Professor Mike Lean of Britain’s Glasgow University, in conjunction with a businessman by the name of Donnie MacLean decided that a more nutritionally sound ready-made pizza was needed because (a) people love pizza and eat a lot of it and (b) most pizzas are way too high in calories, saturated fat and salt (c) though you can make a healthier one from scratch – most people want convenience.
The two man team actually started their research by looking at the top five commercially prepared meals that were being purchased in Scotland. All five were too high in salt and saturated fat and just not nutritionally sound. So an idea was born to try to reconfigure the first of the five – pizza – by changing its nutritional profile. They did want to make sure that they kept sugar, unhealthy fat and salt in check, while choosing healthier offerings from each of the food groups, without sacrificing taste. So what ingredients did they turn to, and what nutrients did they add to the pizza?
- Salt levels were reduced by using seaweed, which has a lower sodium content, and adds iodine and vitamin B12.
- Red pepper was mixed into the tomato base to add vitamin C and robust taste.
- Magnesium, potassium, folate and vitamin A were also added.
- The reformulation of the pizzas also provide one third of a day’s recommended calories, protein and carbohydrates (remember some pizzas can have a day’s worth of calories and more than a days worth of salt and fat depending on the toppings).
The researchers did note that freezing the pizzas helped to better preserve taste, and the price point was kept on par with the cost of a fresh pizza. Despite the higher price, the men feel there is a niche for their product and plan on moving on to a reconfiguration of fish, chips (French fries) and curry blends.
Of course, if you are willing to make a fresh pizza, you can buy healthier pizza pie crusts made from whole grain, use reduced sodium tomato sauce and boost its nutrient content by adding pureed steamed veggies; use part skim cheeses and use a lighter hand when adding the cheese and even add healthy protein toppings like beans, grilled shrimp. You can also use sautéed vegetables to bulk up fiber, and even allow family members to “personalize” their healthy selections by setting up a "pizza bar." Make the pizza pie a family affair…….a healthy one that is!!
(Some information sourced from foodmanufacturer.co.uk)