Grilled Meatball Pizza

Ready for my grilled pizza surprise? This kid-friendly meatball pizza on the grill is fantastic for family dinners, picnics and cookouts.

Kid-friendly meatball pizza on the grill for family dinners, picnics and cookouts.pinterest_pin-it_icon-50

But as a dietitian, I’ll bet you think I’d say no to this kid-and-family-friendly meal.

Wait! Wait! Hold on! Before you ditch your frozen pizza and stop ordering delivered pizza for family movie night, let me explain.

No. It’s not junk food. Far from it. Doesn’t matter what kind, homemade, frozen or store-bought, it always contains at least three of the nutrient-rich food groups: grains (crust), dairy (cheese) and vegetables (tomato pizza sauce.) And by the way, I detest the term “junk food.” In my realistic dietitian book, no food is a junk food. Sure, some foods don’t give you the valuable nutrients you need to stay healthy. But all foods give you calories for energy and I prefer to call these foods treat foods, or fun foods (or non-nutrient-rich foods technically) because they give you satisfaction and happiness. A big piece of white cake with double white buttercream frosting is my favorite example. No real nutrient benefits but lots of satisfaction and happiness.

Kid-friendly meatball pizza on the grill for family dinners, picnics and cookouts.

No. Grilling pizza is not difficult. It’s actually quite easy and even better, it’s a great way to add more fruits and vegetables to your meal. And get everyone in the family involved in making/rolling out the pizza dough, shredding cheese and prepping toppings. Join me in celebrating all of pizza’s positive points:

  1. Protein provider. Whether from the meats or cheese, you’ll get plenty of protein.
  2. Whole grains. Or just grains in general from that crust. Remember – aim for at least half of your grains every day from the whole category, so it’s okay to enjoy white pizza crust. Or the whole grain crusts or dough. Your choice.
  3. More fruits and vegetables. Onion and green pepper are the most common veggies on a pizza. Pineapple (with ham which is naturally lean!) is the most common fruit. But shake things up and go for colored bell peppers, mushroom, spinach, arugula, carrots, squash (leftover garden zucchini anyone?) or any veggie you like. Peach and plum slices, apple slices, any fruit you want.
  4. Calcium. Cheese (any variety you want on this pizza) give you lots of bone- and teeth-building calcium.
  5. RQ. That’s “restaurant quality.” Your homemade grilled pizza is by far better than any you’d get at a restaurant because YOU made it! Here’s my favorite grilled pizza that combines TWO kid favorites – pizza and meatballs.

Grilled Meatball Pizza
 
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Kid-friendly meatball pizza on the grill for family dinners, picnics and cookouts.
Author:
Recipe type: Main
Serves: 4
Ingredients
  • 1 pound refrigerated white or whole-grain pizza dough
  • ⅓ to ½ cup favorite pizza or thick pasta sauce
  • 12 prepared, frozen and thawed meatballs, cut in half
  • 4 tablespoons finely chopped green onion
  • ½ to ¾ cup shredded Italian three cheese blend
Instructions
  1. Divide dough in half. On a floured surface, roll into two 8-inch circles roughly.
  2. No need to create perfect circles.
  3. Oil grill grates and preheat grill to medium-low heat.
  4. Place the pizza crusts directly on the grill grates.
  5. Close cover and cook 1 to 3 minutes or JUST until the dough puffs and bubbles up in some places and starts to become firm.
  6. Remove crusts with tongs, turn over and place on baking sheet.
  7. Divide pizza sauce between both crusts and spread.
  8. Top with half the meatballs and green onion.
  9. Sprinkle each pizza with half the cheese.
  10. Return pizzas to grill, cover and grill for 3 to 6 minutes or until the crust is crisp (not burned!) and cheese is melted.
  11. Remove pizzas and cut into 4 slices each.

 Kid-friendly meatball pizza on the grill for family dinners, picnics and cookouts.

Disclosure: As a proud supporter of Indiana Agriculture, I’m happy to mention this is a sponsored post for the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. And did you know Indiana’s dairy farmers rank 14th in the US for production? And the average American eats 31 pounds of cheese every year! That’s a lot of calcium and protein!

Healthy Hot Dog Toppings

Hot Dog Toppings Trio1Curious how a dietitian serves hot dogs? Three ways:
1. Topped with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
2. Served inside whole wheat hot dog buns.
3. Grilled outside for the best “at the ballpark” flavor.

That’s right. I balance those mouth-watering summer favorites with plenty of nutrient-rich ingredients. I know hot dogs aren’t the leanest of meats. Or the lowest in sodium. But that’s perfectly okay in my practical dietitian way of eating, because I prefer to celebrate the goodness of absolutely every food.

