Pizza is the anthem of the youth. Children love their cheesy pizzas and adults often indulge in this convenience food for different reasons. This yeasted flatbread, invented in Italy, has become a universal food enjoyed by people all over the globe. Pizza can be categorized both as a “healthy” food and a not-so-healthy food solely based on the preparation method. Understanding this categorization can help you relish this multifaceted meal option more often with less guilt.
Vegetables, Spice and All Things Nice
The authentic pizza crust is made of white flour or wheat flour and topped with sauces, veggies, cheese, meat and seasonings. Slight variations to the crust and the toppings can make or break the health quotient of any pizza.
Crust: Always choose whole-wheat crust or any whole-grain crust option. If these are not available, choose the thinnest crust option to keep starch content in the minimum possible range.
Homemade pizza gives you more liberty to use your desired ingredient for the dough. You can choose whole-grain flour and mix few herbs to enhance the flavor of the crust. Individuals allergic to gluten can choose from soy, rice, sorghum, potato or bean flour to make the dough. For more information on gluten-free foods, please visit the website www.firsteatright.com.
Sauce: Though tomato sauce contains calcium and the disease-fighting lycopene, it is also high in sodium. Order for low-sodium options (if available) while eating outside and make your own sauce when preparing the pizza at home. The simplest way to make your pizza sauce is to use tomato puree with some oregano and garlic. This way, you get your dose of Vitamin C while avoiding excess sodium consumption.
Vegetables: Load your pizza with every colorful veggie possible to make it tasty and nutritious. Sprinkle some baby corns, color bell peppers, onions, egg plants, tomatoes, zucchini, pineapples, apples and olives onto your healthy crust. You can even add boiled chick peas, rich in proteins, as a topping.
Cheese: Don’t overload the pizza with extra cheese. Use minimum mozzarella cheese and avoid pepperoni or sausage to cut down on the saturated fat content. If you are eating out, request for a minimum-cheese pizza with mozzarella instead of Parmesan.
Meats: Preparing a pizza at home helps you skip the high-fat meats and allows you to top the pizza with your kid’s favorite vegetables. While eating out, choose from healthy protein options such as chicken, bacon or beef.
Herbs and Spices: Finally, top the pizza with herbs and spices to make the meal appetizing. Go for fresh or dried herbs such as oregano, basil, rosemary, chives, thyme, savory or parsley. Red chili flakes can be used for the ‘extra spicy’ effect. Whichever maybe the option you choose, the rule of thumb is that one teaspoon of dried herbs is equivalent to one tablespoon of fresh herbs.
Though eating out will not allow you to make too many modifications to your pizza, you can prepare your own aromatic pizza with all the nutrition and good health. Most of the toppings are gluten-free and you can choose them liberally. Take extra caution while selecting cheese and herbs for the pizza to ensure that they are gluten free.
Pizza can be an excellent meal option for your little one as it contains foods from all the food groups added onto it. Surprise your children with creative pizza recipes that are sure to impress their taste buds as well as satisfy the nutrition quotient. Next time your child wishes for a pizza, you can bet that they would not require Dominos or Pizza Hut to fulfill their desire, but they would be waiting for Mama’s pizza!
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Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz of First Eat Right clinic, is the Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Bangalore. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Pune. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Hyderabad. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Chennai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Mumbai. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Delhi. Best Dietitian Nutritionist in Kolkata.