Pizza is a comfort food enjoyed across continents, synonymous with social gatherings, movie nights, and family dinners. Yet, while undeniably delicious, traditional pizzas often come with a high price tag for health. Laden with refined carbohydrates, excessive amounts of cheese, processed meats, and high sodium content, regular indulgence can impact our waistlines and overall health (1). But what if we could enjoy the flavors and experience of pizza without the associated health drawbacks? In this post, we’ll explore some scrumptious and health-conscious healthy alternatives to pizza, ensuring you can satisfy your pizza cravings in a nourishing way.
Keep The Pizza, Cut The Crust
Pizza crust is often made from white flour, making it high in carbohydrates and sugars while low in fiber. In excess, this combination can lead to weight-gain, blood sugar spikes and other health complications (1). The good news is that it’s easy to simply cut the crust out of pizza. Here’s a good rule of thumb: if you can put it on pizza, you can also use it as a base for pizza. (Pineapple may be the exception to this rule, but all good rules have exceptions.) Various vegetables can become little pizza boats if you fill them with sauce, top with cheese, and add spices like garlic powder or oregano. Here are some popular pizza boat recipes:
Pepper Pizza Boats
Pepper pizza boats are easy to make and don’t even require dirtying a kitchen knife. After washing and drying the pepper, flip it over so that the stem faces down. You should be able to see slight indentations or lines running from the bottom to the top of the pepper. These are the natural seams or segments of the pepper. Hold the pepper and pull one section so that it tears along the seams until it separates at the top of the pepper. (This method will also help you avoid the seeds.)
Once the pepper has been pulled apart into different sections, lay each piece with the inside up on a lined baking tray. Scoop sauce into each pepper boat (or skip the tomato sauce if you have a condition like acid reflux). Next, sprinkle cheese on top and put in the oven for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees or until cheese appears melted. Lastly, sprinkle with spices and enjoy!
Zucchini Boat Pizza
Zucchini boats are prepared in a way that is similar to Pepper Pizza Boats but utilizes a different vegetable. To make these, halve a zucchini lengthwise, scoop out a bit of the center, and you have a natural “crust” to hold your pizza toppings. Add some tomato sauce, a sprinkle of cheese, and they’re ready for the oven. These are perfect for individual servings and are packed with nutrition.
Portobello Mushroom Pizzas
Mushrooms offer a range of vitamins, minerals, and healthy compounds that can even have cognitive benefits. Portobello mushrooms offer a meaty texture and deep flavor that pairs wonderfully with traditional pizza ingredients. By using the mushroom cap as the base, you’ll benefit from its nutritional profile, including selenium, potassium, and B-vitamins. Top it with some marinara sauce, a bit of mozzarella, and perhaps some fresh basil for a mouthwatering mini-pizza.
Be Creative With Pizza Boats
Pizza boats are easy healthy alternatives to pizza can be made out of any vegetable that you would use as a topping on pizza. Some other popular “pizza” bases include sweet potato slices, eggplant slices, and spaghetti squash. The fun thing about using a topping as a pizza boat is that you can still add toppings such as little pieces of red onions or even olive slices -and don’t forget to add spices. Even though they look small, herbs like oregano and garlic can help fight bacterial overgrowth in the intestines.
A Word Of Caution
While these recipes are healthy alternatives to pizza, you still need to keep moderation in mind to maintain a healthy diet. It’s true that replacing crust with vegetables will increase the amount of Vitamin C and other vitamins in your dishes, but eating too much dairy can reduce iron absorption and lead to health complications such as anemia.
Tomato-Rich Healthy Pizza Alternatives
If your favorite part of a good pizza is the sauce, here are some other dishes you might enjoy. These dishes offer crust-free pizza alternatives that are packed with vegetables.
This North African and Middle Eastern dish is a savory combination of poached eggs in a spicy tomato, chili pepper, and onion sauce. Often spiced with cumin, paprika, and cayenne pepper, it’s a rich and hearty dish to remind you of pizza due to its tomato base.
Olive oil, chopped onions, diced bell peppers (often red), minced garlic, canned diced tomatoes (or fresh ripe tomatoes), spices (like cumin, paprika, cayenne pepper), salt, black pepper, eggs, and optional toppings like crumbled feta cheese and chopped parsley or cilantro.
- Heat olive oil in a large skillet. Add onions and bell peppers and sauté until soft.
- Stir in garlic, spices, salt, and pepper, cooking for a minute until fragrant.
- Add tomatoes and simmer for 10-15 minutes, allowing the flavors to meld.
- Create small wells in the sauce with a spoon. Gently crack eggs into these wells.
- Cover the skillet and simmer until the eggs are just set, but yolks remain runny.
- Garnish with cheese, parsley, or cilantro if desired.
This rustic French vegetable stew showcases eggplant, zucchini, bell peppers, and tomato, all simmered together with herbs. The melding flavors are reminiscent of a veggie pizza.
Olive oil, sliced eggplant, sliced zucchini, sliced bell peppers (multiple colors preferred), chopped onions, minced garlic, ripe diced tomatoes, salt, pepper, and herbs (like thyme and basil).
- In a large pot or skillet, heat some olive oil. Sauté onions and garlic until translucent.
- Add bell peppers and cook until they start to soften.
- Introduce eggplant and zucchini slices, stirring and cooking until they begin to soften.
- Mix in the diced tomatoes, herbs, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat, cover, and let simmer for about 30-40 minutes, stirring occasionally. The vegetables should be tender, and the flavors melded.
- Adjust seasoning as necessary and garnish with fresh basil before serving.
While these healthy pizza alternatives don’t replicate the exact texture or form of pizza, they capture its spirit — rich, saucy, cheesy, and utterly comforting. They’re great options when you’re in the mood for something pizza-adjacent without actually having a slice.
If you’re adopting a healthy diet but still need some external help with cutting back on carbs, it might be time to consider a carb blocker like Approved Science® Carb Blocker MD™. Check out our blog post that explains how carb blockers work!
Check out our other healthy recipes:
- High-Protein Recipes: Culinary Delights To Curb Cravings
- 5 Colon Healthy Recipes For A Happy And Healthy Gut
- Get A Healthy Start To Your Day With These Antioxidant Breakfast Ideas
- Discover the Heart-Healthy Benefits Of A Turmeric Banana Smoothie
- Ditch The Sugar High: 5 Delicious Low Sugar Breakfasts