Archive for February, 2010

Fear Not Bread Dough

Mini Pizza Rolls – Let time do the work

Hands down pizza is the favourite school lunch of my two boys and it is mine as well, for the very reason that I know I will not have to clean up uneaten food from their lunchboxes at the end of the day. This school lunch recipe was inspired by a couple of batches of sticky buns I made last week and a conversation I had about pizza dough with a mom at a recent food blogger event. Mmmm, why not combine the two for a delicious and school lunch friendly result?

In addition to sharing fun recipe, I wanted to continue where I left off in my last blog regarding the idea of having a base recipe you can then turn into countless recipes. My team at Epicuria and anyone who knows me personally knows that I am obsessed with efficiency and love the straightforward solution to any task or problem. Learn the basics of bread dough and the delicious possibilities are endless. Forget that it is difficult or takes a lot of time, it doesn’t. Like you, I don’t have time for lengthy difficult preparations at home and don’t want to waste my time making food my kids won’t eat. Bread is a winner. Who doesn’t love fresh bread, pizza, sweet rolls and focaccia? Better yet, who doesn’t love the person that makes fresh bread, pizza, sweet rolls and focaccia?

Let time do the work. Making bread really is simple, fast and easy to do. Flour, water, salt and yeast. Mix them, knead them, rise and bake. Add eggs and sugar to make it sweet, olive oil to make it pizza or flax, seeds, and whole wheat to make a healthy loaf. It takes 10 minutes to put together and the bread dough pretty much does the rest of the work while it rises so you move on to something else.

Pizza Rolls


(Recipe adapted from Marcella Hazan – More Classic Italian Cooking)

1 cup lukewarm water (not too hot or it will kill the yeast)

2 teaspoons traditional or active yeast

3 cups flour

2 teaspoons salt

2 tablespoons olive oil

Mix water and yeast together. Let stand 5 minutes until yeast blooms.

Add olive oil and yeast mixture to the mixer

Add half of the flour and salt – mix using the paddle attachment

Slowly incorporate the remaining flour until fully mixed. You may need more or less flour. If dough is quite sticky add additional flour. Be careful not to add to much flour that the dough gets stiff.

Switch to the dough hook and knead for 8-10 minutes until dough is elastic.

Place in an oiled bowl and cover with plastic wrap. Let the dough rise until twice the size. This may take 2-3 hours or can be done overnight in the refrigerator.


Note: The flecks you see in this dough are flax meal I added.

Pre-heat oven to 375F

Once the dough has risen, knead it on a floured surface to expel excess gas. Let the dough rest for 10-15 minutes to make it easier to roll. Roll out the dough into a rectangular shape approximately 18 inches by 9 inches. Place a thin layer of tomato sauce on the dough just as you would for pizza. Top with cheese or your favourite toppings and then roll the dough into a log. Slice pieces about two inches thick and place into a round baking pan. Fill the outer edges first with the final pieces going into the centre of the pan.


Top the rolls with some additional cheese and place into a 375F oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes. Bake to a golden brown colour and until a knife or skewer can be inserted in the center and comes out clean


Note: This dough can also be mixed together by hand or in the food processor. Add wet ingredients to dry when using these methods. Knead by hand for 8-10 minutes. For anyone who has not made bread before, I would encourage them to knead by hand just to feel the transformation of the dough into a smooth elastic ball.

Much as been written about bread making and I could easily add several pages explaining the food science behind it but I encourage you to try it, do a little research if you get a chance and just enjoy the process each time you make it.


You can really change up the flavour profile on this recipe to suit the tastes of your family. Here are just a few ideas:

-Spinach and feta

-basil pesto and mozzarella

-sundried tomato and olive

-proscuitto and parmesan

-grilled vegetables and Asiago cheese

Planning and Prep:

Pizza dough can be made in advance and kept in the freezer. You can freeze it before or after the rise. If you allow the dough to rise first, you can simply take it out of the freezer and allow it to thaw in the fridge overnight. Remove from fridge and allow it to come to room temperature before shaping and baking. You can also keep pizza dough in the fridge up to 36 hours. You can also prep the rolls in advance and hold them in the fridge or freezer until you need them.

