QuickTip Tuesday: A Tasty Salad Addition

I love putting some crisp, red bell pepper strips on my salads. It gives it a little crunch and a tiny tad of sweetness. Last night I didn’t have any fresh bell pepper but I had some leftover roasted bell pepper. Oh. My. Goodness. I cut up a small portion of a roasted red bell pepper and threw it on my salad with some thinly sliced red onion, cherry tomatoes and goat cheese. It was amazing. The roasted peppers are sweeter than raw and give a different texture. Delicious.

Try it. You’ll like it.

Foodie Friday: March Menu

February is just about finished and I am screaming “Bring on Spring!” Our weather around here has been crazy with highs in the 80’s for a few days and then drops down to the 20’s for a while. We just can’t seem to get all the way to feeling good because of colds/allergies and never knowing how to dress for the day.

Enough about weather. Let’s talk food! I mentioned last month that I would be changing up my menu formula, and I did! I am still planning to do a big dinner on Sunday nights so that I can remake the leftovers on Wednesday nights. I have traditionally done salad Mondays in the spring and summer, but I am changing that to Mexican Monday (or really Tex-Mex because that’s what I know). I am still going to class on Tuesday nights- my very last night class 🙂 and so I am planning 20 minute (or less) meals for Tuesdays. Leftovers works well for Thursday nights because Amelia goes to gymnastics 45 minutes away. I think we are all a little tired of Breakfast-For-Dinner-Fridays and we have always had movie night on Fridays, so I am going to do dinners to match the movie. That means we will have to plan our movies ahead of time, but that’s fun! Lastly, I will be doing Sandwich Saturdays and just have some fun with that.

If you need recipes, check out my March 2017 Menu Pinterest board!march-2017-menu


Foodie Friday: The Lost Art of Pie Making

Sometime between the 1950’s and today, people stopped baking from scratch. There are so many convenience items available to use that are terrific in quality. I admit, I often buy refrigerated pie dough because it is fairly inexpensive, it’s convenient, it’s just almost as good as homemade AND there’s no clean up! But, there is something very artful about making pie crust from scratch. I always say if you can read, you can cook… but that doesn’t apply to baking things like bread and pie. These things require more finesse that only comes from practice.

When my twin sister and I were in high school, she took an interest in pies. She practiced a lot and perfected the art. She entered her pecan pies in the county pecan and peanut show and beat some older ladies, who in turn voted to make a youth class. The next year she turned 18 and beat them again! I let her do her thing and tried not to compete, but now that we are adults and moms, I decided it was time to learn. Katie always like to bake pecan pies, so I decided to do something different- cream pies….

Last year I held my first pie baking workshop on 3.14– PI day! I am doing it again this year. If  you are interested in learning to make your own pies, you should consider coming to my workshop. It will be March 14, 2017 and I am having two. One from 9 am to noon and a repeat from 1 pm to 4. We will be talking about the lost art of pie making, discussing different pie dough recipes and techniques and each participant will make a pie to take home. Space is limited so each session has a 10 person limit. We will be doing my sister’s favorite: pecan. Hope you’ll join us!!



Benefits of Walking


I have tried time and time again to be a runner. I have heard that you have to do it for a while before you enjoy it, but I have never gotten there. I have never had the “runner’s high” that I have heard described by other people who run. I feel like I have to push myself very hard-both mentally and physically- to actually run a mile without stopping to walk. Running makes my head, back and jaw ache, which scares me. I like walking a lot more than running.

What’s not to like about walking? It’s free. It’s easy to do, and it’s easy on the joints. And there’s no question that walking is good for you. Walking is an aerobic exercise; a University of Tennessee study found that women who walked had less body fat than those who didn’t walk. It also lowers the risk of blood clots, since the calf acts as a venous pump, contracting and pumping blood from the feet and legs back to the heart, reducing the load on the heart. Walking is good for you in other ways as well.

1. Walking improves circulation. It also wards off heart disease, brings up the heart rate, lowers blood pressure and strengthens the heart. Studies at the University of Colorado at Boulder and the University of Tennessee found that post-menopausal women who walked just one to two miles a day lowered blood pressure by nearly 11 points in 24 weeks. Women who walked 30 minutes a day reduced their risk of stroke by 20 percent – by 40 percent when they stepped up the pace, according to researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston.

