It happens ever year right about this time. The gym is suddenly packed, the produce isle is picked over, and a McDonald’s, somewhere, is empty (well not sure about that one, but we can dream). It’s resolution time and the whole world seems to be on a health kick. We promise to give up our indulgences–bacon, soda, ice cream, pizza. But what if we didn’t have to completely give up these things? I’m fine with giving up the others…but pizza, I cannot part with.
So there it is. Pizza night at Marissa’s. Key components: Whole Wheat dough from Pizza Park (ask your favorite pizza place if they will sell you the dough…trader joe’s also has it), lots of fresh vegetables, some cheese, and a giant salad. My new creation this week was a bbq chicken pizza inspired, but also not inspired, by a particular chain restaurant’s version which has 900 calories and 30 grams of fat in a pizza they deem “individual” size. My version is on whole wheat crust, uses white mean rotisserie chicken tossed in a good bbq sauce, peppers, onions, and a mixture of fontina and low-fat cheddar cheese. Top with cilantro to give it a fresh punch and for prettiness factor.
Another key to a healthy pizza night is moderation. I made a giant salad filled with tomato, cucumber, chickpeas, and carrots and topped with a homemade balsamic vinaigrette. So make your new years resolutions as you will, but mine will NOT include giving up pizza.
Nutritional highlights: By using whole wheat dough and rolling it out as thin as possible (well as thin as one can using an empty wine bottle, my preferred method of dough rolling) you reduce the amount of carbs you’re eating and they’re good, whole wheat carbs. BBQ sauce is definitely a little high is sugar, but just try to pick one that doesn’t have a first ingredient of high fructose corn syrup (many do) and use it moderately. I used thinly sliced yellow peppers and red onions on this pizza, but you could add any other vegetables you like to make this even healthier. You could also omit the chicken and make it a bbq vegetable pizza. And by mixing a little good fontina with some 50% reduced fat cheddar, I lower the fat but still get a little of the good meltyness that full fat cheese gives. Overall this meal has a lot of good nutrients and protein, and as long as you eat it moderately, pizza can be a part of your healthy diet.
Whole Wheat BBQ Chicken Pizza
adapted from my friend Laura’s recipe
Whole wheat pizza dough (my pizzeria gives enough to split it into 2 pizzas)
1/2 rotisserie chicken, breast only, shredded
about 1/4 cup Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce (avoid high fructose corn syrup in the ingredients)
Thinly sliced vegetables: yellow bell pepper and red onion
other ideas: zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, asparagus, tomato…
approximately 1/2 cup cheese: I used half freshly shredded fontina, and half reduced fat cheddar
cilantro and more bbq sauce for garnish
Preheat oven to 450. If you’re using a pizza stone (which makes your pizza so much crispier) then make sure that’s in the oven getting hot.
Prepare the pizza by rolling out the dough. Toss your shredded chicken breast with a little less than 1/4 cup bbq sauce. Thinly slice your veggies and shred you’re cheese if not using pre shredded. Pull out your hot stone and quickly assemble the pizza on it (or you could try assembling then transferring like I did but I would NOT recommend that). Start with some corn starch on the stone, then place the pizza dough on the stone and spread with about 2 tablespoons of bbq sauce. Top with the shredded chicken, then peppers and onions, then the cheese mixture. Pop back into the oven for about 10-15 minutes (checking often). Remove pizza once cheese is melted and crust looks crisp and brown. Top with some fresh cilantro and a drizzle of bbq sauce for a little extra flair. Serve along side a big salad and enjoy NOT giving up pizza this year.