What Everybody Needs To Know About Pizza

March 29, 2012   42 Comments

Back to the black and white photo for a discussion about pizza. Why did I choose black and white?

Unhealthy Pizza

I don't want you to fall in love with how delicious it looks AND I want you to think about pizza differently. Pizza does look strange in black and white doesn't it?

Back in the prehistoric period, there was pizza that had cheese, sauce, and an assortment of toppings such as pepperoni, mushrooms, and anchovies. Now, you can find pizza with the craziest ingredients.

This slice was purchased at my town's famous pizzeria, Antonio's Pizza. I asked the poor slave working behind the counter which slice was the most popular. Guess what he said?

Chicken, Bacon, Ranch!

And this is a slice of chicken, bacon, ranch pizza and I am just blown away by how Antonio's and Domino's managed to make pizza into a seriously unhealthy choice. Ranch dressing on a pizza? ouch.

One slice of regular cheese pizza (1/8th of a 14 inch pie) with a thin crust is 230 calories - chicken, bacon, ranch? 330 calories! Eating TWO slices of chicken, bacon, ranch is like eating THREE regular slices.

Pizza doesn't have to be like this.

We don't need Philly Cheese Steak pizza or Bacon Cheeseburger Pizza, or the incredibly unfathomable "MeatZZa Feast" pizza with an extra layer of cheese on top of the pepperoni, ham, sausage, and beef.

No, you can buck the trend and add VEGGIES to pizza and have a perfectly reasonable lunch or dinner.

There is nothing wrong with pizza and vegetables. Yes, there is CHEESE and CRUST, but you can get spinach, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, pineapple, olives, and tomatoes added to your pizza. YUM!

What does everybody need to know about pizza?

  • Order the thin crust
  • Get some veggies on that puppy
  • It already tastes amazing without ranch dressing (or bacon)

Please share your thoughts on unhealthy pizza.

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Thanks Snack Girl! Love your posts. And you are so right about pizza. I would add it tastes just as good with 1/2 the cheese they usually put. Have to get specific with the Pizza man. One time I requested 1/2 the cheese and they put full cheese on 1/2 the pizza and none on the other!

But isn't this just like so many other fast food inventions? It's hard to have a day go by that we don't see some new way that the fast food industry has added calories either by some wild combination of bad-for-you foods or by increasing portion size. I suggest a post on some of these kinds of things, which it seems pretty much every fast food restaurant (and such chains as TGIF and the like) have come up with in recent years. It's like fast food on steroids!

For me, I order my pizza with lots of veggies and ask to go light on the cheese! Or if I'm in a cheesy mood I get a Margarita Pizza. I love pizza so much, why can't the crust be healthier?

Thank you Snack Girl! My favorite pizza is thin crust piled high with veggies. If I'm going to splurge for pizza, I want to at least make it as healthy as I can

My husband and I bypass ALL fast food but I do make pizza at home because everyone loves pizza. I make my crust with cornmeal and white whole wheat flour. I will often throw in some flax seed. I make an uncooked sauce with no sugar. Add lots of veggies, maybe some shrimp and voila!, healthy pizza

I hear you- Antonios is not a very healthy pizza place. BUT I don't think they pretend to be or aspire to be, and I think their target market is the 1 a.m. crowd when the bars let out and Antonios becomes "club sidewalk" for drunken college kids getting "hot cheese up front". I have many fond memories of Antonios (buffalo chicken was always my fav) but I would not be likely to stop there if I visited Amherst at this point in my life.

Some places will make a "cheese free" pizza, which can actually be quite tasty. Home Slice in Austin, TX makes GREAT pizza, including those w/just veggies and no cheese.

I've been following your blog for a long time and I love reading everything you post. :) Today's post reminded me of something I read in our local newspaper.…

I think the problem in our dietary choices is not ignorance. Most people can look at a pizza loaded with chicken, bacon and ranch dressing (and cheese!!) is bad for you. Something that sounds that good can't possibly be good for your health. Unfortunately, many people, even knowing that it's bad for your health, will eat it anyway because it tastes good. Not to say that traditional pizza with tomato sauce, vegetable and even a little pepperoni isn't good. But chicken, bacon and ranch is just better.

I think there's something to be said about making your own version of "bad pizzas". I think if you make it at home with multi-grain crust, go light on the cheese, ranch dressing and bacon, but with lots of veggies, you can still have this unhealthy version of pizza without feeling too guilty. And let's be honest too, ranch dressing and bacon both are highly flavourful. So you won't need a lot of it anyway. The pizza would still be a treat without clogging an artery along the way.

One funny thing about me is that I can't STAND chicken on pizza. I'm kind of a traditionalist. Give me sausage or pepperoni and load up on the veggies!

My husband is all about the meat and less or no veggies.

We usually have to get different pizzas or half-and-half. :-)

Honestly, I'm more concerned about the amount of sodium in pizza than anything else. I'm resorting to making pizza at home with homemade sauces on low carb flatbread.

