When I first decided to participate in the Eat In Challenge for the month of January, I’ve started to make a list of restaurant foods I wanted to recreate at home during the month of cooking only. You know, my go-to ordered out meals from the Irish pub near my house, my favorite burrito joint, and the I can never turn it down, favorite place to watch a football game because their appetizers are just THAT good. And what may be the end all be all of the Eat In Challenge, REALLY GOOD PIZZA. I knew I needed to take a trip to the grocery store to load up on some healthy “eat-in recreation” ingredients.
I usually shop at a local grocery store, Price Chopper. Not too long ago, I started noticing NuVal scores on most of the products at Price Chopper.
What is NuVal?
From the NuVal website:
The NuVal System scores food on a scale of 1-100. The higher the NuVal Score, the better the nutrition. It’s that simple.
NuVal Scores summarize comprehensive nutritional information in one simple number between 1 and 100. Each NuVal Score takes into account more than just the nutrition fact panel. It considers 30-plus nutrients and nutrition factors – the good (protein, calcium, vitamins) and the not-so-good (sugar, sodium, cholesterol). And then it boils it down into a simple, easy-to-use number; a number you can trust to make better decisions about nutrition in just a few seconds
As I continue to make one healthy choice at a time, I truly have found NuVal as a valuable resource. I’ve used the scores several times in my decision making between brands and “types” of products.
I’ve twittered messages to Tina while standing in front of the Peanut Butter asking her to help me narrow my choice down. I’ve picked sweet potatoes over white potatoes because sweet potatoes score is just about as perfect as you can get. And I’ve made a few “trade ups” along the way in deciding what specific package will be coming home with me.
When choosing items in the supermarket, I usually purchase whatever is least expensive. (remember, I am cheap, errr…thrifty!) Ever since I have started to make more conscious decisions about my health, however, I’ve been starting to not care AS much about price, and instead care more about quality. I don’t go CRAZY, not caring about budget buying all the noted “healthy foods” that cost an arm and leg- but I am willing to spend a bit more change on something that is truly better for me than what I would normal by. This is one reason why NuVal is so helpful. If you ask me, $10 more a month on groceries is worth knowing that I’m fueling my body with good stuff.
Since I knew I would for sure be making my own DELICIOUS Pizza during the Eat In Challenge, I decided to take the opportunity to show you how easy using the NuVal scores can be.
I like to use tomato paste instead of pizza sauce when I make pizza at home. It’s a bit thicker and personally I think it’s a much richer taste.
The tomato items were a plenty! There were probably 15 different cans of paste, but I decided to just focus on the 3 I would be most likely to buy. I should note however, that when I was looking over the name brand cans, the NuVal scores were MUCH LOWER on any of the “additional flavor” cans- such as “garlicy” or “Italian spices”. This just solidified my desire to use fresh herbs and spices from my own garden and farmers markets to spice things up in my meals rather than just grab something fancy sounding off the shelf, which is usually more expensive to boot.
These are the three items I decided to compare:
The Price Chopper brand had the lowest price and the lowest score (.59/57), followed by the Cento (.75/75).
The highest NuVal score was the Full Circle organic can. For only 40 cents more than I would have paid for the Price Chopper brand, I decided it was a good call to go with the Full Circle. I know that this little $1 can of paste would actually be used in 4-6 of my meals, and the extra 30 points on the NuVal scale are very convincing!
I know that there is a lot of debate about the importance of consuming organic products. I personally believe that SOME organic products are more healthy for you than the non-organic versions- but studies have shown that in some products there isn’t much of a difference. (Here is a list suggesting the top 10 foods to splurge for the organic version) This is another reason I like to use NuVal- such an easy way to compare Organic and non-Organic products!
NuVal is not yet available at all grocery stores, but they are expanding. You can also look up products and types of food on the NuVal website. It is filled with TONS of information, suggestions, tips, and even a game! Be sure to check it out. Also take a look at Tina’s new blog, Trading Up Downtown.
Now that I had my Tomato Paste, it was time for me to find some other ingredients for my pizza. I found myself inspired at the Olive bar, and felt like lending my creative thoughts to an Antipasto Pizza.
Antipasto, which literally means “before the meal.” Antipasto plates are simple- usually filled with marinated vegetables, olives, breads, meats and cheeses.
I decided to keep my pizza meat-free and loaded up on a variety of veggies and olives.
Building my Antipasto Pizza went as so:
And after baking for 10 minuets at 400- Delightful!:
I want to thank all of you for the kind words you left on my Sparktastic post! I feel even more encouraged and motivated to keep tackling the healthy decisions after reading all the sweet things you folks had to say.
The 5 Winners of The Spark giveaway are:
Congrats to the winners!!!:
#14 Mrs. B
& #20 samztoyzz!
Please email me your mailing address and phone number (for the delivery slip) at – firstname.lastname@example.org and I will forward it on to the market guru at Spark People to have your copy of The Spark sent your way!