Friday, January 29, 2010

Starting a New Family Tradition: Pizza Night!

Our new baby is due to arrive in about 6 weeks or so and we've been spending more Friday nights at home. Mostly because our weeks are packed full with errands, projects for the new house, getting together with friends, and date nights. We're wrapping up our 4-week Monday night Lamaze and Birth Prep class this coming Monday. We have 3 baby showers coming up in the next couple weeks so life is busy! The last few Friday nights our date nights have been at home watching movies and making homemade pizza in our new convection oven! Last week Aaron told me that our homemade pizza was better than takeout and he wants me to make more of it. What a sweetheart! Tonight, after a quick trip to my local Trader Joe's, I made this pepperoni and olive pizza, Caesar salad, and pear slices to round out the meal.

Tonight, I told Aaron that we have a new Berkey Family tradition brewing - Friday Pizza Night! I had visions tonight of making pizza as a family with the kids. I can see our daughter standing on a step-stool placing the ingredients on the pizza while I coach her. Aaron likes to slice the pizza. Back in our condo, I made lots of pizza from scratch using my KitchenAid stand mixer. That last few Friday's, I've made our pizza using the Trader Joe's pizza dough in a bag. You buy the dough ball and then roll it out at home. I like that the dough is not made with funky ingredients or hydrogenated oils and even better that it's $.99! I plan to make the dough from scratch again when I get in my groove.

How I made it:
- Preheat the oven, according to package instructions (mine was 350 and I used the convection oven setting). Roll out the dough on a floured surface with a rolling pin. Coat the pizza pan with cooking spray. Place the rolled out dough on the coated pizza pan. Use a fork to make small holes on the dough.
- Prebake the dough for 8 minutes.
- Pull out the pizza dough and add your sauce, cheese, and toppings.
- Bake for another 11-12 minutes until the pizza is golden and bubbly.
- Place pizza on a flat surface and cut it into slices.

**While the pizza baking, I make my green salad and slice the fruit. The entire process only takes about 30 minutes!

I think pizza has the power to bring a family together! Kids and parents alike love pizza! And the toppings and possibilities are endless! You can use fresh tomato slices, spinach, canadian bacon, proscuitto, basil, olives, chicken breast, pepperoni...anything! Think of all the fun you can have when you have a themed pizza and make food art!

Making your own pizza is fun and it saves you money. No need to wait endlessly for the pizza delivery on a busy Friday night. And you can ensure the quality of ingredients and nutritional value by making it at home.

So here's the birth of our Berkey Friday Pizza tradition. Your tradition doesn't have to be pizza, but my point is that traditions are the fabric of our memory. You can start a tradition with friends and have it grow into family in the future. Traditions with friends and family are healthy because of the emotional bond and trust you feel when you perform them over time. It really gives you that warm, cozy feeling inside when you can share a common tradition with your loved ones!
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

Paying Attention to Your Body Helps with Healthy Pregnancy

Last weekend, I had some maternity photos taken, which we're planning on using in the baby's nursery and in her baby book. Our friend, Shawn, is a talented photo journalist, who worked for the local news station here in Indianapolis and now he's teaching videography to local high school students. We were his first maternity photo shoot and it was very fun! This first photo was taken at the Indianapolis Museum of Art (IMA) at their famous "Love" statue. It was 39 degrees outside, but we tried to take some outdoors photos so you could see my belly.

Our due date is in the middle of March so I'm almost at 33 weeks now, the home stretch! I'm happy to report that pregnancy has treated me very well. If you follow my blog you know that I'm still cooking nutritious foods and indulging some cravings from time to time. At 27 wks pregnant I blogged about the lifestyle changes I made years before to prep my body for pregnancy. Since then, I was cleared of anemia or gestational diabetes from the routine standard tests. A few weeks ago I went to the chiropractor for a routine adjustment and that cleared the hip soreness I had developed from sleeping only my sides. Pregnant women are encouraged to sleep on her side to avoid cutting off circulation and blood flow in the aorta from the weight of the baby. I typically go every 4 weeks for an adjustment, but now that I'm in my 3rd trimester, going every 3 weeks seems to be the right amount.

I passionately believe that by living a healthy lifestyle, I learned to pay close attention to my body's reactions, which have helped me manage my pregnancy changes and maintain overall good health. Pregnancy has been a pleasure and joy. I feel my body pull back at this stage when I'm walking so I have learned to slow down a bit. When I'm tired, I take a nap or go to bed early. Sleeping 8-9 hours is healthy for everyone, not just pregnant women. Eating small meals has helped me because it helps me avoid pregnancy-induced heartburn and keep my energy steady.

