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    Archive for the ‘pizza’ Category

    A Giveaway Any Pizza Maker Will Love

    header-rustic-crust-logoI often receive puzzled looks when I mention that pizza can be a very healthy meal.  Most people who express surprise must imagine I am talking about fast-food pizzas — their thick and doughy white flour crusts, the massive globs of cheese, the piles of pepperoni and sausage on top.

    As with many other dishes, the easiest way to consume a healthier pizza is making it at home, and a healthy crust is key.  In this latest giveaway, I am happy to offer the opportunity for three of you to try my favorite pizza crusts for free!

    The folks at Rustic Crust will graciously provide three winners of this giveaway with two coupons (or online coupon codes) for free ready-made pizza crusts.

    Not only are these crusts flavorful and crispy, they are also a wonderful base for healthy pizza.  Although you will have the entire line of products at your disposal, here are the crusts I strongly recommend:

    • Ultimate Whole Grain (4 grams fiber per slice)
    • Organic Great Grains (my absolute favorite; 5 grams of fiber per slice, omega-3s from flaxseed)

    Gluten-free?  No worries.  Rustic Crust offers a “Napoli Herb” crust that does not contain any gluten or wheat.

    To enter this giveaway:

    1. Send an e-mail to “andy@andybellatti.com” with the subject line “Rustic Crust Giveaway” anytime between 12:01 AM (Pacific Standard Time) on Friday, August 13, 2010 and 11:59 PM (Pacific Standard Time) on Sunday, September 12, 2010.
    2. Only one e-mail entry per person.  Multiple e-mail entries do not increase chances of winning.
    3. You may increase your chance of winning (equivalent to a second entry) by sharing the link to this giveaway on Twitter or Facebook.  For Twitter, you must include “via @andybellatti” in your tweet.  For Facebook, please notify me via e-mail when you share this link on your wall.
    4. Winners will be selected at random on Sunday, September 12, 2010 and will be contacted by me via e-mail.
    5. Winners must reside in the United States.

    Good luck!

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    You Ask, I Answer: Blotting Pizza

    1ac994d5f3191bc6_pizza-blotI need to ask you something that has been bugging me for a few years.

    Whenever I get a slice or two of pizza here in New York City, I always get some napkins and blot the surface.  It’s not that I am calorie-phobic, but a lot of pizzas seem way too greasy.

    The napkins always absorb a lot of liquid,so am I getting rid of a lot of calories this way?

    — Paul (last name withheld)
    New York, NY

    Pizza blotting is not a waste of napkins, but it also doesn’t decrease calorie content by that much.

    One of the problems with your specific situation (where you are ordering a slice of pizza that had been cooked earlier in the day, which is then reheated) is that most of the fat in the cheese has already been absorbed.

    The most successful blotting occurs with fresh pizzas right out of the oven, which contain more liquified fat on the surface.

    In your case, you are removing anywhere from 2 to 4 grams of fat (18 to 36 calories) from your slice.  Blotting a fresh-out-of-the-oven slice could result in the removal of up to 50 calories.

    Remember, though, that most New York City pizza slices are outrageously big.  A plain cheese slice can clock in at 800 calories!

    PS: You can save roughly 100 calories by leaving the end portion of the crust on your plate.  I find that a good number of pizza places have tasteless, overly doughy crusts that aren’t worth the calories.

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      In The News: Surprise! A Faddish, Unhealthy Diet Gets Press

      img_PizzaKingEarlier this morning, New York City-based dietitian Keri Gans Tweeted a link to this article on the Tampa Bay FOX affiliate website.

      The piece, titled “Eat nothing but pizza, and lose weight?” is all shades of horrible.

      In summary, a man by the name of Matt McClellan (who, oh so coincidentally, owns a pizza shop) went on a 30-day, 2,500-calorie “nothing but pizza” diet and significantly reduced his weight, body fat percentage, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels.

      Sigh.  Let’s dissect a few things.

      “He eats eight slices total for a full day of nutrition. That’s 2,500 calories.”

      Alright.  If a steady diet of 2,500 calories resulted in 25 pounds of weight loss over the course of a month (which, personally, sounds exaggerated), then what we are looking at is not “pizza makes you thin”, but rather the ever-classic “eat less, lose weight.”

      Keri Gans’ comment when posting this link on Twitter was, “I wonder what he was eating before.”

      Precisely!  If Mr. McClellan’s regular diet consisted of 3,800 calories a day, then, yes, 2,500 calories (no matter what food it comes from) WILL result in weight loss.

