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techniques | AlmostFit.com - Part 2

‘ techniques ’ category archive


Recipe: Ham and Creole Cream Cheese Pizza

Editor’s note: Welcome to Almost Fit. As you may have noticed, I’ve been away from the site for a little while taking care of some personal matters. I’ll be writing a short post soon to explain, but in the mean time, this post is a recipe I just came up with for tonight’s dinner that I just had to share. Thanks for reading.

kids love pizza

Since I’ve started making all of our own bread, having bread dough around has meant that pizza has become a staple for us. The great thing about homemade pizza is you are in control of the ingredients, meaning that you can eat very well using the pizza “format” for your meal.

Throwing a handful of fresh ingredients on homemade dough is not only simple, it is something everyone should know how to do. From start to finish, this meal takes no longer than ordering the delivery of an industrially produced pizza that generally includes ingredients that you can’t verify as being real food. At least, in my long, prior history of ordering pizza delivery, I do not believe I’ve ever asked the person who answers the phone whether their pepperoni has nitrates, which should probably be the least of my concerns.

In talking over dinner and evaluating the meal, my wife and I figure that in the last 6 months I’ve probably made over 100 pizzas at home, often as dinner for friends. The keys to this are the bread dough recipe from Artisan Breads in Five Minutes a Day, and a decent baking stone. That’s truly it. I generally make 2-3 smaller pizzas per meal, 1 for the kids (though I enjoy it too), and one that is a little more on the experimental side. I’ve made as many as 5 for one night of entertaining, serving them to guests as they came out of the oven.

For tonight’s dinner, the first pizza course was a classic tomato sauce and mozzarella pizza with artichoke hearts and olives. Believe it or not, that was the “kids” pizza; our kids love things like olives, mushrooms, and artichoke hearts – a fact that I attribute (science or not) to the fact that these elements are common in the food we eat, so our kids have developed a taste for them.

For the second pizza course, I took a few risks. Tonight’s pizza creation, the Ham and Creole Cream Cheese Pizza turned out exceptionally well – good enough that I thought I’d share it right away. Actually, given that I’ve been quiet on this site over the last couple of months (I will explain in an upcoming post), I’m going to call this December’s recipe. I’ll be returning to writing more soon, including a fresh batch of food suggestions, but for now you get pizza. There could be worse fates.

Recipe: Ham and Creole Cream Cheese Pizza

ham and cheese pizza

First things first: This pizza has nothing in common with low fat anything – and in my opinion, it’s probably best to let it stay that way. The key to enjoying this pizza is, as always, moderation. The richness of the ingredients makes this possible if you slow down a bit and listen to what your stomach (not your tongue) is telling you. That of course is easier said than done; but you will find that with a glass of wine and a salad, a couple of pieces will satisfy. And if after a 1/2 an hour you’re still hungry, have another piece! But if you play your cards right, you’ll have a great lunch of leftovers the following day. Or breakfast, if like me, you just can’t wait.

One other thing: The Creole cream cheese is important in this dish because it is lighter in flavor (and a different texture) than typical cream cheese. We were lucky this week because our raw milk supplier was also selling homemade Creole cream cheese, so that is where we found it. If you can’t find Creole cream cheese, Mascarpone is a good substitute, and is that much richer. Read the rest of this entry »


How to save a ton of money by buying fresh organic produce

Welcome to Almost Fit. My focus at Almost Fit is on improving health by doing one thing: Eating real food in moderation. No low fat this or low carb that, just real, whole foods in reasonable amounts. I have lost 26 lbs this year (so far) by eating decadent foods, having a beer or two, and occasionally exercising – though I’m always working on increasing that last bit. If this sounds interesting, have a look around and let me know what you think. Thanks.

photo of produceIn part one of this series (“Want to save money and eat well? Join a CSA“), I introduced one of our primary methods of saving money and eating well: Participating in a CSA. This is part 2.

One of the biggest contentions with basing your eating habits on local, organic, minimally processed food is that it is just too expensive for most families. The truth be told, I don’t discount this opinion at all – in fact, for many of us, the cost difference in a grocery store is more than we can justify. Being frugal has not only become a pastime, in this economy it is increasingly a requirement.

