Is pizza a healthy breakfast option?
In a recent piece — now trending across the internet — registered dietitian Chelsea Amer told the food website the Daily Meal that a slice of pizza can be a significantly better choice than a bowl of sugary cereal.
That’s because disguised within colorful circles of fruity flavor, Kellogg’s Froot Loops serves up 10 grams of sugar per serving. So do Frosted Flakes, Lucky Charms, and many other popular cereal brands.
“Carbs and sugar are used by the body for energy, and when eaten in excess, they turn into fat,” explained Philadelphia-based Sheena Pradhan, a registered dietitian-nutritionist and founder of Nutritious Balance.
The other problem with sugar? It digests notably fast, which can lead you to feel ravenous and raiding your snack drawer just an hour or two after a meal of sweet treats.
“Fats and proteins take much longer for the body to break down, so you feel full for longer,” Pradhan said.
Does that mean pizza can swoop in as the breakfast of champions?
“I wouldn’t necessarily say it belongs at the beginning of your day, but it’s all relative and it really depends what’s on the pizza,” said Theresa Shank, a Philadelphia-based registered dietitian and the founder of Philly Dietitian. “If it is going to help someone who dislikes vegetables to eat more spinach and tomatoes, then that’s where it could become a healthier option than Cocoa Puffs.”
Shank confirms that pizza will sustain you longer than a sugary cereal because of the protein and fat from the cheese. However, to really reap any breakfast-worthy nutritional value from the food, she says, you’ll need to load on the veggies and lean proteins, like chicken or eggs, and opt for a whole-wheat crust.
“It’s certainly a better option than skipping breakfast altogether,” Shank said.
Seeking more convincing excuses to wake up with a slice? Some of these pizzerias open as early as 6 a.m.; others offer breakfast-style pies round the clock. Grab a slice and pile it high with extra veggie toppings for a breakfast worthy of rolling out of bed — whether it’s healthy or not.
Alice Pizza: Alice (pronounced “ah-LEE-cheh”) at 15th and Locust starts slinging pizzas as early as 10 a.m., with coffee service beginning at 8 a.m. (10 a.m. on weekends). The Center City spot is the first U.S. outpost of the casual Italian pizzeria, and offers a slew of breakfast-destined pies, including one with cream cheese, smoked salmon, cucumbers and chives.
Pizza by the slice begins at 11 a.m.; pickup available starting at 10 a.m. 235 S. 15th St. 215-545-2020, alicepizza.us
Uncle Oogie’s: With multiple locations from South Philly to New Jersey, Uncle Oogie’s has several things going for it that make it a prime morning spot. For one, its menu has a dedicated section of breakfast pizza, laden with multiple egg-loaded options that include toppings such as bacon, ham, peppers and tomatoes. Secondly, the pizzeria offers both whole-wheat crust and a ton of vegan options that invite you to pile on on the veggies, two ways you can turn pizza into a justified-without-being-hungover breakfast idea.
South Philly East opens daily at 10 a.m., 36 E. Snyder Ave., 215-755-9999. South Philly West opens daily at 10 a.m., 2119 W. Oregon Ave., 215-334-7499. Sea Isle City, N.J., opens at 11 a.m. Mon.-Thurs., 10 a.m. Sat. and Sun., 6118 Landis Ave., 609-263-6086; uncleoogies.com
Not Just Pizza: Not only does South Philly’s Not Just Pizza serve up nine breakfast pizza options, but it also offers a morning menu of sides like scrapple, bacon, and home fries to pair with your pie. If you opt for one of the meat-heavy options, healthy topping add-ons exist that you can divide by the half, meaning one-half of the pie could be decked out with pineapple and ham while the other could go omelette-style with eggs, broccoli, tomatoes, and peppers.
Pickup begins at 9 a.m.; delivery at 10 a.m. 2240 S. 11th St. 215-486-3712, slicelife.com
Cacia’s Bakery: For classic Philly pizza as early as 6 in the morning, head to South Philly’s Cacia’s Bakery, an institution serving up Italian eats since 1953. No “breakfast” options are available, but what better way to get yourself out of bed in the morning than with a hearty double cheesesteak pie? Slathered with white garlic sauce, American cheese, mozzarella, and of course, steak, this one’s not a better-for-you-than-cereal option — but who cares?
Opens at 6 a.m. Original South Philadelphia location at 1526 W. Ritner St. 215-334-1340, caciabakery.com
Founded Coffee & Pizza: While this East Falls spot doesn’t serve any designated “breakfast” pizzas, it does start firing up the oven in time for 10 a.m. orders, which can be paired with a coffee brewed from Chestnut Hill Coffee Co. If starting your workday with a cappuccino and a slice of pizza in hand sounds like a dream, you can fulfill that here, too — it’s not uncommon to see people hanging out on laptops and utilizing the complimentary WiFi.
Opens at 10 a.m. (11 a.m. on Sundays), 3300 Henry Ave. 267-900-5338,foundedcoffeeandpizza.net
Sarcone’s Bakery: Grab a slice and a scone at Sarcone’s Bakery, which starts serving up Sicilian pies around 9 a.m. each morning (doors open at 7:30 a.m.). The tomato pie, smothered with a velvety, garlic-scented sauce and flakes of oregano, remains a huge hit and could also act as a lighter alternative to a mozzarella-topped slice. Before you go, swing by Anthony’s Italian Coffee, just two blocks away in the Italian Market, for an espresso to pair with your breakfast.
Doors open at 7:30 a.m.; pizza available around 9 a.m. 758 S. Ninth St. 215-922-0445, sarconesbakery.com
Angelo’s Pizza House: If the all-day breakfast menu doesn’t lure you in first, this Port Richmond’s breakfast pizza can be scored from 8 a.m. until closing time. The pie features a classic combo of scrambled eggs and mozzarella cheese, which you can spruce up with the meat of your choice, including breakfast options like scrapple and turkey bacon, or veggies like spinach and tomatoes.
Opens at 8 a.m. (10 a.m. on Sunday), 3901 Frankford Ave. 215-743-9979, angelospizzahousephilly.com
Bonus: Lorenzo & Sons Pizza: Is it considered breakfast if you’re out till 3:50 a.m. and grab a slice just before the 4 a.m. closing at Lorenzo & Sons? It is if you take half of the massive slice home and devour the remainder upon waking. Known for serving up slices bigger than your head, Lorenzo & Sons is the spot to go for a late night — or predawn — pizza chow-down. The OG South Street location stays open until at least 3 a.m. daily, with extended 4 a.m. hours on Friday and Saturday; the new West Chester location follows suit with the 3 a.m. closing time on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.