The project, led by businessman Donnie Maclean and Glasgow University Professor Mike Lean, was born out of frustration that supermarket ready-meals simply do not cater to our nutritional needs.
According to one study carried out by the team, ready-meals from Scotland’s top five supermarkets often exceeded the daily recommended intake of salt and saturated fat and neglected to provide any other necessary nutrients.
Prof Lean claims the easiest way to get a balanced diet is to eat nutritionally balanced meals: “Three of those a day and you’ve done it,” he said. “But at the moment commercially prepared meals are not nutritionally balanced.”
The big dilemma all fast-food and ready-meal developers face is this: how do you create strong, tasty, desirable flavours without including fat, sugar or salt?
During their research, Prof Lean and the team came across an interesting new ingredient starting to be used in the production of artisan bread.
Seaweed has a sodium content of 3.5% compared with the 40% present in salt. It also provides iodine, vitamin B12 and other nutrients. By mixing seaweed into the pizza dough, the team managed to dramatically reduce the pizza’s salt content without compromising on flavour. They also blended red pepper into the tomato sauce to add a touch of sweetness along with highly beneficial vitamin C.
The pizza is designed to provide 30% of an adult’s daily recommended calorie intake. According to government guidelines, 20% of an adult’s calorie intake should be consumed at breakfast, 30% at lunch and 30% at dinner, making the pizza an excellent lunch or dinner choice.
One survey showed that seven out of 10 British adults regularly eat pizza, boosting a market set to be worth £1bn by 2016.
The new nutritionally balanced pizzas have already been bought by one large supermarket chain and although they will be slightly more expensive than other frozen pizzas, they are set to revolutionise the current ready-meal market, helping us pave the way for a healthier future.
Prof Lean and his team are now busy developing other popular ready-meals, including nutritionally balanced curry and fish ‘n’ chips.