Tracey is owner of Epicuria and mother of two young boys.  Watch for her lunchtime solutions here at Best Tools for Schools.

Why don’t students like school? – by Daniel Willingham

Summary Review of Chapter 1

Two weeks ago, when I announced my plan to summarize/review this book one chapter at a time, I invited other teachers to read along with me. But, I know that teachers facing a new semester may feel too overwhelmed to read a non-fiction book. That’s okay. Willingham’s first chapter content is – in many ways – second nature to those who spend their lives in the classroom.

The most startling – and counter-intuitive – thing Willingham says is that the brain is not designed for thinking. Well, actually what he says is that the brain is not very good at thinking (no surprise to some teachers) – and that we – and our students – rely on our memory of processes and procedures to help us with a lot of our thinking.

What I appreciated most about chapter 1 was Willingham’s suggestion that teachers keep a diary. This was a valuable reminder to pick up a habit I’ve abandoned. He’s correct – it doesn’t matter how brilliantly (or how poorly) a lesson went – I really don’t remember it a year later – not in detail.

However, the balance of the chapter amounts to a review of pre-service or in-service workshops about planning for meaningful instruction. In short, many teachers will find it to be statements of the obvious:

1. To prevent student boredom, give them something to think about. In Willingham’s view, that means giving students problems to solve. He states what we’ve known for a long time – that instead of dumping facts into the student brain, we need to ignite cognitive energy with the fuel of exciting ideas and then set it to work.

2. Determine that students have the necessary background knowledge to solve the problem – and make sure that the problem is neither too difficult nor too easy.

3. Avoid placing too heavy a cognitive load on students through multi-step instructions or a series of unrelated facts. Slow the pace of the problem pitch and use memory aids so as not to overly tax working memory. Change the pace (shift gears) to get and keep student attention.

4. Accept and act on a variety of student preparation. And, make the problem interesting and relevant.

We all know the importance of making work meaningful, but given the way classrooms are traditionally arranged and managed, it can be challenging for teachers to ignite the curiosity of an entire class. Students don’t walk in the door as a homogeneous group with the same intellectual capacity, the same curiosity, the same content interests or background, or the same motivation.

Willingham suggests grouping students to deal with this challenge. This suggestion is valid in theory, and some of us have used it to advantage is sympathetic teaching environments. But for some, relegating students to small groups doesn’t accomplish what it purports because it is, essentially, an effort to make a systemic change within a rather intractable system.

We may group students according to ability and interest, or even according to their social-emotional needs, but while the educational system holds that they be cast in grade levels and taught the same content, we are still left clutching at the minutes on the clock, trying to stretch time so we can differentiate for all.

If only it were as simple as the TV shows – when the villains waited calmly in the sidelines while the hero dealt with them, one by one.

Chapter 1 book recommendation: Steven Pinker’s “How the Mind Works” (a fun read!)

In two weeks: Chapter 2 – How can I teach students the skills they need when standardized tests require only facts?

See you then!


Diane Duff, B. Ed., M. A., has been working with students and families for almost twenty years.   Her areas of expertise are literacy development, special education, reading disability/dyslexia, and teacher training.   At Aldridge-Duff, the private education business she founded ten years ago, Diane coordinates a highly experienced team of certified teachers  who provide in-home tutoring and academic support to students (all ages/grades/abilities) in both Ottawa and Toronto.
Contact Diane directly at

On Track Thursday

Welcome to my weekly blog!

On track means different things to different people. With this blog I hope to cover a variety of areas to help everyone keep (or get) on track.

Being a Mom that works approximately 70 hrs a week, along with organizing a weekly friendship group & co-hosting a Spring & Fall pampering show, I often find ways to keep our hectic family life On Track. I hope all my little hints & tricks are helpful to you as well.

Through this blog I hope to share my ideas for keeping On track with your Family Life, Finances, Social time, Work, Goals etc.

I hope you find my ideas orginal & useful.

Here’s my first trick….

To do lists

You know that very long list that sits on the fridge & never seems to ever end. It could be as long as your arm somedays.

How does it make you feel when you see it?

For me it’s a feeling of being bogged down or over burdened with stuff that I wanted to do, but didn’t get to yet.

