Pizza Power

 I am tired of pizza getting a bad rap.  There are lots of great things about pizza.  First of all, how many different kinds of   pizza are there?  There’s thin crust, thick crust, stuffed crust, coal-fired, handtossed, deep dish, pan, thin n’ crispy – I could go on forever.  The different toppings – there’s not enough time in the day to list these.  Is there anything you can’t put on top of  pizza that won’t taste good?   It’s readily available.  You can get pizza anywhere, anytime or it’s pretty easy to make yourself.  Have you ever said to yourself  “I wish there were more pizza places around here?”   Me neither.  Kids love it – no explanation necessary.  It’s relatively inexpensive.  It encompasses at least three food groups – protein, dairy, vegetable.  Depending on what you put on it, maybe more!  You’re probably thinking, isn’t it a little unhealthy??  I won’t argue a chicken breast, broccoli and brown rice may be a better choice.  However, sometimes, especially on a Friday night, that’s just not going to happen.  Unhealthy compared to what – other pizza or other food?  If you get the triple meat italiano pizza at Pizza Hut, it’s going to have a whopping 420 calories and 23 grams of fat (basically almost 50% of the calories come from fat AND remember that is 1/8 of a pie).  If you compare that to a  thin n’ crispy slice from Pizza Hut the calories  drop to 190 with 8 grams of fat (38% fat calories – better especially in the calorie department).  How about a chicken caesar salad?  Want a real shocker?  Caesar salad at Outback Steakhouse – 1045 calories, 74 grams of fat.  Wow, that is 64% of the calories coming from fat!!  My point I’m trying to make is don’t discount pizza because you think it is so “bad for you.”    Listed below are some fat and calorie values for various pizzas, all 1/8 of a pie.

Anthony’s Coal-Fired  (Plain Cheese)

425 calories      15 grams fat       32% fat calories

Bertucci’s  (Plain Cheese)                      

330 calories      15 grams fat      43% fat calories

Domino’s     

          Hand-Tossed                                 

          230 calories            4.5 grams fat           18% fat calories

          Thin Crust                                       

          170 calories             7 grams fat               37% fat calories

          Deep Dish                                         

          210 calories              7 grams fat              30% fat calories

Homemade Pizza

239 calories              5.6 grams fat           21% fat calories

Pizza also packs a great nutritional punch.  Tomato sauce contains lycopene, a powerful antioxidant thought to  help protect against cancer.  It is also high in vitamin C.  Cheese is an excellent source of protein and also contains vitamin B-12, calcium, and vitamin D.    Make a whole-wheat pizza crust and add some beneficial fiber.  Added lean meats such as ham and chicken can boost protein.  Vegetable toppings increase the nutritional value significantly by adding a variety of vitamins and minerals (and fiber). 

For takeout pizza, check out the fat and calorie content, if it’s available.  Try to pick venues where pizza is closer to authentic italian with thinner crust, more sauce and less cheese.  You probably know which pizza places have more greasy and/or breadier dough pizzas.  Avoid these.  Make homemade pizza with your child and let their imaginations run wild thinking of toppings!  Pizza on the grill is very popular now – there are a variety of cookbooks available with some great recipes.   Wegman’s makes it easy by having a section that includes sauce, cheese, and pizza dough all in the same place.   My daughter LOVES to make homemade pizza and thinks it tastes better than takeout.    It is a fun thing to make for kids of all ages.

Add to your to do list this week:  get pizza stone, pizza cutter, pizza cookbook.   Have fun!

“When the moon hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that’s amore.”  Jack Brooks