Eating is not just about nutrition—it’s about an experience.
Traditional foods like pizza give us joy. ;ese are special
foods that unite us as families. It gives us satisfaction and
the good vibes of a shared meal.”
Zych adds that pizza—especially the kind you purchase
at an independent pizzeria o;ering specialty choices with
a focus on vegetables and lean protein—can be a consci-
entious food choice for the whole family. “It’s completely
possible to enjoy pizza and be calorie-conscious,” she says.
“It’s not hard to make pizza part of a reasonable and bal-
anced meal. A couple of slices of pizza with a salad or some
fruit and a nonsugary drink o;er a nutritious option.”
It all comes down to portion control and personal
responsibility, Zych believes. “If the consumer is trying to
reduce calories, I recommend a thinner crust and adding
vegetables,” she says. “It’s also a good idea that pizza is
not the only food served.”
Teaching children about nutrition, Zych continues,
is the parents’ job. “Parents are in charge of what their
kids eat,” she says. “Depending on age appropriateness,
children can wash and chop the ingredients for your pizza.
Vegetables, like spinach, broccoli and cauliflower, can add
color and texture as well as flavor and nutrition to your
pizza. Stronger-tasting cheeses like feta and goat’s cheese
are great because you can use less and add robust flavor.
For traditionalists, olives are a healthy ingredient, and
so are mushrooms, onions and peppers. Lean meat like
chicken can o;er a good source of pizza protein.”
Better nutrition and a healthier diet starts at the family
table, Zych advises. “To have long-term impact on calorie
consumption, we simply need to eat slower,” she says.
“Savor that slice of pizza. Pay attention to what you’re
eating and enjoy every bite.”
Zych believes pizza can also be an ideal special-occasion
meal choice. “Instead of ordering out several times a week
from chains, I’d recommend patronizing mom-and-pop
pizza restaurants, where you’re more likely to get unique
choices with healthier toppings and crust.”
;e great pizza nutrition debate is sure to continue,
but there’s no disputing that America’s love a;air with
the time-tested combination of dough, sauce and cheesy
desire burns stronger than ever. Pizza, to put it plainly,
is good for you.
Andy Knef is PMQ’s associate editor.
Building a Better Body
Brian Hernandez, PMQ’s test chef, is on a mission to build a
better body with pizza. After years of struggling with his weight,
he met with Matt McClellan, owner of Tour De Pizza in Tampa,
Florida, and inventor of the 30-Day Pizza Diet, and started on an
extended 120-day version of the diet—along with a tough workout regimen—in late January. He also started blogging about the
experience at PMQ.com. “I wanted to help undo the negative
press that pizza gets these days,” Hernandez says. “Also, being
accountable to the entire nation is a great motivator.”
As of press time in early April, Hernandez had lost 22 pounds
and 3. 25” on his navel measurement eating mostly pizza for
every meal. “It’s been easier than expected,” he says. “I thought
I’d get tired of pizza quicker, but if you vary the menu up, it
stays fresh and new. Also, with the amount of water I have to
drink, I’m more full more of the time.”
Hernandez isn’t aiming for fast results—slow and steady wins
the weight loss. “I’m a big guy and will always be a big guy, but
I can feel comfortable in my own skin at 240 to 250 pounds. I
definitely feel I’m on track to get there. I’ll put it this way: I’ll
stay on track until I hit 245, then watch out, McDonald’s—I’m
ordering 15 Big Macs!” (He’s kidding, of course. We think.)
Follow Brian’s progress on his blog at brianspizzadiet.pmq.com.