Pizza is a widespread favorite for several reasons. There’s the umami-rich tomato sauce, the gooey cheese and the wide assortment of toppings to choose from. Then there’s the delicious thick or thin crust. The thing is, classic pizza crust is often high in refined carbs without much added nutrition.
That being said, there’s nothing wrong with occasionally ordering a regular pizza when the mood strikes. But if you’re the kind of person who wished pizza night was every night, you’ll be happy to know there are many riffs that swap the traditional doughy crust for something higher in fiber, protein and other nutrients.
To get you started, here are nine creative, healthy pizza riffs:
You’re likely already familiar with this gluten-free alternative, which is available in most grocery stores. You can also make it from scratch by pulsing cauliflower in a food processor, wringing out the excess moisture, then mixing it with egg, Parmesan, garlic, almond flour, salt and pepper before shaping and baking. The result is a low-carb pizza crust with an extra serving of veggies.
If you’re looking for a crust that’s gluten-free and high-fiber but still delivers the comforting doughiness of traditional pizza, go for a chickpea crust. The dough is made by mixing together 2 cups (300g) chickpea flour (dried and ground chickpeas), 1 cup (240ml) water, 2 teaspoons olive oil and a pinch of salt. Stretch it out on a sheet pan or pizza stone and bake it at 400°F (205°C) for roughly 25 minutes. Top it with sauce, cheese and your favorite toppings and bake for an additional 8–10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the edges are browned. It’s not lower-calorie compared to a traditional crust, but it delivers a healthy mix of complex carbs, fiber and protein.
If you love breakfast for dinner, this pizza is for you. It’s exactly what it sounds like: beaten eggs baked in the oven, topped with tomato sauce, cheese and your favorite veggies. The result is a low-carb meal, with the signature tomato and cheese flavors of pizza. Eggs are also a budget-friendly protein rich in choline, selenium and B vitamins — all important for overall health.
If you’re looking for something that tastes a little more like the real thing, you can substitute whole-wheat naan or pita for a pizza crust. Just cover it with sauce, cheese and toppings and bake in an oven or toaster oven until the cheese is melted. You’ll get extra fiber and nutrients from the whole-wheat base and built-in portion control.
If you’re a fan of mushrooms, you’ll love portobello pizzas. Bake portobello mushroom caps until they’re soft, then top them with sauce and cheese and broil until everything is hot and melted. A single, large portobello mushroom cap has just 25 calories, far less than a slice of traditional pizza crust. Mushrooms are also high in vitamin D, a nutrient that supports bone health.
SPAGHETTI SQUASH CRUST
You may have used spaghetti squash as a pasta substitute, but it’s also great for pizza. The low-carb, low-calorie veggie contains 31 calories per cup. It’s also high in potassium, which can help fight high blood pressure, and calcium, which is important for bone health.
To make it, you’ll mix 2 cups (300g) cooked and cooled spaghetti squash with an egg, 2 tablespoons rice flour, 1/4 cup (30g) grated Parmesan, 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, and salt and pepper, to taste. Lay the dough flat on a baking sheet, and bake at 400°F (205°C) for 20–30 minutes or until the crust is firm. Finally, add your toppings and bake for an additional 5–8 minutes until the cheese is melted and toppings are hot.
SPROUTED-GRAIN ENGLISH MUFFIN PIZZA
In addition to delivering all the benefits of whole grains, sprouted grains are easier to digest. You can find sprouted-grain English muffins in the freezer section of most grocery stores, and turning one into a pizza is as easy as defrosting it in the oven, then splitting it and toasting it again with sauce and cheese.
SWEET POTATO CRUST
Admittedly, a sweet potato pizza crust is going to taste like sweet potato. But if you don’t mind, it’s super easy to whip up a three-ingredient crust. In a food processor, pulse 1 medium raw sweet potato (peeled) and 2/3 cup (100g) rolled oats until very fine. Add an egg, a pinch of garlic powder and 1 tablespoon of olive oil and pulse again to combine. Transfer the dough to a baking sheet or pizza stone and bake in a 400°F (205°C) oven for 20–30 minutes or until the crust is firm. Top with your favorite add-ons and then put it back in the oven for a few more minutes until cheese is melted and the toppings are warm. Sweet potatoes are a slow-digesting carb that won’t spike your blood sugar and is also naturally high in vitamins A, C and manganese. This pizza crust can also be gluten-free as long as you use gluten-free oats.
SWEET POTATO PIZZA
If you like the idea of a sweet potato crust but don’t want to spend as much time in the kitchen, you can simply cut a sweet potato into 1/2-inch slices and roast them until they’re soft. Then, top them with tomato sauce, cheese and toppings for miniature sweet potato pizzas. Keep the skins on for some extra fiber. You can do the same with regular potatoes, which often get an undeserved bad rap.