The other day my kids were out with a friend whose family took them to pizza for dinner. One of my daughters is picky, and it’s not always easy to get her to eat food with a lot of nutritional value – she’d be happy to eat crackers or candy all day!
The other mom reported back to me excitedly that my daughter had eaten a ton – lots of the dough of the pizza and a lot of crust, but no sauce, cheese or toppings. As a grateful mom, I thanked the family and was very appreciative of them taking good care of my daughter, but as a registered dietitian and mom who wants the best for her daughter, I was disappointed that my daughter had only had white, processed flour for dinner.
The incident inspired us to figure out how to get a picky eater to eat all of the good, healthy stuff that comes on the pizza, as we all know this was far from the last time that she’ll be served a slice of pie.
So we got together, auntie and mom, and decided to have a pizza-making family dinner. After all, when kids are involved in making the meal, they usually eat a good deal more. The plan was that everyone would make their own face or design out of their pizza toppings on their individual-sized pizza and when the pizza was ready we’d all show off our “art work.”
Our strategy worked flawlessly! Even Tammy’s pickiest ate all the good stuff and we knew we had to share it with you. So, if you’ve got a picky kid or are looking to help your kids to eat more healthfully here’s what to do:
1. Start by laying out all of the options for the dough
- Whole wheat pita rounds (for people like us who like whole grain, lightened up versions of dough)
- Whole grain English muffins (also lighter than typical pizza dough and still whole grain)
- Whole wheat dough for rolling out for the family pie or to make personal pies, if you choose (we used Trader Joe’s, since the dough is pre-made, whole-grain and reasonably priced).
- Salad bowls filled with greens for anyone who wanted to make a “Pizza bowl” using lettuce instead of dough
2. Set out bowls filled with pasta sauces
- Traditional tomato sauce
- Vegetable marinara sauce (we jump on any chance to squeeze in extra veggies!)
- Spicy tomato sauce (Tammy’s husband likes his food hot, the hotter the better!)
3. Place shredded cheese in bowls.
(We encouraged the kids to go to town here – the more cheese, the more calcium and protein and we used low-fat cheese so we wouldn’t
have to worry about the calories or artery-clogging saturated fat adding up.)
- Low-fat mozzarella for those of us who like the traditional
- Low-fat cheddar cheese
- Low-fat sharp cheese for a little twist
4. Time for toppings! Fill the bowls with all the good stuff!
- Veggies for phyto-nutrients and fiber
- Red, yellow and green bell peppers
5. Meat for traditional pizza lovers
- Antibiotic and hormone free pepperoni (We use and trust Applegate – all of their products are antibiotic and hormone free and with no artificial ingredients or preservatives.)
After the pizzas were ready, broccoli “eyes” and “noses,” bell pepper “hair” and pepperoni “smiles” were all the rage – and all of the kids were so happy with their artwork!
It was amazing to watch the kids eat all of the healthy ingredients – no fuss!
UNREAL! We were thrilled, everyone ate a wholesome meal and we all had a lot of fun – success!
The Nutrition Twins work with Applegate to help families eat together, healthfully.