Make your child’s night by serving pizza for dinner. Keep the meal healthy by skipping takeout or delivery and preparing the pizza at home. When you make your own pizza, you can control how many toppings you put on, how much cheese the pizza has and what’s in the dough. Children can enjoy stretching the dough out and slathering on the sauce.
Choose healthy ingredients for a healthy pizza. Stick with low-fat mozzarella cheese. Getting children to eat a whole-wheat crust may be more trouble than you’d like, so try making the dough with half all-purpose flour and half whole-wheat flour. You may also want to try a white whole-wheat flour, which has a milder taste than regular whole wheat but is still a whole grain. Look for a pasta or pizza sauce that’s low in sugar or prepare your own at home.
Healthy pizza can be so much more than the basic dough, tomato sauce, cheese and toppings meal you are used to. Try trading pizza dough for English muffins, bagel halves or pita rounds. You can also try a tortilla pizza on either a corn or whole wheat tortilla. Use a different type of cheese, such as cheddar or Swiss. Think of fun themes for pizza with your children, such a pizza Lorraine, topped with spinach, or spicy pizza, topped with hot peppers and a drizzle of hot sauce. Try making a dessert pizza by topping a crepe or pancake with jam, cream cheese and sliced fruit.
Though some pizza toppings are nutritious, the more popular toppings tend to be high in fat or have lots of other unsavory ingredients, such as preservatives. If you and your children can’t get enough of pepperoni pizza or sausage pizza, try to make it a bit healthier by using about 2/3 or 1/2 as much as you usually do. Mix the sausage or pepperoni toppings with other, healthier toppings such as peppers or mushrooms. Cut back on the amount of cheese on the pizza as well as to reduce the amount of fat.
To make sure your children don’t overindulge on homemade pizza, try making individual pies for everyone. Divide the dough into 2-oz portions and roll out into 6-inch rounds, then top with a few tablespoons of tomato sauce and about 1 oz of shredded cheese. An easy way to portion the cheese is to grate individual sticks of string cheese, which usually measure 1 oz each. Add a few tablespoons of healthy toppings.
Boosting the Sauce
Pizza sauce is a quick, simple way to sneak more vegetables into your child’s day. You can use bottled sauce or prepare your own from scratch. Sauté vegetables such as spinach, broccoli and carrots until they are soft, then add to the sauce. Puree the sauce and vegetables so that no evidence remains of the spinach or broccoli. Unless you tell him, your child won’t even notice that he’s eating his vegetables.