When my husband and I started dieting, we tried to make healthy versions of dishes we already loved, and pizza was our first project. We started buying thin crusts (Mama Mary's), sauce, turkey pepperoni, fresh mushrooms, olives... And just enough cheese to hold the toppings together. The unhealthy thing about pizza is over-crusting and over-cheesing. You can keep a good, cheesy taste with about an eighth of the amount of cheese pizza places usually use c

I have always been a cheese only, regular crust, no toppings, pizza gal. Some of these new pizzas are insane. I can't remember the last time I went out for pizza or ordered one (actually, I can - there's an incredible pizza truck in DC called Pi Pizza and I'm crazy about their cornmeal crust, but that was more than a year ago). Maybe once or twice a month I make a pizza at home and split it with a friend or my boyfriend - Trader Joe's has the most amazing whole wheat pizza dough that I top with their pizza sauce and fresh mozz. I'm going to try making my own mozzarella in the next few weeks and perhaps my own sauce too, but that dough is just so yummy.

Antonio's is definitely novelty pizza. They make one that has tortellini on it, too, which always seemed a little carb-extreme to me. I think that most of the students who frequent Antonio's aren't thinking about the fat and calorie content of their chicken, bacon, ranch pizza. I'll admit that I didn't when I was at UMass.

*sigh* WHY did you have to post this particular post on a day when I have leftover pizza in the fridge calling my name???? LOL

Thanks for the reminder!

I rarely eat pizza, so I don't feel too bad indulging in it now and then. Usually I get veggies and one meat. Ranch dressing on a pizza sounds weird to me though! Just last night I tried making a pizza with pita bread. That would be my suggestion for a future post for Snack Girl. It came out pretty good, except the pita came out a little too crunchy, but I'd try it again.

I love pizza. Nowadays I usually get the frozen Red Baron cheese pizza because that's all my daughter will eat (the cheese part, Red Baron because it's the least expensive). I add some veggies to one side so I can eat it too. I know it's not that great, but it's still pizza. :) Someday I'll make my own pizza, even if it means buying the premade dough at the grocery store to start out until I'm brave enough to make my own.

The best and worst pizza I ever had was an Enzo - thin crust but then Italian bacon-like ham on a tomato sause and cheese base, doused with globs of heavy cream with a raw egg broken in its middle! Yumm, but oh dear those points. Must be in the thousands.

I have to admit that pizza is my downfall. I love pizza! I did decide a few years ago though that if I am going to eat it I will only get it from a real pizza place - no Little Ceasers, Dominoes etc for me. I am actually glad when my kids want to order from Dominoes cause I know I wont eat it!

My only complaint about a lot of veggies on pizza is that they make the crust soggy. Those veggies that have a high water content (green pepper, tomatoes, spinach) turn the crust to mush.

I always ask for light on the cheese. It helps reduce fat.

Yesterday I actually handmade a pizza and the crust was made out of cauliflower, so it was totally low carb! I used raw veggies on top with no cheese. It was fabulous, and I didn't feel bad eating it at all! Very healthy :)

I always make my pizza at home. I make whole wheat thin crust, and then top with tomato sauce, spinach, and goat cheese. My secret ingredient in fennel seed! A spice like that will add a lot of flavor while being completely guilt-free. Crushed red pepper, etc. will have a similar effect. There's no need for pizza to be boring!

It's things like "Chicken, Bacon, Ranch" that give pizza a bad rap. My mom always said pizza was healthy, because it can be! Man I love pizza. Is it dinnertime yet?

I made a really good veggie pizza last month, with a homemade whole wheat crust.…

This post and many of the comments have inspired me to craft a healthy pizza redux for my wife and me. (For months now, we've been doing low-fat, vegan a la Forks Over Knives/Esselstyn/Engine 2/MacDougall/et al.)

I'm thinking of starting with an Ezekiel tortilla (because I'm lazy and envious of you from-scratch whole-wheat dough makers!) + roasted veggies (I'm roasting broccoli and herbs de provence right now) + a little pasta sauce and see how close that comes to a flat-bread-style pizza.

This has made me hungry; I'd better get busy! :)

When we have pizza, it is almost always homemade, then I know exactly what's in it!

We typically get the DeLite pizzas at Papa Murphy's and bake it at home. Veggie or Mediterranean Chicken, etc are very reasonable calorie-wise. If you know of a healthier, lighter calorie slice, please tell us which chain that is!

Yay! As it happens I am making homemade pizza tonight. You've inspired me to make mine with extra veggies.

I understand where you're coming from, Snack Girl (and I love this website, btw), but... Pizza's a "meat" thing (to me, anyway).

I have a rule about pizza: Vegetables and fruit (pineapple?!) do not belong on it. Sure, I have a few exceptions; I can *tolerate* mushrooms and olives. Otherwise, bring on the meat.

I do not eat pizza often, but when I do, I want to truly enjoy it and, frankly, spoil myself. Veggies just unfavorably distract me from the true flavor that pizza — in my opinion — is meant to be.

