New Pizza Resurrects Old Memory

New Pizza Resurrects Old Memory

When I read the recent story about talk show maven Oprah Winfrey creating her own line of frozen pizzas made with a cauliflower-based crust, it signaled that this alternative to traditional pizza dough had arrived.

I had seen occasional references to cauliflower crust pizzas in recent years, but chalked it up to the gluten-free-vegan-low-carb craze that seems to have overrun our world.

Granted, given her Midas touch, I wouldn’t bet against Oprah’s chances of selling a truckload of her new pizzas.

But news of this supposedly healthier option to a ballgame-party-or-anytime-family-or-friends-get-together favorite brought back memories of another “healthy” option. One I shed years ago.

Awful Alternative

I refer to fat-free cheese, the awful alternative to curds that I had never tried until I entered a vegetarian, healthy lifestyle program at the hospital where I had double bypass surgery.

A dietician was part of the team that guided our twice-weekly sessions, which included a vegetarian meal.

She tried to persuade the nine students in the program that fat free cheese was a tasty alternative to the real deal. And, without the fat they were trying to seriously reduce from our daily diet.

As helpful as she was, and as nice a person, after awhile I wondered what bill of goods she was trying to push on us.

Cheese is 60 percent fat. It had been part of my life for years, since my father’s original job after graduating from the University of Minnesota was as a cheesemaker.

He later sold cheese for a company in northern Ohio, which meant it made regular appearances on our dinner table and in lunches.

So, remove the fat from cheese and what you left with? A cross between cardboard and soap. I’ve never eaten soap, but I can’t imagine it tastes much different than fat-free cheese.

Using the Blowtorch

Cheese melts, which is why it’s a favorite for nachos, cheese sandwiches, on macaroni, and with countless other dishes.

To melt fat-free cheese, you need a blowtorch to start the process. The final result is some sort of congealed mess that still tastes horrid.

There are some fat-free substances that aren’t too bad, such as fat-free sour cream (though I prefer the real kind). But fat-free cheese belongs in the same class as vegetarian hot dogs. After I sampled one at a business luncheon, I vowed to never eat a hot dog again unless it was a hot dog.

Now, I did my best to keep up a healthy diet after completing the six-months-long program at the hospital.

However, two years later I added fish and chicken back to my diet because of feeling so anemic.

I didn’t stay with fat-free cheese very long, though. A couple bags into the process of my vegetarian routine at home, I thought, “This stuff is so bad I would rather just not eat cheese at all.”

With that, I tossed the remaining half-bag into the trash. Somewhere, in some landfill, a rat is probably spitting out the remains.

A Matter of Taste

Ironically, right after reading about Oprah’s healthy pizza, I came across this article that argues that the average cauliflower crust pizza is probably worse for you, since it contains more egg, oil, cheese, and calorie-dense flour.

I’m not wading into that argument. Just saying that sometimes, if you want a snack and the heck with the calories, et. al., go with the real thing. Whether cheese or pizza, it’s likely to taste much better.

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