When you think of a slice of pizza, “healthy” doesn’t come to mind. It’s bread, cheese, thick sauce, and lots of toppings like pepperoni or chicken—and it’s usually drenched in oil and grease, as well as salt. Plus, most crusts are thick, taking the carb count over the top. (And, hello deep dish!)
Yet, if you pick a thin crust pizza that is lower in carbs and one that is also less salty and oily, you can totally have a healthy and satisfying meal ready in no time. Keeping frozen pizzas on hand—instead of ordering from your local pizzeria or restaurant—is a great option since you can choose brands that have fewer carbs and sugar, less sodium, and potentially more veggies or protein too, depending on the crust type and the toppings.
Here are five easy ways to boost the nutrition of that pizza, where it can actually be a solid, nutritious option for a ready-to-eat lunch or dinner that feels indulgent and enjoyable.
Eat Just One Serving
Instead of eating a whole pie, eat one serving—whether that’s one slice or a half a pie. Share with a friend or save the rest for leftovers. By sticking to one serving you can keep the carbs, sodium, and calories in check, and then you can add on protein and good fats to make those the star of the meal, too.
So, if you have a serving of pizza, you can then also have a salad with some grilled chicken to go with it, for example. Think of pizza as the accessory to go with some protein, fat, and fiber.
Add Veggies as a Topper
If you have a delicious cheesy pizza or one with some meat for protein, add on veggies as a topper to make a delicious veggie pizza. These will increase fiber to fill you up and provide some vitamins and minerals, as well as antioxidants, to better your heart health.
Think green: go with spinach, broccoli, asparagus, Brussels sprouts, green bell peppers, and kale. Green veggies are low in carbs (non-starchy) and have folate, iron, some protein, and antioxidants. And you can also go with mushrooms, olives, other colored bell peppers, fresh tomatoes, and more.
Choose Leaner Meats
Instead of salty pepperoni or cured meats, go with leaner proteins on your pizza. You can swap in grilled, diced chicken, or pieces of a thin cut of steak, like filet. And choose one without a thick sauce or marinade, which can be higher in sodium and sugar.
If you do love pepperoni, go with an uncured pepperoni pizza, which makes the meat healthier for you while still settling that craving. Or take it a step further and choose beans instead of meat in general—these are high in fiber and protein. They are a great vegan or vegetarian pizza option!
Choose a Better-For-You Crust
Instead of thick deep-dish, go with a thinner crust or even one that is made from low-carb sources, like cauliflower or other veggies. You won’t even tell that the crust is actually good for you and is teeming with fiber, vitamins, and minerals.
As long as you put on a tasty sauce and toppings, you’ll bump up the flavor and it’ll feel just as satisfying. You can also use a protein source, like whey protein, in the crust to increase protein content and keep the whole pie lower in carbs and sugar.