Friday, March 23, 2012

Strawberry Oatmeal Muffins

There's nothin' like California strawberries. They say folks came for the gold, but stayed for the strawberries.. ok, no one said that.. that I know of, I made it up. But I wouldn't doubt if it were true. Or maybe they stayed because there was no way in H-E-double hockey sticks they were going to go back over the Rockies through a blizzard, past Savage native American tribes, and icy rivers for months on end with little food or provisions, burying family along the way..

I feel like we need to take a moment of silence.

I'm serious. Can you imagine?

Anyhow, I have been juicing, juicing, juicing, and between my parents visiting (best weekend ever), and having a SUPER busy week full of running around and planning and preparing, my juicing schedule has been a little thrown, and my goal a little fuzzy. I know, it's disappointing.. I am still juicing, but this morning I woke up and looked at all of the beautiful strawberries and felt adventurous. I found a recipe at and modified it to suit my preferences. I ground up some wheat, omitted the sugar, and added a couple tablespoons of honey. If I would have had bananas, I would have added one for sweetness. Oh, and I am out of coconut oil (haven't been cooking much these days), otherwise I would have replaced the olive oil with it which would have enhanced the flavor even further I'm sure. Also, I didn't really measure the strawberries, I just chopped/mushed what I felt was adequate.

They're baking now..

The house smells divine..

pulled em' out. snapped photos..

And now for the review: Subtle homemade bread flavor, but definitely muffin consistency. I can see where the sugar would enhance the flavor, but I do love the taste of the strawberries without it. I would make these again. I'm now on my second one.. But I am anxious to try them with coconut oil, banana, and more strawberry chunks!

I feel that I should add that my kids wont try them per the strawberry chunks.

OH YES!! I am a recipe Friday (among other things) flake. So sorry I didn't give you a category.
I'm going with breakfast, since that's what I have contributed today, so if you have a favorite healthy breakfast recipe or ideas, do tell!

Thursday, March 22, 2012


Merica is having a crazy week, and I am getting ready for a vacation, so this blog has been a little sparse lately, for which we both apologize.

Today I am packing, packing, car wash, errands (did you ever try to get ready for an 8-day trip AND buy a house AND make multiple trips - including a discharge - to the hospital AND take care of an 87-year old invalid in the same 3 days? Yeah, not recommended), packing to be ready to leave by 5 p.m.

Which brings me to my quick little post subject:


Just want to make sure you're all getting your 2 quarts/day minimum.

I just finished reading a book about water. I don't necessarily endorse the book - it was very poorly written (I am willing to forgive that, since the author was from Iran - maybe it was translated into English?), hard to follow, a little hard to believe, and gave no clearly-defined remedies (just a vague "increase in water and a little extra salt added to the diet").

I DO, however, heavily endorse the drinking of water. And the book served to remind me of its importance, and strengthened my resolve to make sure I get my 8 generous cups every single day.

In case you're like me, and need detailed instructions on how other people do something in order to get your mind rolling with your own ideas, here's my routine:

I have to guzzle it, a cup at a time. Which means (aside from the fact that one of these days I am going to pass out while drinking my water - but if I don't do it all at once, I won't do it) it has to be around room temperature, or it makes my teeth scream in agony. So, I fill my cup the night before and set it on the counter. In the morning, I drink my first cup. I try to drink at least 16 ounces during my workout, so that's 3 cups before breakfast. And I make a mark for each on my calendar to keep track.

I try to do 5 cups before noon. Because I don't want to remember at 6 p.m. that I have to drink 7 cups of water, and feel like I am drowning. Plus, I don't want to be having to use the bathroom every ten minutes in the afternoon and evening, because that is when the majority of my not being home happens. Every time I go in my kitchen, I fill up my cup and down it. I like to keep a piece of citrus peel (orange, usually) in the bottom of my cup (I change it every day). That makes the water taste a little more special.

Anyway, there's my 2 cents on water.

Anyone else have tips to share on getting your daily water?

Oh, and thank you, one and all, for the wonderful advice on travelling. It was so helpful! You guys are the greatest!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Little Help?

Riddle: How many electronic devices does it take to drive to Arizona?

I must be out of my peaked little head, because I am taking a 16-hour road trip with my three children on Friday. By myself.

We've got the ipad packed. Ipods are downloaded with at least 11 hours-worth of books-on-cd. New coloring/activity books - check.

What else does one pack to keep children, ages 5 to 11, entertained and happy for that long?

I really need ideas, so...anyone?

What I also need to know is, what are my options for healthy eating on the road?

I'm going to need lots of munchy things to keep me awake, but I would rather not blow the entire healthy-eating-style in one (very l-o-n-g) day.

I like to think that this blog is a place for others to come for sound advice and inspiration of the healthy sort, but today, I need YOU.

I am not a traveller. We don't travel. At least not with our kids. And never me alone with my kids. So this is intimidating, to say the least.

So please, offer up your tips, advice, warnings, what-have-you.

I'm begging you.

