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Fun, easy ways to enjoy a family favorite

Family Features | 10/11/2013, midnight

Pizza is one of America’s favorite foods, as it is easy to prepare and fun to share. Families are often looking for ways to enjoy this tasty dish and still feel good about staying on track with enjoyable, mindful eating.

With the help of the Nestlé Pizza Portion Guide, you can feel even better about serving this family favorite.

“It’s all about how much you eat and what else you eat with it,” says registered dietitian Lisa R. Young, Ph.D., R.D., author of The Portion Teller Plan.

It’s easy as pizza pie

While assisting in the creation of the new Pizza Portion Guide, one of Young’s goals was to help people “legalize” pizza in their mind, while helping them stay committed to a balanced diet.

“One of the best ways to do this is to be mindful of portion size,” says Young. “When you learn ways to eat what you love in appropriate portions, you can continue to enjoy your favorite foods (in appropriate portions) and keep your meals enjoyable and your eating plan on track.”

Pizza is what’s called a mixed dish, combining several food groups such as proteins, vegetables and grains all in one slice. By pairing pizza with nutritious side dishes, such as steamed vegetables and fruit salad, you create a complete meal.

For a mindful approach to enjoying pizza, Young recommends these tips:

• Top it your way: Select your favorite kind of pizza. Consider adding your own various vegetable toppings.

• Nutrition facts check: Read the nutrition facts label on packaged pizza you prepare at home (shown per “serving size”).

• Show of hands: Portion size can be based on what you have eaten in a day or what you plan to eat. One fun way to determine the best portion size of pizza is to picture your hand as a pizza slice. Plan to enjoy only one or two hands’ worth. A child or small woman’s hand is smaller, and so are their portions.

• A side of healthy, please: Fill half of your plate with a salad, steamed or roasted mixed vegetables and seasonal fruit for a complete meal.

• Savor your selection: Enjoy your selection knowing you are eating your favorite foods in the right amount for you. You’ll leave the table fully satisfied, but not overly full.

Family pizza night

Celebrate this family favorite with a pizza night. Young recommends keeping the night fun by allowing family members an active role in crafting pizza portions tailored to their tastes and needs. Mix and match the following possibilities for a fun and flavorful pizza night:

• Line up small bowls, each filled with different toppings to bring color and variety to pizza.

• For a fun and unique choice, add in pineapple, strawberries or blueberries.

• Add canned beans, cooked chicken, turkey or shrimp to cheese pizza for more protein.

• Pizza can be excellent for leftovers. Keep your pizza crispy and bubbly by reheating in a large skillet, toaster oven, oven or grill, instead of the microwave.

For more great pizza pairing ideas, visit www.nestleusa.com/enjoypizza.