Pizza, a personal favorite of mine, is one of the most popular foods around. However, it is often associated with unhealthy, convinent food but that doesn’t need to be the case. In fact, pizza can and should be a nutritious food and it all starts with a healthy dough.
Using a whole grain pizza crust is the first step into turning pizza into a healthy delight. Whole grains contain twice as much vitamin B1, vitamin B2, vitamin B3, vitamin E, folic acid, calcium, phosphorus, zinc, copper, iron, and fiber compared to refined grains. Besides the addition of powerful nutrients, whole grains may also help you slim down in all the right places, like your waist. A study done at Tuffs University found that adults who reported eating three or more servings of whole grains per day and less than one serving of refined grains per day had 10% less fat around their belly. Research has also shown that whole grain consumption is associated with a lower BMI (body mass index). Not to mention, swapping refined grains with whole grains will leave you feeling less hungry, more satisfied, and more energized with a better working digestive system thus making it easier to reach or maintain your healthy weight.
The second part to turning beloved pizza into a healthful dish is by topping it with low fat cheese when possible and loading it with colorful veggies.
Homemade Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
Makes 1 large pizza crust ( 6 servings)
1 package active dry yeast (about 2.25 teaspoons)
2/3 cup warm water (between 100 to 110 degrees F)
2 teaspoons honey
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided in half
2 cups whole wheat flour, divided into 1.75 cups and .25 cups
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder (optional)
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano or Italian seasoning (optional)
Whisk yeast into warm water until dissolved and let stand until it gets foamy, about 5 minutes. Stir honey and 1 teaspoon olive oil into water with yeast.
In a large bowl, combine 1.75 cups flour, yeast, salt, garlic powder, and oregano. Pour water mixture into flour mixture and stir with a wooden spoon until a sticky ball of dough forms.
Sprinkle the additional .25 cups flour on a cleaned surface. Place the sticky ball of dough in the middle of the flour and knead for about 5 minutes. Note that you may need to add more flour if the dough is too sticky. If you are unfamiliar with kneading here is an awesome short video on how to knead pizza dough.
In a large bowl, add the additional 1 teaspoon olive oil. Make a big ball with the kneaded dough and roll it in the oiled bowl to coat with olive oil. Cover with a towel and let rise for about 1 hour, until dough doubles in size. Roll the dough on a lightly floured surface or use your hands to form the dough into desired shape; place on a greased pizza stone or baking sheet. In an oven preheated to 400 degrees F, bake the dough with no toppings for 5-7 minutes. Add your favorite toppings and bake for an additional 8-12 minutes, until cheese is melted.
Recipe Note: Adding the yeast to warm water and waiting for it to foam is a way to proof the yeast, which ensures the yeast is still active and the dough will rise properly. If the yeast with water does not foam then the yeast is not active and your dough will not rise. This is either due to old/bad yeast or possibly the water you used was too hot or cold. This step is not completely necessary when making pizza dough if you know the yeast you are working with is active. Since proofing the yeast is such an easy step and vital to the quality of the pizza dough I usually do it.
Nutritional facts per serving (6 servings per recipe): 161 calories, 2 g total fat, 159 mg sodium, 31 g total carbohydrates, 5 g fiber, 6 g protein
BALANCE IT OUT: A basic healthy pizza dough is a fabulous base for a endless variety of pizza toppings and styles. I topped this particular pizza with a homemade marinara sauce, red onion, olives, and cheese. I kept it simple but you definitely don’t have to. Sometimes I look at menus from my favorite pizza places to get ideas on different combination of toppings. Serve your personalized pizza with a big green salad for a nutritious guilt-free meal.