In our case, frugality has its perks: We are actually saving money by eating better – thanks to our local CSA.

Read the rest of this entry »


Want to save money and eat well? Join a CSA

photo of fresh garlicOver the summer, we discovered one of our best real food finds to date: we successfully joined a local CSA. Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) has become one of our primary resources in our real food transformation – so much so that it is hard for me to remember what it was like without it. I would guess that CSAs are not available everywhere that we’ve lived; and I am equally sure that this is the case for many Almost Fit readers. However, my one bit of advice on this subject is simple:

Find one if you can, and treat them with great respect.

In this series on CSAs on Almost Fit, I’ll describe our experience with our CSA, how it has benefited us from multiple perspectives, how to find a CSA near you, and some ideas on what to do with the produce you receive.

You may have noticed that the second half of that statement, “find one if you can, and treat them with great respect is kind of an odd thing to say. Beyond the obvious human decency aspect, there is a vital reason why I’ve brought it to the forefront. But you’ll have to wait to find out. 

But wait – I may be getting ahead of myself. Maybe this question should be answered first… Read the rest of this entry »


10 Simple Ways to Build Weight Loss Momentum

Welcome to Almost Fit. Almost Fit focuses on improving your health by eating real food in moderation. If you enjoy this post, please consider subscribing. It’s free, as always. Thanks.

As of today, I am standing on the verge of a new weight loss accomplishment: my lowest point in 3 years. I am literally teetering on the edge of a personal milestone – a big one, toward which I’ve been working for a while now. Today I want desperately to cross that threshold, break through this plateau, and set the weight loss ball solidly rolling downhill again. I feel as though I’ve been pushing the weight loss rock uphill for the past few months in anticipation of this moment, and today, it is finally here.

So how do I create the momentum to make it happen?

The concept of momentum fascinates me. For such a powerful force, momentum requires such a little spark to get started. My first big memory of experiencing the power of momentum was when I was 5 years old living in the Seattle area during the golden age of the Seattle Supersonics.

At the final game of the 1978-79 NBA championship series, from the moment we set foot in the gigantic Kingdome the overwhelming sensation of energy permeated every atom in the space, and not just because of the notorious echo. As the game progressed and the Sonics’ momentum built, I very clearly remember it feeling similar to standing directly in front of a loudspeaker at a rock concert – it is a very physical experience, and a powerful influencer.

The Sonics’ momentum ultimately worked in their favor; they won the game and the title. The exuberance of the crowd was overwhelming.

In fact, the momentum that had built was so contagious that it felt as though you could fly if you simply had the will to do it.

We all harness momentum in various ways, but sometimes it’s difficult to really latch onto it when we need it most. Great athletes and musicians can do it on demand. The beauty is, momentum only needs a small spark to get you going, and all of us have the power to light that fire.

So how do you kick off the spark of momentum? Read the rest of this entry »


Fried Zucchini Bruschetta with Fresh Mozzarella

Editor’s note: Welcome to Almost Fit. This post is this week’s Friday Fit recipe. The idea is to try “real food” recipes that can be prepared on the weekend. If you enjoy this article, please consider subscribing. Thanks.

fried squash with bruschetta

With fall finally here, in many parts of the country it’s time to start pawning off garden-grown squash as fast as is humanly possible. Growing up in a squash-friendly growing zone, it was not uncommon to open our front door in the morning and find a paper bag full of homeless squash having been randomly delivered by a mysterious, mythical creature under cover of darkness.

These days, while we rarely have a visit from the Great Pumpkin or his lesser-known comrade, the Squash Fairy, we do seem to have an awful lot of squash growing, and have to act fast.

So other than carving faces in them or dropping bags of them off in the middle of the night on  neighborhood porches, what do you do with all that squash?

