Let them eat pizza

Nutritious and delicious any way you slice it

By Melanie Mosher

Deciding what to have for meals each day and preparing them can become tedious. The task becomes more challenging with a picky eater.

Rachel Waugh, a recent grad from MSVU’s school of Applied Human Nutrition who did her internship in pediatric dietetics, gives advice for dealing with fussy eaters. “Make food fun, be creative, recruit your child’s help, set a good example, and respect their appetites.” One sure-fire choice to incorporate all of these is pizza.

Pizza provides endless possibilities to suit the entire family. It’s nutritious, providing room for the recommendations of Canada’s new 2019 food guide such as including lots of fruits and vegetables, eating protein, choosing whole grains, cooking more often, and eating with others. Pizza also includes all three macronutrients: carbohydrates, protein, fat.

These scrumptious pies can accommodate diet modifications for food allergies and can be prepared to suit gluten-free, vegetarian, vegan, low-carb, dairy-free, kosher, and diabetic needs. There is also breakfast pizza with scrambled eggs and bacon, dessert pizza loaded with colourful fruit and yogurt, and a hearty pizza soup for colder days. 

Gather the ingredients and the family. Make it an event to create your own pizza by picking the crust of choice, spreading a dollop of sauce, and adding your favourite veggies or meats. Children feel empowered when they can determine their own food choices. “Serving family-style meals where children can choose their own serving amounts and what foods they put on their plate can help foster independence,” says Waugh.

Add adventure by challenging each other to mix up the usual combinations or have a slice swap to try someone else’s favourite. Cooking together is a wonderful way to begin conversations, teach basic kitchen skills, and create memories.

Finish the evening with a movie or game, replacing mealtime struggles with togetherness. 

Hold the mushrooms

My first picture book, Fire Pie Trout, was inspired by pizza. Whenever I travelled to Yarmouth to see my grandparents, my grandfather and I would make pizza from a prepackaged kit. He called it fire pie which made me laugh every time. As a child, I had no idea the name alluded to the indigestion he would inevitably suffer. He did it anyway because it was our favourite thing to do. As an adult, I knew that sort of grandparent sacrifice was book worthy. In the story, young Grace, unable to bait the hook with a worm, catches a trout using a piece of pizza crust.

When I go into the classroom to share my book with students, I hand out “build it yourself” pizza stickers as a souvenir of my visit. Once I had a girl give me back the sticker backing to dispose of and the tiny mushroom stickers were still on the paper.

“You forgot the mushrooms,” I said.

She shook her head and answering frankly, “I don’t like mushrooms.”

“There just stickers and it’s a pretend pizza.”

Her eyes opened wide and she stood firm. “I really, really don’t like mushrooms!”

I nodded. I love a girl who knows what she wants and can articulate it clearly.

Pizza Soup

(4 servings):

  1. Stir fry your favourite vegetables in a bit of oil until tender. Include onions, mushrooms, green, yellow, or red peppers (total 1.5 cup/375ml)
  2. Pick your broth. Vegetable, chicken, beef (1 cup/250ml)
  3. Add a can of crushed tomatoes, undrained. Season with dried basil,
    or oregano (total 1/2 tsp/2ml)
  4. Toss in some of your favourite pizza toppings like pepperoni, cooked chicken, spinach, olives, hot peppers (total 1.5 cup/375ml) 
  5. Heat through
  6. Ladle into oven proof bowls and sprinkle with your favourite shredded cheese and broil until cheese melts and is bubbly (1cup/250ml)
  7. Serve with crusty bread or rolls

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