One of my go to meals is pizza, although when looking to be a bit healthier it’s not something that I get too often. That is unless I make myself a Neapolitan Pizza.
We often think that pizza is high in fat due to the dough, cheese and toppings. Neapolitan is however different.
It’s said that Neapolitan Pizza is one of the healthiest pizzas that you can have, although is it really lower in calories than other pizzas? Can you really eat it when you are trying to be healthy?
So lets answer the question is neapolitan pizza healthy?
- Neapolitan Pizza Calories
- Is Neapolitan Pizza Healthy?
- How To Make Neapolitan Pizza Healthier
- Final Thoughts – Is Neapolitan Pizza Healthy?
Neapolitan Pizza Calories
Neapolitan Pizza has a lot less calories in it when compared with other pizzas.
The dough is more of a lean dough due to how it’s made. They also typically feature less cheese and very few toppings.
Depending on what cheese and what toppings you have on your pizza, will impact the amount of calories it does have.
Let’s look at the different elements of a pizza and see the average calories and why Neapolitan pizza is lower.
Neapolitan Pizza Dough And Its Calories
Many people believe that the pizza dough is the cause for having more calories. When it comes to neapolitan pizza dough, that’s just not true.
In fact a 250g dough ball only contains on average 55o calories.
How come I hear you ask…
Neapolitan pizza dough is a very lean dough, when you compare it to alternatives.
Afterall, it only has 4 ingredients.
When it comes to normal pizza dough, the cause for high calories is the flour and the olive oil.
Neapolitan Pizza dough doesn’t contain any olive oil. This makes it have less calories.
If you were to be making a traditional Neapolitan pizza then you’d use a pizza oven. These get so hot that they cook the pizza in under 60 seconds. Adding Oil to the dough will just cause it to burn.
Cooking it in your home oven, you might need to add some Olive oil to help it cook quicker. As your home oven won’t reach high temperatures.
If you want to keep the calories down and you don’t own a pizza oven. You could use a pizza stone, this can help to speed up the cooking process in your oven. This means you can use a lean dough without olive oil.
So, as you’ve discovered. The main ingredient that causes calories in Neapolitan pizza dough is the flour.
You can reduce the calories slightly even more by increasing the hydration of the pizza dough.
Hydration is basically the percentage of water to flour. (I go into more detail into Pizza Hydration in this article)
So for example a pizza dough with the hydration of 55% has around 560 calories. Whereas a pizza dough with a hydration of 75% has 500 calories.
However, the higher the water content, the harder it is to work the pizza dough.
The Calories In Pizza Sauce
Traditional sauce used for your Neapolitan pizza usually only has 4 ingredients. Tomatoes (canned), Olive Oil, Basil and Salt.
When it comes to calories, it does depend on the sauce and the recipe. If you were to buy store bought then the calorie count would be higher. (They tend to add more things to it such as sugar to sweeten it)
However if you make your own, the calories of pizza sauce can be around 40-60 calories. Although you can cut this down even more…
More often than not, 20-30 calories are from the tomatoes. The other 20-30 calories is from the olive oil.
Now if you wanted to reduce the calorie count of your pizza sauce, you could remove the olive oil. (Or at least reduce the amount you use)
Here is my go to Pizza Sauce Recipe
Neapolitan Pizza Cheese Calories
You’ll find with your take away pizza, the cheese content counts for a high % of the total calories of the pizza. This is not the case with Neapolitan Pizza.
A traditional Neapolitan Pizza will only use Mozzarella cheese. This type of cheese tends to be more moist than other cheese and is fairly low in fat.
On average a typical Neapolitan pizza will have around 150-250 calories from the Mozzarella cheese.
Like all cheese it does have some fat content, however it’s also got some protein. Buffalo mozzarella is high in potassium, calcium and even has a little Iron and Vitamin A.
Making it a bit more nutritious than other cheeses.
The Toppings and Their Impact On Calories
If you’re going for a traditional Neapolitan pizza then the main thing that is going to contribute to the calories is the Mozzarella cheese. Neapolitan only has mozzarella and basil on it.
You can use either basil or spinach, both don’t add any additional calories or fat content.
The great thing about pizza is that it’s so versatile in what toppings you can add. This is going to impact the calorie count.
A Ham and pineapple is going to be less calories than a pepperoni.
If you really want to reduce the calorie count of your pizza, you might want to think about what toppings you’ll use. Although let’s face it, if you have it in moderation it’s worth having your favorite toppings still!
Is Neapolitan Pizza Healthy?
When you compare a Neapolitan pizza with fast food pizzas, it is a healthier choice. The dough is lean with only a couple of toppings. On average a slice of Neapolitan pizza is 250-350 calories.
Now if you were to have 2-3 slices with a side of salad, then this is only going to be 500-1050 calories. Which is a good amount for dinner.
Naturally if you decide to have more then it’s not going to be as healthy.
It’s also worth thinking about the beneficial nutrients that come with having a Neapolitan pizza.
On a per slice, you’re going to get roughly 700-800mg of Sodium and 13g of protein. Not only that but they also have a decent amount of calcium, Vitamin A, Vitamin C and Iron.
One thing you also need to think about is whether you’re using store bought or homemade neapolitan pizza.
With homemade, you know exactly what ingredients are being used. When you buy a pre-made pizza or dough, you cannot be sure of the quality of the ingredients. They also tend to use preservatives and additional sugars.
How To Make Neapolitan Pizza Healthier
Even though Neapolitan Pizza is fairly healthy in comparison to other pizza and fast food pizza. You may want to see how you can make it even healthier, reducing the calories even more.
Below are some excellent ways to do just that
Make Your Own
I’ve already mentioned it but making your own pizza is a lot healthier than store bought or takeout pizza.