(riddle answer: Probably one more than you own, but no worries, there are plenty of cords with which to strangle yourself in an emergency)

Friday, March 16, 2012

Reader Recipes - Sandwiches

I chose Sandwiches as the Friday theme, because I need recipes! I want to incorporate more of them into my menus, but have a hard time getting excited about them. You know how Merica feels about fish? Well, take that aversion, square it, and you'll have my opinion of sandwiches. I just can't stand them. Which has made lunch a dreaded affair in my life since Elementary School.

It doesn't make sense. My favorite food item is the hamburger, which is just a glorified sandwich, right?
Same goes for Mexican food - it's all just a tortilla sandwich. And I can eat Quizno's subs all day long. Or chicken salad on croissants. Or Thanksgiving turkey on left-over crescent rolls.

So, I guess what my problem is, is sliced bread. It just wasn't meant for anything but toast! I finally realized that as long as my sliced bread is toasted, I really enjoy a good sandwich. Oh, and the filling has to be greater than or equal to the volume of the bread (more filling than bread).

That, combined with a heavy dose of lazy, is why I made a few modifications to this recipe for California Sandwich:

Filling (combine the following):
1 avocado, diced
1 tomato, diced
1 cucumber (I use half a really big English cucumber), diced
squeeze of lime juice
2 TB. chopped cilantro
salt and pepper to taste

Toast your bread (I find that the recipe makes three generous sandwiches, so I make one for me, one for my husband, and then I have enough left over for another sandwich - for me - the next day)
Spread it with mayonnaise.
Sprinkle it with garlic salt.
Add the filling on top of one slice.
Pile on lots of alfalfa sprouts.
Slap on a slice of pepper jack cheese (has to be pepper jack - that's what makes the sandwich).
Top with second slice of toast.

It is really delicious. We have been partaking for a couple weeks now, and even my husband (I pack his toast and filling separately, to be assembled @ lunch time, so as not to get soggy) can't get enough of it; the same husband who hates the following items:

avocados, tomatoes, cucumbers, and cilantro.

That's why I call it the Magic Sandwich.

(also, it is just fine without the tomato, if you happen to think you have some and then find that you don't - like I did yesterday)

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Are all oils created equally?

Image from here

As I spend time with my new best friend Pinterest, my tummy grumbles.. my mind grumbles too. Can we just ban the pinning of baked sweets? PLEASE?! I swear if I see another peanut butter bar, I'm going to.. I don't know.. something drastic.. EAT SOMETHING!!

Ok, now that I got that off my chest..

I love drooling over all the healthy recipes. I have been fantasizing about the day when I can make and partake. I am trying to collect as many as I can so that I can start meal planning. (remember? Juice fast)

Speaking of meal planning, I decided to finally do a little research on fats and oils. What are the healthiest to cook and bake with, or use on salads.. Man there is a lot to consider.. which ones lose nutrients when heated, which ones are supposedly healthy but due to processing really arent.. y'know. And who has done all that research for me so that I can just copy, paste, and be healthy?

I researched

I read

I didn't know what I was reading

I determined that there are contradicting claims

I became more confused

Then I went into a grove of trees..

wait.. what?

Oh, I found this blog with comprehensive information and a fantastic chart, that I'm going to PIN.

Basically, Coconut oil and animal fats are your best bets at high temps. Should I be afraid of lard? My focus is on nutrition, not dieting, so... NOPE.. other than the fact that I have never cooked with it.

Oh, I also did a little reading up on agave nectar as a sweetener. My 2 cents: If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Sweetener is sweetener, so although I'll probably have some on hand and use it as an alternative to sugar, I shouldn't have it on a glowing pedestal in my pantry.

A comment from the link: use WAY less to achieve the same sweetness. Fructose is what you find in NATURAL fruits like apples, etc. Fructose is absorbed into the body slower than sucrose (therefore the much lower glycemic index) so there's no Spike then Crash of your blood sugar which causes one to lose energy and BURN LESS CALORIES. And Sugar is processed

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Glass Half Full and Squeaky Clean

When I was a young pup, my mom made her own window and glass cleaner, among other (almost every) things.

As soon as I was old enough to realize that the blue liquid advertised on television was the "correct" thing to use for glass, I grumbled as I washed windows. Who makes their own cleaner? That's just weird, right? It was to me and my "everyone else's lives are beautiful and perfect just like t.v., and if we only had store-bought glass cleaner (and white bread...), mine would be, too" way of thinking. I was convinced that homemade = inferior.

I swore that when I had my own house to keep, it would be nothing but the best, most expensive cleaning supplies for me! None of this two-bit, makes-your-life-boring-and-keeps-you-all-repressed homemade crap.

No, Ma'am. I had things to prove!

It took me 11 years of dissatisfied washing, and countless bottles of every brand of glass cleaner on the market to finally break down and call my mom for her recipe.

I whipped it up and washed my mirrors. Then I washed them again the next day. And the next. I was hooked. I kept directing my husband's attention to the mirrors and exclaiming things like, "Look at that!" and "Holy Moly, that's clean!"

I mean, they were cleaner than they had ever been. No streaks, no residue.

Just pure, unadulterated, boring old clean.

