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Pizza: The Perfect Quick and Healthy Dinner

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When I was still working in an office, every day I was faced with the same annoying choice: either get in a good workout or cook a good, homemade meal. No matter how hard I tried to cram everything into those few precious hours after work, I could never balance the two so I could exercise and eat something more interesting than a bowl of cereal. After a lot of trial and error, plus more dinners consumed after 10 p.m. than I'd like to admit, I found that the best go-to quick, easy and healthy dinner is homemade pizza.

Though pizza may not be the first dish that comes to mind when thinking of healthful eating, the homemade variety can make a surprisingly well-balanced meal when made correctly. The most important step is to pick the right crust. On busy nights I prefer Pillsbury's thin-crust pizza dough (found in the refrigerated section) or whole grain naan. Other good options are Whole Foods 365 Everyday Organic Whole Wheat Crust, Central Market's frozen pizza dough or whole wheat Boboli pizza crust sprinkled with a bit of parmesan. If you have a little more time and don't mind the extra effort, try this quick whole wheat pizza dough recipe that requires very little rise time.

Next comes the toppings -- and this is where pizza truly shines health-wise, because you can pile on the veggies. Tomato sauce is full of the cancer-fighting antioxidant lycopene, and brands like Francesco Rinaldi's ToBe Healthy line of sauces provide an added 64mg of Omega 3 and less than half the sodium of other brands, at only around 300mg per serving. For toppings, my favorites are zucchini, bell peppers and onions, but if you're not sure which way to go, this is the perfect opportunity to clean out the fridge and use up any leftover veggies. Add a lean protein like grilled chicken, ground beef or, my favorite, turkey sausage, and top with a moderate sprinkling of cheese, like part-skim mozzarella. With only 20 minutes or less in the oven, you'll have a nutritious and tasty dinner that doesn't require a long-term time commitment.

If you're in need of some inspiration, check out delicious recipes like chicken apple sausage, sweet onion and fennel pizza, broccoli and tomato naan pizza, chicken and spinach pita pizza or arugula goat cheese pizza.

What's your favorite quick dinner to make on busy nights?

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