Gluten-Free Nutrient-Packed Healthy Pizza Recipes
Perfectly baked crust smeared with rich sauce and generously topped with an assortment of vegetables, cheese, and flavorful herbs – pizza is almost everyone’s favorite. Enjoyed worldwide, this delicious Italian dish is one of the favorite meals in the U.S. Traditionally, pizza is prepared with a flour-based crust topped with fresh vegetables, meat, sauce, cheese, and herbs. However, this popular food has undergone a transformation with the rise in international pizza food chains. Fresh ingredients are now being replaced with refined and processed items which are extremely unhealthy. Homemade healthy pizza serves as a great alternative to store-bought ones. When pizza from fast food stores is high in saturated fat, sodium, processed ingredients, artificial flavoring agents, and additives, making your own healthy pizza at home helps save money, cuts down calories, and promotes great health.
Why Is Restaurant Pizza Unhealthy?
The disheartening thing about pizza is that it has been associated with the increased risk of inflammation, obesity, type-2 diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.
Here are the four major culprits which make restaurant pizza unhealthy:
- High glycemic index – found in the refined flour of the pizza crust
- Saturated fat – from the processed cheese
- High sodium – hidden in the pizza sauce
- Nitrites – hidden in processed meat used for the pizza topping
Foods with a high glycemic index, saturated fat content, and sodium are major contributing factors to health problems including larger waistlines and clogged arteries. Sodium nitrite found in processed meat has been linked to increased risk of bowel and stomach cancers.
Just two slices of store-bought stuffed crust pizza can contain as much as 800 calories and one day worth of sodium and saturated fat. And the calorie intake rises with each slice you eat. Moreover, processed meats such as sausages add to the health risks.
Making your own healthy pizza is a great way of incorporating this food into your regular meal plan and satisfying your pizza craving without the added health problems.
High Glycemic Food and Fatigue
Refined flour makes pizza crust delicious but is really bad from a health perspective. The glycemic index indicates the level of blood sugar stress that a food can create in your body. Studies have associated regular consumption of high glycemic index food such as refined flour with an increase in C-reactive proteins in the blood, chronic inflammation, insulin resistance, and fluctuations in blood sugar levels. Stabilized blood sugar levels are an important part of to leading a healthy life. Healthy pizza is low on the glycemic index.
Low blood sugar levels can lead to fatigue. When you frequently experience extreme fatigue along with symptoms of low energy levels, low concentration levels, brain fog, stubborn weight gain, anxiety, craving for salty and fatty foods, insomnia, anxiety, and constipation it could indicate Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome (AFS).
Eating processed and junk foods such as pizza can lead to issues such as constipation, weight gain, and blood sugar spikes which can exert stress on your body and aggravate the symptoms of AFS. The NeuroEndoMetabolic (NEM) Stress Response system is your body’s natural protective shield against stress. It helps fight stress by signaling the adrenal glands to secrete anti-stress hormones, cortisol. But persistent stress can eventually overburden your adrenals reducing your body’s stress-fighting ability. This can further lead to fatigue.
Diet plays a significant role in adrenal fatigue recovery. It helps to rejuvenate and restore your adrenals thus accelerating the recovery process. Foods low on the glycemic index, with essential nutrients like healthy protein, fat, and cruciferous and brightly colored vegetables ensures optimal recovery.
But this does not mean that you can no longer enjoy your favorite pizza. The good news is that pizza can be enjoyed in healthier ways by replacing refined flour, processed meat, and cheese with whole foods. Healthy pizza is easy to make with vegetable-based crust and loads of nutritious toppings. It is low in calories, high in nutrients, and satisfying, which helps nourish and heal your adrenals.
Healthy Pizza Recipes
Making your own healthy pizza at home is easy and requires simple ingredients. The flour-based crust is replaced with healthier alternatives. Here are three pizza crust recipes made with zucchini, cauliflower, and quinoa to keep you healthy.
Zucchini Pizza Crust
- 1 large raw zucchini, peeled and shredded
- 2 cups shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- 2 organic eggs
- Salt to taste
- Remove excess water from zucchini by squeezing and patting dry with a clean towel.