Obviously there are plenty that disagree with my stance, but that's my 2¢. :)

I love pizza and could eat it 24/7. The portabella mushroom pizza with the fire roasted tomatoes and fresh mozzarella cheese that was posted a while ago has been a great substitute. Even my friend, who's one of the pickiest eaters I know, likes it.

in Michigan there is a whole grain flat bread that many of us in Weight Watcher's buy, it's called Paramount Bread. The low-carb multi-grain version is only ONE POINT. It is large, dense and is the PERFECT base for putting healthy options to make your own pizza!

LOVE your idea of using black and white. Pizza suddenly lost all appeal. If only we could put on special "eating glasses" that made all the food black and white ... we'd all eat more sensibly ...

Unfortunately, we are a "cheese" society. There seems to be cheese on everything. And it's not just little cheese, it's tons and tons of cheese. So many people seem to think the more cheese something has, the better it will taste. I, personally, am not a big fan of cheese (unless it's brie or feta). So, when I order something without cheese or "easy cheese" I normally get a funny look and then receive the food I ordered with tons of cheese anyway. 9 out of 10 times, I don't get the cheeseless burger or the easy cheese pizza I ordered. It's almost as if people think I didn't mean what I said, that deep down I must really want cheese...lots and lots of it. Most of the time, I just give up and resort to either scraping the cheese off or pulling part of it off the pizza. Seriously, some of us just don't want the cheese!

Pizza is a treat but I always get one with veggies, more often than not I make homemade pizza. Just the other day I made a pizza with a crust of cauliflower, it tasted exactly like regular pizza, so yummy!

I just subscribed to your web-site and love the healthy tips. While I've gotten healthier as I've gotten older, I still enjoy an occasional splurge on a great restaurant pizza, but at home my pizza of choice is a whole wheat pita topped with my favorite healthy toppings and lots of veggies. If you have a family everyone can have select their own toppings and the kids will love to top their own crust with yummy kid friendly choices.

Debbie, please post the recipe for your healthy crust and sauce! I'm on the lookout for a fool-proof (seriously, this is from an Italian-American who fails to replicate the family recipe) method to make homemade pizza. Help!

I agree that there is no need for Bacon Chicken Ranch-type pizzas.

But what on earth is wrong with CHEESE?

I might even go so far as to argue that a reasonable portion of thin whole-wheat crust, topped with tomato sauce, part-skim mozzarella and veggies is actually a pretty healthy meal. Whole grain, dairy, and vegetables.

We love pizza. Honestly, we use to eat it once a week. We don't eat it that often now but it is still in the rotation a couple of times a month. About 75% of the time we make our own and order out 25% of the time.

When we order out from local, real pizza shops, we get extra sauce, vegetables only or vegetables and grilled chicken, and light cheese. Because all those vegetables can make the crust mushy, we always specify well done.

Our grocery store sells pizza dough balls they make in their bakery. They are fresh, real ingredients and cheap - often going on sale for 10 for $10. We buy extra and freeze them. They are really good. We find the key is to use really good cheese (buffalo mozzarella), fresh herbs, and other really good ingredients (usually fresh veggies and sometimes pancetta or prosciutto).

I can't even think about eating some of the stuff some of the chains around here make. One of them sells pizza with macaroni & cheese on it! Now, I love mac & cheese but come on! I think it is a national chain. They have the all you can eat buffet for something like $5. I was dragged there once for a work thing. It was disguting. $5 gets you lots of low grade, low quality, artificial "food." (It might not be $5 anymore. It was when I went there years ago. I know they advertise $5 for take out deals.) One night a week, kids eat free. I drive by and the place is always packed with cars lining up to get in. It boggles my mind that parents take their kids on a regular basis to eat "hog fest" and mac & cheese pizza with dessert pizza for dinner. Of course kids should have treats once and a while but I don't think a weekly trip to this place should be it.

Bravo for your posting on pizza Snack Girl. I subscribe to your "points" about ordering pizza. Am having homemade this evening: Mushroom,Zuchini & Swiss cheese & a touch of Parmesan -- yummo!

Our solution to fattening, over priced pizza is to make it at home. It's actually really easy and tastes awesome.

Making ur own pizza at home is the healthiest option. you can use whole wheat flour, whole wheat pitta bread or whole wheat tortilllas. add light or little cheese and loads of veggies. for added protein (if u want; cheese already contains the needed protein) add lean chicken,meat or fish and voila! your healty pizza to share

If you make your own at home, you can put the dry ranch dressing mix in your dough and get an awesome ranch taste cooked in!

Re. to Esther on March 29, 2012

I think there's something to be said about making your own version of "bad pizzas". I think if you make it at home with multi-grain crust, go light on the cheese, ranch dressing and bacon, but with lots of veggies, you can still have this unhealthy version of pizza without feeling too guilty. And let's be honest too, ranch dressing and bacon both are highly flavourful. So you won't need a lot of it anyway. The pizza would still be a treat without clogging an artery along the way.

Esther on March 29, 2012


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