Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Tasty Tuesday - Pizza!

My friend Will showed me this pizza dough recipe a few years back, and I've made it pretty regularly ever since. Will has the joy of having a stand mixer, so he doesn't have to put in the hard work and make a mess like I do, but it's still worth it!

Patrick and I love our pizzas probably more than any other pizza anywhere. In fact, when Mellow Mushroom opened up here in Huntsville, we we were eager to go, but once there we said "Eh. I like our pizza better." It really is all in the crust, but controlling exactly what you want on your pizza is glorious pizza freedom. Here I will post the crust recipe and the sauce recipe, but the toppings are entirely up to you! The sky's the limit!

Whole Wheat Pizza Dough
This recipe will make a batch large enough for two (or three depending on how thin you like your crust) regular sized pizzas. Just freeze the remaining doughs after you separate them when they are done rising. They will keep in the freezer for a long time, just remember to take the dough out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the day before you want your pizza.

1 tsp sugar or honey
1 1/2 c warm water (110 deg F)
1 tbsp active dry yeast
1 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
3 1/2 c whole wheat flour

1) In a large bowl dissolve sugar in warm water. Sprinkle yeast over top and let stand until foamy (10 min).
2) Stir in olive oil and salt into yeast mix then add 3 c of flour until it starts to come together. Tip dough onto floured surface and knead until rest of flour is absorbed and the dough is smooth. Place in oiled bowl and turn to coat the dough. Cover and let stand one hour.
3) When dough is doubled, tip onto floured surface and divide into two pieces. Form a tight ball and separate into two oiled, covered bowls, and let rise one more hour, until doubled.
4) Freeze what you will not use. If you plan to use the dough in a day or two, then refrigerate.
5) When ready to bake, roll into desired shape. Add all your pizza toppings and bake at 500 degrees F for 10 or so minutes until cheese is starting to brown, this is when I have discovered the dough is cooked through also. (We use a pizza stone, but you can use a regular baking sheet, I'm sure.)

10 minute Homemade Pizza Sauce
Please, please do not use jarred pre-made pizza sauce on your homemade pizzas! It is full of sugar or high fructose corn syrup or both! This is just as easy as popping open a jar, and 10 times more delicious.

1/2 can tomato paste
1 shallot (or 1/4 onion) diced
1 tbsp olive oil
1/3 cup water
Pinch of thyme, oregano, basil, etc.

In a small sauce pan over medium heat, add olive oil and shallot. Cook a few minutes until slightly browned and add tomato paste, water, and herbs. Simmer until thickened. Using tomato paste will make it taste like you've been cooking this sauce for awhile!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Halfway Home!

Today I am 20 weeks! I am so overjoyed and feel unbelievably blessed to be pregnant and to have a healthy baby. I know that now is when I will really start to balloon, but I just love it! Every day I look at my perfect round tummy and just want to give it a hug. I feel fabulous and I'm truly loving every minute of it.

We went with my midwife to the Middle Tennessee Women's Health Group this past Wednesday for an ultrasound and an OB consult. Before the ultrasound, I really wasn't that into it. The only reason I was getting one was because Mary Anne wanted me to. She wants to know where the placenta is attached and various other things. I, personally, didn't care. I have very mixed feelings about ultrasounds. For one, I just don't think they have been around long enough to know if they are safe or not. People used to only have one and no more unless there was the suspicion of a problem, now women have one at 8 weeks and then subsequent ultrasounds in the prenatal visits following. So use has definitely become more and more common, but there are no long term studies since ultrasounds weren't even used until the 80's and have only been used regularly in the recent years. For two, I personally felt that if the ultrasound showed a problem or a birth defect, it wouldn't "prepare me emotionally" it would steal my joy. So for me, its not that I was afraid of something being wrong, it was that I just wanted to rely on the Lord and trust that he is the one growing my child. I know a lot of other parents would want to know ahead of time so they can prepare, but I just don't think I would. I don't think that 5 months would help me much, it would only upset me. BUT.. all that to say, that I did enjoy the ultrasound. There really is nothing like actually seeing the baby. Tiny arms, tiny legs, tiny ribs that look like fish bones. A tiny mouth, that made tiny little swallows. Tiny muscles that he/she flexed for us. No, we did not find out the gender. The tech said that she would not even go to that area if we didn't want to know, that she would try to keep from knowing herself. I think she did see, because she told me to close my eyes once (and I did!) so it remains a surprise for us! Our ultrasound revealed a perfect, healthy baby (only one baby!) and we walked away feeling in awe of the growing miracle in my body.

