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Kid-Friendly Pizza

I was the fat kid in school. Managing my weight is something I’ve worked on my entire life. I am the queen of doctoring traditional recipes to manage carbs, fats, sugars, etc. Better doesn’t mean bad. At least, not if you do it right. And this recipe is a great example of how I do it. Simple substitutions: Instead of white flour, I use half all purpose and half whole wheat. Instead of pork sausage, I use turkey sausage. These are small changes that add up to a big difference. And I promise, if you don’t kiss and tell, no one, not even the kids, will know the difference.

I can’t take credit for the method on this recipe, just the ingredients. The way we make this pizza was “borrowed” from my sister using the CASE method: Copy and steal everything!

I knew this was a meal my grandkids would love. And did they ever. What a great way to get the kids involved in the kitchen and the cooking process. And the best part is since they “made” it, they’ll eat it. You can’t ask for more than that.

So what we did differently was make personal pizzas baked on individual stones. These stones are really tiles that I purchased at a home improvement store. I found 4-by-4-inch, all-natural stone tiles without any glaze (a perfect size for a kid-sized pizza). Then, I sterilized them in the dishwasher. And, voila! We have perfect stones for our pizza making.

Kids don’t always have patience for letting dough rise, so my recipe uses a quick-rising yeast. We started at the food processor. I did this recipe with three kids—ages 10, 9 and 5—and each of them had a job to do. The older two measured out the flours. The younger one tore open the package of yeast and poured it into the food processor at “just” the right time. Make sure the kids know that. Timing is everything. It makes them feel special. I handled the hot water.

We started by making the dough. That’s done in the food processor. It’s so simple. First the flour goes in and then you add the rest of the dry ingredients. With the motor running, you gradually add hot water until the dough forms into a sticky ball. We wrapped the dough in plastic wrap sprayed with a bit of cooking spray and let the dough rest for 10 to 20 minutes. This is just the amount of time you’ll need to make your sauce and toppings.

For the sauce, I keep it simple. Since you have the food processor out, I suggest you plop an onion in there and purée it. Or, if you have an immersion blender you can do this in the saucepan after the onion softens. So, swirl a bit of olive oil in the bottom of a saucepan and add the onions and sauté until soft and fragrant.

Then I added a can of crushed tomatoes. I prefer a fire-roasted organic brand that you can easily find online as winning many taste tests. Next step: Toss in a few herbs. I find kids like oregano, a bit of garlic (fresh or powdered) and a bit of salt and pepper (twice the amount of pepper to salt).

While that simmered, we browned turkey sausage, and got our toppings ready. Assorted veggies were our toppings of choice. The kids liked the red peppers (much sweeter than green) and chose black olives. I tried to get them to eat mushrooms, but there were no takers. Maybe you’ll have better luck? We also shredded some low-fat mozzarella cheese and then put it all together.

Oh, what fun we had spraying our stones with cooking spray and pressing our dough into the perfect shapes. While I chose a traditional round shape, Kevin made a triangle, Julia had a square and Josh’s was, shall we say, free-form.

If adults were having this meal, we’d likely have a salad. But most kids aren’t too keen on salad. So I deconstructed it. We had veggie “dippers” with healthier dressings (a low-fat buttermilk ranch and a fat-free Catalina.) We cut shapes out of our cucumbers, and served baby carrots, edamame, grape tomatoes, walnuts and mini-corn. Then we all took turns dipping. I knew I had a hit on my hands was when the kids “saved” a piece of their pizza for their parents. Each of them insisting their pizza was best. Hope yours is, too!

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Chris Xaver, Ph.D., is a local TV and radio personality with three children and five grandchildren. Her healthy lifestyle show, The Sweet Life, is airing on public television stations nationwide.


Photo Above: Kyle Carr Photo


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