I felt sheepish. And thrilled. Enough more thrilled than sheepish to swear allegiance to home-concocted glass cleaner forever more.

And so, I present to you today, the glass cleaner that dreams are made of:

(and, again, I always just make enough for my bottlesworth (1 quart), so I have revised the recipe to reflect that)

In a large (at least 1 quart) measuring cup, mix the following:
1/2 C. rubbing alcohol
1 TB. ammonia
1/2 TB. liquid dish soap (Joy is supposedly the best to use)
Enough water to make 1 quart

Pour the solution into your spray bottle (again, it must be a heavy duty one, or it will stop working after a while), and clean like the cleaning lady you always aspired to be!

Also, the Friday Reader Recipes theme is SANDWICHES. Got that? SANDWICHES.

(No peanut butter and jelly or processed lunch meat allowed)

p.s. Today is pi day (3.14 - I know it's kinda nerdy, but who doesn't love an excuse to eat pie?), so if you find a healthy pie recipe to make for your family, let me know!

p.p.s. Last Saturday when Ty was cleaning his car, he noticed for the first time the corrections I had made to the Great Value Glass Cleaner bottle that I have been using for my homemade cleaner for the last 3 years. He asked (as he chuckled), "Did you do that completely for your own benefit?" And I replied, "Yep." Because I believe in doing little things for my own benefit. My own benefit is a worthy cause.

(Also, knowing me, I would otherwise forget that it was homemade and that I had ever made my own cleaning solution)

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Strong stomach required.. a little on the gushy side

I love these. I see them on Pinterest and in boutiques and they crack me up. Because they're so true.. most of them. Don't get me wrong. I absolutely love being a housewife.. a desperate housewife if you will. at times it is a thankless, draining, monotonous, emotional beating that I don't think I deserve, but I wouldn't trade spending time with my kids and taking care of my home.. well, at least spending time with my kids, for anything. And days like today make everything that I put up with worth it.

By days like today, I mean that I am in the apex of a flare up. This is the day that I need to for the most part remain motionless. Usually when this happens, it's at a THE worst time. I have laundry piled up, My 4 yr old doesn't have preschool that day and needs to climb all over me to make up for my lifelessness. Damian has meetings in the morning, then again in the evening, so no help there. That's where the picture for this post comes in, only it's not a nervous breakdown. It's a physical one. (Not that the nervous breakdown doesn't ever apply)

Today is different. Damian still had to leave extra early this morning and will be home extra late (meetings), Reese (4 yr old) doesn't have preschool, and my laundry is teetering dangerously close to the point of no return. But my wonderful daughters (10 & 9) have risen to the occasion and taken control of everything. Taking care of Reese so that she doesn't need me, getting and cleaning up breakfast, doing laundry, and making sure that their activities don't cause any extra mess. I could cry. I am so full of gratitude today and THIS is why I love being a desperate housewife. Because there is nothing more. Nothing better on this earth than having your needs in a desperate hour be taken care of by your own children. I love feeling gratitude toward them. I love that they feel needed and valued and that they are making a significant contribution. It's just a good day.

I'll briefly explain what happens when I flare up. I feel inflammation around my heart and lungs, so in other words, sharp stabbing pain in my chest.. but only when I breath, so it's not so bad. Every movement, change in position, (bending over, lifting, sitting down..) or increase in heart rate (walking, going up or down stairs, watching kids put toys away in the WRONG bin..) is manifested in what I have read be compared to a cardiac arrest. But sitting here at the computer, or in bed, I feel ok.

Juice Fast Update

I am on day 15. Half way. I wish I could say I'm feeling great, but in light of said flareup, I'm not.

I have abandoned most of the recipes I was using, and even went to the farmers market on Saturday with out a list. I just buy what I know I'll like and try to get a good variety. I'm not spending as much because I'm getting better deals as a return customer buying so much and I've been too lazy to go to the store to get expensive berries, etc..

I won't bore you with the thought process that lead me to this decision, but I'm extending my juice fast to 6 weeks (so I guess not quite half way done..) with the 6th week juicing all day except for dinner of which will consist of super healthy whole foods.

I did have an epiphany on Sunday.. That's when I have most of my epiphanies, for obvious reasons. This juice fast, as I have said before, is turning out to be a lesson in discipline. I'm a good person by default. I naturally and with not a lot of effort on my own part do good things. Take care of people, have a strong testimony, but the buck stops there. Discipline is where I'm lacking. Which is why I have decided to extend my juice fast. Last week I cheated.. not a lot, just a bite here and a bite there, but I realized that I need to discipline myself to complete my goal with exactness. Out of principle. Because I need to learn that. I need to know that I can. I decided to write down my goal (specific and measurable) and I'm sticking to it.

Just let me be weird.

The other thing I thought about was the idea of a "reboot." like I have said before, I'm getting better about not being tempted by food that isn't good for me. Well, can't that be applied to other stimulus? So I have also decided to reboot my music preferences. When I listen to uplifting and spiritually provoking music, my thoughts are often turned toward the gospel, or service, or forgiveness, and I feel more patient, and more love toward my family. This usually happens but once a week. (Sunday.)

