Photo of chicken pesto flatbread with text overlay: You Don't Have to Give Up Pizza!

[Wellness Wednesday] You Don’t Have To Give Up Pizza!

Does anyone else here love pizza? Ever since I was young, it’s been one of my favorite foods. The problem is, pizza and wellness don’t exactly go hand-in-hand.

With all that white flour in the crust, fatty meat and cheese, and the outrageous amount of sodium, when we decide to improve our diet, we may have to break up with our favorite pizza restaurant.

What???!!! Live without pizza for the rest of my life??? Not gonna happen….

As I’ve said many times, I’m a firm believer in moderation in all things, especially when we’re trying to improve our wellness. If we don’t allow ourselves to eat and enjoy the foods we love, maintaining a healthy eating plan will be difficult, if not impossible.

While we may want to allow ourselves that treat of “the real thing” every now and then so we don’t feel deprived, it’s probably not something we want to eat routinely. For this week’s Wellness Wednesday, I thought I’d share one of my favorite pizza alternatives.

This particular one has those flavors we love in pizza – tomato, garlic, basil, cheese – but supports our wellness efforts better. I won’t say it’s low-fat; pesto uses a good amount of olive oil. The difference is that a good portion of the fat here comes from the olive oil, which as we all know, is a healthy fat.

The beauty of making your own pizza or flatbread is that you can make it as easy or as involved as you want it to be. You can make it completely from scratch, or you can “cheat” a little and use some pre-made components. It’s all up to you.

Pesto Chicken Pizza

Pesto Chicken Pizza

The Crust

I usually make my own crust. That way, I can control how much salt, sugar, and white flour are in it. As you may remember, I’ve recently been making all things sourdough, including this crust. I used the recipe here, and substituted half white whole-wheat flour for the all-purpose flour.

If you’d rather have a little help with the crust, you could start with a whole-wheat refrigerated pizza dough or a frozen gluten-free crust. You can also make individual “pizzas” using pitas or naan as a crust.

If you use a crust you’ll be baking, you’ll probably need to pre-bake it for about 10 minutes and let it cool slightly before you add any toppings.

The Toppings

For this one, the toppings are pretty simple: pesto, sliced tomatoes, cubed chicken, and cheese. I happened to have some leftover chicken breast, so I just cubed it and added it to the pizza to add a little protein. This was a great way to use up some of my leftovers.  If you’re a vegetarian, you could simply omit the chicken.


This is another place where you can take a little shortcut if you want to. You can buy pre-made pesto at the grocery. This is what I do in the winter when fresh basil isn’t readily available. My favorite brand is Rana, which is usually in the refrigerated section somewhere near the deli area.

If you choose to make your own, here’s how I make mine:

You Don't Have To Give Up Pizza!
My favorite brand of Italian cheese. They make several different blends and they’re all delicious!


3 cups packed basil

3 heaping tablespoons pine nuts

1 teaspoon coarse sea salt

3 large garlic cloves

1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano or a mixture of hard Italian cheeses

Place the basil, pine nuts, salt, and garlic cloves into a food processor or blender and run it steadily while adding the oil in a small but steady stream. Don’t overprocess – you’ll want it to have a grainy texture. Once you have the desired texture, add in your cheese and process it briefly, just to incorporate it into the other ingredients.

This makes quite a bit of pesto, so if you only want it for your pizza, you may want to halve the recipe.

Layering the Toppings

  • Once the crust has cooled slightly, spread the pesto over the crust, leaving a border of crust about 1/2 – 3/4 inch wide. If you haven’t tried pesto before, a little goes a long way. You may want to keep it fairly light initially. You could always drizzle a little more on it after it’s done if you feel you need more.
  • Slice the tomatoes very thinly and layer over the pesto.
  • If you’re using chicken, cube it and toss it over the tomatoes.
  • Finish with cheese. To give it that “pizza” taste, it’s good to use some shredded mozzarella, but unlike the pizza restaurants, you don’t want a heavy layer. To add more flavor without adding lots more cheese, you can sprinkle an Italian blend (the one used in the pesto is great) over it.

Bake it at 450 degrees until the crust is completely done and the cheese is melted and starting to turn golden. Serve it with a nice salad and you have a healthy, delicious dinner!

You may be thinking, “this sounds pretty involved.” It can be if you make everything from scratch and try to make all the different components on the same day. The nice thing is that the crust, pesto, and chicken can all be made at different times.

Of course, you really cut down on the work and time involved if you use some of the little helpers I mentioned.