The OB consult was just that, a consult. I met with Dr. Davis who was extremely nice and didn't look at her watch once (hehe). She would be my OB if I was ever in need of one. She was very supportive and thought it was great we are doing a home birth, answered a few of my questions, and then we were off, saying "Nice to meet you, but hope we never see you again!" Mary Anne knows this office very well as she brings most of her clients here, and she goes there herself for her annuals, so it was a very relaxed and personal environment.

I am just so excited and am really the happiest I've been in my whole life. I love feeling my baby twist and flex those little muscles. I can imagine now what each little twitch is since he/she was active during my ultrasound. I think about when he/she's sleeping and when he/she's practicing swallowing and flexing those lungs. You could say that I'm totally in love!

Further reading:
A really interesting article about ultrasounds and detecting problems early

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

The Boy with the Moles

Patrick went to the dermatologist today, and I tagged along. He wanted to get his moles checked because he never has before, and his cousin recently had a melanoma scare. Even though I try to avoid doctors for general sicknesses and ailments, I thought "Well, we don't know anything about skin and we certainly don't know anything about cancer, so why not?" He has a few moles that the doctor thought were cause for concern, and he scheduled to have four of them removed. We learned that moles should be nice and round or oval, not funny shapes, and they should be light brown or tan, not black. He's having the dark, funny shaped ones removed.

I'm not really very concerned. I don't often freak out when it comes to medical issues, since I think most of them are overblown and just scare us for no reason. Usually, its nothing. This is not even the point of this post. The point is that the doctor found me amusing because I had questions.

I asked many a question including "Why do we need to worry about moles?" "What about people who don't have moles?" "What about red moles?" and "What about the ones that stick out?" He would answer one question and say "What else?" He might have even giggled. He said that I "made his day". How did I make his day? By asking questions. This tells me that most people do not ask the doctor questions. Patrick didn't even have a single question and it was his body! Patrick told the doctor that I'm a research scientist, so I'm inquisitive, but so is he and he didn't ask a slew of questions. The point is, why doesn't anybody ask the doctor questions??

There is a commercial on recently that shows a woman asking a million questions about a particular type of food. (or is it clothes? I don't remember. For the sake of the analogy I'll say its food.) So she goes on and on "Does that come with dressing? What kind? Can I exchange the rice for broccoli? How much fat is in that? Can I get that grilled with no butter?" And then they show her sitting on an exam table and her doctor looks up and says "Ok, any questions?" and she sits there silently swinging her feet and says "Um.. nope."

Its time people start asking questions. It's hard to ask questions, I know, even if you have them. The doc comes bounding in the room pokes on you for maybe 30 seconds spits out some information you barely have time to process and then is out the door. You are left sitting there with your mouth agape wondering what just happened. So make a list ahead of time. Demand attention. And if you still can't get attention, don't go to that doctor anymore! Blind trust is NOT acceptable. The only person you should blindly trust is God, and I have yet to find a doctor who is God.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Biggest Pooch?

Oliver has always had the biggest pooch in this house. But I think I'm gaining on him....

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Natural Household Cleaning

What cleans, bleaches, and disinfects all the hard surfaces in your house, gets rid of heartburn and indigestion, gets rid of stains in your clothes, deodorizes your carpet, litter box, clothes, and body, makes your cookies and cakes rise, soothes and helps heal rashes related to poison oak and ivy, unclogs drains, and gets rid of acne?? Its baking soda! The age old household baking ingredient that every one of us has in our pantry. Lately, I have become a firm believer in the multi-uses of sodium bicarbonate and am using it like my great grandmother.