I have decided to go through the end of my juice fast with a music fast as well. I am only going to listen to uplifting music that invites the spirit. That doesn't mean only LDS music.. but probably a considerable amount. Just no "popular music" on Pandora, and nothing with questionable themes or lyrics. I know it's extreme. I know. Or maybe this is a discipline that comes naturally to most mature adults and I missed the boat. Either way..

My goal is that by the end of my "music fast" I'll be reset to desire that more than once a week.

I am working on my play list. There's only so much MoTab a girl can handle.. sorry, it needed to be said. I love Mindy Gledhill and have a lot of her music, but any other recommendations would be really appreciated.

What would YOU like to reboot?

Monday, March 12, 2012

Adventures in Cleaning and A Warning

(Pretend there's a really cute picture here of me smiling, full manicure, wearing a crisp spring gingham dress and apron, cleaning. Concentrate now, I know that's a difficult image to conjure)

Last week I started a new cleaning regimen. Why? Because my cleaning ambitions have lately shrunken down to a size practically imperceptible to the naked eye. I have far too many cleaning years ahead of me to give up now. I'd like to save the giving up for a more appropriate time, like when I'm 80. Or 40.

So, I thought a little change in my strategy would do me good. You see, I rebel against schedules of any sort. Rebel, I tell ya. It's a disease or something. And it keeps me from being organized, and lately it's been cramping my get-everything(or at least anything)-done style.

After cutting (gnashing?) my teeth on a very timid attempt to follow a menu plan (with success!), I decided I would take the next step and try a cleaning schedule. So, I found a couple on Pinterest, and went with the one most unlike my current one.

(I was going to do a link here, but I can't find it. Suffice to say it is strict, it is every day, and it is a lot of work)

I fell off the wagon a few times last week, but I enjoyed putting on my pink rubber gloves and looking at the schedule magnet-stuck to my back door, and dreaming of what would happen if I adhered to it's stringent laws. It was great. Almost as great as that run-on (and on) sentence.

This week I plan to carry it out a little better. Except for Thursday and Friday, because my kids are off school, and so we must play. Also, today and tomorrow are looking to be full to the rafters with craziness. So, that leaves Wednesday. Which is a half day of school for my kids, so I guess maybe we could team-up, doubling the cleaning power. Or I could just leave them with a list of chores and get the heck out of here...hmmm.

And now, a very important public service announcement/warning:


I'm speaking from experience. I will now, at the risk of sounding like a complete idiot, debunk the following Pinterest myth:

Recycling your citrus rinds by soaking them in a bottle of vinegar to be used for a fresh-scented cleansing agent later doesn't work. If used to mop all the tile in your house, it will produce a floor so sticky, you will have to mop it five more times with Mr. Clean. Which will cause you to not have time to go on a date with your husband. Which will cause you to be grumpy and ready to strangle Pinterest with your bare hands.

And, for my piece de resistance, I will share the recipe for my most favorite homemade all-purpose cleaning spray. Guaranteed not to make your tile/counter tops/sinks/toilets sticky. Ready? Get a pencil. Or turn on your printer and get ready to copy this sucker.

Here it goes:
(this is enough to fill a spray bottle - buy a heavy-duty one or use an old, rinsed-out 409 - or similar - bottle)
1 TB. Borax (If you don't have any, get some. What are you waiting for? Don't you know you can't make slimy sludge play stuff without it? Buy it in the laundry aisle.)
3 TB. White Vinegar
2 C. Warm Water
1 TB. Dish Soap
1 Drop Essential Oil (doesn't have to be food-grade, just any cheap ess. oil is fine. My personal favorite is peppermint, but this last time I had a bunch of old imitation lemon extract that I was going to throw out, so I dumped that in, and wow! It smells good!)

Put it in a spray bottle and shake it up (I actually put it in a big bowl and whisk it to make sure the borax dissolves - plus, I'm always needlessly afraid I won't have room for all of it in my spray bottle).

If you tune in again on Wednesday, I just might share my top-secret, 502%-better-than-Windex, homemade window and glass cleaner recipe. See you then!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Recipe friday - FISH

photo ripped off from here

So Andrea and I are kind of just flying by the seat of our pants with this blog. (If you haven't noticed :) Either way, it's been a fun medium to share with eachother our recipes and ideas in our efforts to make a full conversion to a whole foods and no sugar (at least in our meals.. save it for the good stuff.) lifestyle. Anyway, remember last week when I had the idea to make friday our recipe day? Well that was AFTER we had just determined that it would be Andrea's week to post on friday. So she was a good sport and posted about MY idea, using MY theme. Well, now this week is MY day to post on friday, and it's HER theme. Why does it MATTER you ASK? (ok, sorry.. I'll quit yelling) It doesn't.. except that since I don't like sea food (a cardinal sin in the bay area.. I know), I don't even have 1 tried and true recipe to share. I have cooked Salmon a time or two in a failed attempt to overcome my dislike (abhoration), but I can't really recommend that which I don't like (abhore.. My family actually sit's around and watches me try to choke down sea food for sport.)

look. I know what you're thinking. Maybe I should try crab, or shrimp, or lobster, or white fish.. I have OK?! I've tried it all.. on multiple occasions. I just HATE that fishy taste. HATE IT. DON'T MAKE ME EAT IT.


leave me the heck alone.

no wait.

come back.