So let’s celebrate!
1. Protein provider. The typical hot dog – whether made from all beef, or part beef, pork, turkey and chicken – gives you at least 5 grams protein, and this protein helps keep your muscles strong and healthy. Concerned about nitrates and nitrites in hot dogs? Let me help allay your fears and concerns. These two ingredients are actually added to prevent the growth of harmful bacteria. And the allowable amount has been proven safe by extensive and thorough research. And did you know? The majority of the nitrates/nitrites in your diet come from a variety of vegetables! That’s right, nitrates/nitrites are naturally occurring in many vegetables like celery, beets, spinach and numerous lettuces.
2. Vehicle for whole grains. Hot dogs fit perfectly in those widely available whole grain and whole wheat buns. Every day, if you choose at least half your grain servings from the whole grain category, you’ll be giving yourself a huge health boost. Not only do whole grains give you more vitamins, minerals and usually more fiber, you’ll also help reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
3. Conduit for consuming more fruits and vegetables. Think about it…you enjoy fruit and vegetable-based salsa with pork, beef, fish, and poultry. Why not hot dogs?! And you love tons of vegetables on your deli sandwiches…why not on hot dogs?!  Just FYI, the average adult needs at least 2 cups fruit and 2 1/2 cups vegetables every day. Every little bit of those fruits and vegetables adds up, so start sprinkling and topping and stuffing away on those hot dogs!
4. Fastest of the fast. Nothing is faster on the grill than hot dogs. Plop, turn, remove. Hot dogs are already fully cooked when you buy them. You’re just reheating.
5. FTQ. That’s “food truck quality.” You know how tacos, dogs, and everything under the sun is a food truck trend and favorite? Well now YOU can serve up FTQ hot dogs with customized toppings right at your own backyard grill! Here are my three favorites – Vietnamese Hot Dogs, Hawaiian Hot Dogs, Chicago Hot Dogs.

Hot Dog Toppings Trio1

 

Vietnamese Hot Dogs
 
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Author:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • ½ cup light mayonnaise
  • 2-3 tablespoons Sriracha sauce
  • ½ large cucumber, thinly sliced
  • ¾ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cup fresh mint leaves
  • 6 hot dogs
  • 6 whole wheat hot dog buns
Instructions
  1. Make spicy mayonnaise by mixing mayonnaise and Sriracha sauce together in a small bowl. Spread mixture on buns then add hot dog. Arrange cucumber slices, shredded carrot and mint leaves over hot dog.

Hot Dog Toppings Trio1
Hawaiian Hot Dogs
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1 ¾ cup Pineapple Corn Salsa*
  • 6 hot dogs
  • 6 whole wheat hot dog buns
  • *Pineapple Corn Salsa
  • 1 can (20 ounces) pineapple tidbits in 100% juice, drained
  • 1 can (15.25 ounces) sweet corn kernels, drained
  • 1 very large red bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1 cup red onion, finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup green onion, finely chopped
  • 1 large jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely minced
  • ⅓ – ½ cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 4-6 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 heaping teaspoon lime zest
  • ¾ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
Instructions
  1. Top each cooked hot dog in a bun with about ¼ cup salsa.
  2. To make salsa, toss pineapple, corn, red bell pepper, red onion, green onion, jalapeno pepper and cilantro together in a large bowl. In a separate small bowl, whisk together lime juice, lime zest, garlic powder, cumin and salt. Pour over pineapple-corn mixture and toss lightly. Adjust seasonings to your liking. Refrigerate leftovers in tightly covered container.Yields 5 ½ cups salsa

Hot Dog Toppings Trio1
Chicago Style Hot Dogs
 
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Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • 1-2 tomatoes, thinly sliced
  • 4 tablespoons white onion, finely chopped
  • 6 tablespoons sweet pickle relish
  • 6 thin dill pickle spears
  • Hot sport peppers
  • Yellow mustard
  • Celery salt
  • 6 hot dogs
  • 6 whole wheat hot dog buns
Instructions
  1. Divide tomatoes, onion, sweet pickle relish and dill spears between 6 hot dogs on bun. Add desired amount of sport peppers and mustard. Sprinkle with celery salt.

Disclosure: As a proud supporter of Indiana Agriculture, I’m happy to mention this is a sponsored post for the Indiana’s Family of Farmers. And did you know that mint on your Vietnamese Hot Dog may have been grown in Indiana! That’s because Indiana is one of the top mint-producing states.

Jeff’s Favorite Asian Sweet & Sour Bean Salad

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Yes, you have to have a vegetable in your lunch. At least whenever I pack your lunch. Which is a lot. This is by far his #1 favorite side-dish vegetable: My award winning Asian Sweet & Sour Four Bean Salad.
Award-winning because years ago I entered it in a Canola Oil contest and won $500! Lucky me! And lucky Jeff because he’s getting fiber, protein, vitamins, minerals and lots of phytonutrients. Lucky me, too, because the only thing I have to chop is the red onion. Everything else is open, drain, rinse, stir, whisk, stir again.

Jeff's Favorite Asian Sweet & Sour Bean Salad
 
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Perfect salad for make 'n take pitch-ins, lunches and time-pressed cooks.
Author:
Serves: 6 - 12 servings
Ingredients
  • 3 cans (14.5 oz.) cut green beans, drained
  • 1 bag (16 oz.) frozen shelled edamame, thawed and microwaved
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) dark kidney beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can (15.5 oz.) garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
  • ¾ cup finely chopped red onion
  • ½ cup corn, canola or vegetable oil
  • ¾ cup unseasoned rice wine vinegar
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping teaspoon Chinese mustard
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
Instructions
  1. In a large bowl, lightly stir all beans and red onion together. In a separate small bowl, whisk together vegetable oil, rice wine vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper. Add to beans and stir just to combine/blend. Enjoy immediately. Refrigerate salad in a tightly covered container. Makes about 11 ½ cups salad.
  2. Kim’s Healthy in a Hurry Lunch Tip: Enjoy a big serving of this salad with Jeff’s favorite Ham, Apple & Cheese Sandwich (whole wheat pita pocket with deli ham, sliced cheese and thinly sliced apples…a little honey or zesty mustard, too.)