      “Matt says he boosted his good cholesterol and lowered the bad and dropped 25 pounds.”

      Again, this is regardless of the pizza.  The improved cholesterol and blood pressure levels can simply be attributed to the weight loss.

      PS: Had Mr. McClellan’s 2,500-calorie diet consisted of healthy fats, he would have probably seen even more changes with his blood cholesterol levels.

      “He also boosted his workouts to 60 minutes a day, every day. One day, Matt does cardio; the next he works with weights.”

      Bingo!  So, in essence, we have someone who is consuming fewer calories and exercising more.  So… why am I supposed to be surprised that this led to weight loss and a healthier blood lipid profile?

      “In the future, Matt says he’ll publish a book on his pizza diet plan and wants to tour the country in an RV to promote it. Matt hopes to challenge Subway’s Jared to prove pizza can be the healthiest fast food on the planet.”

      No, thanks.

      The problem with these senseless diets is that they focus solely on weight loss, rather than total nutrition.

      A significant reduction in calories will always result in weight loss.  However, an unbalanced meal plan (such as a 30-day pizza-fest) does not fully meet vitamin and mineral requirements.

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      Someone Didn’t Get The Trans Fat Memo…

      totinosOver the past few years, food companies scrambled to remove trans fat from as many of their products as possible (or, at the very least, get it below 0.5 grams per serving so the nutrition label can display a shopper-friendly, yet deceptive, zero.)

      The folks at General Mills, however, took a different route with their Totino/Jeno’s line of frozen pizzas.

      Three years ago, they  tacked on additional trans fat to their product by replacing real cheese with a synthetic-and-real-cheese combo.

      As a result, a single serve frozen “Crisp ‘n Tasty” cheese pizza packs in SIX grams of trans fat.  The Supreme variety, meanwhile, contributes 4.5 grams of trans fat to your day.

      Remember, trans fat guidelines call for as minimal consumption as possible (preferrably, zero grams a day).  Looser guidelines cap daily intake at a mere two grams.

      Food companies’ use of trans fat is not about improving taste (New York City fast food consumers were unable to tell a difference once the trans fat ban went into effect).  It’s simply about cost reduction.

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      Numbers Game: "R" Rated Pizza

      A pepperoni pizza off the Uno Chicago Grill’s kids’ menu contains _______ calories, _________ milligrams of sodium, and _____ grams of saturated fat.

      (NOTE: The “12 and under” population this menu is intended for should consume no more than 2,000 milligrams of sodium and 17 grams of saturated fat a day.)

      a) 800/2,060/18
      b) 1,200/1,420/14

      c) 650/1,900/10

      d) 900/2,300/15

      Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Friday for the answer.

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      Numbers Game: Answer

      A slice of Domino’s deep dish cheese pizza contains 95 more calories than a slice of their thin crust cheese pizza.

      I purposefully posted this item to prove the point that even when faced with fast food options, there is always a healthier choice.

      If we’re talking about eating two slices of pizza, the deep dish variety contributes a total of 190 extra calories than a thin crust version!

      And what to do if your next office meeting offers nothing but deep dish pizza?

      Make another smart choice — leave the end crust (about 50 – 60 calories per slice) on your plate.

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      Off-the-Road Minefields

      I was down in Maryland this past weekend, meaning I took full advantage of the road trip to examine some highway food offerings!

      Let’s start with Wawa, a convenience store not unlike 7-11 with slightly over 500 branches spread throughout New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia.

      Although healthy fare (i.e.: fresh fruit cups, fruit and cheese trays, soy crisps, as well as raw veggies and hummus trays) is available, the items on the “best avoided” list mean business.

      A Wawa coffee cake muffin, for instance, clocks in at 711 calories and 51 grams (12.75 teaspoons) of added sugar.

      Interested in the large (6 oz) side order of meatballs in a cup? You’re talking 548 calories, two days’ worth of saturated fat (41 grams!), and almost a day’s worth of sodium (1,788 mg!).

      Cinnabon is another “standout. A classic individual bun adds up to 710 calories and a day’s worth of saturated fat.

      If you’re in a daring mood, why not opt for a 900 calorie Caramel Pecanbon (a standard Cinnabon “topped with pecans and smothered with rich caramel”)?

      Or, you could always be reasonable and — if the cinnamon aroma has you in a trance — order a 300 calorie “Minibon” (bonus points for sharing half with someone else!).