So.. where was I? Oh, yes. I am going to share a recipe anyway. I did once eat a fish taco at a restaurant in San Diego and liked it, (Forget what I said before..) so although I haven't tried making my own, I just might.

We do make chicken tacos sometimes, and the tortilla makes all the difference, so if you don't have a tortilla factory near by like we do, (I'm tellin' ya, the California is the 8th wonder of the world when it comes to food. You should see our farmers markets.. YEAR ROUND. That will be a good post one day) You might consider making your own..

Ok, ok, we usually make our own tortillas. I usually don't get all the way out to the tortilla factory. We just follow the directions on the back of the Maseca bag. Go ahead.. click it. it's a link.

And then flatten it in the cast iron tortilla press I got for my birthday.

You could also use a whole wheat tortilla recipe. I like this one and there's even a video tutorial to go with it.

So moving on..

Here's Andrea's recipe.

I would trust hers before mine.

Baked Fish

1/4 C. butter - melted (I cut it in half and only use 2 TB)
2 tsp. soy sauce
2 tsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. lime juice
1/4 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1 clove garlic, minced
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper (one Pizza Hut packet will last a long time with this recipe)
1 lb. any white fish (I always use tilapia, and I do 5 or 6 fillets)

Place fillets in 9x11 oven safe dish. Mix everything else in a small bowl. Pour over fish. Bake @ 400 for 30 minutes, basting twice.

Ok, I've probably scared you with my bipolar-ness, but don't let that stop you from contributing your favorite fish recipes.



please :D

Thursday, March 8, 2012

You've Got To Be Kidding Me

Photo from here

This morning I made Baked Oatmeal.

No, no. Let me back up.

This morning I woke up at 4:30 (that's a.m., in case you're not from around here) so that I could go to a spinning class (I know, I hate it when people tell me about their workouts too, but in this instance I felt I should tell you WHY I had to get up so stinkin' early), and get home in time to make lunch for my husband, and Baked Oatmeal for my children for breakfast. 

The Baked Oatmeal takes 45 minutes to bake, so I knew I had to get a real move-on if I was going to get everything done. 


The moment I return home, I fly around my kitchen like a rabid tornado, making a huge mess, and oil pulling (I'm an enthusiastic supporter of multi-tasking). 

Then my husband comes in and says, "You know I don't need a lunch today, right?" 

You've got to be kidding me #1.

So I abandon the chopping of vegetables for lunch, and start working on the Baked Oatmeal. Ten minutes in, I decide to bag it. Then I remember it's my turn to blog today, and decide to go for it. Again. 

When my children emerge from their rooms with sleepy eyes, I push plates of bananas into their hands and motion for them to chop like there's no tomorrow.

Oatmeal in oven, I tear my clothes off as I race down the hall and jump in the shower. I shout reminders and commands to children who can't hear me. Cause it makes me feel better.

With five minutes to spare before their ride gets here, I shovel three bowls full of piping-hot Baked Oatmeal, and tell the girls to eat fast

It's hot like molten lava. And they wrinkle their noses and ask if those are grapes on top.

You've got to be kidding me #2.

I pour milk over it. They make faces as they pick out the pecans and take tiny, hesitant bites (of the pecans - nothing else).

You've got to be kidding me #3.

I tell them to flippin' eat it for the love of Pete. And mutter about how they can just make their own goll-dang food from now on, as I walk into my bedroom for a few cleansing breaths, cause I'm about to lose it. 

They ask if they can be done, and their bowls are still full.

You've got to be kidding me #4. Four is all I can take.

I tell them I don't care. It's them who will be hungry until lunch, not me.

And then, after kissing them goodbye with my wet hair and growling stomach, I taste the stuff, and it. is. so. good.

You Have Got To Be Kidding Me.

Which (finally) brings me to today's point:

People often ask me how I get my children to eat nutritious meals. I will tell you that it is not easy. In fact, it might be the most challenging part of our foodstyle change. At least once a day, I say, "I give up!" and I mean it. Until the next meal. We have a little saying at our house that goes, "You don't have to like it, you just have to eat it." Which means, they have to try it. Then, if they still don't like it, they have to take a couple bites of it. Then, if they are gagging, they can get themselves something else to eat, or wait for the next meal. I spend so much time and energy preparing food, that I just don't have enough left to care whether or not anyone likes it. And while that sounds harsh, it is finally paying off. Yesterday I noticed that Sylas (my hardest sell and most addicted to sugar) only asked for healthy snacks, and later he decided he really liked dinner (after I made him eat a few bites of it). He finished it, and asked if he could have it the next day for lunch. And then he thanked me emphatically for cooking for him. It just about brought a tear to my eye.

So I am going to focus on last night's success, and not on this morning's failures.

