I LOVE Fast Food!

Yes, you read that correctly:  I LOVE fast food!

Those who know me are saying, "no way, can't be!"  Let me warn you, it is not the type of fast food you can pick up at a drive thru.

I like whole food meals I can whip up quickly.  Some days I need to with 2 kids, 4 cats, 1 dog, and my busy health promoting lifestyle.

Last eve I decided I wanted pizza.  Getting healthy pizza out is not an easy task, better handled at home.  Generally, I plan for this and have the dough rising several hours before dinner prep time.

This conundrum has entered my life before:  want pizza now!  This is why I created the following whole food, easy pizza.  I made last eve's, pictured above, with fresh ground amaranth, millet, and quinoa flour.  This made for a grainy textured crust.  Very yummy, in my eyes (or should I say mouth?).  Any whole grain flours will work.  If you are looking for a more traditionally textured crust use 1/2 spelt flour and 1/2 oat flour, whole grain, of course.

The dough is like quick bread.  I let it sit for 5 minutes and then decide if I need to add a bit more flour to thicken it up.  It needs to be a sturdier dough than say, banana quick bread batter.  I then drop it on a floured pizza stone and roll it out with my pie crust rolling pin, dressed in it's 100% cotton tee (purchased locally through Evan's and White Hardware:  http://www.evanswhite.com/).  The messy dough rolls out easier with a well dressed rolling pin, floured as well.

Easy Pizza Crust

1 cup warm water or organic milk, not hot 2 tbsp. melted butter, preferably from grass fed cows (like the milk mentioned above) 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt 2-3 tsp. baking powder 2 1/2 to 3 cups whole grain flour*

-preheat oven to 350F -warm the milk and melt the butter in the milk -add 1/2 the flour amount, sea salt and baking powder -mix well -add more flour until you have a somewhat non-sticky dough

-place the dough into the center of a pizza pan that you have buttered or sprinkled with corn flour (or both) -press dough down and shape into a flat circle -using a rolling pin that is very well floured (I use a cotton sleeve on mine), roll out dough to the edges like a pie crust.  Keep pressing the edges into a nice, neat circle to prevent the cracked edges that you see in the above pizza picture! -pre-bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until it is starting to look crispy but not quite cooked, on the stone it does take 20 minutes -remove and add the below sauce, toppings of choice, cheese and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking and melt the cheese.

Avoiding grains? *Dough can be made with bean and/or nut flours, the texture will be different, obviously, but you will get used to it.  Be grateful you have created an alternative you can enjoy!

Avoiding Gluten? Skip the spelt flour. Use only gluten free grains. Make certain your oats are certified gluten free, organic too. Glyphosate pesticides used in non-organic farming practices are very destructive to gut health, immune health, whole body-whole earth health.

Pizza Sauce:

1 quart jar of canned tomatoes 1 can tomato paste, I like Muir Glen Organic paste.  It is an intensely tomato-y tasting paste Italian herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and parsley  - local if possible local onions and garlic

-saute' the onion in butter until gently but well cooked -add canned tomatoes, I put tomatoes and paste in the blender and puree as I can my tomatoes with the skins on -pour a generous pile, say 1 tbsp. or so, of each herb into your hand, one at a time.  Over the pot, rub your palms together and 'grind' the herbs into the pot of sauce. -slow cook the sauce for an hour or two -peel garlic cloves to your taste, chop or press into the sauce, at this point the heat is off so garlic is gently 'cooked' by the heat of the sauce only -use as much as needed to slather the above pizza crust -use the leftover sauce over your favorite pasta adding meat, cheese, beans, whatever you please

Need a quicker sauce choice? Try Muir Glen Pizza Sauce in the can.  It is very yummy right out of the can; meaning it needs zero "doctoring" with spices!

Please check out the article about my book, written by a Central NY journalist - Samantha House.  Every step forward with my book is one step closer to finding a publisher interested in publishing the entire series:  The Whole Food Kitchen Series! http://auburnpub.com/lifestyles/everything-in-its-natural-state-longtime-cny-nurse-shares-health/article_87363e8b-2f26-5af5-8da6-adabb55846c9.html

Enjoy!  Paula

Spring into "Life-Gevity"!

Jessica Jones photo, SUNY Potsdam 

Spring Into "Life"gevity

Recent studies have targeted 3 markers for predicting your longevity:  flexibility, balance and strength.

