Strict, Lazy, Dirty Pizza

I freaking love pizza.

How do you like yours? Disciplined and fully loaded with veg, super convenient and ready in 10-20, or delivered to your door piping hot thanks to a local pizza place? My family falls somewhere between lazy and dirty on the low carb spectrum.

Jump to: Strict Pizza | Lazy Pizza | Dirty Pizza | The End

You can probably imagine what each of those silly labels mean, but just for kicks:

  • Strict/Clean – food comes from whole, nutrient dense, organic, grass-fed, hormone-free, etc. sources; nothing processed.
  • Lazy – food comes from what’s readily available (sometimes whole/clean, sometimes what’s on sale); can include processed products.
  • Dirty – food comes from anything, anywhere, so long as it fits your macros and keeps you low carb or in ketosis.

A well-rounded, healthy-for-YOU kinda diet is likely going to be a blend of all the above, plus your own special spin on things. Labels are really only good for helping you connect with certain online communities, finding specific kinds of recipes, or browsing tips for eating out, like in this post…

Whichever way you choose to eat, if it’s overall lower carb than the Standard American Diet (SAD), then it’s simply a lower carb diet. If it’s low enough in carbs that it naturally puts your body in ketosis, then it’s a ketogenic diet. End of story! In terms of defining how you eat, it makes absolutely no difference where your food is sourced from or “if it fits your macros”. That’s all 100% up to you, your budget, what’s available in your area, and what works for you/your family.

Strict Pizza

The first question I always see about Strict Pizza is: What about the cheese?

Some folks following a very strict low carb plan typically forgo cheese since dairy can cause inflammation, among other uncomfortable side effects. But that doesn’t mean they have to forgo pizza, psh, what a silly thought – no pizza? Can’t even imagine it.

On the other hand, pizza without cheese can be… challenging. Not impossible though! If your way of eating doesn’t include dairy, you can either omit it completely or try out a dairy free cheese. Check out this list of dairy free cheese substitutes on The Spruce Eats. Just keep an eye on the ingredients and carb count, or better yet – make some faux cheese at home using whole, organic foods (swap out cashews for almonds or macadamias if you require something lower in carbs).

Okay, enough about cheese! The best way to know exactly what you’re eating and keeping it clean is to cook at home. Many recipes can be turned into a strict/clean version by using whole foods from good sources and steering clear of anything processed. Strict pizzas are often homemade with the freshest, high-quality ingredients such as: grass-fed ground meat, pasture-raised eggs, organic vegetables, and a can-do attitude.

How’s it done?

Personal Portobello Pizzas

Basic Vegetable Crust
The simplest idea we’ve come across is using large, sliced organic vegetables as the crust*, like eggplant or large portobello caps, brushing them with an olive oil/garlic salt blend and blind baking until crispy (drain any excess liquid). Then add your toppings and bake again. Slice, serve, enjoy!

Ground Beef Crust Pizza

Basic Meat Crust
Our favorite strict/clean pizza uses a meat crust* as the base. You can easily combine ground meat with fresh Italian spices and herbs, press it out into a pan to make a crust and let it cook until slightly brown – pat away excess grease then add your toppings with more spices and broil until everything is nicely roasted.

*Note: You can also use well-beaten eggs combined with crumbled or shredded meat, low carb flours (like almond, coconut, flaxseed, etc.), or vegetables (like spinach, riced cauliflower/broccoli/etc.) as a crust. Food processors make this a breeze. If you’re not dairy free, add some mozzarella too.

While my family enjoys a version of the meaty crust with cheese on top every once in a while, clearly, this is not the best option for everyone out there with the amount of dedication and knowledge required. It’s not always easy figuring out labels (free-from, seriously??) and trusting how your groceries were raised or farmed before showing up on the shelf. Plus, some areas are food deserts where a higher quality of ingredients simply isn’t feasible. And that’s okay. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with using what’s available and well within your budget. Omitting sugar and sticking to lower carb, higher fiber foods is still a heck of a lot cleaner than the typical SAD alternative.

