The Healthiest Frozen Foods in the Supermarket: Cheese and Pesto Pizzas
A good pizza requires the perfect balance of cheese to sauce, a nice blend of cheese, a fresh-tasting sauce, and a solid crust. Would it be achievable for a frozen pizza to have all this and meet our nutrition standards? Luckily, the answer was "yes" as we found several products that we think are great to keep on hand for Friday night.
Taste Test Winners:
A gluten-free crust made with whole grains serves as the base for the more-than-ample amount of mozzarella and provolone cheese. The sauce is seasoned nicely with a blend of Italian seasonings that includes rosemary, oregano, thyme and basil, but what made this pizza the favorite was the cheese - perfectly melted with a nice, salty edge. $6.99, vegetarian, gluten-free
Serving size: ½ of pizza
Calories 270; Fat 8g (sat 4g); Protein 13g; Carb 38g; Fiber 5g; Sugars 1g; Chol 30mg; Iron 1mg; Sodium 550mg; Calc 300mg
Pesto made from fresh basil and high-quality olive oil is hard to beat, and this pizza has it. An organic pesto sauce takes the place of tomato sauce and is topped with a two-cheese blend, tomato slices and broccoli florets. Tomato and broccoli provide a fresh bite that helps cut the richness of the pesto and cheese. The crust was thin, but surprisingly fluffy and light. $6.99, vegetarian
Serving size: ⅓ of pizza
Calories 310; Fat 12g (sat 3.5g); Protein 12g; Carb 39g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 3g; Chol 10mg; Iron 3mg; Sodium 480mg; Calc 150mg
Others We Liked:
The four-cheese blend includes fontina, mozzarella, provolone and Parmesan which create a well-rounded cheese flavor. The crust uses refined wheat flour, but adds wheat germ and bran back to it. An odd technique, but, nevertheless, got the whole grains benefits in. Serving size is generous, making this a solid cheese pizza the whole family will like. $6.99, vegetarian
Serving size: ⅓ of pizza
Calories 290; Fat 14g (sat 5g); Protein 12g; Carb 31g; Fiber 2g; Sugars 2g; Chol 20mg; Iron 2mg; Sodium 590mg; Calc 200mg
Things to Look for on Labels:
- Whole Grains: Unfortunately, it's still rare to find a 100% whole grain crust, but you can find pizzas with some whole grains. Look for the word "whole" in front of the grain or flour and near the top of the list of the ingredients list. Also, check gluten-free options that occasionally use brown rice and other whole grain, gluten-free flour blends in place of refined wheat.
- Serving Size: The number of slices you get per serving can differ greatly among brands, so check the serving size when checking out the nutrition facts to make sure it's a realistic amount and worth the calories.
- Saturated Fat: Plenty of cheese is an absolute must on pizza, but the saturated fat in cheese can add up quickly. Keep sat fat to a minimum by looking for one with ⪯ 7g saturated fat if divided into 3 servings; aim for ⪯ 5g saturated fat if cut into 4 servings.
How We Tested
Only frozen foods that met Cooking Light’s nutrition guidelines were tested. Products were eliminated based on the following: lack of calorie and/or protein adequacy, lack of whole grains, presence of trans fat or hydrogenation, presence of significant added sugars, and presence of artificial coloring or sweeteners. All frozen foods were cooked according to package directions and taste tested by a panel of Cooking Light editors and staff. To ensure consistency, Breville microwaves were used to cook all foods.