Tempt Your Palate.

Grilled Pizza is where it's at! On of our favorite menu nights is BYOP (Build Your Own Pizza). Sometimes people stare blankly at me when I tell them this. I think once you try pizza on the grill, there is no turning back! The dry heat makes it a perfect condition to cook in. You don't get all the grease that delivery pizza has. I've made my pizza crust from store bought and homemade. Each to their own, ability and more importantly- time factor. You can cook them directly on the grill- or as we prefer (easier clean up), we use a base. Pictured are two pizzas that the kids made.

The Boys were vegetarian for the first 2 years of their lives. We only eat poultry and fish, so we use lots of veggies. Try grilling your veggies first and then adding them onto the pizza as a topping. Think outside the box when you think of toppings and sauce. Who said pizza has to consist of red sauce and cheese? Why not a spicy black bean pizza?
Crust Recipe ~ Prep Time: 15 minutes ~ Cook Time: 5-10 minutes
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cup warm water (about 110 degrees)
2/3 cup whole-wheat flour
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 package active dry yeast
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 teaspoon sugar
Preparation:Combine water, oil, yeast and sugar in a small bowl. Let stand 5 minutes or until it bubbles. Mix flours and salt together thoroughly in a food processor or mixer. Add water mixture while blending. Let mix for 2 minutes. Knead briefly on a lightly floured surface. Place in a large oiled bowl and let stand in a warm place for 2-3 hours. It should double in size. Once the dough has raised, lightly flour two cooking sheets. On a floured surface roll out 1/4 of the dough into a circle about 1/8 inch thick. Place on cooking sheet. Repeat process until you have four rounds. Place one pizza on a clean, oiled and preheated grill. Grill pizza crusts for about 1 minute on until the bottom is brown. With tongs, gently flip it over and grill for an additional 30 seconds. Remove from grill and repeat with remaining pizzas. Let cool. Top with your favorite pizza toppings and return to a preheated grill for about 2-3 minutes. Watch carefully to avoid burning. It's best to grill one pizza at a time.
Click this link to see Snack Attack by me and my buddy N.M.

Science, economics and politics all interact to affect our food choices. Scientists that work for food producers have figured out that we are hard-wired to have a chemical weakness when it comes to fats, sugar and salt. High Fructose Corn Syrup is 25% sweeter than refined sugar. When HFCS is added as an ingredient it creates a bigger chemical surge in our brain.
Things like candy and potato chips are not food. When we eat them they happen to taste great but set off our addictive cells and imbalance our endocrine system. “Instead of satisfying hunger, the salt-fat-sugar combination will stimulate that diner's brain to crave more.” (Kessler, 2009)   “For many, the come-on offered by Lay's Potato Chips -- "Betcha can't eat just one" -- is scientifically accurate. And the food industry manipulates this neurological response, designing foods to induce people to eat more than they should or even want.” (Kessler, 2009) 
We are all a part of a larger system that in many ways sets us up for nutritional failure. As a society, we tend to view obesity as a personal issue. We should instead view obesity as a result in our ever changing marketing environment that makes it difficult for people to purchase healthy food choices. Our health is determined by our choice of diet. However, not everyone is fortunate enough to have a choice. Not everyone has access to healthy, fresh food or the budget to make healthy selections. “There is no reason why a hamburger should be cheaper than broccoli at a store.” (Curt Ellis, King Corn filmmaker)
I am a product of a larger system, which begins with a seed, is subsidized by our government, manufactured, marketed, digested and paid by society with our health. Government policies pertaining to agriculture have fed changes in our food supply which have lead to public health concerns such as obesity, disease and affordability of healthy foods as well as access to them.
Regardless of what we purchase at the store, it probably has some form of corn in it. We have driven down the price of corn and soy so low, that these are staple ingredients in most processed foods. Food corporations are thriving with this concept. Not only are taxpayers subsidizing the corn and soybean crops, but we are paying for it again when we purchase from the food corporations that benefit from these low prices.
The taxpayer subsidies are simply a symptom of a broken system, so be careful not to place blame on the farmer. When prices are allowed to be driven so low, agribusiness is able to monopolize the industry and reap the rewards of cheap corn. With the Agricultural Bill affecting so many aspects of our lives, it’s important that we don’t glance over its significance. We must ensure representation in D.C. for not only the policies formed, but why they are formed, who they really benefit and how they are implemented.
Agriculture and our health are linked at the hip. Agriculture is directly linked to nutrition and public health. We can’t tackle one without affecting the other. The failure to address agriculture means we’ve also given stock to health insurance companies and pharmaceutical companies. The money we think we are saving with cost cutting programs will be paid ten-fold in the form of health care payments. “For the first time in American history, our generation was at risk of having a shorter lifespan than our parents. And it was because of what we ate.” (Curt Ellis, King Corn filmmaker) It is frighteningly apparent that this current system is literally killing us. Perhaps, instead of asking ourselves the question, “Does it taste good?” we should challenge ourselves to ask, “Is it good for us?”
I am not alone. We are not alone. Together, we can start a conversation early on with our children about food. We can model what we want our children to eat and refuse to give into ideas imposed by marketing executives. By slowly progressing, as if to detox, we can make life style changes that will enhance our health our lives and our children’s. However, this is a slow process in which there is no instant gratification. The reward is in knowing that you are leading a healthy life style and re-claiming the choice that was taken from you.
We must be open and honest with our children. We must refrain from assembling our food and prepare it. We must involve children in the process and thus allow for a natural connection to our food to occur. You are your child’s first teacher; teach them one of the most basic of all needs—nutrition that sustains a healthy, active, productive life.
“Without your health you have nothing.” ~Ray Rhodes
Here's a great summer salad recipe that has been a family favorite for as long as I can recall. It's a great side dish with fish, or chicken but can be a meal on it's own. Pictured above is a tandori salmon I made with the rice salad. I've been known to also add chopped cucs and roasted corn in this recipe as well.
Herbed Rice and Spicy Black Bean Salad

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 cups cold, cooked white rice
1 (14 ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained
2 celery stalks, finely chopped
1 (4 ounce) can chopped black olives
3 green onions, chopped
1/4 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Make a seasoning by mixing together the basil, thyme, parsley, cilantro, salt, pepper, cayenne pepper, and garlic powder in a bowl.
Gently mix together the rice, black beans, celery, olives, and green onions in a large bowl. Season the rice mixture with 1 teaspoon of the seasoning.
Make a dressing by whisking the vinegar and olive oil with the seasoning; allow to rest for 10 minutes. Pour the dressing over the rice mixture; stir to combine.
When I was 7 months pregnant, my bestie came for a visit. One place we stumbled across by accident while visiting the Walker Musuem was Wolfgang Puck's 20:21. The food was amazing! She and I both got a sweet cream corn soup for starters. That soup would leave her and I judging all other cream soups to the standars we savored at 20:21. Recently, I was sad to hear that it has closed. I can only hope the next place that opens there has soup up to par! Until then, here is a recipe that comes 'pretty' close. Enjoy!

7 months pregnant in soup heaven!
The sculpture dessert was almost to good to eat..."almost."