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Q: How much do the toppings on a pizza affect its nutritional content?



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Q: How much do the toppings on a pizza affect its nutritional content?

A: A topping of high-fat sausage and pepperoni can double the fat content of pizza. In two medium slices of pizza, pepperoni adds two to five grams of fat and 20 to 60 calories, while sausage adds four to eight grams of fat and 45 to 70 calories. Compare that to two medium slices of pizza with virtually any vegetable topping, or a variety of vegetables, that would add zero grams of fat and just two to eight calories. Olives are also a reasonable choice, adding only about one gram of (mostly unsaturated) fat and 11 to 14 calories to those two slices; but, since olives are usually considered a rather high-sodium food, they would not be appropriate for those on a low-sodium diet.

Q: Do the many versions of yogurt differ much in nutritional value?

A: Part of the reason for the many choices in yogurt is due to the many different flavors available. But there are also some very real nutritional differences among them to consider when deciding which is best for you. Calorie content can vary quite a bit, between yogurts that are plain (unsweetened), those sweetened with sugar, and those sweetened with sugar substitutes. An eight-ounce container of regular, fruit-flavored yogurt contains the equivalent of almost seven teaspoons of added sugar. Some of that sugar comes from the fruit itself, but quite a bit is from added sugars. Those who are trying to limit their calorie or sugar intake may prefer vanilla yogurt (with about half the sugar of fruit yogurts), a yogurt sweetened with a sugar substitute like NutraSweet, or a plain yogurt that can be sweetened at home with fruit and perhaps a dash of sugar. Fat content can also vary. Nonfat and low-fat versions are both healthy choices. Some researchers also believe that choosing a yogurt with "active yogurt cultures" may offer additional benefits to our digestive systems.


Q: Is rice fattening?

A: Plain cooked rice contains about 200 to 220 calories per cup (and less than two grams of fat). As part of a balanced meal that includes foods rich in protein and a hearty serving of vegetables, rice provides good nutrition without greatly increasing the calorie count. (Brown rice adds a bit more fiber and nutrients than white rice.) But that does not mean you can "load up." Traditional Asian diets may have included large portions of rice, but that served a very physically active population that did not have American processed foods and sweets. Unless you are very active, do not succumb to oversized portions. Satisfy your hunger by mixing or serving rice with a substantial portion of steamed or stir-fried vegetables, which will give you important antioxidants and other health-protective substances, but less calories per serving. And remember that steamed or boiled rice is entirely different from fried rice, which may contain 320 to 370 calories and 10 or more grams of fat per cup.

Q: When a recipe calls for alcohol, can I substitute something else?

A: Certainly. Depending on the recipe, you can replace white wine with white grape juice, chicken or vegetable broth, clam juice, or nonalcoholic wine. Instead of red wine, try chicken, beef, or vegetable broth; apple cider; cranberry or red grape juice; or flavored vinegar. You can substitute orange or pineapple juice for sherry in many recipes, or replace two tablespoons with one or two teaspoons of vanilla extract. In place of an orange-flavored liqueur like Grand Marnier, try an equal amount of frozen orange juice concentrate (or orange juice), along with a little orange extract. Almond extract (one-fourth to one-half teaspoon) can fill in for two tablespoons of an almond-flavored liqueur like Amaretto.


Q: Is cream cheese a good source of calcium and protein?

A: While most cheeses are good sources of both calcium and protein, cream cheese is nutritionally quite different. It would take about nine tablespoons to supply even one-tenth of the recommended daily amount of calcium. That serving size would contain about 450 calories and 45 grams of fat, but supply only nine grams of protein. By comparison, the amount of calcium in that serving of cream cheese is available in just one-third cup of nonfat or reduced-fat milk, which contains 30 to 40 calories and zero to one and one-half grams of fat. The same amount of protein is found in one ounce of chicken, with only 47 calories and one gram of fat. "Light" cream cheese, also called Neufchatel, has a lower calorie and fat content, but the calcium and protein provided are about the same. A fat-free cream cheese has a more concentrated amount of protein and calcium, but it would take four tablespoons to get even 10 percent of the daily calcium recommendation, which would also provide eight grams of protein and 54 calories. Whatever type you buy, use cream cheese as a condiment and rely on other dairy products, fortified foods and, when necessary, supplements for the most reliable calcium sources.

Q: What are some healthy snacks I can offer to my child's preschool class?

A: When sending snacks for an entire class, check first with the teacher to see if any children have food allergies that must be considered. Treats that are healthful and popular with children include string cheese, fresh or dried fruit, crackers or celery with peanut butter, or a dry cereal mix. Or, you might ask the teacher if you may send a large container of vanilla yogurt that can be served in cups and topped with each child's choice of cereal or fruit toppings.

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