Healthy Frozen Pizza
You Can Love Pizza Again!
When our children were growing up, pizza was a staple as the Friday night dinner at our home. We ordered it from the local delivery service, sometimes bought it frozen at the supermarket, and even tried using the pre-packaged kits to make our own "homemade" versions. We often chose the meat-lovers specials, loaded with extra cheese. I admit that many of the pizzas we ate during that time were not particularly healthy. Often they were laden with fatty, salty meats, plenty of cheese and minimal vegetables, since our daughters were picky about what vegetables they would eat. It was an easy meal to serve our daughter's friends whenever they spent the night. Virtually every child we knew liked pizza. Rarely did our family eat anything else with it … unless it was bread sticks, or a sweet dessert of some kind. Salad was not on the menu. We were looking for something quick, easy and filling. I look back on those days with a shudder, and more than a little bit of guilt. Today, we have learned that we can still enjoy pizza, but we make a few changes that are designed to create a much healthier experience.
Start with Low-Fat Frozen Pizza or Flatbread
These days, when I go shopping for frozen pizza, I look for the healthiest and simplest ones I can find. I avoid frozen ones that are covered with fatty, processed meats such as pepperoni, sausage, ground beef or similar other heavy toppings. Our family also prefers to eat ones with a thin crust, when it is available. Sometimes we have found frozen pizza that has a whole wheat crust. For just the two of us, my husband and I enjoy the Trader Joe's Wild Mushroom & Black Truffle Flatbread with Mozzarella Cheese that has 390 calories, 15 grams of fat, and 14 grams of protein in approximately half of the flatbread. Although this flatbread still contains more fat than is ideal, it is much lower in fat than some of the other commercial products on the market. We take the time in the grocery store to read the ingredient labels carefully, so we can make sure that we keep the fat content and calorie count reasonably low for the amount of food that we expect to eat.
As an Alternative, Choose Prepackaged Pizza Crust
Sometimes, rather than using a frozen pizza for our base, we choose to buy pre-made crust, which allows us to control the type and amount of cheese and other toppings that we add. Pre-made pizza crust is also a good choice for people who are on restricted diets. They still have the convenience of not having to make their crust from scratch, but they can have some control over the ingredients that are being used. One pre-made crust that we have tried is Ener-G Pizza Shells, which are gluten free, wheat-free, and low protein. This product is made with rice flour, and tastes delicious. One fourth of the crust has 120 calories, 6 grams of fat, and no protein. You add the sauce, cheese and toppings of your choice.
If you don't already own a pizza pan or pizza stone to cook your fresh pizza, you can order your own by using this direct link to pizza stones and pans on Amazon.com.
Be Creative and Add Healthy Pizza Toppings
Whether you are using a frozen pizza or a pre-made crust, you are now ready to add your own healthy toppings. Think of your crust as though it were an artist's blank canvas. There are many different choices an artist can make in creating a work of art. In the same way, there are numerous ways that you can be creative with your pizza.
If you like meat, you can add small pieces of chicken or turkey. If you like the taste of sausage or pepperoni, you can try slicing some turkey sausage onto your crust, or browning some ground turkey, and using it as a topping. I have also tried putting a few small salad shrimp on top of my pizza.
After adding the meat of your choice, you will now want to add lots of fresh vegetables. This will add nutritional value to your meal, and give you the opportunity to be creative. Sometimes we sauté some fresh mushrooms and diced onions, and use them as a topping. On other occasions we have layered fresh, raw baby spinach and sliced tomatoes on top of the pizza before baking it in the oven. The heat of the oven is enough to cook the spinach and tomatoes and we feel like it adds a lot of flavor and nutrition to our meal. You may want to try other choices of vegetables, or even some fruits, including raw red, yellow or green peppers, pieces of sliced pineapple, or carrot slivers.
Serve Your Pizza with a Healthy Salad
While your pizza is baking, fix a healthy, fresh, tossed green salad. Be sure to use a dark green lettuce or spinach as well as plenty of other fresh vegetables such as raw tomatoes, colorful peppers, and mushrooms. Use plain lemon juice, light vinaigrette dressing, or just a simple olive oil and vinegar dressing to top it off. By combining the fresh raw vegetables in the salad, with the cooked vegetables in your healthy pizza, you have turned what could have been a very unhealthy, fatty dinner, into a healthy one loaded with lots of lean meat and a variety of vegetables. In addition, when you eat a side salad with your pizza, you are less likely to over-indulge in the pizza, itself.
The bottom line is that we have discovered that it is still possible for our family to look forward to pizza night, but without all the fat and guilt. We also enjoy coming up with new healthy combinations of meat and vegetables to pile onto our crust. Whenever you seem to run out of ideas, look up the menu for restaurants such as California Pizza Kitchen. Just reading their menu will give you many more ideas for ways to enhance the taste and nutritional value of your own homemade pizzas.
If you enjoy preparing food in your home, you may also be interested in reading some of these articles:
Use a Pizza Stone for Your Homemade Meal
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