Italian Food And Kids - Pizza and Gelato
Italian food is not only delicious, but it’s usually kid friendly as well. In fact, even the fussiest of young eaters are typically open to pasta and especially pizza. Whether you order pizza for delivery, make it at home, or something in between, it’s usually a family favorite. And topping it off with some creamy gelato for dessert is a bonus!
Here are some facts about pizza and gelato, and some ways that you and your family can incorporate and embrace these Italian delights during mealtime.
Pizza, as we know it today, was made popular in the Italian city of Naples during the late 1700s. This became a very common dish among the Neapolitans because of its simple ingredients and portability. However, at that time, pizza was considered “street food” eaten by the poor, and therefore too “low” for the upper class. Today, of course, pizza is among the most popular foods in the world.
Typically, children prefer simple cheese pizza, without any toppings. However, one of the best qualities about pizza is that it’s so versatile—and you can introduce your child to all kinds of flavors and nutritious ingredients by adding to their favorite basic cheese version.
Here are just some ideas for pizza variations to make it a healthier and/or more interesting dish:
- Use whole wheat or cauliflower crust
- Replace tomato sauce with pesto or olive oil
- Introduce finely chopped vegetables as toppings such as spinach, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, mushrooms, etc.
- Give pineapple a try for a topping
- Add protein such as shredded chicken or sausage
Gelato originated in Italy during the Italian Renaissance. The word “gelato” means frozen (as well as ice cream) in Italian. However, there are some differences between the two. Both gelato and ice cream are frozen desserts made with milk, cream, sugar, and various flavorings as ingredients. However, gelato contains more milk and less cream than ice cream, giving it a richer and denser texture. In addition, gelato typically doesn’t include egg yolks whereas ice cream does.
There was a time when gelato was harder to come by in the U.S. However, it’s now available in most grocery stores, and there are many independent shops that sell multiple flavors of gelato as well. Of course, gelato is best as an occasional treat, but it typically does have less fat content than ice cream.
Have an Italian Meal—Family Style!
Gathering for a meal with friends and family is an important part of Italian culture. In fact, most Italian families still eat a big family meal together on Sundays. Being together to share food is considered an expression of love and warmth.
Pizza and gelato not only make a delicious Italian meal, but they are foods that can be prepared with everyone’s help. Even the youngest child can participate in this family-style meal. For example, you can make individual pizzas, let each person choose their toppings, and allow them to sprinkle them on top before they go in the oven.
When it comes to gelato for dessert, consider using fun toppings as well such as whipped cream, hot fudge, etc. You can let your kids each choose a gelato flavor, but be sure to give everyone a chance to try a sample spoonful.
Having an Italian meal together is also an excellent time to work in some geography and cultural learning as well as a culinary experience. For example, you can have your kids help you find Italy on a globe or map and notice the distance between that country and where you live. In addition, you can encourage your kids to color large pieces of paper to look like the Italian flag, with green, white, and red, and then use them as placemats. This is also a great opportunity to consider learning some Italian words, such as how to say hello, good-bye, count to 10, and even the names for family members such as mother, father, brother, sister, dog, and cat.
No matter how you decide to enjoy your family style event, before you begin your Italian meal, take a moment to appreciate eating together and being with each other. And don’t forget to wish everyone, “buon appetite!”
Food can be a wonderful way for kids to learn about different countries and cultures. It appeals to all five senses, and can connect families through shared and memorable dining experiences. Our mission at Cognisprings is to design and sell toys that we want our own kids and others to enjoy for the long term. Our food puzzle, for example, allows children to identify colors, shapes, sizes, healthy food groups, and even ingredients they recognize from their own kitchens.
Cognisprings is dedicated to creating educational, sustainable, safe, and fun toys that encourage children to explore the world away from digital screens. Children are naturally curious, and their cognitive, emotional, and physical development are enhanced through playing games and solving puzzles. In addition, our products encourage family togetherness to build a brighter future for our kids and the environment in which they will grow.