Let’s face it, the fall months are busy with football gatherings and post-game pizza parties. Now normally I would say just eat a few slices of pizza (yes the greasy, high fat kind) once a week, enjoy it and move on, but Friday night football often calls for pizza and other high calorie foods more nights than not, and helping you and your kids eat nutrient-rich is key for good energy. This day and age there is a healthy twist on almost every food in the book and many times people don’t even know you swapped the ingredients.
So let’s dish out 5 slices of nutrient-rich information on how to make your kid-pleaser pizza tasty and healthy!
1. Play with the dough: Who doesn’t love bread?! Few people, trust me! However thick crust bread can add up to lots of calories and maybe extra carbs if you are the parent. Athletes can eat more carbs because they move more, but they can still use healthier options. There are many ways to “play with the dough” by using a whole grain mix or even just making thin crust pizza/flatbread. One of the best tricks in the book is using cauliflower instead of bread for dough!
2. Sauce it up: Plain ole tomato sauce can get old if you eat pizza often. Try adding herbs like oregano or basil to make your own tomato goodness or try olive oil-based pesto as the sauce. If you like creamy white pizzas, try using Greek yogurt and herbs as your base for more protein and lower calories.
3. Swap the top: Many pizzas are layden with fat and calories due to high-fat meat toppings like sausage, bacon and pepperoni. Swapping those proteins for chicken, turkey, lean ham or Canadian Bacon can lower the calories and the accumulated grease on top. In addition, using a 2% cheese can also lower the calories without compromising the taste.
4. Go green: Adding veggies of any kind is a great option! They add color, fiber and lots of vitamins and minerals for basically no added calories. Squash, zucchini, mushrooms, spinach, orange and red peppers and even asparagus can beautify and healthify your slice!
5. Flip the dip: Dipping pizza in Ranch dressing or a creamy garlic sauce is pretty common, but as with anything white, thick and creamy, it adds up quickly! Try taking Ranch powder and mixing it with Greek yogurt or using hummus as dip to a chicken and veggie pizza. Even a little balsamic vinaigrette can be a great dip with a pesto-based pizzas. Flipping your dip to a lower-calorie version can help you cut the guilt with your pizza slice!
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Amy Goodson, MS, RD, CSSDD, LD is a sports dietitian in the DFW area. She has worked with Texas Christian University Athletics, the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, FC Dallas Soccer, Jim McLean Golf School and many PGA Tour players as well as with many middle school, high school and endurance athletes. Amy speaks at a variety of nutrition, athletic training and coaching conferences. She is an ambassador/spokesperson for the National Dairy Council, a Dairy Max Health and Wellness Advisory Council member and on the Speakers Bureau for Gatorade Sports Science Institute. Amy is also the co-author of “Swim, Bike, Run – Eat,” a sports nutrition book for triathletes.
Amy received her Bachelor of Science in speech communications from Texas Christian University and Master of Science in exercise and sports nutrition from Texas Woman’s University. She is also a Certified Specialist in Sports Dietetics.
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