Is homemade pizza healthy
Is homemade pizza healthyHomemade pizza is a popular dish made by layering tomatoes, cheese, and various toppings onto a crust and baking it in the oven. This article will examine the nutritional value of common pizza ingredients, compare homemade pizza to store-bought and restaurant varieties, highlight the advantages of making pizza at home, provide tips for creating a healthier homemade pizza, and encourage readers to experiment with nutritious recipes.
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Date: 7/31/2023 1:25:59 PM ( 7 mon ) ... viewed 151 times
Understanding Pizza Ingredients and their Nutritional Value
FlourPizza crust is typically made from wheat flour, which provides carbohydrates, protein, iron, B vitamins, and fiber. However, refined white flour has the bran and germ removed, stripping away nutrients. Whole wheat flour retains more nutrients with 3.6g fiber per 1/4 cup. Other flour options include gluten-free flours like rice or almond flour for those with dietary restrictions. Almond flour is nutrient-dense with healthy fats, fiber, and protein.
Popular pizza cheeses like mozzarella and cheddar provide a good amount of calcium and protein, but can also be high in saturated fat and sodium. Part-skim mozzarella reduces fat and calories by about a third compared to whole milk mozzarella. Smaller amounts of strongly flavored cheese can also help cut back while still providing flavor. Plant-based cheeses made from nuts or starches have become popular alternatives. They mimic the texture and meltability of dairy cheese while being cholesterol-free and lower in saturated fat.
Traditional pizza sauce is made from tomatoes, which provide the antioxidant lycopene. However, jarred sauces may contain added sugar and preservatives. Making your own allows control over ingredients. Canned tomato sauce or crushed tomatoes can be seasoned with olive oil, garlic, and herbs for a fresh, homemade taste. Pesto is another flavorful option, typically containing basil, olive oil, nuts, garlic, and parmesan. The olive oil offers healthy monounsaturated fats while the basil provides antioxidants. Light pestos are lower in fat and calories.
Veggie toppings like mushrooms, onions, bell peppers, and olives boost fiber, vitamins, and minerals. Other nutritious options include spinach, broccoli, and artichokes. Going easy on high-fat meats like sausage or pepperoni can reduce saturated fat and sodium. Leaner alternatives include chicken, shrimp, or Canadian bacon. Herbs and spices like oregano, basil, garlic, and chili flakes add tons of flavor without calories, fat, or sodium. Other unique toppings include arugula, figs, or pineapple for additional nutrients and flavors.
Comparing Homemade Pizza with Store-Bought and Restaurant Pizza
Store-bought frozen pizzas provide a quick and convenient option, but can contain high amounts of calories, sodium, and saturated fat while lacking nutrients. An average frozen cheese pizza can supply around 700 calories per pie, with about half coming from fat. They are often made with refined flours and topped with full-fat cheeses. Pepperoni and other processed meats can significantly increase sodium, which averages around 1000mg. While homemade pizza starts with basic ingredients, frozen pizzas can contain additives like stabilizers, emulsifiers, and preservatives. Making pizza at home allows the flexibility to include healthier ingredients and customize nutrition.
Like store-bought, restaurant pizzas tend to be high in calories, fat, and sodium given large serving sizes and indulgent ingredients. A 12-inch cheese pizza from a pizza chain can average around 2500 calories and 110g fat. Toppings like pepperoni, sausage, bacon, and extra cheese boost these numbers even higher. A single slice of meat-lover’s pizza could contain 300 calories and 15g fat. The thin crust may seem like a healthier option, but a 12-inch at 700 calories per pie is only slightly better than thick or pan crust. At restaurants, pizzas are designed to be shared by multiple people. When dining out, consider splitting or taking home leftovers. Making pizza at home allows sensible single-serving sizes along with nutrition-focused ingredients.
