Cheatza- The Very Skinny Pizza

March 20, 2014

Something that I think is the real key to maintaining a healthy diet is making things that don't make you feel like you are dieting.

Feeling like you are being deprived of what you want or, more likely, deserve after a long days work in the office, running around after family or just generally keeping the world ticking along is a major downer.

Feeling happy, healthy and fulfilled will make choosing the skinny option over the indulgent one every now and then oh so much easier.

We love pizza in my house. Artisan, stone baked crust from the local woodfire oven restaurant, by the slice from a parlour or frozen from the box, pizza is king in the Vine household.

Really fancying a pizza and not relishing the make up time at the gym afterwards- this is what we'll munch.

Ingredients: per person

1 chicken breast
a dollop of tomato sauce- I used my go to Roasted Red Pepper and Tomato Sauce, I keep portions stored in the freezer for just such occasions.
5/6 cherry tomatoes
2 table spoons of Ricotta cheese
1 table spoon of Peanut Pesto
A handful of fresh rocket leaves
Black pepper


The problematic bits of the pizza lie in the base and the cheese. You can control your topping choices but you need something to put them on and something to be all melty. Unfortunately, in large and persistent quantities pizza crust and gooey mozzarella start to add up calories wise.

I am not a scientist or a nutritionist so I cannot and would not be naive enough to give you the calorific quantities in this dish. Using United States Department of Agriculture's Nutrient Database for Standard Reference information (see below) to compare the nutritional values of various ingredients I have made some substitutions that I think make a skinnier pizza.

Start by preparing your base, the chicken breast. Sandwich the breast between two pieces of cling film and bash it out with a rolling pin until its evenly thin, about 1/3 inch thick.

Peel off the film and splat the chicken on to oiled foil or baking paper on a baking tray. Squash any renegade bits of chicken back together so that it's a rustic circular shape.

Depending on the consistency of your tomato sauce you may want to drop it into a pan for a couple of minutes to reduce it down so it is the consistency of tomato paste. Removing a bit of the moisture will stop your cheatza ending up a soggy mess.

Spread the thickened sauce over the chicken, then sprinkle over the chopped fresh tomato. Dollop on the ricotta and pesto then bake in a medium/hot oven (about 380F) for about 20-25 minutes. The chicken is thin so won't take too long, but will be kept moist by the toppings.

If you wanted to be incredibly virtuous you could leave off the pesto and garnish with fresh basil after the chicken is baked, but I feel that the pesto seasons the dish and the small amount of parmesan in it allows you to get away with a little bit of ricotta in the place of a lot of mozzarella.

When baked, remove from the oven and pile with rocket, do not be stingy- restraint with salad is not in your interest. Season with black pepper, you won't need salt because of the parmesan in the pesto.

So this is how I figure that my cheatza recipe is a skinny alternative to a regular pizza:

Using a chicken breast instead of the usual crust adds protein and reduces the carbohydrate content of the meal.

Pizza crust/Italian bread     271 per 100g
Chicken                             114 per 100g

58% fewer calories

I use peanuts in my pesto instead of pine nuts because they are cheaper and lower in calories. Basil is a robust flavour that adds interest to any Italian dish and whilst the parmesan in the pesto is high in fat it's strong flavour means you can use a very small amount.

Peanuts          585 per 100 g
Pine nuts        673 per 100g

13% less fat

Using the lower calorie ricotta (you could get even lower because I used the whole milk variety) means you can still have that creamy texture but without all the gym guilt.

Mozzarella      300 per 100g
Ricotta            174 per 100g

42% less fat

(Both whole milk)

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