Think about this....the last time you ate a sugary food, like a donut or store-bought cookie, what happened after you ate it? What do you feel? I notice that I get really shaky and jittery. Sometimes, I give in to a treat. Yesterday, I was craving a Starbucks scone. I had the jitters from the sugar! But, pregnancy cravings can be VERY powerful!

What I have ultimately learned through pregnancy is that listening to the subtle reactions in my body is the most powerful tool you can use to guide you through a balanced healthy lifestyle.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Sunday Morning Treat: Homestyle Whole Wheat Waffles

For my third week of Sunday morning breakfast blogging, I decided to make homestyle buttermilk waffles. Aaron was excited because we've had our waffle iron in storage for about 1 year! Bring it on! I have a recipe that I adapted from my brother-in-law's grandmother, Rosalee Gingerich, who sadly died just before this past Christmas. She was such a fabulous cook that her family created a compilation cookbook and my sister-in-law, Megan, and her husband, Todd Gingerich, gave me a copy of the book since I love to cook so much when Aaron and I first got together. Rosalee has recipes for homemade pickle relish, ketchup, jams, and tons and TONs of family meal goodness. I used to make these waffles in our Chicago condo and I have modified her recipe so it has 1/2 the original butter and I use 1/2 whole wheat flour to boost the fiber.

Serving suggestions: Aaron likes his waffles very simple with syrup. I like to add things to mine to make it more nutritious. You can see today, I topped my waffle with slices of bananas, pecan pieces and local maple syrup. When serving this to your family, think of other fun toppings like peanut/almond butter, jams, cooked and spiced apples, and any other nuts like slivered almonds or walnuts.

Homestyle Belgium Waffles Makes 4 large waffles
Adapted from Rosalee Gingrich, Indiana grandmother and wonderful home cook.

2 cups flour (1 cup white/1 cup whole wheat)
4 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, whites and yolk separated
4 tablespoons melted butter
1 1/2 cups lowfat buttermilk or lowfat milk

1. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl.
2. In a separate bowl, mix egg yolk, melted butter, and milk. Add to dry ingredients.
3. Beat egg whites until foamy (see picture). Add to the mix.
4. Preheat the waffle iron. When warm coat with cooking spray. Cook batter in 4 even waffles.

Enjoy the waffles right away. They store in the refrigerator for a couple of days.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Easy Tips for Weeknight: Spaghetti and Meatballs

Tonight I made a quick and easy version of spaghetti and meatballs.

Out of breadcrumbs, no problem! When I pulled out my ingredients, I remembered that I'm out of breadcrumbs. Not to fear! I used the heels from the whole wheat bread loafs that we already have on hand. You drop in the bread in the food processor and give it a whirl for about 1 minute until you have crumbs. Using fresh bread, your crumbs will be soft, moist, and airy. Even better, you can avoid the additives found in traditional store-bought breadcrumbs like hydrogenated fats and use better quality ingredients that you might throw away anyway! That's cost savings that is good for your health, too!

Easy meatballs under the broiler. Check out my previous post for a foolproof method for making meatballs under the broiler. For tonight's meal, I made them the same way in that post, but I didn't have fresh herbs on hand. I used dried Italian herbs, 2 tsp crushed garlic, 1 tbs tomato paste, minced onion, 1 egg, breadcrumbs, and salt and pepper. Check my recipe on the post for the breakdown of ingredients. It's always easier for me to make meatballs under the broiler because they hold their shape and cook so quickly.

Comfort food in a snap! This meal was not only healthy, quick and easy, but also kid-friendly. Here is how it came together:

Mix and form the meatballs with the ingredients and placed them on a foil-lined baking sheet. Cook meatballs under the broiler, see my original recipe post. While forming meatballs bring 2 medium pots filled with water to a boil.

Pour a jar of your favorite marinara sauce in a large pot and warm it slowing on the back of the stove.

Add veggies such as sugar snap peas in a pot too blanch (4-5 minutes) and add 8 oz of pasta to the other pot and cook per package instructions. I used whole wheat pasta for my meal.

Flip the meatballs to the other side and cook about 2 more minutes. When ready, add to the large pot with marinara sauce.

Drain pasta and veggies. Season veggies with a small amount of butter, salt and pepper. Serve it up! The entire meal takes about 45 minutes start to finish.

Plan ahead for leftovers: For tonight, I made enough for 4 servings so we have 2 servings in the fridge for a quick meal to reheat. Aaron and I put the leftovers away in individual servings so it's easy to grab the meal and go!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Fun Project: German Apple Pancake Breakfast

If you saw my post last Sunday, I'm more inspired to make an elaborate breakfast in the wintertime on the weekends because there's no rush to go outside. Sundays are perfect because it's a family day and we relax together while I do a lot of cooking to prep for the week. I was inspired by a comment someone posted on Facebook yesterday about an Apple Pancake. I remembered that I saved a recipe from Cooking Light magazine to make a German Apple Pancake. It works best if you have a cast iron skillet since you caramelize the apples in sugar on the stove top (see the picture) before you add the batter and put it in the oven to bake. Cast iron skillets are great because you can use them on the stove or the oven.