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Advantages of Homemade Pizza
Control over Ingredients
One of the greatest benefits to making homemade pizza is having full control over ingredients. Whole food options like whole wheat flour, homemade sauce, and vegetable toppings can be chosen over processed and frozen varieties. Portion sizes of cheese and meat toppings can be controlled to add flavor without excess calories or sodium. Those with food intolerances can avoid ingredients like gluten that are commonly found in store-bought pizzas. Making pizza at home also allows including nutrient-dense superfoods like avocado, artichoke, garlic, and fresh herbs. With endless combinations, homemade pizza can be tailored to meet specific dietary needs and health goals.
Reduction of Processed Ingredients
Commercially prepared pizza often contains artificial flavors, colors, emulsifiers, thickeners, and preservatives to enhance shelf life and consistency that are best avoided. Making pizza at home minimizes exposure to these processed additives. For example, jarred pizza sauce typically includes added sugar. Making sauce from canned tomatoes allows control over sweeteners. Processed deli meats like pepperoni contain nitrates, so homemade pizza offers the chance to use uncured turkey or chicken sausage. Homemade crust avoids dough conditioners found in frozen pizza. Overall, pizza made at home predominantly includes basic whole food ingredients like vegetables, beans, herbs, and healthier fats for a more nutritious meal.
How to Make a Healthy Homemade Pizza
Choosing the Right Ingredients
When making homemade pizza focus first on whole grain crusts, like 100% whole wheat or multigrain, which provide important fiber and nutrients. Load up toppings with veggies, like spinach, mushrooms, onions, peppers, tomatoes, and artichokes for bulk and nutrients. Swap out half the cheese for healthier versions like part-skim mozzarella and parmesan. Add lean proteins like chicken sausage, Canadian bacon, or grilled shrimp instead of pepperoni and sausage. Get creative with nutritious additions like avocado, nuts, or black beans for creaminess, crunch, and fiber. Include fresh herbs, garlic, lemon, and spices for antioxidant power. Make pesto or tomato sauce from scratch to control sodium and ingredients.
Preparing a Balanced Pizza
Aim for sensible portions by making individual sized pizzas. Split whole wheat pizza dough into individual rounds versus one large crust. Portion out veggie toppings and proteins. Use light amounts of high-fat cheeses. One-fourth to one-third cup per pizza is plenty for strong flavors like parmesan, cheddar, feta or goat cheese. Choose tomato sauce over cream-based for a lighter option. To lower fat, opt for olive oil brushed crust over buttery garlic bread varieties. Add a side salad for additional vegetables and nutrients versus just eating pizza. Play with flavor combinations that pack nutrition, like white pizza with ricotta, spinach, broccoli and garlic. Or margherita pizza with tomato, basil, and mozzarella. Vegetarian pizzas can utilize beans, lentils, or tofu for plant-based protein options.
Healthier cooking methods produce light and nutritious pizza. Bake crusts before adding toppings to reduce moisture and prevent sogginess. Spread sauce thin and layer toppings judiciously versus piling on. Bake at a high temp, around 425-450F, for a crispy crust and quicker cook time. Monitor frequently to avoid burning. Let bake until cheese is melted and edges are crispy. Add fresh herbs after baking so they don't burn. Charring and blackening can indicate harmful compounds forming. Consider combining stovetop and oven by sautéing veggies first for enhanced flavor without overcooking. Finish by broiling 2-3 minutes until crust browns. Use nonstick pans or parchment paper to reduce the need for greasing with oils. Overall, homemade pizza provides flexibility to cook smart.
Homemade pizza offers a fresh and healthier alternative to frozen or take-out options. With homemade, ingredients and portions can be controlled to allow for a nutritious and balanced meal. Whole food toppings provide nutrients while lean proteins, reduced fat cheese, and healthy fats and oils help cut back on saturated fat, calories, and sodium that are common pitfalls of pizza. Making crust and sauce from scratch avoids added sugars and preservatives found in store-bought varieties. Home cooking also allows for maximum creativity to boost flavor and nutrition in endless combinations. So whether making a classic cheese or vegetarian pie or trying fun new flavors, homemade pizza can be an enjoyable way to sneak in good nutrition. Be adventurous with wholesome ingredients that both please the palate and promote good health.
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