Try These Greens For Pizza Even Popeye Would Love

June 3, 2016 by | Comments Off on Try These Greens For Pizza Even Popeye Would Love

Pizza has come a long way in the United States since the first pizza parlors opened in the early 20th century, offering “tomato pies.” Starting out as little more than sauce and cheese covered flat bread, pizzas have evolved from novelties, to junk food, to an increasingly healthy food, with just about every topping imaginable, ranging from pepperoni to pineapple. Vegetarian toppings have been around for a number of years, but for an equal number of years, those choices were limited. There were peppers. There were mushrooms, which actually aren’t vegetables, but beggars can’t be choosers. There were…not much else.

But as consumers began looking more carefully in the early 21st century at hidden calories in favorite foods that were leading to a national obesity crisis, pizza, and what went into (and on it) came into the cross-hairs once again of dieters and nutritionists. Pizza toppings, it was determined, were a big reason why these pies had a reputation as being high calorie and unhealthy. But that could be fixed, by substituting some healthy newcomers that not only offered reduced calories, but increased vitamins and minerals, as well as intriguing taste options. Below are a few examples for spicing up that pie, and making eating it a win-win proposition in terms of taste and nutrition.


Nutritionally, there’s not much to dislike about spinach. While it doesn’t give one super strength (sorry, Popeye), this vegetable does contain vitamins ranging from A-K, antioxidants, and minerals including manganese, magnesium, copper, and zinc. Spinach is also low in calories and fat. Spinach leaves are generally used for pies. Because of its high water content, the big question with it and pizza is raw or not? The general rule of thumb is that if served raw, use tomatoes sliced as opposed to sauce to avoid pie sogginess. Roast the leaves before application if using sauce. Spinach’s strong taste and crunchy leaves are well complimented by cheese and tomato.


Oh, come on, now. Aware of it or not, you’ve been using seaweed in your chocolate syrup and toothpaste for years. Nutritionally, brown, green, red, blue-green, and yellow-green seaweeds are all edible. Various species of these contain more calcium, iodine, and iron than any conventional food you’ll buy. One type called dulse, when pan fried in oil, tastes surprisingly like crispy bacon, but of course without the fat and calories.


Nutritionally, kale is low in calories, high in fiber, full of vitamins and oxidants, and calcium, iron, and many other minerals. It’s also crunchy, and can literally be painful to eat. So the secret to a great kale pizza topping? Bake it with the pie in a hot pizza oven for a sweet and nutty taste. “White” pies (no tomato sauce) work best to avoid sogginess.


Low calorie and full of folic acid and Vitamins A, C and K, plus many minerals, arugula is a doctor-approved substitute for spinach. “Zippy” tasting, this crunchy leaf topping works best with white pizza, or used sparingly with sauce to avoid sogginess.

Swiss Chard

A leafy member of the beet family, Swiss chard has high levels of vitamins A and C, calcium, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, potassium, and sodium. Crunchy leaved with “fleshy” stalks, as a pizza topping, it works well with bacon if tossed with hot bacon oil before being applied to pizza. Leave a 1/4″ border between chard and crust to avoid sogginess.


Actually the leaves of the coriander plant, cilantro has been credited with being an effective heavy metal cleanser. Other health claims have yet to be verified. Tasting a bit like its cousin parsley, as a pizza topping, cilantro works best chopped and used with other ingredients in a sauce.

Collard Greens

That old Southern staple, collard greens are low calorie and fat, high vitamin and mineral, cabbage cousins. This crunchy, cabbagy tasting leaf works best as a pizza topping by sautéing collard leaves for two minutes with salt, adding to pizza, and sprinkling with garlic.

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