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Neera’s Get The Dish

Jun 12, 2013

How to Have Your Pizza and Eat it, Too!

Pizza is a favourite comfort food enjoyed by people all over the world. What’s not to love with the gooey, stringy cheese, savoury toppings and hot-out-of-the-oven golden-brown doughy crust? And those are just the basics. Almost every corner of the planet has their rendition of pizza — think toppings like eggplant, lobster, artichokes, figs and tandoori chicken. Pizza has truly gone global! It is the perfect accompaniment to movie night, basketball finals on TV, a poker game, amusement parks and, of course, date night. And it’s perfectly paired with pop, wine or beer. Though much-loved, pizza often comes with a bad rap. It’s a veritable junk food — probably because we no longer eat it by the slice but by the pie. A BIG pizza pie, that’s NOT amore! Here’s how to continue your love affair without the guilt.

Go for thin

Even crusts are getting all fancied up these days. There’s thin, deep dish, stuffed, whole wheat, hand-tossed and gluten-free. If you still want pizza to be your friend, go for thin crust. A thin crust will help you save calories mostly from the refined flour, which is also just empty carbs. In a typical serving, going from regular crust to thin crust will save you about 150 to 200 calories. Put those saved calories toward a side salad — a much more nutrient-rich choice that will likely keep you fuller for longer.

Saucy and savvy

With the introduction of sauces such as pesto, Alfredo, chipotle and spicy peanut, you can really go exotic with pizza. To keep the calorie count down and grams of fat in check, opt for traditional tomato-based sauces like marinara or salsa. Saving on the sauce will allow you splurge 100 calories on something else you’d prefer.

Say (less) cheese!

“Half the cheese” is becoming an option on more pizza menus and rightfully so. Ask for less cheese because chances are you will not miss it. Informal taste-tests reveal that many people don’t really miss all of that extra cheese. In fact, the taste-testers said that the flavours of the other toppings actually come through more without being masked by the cheese. And if you go for a pizza with a stronger cheese (think feta or Gorgonzola), remember that a little goes a long way. Less cheese will curb your salt intake and save you about a 100 calories per serving.

Topping it off

Your best topping bets are vegetables, chicken or seafood instead of fatty meats like pepperoni, salami, sausage, beef or bacon. You’ll save yourself a ton of extra calories, grams of saturated fat and sodium — all things you can do without. Do yourself a favour and pile on the veggie toppings — mushrooms, green peppers, tomatoes, spinach, broccoli, eggplant, onions or whatever veggie you fancy. They’ll all be full of nutrients and will keep you full for a while.

Dip diving

Want to go skinny-dipping? Avoid pizza-dipping. Dips were probably introduced to deal with a plateful of leftover crusts. And somewhere along the way we’ve decided we need them for dipping actual pizza because the cheese, sauce and toppings aren’t enough. What? Save yourself the almost 80 to 100 calories per dipping sauce (two tablespoons) and leave the empty-carb crusts behind.

A dab’ll do ya

If you can see your reflection gleaming off your pizza grease, dab it off with a paper napkin. That visible grease will become visible love handles so save yourself the extra tires and dab-dab-dab. Even dabbing enough grease to soak a small paper napkin is likely to save you about 40 to 50 calories.

In a dish dilemma? Email her [email protected]

Neera Chaudhary (MHSc PhD (c) RD) is a registered dietitian, foodie, culinary goddess and all-around fabulous girl in the kitchen. www.dietitian.ca



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