It might be considered a stretch when one compares some Strict Pizzas to Traditional Pizzas. But should you try it, I promise you – the flavors are completely on point, the nutrition is off the chart, and you won’t likely miss your dear old friend, the carby crust.

Lazy Pizza

This is my happy place, right here in the land of Lazy Pizza. Options are infinite and the only limitation is your own creativity. Plus they’re so tasty and so easy. Just a few of my favorite things…

Note: Just because it’s Lazy, doesn’t mean it’s unhealthy. Lazy is partially about convenience, and sometimes it’s convenient to use ready-made, processed products like Kraft’s shredded mozzarella or marinara from low carb brands like Lucini, Mezzetta, and Rao’s. Just keep an eye on the nutrition label and ingredients used and steer clear of things that might make you feel bad.

Homemade Lazy Pizza Options

Low Carb Tortilla Pizza

The title says it all – a great option for those who like a thin crispy crust.

How’s it done?
– Poke some tiny holes around your tortillas
– Brush on some olive oil mixed with garlic salt or Italian seasoning
– Stick them in a 400° f oven for about 5-7 minutes (crispy but not too brown)
– Put on your toppings
– Bake for another 5 or until cheese is melty and bubbling

The same can be done with just about any low carb flatbread like Joseph’s Lavash or Cut Da Carb, though you may need to adjust your times.

Fathead Pizza

Fathead dough was created long ago by Tom Naughton’s (Fat Head movie) oldest brother’s oldest son. Since then, it’s evolved into a million variations. Basically – cheese is a good chameleon and an awesome base for a pizza.

How’s it done?
There are literally thousands of recipes for this out there so here’s the footnotes version of how *we* do it:
– Melt 2 oz cream cheese and 1 cup shredded mozzarella, quickly fold in 1 beaten egg, 1/2 cup almond flour (or equivalent in other low carb flour), and Italian seasoning
(if it gets tough to combine, microwave for about 10 seconds and work fast)
– Press into a lined pan and bake for about 15 minutes at 400° f.
– Add your toppings, bake for another 5-10 minutes.

Sometimes we leave out the cream cheese, sometimes we leave out the egg. A quick search online for Fathead Pizza Recipes is a great starting point, especially if you’re looking for something specific like “egg free fathead pizza”.

Other Homemade Low Carb Pizza Crust Options

We’ve also tried a myriad of slightly more complex pizza crust recipes that are just as pizza-worthy as the above, but we don’t make them often because we either lack the tools that make it easier (food processor) or they require quite a few ingredients which we don’t always have on hand. They’re still worth mentioning for those with a baking soul.

Store Bought Lazy Pizza Options

We’ve been lucky enough to find some frozen pizza options at our local grocery store. While we much prefer our homemade pizzas above, these are extremely convenient for nights where you. just. can’t. cook.

Dirty Pizza

I’m a fatty fat pizza vulture who’ll scrape off the toppings and leave the rest. This is how I do dirty pizza XD

Pick your favorite: Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, Little Caesar’s, Papa Murphy’s, Blaze Pizza, Marco’s Pizza, CiCis, Sbarro, California Pizza Kitchen, Donatos, Giordano’s, Hungry Howies, Marion’s Piazza, Flying Pizza, La Rosa’s Pizzaria, Rosati’s Pizza, Chuck E. Cheese’s and the list goes on forever.

Most halfway decent pizza places stick around forever because pizza makes people happy and we’re willing to pay for that happiness. But only one pizza joint on the list above makes a well-known, very low carb pizza crust option easily available: Blaze Pizza. I’m not personally in love with Blaze’s Keto Crust, but it’ll do in a pinch. If you’re okay with a slightly higher carb count, their cauliflower crust is delicious IMO. I believe CPK makes a cauli crust as well and a few other chains offer gluten free options (but neither cauliflower nor gluten free guarantee lower carbs).

What about everywhere else?

There’s a very simple option: just eat the toppings, including cheese, and ditch the crust. Some restaurants will go ahead and do this for you by special request, baking all toppings in a small dish. That’s not always possible though. My husband sees the sad, bare crust sitting there untouched as wasteful and wants so very badly to finish my plate, and I understand this completely.

