Mom crafts nutritious pizza to set example for kids

·3 min read

May 9—When Tara Paolucci became a mom, staying healthy developed a whole new meaning.

The Clarks Summit resident had always struggled with weight and wellness, but when she became pregnant with her son, Carter, she realized she wasn't just caring for herself anymore. She started on a health and wellness journey for the both of them, which continued over the next several years, including through the birth of her second son, Lorenzo, aka Enzo.

"My whole perspective really shifted when I had kids, and I needed to make sure I was providing them a healthy life," she said during a recent day inside the home she also shares with her husband, Anthony. "Not only did I have to be healthy and strong for them, but I wanted them to develop those good habits."

Now that the boys are 9 and 3, Paolucci has come up with some killer healthy recipes for her family that don't skimp on taste. One in particular is her Healthy Pizza, which earned Paolucci a $50 gift card to Riccardo's Market, 1219 Wheeler Ave., Dunmore.

They're big pizza lovers, Paolucci explained, and she wanted a more nutrient-dense take on the dish. She grabbed a handful of pizza shell recipes and tried them, taking things she loved from each to put together her own creation. Her perfect incarnation is made with almond and tapioca flour and is paleo-friendly as well as gluten- and grain-free. It's savory, too, loaded with herbs and spices to avoid the cardboard taste and texture some "healthier" crusts tend to have, she said.

Paolucci advised bakers to make it their own as far as the spices in the crust and pizza toppings go. She typically uses marinara sauce, fresh basil and mozzarella cheese for her basic pizza, but she also changes up the toppings, using arugula, roasted red peppers, garlic, basil and feta, or creating White Clam Pizza, Shrimp and Sweet Pepper Pizza, and Hot Wing Pizza. Paolucci also makes a thicker version of her pizza crust that she tops with an American cheese blend, similar to an Old Forge-style pizza.

Her other favorite, nutrient-dense dishes include Turkey Meatloaf, Quinoa Bowls, Cauliflower Wing Bites and her coveted Pasta Salad. Paolucci gets pointers from the fabulous cooks in her life, like her mother, Kathleen Kern, and her mother-in-law, Lisa Paolucci.

"I just love to feed people," she said with a laugh.

Throughout the pandemic, Paolucci, who works as a hairstylist, had downtime to spend cooking and being with her kids. She started sharing these moments on her Instagram account, @xo_tmc, where she now posts fitness goals and recipes as well as her honest, humorous takes on health and being a woman, wife and mom.

"I started it on a whim, and I really just wanted a place to post about my progress and what I was doing," she said. "I think a lot of people can relate to it because there is not one set way to do things. We're all just trying to figure out what's best for us and our families."

Paolucci stressed that her family still indulges in comfort foods and goodies, but they balance it out with healthy, delicious meals and staying active. And while they won't ever give up pizza from local favorites including Nina's, Rosario's Pizzeria & Ristorante and Nicholas Pizza Shop, it's nice to make it together as a family activity. She hopes to continue to pass on the idea of self-love to her sons, which starts with caring for themselves from the inside out.

"It's so fun to cook with them and be able to share this with my kids," she said. "Not only is it a family bonding time, but I hope it also sticks with them that it's important to take care of our bodies."

Contact the writer: gmazur@timesshamrock.com; 570-348-9127; @gmazurTT on Twitter

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