Are you a pizza lover? Do you have a favorite pizza alternative? Please share!




  1. I’ve had my tea, but your post has made me hungry again Terri! I enjoy pizza but very few agree with me, mainly the high salt causes a big flare up. I never buy pizzas, occasionally use a wrap, tomato base, pesto, chicken, basil leaves and small helping of cheese. It solves a craving.

    1. Sorry to make you hungry Marie — not really…😁I hardly ever eat regular pizza anymore, either, especially not the kind you get at a pizza place. Like you, it just doesn’t agree with me. That’s why I like making my own; I get to control what goes in/on it. Yours made with the wrap sounds delicious! I love finding ways to solve those cravings without going overboard, don’t you? Hope you’re doing well sweet friend. Hugs!

      1. I agree Terri, it really helps not to go overboard. It’s all about trying to find alternative solutions and it’s a lot of trial and error! I’m as good as can be, I hope you are too. Xx

  2. Love pizza, and for so long couldn’t do wheat or dairy, but now that I am reintroducing cheese, we have found a few gluten free crusts that work. Making our own does help to moderate the effects and we like it as much or better than take out.

    1. I’m glad you’re tolerating the cheese okay V.J.. Finding good gluten-free crusts isn’t all that easy either, so it’s great that you have found some that work for you. Do you have a favorite brand you’d like to share with others who are gluten-free? Hugs!

      1. It’s a one of bakery, in town, that makes them and freezes them. Although, I think we got some from Walmart that weren’t bad.

      2. It’s nice to have a local bakery that does gluten free! Thanks for letting us know!

    1. Thanks Kim! Sorry about all the hassle with it. I don’t know what happened…. They’ve changed the reblog process a little. I was trying to reblog my interview with Pamela the other day and it took me a few minutes to figure out what I was doing….😊

    1. Thanks for the reblog Kim! If you make this one, I hope you enjoy it! Hugs!

  3. Great tips & a fab recipe! I’ve never attempted to make my own pizza, but I do tend to change the toppings for frozen ones from the supermarket (ie. swapping the pepper for freshly cut peppers as I don’t digest their squidgy stuff well, taking off some of the cheese, adding my own chicken). It’s about finding ways to work around your health issues and adapting so we can still enjoy the things we like. I’m going to have a look into making my own crust and base now, so thanks for sharing this. Nicely done Terri, I’ll raise a slice of pizza in your honour the next time I have some 😀
    Caz xx

    1. Thanks for sharing some great ways to “doctor up” frozen pizzas to make them healthier Caz! Those are some great tips! You make a great point about us needing to find a way around our health issues and adapting. I appreciate your kind words too, sweet friend!

  4. Totally loved this Terri! Pizza is my all time go to food when I can think of what to eat. And your recipe for the Pesto Chicken Pizza looks so delish! I’m actually going try to make it this weekend cause the picture makes me want to know what it tastes like!

    1. Thanks so much Mark! I hope you enjoy it – it’s one of our favorites. Please let me know what you think of it.

    1. I hope you enjoy it Don! We love pesto, so it’s one of our favorites. Please let me know what you think after you try it.

  5. Yum!
    Being celiac getting a good gf base is difficult but I find gf English muffins sliced in two with my favorite toppings for mini pizzas works 😀

    1. Thanks for sharing a great tip Jennifer! Those English muffins make fabulous bases for mini pizzas, don’t they? Hope you’re doing well!

  6. Terri, looks yummy..will try when I have a few extra minutes. I prefer homemade myself.. Is there a reason who do not use tomato sauce? Do you have any choice on mozz. cheese? I used to get the Frigo @ Sam’s but now they only have Member’s Mark which I nor my family like it. Thanks.

    1. Thank you so much J! I do use tomato sauce and make traditional pizza sometimes, but I don’t eat red sauce all that often due to my tummy troubles. As far as the mozzarella goes, I usually use the Italian Blend (I think Sargento and Kraft both make them) instead of mozzarella. If you decide to make your own crust and need a sourdough starter, let me know. I’ll be happy to give you one. I always have extra starter.😊Sending hugs!

    1. Thanks so much Bette! I hope if you try it you enjoy it. This one is one of my favorites.

    1. Thanks for a good chuckle on this Monday morning Marty! I must say, though, the whole thing about eating more of other things to satisfy that craving is absolutely true. Better to eat a little of what you really want than to eat everything else in the house because you’re trying to satisfy that desire for a particular food. Thanks for stopping by!

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