The foods found at most Italian restaurants, and pizza restaurants in particular, have a reputation for being high-calorie and high-fat splurge foods. However, although some pizza toppings like sausage and pepperoni can add on the fat, there are many healthy things you can order at a pizza restaurant.
Healthy options on a pizza restaurant menu
1. Opt for thin vs. thick crust. The less dough you add to the pizza, the fewer calories in the pie. Thin crust will also let you taste the toppings more fully. Avoid cheese-filled crusts.
2. Pile on the veggies. Meatless toppings, such as onions, peppers, artichokes, mushrooms and fresh tomatoes, help keep the calories down on your pizza while adding beneficial vegetables to your diet. If possible, opt for fresh, rather than canned or pickled, vegetables. Some pizza restaurants even offer more exotic healthy vegetables, such as spinach, broccoli and kale.
3. Skimp on the cheese. Adding lots of cheese to your pizza quickly adds on the calories and fat. Instead of that thick layer of cheese, top your pizza with a sprinkling of Parmesan or choose ricotta or fresh mozzarella if available.
4. Start with a salad or soup. Ordering a side salad full of greens while you wait for your pizza to arrive can help you eat fewer slices when you get your pie. Just be careful about how much dressing you add. Ordering the dressing on the side can help you control your portion more easily. Broth-based Italian soups, such as wedding soup or minestrone, can also help you feel full while offering your a serving of vegetables.
5. How about Hawaiian? Ham and pineapple on top of a pizza, often called a Hawaiian pizza, is one of the least caloric, non-vegetable pizza toppings you can choose. These toppings add just a fraction of the calories of a typical meat-laden pizza. Lean meats, such as boneless grilled chicken breast, chicken sausage or shrimp are also good, low calorie choices.
6. Just say gelato. While many Italian desserts are laden with calories, gelato, the delicious Italian-style frozen dessert, has less fat and less sugar than American ice cream. Fresh fruit, when available, is another good Italian dessert choice.
Eating at a pizza restaurant doesn't have to be just for a special occasion splurge. If you're careful about what you order, you can enjoy dining at a pizza restaurant, like Greg's Pizza, on a regular basis.