What is your strategy for getting your children to eat healthier?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

So my strategy for becoming a whole foods, health-nut is to take staples that would otherwise make my life easier, and complicate it by making said staples from scratch.. starting with grinding my own flour. Makes sense right? Actually this has been a great way to change with out a lot of change.. baby steps.

My family loves pizza. My husband desires that we partake on a weekly basis. So I started there.. well, actually I started with bread which is eaten daily.. But I've blogged about that before and since the same 2 people that read that blog read this blog, I'm moving on.

My family really likes the taste of this crust (see below). I think it's excellent. I use white winter wheat flour that I grind up in my trusty nutrimill. White winter wheat is not my favorite in bread. I love the nutty flavor of hard red winter wheat, But for some things that you would prefer a more subtle flavor, white winter wheat is fantastic. So what I do, is make like 4x the recipe (takes an afternoon), divide into individual sizes (we all like different toppings), par bake them, and freeze in gallon Ziploc freezer bags, and when you're ready for a nutritious, easy, delicious meal on a Friday night, pull them out, decorate with your toppings of choice and bake for 8-10 min.

Pizza Dough

3 C. whole wheat flour (I grind my own)
2 1/4 tsp (or 1 (.25 oz.) pkg active dry yeast (I get mine at Costco in bulk because I make bread
2 tbsp vegetable oil
1 tsp Salt
1 Tbsp Honey
1 C. very warm water

Combine flour, salt, and yeast in a large bowl. Mix in oil, honey, and warm water. (I do this in my kitchen aid with the dough hook.) Cover and let sit for 1/2 hr. Then roll it into the size(s) you want. puncture with a fork a few times and add toppings as desired and bake at 375 for 20-25 min. (if it's one large pizza. if it's individual, probably 15 min.. give or take, as oven temps may vary.) If you are going to partially bake them, puncture with a fork, and bake for about 5 min for individual size.

Exquisite Pizza Sauce

I love this recipe, because you don't have to heat anything up. just add all the ingredients and let sit on the counter for a little while to blend flavors. I usually X10 this recipe and put it in quart sized freezer bags (about 1 1/2 - 2 cups) and stick them in the freezer, so on pizza night, I just pull it out (let it thaw) and done. And NO SUGAR!! woohoo! oh, and it' s pretty good. my family likes it and it goes well with the pizza dough.

1 (6 oz) can tomato paste 1/4 tsp dried oregano
6 fluid ounces warm water 1/4 tsp dried marjoram
3 Tbsp grated Parmesan 1/4 tsp dried basil
1 tsp minced garlic 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tbsp honey salt to taste
3/4 tsp onion powder tomato sauce to taste

mix it all in a bowl and let flavors combine.

Our (Andrea and my.. and probably most of our readers) Aunt Carmen makes this amazing oil/balsamic vinegar dressing, You can put it on sandwiches, salads, anything really.. but I love to put it on my pizza dough (instead of red sauce), topped with cut grape tomatoes, mushrooms, (canned) artichokes, and arugula (then drizzled more dressing and sprinkled feta cheese) and it is HEAVEN. enjoy with a little Pelegrino and it's pretty fancy schmancy. SO easy, and healthy.

Aunt Carmen's oil/vinegar
(i don't know the measurements, I just throw stuff in.)

Olive oil
Balsamic vinegar
Chopped parsley
Chopped garlic
lemon juice (fresh)

I would now like to take this opportunity to apologize for any grammatical errors, discombobulation, or other imperfections. I have sick, whiny, noisy, arguing, needy, kids wiping their noses on my shirt, and I can't think straight.

Sorry to complain.

I love my kids.

They deserve my attention.

just sayin'

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Love Muffins

For Dr. Seuss's birthday (March 2nd), I made green eggs and ham for dinner (didn't you?). I needed something to go with it, since I knew my kids would eat exactly 1/2 a bite of green (kale) eggs, and I am not keen on the idea of filling up on just pig. So I made these babies: Whole Wheat Muffins (with banana and blueberries). After drizzling melted butter on top of them right as they came out of the oven, I declared them the best baked good I have had since January 2nd (the day we stopped eating sugar/processed food). And my kids ate 4 each. Four!

So I made them again the next day.

The recipe can be found here

I recommend you make them right away.

Then yesterday, around 11 a.m.,  I could feel myself getting hangry (hunger-induced anger: it is an on-going battle for me), and needed some lunch STAT. So, I made one of Merica's salads from last week - the Pear and Pomegranate one. Only I didn't have any pears or pomegranates around. Or pecans. What I did have was mixed baby greens, parmesan, craisins, mango, and candied walnuts (this is why I keep them always on hand). I whipped-up some of the Orange Vinaigrette , and tossed it all together, and well. My goodness. You can see what was left of it by the time I managed to get my camera out. It was heavenly. And that Orange Vinaigrette is like liquid summertime. So fresh and delicious! Try it. You'll be glad you did.

My testimony of salads was strengthened.

I feel a little more confident in my salad-making abilities, and can say with conviction that I really like salad. A lot. In fact, it might be my new favorite meal.

I mean besides brownies, which I can't have anymore, so they don't count.

Anyway, I guess what I am trying to say is that almost anything is good in a salad.

