If you’re like most people, one of your New Year’s resolutions was to take off a few pounds. And if you’re like us, pizza is one of the foods that makes it so hard to do.
But good pizza toppings don’t have to be high in fat and calories. In fact, there are plenty of great toppings that are flavorful, satisfying, and diet-friendly.
First, find the right pizza crust.
Cheese and meat pizza toppings certainly add their share of calories, but the crust is where most of the calories are. An eighth of a Boboli original pizza crust is 140. So two slices, which isn’t a lot, is nearly 300 calories with nothing on them. Even dough that you make yourself has almost as many calories.
But there are some alternatives. A 6-½” pita has about 170 calories, and with the right pizza toppings, that should be enough to fill you up. A flour tortilla has even fewer calories. And low-carb tortillas are an even better choice.
Make your pizza sauce sing.
Instead of using pizza or marinara sauce in a jar — some of it is packed with sugar — use crushed canned San Marzano tomatoes. Or if you have the time, roast fresh plum or cherry tomatoes in the oven at 450 for about twenty minutes or until they burst. The roasted tomatoes have terrific flavor. Just add a little salt, some garlic, and fresh herbs, and spread them over whatever base you’re using.
For even more flavor, quarter some shallots and roast them along with the tomatoes.
Less-fattening cheese pizza toppings.
Reduced fat versions of mozzarella and Italian cheese blends can reduce the calories in your pie. But there are cheese with distinctive flavor and even fewer calories like feta or goat cheese. Sautéed spinach or arugula are especially good with either one.
Hard, grating cheese like Parmesan and Romano are low in calories. And fat free or reduced-fat ricotta cheese can be a rich addition.
Take a cue from the Italians — who know quite a bit about pizza — and use cheese sparingly. The classic Neapolitan pizza has very little cheese, and it’s absolutely delicious.
Lower-fat pizza meats.
Turkey or reduced-fat pepperoni is almost as good as the real thing. In fact, some people like it better. And chicken or turkey Italian sausage are great substitutes too. Turkey bacon isn’t great on pizza. But real bacon bits add a lot of bang for your calorie buck. The kind in the zip-lock package is very good.
Italian pizza toppings like prosciutto, capicolla, and lean ham don’t add a lot of calories because a little goes a long way. Just avoid fatty meat pizza toppings like salami or coppa.
Grilled chicken and shrimp are not traditional pizza toppings, but they’re delicious, healthy, and versatile alternatives.
Vegetable pizza toppings to complete your pie.
When it comes to calories, most vegetables are pretty much free. And they’re nutritious and delicious. So pile them on. Instead of oily pesto, use fresh basil leaves. And use lots of fresh herbs.
Caramelize onions using fat-free chicken stock instead of butter. They add a sweet taste that’s a great compliment to salty ingredients. Mushrooms — from simple button mushrooms to chanterelles — are also sensational toppings for pizza.
Peppers, either roasted or raw, eggplant, artichokes, and olives, pack a lot of punch in a diet-friendly packages.
By making a few simple substitutions and watching your portion size, you can indulge in the occasional pizza without blowing your diet.