Greek Pizza

Sorry I am now just posting this recipe. I know some of you asked for it earlier. It is super easy and very tasty and full of wholesomeness! My 8 & 9-year olds are not super fond of this style of pizza, but my husband and 11 (or as he likes to put it, "I'm almost 12!") rave about it.

Sometimes the tomatoes don't look that great to me in the produce section so I will just grab a can of diced tomatoes and drain a little of the juices. Also I think the kalamata olives are a must over the black ones.


Whole Wheat Pizza Crust (makes 2 14" pizza crusts)
1 1/3 cup of warm water

2 T olive oil

3/4 t. salt

1 t. honey or sugar

2 cups all purpose, unbleached flour

2 cups whole wheat flour

2 t. of yeast

Add to bread machine as directed by your manual.

Greek Pizza

2 garlic cloves, chopped

1/2 t. sea salt

3 1/2 (or more) T. olive oil

3/4- 1 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, coarsely chopped

3/4 cup tomatoes, diced

2 cups baby spinach, coarsely chopped

1/2 small red onion, sliced

1. Adjust oven rack to lowest position and preheat to 450 degrees.

2. Using the prongs of a fork, press and mash the garlic and sea salt until a paste is made. Scrap the paste in a bowl with 2 T of olive oil and stir. Brush the garlic oil over the pizza dough.

3. In a large bowl add the olives, tomatoes, spinach and onions and add 1 1/2 (or more) T of olive oil and gently toss until all the veggies are lightly covered, not dripping.

4. Evenly disperse the veggies on top of the dough.

5. Sprinkle with the feta cheese.

6. Bake for 10-12 minutes or until cheese is mostly melted.


Friday's Fav... "You Are What You Eat"

About three years ago I got hooked on a show televised by the BBC. It is called, "You Are What You Eat". The hour show is hosted by a very blunt, yet caring nutritionist named Gillian McKeith. The show takes place in the UK where she visits the home of an overweight family who wants diet and nutrition help and upon meeting them likes to be introduced to their food pantry. While scanning the food, she is somehow able to diagnose health problems in the family, one by one. And every time, she nails them just by seeing the food. Indigestion, diabetes, migraines, hair loss, moodiness and so on. She then works on reversing their poor eating habits into healthy ones and over 8 weeks you see a miraculous change.

During the same time a good friend of mine told me about a wonderful book a friend had just given her. It was changing a lot of the way she and her family were eating. She explained to me how healthy sprouts were. Those curly little green things in the produce section that are tightly packed in a clear plastic box... are amazingly nutritional superstars. Something I never would've guessed. Then my friend told me the title of the book, "You Are What You Eat"! After flipping through the book, I knew I had to get it. It is definitely one of my favorite, go-to health and nutrition books... and the woman even encourages body brushing, you know I'm a huge fan of that!

A lot of books on nutrition can be really boring and dull, but Gillian's book is colorful with lots of pictures and very easy to read. What I really like about Gillian, is that she relates what you are eating to why you are having health issues. Also if there are deficiencies occurring, she will investigate as to what nutrients are lacking in one's diet to reverse the deficiency. She clearly lists symptoms people may be experiencing and the foods and/or supplements needed that will help or even cure. One quote I love that she says in the book is, "Most people have no idea how well they could really be."

One section I found particularly interesting was titled, The Top Body Signs. Here she goes in to describing ways your body is telling you it is sick... specifically the tongue. She describes a healthy tongue versus a sick tongue. If you have a sick tongue (there are 8 sick tongue classifications... one example is a crack down the middle) somewhere your body is sick and she ingeniously has a food or supplement to treat it. Sometimes it is getting rid of sugar or other "nasties" too. So now what do I do when I talk to people... yep, I study their tongue.

Gillian encourages all her patients to take inventory of what food they are eating for 10 days. And then to journal each day on how they are feeling and if there are any symptoms or mood swings. She also has a list of the "Nasties". These are the foods people should avoid. She explains why these are harmful and if you want to make changes for the better, you need to rid yourself of them... the first one is sadly coffee. Then there is the Abundant Food List... and it is long. Healthy beans, nuts, grains, fruits & veggies and herbal teas, etc. Its always nice to know of all the foods we can eat and enjoy.

She genuinely wants to help people be well. I love her enthusiasm for life and well-being. There are instructions on how to do a safe detox and then a seven day meal plan followed by recipes to get you started.

Good luck and Happy Easter!