Over the past year, Patrick and I have transitioned to using all natural cleaners. First, we quit using most chemical cleaners and traded in for the Seventh Generation line of kitchen and bathroom cleaners. I'm still not real sure what's in them, but ok, they claim its non-toxic and all natural. My first complaint is that this product line is expensive. I bought some stuff when it went on sale at Kroger and I had coupons. So it wasn't too much more than chemical cleaning products. Upon use, I found the products to be kinda so-so. The kitchen cleaner works on my surfaces to clean up general grime, but it does not make my white sink sparkle, nor does it get rid of stains on the counter top. The bathroom cleaner requires a significant amount of scrubbing to get rid of my soap scum rings. So, I wasn't totally sold on these products. Plus, they don't disinfect. So I kinda even wondered what's the point. So upon further research online I discovered that there may be only two cleaning products you need in your whole house.... baking soda and vinegar.

When I first tried out baking soda on my white kitchen sink I was pretty much in awe. It came out absolutely sparkling. And my tub? I bathe as a hobby, so I build up some pretty nasty soap scum rings that require a lot of scrubbing - not with baking soda! I have never had an easier time removing soap scum with any other chemical product I have used.

I would have posted a before and after, but trust me, my tub was so dirty I'm too embarrassed to show you a "before". That's how dirty it was, and after just wiping with a baking soda mix, sparkling!

To clean with baking soda, I just sprinkle some in a plastic cup and add a small amount of water. Mix to form a paste that should be the consistency of frosting. I smear that on a damp washcloth and wipe anything and everything. This makes a "soft scrub" sort of solution that provides a mild abrasive to clean off things like soap scum with ease. I then rinse the surface with water, if its the tub or sink, or rinse the washcloth and wipe with the damp washcloth to get rid of any left behind baking soda. I also found that it is best to clean a fairly dry surface because if it is too wet then it won't be as abrasive and it will take a few repetitions.

Then I spray down the surface with vinegar to disinfect. We just keep plain old white vinegar in a cheap spray bottle. In 2000, Good Housekeeping found that a"straight 5% solution of vinegar kills 99 percent of bacteria, 82 percent of mold, and 80 percent of viruses". Plus its completely non-toxic! Obviously since its a main ingredient in salad dressings and other condiments! Vinegar is equally as effect as chlorine bleach, but chlorine bleach happens to be one of the most poisonous chemicals in the world. There is virtually no reason to use bleach when you can use baking soda and vinegar. That commercial where they advertise soaking your child's toys and teething rings in a bleach solution to disinfect them is a little disconcerting. Even with a rinse, they could still have bleach residue on them which then goes straight in their mouth. Using vinegar in the exact same manner will kill the same amount of germs completely safely. There is no need to dilute vinegar either. The commercial solution is just fine. Yes, vinegar stinks, but it dissipates after an hour or two, and bleach stinks too, anyway.

I've just recently started using the baking soda paste on my back. Pregnancy has given me quite the pimple problem on my chest and back. Patrick just rubs it on in circles for 30 seconds, then I rinse. I just started using this, so I can't say if it works well or not, but Patrick did think that just after one application, my back looked a little clearer the next day. It acts a s a great exfoliant too. I'll let you know how that turns out. I read that it is safe to use on your face too, though I haven't tried.

Lastly, baking soda and vinegar are crazy cheap. I bought a 2lb box of Arm & Hammer for $1.08 at Wal-Mart. I think you can also buy sodium bicarbonate in bulk. Vinegar is what? $1? So, cheap, easy, and healthy! I'm for it.

Many more uses for baking soda and vinegar

Tasty Tuesday - Broccoli Cheddar Soup

This is a recipe from 101cookbooks that we just tried this weekend. It was delicious! A REAL and hearty broccoli cheese soup with no processed "cheese product", made with fresh broccoli, with potatoes to thicken. No processed cheese, no flour, no corn starch, no frozen produce! It may not give you the color that you have grown to know and love from broccoli cheese soup, but it is so much heartier and full of flavor. We used a high-quality organic veggie broth, which is what made ours so dark. Heidi's picture of the soup is much more attractive than mine, I think it was just because my broth was so dark (well, that and Patrick didn't "puree" it, he more spun it). But the broth is also what made it so good. Swanson's wouldn't have done this soup justice.