But (!) if this is all that’s available and the healthier option for me is to toss out the crust after scavenging the tasty stuff on top, then that’s exactly what I’m gunna do. And there’s no shame in that. None, zilch, zero. CHOOSING to eat this way, rather than feeling forced and guilt-ridden, gives you incredible power over how you think about food and fueling yourself.

Obviously, you don’t have to eat JUST pizza toppings if your favorite joint offers more – you could also load up on a few sides like wings (no sweet sauces/breading), salads, jalapeno poppers… om nom.


Things change, times change, you change, so the way you eat will change. The whole point of trying something like low carb or keto or any diet that strays from the SAD way of eating (beyond obvious blood sugar and neurological reasons), is to build a healthier, sustainable relationship with food and figure out what’s best for your body. Until modern science comes up with something, it’s the only one you’ve got. So why not?


PS

Obviously, there are a lot of different ways to eat low carb. Some identify very closely with some of these labels and may disagree with our interpretation. And that’s ok. You do you, just be healthy and happy ❤️

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Giving Thanks

Grateful feels and a stretchy waistband. You know EXACTLY what I’m talkin’ bout, right?

Anyone who knows me well, knows I used to absolutely dread Thanksgiving and honestly, it’s still my least favorite holiday. Except for the food. It’s always been a break from the everyday dietary routine, a much needed break from work or school, a break to just simply stop and think about what you’re thankful for (e.g. food), and eat until you can’t feel your toes anymore.

Obviously, this holiday holds far more significance than simply stuffing our faces. Throughout history and across the world, it’s deeply rooted in celebrating the year’s harvest. In small town communities across the US, it’s deeply rooted in prayer, football, and turkey.

Thanksgiving is pretty much the same around here since going low carb. We celebrate our harvest (feeding and watering a kid is tough work!) and we give thanks for the good things, big and small, that made it all worthwhile. The only difference is the menu.

Jump To: Chicken | Stuffing | Green Beans | Sweet Potato Casserole | Pie | Bonus | The End

On the menu:

Rotisserie Chicken

Full Disclosure: Turkey is not my favorite foul.

If I had to choose between Turkey and Chicken, I’d choose… Steak. BUT. Chicken is a great runner up when so many local grocers offer these little roasted delights at such a great price. If we had a larger family to feed, we might opt for something else. Honestly, any great cut of meat that’s roasted in some parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme (you’re totally singing it in your head…) will make your house smell like Thanksgiving and give your taste buds a delicious sense of nostalgia.

Low Carb Stuffing

Hey, remember that super long post I did a few weeks ago about Low Carb Bread? That post is Low Carb Stuffing’s best friend.

I wasn’t sure what we were gunna use to make our stuffing low carb friendly. Early on, I was leaning toward something homemade but we ended up finding a loaf of Sola’s Low Carb Bread at our local supermarket (freezer section) and decided to give it a spin. Each slice is about 3g net carbs and we used 6 – cubed and toasted. Add in some celery, onion, broth, and a few other key ingredients like parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme ( ♪ ♫ ♪ ) and you’re well on your way toward a semi-traditional Thanksgiving dish.

Roasted Green Beans and Bacon

Because BACON makes everything taste better. It’s true.

We don’t use bacon very often, never have, but I strongly believe it should always have a place in the Foodiest Holiday of the Year. Today, it has a first row seat with fresh snapped green beans, tossed with sea salt, ginger powder, and garlic then roasted until crispy.

Sweet Potato Casserole

This is NOT keto-friendly, not by a long shot. Sweet Potatoes are loaded with carbs (healthy, nutritious ones thankfully – helllooo vitamin A!) so making my husband’s favorite Thanksgiving side dish remotely low carb, complete with MARSHMALLOWS on top, was a massive challenge. If you keep the serving size small and you keep to just ONE serving, this *might* be considered a low carb safe casserole. It really depends on what your body can handle in a day’s worth of eating. The hubs special requested this holiday dish long before November rolled around, so this is the recipe we (literally) mashed together:

