We've all had them as parents - that moment of weakness when your child is asking for something you know is not healthy for them to eat, and yet their little pleading faces are simply too much to resist.
Recently my daughter experienced this while walking through the grocery store with her child. As they passed the frozen-food section, my 3-year-old grandson caught sight of those frozen, bite-size pizza rolls and nearly jumped out of the cart with excitement. A minute later, after a lot of puppy-dog eyes, the pizza rolls were in the cart.
It isn't a regular purchase, so we all just wrote it off as a special indulgence. However, within just a few hours of eating the pizza rolls my grandson had one of the most severe cases of diaper rash he'd ever had. While we can't know for sure the cause, it was enough for us to decide we had to try to do this differently. Unhealthy food is simply not good for you, even when it seems fun.
How hard could it be to recreate this tempting treat in a healthy way? Could it be done using only local ingredients? No chemicals, fresh ingredients, grown and raised with hands that we know well? We set our attention to the task.
Turns out it wasn't difficult at all! While making them initially takes longer than popping frozen commercial ones into the oven, they can easily be made ahead of time in a big batch, and part can be frozen for use as a quick snack later on.
Let me put forth this challenge to you: Is there a snack your kids adore that you know is probably not that healthy? Find a way to transform it. Make it a project and let the kids help you figure it out. Email me if you run into an obstacle and I'll try to help. Show your kids that a little extra planning means they can enjoy the same treats while keeping their bodies happy!
MINI PIZZA ROLLS RECIPE
16 ounces tomato sauce (home canned, tomatoes from Terra Verde Gardens, Lummi Island)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (Boxx Berry Farm, Ferndale)
1 teaspoon dried oregano (home garden)
1 teaspoon dried basil (Half Acre Farm, Ferndale)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup marinara (see recipe below)
1/2 pound ground beef (Second Wind Farm, Bellingham)
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup Gouda cheese, finely grated (Pleasant Valley Dairy, Ferndale)
For pizza dough:
11/2 cup unbleached white flour, finely ground (Fairhaven Organic Flour Mill, Burlington)
1 teaspoon active dry yeast
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon butter, melted (homemade, cream from Fresh Breeze Organic Dairy, Lynden)
11/2 teaspoons honey (Red Barn Lavender, Ferndale)
1/2 cup lukewarm water
Begin with the marinara. In a medium saucepan, add tomato sauce, chopped garlic, oregano, basil and salt. Cook over medium heat, stirring often, until sauce begins to bubble. Then reduce heat to low and allow sauce to reduce for 10 to 15 minutes. It should be quite thick, to prevent it from seeping out of the dough in the oven. Prepare the pizza dough and filling while it reduces. Once finished, set about 3/4 cup of the marinara aside as a dip for when you serve the pizza rolls.
To make the filling, brown the ground beef with salt in a skillet until fully cooked. Break up the beef into the smallest possible pieces, to make it easier to stuff into the dough. When cooked, remove from heat. Combine the beef with the remaining marinara and let it cool. Mix in grated cheese.
For the dough, mix flour, yeast and salt in bowl. In a measuring cup, dissolve honey in warm water, and add melted butter. Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients in bowl. Mix until dough forms a ball.
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees.
Roll the dough as thin as possible - less than an eighth of an inch is best (you may want to do sections of dough at a time). Be sure to keep the surface underneath well-floured to prevent sticking. Cut the dough using a round cookie cutter with about a 2-inch diameter, or just use a knife and slice the dough into about 2-inch squares. Spoon a small amount of the filling into the center of a cut piece, leaving the edge of the dough clear all around. Fold the dough in half, covering the filling, and use a fork to press the open edges together, sealing the roll. Any type of ravioli maker can speed up this process. So can some small helping hands - this is a great project for kids!
Line a sheet pan with parchment. Place pizza rolls on parchment so they aren't touching. Bake for 8 to 9 minutes until tops are browned. Let them cool for another 10 minutes, then serve with the extra marinara sauce for a perfectly healthy, totally cool snack!
We found 20 rolls were plenty for one snack serving 2 to 3 kids. In general, these are more filling than their commercial counterparts. Don't forget to freeze some of them for when you need a quick and healthy snack.
Makes approximately 40 rolls.
Reach Nancy Ging at 360-758-2529 or email@example.com. To follow her day to day locavore activities, "like" Whatcom Locavore on Facebook (www.facebook.com/whatcomlocavore) and "follow" on Twitter, @WhatcomLocavore. For locavore menus, recipes, and more resources, read her blog at whatcomlocavore.com.
Reach JULIE SHIRLEY at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 715-2261.