Broccoli Cheddar Soup

2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
1 shallot, chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large potato, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch cubes (1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 1/2 cups light, good-tasting vegetable broth
1 large head of broccoli (12 ounces or 3/4 lb.), cut into small florets
2/3 cup freshly grated aged Cheddar, plus more for topping
1 - 3 teaspoons whole grain mustard, to taste*
smoked paprika, more olive oil, creme fraiche (optional)

Melt the butter (or olive oil) in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the shallots, onion, and a big pinch of salt. Saute for a couple minutes. Stir in the potatoes, cover, and cook for about four minutes, just long enough for them to soften up a bit. Uncover, stir in the garlic, then the broth. Bring to a boil, taste to make sure the potatoes are tender, and if they are stir in the broccoli. Simmer just long enough for the broccoli to get tender throughout, 2 - 4 minutes.
Immediately remove the soup from heat and puree with an immersion blender, or regular blender. (We pureed about half and left the other half chunky). Return to pot and add half the cheddar cheese and the mustard (a little bit a a time). If you are going to add any creme fraiche, this would be the time to do it. Now add more water or broth if you feel the need to thin out the soup at all. Serve sprinkled with homemade croutons, the remaining cheese, or a tiny pinch of smoked paprika.

*I did not use any mustard and it was great.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

My Day Job

I'm in Houston this week testing our new hurricane sensor on the WB-57. This airplane is way cool. Its a high altitude aircraft that goes >60,000 ft. Which is high. So high that the pilots have to wear space suits. This is definitely the fun part of my job, although it involves very long hours. We have a big hurricane mission this summer, in August in fact, right when I'm due. So, I suppose I'll have to miss that one - for very good reason!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

What You Need and Why

I think its high time we go over vitamins and minerals and what they are good for specifically during pregnancy. Sound like a snooze? Well, at least next time you think "What the heck is riboflavin?" you'll know!

First the biggies, Protein, Carbs, and Fat. Protein is needed for muscle growth, which we all know, but extra protein is needed during pregnancy for expanded blood volume, formation of amniotic fluid, and development of the placenta. The baby uses protein for muscle and tissue formation and brain development. When they say a pregnant woman needs "more" protein than normal it means 71g versus 46g that a non-pregnant woman needs. I think its safe to say that anyone who eats meat already meets this requirement and may not need to worry about getting extra. Vegetarian sources include beans and legumes, dairy products, eggs, nutritional yeast, nuts, seeds, soy, and whole grains.

Carbs Meaning complex carbohydrates allow your body to absorb nutrients and sugars gradually and help the digestive system function efficiently.
Need: 175g
Sources: Beans and legumes, fruits, nuts, seeds, vegetables, whole grains

Fat is crucial for cell development and fetal brain development, it also maintains healthy blood, circulation, and nervous system. Fat is the main source for fat soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K. Omega-3 fatty acids are important for brain and nervous system development.
No recommended amount given
Sources: Avocado, eggs, nuts and nut butters, oils (cold pressed nut, olive, seed), seeds and seed butters

Vitamin A is a fat-soluble vitamin important for formation and growth of baby's cells, tissues, and bones. Essential for eye development and health of the immune system.
Need: 750mcg
Sources: Dairy products, dark green leafy veggies, orange and yellow fruits and veggies

Thiamin (B1), Riboflavin (B2), Niacin (B3) are B vitamins that work together and are found mostly in the same foods. They promote healthy nerves, skin, eyes, hair, liver, and muscle tone. They help convert carbs to energy and protect you from mental disorders and depression. Riboflavin and Niacin are important for cell reproduction and growth.
Need: 1.4, 1.4, and 18mcg respectively
Sources: Avocado, bananas, brown rice, dark green leafy veggies, dried fruit, eggs, nutritional yeast, sweet potatoes, sunflower seeds

Folate is a big one as it is essential for formation of cells in the growing baby. Meeting the requirements of folate prior to and after conception is shown to reduce risk of certain birth defects. Cooking can destroy some folate, so eating raw veggies and fruits is good.
Need: 600mcg (my midwife says 1000mcg)
Sources: Asparagus, avocado, beans and legumes, broccoli, brussels sprouts, dark green leafy veggies, fruit, nutritional yeast, nuts, romaine lettuce, root veggies, seeds, wheat germ, whole rye, whole wheat

Vitamin B12 is vital for formation and growth of red blood cells and growth of the baby's nervous system. It is one of the most commonly deficient vitamins during pregnancy and lactation especially among vegans because it is found mostly in animal products, however quite a few foods are fortified with B12 (I know my rice milk is).
Need: 2.6mg
Sources: Dairy products, eggs, fortified cereals and such.