Ingredients

  • 2 cups frozen cubed sweet potatoes (plain, drained) or fresh sweet potatoes
  • 5 oz sugar free marshmallows*
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 3 tbsp brown sugar substitute – we used Sukrin Gold
  • 3 tbsp unsalted butter (room temp)
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • Pinch of salt

* We were juggling many dishes this year and short on D-Day time, so we’re using ready-made La Nouba Sugar Free Marshmallows in this recipe. These contain Maltitol – a sugar alcohol that can cause blood sugar spikes and other unpleasant side effects in some people. The hubs seems immune. If you’re sensitive to Maltitol, we highly recommend making your own marshmallows at home (pretty easy actually!) or omitting them altogether.

Homemade Marshmallows: Recipe 1 | Recipe 2

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 375° f and grease an 8″ casserole dish.

2. Prepare the sweet potatoes according to package instructions (if frozen) or microwave fresh sweet potatoes until cooked through (don’t forget to poke holes in them!). If you have time, you can also boil or roast fresh potatoes until soft.

3. Place cubed sweet potatoes, cinnamon, brown sugar substitute, butter, vanilla, and salt in a large bowl.

4. Mash all the ingredients together until well combined. You can also pulse in a food processor for a finer texture.

5. Place the mixture into a greased baking dish, smooth the top with a spatula or spoon.

6. Sprinkle marshmallows on top.

7. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the marshmallows start to brown on top.

Makes 8″ casserole, 9 pieces| Serving: 1 piece| Net Carbs: 7.5g | Calories: 104
Disclaimer: Info provided here by entering the ingredients used into Carb Manager. These numbers can change based on the ingredients/brands/etc. you choose to use.

Pumpkin Pie

Low carb, sugar free pumpkin filling and buttery, almond flour crust topped with homemade whipped cream. The flavors were great (perhaps a bit too sweet?), but we had a minor fail with our pie crust shield and thoroughly burned the edges =(

We decided to be super sneaky and hide the burned rim under dollops of whipped cream…

Check out my pie crust recipe here
Note: While it’s sugar free and wheat free, it contains nuts and gluten. The bottom of the pie crust post has links to low carb sites with recipes that are nut free and gluten free.

Pumpkin Pie Filling Recipe

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups pumpkin puree (about 12oz, can use 15oz can if you’d like)
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream or coconut cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup erythritol or equivalent sweetener (use more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp ground ginger
  • pinch of salt

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 365° f and grease a pie pan.
If using a crust, follow directions for making crust and leave raw or very lightly blind baked – line edges with a pie shield or foil.

2. In a medium bowl, thoroughly mix puree, heavy cream, and eggs.

3. In a small bowl, combine sweetener, cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, salt.

4. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and mix well.

5. Pour the mixture into the pan or crust.

Tip: You may have filling leftover depending on pie pan shape/size and how thick the crust might be. In that case, you can always prepare small tart dishes/ramekins and bake some extra mini pies.

6. Bake for 40-50 minutes or until toothpick comes out clean. Wait about 15 minutes for pie to cool before cutting.

Makes 9″ pie with 8ish slices | Serving: 1 slice | Net Carbs: 3.6g | Calories: 126
Disclaimer: Info provided here by entering the ingredients used into Carb Manager. These numbers can change based on the ingredients/brands/etc. you choose to use.

Note: The above macros are for a crustless pumpkin pie. If you add in my low carb pie crust, each slice would come in just under 5g net carbs.

Bonus!

But not really… another special request the hubs made was cranberry sauce. Fresh, frozen, or canned cranberries are NOT low carb friendly, even less so than sweet potato casserole…

However – you CAN still make them without added sugar. Just wash and cook the cranberries in a stove top pot. Add in desired sweetener, a bit of lemon juice, maybe a few extra spices like cinnamon and cayenne pepper, then a dash of salt.

Cranberries don’t require any help turning gelatin-like as they already naturally contain a lot of pectin. Let the mix cool down and place it in a dish for serving or a jar to store in the fridge.

For a smooth texture, toss it into food processor or high powered blender before serving.

What I’d really like to know though – who has time to make homemade cranberry sauce from scratch the day of Thanksgiving??

