Let’s talk pizza. Healthy yet divine pizza, made to order, for both the kids and the adults! Let me introduce you to my family favorites as well as my granddaughters’ favorite pizza creations. There are several different options for healthy pizza crusts as well.
I know, I know. You are probably questioning if pizza can really be made healthy. You are probably wondering about all of those meat-lovers in your house and how they will react to healthy pizza. Trust me, this is a wonderful opportunity for your family to not only have a great time together, but it's your opportunity as a parent to introduce new veggies into your children’s diets.
Make enough of these pizzas to have left-overs, because these pizza’s make great school lunches for the kiddo’s the day after. They also make great left-overs for the adults, to pack in your work cooler with an added fresh green salad for lunch.
I often make these for breakfast, too. For the breakfast version, I use whole grain flour tortillas, low fat grated jack cheese (about 1/4 cup shredded), mushrooms, tomatoes, bell peppers, scrambled eggs, pizza sauce or salsa, and I top them with green onions. If you don’t have time in the morning to cut these into pizza slices and enjoy them before you leave for work, you can always fold them in half and eat them on the go.
Here are my suggestions for great tasting, healthy, beautiful pizzas that you can create at home with your family. Allow them to pick their own toppings and build their own pizzas. Set out some veggies that they have never tried. Get your children to actively participate. Make every Friday or Saturday night a family cooking night. Here are some great tips and recipes to get you started!
*Pizza Crust* (choose one of the following crusts)
1) Whole grain flour tortillas
2) Whole grain corn tortillas
3) Whole grain pita bread
4) Large portabella mushrooms
5) Thick sliced eggplant rounds
6) Ezekiel Bread or Whole grain French bread
7) Whole wheat or whole grain English Muffins
8) Any home-made whole grain pizza crust recipe
9) Whole grain or whole wheat flat bread
*Pizza Sauce* (choose one of the following sauces)
1) Make your own: To a 16 ounce can of sugar free/ sodium free tomato sauce, add a teaspoon of each dried basil, oregano, and thyme; add 2 cloves minced garlic; add one large bay leaf; add a pinch or two of sea salt, and heat over medium heat and bring to a boil. Turn heat down to low, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
2) Purchase your own (purchase a sauce with no added salt or sugar)
3) Try salsa as a pizza sauce!
4) Try your crust of choice without pizza sauce! Put low fat cheese on first, and then load with toppings.
*Healthy Pizza Topping Suggestions*
Nitrate/nitrite free sausage or pepperoni
Red or green bell peppers
Kale (it’s good!)
Lean cooked ham
Cooked chicken breasts, diced or sliced thin
Hard boiled eggs
Sauteed Brussels sprouts leaves
Red chili peppers
Nitrate/nitrite free bacon, cooked
Low fat/skim mozzarella cheese
Low fat jack cheese
Olives, black or green, pitted
Shredded beef, chicken, or pork
Any lean meat cooked with organic or homemade barbecue sauce
For all pizza crusts, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees F, unless you are using a frozen crust. Follow separate directions on package for frozen pizza crust.
You will need a pizza pan, or a large pan lined with parchment paper for these. The pizzas tend to stick to foil.
*If you are using tortillas, you will want to spread thin layers of sauce and toppings. You will want to keep an eye on these, as the tortillas can burn easily. I usually bake tortilla based pizzas for about 15 minutes, or longer, if edges are not browned yet.
*For the pita bread or flat bread crusts: You can go a little thicker with sauce and toppings on these. They are sturdy and durable. Do not split pita bread before using; use the entire pita bread. Spread your sauce, add cheese, then toppings, and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, depending on your oven. Crust edges will brown when done.
*For the Eggplant and Portabella crusts: Simply slice eggplant into 2/4 inch round slices. No need to soak them in anything, just use them the way they are. Line eggplant slices, or portabella slices, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Leave about a one inch space between each eggplant. Top each slice with a few spritzes of extra virgin olive oil or grape seed oil. Bake in 375 oven for 15 minutes. Carefully remove pan from oven with oven mitts, and top the eggplant with a little sauce, cheese, and additional toppings. Place sheet back into oven and cook for another 20 to 30 minutes, until a knife cuts through smoothly. Remove from oven, and let pan rest for 10 minutes before removing eggplant pizzas.
*For Ezekiel bread slices, French bread slices, or English muffins: These require less baking time because they are aerated and brown quicker. Arrange slices on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper as suggested above for eggplant slices. Spread thin layer of sauce, cheese, and toppings on bread and bake for 15 to 25 minutes, checking the oven frequently for browning.
*Allow all pizzas to “rest” for 5 to 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Make sure that your meats are fully cooked before adding as a pizza topping, except salmon. Salmon will cook just fine on one of these pizzas.
I hope you enjoy my healthy pizza suggestions! Be creative, try new vegetables every week, and use less meats. You will soon find that you consume a larger amount of healthy veggies on these pizzas, and less fattening meat and cheese.