Once upon a time there was a girl with no money and a need for tasty food that was calorie restricted. Okay, maybe that's not entirely accurate. It's not that I have no money, but more that I am really, really picky where I spend said money and "diet" food is not top on my list.
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But there was this sale and in this sale there were these pizzas that looked pretty good in the picture on the box. To top it off these tasty looking pizzas were on a box advertising that they were only 350 calories and 31 grams of protein per pizza and they were microwavable.
Now I don't know about you, but I'm pretty busy, so tasty, microwavable, healthy-ish pizza on sale was sounding pretty tempting while standing in the frozen food section of my nearby grocery store pretending not to know the 3 year old driving the cart in circles behind me.
At home, I read the package a little closer. First of all, this product is made by Kraft and designed to assist those following the South Beach Diet. The South Beach Diet is a low to moderate carbohydrate eating plan that focuses on getting a lot of veggies, healthy meat cuts and healthy fats like olive oil and avocado. It also offers the added incentive of fruit and some whole grains unlike other, more stringent low-carb diets. What may not be widely known is that most hard-core South Beachers don't eat the South Beach processed meals. South Beachers tend to eat more in the way of whole foods.
No, these processed, self contained meals are being bought more by the dieters looking to follow a plan similar to the expensive, commercial "frozen meal plan" diets. And if you don't mind the diet taste, they are usually comparable.
South Beach Pepperoni Pizza
So other than the 350 calories and the 31 grams of protein (which is impressive by the way), this pizza has 12 grams of fat (4.5 saturated, 0 trans, 3 polyunsaturated, 3.5 monounsaturated), 36 grams of carbohydrates of which 9 are fiber. It also offers 10% Vitamin A, 2% Vitamin C, 40% Calcium and 10% Iron as recommended daily for a 2000 calorie diet. One pizza equals one serving.
The microwave instructions are simple. You fold the box over and use it as your pizza tray and pop the whole thing in the microwave for 3 minutes. There are also instructions for cooking the pizza in a conventional oven.
Also included on the box is information on how to calculate the pizza for a diet exchange based on the "Choose Your Foods Exchange Lists for Diabetes by the American Diabetes Association and the American Dietetic Association." The box also responsibly reports that this product contains milk, wheat and soy as well as offering other South Beach friendly recipies at the South Beach Living Foods website.
Shredded reduced fat, reduced sodium mozzarella cheese, water, whole wheat flour, tomato paste, pepperoni, wheat gluten, starch, wheat protein isolate, contains less than2% of soybean oil, yeast, bleached wheat flour, salt, potassium chloride, enzyme modified soy lecithin, fructose, flavor, spice, datem, methylcellulose, alpha cellulose, sodium stearoyl lactylate, modified food starch, konjac gum, l-glutamic acid, sugar, pectin, cellulose gum, ascorbic acid, artificial flavor, sucralose.
But is it edible?
There just doesn't seem to be a lot you can mess up pepperoni pizza. You have the pepperoni and the cheese which both hold their own when it comes to flavor, so all you really need is a decent crust and a little sauce to hold it all together. Yes, herbs are nice (and easy, and flavorful and healthy) but I wasn't expecting them and wasn't surprised when they weren't there.
Maybe it was because this is termed "diet food," my expectations were low and not unjustifiably. This pizza was bland and the crust cardboard-ish. Unfortunately for the product as a whole, that blandness managed to overpower the pepperoni, cheese and sauce which were all fine, but just not enough.
As I said a few paragraphs back, this product would be much better with just a few spices added to the crust. Until that time, it's just not good. More to the point, it's not really worth the 350 calories it contains. I think I'd prefer to stick with my whole grain toast with avocado and olive tapenade.
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