So I’ve mentioned a bit here, and discussed with some of you at more length, that I’m deadly serious about losing my excess weight. As I type, September has about four hours left in it, and I’m 13 pounds lighter than I was on Labor Day. I’m now 37 pounds off my all-time high, and 80 pounds from my goal. Onward.
Losing weight and keeping it off means adopting permanent lifestyle choices. That means eating in a way that I can continue forever, as opposed to “dieting.” I’ll tell you straight up: I don’t like most “diet” or “reduced calorie” products. Whatever it is, I’d almost always rather use the real thing, and use it sensibly. That goes for pizza and its ingredients too, and one of my favorite easy dinners is custom-building a pizza at home.
Put it directly on the center oven rack for 10 minutes at 400º, and then check it every 3 until it looks right to you. Pull it out and let it rest for 5 more before you cut it. Behold:
I wish I could send you the smell over the Internet!
When you’re trying to make a pizza that tastes good, but that’s still easy to fit into a sensible diet, the two big monsters on the pan are crust and cheese.
The crust gets much easier to manage if you like it thin. This is a Mama Mary’s gluten-free crust, which checks in at 480 calories for the whole thing. (A comparable Boboli is 1,080—before you put a single topping on it.) The Mama Mary’s crust isn’t a gustatory star, but neither does it call negative attention to itself. It’s a fine product.
The cheese is harder. Shredded mozzarella and/or the Italian blends you get at the grocery store are 325 to 350 calories per cup. If I put cheese to my unchecked satisfaction on a homemade pizza (and I think my taste/eye for such is typical), I end up using about two cups. It’s tasty, but it’s more than I want to eat.
For purposes of an indefinitely sustainable diet, I’ve tapered to one cup for the whole pie. I put about three-quarters of it on right after the sauce, reserving the last quarter to go over the top (or near it). This is a bit of an adjustment, but it’s less of one than you might think, particularly if you like a lot of vegetable toppings.
After you stake defensible territory on crust and cheese, the next thing to tame is meat toppings. Really, in typical quantities, these probably don’t contribute as many calories as you might think. Pepperoni and Italian sausage are both spicy, so it doesn’t take much to give you a good punch. Just take it easy with those. This pizza has 105 calories’ worth of Canadian bacon on it as its only meat topping (and that’s enough to give you some in every bite).
Give some consideration to sauce. Lots of off-the-shelf ones are loaded with sugar. I don’t like the way that tastes, and I really don’t like the calories it adds. This has a third of a jar of Del Grosso pizza sauce on it, for 90 calories.
Do you like olives? Oh wow, I love them. Olives have good fat, but fat means calories. That’s 100 calories’ worth on there. (If you don’t like them, you can pull them off and infuse your meat budget with those calories, yeah?)
Now, the good news on other veggies: peppers, onions, and mushrooms are basically free. They do add some calories, but you’ll hit practical limits on what you can get on the pie before they really add up. This one has a third of a purple onion, two green onions, about three-quarters of a bell pepper, and a quarter-pound of mushrooms. Total calories: 65.
All right, so are you ready for the grand total?
This entire pizza has 1190 calories. That’s just under 149 calories per eighth. Awesome! Sounds like half for dinner one night, and then the other half for lunch the next day.
Is it a low-calorie meal? Absolutely not. But is it easy to fit into a sensible diet I can continue indefinitely? Yes!