2. Walking shores up your bones. It can stop the loss of bone mass for those with osteoporosis, according to Michael A. Schwartz, MD, of Plancher Orthopedics & Sports Medicine in New York. In fact, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Boston, study of post-menopausal women found that 30 minutes of walking each day reduced their risk of hip fractures by 40 percent.

3. Walking leads to a longer life. Research out of the University of Michigan Medical School and the Veterans Administration Ann Arbor Healthcare System says those who exercise regularly in their fifties and sixties are 35 percent less likely to die over the next eight years than their non-walking counterparts. That number shoots up to 45 percent less likely for those who have underlying health conditions.

4. Walking lightens mood. A California State University, Long Beach, study showed that the more steps people took during the day, the better their moods were. Why? Walking releases natural pain­killing endorphins to the body – one of the emotional benefits of exercise.

5. Walking can lead to weight loss. A brisk 30-minute walk burns 200 calories. Over time, calories burned can lead to pounds dropped.

6. Walking strengthens muscles. It tones your leg and abdominal muscles – and even arm muscles if you pump them as you walk. This increases your range of motion, shifting the pressure and weight from your joints and muscles – which are meant to handle weight – helping to lessen arthritis pain

7. Walking improves sleep. A study from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle found that women, ages 50 to 75, who took one-hour morning walks, were more likely to relieve insomnia than women who didn’t walk.

8. Walking supports your joints. The majority of joint cartilage has no direct blood supply. It gets its nutrition from synovial or joint fluid that circulates as we move. Impact that comes from movement or compression, such as walking, “squishes” the cartilage, bringing oxygen and nutrients into the area. If you don’t walk, joints are deprived of life-giving fluid, which can speed deterioration.

9. Walking improves your breath. When walking, your breathing rate increases, causing oxygen to travel faster through bloodstream, helping to eliminate waste products and improve your energy level and the ability to heal.

10. Walking slows mental decline. A study of 6,000 women, ages 65 and older, performed by researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, found that age-related memory decline was lower in those who walked more. The women walking 2.5 miles per day had a 17-percent decline in memory, as opposed to a 25-percent decline in women who walked less than a half-mile per week.

11. Walking lowers Alzheimer’s risk. A study from the University of Virginia Health System in Charlottesville found that men between the ages of 71 and 93 who walked more than a quarter of a mile per day had half the incidence of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease, compared to those who walked less.

12. Walking helps you do more, longer. Aerobic walking and resistance exercise programs may reduce the incidence of disability in the activities of daily living of people who are older than 65 and have symptomatic OA, shows a study published in the Journal of Clinical Outcomes Management.

I will be hosting a walking group this spring. If you have been wanting to get started, but don’t want to do it alone, call my office and talk to me about it. We will get started once the Oklahoma Spring weather settles down, and it is consistently warm outside because we don’t have an indoor option here in Chandler.

QuickTip Tuesday: Get Out of Debt Chart

I was listening to the Dave Ramsey Show and I heard a great idea from a caller who had just paid off all his debt- including his house. He said that he and his wife made a chart and put one box per $1000 they owed on their house. Once they started checking off those little $1000 boxes, they were hooked. They wanted nothing more than they wanted to check off boxes… until all the boxes were checked. I immediately called my husband and told him we need to make one of these charts! I plan to put a picture of my car and a picture of my house with the boxes beneath the pictures. Those are they only two debts we still have!

What do you think? Would you make a chart like this?

Foodie Friday: Cookie Pizza

Yesterday was National Pizza Day. Who knew? I actually didn’t, but by happy accident I was already planning to have cookie pizza for our dessert night. If you haven’t tried cookie pizza, you should because it’s delicious! It’s also extremely versatile. For yesterday’s version, I chose a chocolate-peanut butter theme. I used store bought peanut butter cookie dough (you could make your own if you are feeling so inclined) and I rolled it out onto a pizza pan until it almost reached the edges of the pan. I baked it for 15 minutes-which may have been just a smidge too long at 350 degrees. Then I melted about 1/4 C peanut butter and a handful of chocolate chips in the microwave and stirred it all together. Once it was smooth and the cookie crust was cooled, I spread my peanut butter mixture all over, like pizza sauce and sprinkled a mixture of peanut butter cups, peanut butter candies, peanuts and pretzels over the top, like pizza toppings. That’s it!

