Encouraging Healthy Eating with Pizza

When you think of a healthy food, pizza isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind. However, this American staple, loved by everybody, can easily be tweaked into a very healthy option!  If you are struggling with finding fun ways to explore healthy eating with your children, pizza is the way to go.

First, we need to talk about the base. Generally, the base of pizza is heavy in carbs, and when ordered from a pizza place, it can seem to be soaked in oil. There are several ways to upgrade the base to a healthier option: firstly don’t bake your pizza in oil! To cut down on the carbs in your pizza, try rolling it out into a thin crust. To add some good health to the crust, use whole wheat flour or sprinkle in some wheat germ. Or skip the traditional crust entirely, and go for a healthier alternative. While tortillas are a great option, they only really work just for cheese or light toppings, given how thin they are. Whole wheat pitas are a fantastic option that crisp slightly for a great taste and are sturdy enough to hold a decent amount of toppings. Some people will even slice up zucchini to use as a base if they’re feeling really ambitious!

Now that you have your base, it’s time to explore toppings. An important part of encouraging your children to make healthy choices is to give them opportunities to make those choices on their own. With pizza, you can achieve this by setting up a “pizza bar” and covering the table with bowls of topping options. Give your kids a plate with the pizza base, let them slather on sauce and cheese, and then add their toppings. As a basic rule to make sure they have enough nutrients selected, have them choose at least one protein and two vegetables—turning it into a game. Encourage them to turn the pizza into a piece of art as well; see who can make the best art out of their pizza. The more fun we have when making our food, the more we are likely to enjoy eating it.

If your kids are old enough, discuss the different nutrients that go into the components of your pizza and how they positively effect your body. For example, mushrooms are high in B vitamins, which help your body create energy. Grilled chicken is high in protein which is important for building strong muscles. Olives are high in antioxidants, which help protect the cells in your body from damage. You can even create a chart with pictures of their favorite toppings and then add in all of the health benefits, so it becomes a consistent topic of discussion while making your pizzas. Use this easy guide for possible healthy pizza options, and don’t forget to add to it as you discover new options!

Healthy Pizza Base Options:

  • Thin pizza crust
  • Wheat pizza crust
  • Whole wheat pitas
  • Tortillas
  • Sliced Zucchini

Healthy Pizza Topping Options:

  • Grilled Chicken
  • Ham
  • Turkey Sausage
  • Turkey Pepperoni
  • Mushrooms
  • Olives
  • Green Peppers
  • Onions
  • Pineapple
  • Spinach
  • Tomato
  • Artichoke
  • Kale
  • Broccoli

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