Certainly not me, and I’m only prepping for a family of 3! It’s usually an afterthought if we remember it at all. So whatdya do? Well, like most, I turn to cranberry sauce in a can. We place the entire contents of the can into a little bowl and mix in cinnamon, nutmeg, and cayenne. And that’s that.


However you choose to celebrate the day, I truly hope your belly can be full of delicious food and that you can share it with folks who are hungry. ‘Cause for me, for always – this is the FOODIEST holiday of the year.

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7 Days of Low Carb Meals

Simple is best – and that’s how we try to keep it most days: Pick a protein, pick a fat, add 1-2 vegetables that grow above the ground. And that’s it!

You can always jazz up any meal, and obviously eat veg that grow IN the ground too – in moderation. But fancy or complicated is NEVER necessary for something delicious, filling, and homemade.

Start with the basics and build from there. Below you’ll find a week’s worth of simple low carb breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas. Most are staples or favorites for my little family.

Note: I don’t personally eat breakfast all that often, unless you count magical bean juice in various forms (coffee yay). The fam loves breakfast though, even better when it’s breakfast for dinner or lunch. I also meal prep egg cups/muffins and egg loaf for the Hubs, but meal prepping is a whole other post for another day…

Jump to 7 Days of Meals |~| SNACKS |~| Ready-Made |~| Bonus

Keep it Simple Keto: 7 Days of Meals

Sunday

Breakfast
Eggs fried in butter, side of sausage and spinach

Lunch
Antipasto platter – example: salami, pre-made meatballs or other cold cuts, with a side of cheese cubes/slices, olives, and celery – drizzle plate with a little olive oil and sprinkle with salt

Dinner
Steak and shrimp lightly pan fried in olive oil, side of whole green beans – all cooked in the same pan. Easy clean-up ftw!

Monday

Breakfast
Two Good yogurt cup with blueberries or cinnamon

Lunch
Breadless sandwich – example: colby jack slices, natural cold cuts (we like roast beef & roast turkey, sometimes salami) wrapped in lettuce, side of dill pickles or olives

Dinner
Blackened chicken tenders with zucchini fries, sugar free honey mustard for dipping

Tuesday

Breakfast
Peanut Butter Protein Shake
Recipe

Lunch
Leftover chicken, shredded and tossed with sugar free sauce (bbq, teriyaki, etc), olive oil, and broccoli

Dinner
Taco bowl – example: ground beef with taco seasoning, chopped lettuce or spinach, topped with optional green onions, halved cherry tomatoes, sour cream, and cheese

Wednesday

Breakfast
Keto Frappe or Fatty Coffee (blended with butter, ghee, coconut oil)
Recipe 1 | Recipe 2 | Recipe 3

Lunch
Loaded vegetables – example: broccoli topped with real bacon bits, sour cream, and cheese

Dinner
Salmon coated in lemon pepper seasoning, lightly seared in olive oil, side of zucchini noodles

Thursday

Breakfast
Scrambled eggs or omelette with spring onions, spinach, and bacon

Lunch
Breadless sandwich – example: natural cold cuts with greens, side of crispy cheese chips or pork rinds

Dinner
Pork egg roll in a bowl
Recipe 1 | Recipe 2

Friday

Breakfast
Blueberry protein shake
Recipe 1 | Recipe 2

Lunch
Leftover taco meat in cheese shells

Dinner
Fathead Pizza and/or chicken wings. You could swap out the fathead crust for low carb tortillas or wraps, cauliflower crust, almond flour crust, etc.

Saturday

Breakfast
Blender pancakes, just like how it sounds – blend cream cheese, eggs, and coconut flour (or sub with almond flour or psyllium husk), sweetener, and vanilla. Pour batter into piping hot, greased skillet and make pancakes as normal. Our favorite blender pancake recipe so far can be found at Low Carb with Jennifer.