First of all, you know exactly what ingredients are being used (plus you tend to need less ingredients)
You can decide on what toppings you want on it, so you can go for toppings that are either healthier or a bit more lean.
Store bought/frozen pizza will normally have sugar in, too much sugar is not good. Homemade pizza shouldn’t have any.
You’ll also notice that takeout pizza tends to be a bit greasy or oily. This also results in it not being as healthy for you. Making your own, you can reduce the amount of oil that is used.
Want to know the number 1 reason why you should make your own….
It’s a lot more fun and to be honest, tastes so much better!
Use A Pizza Oven
It might seem strange to suggest using a pizza oven but it can make your pizza healthier. Even by a little bit.
Not only that but it is how traditional neapolitan pizza is made.
You see, with a pizza oven, the pizza cooks a lot quicker. In fact, they are usually ready in 60-90 seconds.
Since it cooks so quickly, more of the nutrients remain in the pizza. Not only that but because it cooks so quickly, you don’t need to use oil in the dough.
If you do not have the budget for a Pizza Oven, there are alternatives.
You could use a pizza stone to almost replicate what a pizza oven does.
Make A Cheeseless Pizza
One of the reasons why pizza is high in calories is because of the cheese content. If you make a pizza without cheese then it will be healthier.
A traditional neapolitan pizza without cheese is called a Pizza marinara. It’s just made from tomatoes, garlic and basil.
Pizza marinara might sound very basic but it tastes incredible.
You’re not just restricted to this type of pizza. There are many toppings you could use that don’t need cheese on the pizza. A personal favorite of mine is steak, peppers and onion.
Use A Lean Pizza Dough
Flour and oil in pizza dough is the next cause for the higher calorie count. Flour is pretty essential but you can make it healthier by removing the oil.
In fact removing the oil can reduce the calories of the pizza by up to 20%.
Oil is not essential if you’re using a pizza oven or pizza stone, however if you’re using your normal oven you may not want to remove it. Oil is used to help cook the dough quicker. One option is to ensure you use a good quality olive oil, as this does tend to be healthier.
Increase The Hydration Of The Dough
As previously mentioned, flour is one cause of the calorie count in pizza. If you’re making your own dough, you can play around with the hydration to make it a little healthier.
It is basically when you increase the amount of water, compared with the amount of flour.
Not only does higher hydration make it a little healthier, it also helps give you a much lighter and softer pizza crust. This is how neapolitan pizza gets its larger edges and air bubbles.
I’d recommend starting with a hydration of 60% and working up until you’re happy. The more water content, the wetter the dough. This can make it a little harder to work with.
Use A Low Fat Pizza Sauce
Generally the pizza sauce is going to be low in calories and fairly healthy, as it only contains a few ingredients. (Garlic, Olive Oil, Basil & Tomatoes).
Now if you want to reduce the calories of Pizza Sauce, you could remove the Olive Oil. It won’t really impact the taste but remember olive oil does also have some health benefits.
To really reduce the calories of pizza sauce, make sure it’s homemade.
There are many store bought pizza sauces, the problem with them is that you don’t always know what’s in them. Many contain preservatives to make it last longer. You’ll find some even have sugar in them to give it a sweeter taste.
Use A Healthier Base
Another way to potentially make your pizza healthier is by using an alternative base. The most common ways are;
- Using a tortilla wrap
- Replacing the flour with wholewheat
- Making a cauliflower base
Tortilla Wrap Pizza Base
If I’m in the mood for a quick pizza as a snack or really want to be healthier, I’ll use a wrap as a base.
To be honest, it does make a good alternative. Especially if you like thin crust pizza.
It does taste nice and takes very little effort to make your pizza. Lets face it, you don’t need to mess about with kneading and waiting for it to proof.
Now if you do like your pizza made in a pizza oven, a tortilla wrap is not the best option. It would just burn too quickly. It really can only be cooked in your home oven.
Whole Wheat Base
The white flour in the pizza base is one of the reasons for the high calorie count. A good option is to replace the flour with whole wheat.
On average a pizza base made with Whole Wheat flour only has around 100 calories.
If you’re not a massive fan of Whole Wheat, you could make a half and half dough.
Traditional neapolitan pizza is made from 00 flour. If you do use whole wheat, it may not have the same texture or have the same look.
Cauliflower is a very common ingredient when it comes to making a low carb alternative to dishes. One of the most common is using it for rice.
In recent years, more people have been using Cauliflower to create a pizza base. It makes for a great base as it does crisp up when it’s cooked.
Typically a cauliflower base will only have around 140 calories in it, but at the same time it contains a good amount of nutrients.
It’s not all good news though…
No matter what you put on the cauliflower pizza base, it’s going to taste like cauliflower. So you’re not going to really be able to replicate the taste of your favorite pizza.
As you can see there are some potential alternatives to traditional bases and they’re healthier. But, the problem is they just don’t taste the same.
Lets face it, if you eat pizza in moderation then it’s not going to be too unhealthy. So why not stick to what you love?
Final Thoughts – Is Neapolitan Pizza Healthy?
So is Neapolitan pizza healthy? I’d hate to say it but it really does depend. If you were to stick to a traditional Neapolitan then it’s fairly healthy.
Obviously if you stick a lot of toppings on, this will increase the calories of your pizzas.
Don’t forget though, it’s not like you’re going to be eating pizza every day (I know I’d like to but…)
So as a weekly treat, a homemade pizza is not an unhealthy choice.
Hopefully this article has shown that pizza can be healthy and you can even make some changes to help make it even healthier.
Remember the key is to focus on homemade and to stay away from anything store bought or any takeaway pizza’s.