Friday's Fav... Chickpeas

After tossing this favorite in my head all week, I finally reasoned with myself and made it my Friday's favorite. Although it may not seem too appealing for some at first, at our house it is definitely one of the whole family's all-time favorite snack food ~ mostly when used as hummus.

Chickpeas, or garbanzo bean, is latin for "little ram" because its shape is similar to that of a ram. It originated in the Middle East then spread to African and Indian cultures, but now its popularity has spread all over the world.

To give you a little background, I was not always concerned about health. I was raised in a home where frozen and processed foods were used quite regularly and for the most part, we were fairly healthy. But as I began my nursing career and started to see similarities between poor diet choices and poor health, I took mental notes.

I remember taking care of a sweet lady at a hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona. She was admitted because of an accident, but during the time I had her as a patient, I gleaned a ton of inspiration. To this day, I still think about her and how her healthy and "clean" diet made a huge impact on me. She and her husband were physicists and the picture of perfect health. "Skinny", "attractive", "athletic" would be adjectives to describe them both. When her husband came in to visit, he brought her fresh fruits and vegetables and also her daily vitamins and supplements. She did not eat the hospital food. I was connecting the dots and seeing that what she was putting in her body was not only making a difference on the inside, but the outside too. I wanted that!

So back to chickpeas... sometimes the things we know we should put in our bodies, at a glance, may not be our first choice. But if we truly think about, know about what we are eating, the choices should not be so hard. Chickpeas are a powerhouse of nutrition, in my opinion. I love eating things that contain a ton of nutrients all in one. They are like the diamonds in the rough of our pantries. Chickpeas have a smooth, nutty-buttery taste that even my baby enjoys. And not to mention, super cheap at around $.89 a can.

The first nutrient worth noting in chickpeas is fiber. In just one cup you are getting half of the daily value needed. It also contains both types of fiber, insoluble and soluble. Both help to remove toxic waste in the bowels, regulate blood sugar, lower cholesterol and promote an optimal ph level to prevent microbes from producing cancerous substances.

Next, they contain iron and folate both used on the cellular level to promote healthy blood cell functions. Folate, a b-vitamin, is also known to decrease the risk of birth defects in newborns if the mother has the adequate amount during pregnancy. Along with anemia, iron helps with hair loss, energy, and headaches.

The last ingredient in chickpeas to get pumped about is magnesium. Most American diets are extremely low in this mineral which has been known to be linked to the following diseases: diabetes, atherosclerosis, hypertension, many mental and mood disorders, insomnia, cramps, neck and back pain, heart arrhythmias, strokes, fibromyalgia, arthritis and many more. Chickpeas are also high in zinc which is known to help migraines. Now how can you not want to eat some chickpeas after reading all that!

Here are a few ways you can incorporate chickpeas into your family's diet...

Salad... Romaine or spinach leaves, tons of veggies (tomatoes, cucumbers, shredded carrots), sunflower seeds, whole, from the can (rinsed) chickpeas... with a light vinegarette, of course.

Hummus... Like I said, we mostly enjoy chickpeas when they are pureed into a beautiful substance called hummus. I generally do not make my own, because I don't always make the time to do it... although I should. My favorite brand is by Sabra. It is extremely smooth and every flavor they offer is amazing and quite honestly, addicting. Hummus is wonderful when dipped with celery or carrot sticks, cucumbers, tortilla or pita chips and our family's favorite... veggies stix like these.

Chana Masala... Ok, I know you might be stepping into some crazy, new waters with this one, but if you are open to new, bold flavors, I dare you to try this recipe found here. I was introduced to Indian food by my close friend who went to Uganda to adopt... there she found a love for Indian food while eating at the food markets. When she came back, she convinced me to visit an Indian restaurant with her and I instantly fell in love with the flavors and not to mention the way they did magic on the chickpeas.

I'll leave you with a recipe for hummus. I have only made hummus once mostly because I'm short on time plus I heart Sabra... but here is the recipe I have used.

1 15 oz. can garbanzo beans

1/4 c. olive oil

1 1/2 T. tahini paste

1 garlic clove

1 T. lemon juice

1/2 t. salt

Few tablespoons of water...

Throw into a food processor and process until smooth. The mixture might be a bit thick and hard to process so you can add the water or a bit more olive oil until it is very smooth and creamy.


