“Healthy pizza” may sound like an oxymoron, but with a few easy tricks, it could in fact be true. In North America we seem to have adopted a different, and somewhat skewed definition of “healthy”. Although we are beginning to look at health from different perspectives (e.g. the Mediterranean diet), we still often view health in quantity (calories) over quality (nutrients). Many of us view “healthy food” as salads, smoothies or other low-calorie snacks. The problem is, when it comes to defining what is healthy, calories are only one small piece of the puzzle. This can even be applied to pizza; although it is generally seen as an “unhealthy option,” a few adjustments can actually help you eat your next pizza in Ottawa guilt-free.
1. Go fresh. There are many places to eat pizza in Ottawa, but not every pizzeria actually makes everything from scratch. Canned, frozen or premade ingredients often come low in nutrients and packed with preservatives and sodium. Finding a pizzeria dedicated to homemade, hand-tossed pies will not only be the healthier option – it will taste better too!
2. Choose your toppings wisely. It should come as no surprise that fan-favourite toppings like pepperoni and bacon add more fat, calories and sodium to your slice. If health is your game, veggies should be the name – so try to swap out extra meats and cheeses for a variety of veggies. To take it one step further, load your pies with nutrient-dense veggies like spinach, which is rich in vitamins A, K, C, B2, B6, E, magnesium, folate, manganese, iron, calcium, potassium, protein, phosphorus, flavonoids and more!
3. Ask for half the cheese. There’s no denying the delicious flavour a particularly cheesy pizza packs. But if you’re looking to make your pizza in Ottawa healthier, asking your pizzeria for less cheese can help reduce saturated fat, cholesterol and sodium levels. Besides, if you’ve opted for homemade pizza in Ottawa, chances are the crust and sauce will be so good you won’t even notice the missing cheese!
4. Go with thin crust. Don’t get me wrong, thick crust certainly has a time and a place, but asking your pizzeria to make it thin will help slice off some extra calories.
5. Don’t be afraid of olive oil. You’ll likely find olive oil on many pizzeria menus. Although the quantity over quality view of health has given olive oil a bad rap, it’s actually full of healthy monounsaturated fatty acids (MUFAs). While that too may sound like an oxymoron, MUFAs have actually been known to lower cholesterol, normalize blood clotting, improve blood sugar levels and more.
While pizza will never be kale, that doesn’t mean it can never be healthy. Next time you visit your favourite pizzeria, create a healthier option with only a few small adjustments.