Thursday, January 23, 2014

Guilt-Free Pizza

I love pizza! 
I can't resist a pizza!
Pizza is the bomb!

But now that I've changed my eating lifestyle, pizza just isn't on the list of Jeep Momma's "clean eating" foods. I can still eat it, but it would have to be my splurge food for the month. Plus, when I eat all that bread I get upset with myself.  My body doesn't feel so great the next day either.

So I found a bread-less crust pizza.  The crust is made from cauliflower.  I know it doesn't sound very good or look very good.  But, I tried it tonight and it was super yummy! 

Jeep Momma's Guilt-Free Pizza
(all ingredients should be organic)

1 small head Cauliflower
1/4 cups  Grated Parmesan Cheese 
1/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano Cheese
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
1/4 tsp dried Basil
1/4 tsp dried Oregano
1/2 tsp Garlic Powder

a couple dashes of Pepper
1 tsp almond meal
1 whole beaten egg

Preheat oven and pizza stone to 450 degrees.  You can use a baking sheet if you don't have a pizza stone. Place a large piece of parchment paper or aluminum foil on a cutting board.  Lightly coat with olive oil. 

Wash and thoroughly dry the cauliflower. Cut off the florets, pulse in a food processor for 30 seconds until the cauliflower looks like a powdery snow. (Or you can use a blender but it's a little more work.) 

You should end up with about 2 cups of cauliflower.  Place the cauliflower in a microwave safe bowl and cover.  Cook for 4 minutes. Allow the cauliflower to cool. Once it's cool place it in a tea towel, wrap it up and squeeze as much water out as possible. This will help the crust from being too crumbly.

Place the squeezed cauliflower in a bowl and add the other ingredients except the egg.  I crushed the dried oregano and basil a little finer. Mix well. Then add the well beaten egg to the mixture. Mix well with your hands. Use your hands to form the dough into a crust on the oiled paper.  Pat it thoroughly -- not too thick or too thin. 

Slide the crust onto the hot pizza stone and bake for 10 to 13 minutes -- until it starts to turn a golden brown.  Remove from oven and add your favorite toppings. Return to the top rack of the oven and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the cheese is melted.  Let the pizza cool for 3 to 4 minutes before serving.

   Jeep -- It's not Just an Adventure! It's a Good Life.

Monday, January 20, 2014

Flexibility Importance

A few weeks back I had a MRI because of pain and numbness in my butt and leg after a 10K race I ran over Thanksgiving. The MRI results came back pretty much inconclusive.  I have some minor arthritis in my lower back, but my spine is pretty healthy. My brain scans came back with some white spots on the brain -- a little more than the normal person.  This, however, didn't seem to concern the neurologist.  He said to recheck in another year, who knows when those spots showed up and why. 

As for the pain and numbness -- we still don't know the cause.  So, at the end of February I will be poked and prodded again. I get to have a nerve test, an Electromyogram. Basically, the neurologist will be inserting needles into my muscles to check my muscle electrical activity and look for abnormalities. Oh Joy! I can not wait. NOT!!!!

Since I have been experiencing this pain, of course, if you know me well, I have been researching all about it. And I have self-diagnosed myself with having Piriformis Syndrome. Piriformis is a small muscle in the butt that aids in the external rotation of the hip joint and plays a big role in your movements. Piriformis Syndrome is a neuromuscular disorder that occurs when the sciatic nerve is compressed or irritated by this muscle causing pain, tingling and numbness in the butt and along the sciatic nerve down into the lower thigh and leg. 

Funny thing is, I remember having a very centralized pinpointed pain right where this muscle sits for years. Now the pain has spread outward and downward. So in my research, I found one of the main courses of treatment is loosing up this muscle by stretching. 

Flexibility and loosening up your muscles is very important to maintaining a healthy body. Lack of flexibility is probably one the single most important factors affecting our quality of life as we age.  My goal is to stretch all my muscles at least twice a day.

The Benefits of Stretching:
  • Increase muscle flexibility and improve daily performance.  
  • Increase joint range of motion and  help your mobility and improve balance.
  • Improve circulation which increases blood flow to your muscles. Blood flowing to your muscles brings nourishment and gets rid of waste byproducts in the muscle tissue. 
  • Frequent stretching keeps your muscles from getting tight which helps maintain your posture.
  • Provide stress relief and relaxes tight, tense muscles that often accompany stress. 
Proper Stretching Tips

Warm up first -- Stretching muscles when they're cold increases your risk of pulled muscles. Warm up by walking while gently moving your arms for five minutes.

Hold each stretch - It takes time to lengthen tissues safely. Hold your stretches for at least 30 seconds, and up to 60 seconds for a really tight muscles. 

Don't Bounce -- Bouncing as you stretch can cause micro-tears in the muscle, which leave scar tissue as the muscle heals. This tissue tightens the muscle making it even less flexible.

No Pain -- Stretching should be pain free. You've gone too far if you feel pain. Dial it back until you don't feel any pain, then hold the stretch. 

Relax and breathe - Don't hold your breath while you're stretching and stretch both sides to make sure your joint range of motion is as equal as possible on each side of your body.

