Trying to get kids eating healthy can be difficult. Trying to get them to eat local, seasonal, sometimes unfamiliar vegetables can be even more of a challenge. But pairing some seasonal vegetables, with other veggies and foods they’re more familiar with can be a good way to ease kids into eating, and thinking more locally and sustainably. With a little creativity, you might find that children are more willing to experiment with food than you would expect.
Recently, I had the pleasure of running a cooking workshop with some of the kids from St. George’s YouthNet. YouthNet runs after-school programs and day-camps for kids from the neighbourhood, and gardening and cooking has long been a part of their programming.
Not wanting to make immediate enemies of the bunch, I thought I would make a kid friendly dish, but sneak in some healthy bits where possible. Pizza seemed to be an obvious choice. Given that I only had an hour and a half for the workshop, I decided to go with a no-rise pizza dough. In general though, we don’t always have the time to wait for dough to leaven, so a no-rise recipe can be a good, quick way to make pizza from scratch, without spending your whole day doing it. I found a recipe on-line and made a few minor adaptations to make it a bit healthier.
Once we got started the workshop quickly escalated into a heated battle pitting boys against girls, to see who could make the best pizza. The kids eagerly whisked, mixed, kneaded and rolled out there dough. When it came to adding toppings, this was where most of the craftiness came in on my part.
Pizza seemed like the perfect vehicle to get them eating some veggies that might not have tried before. Where possible we tried to use local vegetables and other products. Though they were hesitant at first, before long they were topping their pizza with kale, spring onions, spinach and a host of other veggies. I was warned that they wouldn’t touch the pizza without meat, so we topped it with some Brothers’ pepperoni.
The kids took a lot of pride in the pizza that they’d just made from scratch. They clutched their recipe cards in one hand and stuffed their faces with the others. Though I heard some grumbling about the veggies as they sat down to eat there was barely a crumb left over by the time they had left.
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 cup whole wheat flour
- 1 (.25 ounce) package active dry yeast
- 2 tablespoons vegetable/olive oil
- 1 teaspoon sea-salt
- 1 tablespoon sugar (or honey)
- 1 cup warm water (110 degrees F/45 degrees C)
Combine flour, salt, sugar, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil and warm water. Knead well. Spread out on a large circular pizza pan and top as desired. Use seasonal toppings where possible. Bake at 375 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Eat and enjoy.
By Will Hill