Happy National Pizza Week

What better way is there to start off the New Year than celebrating National Pizza Week?

Pizza is one of my family’s favorite foods and a regular in our meal rotation. Think pizza is off limits to those trying to maintain (or achieve) a healthy weight? Think again. Made the right way, pizza can be a powerhouse of nutrition.

First, replace typical crust with a whole grain crust to amp up the fiber, vitamins and minerals. Next, slather on the sauce. Pizza sauce contains a powerful antioxidant called lycopene, which can help reduce risk of stroke. Top the sauce with protein-packed cheese. Most cheeses provide eight grams of protein per ounce, as well as other important nutrients for good health including calcium, phosphorus, zinc and vitamin A.

Good news for those with lactose intolerance—natural cheeses such as Cheddar, Colby, Monterey Jack, mozzarella and Swiss contain minimal amounts of lactose, because most of the lactose is removed as curds are separated from whey during the cheese making process.

Since cheese provides protein, forgo high-fat meat options. Instead, add lots of colorful vegetables and/or fruit. My favorites include red pepper, spinach, onion and mushrooms and my kids love to add pineapple! If you want more protein in your meal, wash the pizza down with a cold glass of milk.

Voila! A delicious and nutritious meal you don’t need to feel guilty about!

Celebrate National Pizza Week (or any week) with one of the delicious creations below:

 

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Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN