On a busy day, it’s nice to pop in a pizza roll from General Mills, Totino’s, or Mama Cozzi. It’s all the yummy, gooey, deliciousness of a pizza in a calzone pocket form. You know how hard it is to walk around with a greasy slice of pizza.
And for all of you on the go, who don’t have time to have an elaborate lunch, pizza pockets may just be the right solution. But are they bad for your health? Even if Feel Good Foods tries to make healthier versions, at the end of the day it is still a pizza, right?
Through this article, we will explore the pros and cons of pizza rolls as a snack or a meal. This way, you can make more informed food choices.
What are pizza rolls made of?
Different pizza roll flavors are made of different variable components. But the base components are always the same. The commercially available brands usually have a crust made of cauliflower or wheat flour.
This may be enriched with B vitamins or maybe whole wheat. The dough may be made as either pasta or bread dough. If you are making it at home, some people also like to use egg rolls or filo pastry as well for additional crispiness.
Different starches such as corn, tapioca, and rice stack are also added to hold the pastry together. There will also be a number of additives, seasonings, and preservatives which also help in the cooking process.
These include compounds like maltodextrin, baking soda, paprika, garlic powder, yeast extract, and more.
The insides are filled with tomato sauce and cheese. This is usually a combination of tomato paste and water along with either real or imitation mozzarella cheese. Depending on the flavor different types of meats will be used, including sausage bits or cured meats.
Are pizza rolls healthy?
Unless you make them at home with the healthiest of ingredients, pizza rolls are not at all a healthy snack or meal option. They are loaded with processed carbs which break down easily in the body. Simple carbs contribute to diabetes, hypertension, and other lifestyle illnesses.
They have deli meats that are also high in sodium and preservatives such as BHT and BHA (Butylated Hydroxyanisole and Butylated Hydroxytoluene). These preservatives have been classified as safe to eat by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). But they have also been linked to many adverse health impacts ranging from skin allergies, reproductive failure, and even cancer.
They are high in saturated fats which can affect blood pressure and also cause cardiac issues. Regular consumption is a risk factor for obesity. Not to mention the additional sugar content- as if the existing junk food components weren’t enough!
Let’s explore the unhealthy components that make up some of the most popular pizza roll brands.
Totino’s Pizza Rolls
This brand has many varieties including Supreme pizza rolls, Takis and Triple Meat. But they also contain harmful antioxidants like TBHQ (tertiary butylhydroquinone).
This compound which prevents the rolls from going stale may trigger ADHD or reduced cognitive function if consumed beyond the regulated amount.
They also contain nitrites which may react with the preserved meats over time. These may create nitrosamines which are possible human carcinogens.
In addition, most Totino’s varieties use artificial or imitation mozzarella cheese, which is actually worse than normal cheese. Imitation cheese not only has the saturated fats of normal cheese, but it also has much higher trans fats from hydrogenated oils.
This is pretty much cholesterol guaranteed. The rolls also contain mechanically separated chicken to create a paste-like consistency.
While mechanically separated poultry (MSP) has higher calcium and phosphorus, it also has higher fats which may contribute to fatty liver. This is because the bone marrow is separated from the meat before processing.
Annie’s Pizza Poppers
They are quite a bit better than Totino’s Pizza Rolls in terms of the ingredients used. Many ingredients like the romano cheese and other seasonings are 100% organic.
They also specifically do not use any rBST+, a bovine growth hormone found in some milk and dairy products. This brand also stays away from artificial colorants and flavorings.
Mama Cozzi’s Pizza Rolls
These are pretty much on par with Totino’s pizza rolls and snacks. Both contain butylated additives and nitrites. Mama Cozzi’s also has artificial color added to their rolls.
The calorie count is also comparable if a little on the lower side with Mama Cozzi. Plus, the Mama Cozzie brand offers a better bang for your buck as there are more pieces in the box, for the same price.
They also offer a much more generous helping of meat and cheese compared to many other brands.
Kroger’s Pizza Snack Rolls
They get everything wrong. They have artificial dyes like Yellow 5 and Yellow 6 which may trigger hyperactivity. They are also suspected to be contaminated with cancer-causing compounds. They offer no additional value for money as compared to say Mama Cozzies.
Feel Good Food Pizza Rolls
They have a slight edge over the other pizza rolls in terms of nutrition. They are gluten-free which makes them safe for those with celiac disease or gluten intolerance. So you can enjoy a scrumptious pizza without worrying about an immune reaction. The brand also uses a healthy alternative crust in the form of a cauliflower flour base.
How many calories are in a pizza roll?
Each brand has a different amount of calories based on its contents. The following table provides a comparison of pizza roll calories per 5-7 pieces or 77-85 grams, which is the standard serving size.
We will also list a few varieties within each brand. This will give you a better idea of how different ingredients contribute to varying calories.
|Pizza Roll Brand
|Calories per 77-85 grams (5-7 pieces)
|Feel Good Food Chicken Sausage Snack Bites
|Feel Good Food Uncured Pepperoni Snack Bites
|Totino’s Triple Meat Pizza Rolls
|Totino’s Supreme Pizza Rolls
|Kroger Combination Pizza Snack Rolls
|Kroger Triple Meat Frozen Pizza Rolls
|Kroger Pepperoni Bag Pizza Rolls
|Annie’s Pepperoni Pizza Poppers
|Annie’s Three Cheese Pizza Poppers
|Mama Cozzi’s Pizza Snacks
Do pizza rolls make you fat? How many pizza rolls are too many?
