Contrary to what some people would love to believe, traditional pizza isn’t an intrinsically healthy thing to eat, and that holds true even if you layer your sauce, cheese and toppings upon a cauliflower crust (and those tend not to have much cauliflower in them to begin with). However, pizza also doesn’t have to be a diet killer provided you’ve followed a few precautionary steps, and provided you don’t eat it the way I would — i.e., loaded with cheese and pepperoni and washed down with two cans of Scotch Ale.
Now, let’s postulate the hypothetical scenario in which you devour an entire large Pacific Veggie Pizza from Domino’s in one day (even though you and I both know you’re capable of inhaling that thing in 15 minutes or less). Theoretically, you’re right in the caloric sweet spot for the day, and you’ve consumed nearly 100 grams of protein, along with nearly 300 grams of carbohydrates and more than 100 grams of fat. It’s not exactly the ratio I’d advise, but it’s certainly reasonable.
Here’s the real trick, though: If Domino’s wanted to throw a middle finger to the six-inch Subway diet and one-up Slim-Fast by saying, “Enjoy Domino’s Pizza for breakfast, have more of our pizza for lunch and then have a sensible dinner… consisting of Domino’s Pizza!” could you pull off the ultimate dietary coup by subsisting solely on vegetable pizza and somehow calling it healthy? Could the vegetable content of that pizza fulfill the USDA recommended per-day requirement of four to five servings of fruits and vegetables?
I could definitely live on one $14 specialty pizza a day! I’m game!
First, some math. I don’t know what’s so Pacific about this Pacific Veggie Pizza, but it has six vegetables: onions, diced tomatoes, black olives, mushrooms, spinach and roasted red peppers, even though three of these vegetables should be scientifically classified as fruits. On paper, things are looking positive, because this pizza has six different features working in your favor as you try to get to at least four servings — and ideally all the way to five. My money is on the pizza!
There are guidelines for identifying what’s considered a serving for some of these vegetables. The problem is, there’s some tricky math involved in order to determine whether or not we’ve got full servings on our hands. Why is the math tricky? Because of “The Rules”! If a serving has fewer than 5 calories, you round it down to zero. If a serving has 50 or fewer calories, you round it to the nearest increment of 5 (so 47 becomes 45 on the nutrition label). And if a serving has more than 50 calories, you round it up to the nearest increment of 10 (so 57 becomes 60).
It’s extra annoying in this case because an entire cup of spinach has 7 total calories, but Domino’s calculates spinach calories on a per-slice basis. This means the spinach calories on any individual slice of pizza will always round down to zero even if the pizza has four cups worth of spinach on it. In essence, caloric calculations are worthless in such instances. However, we can get around this by tallying up the grams of a vegetable borne by each slice and weigh it against what we know about the nutrient values of each vegetable in question.
This is going to be more work than I thought.
Yeah, I honestly don’t know why the FDA can’t just let the companies report the actual caloric numbers of their products. I mean, they have to know the real number before they can round it up or down, right?
Anyway, the roasted red bell peppers are distributed across the large pizza at 11 grams per slice, or 88 total grams. Half of a large bell pepper is considered one serving, and the weight ceiling for that veggie is 150 grams. Eighty-eight grams easily surpasses that 75-gram, half-a-pepper threshold, so we can chalk up one full vegetable serving straight out of the gate.
Moving on to the onions, a serving is considered to be 83 grams. Domino’s likes to layer on the onions with the same distribution as their bell peppers, so with 88 grams of onions adorning its landscape, this pizza has already reached half of our bare-minimum veggie quota.
In terms of the mushrooms, if this were my pizza, I would have picked them off completely, but if you want to eat something capable of sprouting randomly out of a damp carpet, that’s your business. A full cup of mushrooms is commonly accepted as a full serving, which is 156 grams. Each slice contains 18 grams of mushrooms (blech!) for 144 grams. Not quite a full serving, but the difference is easily covered by the additional red peppers. Let’s call it three total vegetable servings so far. The Pacific Veggie Pizza is already prematurely declaring victory.
We’ve now made our way to the spinach, which provides 7 comestible grams to each slice, and 56 total grams to the pizza. Half a cup of cooked spinach is considered one serving, which is 90 grams, so the spinach doesn’t hold up its end of the bargain. Meanwhile, one cup of tomatoes is regarded as a full serving, which is 180 grams. Each slice of this veggie feast holds 18 grams of tomato, for 144 total grams. The tomato couldn’t do its job either!
Everything, then, depends on the black olive. The good news — only half a cup of black olives is necessary to meet our requirement. The even better news — half a cup of black olives is 67.5 grams, and this pizza has 88 grams of black olives. The Pacific Veggie Pizza surpassed the mark and passed the test! Domino’s has a new fool-proof marketing campaign on its hands! “The Domino’s Pizza Diet” is officially a thing!
But you forgot about the tomato sauce!
You’re right! Thanks to a controversial Congressional ruling that was made about a decade ago, every half cup of tomato sauce counts as a vegetable serving. With each pizza slice holding 21 grams of tomato sauce, and with 122.5 grams required to hit the half-cup threshold, this pizza’s 168 grams of tomato sauce put it well over the requirement to add an additional veggie serving to its total.
Plainly stated, a large Domino’s Pacific Veggie Pizza is a legitimate foundation to a balanced nutrition plan, at least in a macronutrient, USDA-friendly sense — which might be the best way ever to convince yourself to eat more vegetables.