I’m very pleased to welcome Tracy Olgeaty Gensler, MS, RD (that’s short for registered dietitian). She is a nationally-known expert on nutrition who works with fitness guru Bob Greene. (Wow!) She is originally from this area, and has kindly offered to share her expertise with us here! I will be asking her questions, some serious ones, and some a little sillier, just for fun. I hope to make this a regular feature here.
Dave: Everyone thinks pizza is junk food, what’s the verdict: healthy or not? In fact, right now I’m thinking of ordering up my favorite, Triple Bacon with Chocolate sauce. Isn’t that the healthiest kind of pizza?
Tracy: Some people associate pizza with a less-than-healthy meal, and stuffed crusts and extra cheese won’t do much for your waistline, or your arteries, but you can make pizza a regular part of your diet.
Order Up a Healthier Pizza
With healthier options available for many restaurant pizzas, you can get a boost of fiber from whole wheat crust or a generous serving of vegetables by requesting toppings such as eggplant, spinach, green peppers, tomatoes, onions and mushrooms.
Check out nutrition facts online for your favorite pizza. Look for less than 300 calories and a maximum of 4 g saturated fat per slice.
Rethink your toppings when making a pizza at home
Substitute large amounts of cheese for a a limit of 1 oz per slice of pizza. Select 2% shredded cheese and try a new flavor such as Mexican blend or pepper jack.
Use a low fat turkey sausage instead of a high fat sausage.
Try veggie pepperoni instead of the real thing.
Load up on vegetables and make these the centerpiece of your pizza. Try eggplant, spinach, onions, leeks, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, beets or pretty much any other vegetable that is good roasted. To roast your vegetables, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, coat a baking sheet with cooking spray, arrange the sliced veggies so they don’t overlap, sprinkle with your favorite fresh or dried herbs, and roast for 20 minutes. Then, arrange the roasted veggies on a pizza crust with sauce and cheese, or just add the veggies with a drizzle of olive oil, and bake according to the directions on your package.
Limit sodium if using a jarred sauce, choose a sauce that is no more than 400 mg of sodium per 1/2 cup. The lycopene in tomato sauce is good for you too, studies suggest that lycopene is associated with a reduced incidence of cancer, cardiovascular disease and macular degeneration.
Try a whole wheat crust (I know, it takes a little getting used to, but your taste buds will adjust!).
Serve with a big green salad topped with a drizzle of olive oil and vinegar (for some extra protein, top your salad with some flaked salmon, roasted chicken or a few nuts) and you’ve got the easiest dinner around!