FOOD

Here's How To Make Pizza, Pasta And Burgers Healthy

...and still make them taste delicious.

02/03/2017 10:39 AM AEDT | Updated 02/03/2017 10:42 AM AEDT

One of the worst things about embarking on a healthy eating/fitness/new-year-new-me regime is giving up the foods you love. Namely pizza, pasta and burgers. Because that love is just universal.

But you don't have to, honestly. You just have to know how to make them healthier.

"When it comes to pizza, pasta and burgers it is too easy to fall into the trap of overeating and opting for large portions and extra toppings that are unhealthy, high-kilojoule, low-nutrient options," Anna Debenham, accredited practising dietitian from The Biting Truth, told The Huffington Post Australia.

Debenham said with a few useful tips and tricks you can easily make healthier choices for each of these options -- and they can fit within a healthy, balanced diet.

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1. Avoid meal deals

"It's often the case that restaurant and fast food portions are larger than what you'd usually eat at home," Debenham said.

"The flashy meal deals and upsizing to a double patty can be tempting and seem to be good value for money, but to be honest, you'll just be paying extra dollars for unnecessary kilojoules."

2. Use the plate rule

"When it comes to pizza, pasta and burgers it's all about portion size, and unfortunately, this is where most of us trip up," Alexandra Parker, accredited practising dietitian from The Biting Truth, told HuffPost Australia.

"When you're enjoying a meal such as pasta, pizza or a burger, the balanced plate rule of thumb still applies (half the plate veggies, a quarter low GI carbs, a quarter lean protein).

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"Many of us when planning, for example, a pasta-based meal will fill our plate with pasta, some meat or chicken and a minimal amount of veggies."

3. Make veggies the focus

The aim when making or ordering pizza, burgers or pasta is to add lots of veggies. And there's easy ways to do it.

"Try and reduce the amount of pasta you're having by mixing in some zoodles (zucchini noodles) or serve your pasta with a side salad," Debenham said.

"This way the fibre from the vegetables will help to keep you feeling full without overdoing it on the pasta."

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Tip: make your own pesto for your pizza base.

4. Go for lean protein

For pizza toppings, pasta and burgers, choose lean protein such as seafood, chicken, eggs, lean beef, tofu and legumes.

"When it comes to protein, choose one source of lean protein. This is especially important when making burgers -- opt for a single patty rather than double (or triple)," Debenham said. "We also love to go for vegetable patties sometimes."

When it comes to eating pizza, pasta and burgers, both out and at home, follow these tips.

Pasta

When eating out:

  • Avoid high fat, cream-based sauces and opt for tomato-based sauces
  • Where possible, order an entrée-sized pasta dish and order a side salad so that you don't just fill up on pasta
  • Ensure the dish includes a lean protein to keep you feeling satisfied
  • If adding cheese, only use a small amount
  • Avoid sides such as garlic bread

When making at home:

  • Opt for wholemeal pasta
  • Choose tomato-based sauces
  • Balance with a side salad -- the fibre and nutrients here will help to fill you up and keep you feeling fuller for longer
  • Choose lean proteins (seafood, heart smart mince, trim any visible fat off chicken)
  • Save cheese for garnishing and choose reduced-fat or lighter versions

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Pizza

When eating out:

  • Opt for a thin base to avoid an unnecessary carbohydrate (often refined) overload
  • Don't be afraid to design your own pizza and pile on lots of veggies
  • Avoid processed meats (e.g. salami, ham, prosciutto) and opt for lean protein (e.g. chicken, seafood) or go vegetarian
  • Try to choose a pizza with less cheese and opt for lower fat, white cheeses such as ricotta or feta cheese where possible
  • Avoid sides such as garlic bread
  • Share a pizza with a friend and enjoy with a side salad or veggies
  • We usually recommend no more than two medium slices of pizza for females and no more than three medium slices for males

When making at home:

  • Try using a wholegrain wrap for the pizza base
  • Use a no added salt or low salt tomato paste or sauce for the base
  • Chock it full of vegetables (e.g. onion, capsicum, mushroom, olives, rocket, tomato) -- this is where most of nutritional value of a pizza will come from
  • Avoid processed meats
  • Limit use of cheese and use reduced fat or lighter versions

Cultura/BRETT STEVENS

Burgers

When eating out:

  • Swap to a whole grain bun to boost the fibre and vitamin content of your meal. The more seeds in the bun, the better it is and and the longer it takes for your body to digest it, meaning that you will feel fuller for longer
  • Bulk out your burger with extra veggies like spinach, onions, lettuce, tomato and even roasted capsicums and mushrooms
  • Skip the bacon -- if you need something extra, explore with fresh flavours and textures like extra veggies, heart healthy avocado or a meaty grilled mushroom for more character without the kilojoules
  • Watch the sauces

When making at home:

  • Opt for whole grain bun (lots of seeds)
  • Enjoy a single patty (and avoid adding bacon)
  • Load on the veggies
  • Be sauce savvy and opt for lower fat options like mustard and tangy Greek yoghurt, or add some guacamole for a good hit of heart healthy fats

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"Watch your portions. Yes, even healthy homemade pasta, pizza, and burger need to be consumed in appropriate amounts," Parker said.

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