Party On With These 3 Healthy Pizza Swaps!
If we had to name one food that exemplifies the problems present in the typical Western Diet, that food would be pizza. Three billion pizzas are sold each year in the US alone, and 350 slices of pizza are eaten there every second.
The average American eats over 23 pounds of pizza a year. 93 percent of Americans eat pizza at least once a month, and about 13 percent of Americans have eaten it on any given day.
Americans also consume 251.7 million pounds of pepperoni on pizza alone, and pizza was largely responsible for our nation's huge increase in cheese consumption. In fact, we are so enamored with pizza that we have named November 12 "National Pizza Day" and October "National Pizza Month!"
Pizza rose to prominence in the United States after soldiers stationed in Italy during World War II became fond of it. Before that, it had been mostly made and consumed by Italian immigrants.
It isn't hard to figure out why pizza became so popular so quickly. It's cheap, delicious, hearty, and we bet that you've been eating it since childhood! Unfortunately, your average slice of American pizza is also highly processed and contains plenty of artificial preservatives, risky refined grains, added sugar, and unhealthy fats.
While some light varieties of commercial pizza can have as few as 200 calories a slice, slices that contain over 400 calories are quite common, and a large personal pizza can cost you over 1000 of them! Plus, how often do you really stop at one slice?
A typical 5 ounce serving of pizza also contains 18.5 grams of fat, including 6.5 grams of especially dangerous saturated fat. It also contains a whopping 675 milligrams of sodium (29 percent of your daily value), and that's before we've even added the pepperoni!
The toppings we put on pizza usually only make matters worse. Fatty, processed and salty meats and cheeses only add to pizza's atrocious health impact. Even the veggies you can order as a pizza topping are often breaded or cooked in oil, negating their health benefits almost entirely.
Pizza sold in fast-food restaurants and convenience stores is usually your worst choice in terms of calories and additives, while frozen pizza is second worst. If you have to buy your pizza pre-made, choose a traditional pizzeria that makes their pies with fresh ingredients.
To minimize your pizza's calorie impact, you can try blotting your slice, choosing thin crust over deep dish, ordering your pizza half-cheese or cheese-less, and avoiding any extras like buttery dipping sauces or stuffed crust. However, we don't recommend eating your pizza white; the tomato in pizza is usually the healthiest part! If you need a side, choose a relatively plain salad or even some protein-packed chicken wings over mozzarella or bread sticks.
To trick yourself into eating less, you can also order your pizza double cut, meaning that it will be cut into twice as many smaller slices. If it's an option, you might also want to order a single slice or two rather than a whole pie, and you definitely should stay away from the personal pizzas!
If you do find yourself sitting in front of a box of pizza, put your piece on a plate and then put the rest away. If you leave the whole thing on the table, you're far more likely to grab another slice.
However, your best dieting option by far is to make your pizza yourself! Use healthy lentil or chickpea flour, your own healthy tomato based sauce, some fresh lean protein, and tons of yummy herbs and spices. In phase 3 and maintenance, you can experiment with cauliflower, quinoa, and whole-grain based crusts as well; just don't go back to that icky refined stuff!Making your own pizza will also help you with portion control; you won't have to worry about eating the whole box if you've only made enough pizza for one healthy lunch or dinner. However, if you do feel like throwing a healthy pizza party, feel free to adjust the proportions of the recipes below, which all come from the generous members of our Phase 2 Recipe group—so they're safe for all three phases of the 123Diet! We've also included a pizza sauce recipe to get you started.
- 1 large tomato
- 1 tbsp ground oregano
- 1½ tsp fresh garlic, minced
- 1 tsp ground paprika
- ½ tsp onion powder
Chop up the tomato, then blend together all ingredients. Use in the recipes below, as a dip for your proteins and veggies, or to make a healthy pizza of your own creation!
Spag Bog (Spaghetti Bolognese) Pizza
- 50g red lentil flour
- 50g beef mince
- 1/2 onion diced
- 1/4 cup of diced tomatoes
- 1 tbsp cheese of your choice
- Herbs and spices to your taste
Preheat oven to 180c. Measure 50g of the flour, and add herbs and spices now if you like. Add 1/4 tepid water and mix well, let thicken while the oven heats up. Line a tray with baking paper. Pour lentil batter straight onto the tray. Jiggle the tray with the back of a spoon to spread the batter out til it's as thin as you like, and then throw your base in the oven for 10 minutes or until your mince is cooked.
Cut onion and dry-fry till soft. Add a tbsp of boiling water if it's sticking. Add the 50g of mince and garlic, chili powder, dried basil, and salt and pepper, then brown off. Add 1/4 of diced tomatoes and some water and cook down. Pull the pizza base out of the oven—it will be ready when the edges start to curl up. Put your spag bog on the base and spread it all the way to the edge if you can. Add the tbsp of cheese and put it back in the oven for 10 min or as long as you wish to wait. Have your plate ready when you pull it out. Cut into pieces and enjoy.
Garlic Prawn Pizza
- 40g chickpea flour
- 60g cooked prawns
- 1 tomato diced
- 1/4 red onion diced
- 2 tsp garlic
- 1 tsp chill flakes
- 1/2 tsp basil
- 1 tbsp grated cheese of your choice
Mix chickpea flour with enough water to form a thick batter. Cook in a good non-stick frying pan until firm. Smear a little homemade pizza sauce onto the base.
In the frying pan, add chopped prawns, tomato, onion, garlic, chill, and basil. Cook until warmed through. Pile on top of the base, add 1 tbsp grated cheese, and put under grill until melted.
Egg & Chicken Pizza
- 25g chickpea flour
- 25g chicken
- 50g egg
- 1 tbsp cheese of your choice
- Tomato and onion
Fry up chicken, tomato and onion. Add pizza sauce recipe with paprika. Place the above on pizza base with a fried egg. Top with cheese and put in the oven for 5-10 mins on 150-170 degrees.