By Lesley Young
During the summer you don’t need to feel guilty about stocking the freezer with pizza-like snacks. Just make sure your picks compare nutritionally to an average sandwich, says Vancouver-based registered dietitian Ramona Josephson. Ideally, each portion should fall between 270 and 360 calories, contain at least 9 grams of protein (opt for chicken over fatty sausage toppings, where possible), have less than 550 mg of sodium (generous because it is a processed food), and have 5 grams of fat or less. Using these suggestions, we found a family from Loretto, Ont. with three boys — aged eight, 10 and 11 — to munch away. Here’s how some of the national brands stacked up.
A+ – TOP PICK
McCain Deep “N Delicious (3 Cheese: mozzarella, Parmesan and cheddar)
230 calories, 7 g fat (3 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 12 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates (5 g fibre;
8 g sugars), 460 mg sodium per one 96 g pizza. $6 for eight.
This mini pizza gets top marks for packing a 20% punch of calcium thanks to the heaps of cheese. And it was also the only one of the few options to offer a decent amount of fibre. All three boys in our taste-testing family said it was their favourite. Why? The big cheese factor, of course. The verdict: A winner. Add some veggies for extra nutrition, such as sliced red peppers or tomatoes.
B+ – GOOD CHOICE
Heinz Hot Bites Stuffed Bagel Bites (pepperoni & cheese and pizza sauce)
210 calories, 7 g fat (2.5 g saturated fat, 0.2 g trans fat), 8 g protein, 28 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre, 8 g sugars), 580 mg sodium per six pieces (85 g). $3 for 15.
These tasty nuggets struck a delicious balance between crust, cheese and spiciness, managing to please all three boys, although they may be too spicy for sensitive eaters. The verdict: Perfect for eating on the go, too. If you have time, cook them in the oven. The microwave made the dough pretty tough, according to our taste-testing mom.
B – SALT MINES
Pillsbury Pizza Pops (Three cheese: mozarella, provolone, romano)
250 calories, 10 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0.3 g trans fat), 10 g protein, 30 g carbohydrates (1 g fibre, 3 g sugars), 720 mg sodium per one pizza snack (100 g). $4 for four.
The high sodium content was working against these tasty treats for starters, but it was the spiciness that sunk “em for all but the youngest who liked them, and, of course, “loved the cheese.” The verdict: The crust is crisp after microwaving; however, you’ll want to think twice about the sodium content, which rings in at almost one-third of the daily recommended allowance.
A – HANDY FILLERS
McCain Pizza Pockets (pepperoni)
230 calories, 9 g fat (3.5 g saturated fat, 0.1 g trans fat), 10 g protein, 26 g carbohydrates (2 g fibre, 3 g sugars), 520 mg sodium per one 100 g pocket. $4 for four.
Two yays for all the crusty bread encasing these protein bombs of sauce, pepperoni and cheese — and one nay. “I don’t like all the bread, but I like the cheese,” says the 11-year-old. Despite the heavy crust quotient, the fact that these snacks can be heated in the microwave is a definite plus. The verdict: A handy option to have in the freezer.
C – YUCKY GREEN STUFF
Dr. Oetker’s Ristorante Pizza Antipasto Spinaci
180 calories, 8 g fat (4 g saturated, 0.2 g trans fat), 6 g protein, 20 g carbohydrates (0 g fibre, 5 g sugars), 660 mg sodium per three pizzas (88 g). $7 for nine.
Hey, what do you expect? Spinach is spinach to most kids, even served up on a tiny pastry discs covered in tasty sauce and gooey cheese. “I liked it when I took the green stuff off,” says the 8-year-
old. “The spinach tasted bad but everything else was good,” says the 11-year-old. The verdict: Though slightly high in sodium, these tiny snacks may be best suited to adult palates.