"It’s pizza night!" Just saying those words can elicit cheers from the members of your household. Pizza is a family favorite because it’s easy and tasty.

However, pizza has a reputation for being a treat, a once-in-a-while food that can be high in fat and salt. Pepperoni and sausage toppings can be high in solid fats, which aren’t good for your heart.

Using pepperoni or sausage in smaller amounts and topping a pizza with lots of veggies can be a great way to have a favorite food with a healthier boost.

Making your own pizza can also be a more affordable option than take-out pizza. In addition, it's a great way to get kids involved in cooking, which can help them be more willing to try new foods. Kids can practice mixing, stretching and shaping dough. They can help sprinkle veggies and cheese and pick other toppings.

I like to make pizza at the end of the week, using whatever leftover veggies we have on hand. My family likes shredded carrot, mushrooms, frozen, fresh or canned spinach, bell peppers and cheese.

You can get creative and top your pizza dough with barbecue sauce, onion, bell peppers, spinach, leftover chicken, corn, black beans and cheddar cheese for a fun, barbecued chicken-style pizza.

Try topping your dough with salsa, beans, cheese and leftover taco filling, for a tasty taco pizza.

Top pizza dough with scrambled eggs, veggies and cheese, and voila! You have breakfast pizza.

You can make pizza dough easily at home, without any special ingredients or yeast. Give this dough recipe from www.foodhero.org a try.

No-Yeast Pizza Crust

(makes one 12-inch pizza crust)

1-1/3 cups all-purpose flour (try using up to half whole wheat flour)

1 teaspoon baking powder

½ teaspoon salt

½ cup lowfat/nonfat milk

2 tablespoons oil

Mix flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Add milk and oil. Mix until a dough ball forms. Turn dough out onto a clean, lightly floured surface. Knead the dough 6 to 8 times until it begins to feel smooth and not too sticky. Form the dough into a ball, cover it with the bowl and let it rest for 10 minutes. Turn the oven to 400 degrees F.

After the dough has rested, on a baking sheet, stretch or roll the dough unto a 12-inch circle or rectangle (whatever shape your sheet is). You can stretch the dough with your hands or roll it out with a clean rolling pin, can or water bottle. Bake the crust for about 8 minutes. Remove from the oven, add your toppings carefully and return to the oven until toppings are heated through and crust is golden brown. Refrigerate all leftovers within two hours.

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If you’re interested in learning more about how to stretch your food dollar while choosing foods that are nutritious, reach out to SNAP-Ed at Cornell Cooperative Extension of Niagara County. Email jah625@cornell.edu or check out https://snapedny.org/. The Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program provides nutrition assistance to people with low income. For more information, call 1-800-352-8401.

Justine Hays, M.S., R.D., is a lead nutritionist for Eat Smart NY Western Region, which is funded by SNAP. To find classes on making affordable, healthy meals, visit www.cceniagaracounty.com.

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