. Just 1 ounce of mozzarella contains 6g of fat, compared to 3g of fat in reduced fat cheddar!
- Stay away from pepperoni and salami. In some places they fry these in oil before putting them on your pizza. In other places, the meat is so cheap, it’s mainly fat anyway! Choose ham or chicken instead. If you like the spice, ask for tandoori chicken or add peppers or jalapenos.
- Load your pizza with vegetables. Tomatoes, green peppers, sweetcorn, baby spinach. This will increase the nutritional value of your pizza and fill you up more quickly.
If you’re eating pizza at home:
- Make your own! You have no idea what goes into the pizzas you get from the supermarket. Next time you’re there, check the food label on your favourite pizza. Shocked by the fat value? Check out the salt value! People underestimate how simple and inexpensive it is to make your own pizza at home! Here’s a recipe I brought home from my holiday in Italy:
500g strong bread flour (I use half white, half wholemeal. It tastes like white but contains less carbs)
1 packet of dried yeast (you can use live yeast if you can get it, but the dried version works just as well)
300ml warm water (you can use 100ml milk and 200ml water if you prefer a richer taste)
pinch of salt
Pour the water into a jug or bowl (the water should not be hot, or it will denature the yeast. You should be able to put your hand in it comfortably and it not feel cold)
Add the yeast to the water and stir until it has dissolved (it may fizz if it has been activated already)
Measure out the flour into a large mixing bowl and add the pinch of salt.
Slowly, a bit at a time, add the water and yeast mixture to the flour, stirring all the time.
It should form a soft dough. Knead this for 10 minutes to activate the yeast, then cover with a cloth and leave for 30mins-2 hours to rise. It should roughly double in size.
Knead the dough again and either roll out into a circle, or mould it into your baking tray (I prefer the latter, as it is a lot quicker and easier, and gives a more rustic look).
Once you’ve put your toppings on the pizza, it usually takes about 25 minutes to cook in an oven at 180C, but this will depend on the toppings you use.
Experiment with toppings. I once used a can of chopped tomatoes as the sauce, but it was too wet and made the base soggy. Yuck! So the next time, I tried it with a sieved tomato sauce (passata) and it worked perfectly! Half the fun is in the experimenting!
- Use the same principles for eating at a restaurant- keep the crust thin, include a salad, use low fat cheese, load the pizza with vegetables, and stay away from oily meats
- If you’re really pressed for time, you could try my super-quick pizza, ready in a few minutes! The secret is to use a pitta bread or folded tortilla wrap as the base. Then add your toppings as usual, and cook under the grill for 7-10 minutes or until the cheese is melted. If you use this method, only use cooked meat on your pizza, as the cooking time won’t be enough to fully cook raw meat.
So how do you think the recipes sound? Have any of you had your own faux pas with pizzas? If you try either of the recipes, do let me know, I’d love to hear how they turned out for you!