Vitmain C is essential for healhty tissue, teeth, and gums. It is also needed to resist infections and for absorption of iron.
Need: 85mg
Sources: Berries, broccoli, cabbage, cantaloupe, cauliflower, citrus fruits, dark green leafy veggies, kiwi, papaya, parsley, potatoes, red bell peppers, tomatoes, watercress

Vitamin D is needed for absorption of calcium and phosphorus. The only plant containing vitamin D is mushrooms.
Need: 5mcg
Sources: The sun, eggs, fortified dairy products, mushrooms

Vitamin E is an antioxidant that protects against tissue damage and inflammation. It is needed for circulation, tissue repair, and healing.
Need: 15mg
Sources: Nuts, seeds, soybeans, wheat germ

Vitamin K K1 is mainly found in plants, while K2 is the other, less important source which is made by bacteria in the gut. Vitamin K is essential to blood clotting, and reduces the risk of postpartum hemorrhaging.
Sources: Broccoli, Green leafy veggies, olive oil

almost done.....

Calcium is essential for bones and teeth of both baby and mother. It is especially important during the 3rd trimester when the baby goes through rapid development. There are plenty of sources of calcium besides dairy.
Need: 1300mg
Sources: Beans and legumes, blackstrap molasses, broccoli, carob, dairy products, dark green leafy veggies, figs, nettle teas, nuts, quinoa, red raspberry leaf tea, sea veggies, seeds, tofu

Iron This one drives me crazy because often people (and some doctors) think you have to have lots of red meat during pregnancy, which is totally untrue. My blood work showed that I had a good hemoglobin count and I don't eat any red meat, so it is quite possible to thrive on a vegetarian diet, in this aspect. HOWEVER it is true that iron from animal sources is more easily absorbed than iron from plant sources. There are ways to help your body absorb plant-based iron. Vitamin C aids the body's absorption of plant based iron, and so does soaking or sprouting your grains. You can also cook in cast-iron pans. So Iron is needed for the formation of blood to transport oxygen to cells. Maternal blood volume increases about 25 % during pregnancy so increase iron intake is important. Iron is not the only way to build blood cells, another excellent source is CHLOROPHYLL! Which is obviously in green veggies. Chlorophyll is so great I plan on having a post just about it.
Tannins in coffee and tea decrease absorption. Iron needs also increase when you are lactating.
Need: 27mg
Sources: Amaranth, blackstrap molasses, beans and legumes, dark leafy green veggies, dried fruit, nettle tea, nuts, quinoa, red raspberry leaf tea, sea veggies, seeds, and tofu

Magnesium is needed for formation of new tissue. It may also help prevent leg cramps.
Need: 350mg
Sources: Beans and legumes, blackstrap molasses, dairy products, dark green leafy veggies, dried fruit, nuts, sea veggies, seeds, whole grains

Sodium does not need to be restricted during pregnancy, and is essential to maintain fluid and regulate electrolytes. Unrefined Celtic sea salt is the best source because it contains essential minerals and trace elements, and has no additives. The American diet is high in processed salt, which is quite bad for you.

Zinc is important for maintaining immunity, healing wounds, and metabolizing fat.
Need: 11mg
Sources: Beans and legumes, dairy products, nuts, sea veggies, seeds, and whole grains

*Sigh* I wonder if anyone read this the whole way through... I'd say skimming is good! Until you really want to know!

Olson, Cathe. The Vegetarian Mother's Cookbook: Whole foods to nourish pregnant and breastfeeding women ~ and their families. GOCO Publishing, 2005. pp 17-23.

And a shout out to my friend Laura, because this book is what the Amazon gift certificate she gave me for my birthday bought.