Country music sweetheart Carrie Underwood admits this month that two of her biggest food vices are "pasta and pizza—oh, buddy!" But who says that they have to be vices? I argue that you can actually eat both all of the time while staying fit and healthy. For fewer groans on the scale, try one (or a few!) of these five tricks on for size:
1. Use whole wheat crusts or dough.
This is kind of obvious, but I always go this route. Choosing whole wheat over white can boost the fiber content of a pie by 50 percent, leaving me a lot more satisfied with less.
2. Buy incredibly filling pasta.
Penne with vodka sauce just seems to want to be consumed by the (big) bowl. But maybe I wouldn't even be able to finish it all if, say, the nutritional facts on the back of that penne didn't have less than 1 gram of fiber per serving? More fiber translates to maximum satiety, so I often stalk down products that have obscene amounts of it. Pasta is no exception. Like pizza crust/dough, whole wheat pasta is a great choice!
But some types are waaay more filling than others. For instance, Ronzoni Healthy Harvest pastas have about 6 grams. Even better: FiberGourmet pastas, which somehow pack 18-20 grams of fiber into 2 oz. of pasta. Plus, a serving is only 120 calories and 1 gram of fat. And it actually tastes amazing! I know, right? You can thank me later.
3. Top your pie with a harvest.
My boyfriend jokes that when we go out to eat, I order and then ask, "Could you dump an entire garden on top of my dish?" Well, I just figure that pizza and pasta become a better-for-you meal when you pile on a liberal amount of greens (or hey, even fruit—like pears!). I like using eggplant, yellow squash, zucchini, olives, all different colors and varieties of onions and peppers ... I have even made a pie with all of those. No, I'm not kidding. Yes, it was delicious. And healthier, too!
4. Experiment with different or no sauce.
Who says that pizza and pasta require tomato-based or creamy sauces to be tasty? A basic recipe sans pre-made sauce can be even more decadent. Try part-skim mozzarella topped with fresh basil and tomato slices. Or a pasta dish filled with chicken, veggies (I like broccoli), and a sprinkle of Parmesan and balsamic vinegar to taste.
5. Embrace pizza as a snack.
Sometimes I find it's just better to mix-and-match ingredients for a small pizza fix. Maybe Monday at 3 p.m., I can toast up a whole grain tortilla from Trader Joe's topped with a little four-cheese sauce (mmm), a generous sprinkle of shaved asiago, and artichokes. And Wednesday, I'll try a whole-wheat English muffin with a shmear of pesto, light mozzarella, and a couple of sliced cherry tomatoes. Nom ...
How do you healthy-ize your pizza and pasta?
Image via Women's Health