Since today is about Pi and pizza happens to be a circle and refereed to as “pie” I thought it would be a great time to talk about the truth on pizza. When we think of pizza and its wonderfully round shape topped with ooey gooey goodness, a few key terms tend to come into mind. Words like grease, fat, calories, bad, and unbuttoned pants tend to accompany the food most of us crave at some point. The truth is that pizza does not have to be those descriptions. Pizza can be a very healthy meal if done properly.
Crust things crust, we need to look at the base and foundation of this staple. The problem here lies in the grains. When you choose a crust with a white grain, you are giving your body empty calories. Only 100% whole grains give you a true source of fiber and nutrients that are stripped from the white and even wheat flours. They have to add in nutrients, but it isn’t absorbed as well into your body. The reason this matters is that while you are eating your pizza it takes more food for you to feel full. I understand if for texture and taste reasons you supplement with some white or wheat flour. Adding the 100% whole grain flour will boost your nutrient intake and help you feel fuller faster. Whole grains also help regulate blood sugar levels so you do not crash into a food coma. If you order out, at least see if the pizza place has a wheat option. If not, go thin, so you can fill up on toppings not empty carbohydrates.
The next layer is the sauce. There are many sauces out there that contain different amounts of carbohydrates and sugar. Another incentive to make it fresh. When sauces are made sometimes sugar is added to balance out the acidity of the tomatoes. If you can use Italian tomatoes in your sauces, because they need minimal sugar to do so. You can kick up flavor with a variety of spices. Crushed red pepper is always a nice way to kick up the heat a notch without being overpowering. Spice helps you feel fuller faster too.
Let’s look at the cheesy layer of love. Most people really like cheese on their pizza. Most cheeses however can contain a lot of grease and fat. Limit the amount of cheese you put on a pie. Add a little less and supplement with Parmesan. You still get the ooey gooey without the heart attack. If you make it at home, you can choose reduced fat cheeses. Please do not mistake that for fat-free!!! Those taste terrible, because that is not how cheese is supposed to taste. Or you can always sprinkle a specialty cheese like blue or fresh mozzarella to give quality to your flavor.
How many times have you seen a comic moment on TV or in a movie, where the cherry lands on top and everything just tumbles to the ground? The toppings of a pizza can really make or break the healthfulness of the pie. Sausage, pepperoni, and bacon can add a lot of fat to a pie if not limited. Load up on some veggies like peppers, a few olives, spinach, Roma tomatoes, pineapple, and mushrooms. You can get creative and see who can create the best flavor combination while keeping calorie count in mind. You can also choose leaner meats like grilled chicken, fish, and turkey sausage.
Don’t let the bad connotations of pizza keep you from enjoying a healthy bite of goodness. Your pie hole will thank you and so will the circumference of your waist. Who feels great an hour or so after overeating on greasy pizza anyhow? Eat well and be merry!