      Over at Sbarro’s, portions are HUGE — and so are the calorie numbers.

      A Philly cheesesteak stuffed pizza (WHO comes up with these items?) delivers an 830 calorie punch along with 2,000 milligrams of sodium (you only need an additional 10% to reach your recommended daily limit,) while a single slice of deep dish spinach, broccoli, and tomato pizza provides 710 calories and two thirds of the daily sodium limit.

      Your best bet here as far as a pizza meal goes is a slice of the thin crust cheese variety (although it provides 1,050 milligrams of sodium, it contains less than 500 calories) accompanied with a lightly dressed garden salad.

      Skip the 560 calorie cheesecake and reach for a 130 calorie fruit salad instead.

      So are we in agreement that being a truck driver may just be the least healthy profession in this country?

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      Props to Papa

      Three cheers to Papa John’s for being the first pizza chain in the country to offer a 100% whole grain crust.

      The new whole wheat variety, available as of May 26, even boasts the Whole Grains Council’s “100% whole grain” stamp.

      Whereas a regular slice of Papa John’s pizza contributes a measly 2 grams of fiber to your day, a slice of a whole wheat crust variety provides a whooping 5 grams — all from whole grains (no sprinkled soy dust here!).

      Keeping in mind that, on average, people have two slices, that adds up to a total of 10 grams of fiber in a meal from the crust alone– almost half of the daily recommendation.

      Of course, it’s worth remembering that we are still talking fast food pizza here.

      I would certainly not list it as my first — or second or third — choice for someone looking to increase their fiber content (after all, two slices of Papa John’s whole wheat Italian Meats pizza add up to 660 calories, three quarters of a day’s worth of saturated fat and a day’s worth of sodium), but I am very happy to see a fast food chain make a real effort to help consumers get their share of whole grains.

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      Pizza For One; Saturated Fat and Sodium for More!

      The folks at DiGiorno — those of the “it’s not delivery, it’s DiGiorno” commercials — have launched individual-sized frozen pizzas.

      Hmmm.

      They appear to have no problem with someone consuming:

      590 calories
      11 grams of saturated fat (55% of a day’s worth)
      1,170 milligrams of sodium (half a day’s worth)

      … in one sitting.

      Not surprisingly, fiber shows up at a paltry 3 grams (that’s basically one gram per 200 calories!)

      Those values are equivalent to what you get from three slices of Domino’s pepperoni pizza.

      I am not a huge fan of frozen pizzas (I like to buy ready-to-bake Rustic Crust whole grain crust and make my own), if single-person ones are on your grocery list, I recommend:

      Earth’s Best (380 calories, 6 grams saturated fat, 760 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber)
      or
      Lean Cuisine (320 calories, 2.5 grams saturated fat, 540 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber).

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      Numbers Game: Pizzeria Oh-No

      An individual (advertised for one person) four cheese pizza from Uno Chicago Grill (formerly known as Pizzeria Uno) provides _______ calories, ______ grams of saturated fat, and _______ milligrams of sodium

      (NOTE: Saturated fat consumption should not exceed 20 grams per day, and the maximum daily sodium limit is set at 2,400 milligrams)

      a) 1,650/35/1,190
      b) 1,340/28/1,800
      c) 1,920/39/2,760

      d) 2,150/32/2,400

      Leave your guess in the “comments” section and come back on Wednesday for the answer!

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      Would You Like Some Pizza On Your Fiber?

      Despite living in New York City — home of the much-talked-about Brooklyn pizza — where I am two or three blocks away from a “by the slice” mom and pop pizza place at any given moment, I am a fan of my homemade pizzas.

      I like tailoring the sauce to my own tastes, mixing in plenty of roasted garlic, oregano, pepper, and basil, and creating a wonderful aromatic blend.

      Given my interest in nutrition and love of whole grains, my pizzas are always made with ready-made Rustic Crust Old World organic Great Grains whole grain pizza crusts.

      The crispy, delicious flatbread is made entirely of whole grains and has a subtle olive flavor that adds to its appeal.

      An entire pizza crust — which can easily feed two or three — boasts an amazing 35 grams of fiber and absolutely no added sugars, trans fats, or genetically modified ingredients.

      Next time you’re in the mood for some pizza, kiss the phone goodbye and say hello to your oven.

      With a Small Bites approved organic Rustic Crust Old World Great Grains readymade pizza crust, some sauce, and cheese, you’re a mere 10 minutes away from a delicious, healthy meal.

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