The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


March 12, 2014

Amanda Stone: Homemade pizza can be healthy enough for nightly meals

CARTHAGE, Mo. — My love for pizza has no bounds. I don't discriminate. Whether from a restaurant or homemade, hot or cold, thick crust or thin -- I love it all. There are a few foods that my inner fat kid craves, and pizza is No. 1.

Restaurant pizza is a treat; dripping with oil from the cheese and nitrate-laden meats. I'm only so strong, so I indulge a few times a year. Homemade pizza is entirely different though, and it doesn't have to be a treat. It can be easy and healthy any night of the week.

I can put anything on a pizza, and my kid will eat it. It's a beautiful thing. Pizza is the perfect place to hide the good stuff. Veggies can be pureed into sauce and wheat germ, and ground seeds can be mixed into dough. Even a plain cheese pizza can be packed with nutrients, and no one has to be the wiser.

Pizza may be the perfect food. It can be adapted in multiple ways and can easily be a healthy, one-pan meal. Keep the crust thin, load it with veggies and don't get too crazy with the cheese. Are you watching carbs or on a gluten-free diet? Go for a ground chicken, cauliflower, zucchini or polenta crust. They're all amazing.

Perhaps you don't eat dairy. It turns out pizza doesn't have to have cheese to be delicious. Have an aversion to tomato sauce? Go with a white sauce, made healthier with pureed tofu or cottage cheese. Vegetarians have no excuse -- pizza doesn't require meat. Duh.

Pizza night is a fun, interactive dining experience for kids. Make whole-wheat dough ahead of time, pop it in the freezer and put it in the fridge to thaw when you feel a pizza night calling. In a pinch, nearly anything flat and edible will work as a pizza crust. Bagels, pita bread, flatbread, tortillas, English muffins and even portabella mushroom caps can do the job -- the rest is easy.

Pint-sized pizza chefs are responsible for how their pie tastes; they can't reject their creation. It goes against their biological make-up. Make it a no-fail event, in terms of health, by loading the pizza sauce with pureed veggies. If you're going for white sauce, steamed and pureed cauliflower is easy to disguise. Topping choices can include chopped veggies, lean meats and mozzarella cheese. Anything goes with pizza.

Try these recipes to get you started on your clean-eating pizza journey. The toppings are up to you. Go wild.


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