Wednesday, October 20, 2010

In Defense of Pizza

Yes, you read that title right. And no, you don't need to start scrolling down to look for the Domino's ad. ;)
I'm really talking about the problem of calling very different things by the same name. Restaurants serve a little pile of iceberg lettuce with a token slice of cucumber, some deep-fried chicken bits and a quarter cup of mystery dressing and call it a salad. Or food manufacturers use just enough white flour and yeast to hold together some margarine and high fructose corn syrup, bake it and call it bread. And the shrink-wrapped, frozen, cardboard-like fifty-ingredient mess that stores and schools call pizza is an outrage.
But I make pizza for dinner all the time. And no, I don't bake it on a special stone or in a wood-fired oven, but it's REAL food. So I was rather irked when a recent child nutrition study lumped pizza into the non-nutritional calories category, placing it alongside soda, ice cream and the like: "Half of empty calories came from six foods: soda, fruit drinks, dairy desserts, grain desserts, pizza, and whole milk."
Real pizza is real food, not empty calories. Here's what I put in pizza, not in the order of an ingredient label because I don't measure the amount of sauce, etc.:
  • whole-wheat flour, preferably organic
  • some unbleached white flour, about 1/2 as much as the whole-wheat (Tonight it was much less.)
  • yeast
  • olive oil
  • oregano
  • basil
  • a very little each of salt and cane sugar
  • organic tomatoes, cooked and pureed
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • all-natural cheese, grated, usually a blend of two or more kinds
  • often sauteed zucchini, eggplant, and/or spinach
  • most of the time, canned pineapple for Toddlebug's and my pieces.
  • occasionally (i.e., a couple of times a year) pepperoni for my husband's.
And I bake it on a cookie sheet in my oven. To me--and I'll grant that I have no degrees in nutrition or related fields--that recipe reads (mostly whole) grains, some fruits and vegetables, a reasonable amount of dairy, a little of the healthiest oil I know of, and a few herbs and spices.
Calories? We eat as much as we're hungry for; many nights there are leftovers, and other nights not. We're all in the average-to-slender category, so for me it's not worth doing the math.
So what's so terrible about pizza once a week? Not a thing! What's terrible is that we don't, as a culture, require it to be so simple, or even that it taste good. If we only require it to be fast (mine takes only about half an hour, though, with pizza yeast if I've made the sauce ahead of time!) and cheap, we have only ourselves to blame for the results.
That's why Domino's is still in business, right?

Toddlebug's lunch for preschool Thursday:

 -- Peas; PB & J on mini saltines
-- Mango "pudding" (baby food)
-- Two G cookies and a little granola
-- Homemade pizza.

For my husband:


-- Salad

-- Salad dressing; token veggie chips

-- Pluot with a few grapes

-- Homemade pizza.