Lunch
Low carb tortilla quesadillas stuffed with meat and cheese, side of sour cream mixed with spinach for dipping

Dinner
Boneless pork chop, side of roasted asparagus and zucchini

SNACKS

When you eat enough fat during a meal, it makes you feel full and satisfied and energized. It usually carries you through to the next meal without any need for snacks. Sometimes we just don’t get enough fat for fuel or we’re feeling kinda snacky. It can be a difficult habit to break after a lifetime of carb loading every few hours or less, especially when times get stressful or incredibly boring. So, what d’ya eat when you need some extra oomph?

  • Crunchy: pork rinds, nuts/seeds, cheese crisps, coconut chips, keto crackers (like flackers), vegetables with ranch
  • Sweet: blueberries or strawberries, sugar free jello, sugar free chocolate/dark chocolate, keto cookies
  • Salty: olives, pickles, natural nut butters, broth
  • Meaty: beef jerky or biltong, meat sticks, cold cuts, pepperoni chips, bacon chips, hard boiled egg
  • Fatty: fat bombs, fatty coffee, string cheese, avacado, egg loaf

Freezer & Pantry Ready-Made Foods

This is just a quick addendum – the low carb market is BOOMING these days and it’s becoming easier to find sugar free and low carb snacks and meals, already made and ready to eat beyond the old school offerings of Atkins and Weight Watchers. A quick search for keto food or low carb food on Amazon or Netrition, for example, yields thousands of results.

Please remember that just because something is labeled as keto or low carb, the ingredients may still not be that great. Some people are way more sensitive to certain fillers, dyes, preservatives, etc. so always check the label before eating.

Some low carb branded foods we’ve tried and enjoyed so far:
HighKey Cookies, Quest Frozen Protein Pizza, RealGood Frozen Cheese Enchiladas, Great Low Carb Bread Co. Pastas, ChocZero Chocolate and Syrup, Keto and Co Fudge Brownies, Sola Bread Loaf, Cut Da Carb Wraps, La Banderita Tortillas, G Hughes Sugar Free Sauce

Bonus!

Eating homemade meals EVERY SINGLE DAY for an entire week isn’t always easy – sometimes it’s just not possible. Even less so when family, friends, and coworkers aren’t participating or supportive. But eating out and staying low carb can be incredibly simple.

  • Want a burger? Awesome! Ditch the bun and ketchup/bbq sauce, load up on the lettuce, cheese, and other favorite veg toppings/condiments. Maybe order 2…
  • Want a sub? See above.
  • Want a pizza? Cool! Eat the toppings (yep, *just* the toppings, including cheese) and order some wings on the side (go traditional, unbreaded wings, avoid anything with a sweet sauce).
  • Want tacos? Yessss, love tacos – put it in a bowl! Avoid rice/tortillas.
  • Want nuggets? My very own achilles heel. Popeyes, Chick-Fil-A, PDQ, and many others offer unbreaded, grilled, and/or blackened tenders.
  • What about those fries? Just say no. Sub it out for a different vegetable, something green preferably, or simply pass on sides altogether and double up on everything else.

Obviously, there are tons of ways to eat low carb while you’re out that won’t ruin your day beyond the points above. I just follow the same basic rules eating out as I do at home and that simplifies the whole experience – like a mantra: pick a protein, pick a fat, pick a vegetable.

If you’re super detail-oriented or thrive on preparing for that random, unexpected night out, the guides below are for you. These articles and posts are full of ideas and suggestions for some of the most popular restaurant and fast food chains across the US:

Fast Food Hacks (Pinterest Board)
This collection is primarily based on Brandon Carter’s @ketohackershop fast food graphics (and a few others). Check out his Instagram for ideas that go way beyond fast food.

How To Order Keto At All Your Favorite Places
Love + Marriage Blog offers a great roundup of popular restaurants with suggestions on how to keep your order low carb.

Mr. SkinnyPant’s Fast Food Guides
Ryan Luedecke is a wealth of information – his guides for the top 30 fast food chains in the US are incredibly detailed and great for beginners or those who like to be very thorough in their research.


Last but not least, if you know you’re going out to a particular place and you’re worried about what to order, try looking up the restaurant’s website and see if they offer nutritional info on their dishes. At minimum, most display a menu so you can take your time and think about what you’d like to order and how to customize it.