Try this instead.

Go to the local Dollar Store & get a small agenda sized sprial bound note book.

On the first page put the current date & mark down six things that MUST get done that day.

For Example

1. Make doctor’s appointment

2. Register son for summer camp

3. Get milk

4. Call Mom

5. Gas up car

6. Return movie rentals

As your day goes on, stroke off the items once they are completed. At the end of the day it will be great to know you accomplished everything you set out to do. Now being a Mom, things always pop up that you don’t expect, so don’t fret if you didn’t get to stroke an item off your list that day. The trick is to make it the number one item on the following day’s list.

Try this for one week. You’ll soon realize that 6 items over 7 days equals 42 things were accomplished that week.

Hope it helps!


Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist

To most people my seven-year old daughter is all pink and dresses and crafty pictures, but there’s a dark scientist lurking in her. She loves to imagine creating concoctions and potions, whether in the tub or in the kitchen. Maybe that’s why Jim Benton‘s Franny K. Stein, Mad Scientist series (age 7-10) appeals to her so much. The most recent Fanny books she’s read is The Fran with Four Brains, books 6.

Everything about the pretty pink house at the end of Daffodil Street was fine, with the exception of the upstairs bedroom with the tiny round window. That was Franny’s bedroom, one of the busiest mad scientists on earth.

Franny was busy. Along with school work she had her lab projects to monitor, like shaving her bearded slug colony or milking her new breed of soy plant. She also had extra activities like gourmet cooking classes and bagpipe lessons. Franny loved everything but somedays it felt like it was all too much.

Franny came up with a plan; a plan that only a mad scientist could think up. She made Franbots, robots that looked like Franny and had the brains of Franny. Franny gave the Franbots their orders: Franbot One will handle the music lessons, Franbot Two will go to soccer, Franbot Three will attend the gourmet cooking classes. Things were going well until the Franbots wanted more. And since Franny wasn’t giving them what they wanted, she would have to be neutralized!

Franny and her dog and lab assistant, Igor, had to devise a plan to stop the Franbots before they destroyed the whole world.

My daughter loves the bizarre plans Franny concocts. Her lad assistant and dog, Igor is great fun too. Jim Benton does a great job of drawing kids in and keeping them there; there’s never a lull in the book and it’s full of fun, silly humour. My kids especially love Franny’s extra activity chart included in the book (kids randomly choose an item from each column to get a strange class, like blindfolded one-handed sofa juggling). The kids end up howling on the floor. My daughter has read this book many, many, MANY times and never tires of it. Even though the main character is a girl, the mad scientist aspect would appeal to boys as well. It certainly did to my son.

I love that Franny is so smart and uses her brain to come up with plans, even if they are a little crazy and mad. Perhaps you have a mad scientist lurking in one of your children. Maybe a Franny story will bring them out or at least entertain them.


Franny K. Stein, A Mad Scientist

The Fran with Four Brains, Bk 6

Written by Jim Benton

age 7-10

104 pages

Simon & Schuster Children

Carrie Anne Badov, a mother of three wee ones, has a love of children’s literature that extends beyond her mothering years, back to when she would remove pages from books and insert her own stories as a child. She continues to write her own stories in the hopes of seeing one of them published but in the meantime she loves to read and review great children’s books. She’s the Managing Editor and Review Editor at and publishes more children’s book reviews every Wednesday on her blog Another day. Another thought…or two as part of her weekly Write a Review Wednesday post.

Introduction & French Fries

It’s one of those nights when you just really can’t even fathom the thought of figuring out what to cook for dinner.  One of those nights, when if you have to hear “I don’t WANT to eat that!” one more time this week, you’ll be hitting that speed-dial button reserved for the insane asylum.  You think, “I guess we can go out somewhere to eat, it’ll be fast & easy, and I’ll just pack extra fruits & veggies in their lunch tomorrow”.  But you cringe as they tell you want they want off the menu, wondering what nutrients they are getting, and which vital ones they are missing.

Cue my weekly blog.

This is the place where you will find the best solutions and tips for getting your kids to eat healthy when dining out.  Some of your favorite and not-so-favorite restaurants will be featured, so that you gain the knowledge and tricks of the trade to ensure that your little ones are having the best solutions for their meals!

