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A Climber's Guide to Pizza

Pizza to keep your body fueled and taste buds singing

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This story originally appeared in the July 2014 issue of our print edition.

A Climbers Guide to Pizza Recipe Nutrition
Photo: Ben Fullerton

Pizza is more than comfort food; it’s a staple of the climber diet. Make a couple tactical ingredient upgrades on those formerly cheesy, meaty messes, and it also becomes a killer recovery meal after torturing your muscles all day at the crag. This Greek Tortilla Pizza recipe from the Racing Weight Cookbook not only includes a full serving of whole grains, dairy, and vegetables, but it’s also low in fat, easy to make, and it will satisfy cravings without weighing you down. The whole pie is only 277 calories with 29 grams of carbohydrates, while one slice of a large, hand-tossed pepperoni pizza from Domino’s has 330 calories and about 40 carbs. Plus, this tortilla creation has complex carbs (unlike the Domino’s pie, which has simple carbs, aka the bad ones that spike your blood-sugar level), which take a long time to break down, offering a long and steady stream of energy. The balance of protein, fat, and carbs is excellent for muscle recovery. Make this after a long day of pulling down or pack it in tin foil for lunch at the crag. Dr. Allen Lim, the fueling mastermind behind Skratch Labs, says, “It won’t make you feel sluggish and leave you wanting a post-lunch nap.” Best part: 15 minutes is all it takes to put together.


  • 1 whole-grain or sprouted-grain tortilla
  • ½ cup prepared pizza sauce
  • 2 tablespoons (1 oz.) crumbled feta cheese
  • ¼ cup sliced mushrooms
  • ¼ cup sliced onion
  • ¼ cup sliced red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons sliced Kalamata olives
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper
  2. Place tortilla on baking sheet and evenly spread pizza sauce. Top with mushrooms, peppers, onions, olives, and feta. Bake for 10 minutes
  3. Sprinkle with oregano, if desired, before serving. Cut into slices

Nutrition Facts (per pizza)
Energy: 277 cal • Fat: 15g • Carbs: 29g • Fiber: 11g • Protein: 15g

Recipe republished with permission of VeloPress from the Racing
Weight Cookbook. Try more recipes at

The Best Frozen Pizzas

Because sometimes you’re just too torched to cook

Amys Roasted Veggie Pizza

Amy’s Roasted Vegetable
280 cal, 9g fat, 7g protein per serving (1/3 pizza)
Most people wouldn’t look twice at this cheese- and meat-free dish, but the semi-sweet balsamic and tomato sauce combined with shiitake mushrooms, roasted red peppers, and artichokes really hits the spot. And you can share it with your vegan and vegetarian friends—but we doubt you’ll want to.

Kashi Thin Crust Mediterranean Pizza

Kashi Thin Crust Mediterranean
290 cal, 9g fat, 15g protein per serving (1/3 pizza)
Surprisingly, this vegetarian pie packs a powerful protein punch with 15 grams per serving (45g for the whole pie). That’s thanks to the tasty blend of four cheeses: mozzarella, cheddar, asiago, and feta, which also made it one of the yummiest in the bunch. Flaxseed in the crust is good for your heart, too.

Newman’s Own BBQ Chicken Thin Crust Pizza

Newman’s Own BBQ Chicken Thin Crust
290 cal, 9g fat, 17g protein per serving (1/3 pizza)
Specialty pizzas can pack on the calories (we’re looking at you, Meat Lover’s Stuffed Crust), but this one keeps the bad numbers low and has more protein than some of the other supreme pizzas we checked out. It’s also slightly larger with a heartier crust, which proved the most filling in our test.

*We tested commonly available frozen pizzas, vetting them for calorie count as well as protein, fat, quality of ingredients—and, of course, taste. Note that most frozen pizzas, these included, are high in sodium. Chase it with an extra glass of water to stay hydrated.

Ordering Out?

Guidelines for choosing a healthy pie

Tomorrow you will…

Send it!
Order: Light cheese, chicken, peppers, onions, olives, thin crust

Hit easy climbs for a mileage day
Regular cheese, pepperoni, mushrooms, hand-tossed crust

Extra cheese, supreme with multiple meats, deep-dish crust

For a healthier pie:

  1. Go for thin crust over deep dish
  2. Ask for light cheese or no cheese at all
  3. Substitute feta or goat cheese if they have it
  4. Skip fatty meats (bacon, sausage, pepperoni), and opt for lean chicken instead. Or go meatless
  5. Pile on as many veggies as you can
  6. Target olive oil and traditional tomato-based sauces, and avoid adding any sauce labeled “creamy” or “alfredo” 

Miguel’s: The Man, the Myth, the Pizza

How one small pizza joint became central to the climbing community

Miguels Pizza Kentucky Red River Gorge
Photo: Elodie Saracco

As a climber, you can’t mention pizza without thinking of Miguel’s Pizza near Red River Gorge, Kentucky. Not only is it the place to eat and gather in the tiny town of Slade, but with their uniquely delicious pizza creations, a welcoming attitude toward climbers, and ample camping in the backyard, Miguel’s has become legendary in the climbing community. Originally from Portugal and born into a family of bakers, Miguel Ventura opened an ice cream store in 1984 with his wife, Susan, and two years later, they tried their hand at pizza. They drew on Miguel’s past as an artist to get creative with their pie creations, offering topping options like sweet potatoes, mango salsa, and white beans. Over the next two decades, the Venturas and their children ran the operation by catering to the hikers and rock climbers that visited the gorge. During that time, the idea of a campground developed and quickly flourished. Now it has full bathrooms, showers, laundry, and Wi-Fi. This year, Miguel’s celebrates its 30th anniversary. Local Elodie Saracco has been living at Miguel’s since 2009; she says, “This very special place is the glue between climbers from all backgrounds; it is a place we can call home. The Red wouldn’t be what it is without Miguel’s.”