A hot slice of pizza covered in melted, stringy cheese. Whether it’s for a midday meal or a late night snack, this perfect combination of bread, tomato sauce and cheese is often a quick and cheap way to fill an empty stomach. But before you take a bite of the fluffy dough, there are a few things we think you should know.
One slice of cheese pizza typically clocks in at about 200-300 calories, and certain variations can contain up to 600 calories. On average, you’ll consume 10g of fat, half of which is saturated. The hidden surprise: one slice has up to 500 mg of sodium (about a third of the daily recommended value). Top it off with 20g of cholesterol, and you have yourself a pretty unhealthy way to satiate 3 a.m. drunchies.
Try this instead…
1 whole-wheat tortilla/pita
1/4 cup tomato sauce or olive oil (use 1/2 if you prefer more sauce)
1/2 cup shredded low-fat mozzarella cheese
1. Top tortilla/pita with a generous amount of tomato sauce.
2. Sprinkle a handful of cheese on top and either toast or microwave until cheese is fully melted.
Think of it as a thin-crust pizzette. A whole-wheat tortilla ranges between 90-130 calories; it has no saturated fat or cholesterol. On average, it contains only 200mg of sodium (less than half that of regular pizza).
If you’re not into the thin-crust option, you can try a whole-wheat pita instead. It’s usually cholesterol free, but there is a trade-off: a whole-wheat pita contains between 1-2g of saturated fat. Yet at just over 100 calories, whole-wheat pitas are still a smart substitute for white flour bread. There’s no need to swap out the tomato sauce, though, as it is low in calories and is usually fat free. More importantly, tomato sauce is packed with potassium, a key nutrient that helps maintain a normal water balance and controls blood pressure. As for the cheese, most grocery stores sell low-fat shredded mozzarella; it tastes almost exactly the same as regular, but won’t leave you feeling nearly as guilty after an indulgence.
All in all, you can cut out 300 calories and 5g of fat from your diet by switching to this alternative recipe. You can find all the ingredients in any of the dining halls on campus, and feel free to customize your personal pizza by adding toppings like fresh tomatoes, lettuce and grilled chicken.
Stay tuned for the next “Eat This, Not That” for more simple tips to expand your culinary repertoire without expanding your waistline.