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Another version I’ve made had a sugar cookie crust, cream cheese frosting for sauce and strawberries on top. My daughters want to try a chocolate chip cookie crust with strawberries or cherries on top. Really, the possibilities are endless!

Have any of my readers made a cookie pizza/dessert pizza?  What other versions sound good?

Successful Co-Parenting Requires a Shift in Thinking


Three major shifts in language are important for successful co-parenting.  By sticking with the old language, conflict remains alive, parents continue to criticize their co-parent, and children are hurt by the words their parents are using. Changing our language will help change our thinking, and ultimately, our behavior. 

Have you ever known someone who told a lie so many times they sincerely started believing it was the truth? Or a child who was told over and over they were worthless and would never amount to anything until they finally started believing it. That same principle applies here.

Words have meaning and communicate things about our relationships and our identity, particularly when those words are repeated. New research on the brain suggests that using more positive words in our everyday conversations can change our attitudes and outlook on life as well as the people around us. Making small changes in the words we use can have big impacts on our children. In fact, your choice of words can help your children to have a more positive experience during the divorce. Below are a few small changes that we recommend.

Shift from say “ex” to “co-parent” 
The use of “ex” refers to the divorce and the past while the term “co” refers to together. When we refer to our past spouse as “ex,” we continue to point to what use to be, which reminds us of the brokenness and continues to keep the pain in the present. Shifting to “co-parent” emphasizes the person you divorced is still the child’s parent. This reminds both you and your child of a positive relationship that needs to be appreciated and nurtured.

In a similar fashion, some parents shift into using the other parent’s first name instead of “your dad” or “your mom.” This denies the other person is still the child’s parent. Instead of using the first name of your co-parent, use your “mom/dad” to support the parent-child relationship when talking to your child. For example, instead of saying “You’re going to John’s house this weekend,” say “You’re going to your dad’s house this weekend.”  To your child “John” is still “dad” and therefore it’s important to continue to support that relationship.

Shift from “visitation” to “parenting time”
The term “visitation” tends to deny the belonging — if someone just visits then he doesn’t really belong. A child doesn’t want to feel that they are just visiting their parent. A child wants to feel a sense of belonging and support from their parents, no matter how long their time together lasts. By using the term “parenting time,” the focus shifts to the process of parenting and to building the relationship between parent and child. This helps the child feel their time with their parent is more secure and less temporary.

Shift from “I win” to “win-win”
Some parents go through a divorce as if it were a war.

Parents have to think about the win-win outcome. Some parents engage in a win-lose process where they only care about winning and making the other parent suffer or lose. Other parents engage in a lose-win situation in which they are willing to sacrifice themselves as a parent simply to keep the peace. However, one parent can’t win, unless their co-parent is winning, too. Both parents must win, because ultimately, if the child is missing out on a relationship with either parent, then the child won’t win. The child loves and needs both parents; the child cannot win if one parent is losing. When possible and appropriate, both parents should have a relationship with the child because it’s in the best interest of the child. When this is not possible, the parent who is present must allow the child to talk about their other parent to help them maintain a positive memory and preserve a “win-win” situation.

To move towards this new way of thinking, parents must change their current pattern of behavior.  Moving toward a win-win relationship requires a disruption in your old habits. Shifting to win-win thinking provides your child with a more positive outlook on the divorce and helps provide them with a solid foundation for a successful future. When your child looks back on their life, how do you want them to remember his or her childhood? As parents, you must keep your child in mind and remember to think “win-win.”

Need more help?

Co-Parenting is hard. We’re here to help! Learn more about the Co-Parenting for Resilience Program, part of the Extension mission of Oklahoma State University’s College of Human Sciences.