Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Kara's Sunday Night Pizza

Mel has 78 signed up for Wynne Women Run Arkansas, if you're still interested anyone can come Tues and Friday's at 6 pm at the Fitness Trail next to Wynne Intermediate.  Conway's 5K is May 9, 2015.

This ran in Friday's Wynne Progress:

The Active Life
Kara Smith
Feb. 20, 2015

            Martin and I have been making Sunday night pizza for almost 16 years.  We will have our 17th wedding anniversary this April.  As you can imagine, Sunday night pizza is very dear to my heart.  It is difficult to start the week off right without it.  We began this tradition when we lived in Austin, Texas.  This was before children, so we had a lot more time to watch television.  We would watch the “Sopranos” every Sunday night and in keeping with their Italian heritage, we made our very own homemade pizza.  The crust recipe came from Martin’s mom, Jeanie.  I still use the same recipe and it is not only super easy, but also true perfection.  Our lives have changed dramatically since Austin, with the addition of our three, sweet children.  But I am happy to say we still look forward to our Sunday night family pizza night.

            After I had our third baby, August, in 2010, I started having strange stomach pains.   They weren’t horrible, but I knew something wasn’t right. I will spare you the details, but after consulting my general practice doctor, a gastroenterologist, an ultrasound, CT scan and gallons of blood work, I still had no answers.   As a pharmacist, I reasoned that I could just take some medicine for it and fix it.  I tried Prevacid, Zantac and Tums.  None of which touched it.  I have always read about nutrition and living healthy, but with three kids, a husband and a full time job it was hard to always eat healthy.  When I got home from work, I was really tired and the last thing I wanted to do was to cook and clean up. 

            One day, I happened to read about Celiac Disease.  Mayo Clinic defines Celiac, as “Celiac disease is an immune reaction to eating gluten, a protein found in wheat, barley and rye
If you have celiac disease, eating gluten triggers an immune response in your small intestine. Over time, this reaction produces inflammation that damages the small intestine's lining and prevents absorption of some nutrients (malabsorption). One of the many manifestations was stomach pain, which was brought on by eating gluten.  I read more about it and thought it was worth trying to cut gluten out of my diet.  I had not been pain free in 3 years so had nothing to loose.  If you have ever tried to cut back on gluten, it is really hard.  Basically everything that we eat has a trace amount of gluten in it.  After diligently trying to eat gluten free, I immediately noticed my stomach quit hurting for the first time in years.  I also noticed that my joints no longer hurt.  I always just attributed the joint pain to working out.  But I felt like a new person.  It was amazing.  That is when it clicked for me that what I put in my body greatly affected my wellbeing.  And to feel my best, I had to make a much more informed and better effort to fuel my body (and my family’s) much more wisely.

            I have never been diagnosed as having Celiac, and don’t feel that I suffered as severely as someone that truly has full blown Celiac. I can truly tell a difference in how I feel.  The other day at work, I was starving and forgot my usual snack of peanuts.  I opted for a processed pack of cheese crackers.  Thirty minutes after eating them, my stomach cramped up and I remembered quickly why I normally avoid junk like that.

            Now more than ever, I stay away from processed food such as store-bought bread, premade salad dressings, frozen dinners and anything else you just throw in the oven.  In this day and time, everything is premade for busy schedules.  With the premade comes lots of preservatives and junk that has no business being in our bodies.  And just think what years of feeding it to our kids will do.  Things have changed drastically since our grandparents’ time.  Some things for the better, but the more I read and learn, our choice of premade, preservative and sugar packed food is doing our bodies much more harm than good.  Just compare store bought salad dressing.  It is full of sugar, artificial flavors and numerous preservatives.  In my salad dressing, I often just toss balsamic vinegar and olive oil.

            As I said previously, I am a pharmacist.  I dispense prescriptions that doctors prescribe for their patients.  Every day, I see patients with the mindset that a pill will fix all of their problems.  Myself included, we need to do all that is within our reach to fix our problems and feel better including eating better and exercising.  We need to take ownership of our lives and realize sometimes to fix our health; we need to get off the couch and make eating better a top priority.  Mark my words, the food we are eating today – is negatively affecting our health. So take what you eat seriously and think before you grab that processed, premade dinner.

            We still have Sunday pizza night, but I have found a delicious, gluten free flour.  Martin and I agree, it makes an even better crust and I don’t have to suffer with the stomach pain the next day.  It is so tasty; I hope you will try this recipe.

1 Package Active Yeast
3 Tablespoons Warm Water
Sprinkle yeast over water and let sit for 5 minutes
1-Cup Warm Water
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon sugar
3 Tablespoons Olive oil
Mix these together and pour over yeast mixture
Slowly add 3 cups flour (I use “Cup for Cup Gluten Free” but regular All Purpose Flour or another favorite, King Arthur Italian Flour is fabulous)
Knead until all flour mixed in.  Cover and set in a warm place to
Rise for 2 or more hours.

Martin takes it from here, but he sets the oven to 450 degrees and works the dough onto a pizza pan.  He adds plain tomato sauce and spices including basil, oregano, garlic powder, rosemary, and thyme.
He then grates fresh mozzarella (we can’t stand the pre-grated!!) and sprinkles on top.  Then he puts whatever else toppings such as pepperonis, mushrooms, onions, sausage, peppers, etc.  He cooks it for about 25 minutes.  Be creative with your toppings, it is so much fun to try different things.  And what comes out of that oven is so darn good; you won’t be able to not make it a tradition.

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