Smoothie Goodness

According to some reports, 41% of us eat no fruit at all and 82% do not eat cruciferous vegetables in a day. Only around 9-14% of people eat the recommended amount of fruits and vegetables per day. Those percentages are a picture of what the American diet has sadly become. But the good news is, each of us can make changes today to turn that around in our homes.

In my opinion, the best way to get our recommended fruits and veggies in a day is by drinking smoothies. You know those times you want to reach for something sweet or salty (I prefer salty) that has an outrageous amount of calories per serving... stop... get your blender out... and make a smoothie.

It's going to be more work than just ripping open a bag of chips, but the overall satisfaction and nutritional content is by far the best choice. I know people like "quick and easy" meals and snacks... well, sometimes, healthy isn't always quick and easy and will require a little bit more work. I usually keep my blender in the clean side of my sink... ready for the next round.

Just a little heads up... you will run to the grocery more often when you increase your fruits/veggies intake. There's really no way around it. You want them to be fresh and you will go through them quickly when you make smoothies especially if you have children. But that is a good thing ~ making healthy choices for your family should make you feel proud. When looking over the produce at your grocery store, check the prices of organic over regular items. Sometimes there is not much of a difference. Go for organic is possible.

My favorite smoothie ingredients are frozen strawberries, berries, mangoes and peaches, and fresh pineapple and definitely bananas. My husband loves watermelon and shredded coconut together. Go with your favorites and what is in season first and then experiment as you go.

To amp things up, I also add some greens to our smoothies... I know the thought may sound little gross, but you will really be surprised at how good it will taste... my children never complain and even ask for seconds. Among the healthiest vegetables in the world, spinach comes out on top for the most nutrient dense vegetable... full of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. If you want to experiment with your greens, try some kale which is a great sourse of omega-3's your body needs and does not create on its own ~ only through diet. Your liver will thank you for those added detoxifiers. Try a green smoothie for breakfast for 3-4 days and see if you feel a difference in your energy and mood levels.

Here's a basic recipe for one, but there is no right or wrong way to make one...
1 frozen banana or ripe pear(s)

2 c. frozen fruits of your choice (tropical blend, strawberries, mangos, blueberries... mix or just use one kind)

1 -2 T of coconut oil

handful of fresh baby spinach or kale

filtered water... about 1 1/2 cups

1 t. agave nectar or stevia to taste (if your banana is very ripe, you may not need to add any sweetener at all)

Blend for at least 2-3 minutes


Friday's Favorite... White Vinegar

I love vinegar... do you? It's really a crazy phenomenon in my home. I use it now for just about everything I clean... windows, baseboards, hardwood floors and carpets, and as a fabric softner and general household cleaner. To me, it's quite magical!

I really try to stay away from most chemicals in my home when it comes to cleaning. And my motto is... if it smells good, its definitely not good for you. From fabric softener to pretty outlet smellies... they are made with toxic chemicals that we either absorb through our skin or breathe into our lungs.

Someday I will share with you about my journey and now passion for health and wellness. I'm still trying to figure out how to shorten it ~ its written out, but becoming a book... maybe a two-part series? But anyways, I hope you will take my word for now that using chemicals in your home to clean is not good... especially for children... they are the most vulnerable.

Ok, so now back to vinegar... it is the most versatile, non-toxic and inexpensive cleaner out there. It disinfects, cuts grease, cleans and removes stains. If it is mixed properly, you won't even smell too much of the vinegar either. Here are some of the unique ways I use it.

Dishwasher ~ I fill my dishwasher rinse aid compartment with vinegar. It helps to remove hard water and soap build-up. It also helps to keep the dishwasher clean and running good.

Fabric Softener ~ Did you know there are up to ten toxic chemicals found in fabric softener and/or dryer sheets? One chemical is actually on the EPA's Hazardous Waste List... read more here. Who cares about the "spring fresh" smell when such chemicals are linked to pancreatic cancer, allergies, central nervous system disorders, and a compromised respiratory system. All you need is a little vinegar ~ about a half cup in the rinse cycle ~ and it will soften and help with static issues AND be naturally safe for your family.

General Household Cleaner ~ I use this chemical free, all natural vinegar cleaner on just about anything... windows, toilets, sinks, stove, baseboards and as a stain remover on clothes. Its even great on pet odors and stains. Here's the recipe... 1 part vinegar to 1 part water... 2 tsp of all natural dish soap and 10 drops of tea tree oil (a natural antiseptic) in a 24 oz spray bottle.

What magical ways do you use vinegar in your home?

Happy (and Healthy) cleaning!