A Healthier Chicago Pizza

A Healthier Chicago Pizza

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Fact checked by Shannon Sparks


Deep-dish pizza, one of Chicago’s signature menu items, dates back to at least the 1940s. 

Depending on which pizzeria owner or corporate historian you talk to, the first deep-dish pizza was created by either Uno’s; Rudy Malnati, Sr. (Lou Malnati’s first pizza chef); or Rosati’s. But no matter how you slice it, Chicago is known for its deep-dish. 

Delicious and oozing with cheese, a typical slice of deep-dish pizza contains a whopping 700 or so calories, not necessarily including the toppings. So how do you reduce the calories and increase a deep-dish’s nutrition?

The answer lies in transforming the crust with cauliflower, toning down the cheese, and adding a few more vegetables. The resulting pizza still has the heft of a regular deep-dish but less than a third of the calories. 

Healthier Deep-Dish Pizza

Healthier Deep-Dish Pizza

Toppings and Sauce


1 cup crushed tomatoes

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1/2 teaspoon garlic paste (or 1 garlic clove, minced)

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/8 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon brown sugar

1 pinch crushed red pepper flakes

1/2 cup low-fat ricotta

1/4 cup low-fat mozzarella

1/3 cup frozen spinach, thawed and drained

1/4 lb. bulk turkey sausage, formed into 4 patties and cooked

3 to 4 (about 1 oz.) white button mushrooms, sliced and cooked with olive oil spray 

1 tsp. shredded parmesan cheese

1/2 tsp. dried oregano


1. To cook the mushrooms: Heat a small pan on high for 1 minute. Remove from heat, and add olive oil. Then add sliced mushrooms. Sauté mushrooms until just cooked, about 3 to 4 minutes. 

2. To make the sauce: In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, garlic paste, Italian seasoning, sea salt, brown sugar, and red pepper flakes. Set aside until ready to use.


Cauliflower Cornmeal Crust


12oz frozen riced cauliflower

1 egg

1/4 cup cornmeal

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil divided into 1/2 teaspoons


1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking liner or parchment paper. Bake the cauliflower for 20 to 30 minutes, until golden, but watch to make sure that it doesn’t brown too much. Let cool for 5 minutes. Pulse roasted cauliflower in a food processor fitted with a standard blade or a high speed blender, until roasted cauliflower bits are more of a purée texture. Add the egg, and continue to pulse until combined. Then add cornmeal and salt; pulse until combined.

2. In a 6-inch cake pan, drizzle 1/2 teaspoon olive oil. Press the cauliflower-egg-cornmeal mixture until it covers the bottom and lines the sides of the pan. Drizzle the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil on top. Bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees. Remove from oven. Then add ricotta and mozzarella cheeses, spinach, mushrooms, sausage, and sauce. Sprinkle parmesan cheese and oregano on top. Bake for another 20 to 30 minutes until crust is golden and the cheese is melted. Makes one 6.5-inch pizza or 4 servings.

3. A serving is one slice: 210 calories, 9 g fat, 4 g sat fat, 0 g trans fat, 36 mg cholesterol, 500 mg sodium, 17 g carbohydrates, 5 g sugar, 4 g fiber, and 16 g protein.

Originally published in the Spring/Summer 2024 print issue.