A calzone is similar to a pizza, except you stuff the toppings inside rolled dough, fold and seal the edges and bake until the crust is golden brown. You can make calzones as the centerpiece of a meal that includes a side dish such as a healthy green salad topped with a light creamy dressing. Though traditional calzones are loaded with carbohydrates, using whole wheat dough and choosing meatless ingredients provides healthier alternatives for your family meals.
For lunch, form the calzones into kid-friendly shapes that resemble pizza pockets. For dinner, make regular servings for the adults in your house, and shape the portions for your children according to their appetite. Calzones give you flexibility because you can alter their size and the amount of stuffing to accommodate the needs of your family. For future meals, double the number of calzones you make and let them cool. Take the extra batch and seal them in plastic wrap, put them in a freezer bag and place in the freezer. When you need a quick meal, thaw them in the fridge for two to three hours. Brush with a teaspoon of olive oil and reheat in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Stick a knife in the center of the crust to ensure that the filling is hot. You can also reheat thawed calzones in a microwave for one to two minutes. If you don't have time to thaw the calzones or you forgot to take them out of the freezer, bake them for 15 to 20 minutes longer to ensure they are heated throughout.
As a healthier alternative, use whole wheat flour dough to make your calzones, which is high in fiber, protein and iron. Stuff calzones with a variety of healthy ingredients. For tasty and healthy vegetable calzones, use spinach, steamed broccoli, tomatoes, olives, green peppers, chickpeas and mushrooms. For healthy meat fillings, use white albacore tuna, chicken breast, shrimp, ground turkey, ground chicken and the leanest cuts of beef, such as ground sirloin. Season the meat and veggies with ranch-flavored dry mix for a kid-friendly variation on traditional Italian recipes. Though cheese is a popular ingredient, limit the amount you use to reduce calories. Use a quarter cup of low-fat shredded cheese and a half-cup or less of ricotta cheese. Try to balance out meat-filled calzones with plenty of vegetables and avoid high-fat meats such as veal, ground pork and sausage. Remember to cook all fillings, including vegetables, before stuffing the calzone.
Serve calzones with a big, green salad using spinach leaves or romaine lettuce and a simple balsamic vinaigrette or light ranch dressing. Another option is to grill vegetables and use a light creamy dip for your kids to enjoy with their calzones. Your children may also enjoy a hearty tomato soup or a light vegetable soup, either of which is a nice complement to a meat-filled calzone.
Unlike pizza, traditional calzones are not baked with tomato sauce. However, you can pour pizza sauce, salsa or regular tomato sauce into small bowls for dipping. Any tomato-based condiment works well, so if you have a particular red sauce that your kids enjoy, use that for your sauce. You can also pour sauce directly over the calzone, or layer some in with the stuffing, but don't use too much or the calzone will become soggy as it bakes.
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