National Pizza Day
National Pizza Day on February 9th celebrates one of America’s all-time favorite foods. It’s hard to imagine that before World War II, we didn’t know what pizza was. Though flatbreads with toppings were consumed by ancient Egyptians, Romans, and Greeks, the modern birthplace of the pizza is southwestern Italy’s Campania region, home to Naples. Neapolitans required inexpensive food that could be consumed quickly. Pizza flatbreads with toppings that can be eaten for every meal fulfilled this need. These early pizzas featured tasty toppings such as tomatoes, cheese, oil, anchovies, and garlic. Not until the late 1940s, when immigrant workers came to the United States from Naples looking for work, did we begin replicating their flatbreads in New York and other American cities. They were coming for factory jobs but accidentally made a culinary statement. We can celebrate National Pizza Day whether it is thin crust, Chicago-style, deep dish, or anything in between.
Pizza is an all-time favorite! Pizza is usually synonymous with junk food, right next to burgers and fries. But it’s possible to build a healthier pie that still feels like a treat. Let’s build a pie with a healthier profile together.
Whether you’re ordering in or making the pizza yourself, go for a thin crust when you can. By going the thin-crust route, your main focus of the meal is the veggies, rather than the bread. You can make your own whole-grain crust with this quick and easy recipe. Each satisfying whole-grain slice will have extra fiber and protein.
Think of pizza as a scrumptious way to score heaps of veggies in one pan. Add as many vegetables as you can. They’re rich in vitamins and minerals, along with fiber!
Most pizza lovers will tell you that cheese is essential for a good pie. But still, it’s important to be smart about what cheese you add. The cheese will provide protein and calcium; simply be mindful of how much you’re adding, as it does have saturated fat, too. Go for a big flavor and fewer calories by using a combination of part-skim mozzarella, skim ricotta, sharp provolone, and naturally lower-fat Parmesan.
Meat lovers don’t have to lose out. Swap out fatty meats like pepperoni and pork sausage for thinly sliced (leaner) cuts of salami, turkey bacon, and chicken sausage.
Jarred pizza sauces are usually drowning in sodium and other preservatives. Making your own will instantly improve the quality of any pizza recipe. The red sauce makes pizza taste delicious, and it also delivers serious nutrients. The traditional red sauce will provide vitamins A and C along with the antioxidant lycopene. Think beyond red sauce and try to switch it up with pesto or some good olive oil and fresh garlic.
Pizza night isn’t just about the pie, it’s also about what you pair with your slices. Side dishes can play a big role in creating an overall balanced meal. Try a veggie appetizer like cut-up celery, cucumber, and carrots paired with a yogurt-based ranch dip or, a side salad before the pizza. Adding a healthy side will help mind your pizza portion as well.
Yes, you’ll want to consider what’s on your plate during pizza night but also think about the pace at which you eat. Savor the flavor of the food. Instead of shoveling in your food in a matter of minutes, slow down and enjoy the pizza. This can help with your portions. If you eat slowly, then you’ll realize when you’re full, without overdoing it. Your protein, grain, and vegetable are all in the pizza, so you can just eat slowly until satisfied.
February is American Heart Month, a time when everyone can focus on cardiovascular health. Join us in learning about the many different types of heart disease and how to start living a more heart-healthy life.
Krupa is our onsite registered dietitian and she is available to help Gatorcare members achieve a healthier lifestyle! It’s not about dieting or counting calories but rather building a healthier relationship with food.