Before & After - Light stretching after your warm-up then followed by a more thorough stretching regimen after your workout is the best. 

Right now my biggest goal is stretching out my leg, hip and butt muscles.  Here are some of my favorite stretches to help keep me mobile! Hold each stretch for 30 to 60 seconds on each leg at least twice a day.


These are great stretches when you are working on your computer.  Just take a minute or two to stretch out those leg muscles. Stretching your muscles everyday will help maintain a healthy body. 

If the stretching doesn't work my next step will be a deep tissue massage! 

      Jeep -- It's not Just an Adventure! It's a Good Life.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Reduce the Stress

I am the type of person who always planned everything step by step, minute by minute. It was all about being well organized. I made lists for everything -- trips had agendas -- errand runs would be mapped out -- time accounted for. I was managing my life, and being productive. It was about efficiency and getting things done quickly. But why did I need to get it done quickly? So I could start planning the next event. My life was spent making plans. I wasn't living a balanced life. If the plan didn't go off as intended I would be upset and disappointed, there was no time planned for happiness. Even if there was a little deviation from the plan it would set me off in a bad mood. That's not a stress that is needed in any person's life. It's wasted energy. I wasn't able to adapt to situations and this is essential to any kind of success or happiness in life.  

Realizing how this effected myself and family, I decided I needed to change my way of thinking. I needed to eradicate this stress and unhappiness from my life.  This is hard to do when you've spent your whole life living this way. 

Along with my other 2014 motto's -- Enjoy Life, Clean Eating, Get Healthy & Fit -- 
I have now adopted a new Motto Whatever Works. 

These are my guidelines: If things aren't going as planned, expected or hoped for I need to go with whatever works for me at the time.  Which means be flexible and adapt, be able to change course, don't worry about the norm --what everyone else is doing. Do what feels right for me -- and my family.  Not everything needs a detailed plan of action. Just a simple plan and the ability to adapt.  Change won't always be for the worse, sometimes it might surprise you in a good way.      

So just like Clint Eastwood said in the movie Heartbreak Ridge "Adapt, Improvise and Overcome". 

                 Jeep -- It's not Just an Adventure! It's a Good Life.


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Simple Clean Eating

Well, I'm on the right track with my New Year's Resolution.  I really don't have an end goal to accomplish, but more of a change of life.  Most people have a hard time with change -- but change is good.  Change re-energizes me. Change also opens up new opportunities in life. 

My resolution is to Simplify My Life -- Enjoy Life.  And now I am adding Simple Clean Eating to my list.

Clean eating means different things to different people. There is a ton of information on the internet to pour through -- it was very overwhelming. So, I decided to live by my motto -- Live Simple.  I just needed to sit down and define what clean eating means to me.  
Clean Eating the Jeep Momma Way 

  • Get rid of the chemicals by reducing the amount of processed foods.
  • No more whites - sugar, white flour, white rice
  • Eat Healthy grains - wild rice, kasha, barley, quinoa, Ezekiel bread (Trader Joes) 
  • More healthy fats -- real butter, whole eggs, raw nuts, avocado, coconut oil
  • Treat yourself - but define when and how often
  • Stick to foods with only 5 to 6 ingredients
  • Organic fruits and vegies
  • Stick to non-starch, low-carb vegies -- mushrooms, okra, celery, zuchinni, spinach, kale (GREEN!)

 Steps to Start the Jeep Momma Clean Eating Plan

  • Define what clean eating means to you
  • Clean out your fridge and pantry - I took all my food out of the cupboards and pantry.  I only kept what was on my list of Clean Eating foods. Then I decided to change the way I organized my food. This helps me from going back to the old rut of eating.  However, I did have to keep some of the foods I won't eat because my kids would starve -- they are very resistant to change.  

  • Throw out anything that says Fat Free (except Greek yogurt) - BAD for you!
  • Research and plan your menu
  • Grocery shop & prep - I will be doing this once a week to stick by my live simple plan. I will also stock up on frozen fruits and vegetables.  I've heard these are more likely fresher than fresh fruits and vegetables because they are frozen in their freshest state. This will save trips to the store.  Make sure you read the labels.  Sometimes frozen produce will have added sugar. 
  • Simple Easy Meals - use my crock pot more
Here are some of the simple meals I made last week:

Chicken Stew
Serves: 8
32 oz low-sodium chicken broth 
1 tbsp garlic, minced
1 tsp garlic salt
1/2 tbsp thyme
1/2 tbsp basil
1/2 tbsp cilantro
1/4 tbsp dill
2 bay leaves
1/2 tbsp fresh ground black pepper
12 oz boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed (uncooked)
1/2 cup uncooked black-eyed peas, rinsed and picked through
1/2 cup barley
1 medium sweet onion, cubed
1 package of whole mushrooms, washed
10 oz celery (3 large), chopped
--Fill a slow cooker with broth, 8 oz water, garlic, herbs and pepper. Add chicken, peas and barley, then layer onion, celery and mushrooms over-top. Liquid should just cover vegetables. Do not stir.
--Allow to simmer at least 4 to 6 hours. Remove bay leaves and stir before serving.

