Pizza on the South Beach Diet? You bet! In fact, if it’s made with the right ingredients, pizza can be one of your healthiest lunch or dinner options on any Phase. Check out these healthy ways to enjoy pizza:
Phase 1 Pizza Ideas:
Make a portobello “crust.” Meaty, flavorful portobellos make a great base for pizza toppings because they hold up well during baking. To prepare the mushrooms, gently wipe the outsides, and then scrape out the gills. Rub the caps on all sides with some garlic-infused olive oil. Place the caps, cavity up, on a baking sheet. Season with salt and pepper, and then fill with the Phase 1 topping suggested below. Bake at 450°F for about 3 minutes, or until the cheese melts. Just before serving, season with fresh or dried herbs of your choice, such as basil, oregano, or parsley. On a hot day, cook the filled portobellos on a medium grill.
For a Phase 1 portobello topping: Top each portobello with a fresh tomato slice or some prepared tomato sauce, then sprinkle each with some shredded or thinly sliced reduced-fat mozzarella. Be sure to check the Nutrition Facts panel on the back of all tomato-sauce products and avoid varieties with added sugars.
Phase 2 Pizza Ideas
Enjoy the Phase 1 pizza above and also try the following:
Choose white whole-wheat flour to make your own pizza dough. Most pizzerias use white flour to make the pizza crust, but with white whole-wheat flour, you get the added health benefits of fiber, protein, and iron. And unlike regular whole-wheat flour, white whole-wheat flour makes for a softer, smoother-textured crust.
Use vegetables for a topping. Vegetables are a healthier alternative to the fatty cuts of meat usually found as toppings on crusty pizzas, such as pepperoni and sausage. They’re also an excellent source of vitamins and disease-fighting antioxidants. After adding your favorite low-sugar spaghetti sauce, try topping your pizza with some sliced zucchini, red bell peppers, mushrooms, and/or chopped spinach or arugula, then sprinkle with some reduced-fat cheese (try feta instead of the traditional mozzarella). Bake, following the directions for your crust, being careful not to burn the veggies (cover the pizza with foil if the veggies are done before the crust).
Make a mini pizza. For a quick pizza on a rushed night, use a 100% whole-wheat pita, whole-wheat tortilla, or whole-wheat or whole-grain English muffin as the crust. Toast or warm the crust first, then top with tomato sauce and precooked diced Canadian bacon, crumbled turkey sausage, or grilled chicken or shrimp. Tofu is also good. Return to the oven to heat through (and to melt any cheese you might also want to add). You can also drizzle some extra-virgin olive oil over the pizza.
- Make a dessert pizza by spreading a toasted whole-wheat tortilla with a layer of part-skim ricotta mixed with a little sugar-free jam and some lemon zest. Scatter some fresh berries of your choice over the ricotta and sprinkle with a little cinnamon.
Phase 3 Pizza Ideas
Enjoy the pizzas on Phase 1 and Phase 2, above, plus:
Try whole-grain frozen pizza crusts on occasion. These usually contain small amounts of white enriched flour for tenderness but are a great convenience. For a Hawaiian pizza: Make a thin-crust pizza and top with a thin layer of tomato sauce, some chopped Canadian bacon, shredded reduced-fat cheese, and diced pineapple.