Pizza can be a part of a well-balanced meal. Ingredients in pizza include protein, complex carbohydrates, Vitamin A, and calcium. Depending on the toppings, pizza can have items from all of the four major food groups - meat, dairy, vegetables and grains. Pizza can easily be made at home with endless possibilities. This is a great dish to get children involved in by making topping selections and preparing the pizza. Thinking of toppings? Try a seafood lovers pizza with shrimp and crab or a Hawaiian pizza with lean ham and pineapple. You can make a Mexican pizza, substituting nonfat refried beans for the sauce and using ground turkey, onions, salsa, and avocado for the toppings or have a vegetarian pizza that is loaded with vegetables and low-fat cheese. Here are some more tips to add pizza to a healthier lifestyle:
• Use a whole grain crust. Pre-made whole wheat pizza crust and whole wheat tortillas are available, or substitute whole wheat flour for part or all of the white flour used in the pizza crust recipe.
• Use lots of sauce. Tomato sauce is an excellent source of lycopene, a powerful antioxidant that may help prevent some chronic disease.
• Cut back on the cheese. Although cheese is an excellent source of calcium, a lot of the calories of a pizza come from the cheese. Try a low-fat version such as 2% cheese or part-skim mozzarella and a light sprinkle of cheese.
• Go lean protein. Try chopped chicken breast, lean ham, or turkey sausage as meat toppings to pizza. Also, try seafood and even beans to add protein without a lot of fat and calories.
• Load up on vegetables. Use generous amounts of different types of vegetables such as eggplant, zucchini, spinach, mushrooms, peppers, artichoke hearts, and onions. The possibility of vegetables that can be added is endless. Adding vegetables helps to add fiber and vitamins to the daily diet.
French Bread Sausage, Pepper and Mushroom Pizza
2 -6 to 8 inch long French bread rolls
6 ounces Italian turkey sausage, about 2 large links, casings removed, cooked
1- 8 ounces of prepared marinara or pizza sauce
1 cup chopped green bell pepper
2 cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup part- skim mozzarella cheese
Preheat the broiler. Halve French bread lengthwise. Hollow out each half, leaving a ½ inch thick shell. In a medium saucepan stir together the cooked turkey sausage, pizza sauce and green peppers and mushrooms. Heat thoroughly. Meanwhile, on an ungreased baking sheet place bread halves, cut side up. Sprinkle half of the cheese atop bread halves. Spoon turkey mixture into bread halves, sprinkle with remaining cheese.
Nutrient Analysis per Serving: Calories 290; Total Fat 9g; Saturated Fat 3g; Cholesterol 28 mg;
Sodium 705 mg; Total Carbohydrates 37g; Dietary Fiber1g; Protein 16g
Recipe of the Week
By Pamela Redwine
1 pound prepared pizza dough, preferably whole wheat
Cornmeal for dusting pizza peel
4 cups sliced plum tomatoes (8 tomatoes)
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons minced, seeded jalapeno pepper, or to taste (about 3 peppers)
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
1 cup reduced-fat Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro
Place a pizza stone, baking tiles or inverted baking sheet on the lowest rack of the oven; preheat to 500 F or highest oven setting. Take peel or inverted baking sheet and dust with cornmeal, using enough cornmeal so that the dough slides easily. Roll out or stretch dough on a lightly floured surface to about the size of the baking sheet. Arrange tomatoes over pizza dough. Sprinkle with jalapenos and cheese over the top. Carefully slide the pizza onto the heated pizza stone, baking tiles or baking sheet and bake until the bottom is crisp and browned, 10 to 14 minutes. Sprinkle each pizza with cilantro.
Nutrient Analysis per Serving: Calories 130; Total Fat 6g; Saturated Fat 3.5g; Cholesterol 15 mg;
Sodium 300 mg; Total Carbohydrates 12g; Dietary Fiber1g; Protein 9g
Recipes adapted from www.eatingwell.com  and www.betterhomesandgardens.com 
Pamela Redwine is a nutrition and food safety area agent for the MSU Extension Service.
Provided by the Oktibbeha County Extension Service; for more, call (662) 323-5916.