Pork Loin (slow cooked in the crock pot with garlic, salt & pepper), Mashed potatoes & gravy (my cheat for the week), and broccoli  

Basil Chicken & tomatoes - chicken breast in the slow cooker with basil, garlic, salt & pepper, red wine, can of chopped tomatoes, red pepper, onions, mushrooms, brown rice, broccoli & brussel sprouts

Slow cooked Beef & tomatoes - beef stew meat in the slow cooker with a can of tomatoes, basil, rosemary, garlic, salt & pepper, red wine, onions, with mashed potatoes (I didn't eat but my kids did), broccoli & brussell sprouts.

I was really into broccoli and brussel sprouts this week.  You can switch it up with green beans, zucchini or whatever vegie you like -- but stay away from the starchy vegies.

For breakfast I usually some fruit then 20 minutes later eat Greek Yogurt with a tbsp of flax seed, cinnamon, chia seeds and granola. 

Lunch is tuna salad on a pita, salad with lots of vegies, or scrambled eggs with vegies.
A few other eating tips I found on the internet in my clean eating search. 
--Foods good that help your skin - tuna (oily fish), chia seeds, almonds, sunflower seed
--Metabolic enhancing foods - grass feed steak, sweet potato, pork chops, berries, bacon, coconut oil, butter, avocado

Clean eating has rejuvenated my desire to cook again.  I was really in a rut and tired of cooking. I'm excited to be trying new recipes and hopefully someday my kids will join in eating healthier.  I'm not going to be so strict where I limit my options.  I love food too much.  Life is too short to deny my taste buds.  As long as it's every once in a while. 

 Jeep -- It's not Just an Adventure! It's a Good Life.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Topless in the Polar Vortex!

Let me interrupt this regularly scheduled blog for an important message! 

Today my plan was to write about my adding clean eating to my resolution of living simple and enjoying life.  Instead, I need to share my thoughts about these arctic cold temperatures that are engulfing the US.  First off, yes it's cold. It's bitterly, cold  And yes, it dangerously cold.  But, should we all curl up and remain in the confines of our toasty, heated homes.  NO!  While I would love to spend another day with my kids sitting by the fire, life must go on. 

It seems the mass majority -- or just the vocal minority --believe the leaders here should have cancelled school because it's too cold and some might not be prepared. Well, I disagree. First off parents, and kids, have had time to prepare for the cold.  It's been leading the news for days -- we've been inundated with cold weather stories giving us cold weather safety tips. If you haven't gone out to buy a hat, gloves, and a scarf by now, well it's your own fault.  Some may say -- there are less fortunate that can't afford to purchase these items.  Well these poor, poor folks.  Maybe they could call someone on their iPhone to complain too.  Or maybe take a jog in their $200 shoes to the nearest "warming shelter". 

Don't get me wrong, I worry about my kids.  I constantly worry about my kids --  are they too hot? too cold? -- are they hungry? -- are they being bullied? -- are they going to get hurt? It's our job as parents to worry about our kids and look out for them.  And at the same time we need to prepare them for life in this big, bad world.  We need to teach them how to be prepared, push through life and to be smart about it.  It isn't easy and sometimes life gets tough.  But every time things look like it may be a little too difficult, they can't just take the day off and sit at home.  I want my kids to be prepared for what life AND what mother nature is going to throw at them.  So as a parent it's my job to prepare them.  If I can survive 21 years of North Dakota winters unscathed, I'm sure my kids will survive one or two days of the bone chilling cold -- if I give them the tools they need. Both my kids have coats, hats, gloves and long johns.  Both left the house with them on and they will survive.  

It's about being prepared AND being smart.  Should the kids be outside for 30 minutes of recess, NO. Should we let them play football outside after school, NO. Should they man their outside patrol post, probably not. Are they okay to wait a couple of minutes for the bus, Yes.  But maybe we should take them and wait with them in our cars.  Can they walk from the car or bus into the school, Yes.  I even think, if they are properly dressed, they could walk a couple of blocks home. I did it -- and I didn't even have this extra level of fat from all the over processed food our kids now eat -- oh don't get me started on that!

Okay so now I'll get off my soap box.  For all my friends who disagree with me -- I still love you, I just hope you still love me too. 

Now you are all thinking -- yeah she is writing this from the confines of her toasty, warm home. Yes I am, but earlier I took my mom to the airport and decided it was such a sunny day out I would take the top down. Of course I was prepared! It's all about layers! Warm Layers!

And being smart.  I just drove for a couple of minutes in the neighborhood.  It wasn't actually that bad.  Jeeps are built for toughness & the outdoors!  I was born in Minnesota and was built for toughness & the outdoors! But seriously a little more than a couple of minutes with the top down would just be stupid.  It's all about being prepared and being smart!

Jeep -- It's not Just an Adventure! It's a Good Life.

60 Before 60

I recently shared about revisiting my bucket list on this new season of my life.  Bucket List Revised - 2023 As I approach another milestone...