When I was ten I had a “make-your-own pizza“ themed birthday party. We invited a bunch of my friends and their families over to our apartment and everyone got their own homemade dough to use for their individual pizza. My mom and I also designed mini cook-books to give away to our guests that had the dough recipe as well as many different types of topping suggestions and cooking tips.
Making pizzas has since then remained a staple of my culinary existence. My family and I will often whip up a pizza at home for dinner, and my friend Asha and I have actually defined our friendship by the fact that we make pizzas together and always like to experiment with new flavors. Making pizzas extends far beyond the food itself and has become about the experience of cooking together and creating memories.
When Alika and I were trying to decide what type of food to make with our girls for our healthy eating lesson we wanted something that they would actually enjoy eating, something that was healthy, and something that would be fun to make. Pizzas seemed like the perfect option since a bunch of the girls had previously mentioned that it was their favorite food and we knew that they could customize their own toppings so everyone would leave full and happy. Pizza also has a bad rep for being unhealthy, but there are many ways to ensure that it is a whole meal so we wanted to introduce that to the girls.
We have had two fieldtrips to our house so far with the girls from Los Nogales and Santoni and both were huge successes. We had about twenty girls in the first group and twelve in the second. For toppings we had tomato sauce, mushrooms, sliced tomatoes, sliced peppers, sautéed broccoli in garlic, caramelized onions, and of course, lots of cheese! Since we didn’t have too much time with them, each lesson was a whirl wind of cooking pizzas, cutting fruit for the fruit salad, and running around the house while playing hide-and-seek or chasing Tobi the cat who now has a permanent fear of 12-year-old girls. Eventually, somehow, we got all the pizzas made and the girls happily ate their pizzas while we enjoyed a little calm amidst the storm.
While they ate, we talked about balancing your plate with veggies, protein, grains, fruits, and lactose and what foods might fall in each of those categories. After the lesson many of the girls asked for the recipe so that they could make the pizzas at home which makes me happy to think of them sharing the experience with their families the same way that I have with mine.
Now I have a whole new set of pizza memories to add to my collection.
Until next time,
For anyone curious, this was the recipe that we used for the dough (with whole wheat flour of course!): http://www.epicurious.com/recipes/food/views/pizza-dough-237338
Preheat over to 500 degrees
Grease the baking sheet with oil
Using your fingers, slowly work the dough until it covers the entire sheet and is flattened out
Drizzle oil over the top of the dough and spread out with your fingers
Put in the oven for about 5 minutes or until the dough begins to puff up
Take out and put on your toppings of choice
Put back in the oven for about 15 minutes or until the sides begin to brown and all the cheese is melted
Take out and let sit for a few minutes, then cut and serve!