By Kelly Cartledge

Whenever a change in pantry comes about in my house I often follow a personal set of informal rules that have organically manifested themselves over time. And as I perused the gluten-free world for a great intro to my kids, I kept the same rules in mind as I had to when substitutions were made for corn syrup products. The following two rules seemed to be the most important:

1.) The introduction to the new item had to be exciting for the little one (who is 5) and familiar to the older one (who is 15.)

2.) The new item is generally a great go-to product that makes life easy for myself.

And of course the answer to these guidelines is, and always will be, pizza. I come to this conclusion because, if ten years of Disney Channel has served me correctly, it is unfortunately the answer to virtually every other question in the universe of children. But fortunately the sneakiest of mothers have discovered that pizza crust is a great delivery system for fresh, healthy ingredients that kids (and husbands) can truly devour. 

As for my fancy rules- I found an easy, gluten-free crust that was met successfully by my family with the usual minimal pitfalls that can be avoided. We make pizza together quite a bit as a family so the experience was exciting and familiar- winning! Since the brand of pizza crust that I found had enough to make two pizza crusts, we got to try two different kinds of toppings- more winning!

Here’s the verdict from each family member, youngest to oldest:

The five-year-old said that the crust smelled really good when I baked it off. She was eagerly waiting for the crust to cool so she could “decorate it.” She loved spreading fresh tomato sauce and carefully positioning small balls of fresh mozzarella on the pizza. The child ended up eating two pieces of pizza with gusto.

The 15-year-old, who has cleverly coined the pizza “polka-dot pizza” due to the way the mozzarella balls melt, also enjoyed the crust. She commented that it seemed a bit “moist and dense” but it didn’t stop her from polishing off three slices.

My husband, the 39-year-old, said the pizza was fine. He kind of says that about everything. But he gave high praise to the the fresh tomato slices on the one pizza. These, of course, were from my all-local Pure Sprouts bin this week. I noticed, however, that because he did not come down right away to eat the pizza, the crust started to become limp. This leads me to believe that the pizza is best consumed when hot and fresh. You know, like any other pizza.

Gluten-free Polka-dot Pizza

So we opened a bag of Bob’s Red Mill Gluten-free whole grain pizza crust. The directions were super simple: combine the included package of yeast with warm water. Wait five minutes. Combine remaining ingredients including two eggs and two Tbs. olive oil and pizza crust mix. Mix and divide into two balls. Cover and allow dough to rise for 20 minutes. Spread dough onto two greased pizza pans with wet hands and bake for 7 to 9 minutes. Then top!

The toppings are the most fun, but make sure the topping you use are drained of excess moisture or the dough will not stay crispy. We used:

Pizza #1

1 tomato, seeded and sliced (dry the slices on paper towels for 15 minutes)

Fresh mozzarella balls, any size

2 garlic cloves, sliced lengthwise

Fresh basil leaves 

Pizza #2

Fresh tomato sauce

Fresh mozzarella balls