Read the rest of this entry »


The “I Hate Beets. What am I Doing Eating Beets?” Beet Salad Recipe

Editor’s note: Welcome to Almost Fit. This post is this week’s Friday Fit recipe. The idea is to try “real food” recipes that can be prepared on the weekend. Of course, each recipe can also be prepared during the week (that’s when I’m trying it), but with the hectic schedules of most, a recipe might be easier to try on the weekend when work is generally less of a factor. If you enjoy this article, please consider subscribing to my feed. Thanks.

photo of beets

In case you haven’t guessed from the title of this post, I have a very long and fragmented relationship with beets that has always teetered between love(occasionally) and hate (mostly), good and evil, starvation-if-that’s-all-there-is and, well, ok-I’ll-try-it-again-but-I-KNOW-I-won’t-like-it. I have never been a beet fan; I mean it’s pretty amusing from a geek standpoint that eating beets does all kinds of weird things to color your vital organs and their perfunctory processes (as in the next morning, groggily shouting, “HOLY CRAP! Why am I bleeding internally?!? Oh. Nevermind.”), but other than that, I’ve always felt that beets taste rather like, well, dirt.

Who knew I would develop a taste for dirt?
Read the rest of this entry »


Friday Recipe: Jamie Oliver’s Mothership Tomato Salad

Editor’s note: This post marks the return of the weekly Friday Fit recipe. The idea is to try “real food” recipes that can be prepared on the weekend. Of course, each recipe can also be prepared during the week (that’s when I’m trying it), but with the hectic schedules of most, a recipe might be easier to try on the weekend when work is generally less of a factor. If you enjoy this article on Almost Fit, please consider subscribing to my feed. Thanks.
tomatoes on an adirondack chair

I have been anxiously waiting for something to happen, and in the last few weeks, it did.

Our tomatoes have begun to ripen. (The photo above was taken this morning in our backyard.)

Tomatoes may sound like a pretty mundane thing to anticipate, but believe me, when you’ve shoveled a dozen tons of dirt into a large garden space and gone to the trouble of tending to them through the odd summer we’ve had, getting a few beautiful round red, green, and yellow orbs to spring from the ground is a welcome reward. Read the rest of this entry »


Chicken part 2: How to save money at the grocery store

This is part 2 in a series on buying and preparing chicken. Here is a link to Part 1, How to buy chicken without getting punched. Or, you can skip ahead to part 3 which is Demystifying chicken labels: From Organic to All Natural. If you enjoy these articles, please consider subscribing to Almost Fit. It is free, as always. Thanks.

photo of chicken legAs I mentioned in part 1 of this series, we have taken our next step in seeking out real food: we are eliminating the purchase of meat and poultry from grocery stores by going directly to the farmer.

Of course, not everyone has access to local farm-raised chicken, so in this article I’ll describe how to save money at the grocery store when you’re trying to make better choices. This piece of the series evolved from a reader’s comment from the last post where the question of cost was raised. I think it’s important because it’s a common feeling among those of use trying to make “better” decisions on what we eat, that we’re going to have to get a second mortgage to be able to afford good food. Read the rest of this entry »


“Berries, berries, the magical fruit…”

Jonah picking marionberriesEd. Note: Welcome to Almost Fit. If you enjoy this post, please consider subscribing via email, or sharing the article via Digg, StumbleUpon, or your social network of choice. Thanks.

We had a great day picking berries today. Here’s an excerpt from a conversation that my four-year-old son had with a fellow berry picker:

Jonah: “I burped!”

Woman: “Oh my! Have you been eating a lot of berries?”

Jonah: “Nope. Just one. At a time.”

That, is my boy. Read the rest of this entry »


Do you eat together as a family?

12-weeks and drinking coffee (joke)

Ed. Note: This article focuses on the benefits of eating together for families with children. I believe that families come in all shapes and sizes; I just chose families with kids for today’s article. Thanks for reading Almost Fit – I really do appreciate it.

With the pace of life building at an ever increasing rate, for many of us, sharing meals at the dinner table is becoming a lost art. Often times if families eat together at all, it is in the car after having placed an order in front of an illuminated board of “value” options, yelling through a cheap microphone, trying to make it to the next activity only a few minutes late for once.

For a while we were sucked into this vortex of squeezing meals in between the “more important” things (as if meals were not critical to life!). Here’s an example. Read the rest of this entry »

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