- Transfer zucchini to a bowl along with the remaining ingredients and combine to make a dough.
- Transfer the prepared dough into a non-stick baking pan. Spread the dough evenly by hand or with the help of a pizza roller.
- Bake for about 10 – 15 min or until pizza crust is cooked.
Quinoa Italian Pizza Crust
- ½ cup quinoa
- 2 ½ cups water
- ¼ cup water
- ¼ tsp sea salt
- ½ tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- Soak quinoa in 2 ½ cups water for about 3 – 4 hours.
- Grease a cast iron pan with olive oil and place in the oven for preheating at 450 °
- Drain water from soaked quinoa. Rinse well and transfer quinoa to a food processor. Add ¼ cup water and process to a thick batter of pancake consistency. Add more water if required.
- Transfer quinoa batter into a bowl, add salt and seasoning, and stir to combine.
- Remove pan from the oven and pour a ladle full of batter into it. Quickly spread the batter around to a uniform thickness. Bake for about 8 – 10 min. Then carefully flip and return the pan to the oven. Bake for another 10 min until browned.
- Remove pizza crust from oven and add toppings of your choice. Bake for another 5 – 7 min until heated.
- 2 cups grated cauliflower
- 1 large free-range egg
- ½ cup plain yogurt
- 1 tsp mixed herbs
- Sea salt to taste
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Place cauliflower into a towel and squeeze to remove moisture. Add in the remaining ingredients. Combine everything and transfer the mixture to a baking tray lined with parchment paper.
- Spread the mixture evenly to about ¾ inch thickness. Place the tray in the oven and bake for about 30 min until lightly brown.
- Remove baked crust from oven and add toppings. Bake for 5 – 7 minutes more to heat the topping.
For making healthy pizza with the above-prepared crusts, you can add toppings of your choice. These three delicious, healthy toppings would go great with these crusts.
Topping 1: Vegetable Burst
- Sliced black olives
- Baby spinach
- Chopped jalapeno
- Sliced tomato
- Sliced bell pepper
- Pumpkin seeds
- Shredded mozzarella cheese
- Low-sodium pizza sauce
- Oregano for seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil
Topping 2: Turkey Delight
- Sliced turkey meatloaf or sliced turkey breast
- Sliced onions
- Chopped jalapeno
- Shredded lettuce
- Low-sodium pizza sauce
- Shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
- Ground pepper and mixed herbs for seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil
Topping 3: Cheesy Mushroom
- Sliced mushrooms
- Kalamata olives, halved and pitted
- Sliced red pepper
- Halved cherry tomatoes
- Chopped onion greens
- Crumbled feta cheese
- Shredded low-fat mozzarella
- Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp olive oil
The above healthy pizza recipes are high in nutrition, low on the glycemic index and in calories. They are full of veggies and don’t have any fillers.
However, if you do still want to order pizza from your favorite restaurant, try pairing it with healthy side dishes such as steamed vegetables or sprouted vegetable salad to add nutrients and reduce the total calorie intake.
Fast foods such as pizza are high in glycemic index, saturated fat, sodium, artificial flavoring agents, and additives. They can be enjoyed occasionally but regular binging on junk foods can lead to several health problems including obesity, cardiovascular illness, spikes in blood sugar levels, unstable blood pressure levels, constipation, and fatigue. Processed meat for pizza topping raises the risk of bowel and stomach cancer.
Healthy pizza is high in nutrition, and low in calories, saturated fat, and on the glycemic index. Packed with fresh vegetables, healthy fat, and protein, this healthy version of pizza gives you a feeling of fullness, satisfies your cravings, supports weight loss, nourishes your body and boosts energy levels, which can promote great health and support in adrenal fatigue recovery.
© Copyright 2018 Michael Lam, M.D. All Rights Reserved.
Dr. Lam’s Key Question
What are the things to keep in mind while preparing healthy pizza?
While preparing healthy pizza, it is important to keep food allergies in mind. Consider using fresh organic vegetables, low-sodium pizza sauce, a healthy source of fat such as cottage cheese and olive oil, fresh mushrooms, boiled eggs, and low-fat meat such as turkey.