And now I am supposed to announce the Reader Recipe theme for this Friday, so you can start gearing-up for it.



That's it: Fish! What is your favorite clean fish dish?

Now I'm starting to sound like Dr. Seuss.

Monday, March 5, 2012

If You Like Asparagus, or Butternut Squash..

Cinnamon Apple Squash Juice

Merica here.

I'm starting to feel like I'm going to run out of interesting things to blog about.. or at least interesting recipes while I'm on this juice fast. I can't try anything new like agave as a sweetener, or the butternut squash ravioli recipe that is haunting my dreams at night threatening never to leave until I make it. I'll try to think of a good healthy recipe to share while I am updating you on my super interesting (insert sarcasm) juice fast.

So I am on day 9! I recently sold a kidney so that I could shop at the farmers market, but with all this healthy juice, I doubt I even need it..

I woke up Sunday (day 8) with an on coming migraine, made my juice and drank it and then felt like I was going to barf/hurl/throw-up/toss cookies/spew.. (take your pick).

Something was wrong. I sent my family off to church without me and for some inexplicable reason, I started to feel better (don't judge). But not all better.

I opened the refrigerator and it's like the whole thing was a blur except for one glowing beacon. The turkey lunch meat told me that I needed protein. So being one to never question talking dead birds, I ravenously tore into the package. Then it told me I shouldn't take any chances and to wrap it in a slice of cheddar cheese.

So I did.

And I ate it.

And it was delicious.

And I did it again.

And I felt better.

Much better.

Did I feel bad for ruining my juice fast? NO. 'Cause I didn't ruin it. I'm right back on the wagon. I juiced the rest of the day. Moral of the story.. Listen to your body. Or the the fridge.. whatever. Be Smart and use moderation.

Ok, I did learn a couple of things that I should pass along.

1. I juiced swiss chard (with a whole lot of other stuff) and after one drink, my head and throat burned for the next hour. It was most unpleasant and so I substitute any swiss chard for kale now. This may not be everyone's experience.

2. This recipe: 4 cups butternut squash (give or take) and 1 apple, sprinkled with a dash of cinnamon tastes like frosting on a cupcake. NOT. KIDDING. It was really very fantastic. I probably shouldn't ruin it for you. I had no expectations going in, so I was very pleasantly surprised. And I've been drinking vegetables for a week, so my pallet probably has lower standards than yours. Either way, I am excited to drink it again.

3. I'm not losing tons of weight. I'm actually good with that. You know those kids who side by side look like they weigh the same, but one is a tank and one is a feather? Well, maybe feather isn't the right word, but I don't weigh as much as I seem. I am starting to detect what might be a jawline and that makes me happy. Also, since I have been eating pretty healthy for a while now, It's more an issue of shape. Size, GOOD. shape, BAD. I have no excuse (other than motherhood. My catch all.. and a darn good catch all it is). I'll get there.

Oh.. and I had a couple of thoughts

1. This is a lesson in discipline. I am really getting good at not being tempted by food (minus the talking lunch meat). In order to stay off of my medications, I will need to be good at that.

I guess I just had 1 thought.

Oh yeah, recipe..

Asparagus with Almond Sauce
(From my Better Homes and Garden's cookbook that I got for my wedding. This is my favorite way to eat asparagus. This sauce reminds me of a buttery wine sauce. I LOVE a good wine sauce. But there's no wine in this recipe. and Sorry, no picture because of my current juicing situation.. I know you'll understand)

Makes 4 Servings.. (or 2..)

1 bunch asparagus spears
1 TBSP butter
2 TBSP sliced almonds
1 1/4 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup water
2 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp chicken bouillon

1. Snap off and discard woody bases from fresh asparagus. Cook fresh asparagus, covered in a small amount of boiling lightly water for 3 to 5 minutes or until crisp-tender. Drain well.

2. Meanwhile, for sauce, melt butter in a small saucepan; add almonds. Cook and stir over medium-low heat for 3-5 minutes or until golden. Stir in cornstarch. Add water, lemon juice, bouillon, and dash black pepper. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Cook and stir 2 minutes more. Spoon sauce over asparagus.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Reader Recipes - Salads

In case you forgot, today is Friday. Which means it is Reader Recipe Day around here. Which means we set a theme, and you share your favorite recipe in that category. Today's theme is


Here is Merica's:

Cobb Salad With Buttermilk Ranch Dressing
(This is a hearty salad full of flavor. Perfect for those of us with a bottomless pit for a stomach. And feel free to trade something you don't like for something you do or add to it. But this is how I like it)

romaine, baby spinach, or mixed greens (your preference)
cut up ham or turkey
hard boiled egg chopped
(place fresh egg in small sauce pan and fill with water until egg is covered. Place on stove top and bring to boil. Once it hits a boil, keep it boiling for 8 minutes. And then you're done)
chopped up avocado
blue cheese
green or red onions - optional

Buttermilk Ranch (makes 1 quart)
(This is the recipe out of the book Country Beans. Instead of buttermilk, I measure 1 TBSP lemon juice per cup of milk, and fill the rest of the measuring cup with milk and let it sit for 5 minutes. Also, I add a little extra garlic, onion powder and salt to taste. So make it, taste it, and add what you think it needs. I would also half this recipe the first time you make it. It makes plenty. put the rest in the fridge and use it throughout the week.)

