Despite the fact that it’s incredibly convenient and always satisfies our hungry inner child, frozen pizza isn’t exactly wholesome. But never fear! If we take the healthiest packaged pizza crusts and pile them with veggies, well, now we’re onto something.
While pizza is no match for a bed of greens and a nutritious grain, frozen crusts or packaged fresh dough can serve as a good base for a balanced meal. Imagine adding healthy, delicious ingredients: antioxidant-packed tomato sauce; basil, eggplant and red peppers from the farmers’ market; and a little bit of organic cheese. Put that atop a gluten-free crust made with almond and coconut flour, and voila! Dinner everyone loves, ready to eat without much prep time.
Healthy vs. Unhealthy Pizza
Of course, not all pizzas are created equal. Many are very high in sodium and contain lots of unhealthy or artificial ingredients and refined carbs. (We’re focusing on the crusts, but the same standards hold true for the ingredients in sauces and cheeses on many store-bought ’zas.)
That’s why Giuseppe Russolillo, president of the Spanish Association of Nutritionists, told the BBC: “You have to bear in mind that while in the majority of Italy, [pizza] is an artisanal product, in the U.S., it is more related to junk food.”
Sure, pizza offers calcium and protein in the cheese and disease-fighting lycopene in the tomatoes, which is great as long as you don’t overdue portion size and use high quality ingredients.
Of course, crusts made with whole-wheat flour contain more fiber, which is a plus. But even whole-wheat bread ranks about as high on the glycemic index as white bread. If you’re watching your blood sugar, you’re probably better off skipping carb-heavy crusts for your savory pies, opting instead for one of the options presented below.
Yes, we surveyed many of the gluten-free pizza crust varieties available at grocery stores or online, then picked the healthiest packaged ones. And now you won’t even have to spend time reading nutrition facts at the supermarket.
The 5 Healthiest Packaged Pizza Crusts
When it comes to nutrition facts, it’s hard to beat Capello’s grain-free frozen crust. It’s made with healthy, whole-food ingredients like cage-free eggs, arrowroot flour, coconut oil and apple cider vinegar. It’s dairy-free and certified paleo (which means it’s actually not just gluten-free but grain-free!). Although not certified organic, Capello’s uses non-GMO ingredients.
The apt and clever name says it all. Healthy cauliflower is the main ingredient in this frozen gluten-free crust, which also includes brown rice flour, egg and yeast. It’s low in calories, sodium and sugar.
RELATED: The 6 Best Gluten-Free Flours
As with many products from the fan favorite of grocers, this gluten-free Trader Joe’s crust became instantly popular, so it might be tricky to find in your local TJ’s freezer aisle. (The fact that it costs half as much as competitors’ GF crusts probably has something to do with it!) Made from seven whole-food ingredients, including cauliflower and a touch of olive oil, it contains no fat and less than one gram of sugar per serving. While not certified vegan (it might contain traces of milk), the ingredient list contains no eggs nor dairy. The only downside is it contains corn flour and cornstarch, and we prefer our corn organic, since it’s a heavily pesticide-sprayed crop.
If you want to knead the dough yourself so you can feel a little more like a home cook, this dough mix is incredibly healthy. With almond flour, coconut flour and flax meal, it even provides a little protein and minerals in every slice. Vegan and paleo-friendly, it packs extra flavor thanks to the organic oregano and garlic .
Made primarily with brown rice flour and tapioca starch, this mix contains added flavor thanks to granulated garlic (yay, antioxidants!) and Italian seasonings.
Make Your Own Healthy Pizza Crust
Feeling ambitious? If so, you can always make your own healthy pizza crust. This recipe was shared with us by Mercedes Vargas, a Nutritious Life Certified holistic chef and health coach. Chef Vargas adapted the recipe on the bag of Caputo’s Fioreglut Gluten-Free Flour by adding semolina flour (which is not gluten-free) while rolling out the dough to add texture and prevent it from sticking to the stone.
“It worked beautifully the first time I made it,” Chef Vargas says. You can learn more about her approach to food and nutrition on her website, Eating Empowered With Mercedes.
Caputo 00 Gluten-Free Pizza Dough
- 3 ¾ cups Caputo 00 gluten-free flour
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 ⅔ cup of lukewarm water
- 2 ¼ teaspoons instant dried yeast
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
1. Place flour and salt in the mixer bowl.
2. In a measuring cup, add water, instant dried yeast and olive oil. Let it do its magic until yeast doubles in size.
3. Add yeast mixture to the flour in the bowl.
4. In the mixer with a hook attachment, mix dough into a ball.
5. Place the dough in a clean bowl. Cover and let rise for 2 hours.
6. Divide the dough into 4 equal parts, and let it rise again for 1 hour. Voila!
Here comes the fun part: Shaping and making the pizza. I like to add semolina flour when rolling out the dough. Preheat the oven to 425°F with a pizza stone.
Top with your favorite toppings, make it a white pizza, or add all vegetables and cheese (or not). Bake and enjoy!
Chicago-based writer/editor Web Behrens has spent most of his career covering arts and culture, mostly for the Chicago Tribune and Time Out Chicago. He counts cooking and baking among life's joys, having learned his way around a kitchen from his Bavarian grandmother and from being a strict vegetarian throughout the ’90s and ’00s.
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