As you can see from this picture, this isn't the traditional pancake that you typically see. It's a custardy dough almost like bread pudding. I modified the recipe to use less sugar and more cinnamon to my taste. Aaron and I really liked it for breakfast, but other Cooking Light readers made it for dessert. You need to eat it right away when it comes out of the oven because it's puffy, but one reviewer said it tastes great leftover and reheated. I used a bartlet pear and cameo apple from my produce box and it was good to have both, but all apple or pear will work well too.

German Apple "Pancake" Makes 6 servings (Adapted from Cooking Light)

  • 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cup egg substitute (or 4 eggs)
  • 1 cups lowfat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cups sugar, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 cups thinly sliced granny smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
  • To prepare batter, lightly spoon flour into a dry measuring cup; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar, salt, cinnamon, and 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg in a medium bowl, stirring with a whisk. Combine egg substitute, milk, butter, and vanilla in a small bowl, stirring with a whisk. Add egg substitute mixture to flour mixture, stirring with a whisk. Let stand 30 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 425°.
  • To prepare apple mixture, coat bottom and sides of a 10-inch ovenproof skillet with cooking spray. Combine 1/4 cup granulated sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, and 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg; sprinkle half the mixture evenly over bottom and sides of pan. Arrange apple in an even spokelike layer in pan. Sprinkle apple with remaining granulated sugar mixture. Cook over medium heat 8 minutes or until mixture bubbles. Slowly pour batter over apple mixture.
  • Bake at 425° for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 375° (do not remove pancake from oven); bake an additional 13 minutes or until center is set. Carefully loosen pancake with a spatula. Gently slide pancake onto a serving platter. Sift powdered sugar over top. Cut into 6 wedges; serve immediately.

Nutritional Information Calories:173 (28% from fat) Fat:5.4g (sat 2.8g,mono 1.4g,poly 0.9g) Protein:7.7g Carbohydrate:23.2g Fiber:0.9g Cholesterol:11mg Iron:1.5mg Sodium:213mg Calcium:101mg

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Keep Warm This Winter with These Maple Raisin Bran Muffins

I woke up to a gray, 5 degree day so I thought it was a perfect time to do some baking. Even better, since it's only me and Aaron in the house, we can eat these muffins all week for breakfast or snacks. Baking on a cold winter morning makes the house feel warmer and you and the family can enjoy a healthy, homemade treat together.

I decided to try a new reader recipe from Cooking Light and as I was reviewing and measuring the ingredients something seemed wrong. The muffins didn't call for either baking powder or baking soda. I looked it up and sure enough I remembered one of my tips, to check the reviews before I tackle a new recipe. A woman reviewed and said that the muffins were too dense, then the original reader that submitted the recipe said there was a typo in the printed and online recipe so she gave out the proper measurement for baking soda. I'm glad I listened to my gut feeling. I also read that the reviewers thought the muffins were too sweet so I reduced the brown sugar in the topping.

Try these muffins if you like oatmeal raisin cookies.
I made these muffins in our new convention oven and they came out in 15 minutes perfectly golden (see above). So with my tweaking, here is my adapted version of the recipe. We really liked the muffin and the texture came out fluffy with the baking soda addition.

Maple Raisin Bran Muffins (makes 12)

  • 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Dash ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup low-fat sour cream
  • 1/2 cups 2% milk or low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/4 cups butter, melted and cooled
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten

  • 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/4 cups oats
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • Preheat oven to 375°.
  • To prepare batter, lightly spoon the flours into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Place flours in a large bowl. Stir in oat bran and next 6 ingredients (through salt); make a well in center of dry ingredients. Combine sour cream and next 5 ingredients (through egg); stir well with a whisk. Add to dry ingredients; stir just until moist. Spoon mixture evenly into 12 muffin cups coated with cooking spray.
  • To prepare topping, combine 1/4 cup dark brown sugar and remaining ingredients in a small bowl; toss with a fork until moist. Sprinkle topping evenly over batter. Bake at 375° for 15 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes in pan on a wire rack.
Yield: 1 dozen (serving size: 1 muffin)

CALORIES 249(29% from fat); FAT 7.8g (sat 3.8g,mono 1.9g,poly 1.2g); PROTEIN 4.6g; CHOLESTEROL 52mg; CALCIUM 65mg; SODIUM 274mg; FIBER 2.1g; IRON 1.6mg; CARBOHYDRATE 43.1g