Even if you don’t consiously introduce your toddler to pizza, pizzas are ubiquitous! They feature in rhymes, they are birthday party staples and adults order them when teething or growth spurts allow for little cooking.
Not only are pizzas appealing to munchkins because of the stringy goey cheese, the chewy crust serves as an excellent teether when the little ones pearly whites are erupting.
Here’s how I try to make my 18-month-olds favourite food both wholesome and appealing.
Crust – I use Wolfgang Puck Pizza Dough recipe. I swap half the flour for whole wheat flour. Feel free to make it completely whole wheat. I also add double the amount of yeast to ensure a soft crust for the little one. I usually bake the pizza crust soft. Just before Natasha eats the slice, I hear it in the oven. It gets slightly crunchy on the outside then. Also, feel free to make the crust as think or thin as you’d like. I usually do a medium crust so that one slice fills my little one’s tummy.
Marinara – Use your favourite recipe. My is basic with olive oil, a tad bit of garlic, fresh tomatoes and basil. I load on the basil so that my little one will develop a liking for herbs, like her mamma. I purée in chunky.
Cheese – Keep it simple. Pick one cheese and make it the one your little one loves. I just use a good mozzarella from Toronto’s famous St Lawrence Market. Most kids respond better to simple non-sharp flavours so keep that in mind to customise the pizza to their tastebuds.
Toppings - While it is tempting to cover as many nutrients as possible in one meal, remember that when it comes to good pizza, less is more. In the pizza featured in the pics.
I used an assortment of sweet cherry tomatoes. My daughter loved picking them out and eating them first and then moving on to the crust.
Storing pizza - I freeze a large pizza in packs of two so I can bring them out on any given day and hear them up in an oven for my little one.