It’s unclear exactly when “buffalo” became the flavor of the century, but it’s apparent that restaurants, grocery stores and food brands all over have jumped on the buffalo bandwagon. There’s nothing like that first bite of savory buffalo chicken pizza, fresh from the oven of your favorite pizza place, and while there is no harm in indulging, sometimes choosing a healthier option means a recipe can be enjoyed a little more frequently. I decided to swap buffalo chicken pizza with a healthier alternative; a meal I can enjoy without worrying about the intense workouts I’ll need to do later this week: whole wheat buffalo chicken and cauliflower pizza.
Swap 1: regular dough for whole wheat dough. Just the phrase “whole wheat” can make someone turn their nose up – I get it, it’s less appealing, but the difference in taste is minimal; the difference in nutrition is not. The whole wheat dough is a starting point. It will be piled with delicious ingredients, adding to its flavor. Here’s the difference; I’ll try to keep this as simple as possible. There are three essential parts to a grain: the bran, the germ and the endosperm. When grains are refined, both the bran and germ are stripped away, which also strips essential nutrients. According to Livestrong.com, a 1-cup serving of whole grain pasta contains 3.9 grams of fiber, while that same serving of refined white pasta contains only 2.3 grams. The same comparison can be made for white and whole wheat dough. Livestrong also credits whole grains with having significantly more calcium and protein than refined grains, but I’ll keep this as easily understood as possible. However, feel free to look at the numbers here.
Swap 2: two cups of fried chicken for one cup of grilled chicken and one cup of cauliflower. Please hear me out before you exit your browser just for seeing the word “cauliflower.” Here’s the difference: Let’s start with fried chicken. I’ll give it the benefit of the doubt, an article published in Men’s Fitness highlighted a study where fried chicken and fast food proved to have no worse benefits than sports supplements post-workout. However, unless I complete a 12-mile bike ride prior to indulging in a slice of buffalo chicken pizza, it’s not worth it. When food is fried, it absorbs a lot of unnecessary fat that is then ingested. Many fried foods contain saturated fats, which, according to the American Heart Assocation, increase cholesterol levels in the blood (not good!). So try grilled chicken and cauliflower instead; it still makes for a delicious pizza.
Swap 3: ranch dressing for light ranch dressing. This one might be self-explanatory. Regular ranch can also be swapped for fat free ranch, but I think light ranch adds a little more flavor. Blue cheese dressing can also be substituted (I use ranch because of a blue cheese allergy in the family). By swapping regular for low fat, 14 grams of fat and 120 calories are saved. Swapping for fat free saves 28 grams of fat.
So take a look at the recipe below, and give it a try—your body will thank you.
Whole wheat pizza dough (look for it packaged in the refrigerator section of the grocery store)
1 c grilled chicken
1 c frozen cauliflower florets
¾ c buffalo sauce
1/2 c light ranch dressing
2 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, crushed
1 tomato, sliced
¼ c feta cheese
Side note: I pre-cook the cauliflower and chicken prior to making this recipe.
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Next, cook cauliflower according to package instructions. Then, Roll out whole wheat dough onto a 16 inch pizza pan. Brush 2 tbsp. olive oil on the rolled-out dough; top with crushed garlic. Next, chop grilled chicken and cooked cauliflower and place them in a bowl. Coat with ¾ c buffalo sauce. Take ¼ c ranch dressing and spread onto dough until it creates a thin layer. Then, place tomato slices evenly on the dough. Top with buffalo chicken and cauliflower. Finish with ¼ c feta cheese. Bake in oven for 18 minutes.