Pizza is one of my favorite foods. There is nothing I love more than a thin, crispy crust (preferably the nutty flavor of one made with whole grains), tomato sauce infused with oregano and roasted garlic, and a few pieces of fresh buffalo mozzarella and wilted spinach on top.
When made with fresh, healthy ingredients (and not smothered in cheese), pizza is far from the "junk food" category. When I make pizza at home, I buy a pre-made crust made entirely of whole grains and use unsalted tomato sauce and unsalted fresh mozarella.
When I made my first one, I was afraid my dinner guests would spit it out in disgust. Quite the contrary -- I got a number of compliments. See, the sodium in the crust provides enough salty flavor, and the variety of condiments (oregano, pepper, garlic, extra virgin olive oil) I used to condiment the sauce gave it a vivid taste.
Unfortunately, this inoffensive treat can become a nutritional nightmare when you leave it in the hands of a fast food company.
Consider Pizza Hut's Meat Lover's pizza.
Say you and your friends get together and order a 12" pie. One mere slice provides:
35% of the recommended maximum daily intake of saturated fat
1 gram of trans fat (the limit is set at 2 grams a day)
50% of the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium
If what you're sharing is a 14" "stuffed crust" pie, then each slice contains:
60% of the recommended maximum daily intake of saturated fat
2 grams of trans fat
75% of the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium
Meanwhile, if you're going solo and enjoying a 6" personal pan Meat Lover's pizza, you're taking in:
90% of the recommended maximum daily intake of saturated fat
105% of the recommended maximum daily intake of sodium
What to do if you're craving a pizza and your only options are the fast food type?
First, let crust be crust. Stuffing it with cheese only provides more calories, saturated fat, and sodium.
If you have the option, select a thin crust. This will also help cut down on calories.
When it comes to toppings, aim for fresh vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, onions, or even extra garlic.
Start off with an appetizer. Since pizza can be eaten very quickly, it can be easy to down three or four 300-calorie slices before feeling full. Best option? Start off with a soup or salad and then enjoy your pizza.