Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Vegetable Pizza: A Cool Snack for Kids

Last week I had the pleasure of making vegetable pizza snacks with the 2nd grade class where I volunteer with Chefs Move to Schools. 

The kids were skeptical at first about some of the raw vegetables I asked them to eat...mushrooms, zucchini, tomatoes, cauliflower.  However, I challenged each of them to try one tiny bite of something new or something they thought they wouldn't like.  And you know what?  They did it.  And they liked it. Sometimes just trying a new food is half the battle, so I was incredibly proud of these kids. 
How to involve kids in the kitchen:
  • Chop a variety of vegetables, put them into bowls, and set up a "vegetable bar" where kids can decorate their own pizzas with the colors, flavors, and designs that appeal to them. 
  • Shop together at the grocery store for vegetables that interest the children.  Look for a variety of colors, shapes, and textures to encourage their interest.
  • Use this opportunity to introduce a new vegetable.  None of the individual flavors stand out in this recipe, so it is a chance to ease kids into the idea of trying new foods.
  • Assemble the pizza on the weekend or in the evening when you have more time.  Cut it into squares and it will be ready to eat after school or added to your school lunch.
Vegetable Pizza
Crust: homemade pizza crust is preferred; alternatives: Pillsbury Crescent Rolls, refrigerated pizza dough, English muffins
16 oz cream cheese, softened
1 cup sour cream
2 T dry Ranch dressing mix (see recipe below to make your own)
2 1/2 cups chopped vegetables - choose the veggies you like the most!  I like to use carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, zucchini, tomatoes, mushrooms, red bell pepper, and green onions

Bake and cool the crust according to recipe/package directions.  This is traditionally made on a cookie sheet, but it is also fun to make mini-pizzas but cutting the crust into squares or circles.

In a medium bowl, mix the cream cheese, sour cream, and dry Ranch dressing.

When the crust is cool, spread the cream cheese mixture evenly over the crust.  Top with the vegetables and chill in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

To make your own Ranch Dressing Mix:

Combine ingredients and store in an airtight container:
  • 1 1/2 T dried parsley
  • 1/2 T dried chives
  • 1/4 T dried tarragon
  • 1/2 T lemon pepper
  • 1 T salt
  • 1/4 T oregano
  • 1/2 T garlic powder

Chefs Move to Schools is a program within Let's Move! and is part of the First Lady's initiative to end childhood obesity within one generation.  Chefs from all over the country are working with schools to provide education, counseling, and support.  We want our kids to have healthy meals at school and to make healthy decisions at home. 

To learn more about Let's Move! and Chefs Move to Schools, please visit www.letsmove.gov.

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