Pizza gets a bad rap. The preferred food of couch potatoes can in fact be “a complete and balanced meal on its own,” says nutrition expert Marion Nestle in the San Francisco Chronicle, a column that’s sure to worm its way into the “I told you so” hands of teenagers. But Nestle is not referring to the monstrous cheese-laden pizza shilled by chains like Pizza Hut. Instead, she waxes rhapsodic about the classic pizza margherita espoused by the likes of Mitchell Davis in Kitchen Sense: More than 600 Recipes to Make You a Great Home Cook:

His classic pizza Margherita starts with a wheat flour dough and adds olive oil, tomatoes, a handful of cheese, and a few leaves of basil. These ingredients take care of many basic nutritional requirements. The wheat and cheese provide protein. The olive oil is a source of good fat, and the tomato sauce provides vitamins and antioxidants. Most of its vitamin C will be destroyed by the high heat of baking, but enough is left to make tomato sauce a major source of vitamin C in American diets. The basil has some, too. And, as Davis puts it, ‘If your crust is flavorful and crunchy, you shouldn’t have to cover it up with loads of junk.’

Even the maligned Pizza Hut appears to want to get in on this action: TreeHugger had a recent post about how the fast-food chain plans to offer ‘The Natural,’ a pie made with multigrain crust, organic tomato sauce, and preservative-free toppings.

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