If I had to choose only one food to eat for the rest of my life with no consequences it would have to be pizza. Gooey mozzarella and tangy cheese on a crispy base every single day, with maybe added spinach and ricotta one day, chicken another, and a whole host of veggies the next day. Belissimo!
Realistically eating an entire Domino’s a day isn’t the best for you, but break pizza down into its component parts and you realise you can make a balanced meal out of it. Tomatoes and whatever vegetables your heart desires; protein from the meat, fish, or egg, should you choose a Fiorentina; fats to keep you full from the mozzarella; carbs to energise from the base. It’s just the imbalance of these nutrients that makes you unhealthy – too much cheese and the base can make you sluggish.
I was challenged by Exante Diet to create a different, healthy pizza a day using their pizza mix*. The mix is actually made for people on meal replacement diets to add into their regime but for someone training most days the base is pretty balanced, with 17g protein, 20g carbs and 5g of fat. I managed five days of different pizzas but – shockingly, considering my opening statement – I actually got sick of pizzas day after day. I was safe in the knowledge that the pizza bases were full of added vitamins and minerals, although this did make the ingredient list rather lengthy. I think it’s something you get used to when you use protein products like bars or whey, so I just make sure the rest of my diet has as few ingredients as possible – as in, just the ones I put in from scratch!
My first one was a bit of a disaster. Great on paper – spinach, avocado, egg – but stupidly I thought I could substitute tinfoil for the greaseproof paper in the instructions (you can’t, I had to mostly pick the base off the foil) and I also got distracted and left it in the oven for too long. It obviously still got eaten but a lesson was learned.
Next was the most pizza-like of the lot, and the only one I used the included tomato sauce with; it tasted too chemically for me so I left it afterwards and did my own thing. This one was mozzarella, spinach and Quorn sausages (top image), and was much enjoyed, although I didn’t get the base’s crispness quite right so ate with a knife and fork.
My greatest idea, if I do say so myself, was turning two bases into a large rectangle, and using them to make flatbread to take to uni. With the base being higher in protein than normal bread I didn’t have to worry about cramming with protein, so enjoyed filling them up with healthy fats like avocado and homemade hummus.
Finally, I had tomato paste, mozzarella and turkey bacon, and I managed to get the base suitably crispy, albeit I still ate with a knife and fork. Turkey bacon is always a winner for me so I definitely ended on a high note.
Now it’s a few days after my daily pizza experiment I’m craving another, so a balanced pizza for lunch it is. There’s no way I’d recommend a meal replacement diet, but these mini pizza bases with a mountain of veggies on top are perfect for days where you fancy a quick, nutritious lunch or even a snack on the go. Do remember, though, that all food should be part of a rich, balanced diet with additional exercise, so a full-fat pizza here and there won’t hurt in the slightest – and may even get your metabolism burning faster, timed right!