Forget football, fall festivals, and Halloween—October is National Pizza Month, so pass the pizza! Pizza is a favorite weekly staple in our household and I know two kids who will be thrilled to celebrate the occasion. We are not alone in our love for pizza. Kids ages 3-11 prefer pizza over all other food groups for lunch and dinner. And did you know one in eight American adults eats pizza on any given day? As a mom, I need a quick an easy dinner my kids will love and as a registered dietitian, I want that dinner to be nourishing. Below are my tips for creating a healthy pizza suitable for any night of the week.
- Go Crazy with the Crust: Choosing a whole wheat crust over white crust can add more nutrients to pizza including fiber, folate, riboflavin and B vitamins. You can make your own pizza dough or purchase it at the grocery store and even pizza restaurants are offering whole wheat crust. But don’t stop there—make individual mini pizzas using English muffins, pita bread, naan bread or tortillas (all whole wheat of course). If you are extra adventurous, try the trendy vegetable crusts such as cauliflower.
- Get Cheesy: While pizza is typically made with mozzarella cheese, there is no reason you can’t branch out. Add a flavorful cheese such as Gouda, Asiago, blue cheese or Cheddar. Cheese adds ample nutrition and high quality protein to pizza and is the number two source of dietary calcium for Americans. Natural cheeses like Cheddar, Swiss and mozzarella are naturally low in lactose and a great choice for those with lactose intolerance.
- Top it Off: Since cheese provides protein, skip the high-fat meat options. Instead, add lots of colorful vegetables and/or fruit. Our family favorites include antioxidant-rich red pepper, spinach, juicy tomatoes and sweet pineapple. For extra vitamins, minerals and protein, wash your pizza down with a cold glass of milk.
Celebrate National Pizza Month with one of these delicious recipes:
Laura Buxenbaum, MPH, RD, LDN