Healthy pizza and why to avoid it

Posted on July 31, 2012


What’s your flavour?

Hold the front page. The world has finally created what we’ve all been waiting for. No, it’s not calorie-free chocolate. It’s not hangover-less wine. It’s a healthy pizza.

While we sent man to the moon half a century ago, it has taken this long to make a nutritionally balanced pizza. Thank goodness it’s finally here. We all know what appalling chemicals are in those nasty takeaway pizzas that taste so damn delicious.

I think they’ve missed the point a little bit. As I’ve discussed before, I do have a soft spot for pizza and feel accordingly guilty. But when I want a pizza, I want to indulge. I know it’s not good for me, and I accept that as I select each slice. The idea of healthy pizza doesn’t fill me with joy at that guilt being alleviated. It fills me with a feeling that it will be somewhat unsatisfactory. And I’ll have bought it from the frozen aisle, something I object to unless I’m buying ice cream.

But the whole point of this pizza is that it’s nutritionally balanced. I make pizza from scratch far more often than I buy it. While I’ve never actually counted the calories, I generally feel that things made from fresh ingredients are likely to be less bad for me. Is it really that difficult to make a fresh pizza meeting the guideline daily nutrition amounts?

I thought not. But when I tried to create a recipe showing this, I ran into difficulties even making the base. That takes up so many carbs that you pretty much run out of allocation by the time you get to the veggies. (Which have, by the way, quite a heavy number of carbs – albeit alongside a load of nutritional goodness.)

As per the article on this godly pizza, let’s assume we’re looking for 30% of GDA for our meal. We’ll also base it on male intake to give a bit more leeway. This gives maximums of:

  • 750 calories
  • 16.5g protein
  • 90g carbohydrate, of which sugars 36g
  • 28.5g fat, of which saturates 9g
  • 7.2g fibre
  • 0.72g sodium (1.8g salt equivalent)

On a very rough calculation, this pizza dough recipe will create the following nutritional values (per pizza, the recipe is for six pizzas): 403 calories; 12.75g protein; 75.9g carbs; 5.85g fat (0.21g sats); 3.85g fibre; 1g salt. And that’s with the caveats of leaving out the milk (you don’t need it, you can add more water if it’s too dry) and halving the salt content.

Even with this, try to make a sauce and you spill over the carb limit before you’ve even opened your tin of tomatoes.

But I don’t care.

I have no interest in this so-called nutritionally balanced pizza. I really do believe that things made from scratch – even if it does end up not quite so balanced – is better since you know what’s going in it. A ‘healthy’ pizza is never going to be a proper alternative to those after a Pizza Hut binge. But a decent home-made pizza, minus the chemicals but full of veggie goodness in the sauce and maybe a cheeky slice of pepperoni, will (almost) always win in my book.

Image from freakgirl‘s Flickr photostream.

Posted in: cuisine