You bet they do! One or two pizza rolls once in a while won’t do any harm. But regular consumption of these sinful delights can pack on the pounds. Whether they are homemade or store-bought, pizza rolls are calorie-dense. What with the meat, cheese, and batter?
You can always choose healthier options like vegan cheese and whole wheat flour for the batter. You can also choose to bake or microwave these bad boys rather than frying them up in fatty oils.
But either way, a single pocket will come up to at least 50 calories or so. So when considering how many are too many, think of your daily caloric requirements.
An average woman and man need 2500 to 3000 calories respectively. Minus about 500 calories if you are at a desk job or have a sedentary lifestyle.
So if you scarf down about 20 pizza rolls, (which is quite an easy feat), you will reach 1/3rd of your daily dietary calorie requirements. And you probably know how moreish these treats are- before you know it, you’ve packed down a few tens!
Frequent consumption of such high-calorie quantities will cause weight gain, cholesterol, and even mood disorders.
Do pizza rolls contain gluten?
Most brands of pizza rolls do contain gluten. Totino’s, Annie’s, and Kroger pizza snacks or rolls all have a wheat flour base. The wheat flour may also be enriched with compounds like niacin, riboflavin, and folic acid.
Some bases may also contain malted barley flour which can cause sensitivity and anaphylactic shock in people with celiac disease.
But the Feel Good Foods Pizza Snacks are 100% gluten-free.
They use cauliflower crust which doesn’t incorporate any gluten-containing grains. It is a dough made from cauliflower, eggs, seasonings and if for some, cheese as well. In addition, they use rice starch and rice flour as binding agents which are also gluten-free.
So if you suffer from gluten intolerance, or are merely looking for a lighter meal plan, opt for the FGF pizza snacks.
Do pizza rolls contain cheese?
What is a pizza roll without cheese? All the pizza roll brands mentioned do contain some type of cheese. These are usually mozzarella, pecorino romano, or alternatively asiago cheeses.
Mozzarella is quite soft and melty whereas romano is harder and easier to grate onto the base. Romano is also quite acidic compared to asiago which is creamier and slightly nutty depending on its maturity.
Some pizza rolls like Totino’s also use imitation mozzarella, which is made from vegetable oils, some proteins, and some milk derivatives like caseinates. Sometimes zero fat cheese or enzyme-modified cheese made from cheese curds are also used.
Do pizza rolls contain dairy?
Most pizza rolls available do contain some dairy product or derivative. All of them contain either milk or cheese. In addition, they contain milk or buttermilk solids which help the rolls to be fluffy and crisp upon cooking.
Casein or milk proteins are also incorporated to provide the right consistency and texture. Cheese cultures or bacteria derived from cheeses are also added in to bring out a richer, more complex flavor from the cheese used.
Do pizza rolls contain protein?
Some pizza roll brands may explicitly contain proteins. These include dairy by-products like whey or whey proteins. These enrich the dough with protein and reduce the carbohydrate and fat content of the rolls. It is a healthier option when creating the dough.
It also has multiple other functions such as emulsion and stabilization of the ingredients. It prevents the separation of oil and water-based components. It also assists the dough to fluff up and brown nicely when cooked. Whey proteins also prolong the shelf-life of the pizza rolls.
Totino’s has about 5 grams of protein per serving (6 rolls). In comparison, Kroger pizza snacks have about 8 grams. Kroger also uses other proteins like soy protein isolate and milk protein isolate.
These help with the binding and smoothness of the dough and add in significant calcium and protein.
Can pregnant women eat pizza rolls?
Pregnant women should ideally avoid processed foods like pizza rolls. If you are expecting and still carving the cheesy goodness, then there are a few suggestions to keep in mind. Eat the pizza rolls in moderation, and only if there is no other option.
Check the ingredients list and avoid pizza rolls which have a lot of preservatives. BHT, BHA, nitrates, and nitrites can all affect the well-being of your unborn child. They may be toxic and affect the neurological and physiological development of your baby.
They may also disrupt hormones to the disadvantage of you and the fetus. This usually happens when large doses are ingested. So while a few pizza rolls, in limited amounts, should be safe, don’t overdo it.
If you are craving the salty, cured meats in the pizza rolls, we would advise you to find an alternative. There have been a few occasions in which the Listeria bacterium has infected consumers from deli meats.
But this is unlikely since you will be heating the rolls before consumption which will eliminate microorganisms. But if you want to be on the safe side, keep your consumption of these to a minimum.
In any case, regular intake of high saturated fat, trans fat, and high sodium content in meats and cheese can adversely affect both mother and child. It can cause hypertension and gestational diabetes. It may also pass on the propensity for obesity to the growing baby.
Pizza rolls are a nice, potable little snack you can carry along with you in case of those emergency hunger pangs. But repay our efforts at demystifying this treat- keep a count on ‘em and enjoy good health too!
I am Anand, and I am a business owner and consultant in my day job. I have spent years studying what’s inside the products we buy. ‘Feedrer’ is a wordplay on you-know-who and talks about all things food.