One in eight Americans will eat pizza today. I don’t know about you, but that recent stat from the USDA doesn’t surprise me — at all. Done right, pizza is practically the perfect food. It’s slightly sweet, a little salty, warm, gooey, chewy, mmm … And perhaps the best part of America’s dish of choice? It’s completely customizable. A vegetarian? Ditch the meat! Go gluten-free? Experiment with alternative flours! A true foodie? Get fancy with toppings!
Pizza praise aside, I must admit that there is a downside to scarfing down a few slices: Many restaurant and delivery pies are little more than processed carbs topped with calorie-loaded toppers. That said, with a few nutritional tweaks, you can restore pizza to the delicious balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat that nature (and the Italians) intended it to be.
Here, Brooke Alpert, nutrition expert and author of “The Sugar Detox: Lose Weight, Feel Great and Look Years Younger,” offers five golden rules for a healthier golden pie:
No. 1 Pizza Upgrade: Load up on veggies
“Piling on the produce will not only help fill you up faster with healthier calories, making it more likely that you’ll skip that third slice, but you’ll also add essential nutrients like vitamin C (found in peppers), vitamin A (found in broccoli), and iron (found in spinach).”
No. 2 Pizza Upgrade: Sub the sauce for fresh crushed tomatoes.
“Pre-made tomato sauces can contain a lot of sugar, and we all know by now that eating too much added sugar can lead to a higher risk of obesity, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and many more health woes.”
No. 3 Pizza Upgrade: Think thin (crust).
“Less dough means less processed white flour and fewer calories. Plus, most of the flavor comes from the toppings, so a thin pie tastes a whole lot better too!”
No. 4 Pizza Upgrade: Go dough-less.
“If you’re making your pizza at home, you can avoid the carby crust all together and use eggplant slices or even portabella mushrooms as a base for your sauce, veggies, and cheese, instead. These grain-free, gluten-free, and a low-carb options keep your calories down, add fiber and antioxidants, and prevent that blood sugar crash that can leave you in need of a post-pizza nap.”
No. 5 Pizza Upgrade: Think outside the box
“Despite cultural norms, pizza shouldn’t necessarily be your entree. Consider it more like a shared course — have one slice instead of bread at dinner, and fill the rest of your meal with filling veggies and protein.”
Distributed by MCT Information Services