2 cups mayonnaise (Country Beans also has a mayonnaise recipe I haven't tried yet)
2 cups buttermilk
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 tsp dried onion flakes
2 T parsley flakes
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp onion powder

Combine ingredients and whisk until smooth (I use a blender).

Got that? Yum. I am planning to make that one this weekend. I LOVE Cobb salad cause it doesn't really taste like salad - it tastes like a meal. And who doesn't adore ranch dressing (besides my youngest child)? 

My recipe for today is similar, in that it is a filling-meal salad, and you'll need to make Merica's ranch dressing recipe for it:

Crispy Ranch Chicken Salad
(adapted from a pampered chef recipe, I believe)

1/4 C. ranch dressing
4 chicken breasts (boneless, skinless)
3/4 C. dry bread crumbs (just make your own out of whole wheat bread - it's so simple: put some bread out on the counter overnight to get stale. Then bake in an even layer at 200 degrees for 1-2 hours. Grind up in a food processor. Freeze so you'll have them when you need them)
*you can add parmesan cheese to the bread crumbs if you have some

1 C. shredded cheddar
2 C. grape tomatoes
1/2 C. sliced olives
1/4 C. red onion, sliced thin
8 C. torn romaine lettuce
3/4 C. ranch dressing
*I like to add sliced hard-boiled eggs, and any other vegetables that sound good and are about to go bad if we don't hurry and use them.

Preheat oven to 425.
For salad: toss everything together except cheese.
For chicken: rinse and pat dry with paper towels. Brush chicken with ranch and coat with bread crumbs. Arrange evenly on a cookie sheet (or pizza stone). Bake 20-25 minutes or until it's no longer pink in the center. Cut crosswise into slices. Arrange over salad. Sprinkle with cheese. Serve with ranch dressing.

The first time I made it, my kids and husband thought it was kind of weird to have the hot chicken on the cold salad, so I keep the chicken separate for them now, but I love the contrast of temperatures. I make extra chicken so I can chunk it and toss it in salads during the rest of the week. 

So, now we want you to link or share your favorite salad recipe in the comments.

Ready, Gesset, GO!

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Say What?

The first time I heard the term, "Oil Pulling," I was confused. It is a strange word combination that doesn't make sense. Then I read about it. A lot. Now the term 'oil pulling' still sounds dumb, but the idea is intriguing. And easy. Which is what I'm all about.

It is, quite simply, the swishing of oil (any kind you like, but sesame and sunflower are the ones found to be most effective) in one's mouth for 20 minutes/day. That's it.

And the claims of benefits are many and diverse (from the cessation of headaches to the healing of heart disease). But what most interested me was the prevention of mouth and gum disease without chemicals.
Which means to me, no more buying and using nasty, tastes-like-poison mouth wash. Yippee! Also, I have very sensitive gums and teeth, and oil pulling is supposed to help with that.

I have been doing it religiously for two weeks, and I haven't experienced any miracles (although I wouldn't know it if I had, since I am not aware of any major diseases I have - could have just cured that tumor I never knew I had for all I know), but my teeth are a little whiter, so that's always good. And I figure, if nothing else, it can't hurt. It's such a simple (and natural!) thing that could possibly benefit me in healthy ways, so why not?

Here are the basic directions:
1. Do it first thing in the morning on an empty stomach (I do it after my workouts while I'm making breakfast. It is amazing how quiet my kids are when I am unable to talk for 20 minutes - I have actually considered oil pulling - or pretending to - for an entire day).
2. Use 1 Tbsp. of oil (you can work your way up to that amount if necessary. It took me a few days to feel comfortable with the entire amount at ounce. Before that, I did 1/2 Tbsp for 10 minutes, then the other half for the remaining 10 minutes). Like I mentioned, Sunflower and Sesame Oils are the ones studied and shown to be the most beneficial, but any oil will work. I started with coconut oil - which made my mouth water like crazy - and then switched to Sunflower, which I really like. It's light and pleasant-tasting, and my mouth doesn't fill up with saliva as much as it did with the coconut).
3. Swish it very lightly through your mouth for 20 minutes. Don't swish vigorously, or your mouth will get worn out. Don't gargle it, and please do not swallow it! By the time you expectorate, it is supposedly chock-full of nasty bacteria and toxins.
4. Spit it out in the toilet, cause everyone knows you never put oil down a sink drain (this is the hardest part for me, because the act of leaning over the toilet and spitting sends a throw-up signal to my brain. I think it's normal. What did I expect after spending three 9-month segments of my life hanging over the toilet boil? Just do it as quickly as possible, and visualize a tropical island and lemonade as you do it - that seems to help).
5. Gargle and swish with warm salt water when you are done.

Of course there are varying opinions on the exact method (and benefits) of oil pulling hereherehere, and here, if you are interested.

Otherwise, come back tomorrow for some recipes!