To test yourself: simply move to an open floor space with no available furniture or walls to grab onto.  Lower yourself to a sitting position without using props or dropping to your knees first and then using your hands / arms for support.  So literally just sit down without assistance.

Now that you are down there on the floor, bring yourself back up to the standing position, again, unaided.  Move upward to standing without using your arms to support you or moving onto your knees first.

If you can go down to the floor and back up without assistance, you score a perfect 10.  If you need assistance on the way down and/or back up to and from the floor, subtract 1 number for each point you require assistance along the way.  The higher your score, the better off you are physically which is a predictor of longevity.

This simple activity tests your balance, flexibility, muscular strength and neuro-motor skills coordination.  All these factors contribute to the quality of your life, your ability to be independent and ultimately your ease of aging and longevity.

All of these skills are greatly improved by engaging in and maintaining a regular exercise practice, perhaps daily, if I might suggest!  Yoga is a natural choice for developing and maintaining all of these physical skills.  I have been extolling the virtues of yoga for years.  I am doing so again!

Now, if I just had that yoga studio in my back yard. I would invite you all over for daily yoga classes!

FREE handout:  Yoga to Achieve and Maintain Weight.  This is a mind, body, spirit approach to balancing body health and weight.  Added bonus: You will increase your flexibility, balance, muscle strength and neuro-muscular coordination to Live Longer and Better!

Food Focus: Springing into Seasonal Food Changes

This is a time of year when I find eating gets harder, boring, monotonous.  The stored root veggies are getting punky, the squash has moldy spots, cabbage is not looking so yummy to me, and quite frankly, I am looking for some new tastes, textures, and food on my plate.  Yes, I still love beets but is it not getting time for some salad greens.....soon?  I realize I am being a bit hasty as it is only March. This is one time of the year where I am impatient for the change in seasons and the change in available local food.  Deep breath, practice that yoga!

So, to soothe my impatient soul and palate, I start using up my canned, local tomatoes to enhance the root veggie experience.  Somehow I seem to forget about those tomatoes most of the winter. I start adding them to root veggie soups with lots of yummy dried spices: Italian blend, curries, or my cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, nutmeg blend (perhaps with a dash or two of vanilla).

I also start making more pasta sauces for use over, well pasta, or to make homemade pizza.

Saucy Sauce

1 quart jar of canned tomatoes 1 can tomato paste, I like Muir Glen Organic paste.  It is an intensely tomato-y tasting paste that brightens up the early spring meals Italian herbs: rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and parsley garlic, hopefully some good, local is still available in your pantry onion

-saute' the onion in butter until gently but well cooked -add canned tomatoes, I put tomatoes and paste in the blender and puree as I can tomatoes with the skins on -pour a generous pile, say 1 tbsp. or so, of each herb into your hand, one at a time.  Over the pot, rub your palms together and 'grind' the herbs into the pot of sauce. -slow cook the sauce for an hour or two -peel garlic cloves to your taste, chop or press into the sauce, at this point the heat is off so that the garlic is only gently 'cooked' by the heat of the sauce -use the sauce over your favorite pasta adding meat, cheese, beans, whatever you please.

Easy Pizza Crust

I created this easy crust recipe, to quickly please my kids, when pizza is what they ask for at 5 PM!

1 cup warm water or organic milk, not hot (grass fed) 2 tbsp. melted butter, preferably from grass fed cows 1/2 tsp. unrefined sea salt 2-3 tsp. baking powder 2 1/2 to 3 cups whole grain flour, I use a blend of Brown rice, oat flour and sometimes organic corn. Spelt and kamut works fine also.

-preheat oven to 350F -warm the milk and melt the butter in the milk -add 1/2 the flour amount, sea salt and baking powder -mix well -add more flour until you have a somewhat non-sticky dough

-place the dough into the center of a pizza pan that you have buttered or sprinkled with corn flour (or both) -press dough down and shape into a flat circle -using a rolling pin that is very well floured (I use a cotton sleeve on mine, as well), roll out dough to the edges like a pie crust.  Keep pressing the edges into a nice neat circle to prevent cracked edges and sauce run off -pre-bake the crust for 15-20 minutes until it is starting to look crispy but not quite cooked -remove and add the above sauce, toppings of choice, cheese and return to the oven for 5-10 minutes to finish cooking and melt the cheese.

Enjoy it all and keep looking forward to yummy, local, spring time foods.  They are just around life's seasonal corner!   Namaste.