Who knows?  You may even find that the information you learn here, will have positive benefits not only on your children, but yourself as well!  Let’s dive in.

French Fries

You love them; your children love them, if they could be smothered in gravy and cheese curds all the time, without the sodium repercussions, you’d be in heaven.  Most restaurants offer them just as a side dish to your main entrée, and there is a reason for that.  A serving of French Fries on most nutritional guides can be upwards of 200 calories for about 20 fries, with 5 grams of fat, and a whopping 900mg of sodium.  That’s about at the maximum for a child’s sodium intake.

Here’s your simple switch – have you child’s side as rice!  Only 100 calories for the same weight as fries, and in most restaurants, only upwards of 10mg of sodium, and 0 grams of fat!  Kids love rice, and it will keep them feeling full for a lot longer.  (My Mom used to allow us to put ketchup on our rice when we were kids, sounds strange, but oddly delicious!)

It’s nice to treat your children every now & then, but making simple changes in how you treat them will ensure that they receive the proper nutrition, thus keeping their little minds and bodies growing the way nature intended them to!

I would love to answer any and all of your questions about menu choices in your favorite restaurant!  Just leave a comment on my blog before you check out the rest of !

Happy & healthy eating

Leslie Scott is a late-20-something Marketing & Events Planner for Canada’s #1 Casual Fine-Dining Restaurant.  She was voted as Young Business Person of the Year 2009 in Orleans, and in the Top 10 Community Relations Coordinator of the Year for 2009.  She is an Aunt to two very handsome nephews, and two absolutely gorgeous nieces, whom will all get anything they want from their Auntie Leslie/Laelae!  Girlfriend to OMNI Cameraman Ryan, who puts up with her shopping & chocolate addictions, with a smile on his face, and has been making her laugh & love for the past five years.  Leslie will be blogging to provide education about healthy menu options at restaurants for your family and children!

Bringing the OM into Your Child’s Life

Yoga not only creates a flexible body but also brings forth a strong mind and soaring spirit.  Children’s yoga has been gaining momentum over the past few years and has become a mainstream program at many recreation centres.  Educational institutes have recognized the value of yoga programs in schools and where funding and resources are available programs have been implemented. I am here to help you bring the OM into your child’s life and right into your family’s home.  You don’t need any experience or any specific equipment. Just bring your body and an inquisitive mind. Here’s how to get started today:

1. Create the space

Designate an area in your house, or if you are like me pile all the books and papers in a corner (where they can’t be seen!) move the chair out of the way and give your blackberry/iPhone a break, to create an area that has enough space for you and your child(ren) to move safely.  Ideally this space is away from any distractions such as a turned on television, new toys or a video game waiting to be played!  Dress in comfortable clothes that allow your body to move freely, but most importantly invites you and your child to feel good inside and out. Some children enjoy wearing yoga or stretchy pants, some like gym shorts, ballet/dance outfits; others are comfortable in whatever clothes were pulled out of their drawer that morning! Yoga is usually practiced in bare feet to ensure one does not slip and allows the feet to ground into the earth, but if you are more comfortable with socks you may do so. Yoga mats are wonderful for practicing on and also ensure you do not slip while moving your body into various postures. They are available at most department stores, and even some large grocery stores for a reasonable price. If you are not sure if you have an avid yogi in your home you may wish to designate a special blanket to add a little cushioning or practice on the floor space that is available to you.  Create a space that welcomes special time between you and your child, create a “safe zone” where feelings can be shared if they wish do so, free from judgement, stress, chores, and any other negative thoughts.  This space should feel welcoming and create a positive vibe. I promise you this can be created even by pushing a few papers and books aside, but don’t think about them until you are finished your yoga fun!

2. Join in on the fun.  “Monkey See, Monkey Do”

Jump in and join in on the fun! Remember, “Monkey See Monkey Do.”  If parents are willingly participating and taking time to move their body, free their mind and let their spirit soar then the kids will want to join in.  Just think about it for a minute, when you do something or are busy isn’t this the time your child wants/ needs your attention? Remember the last time you tried to have an actual conversation with another adult and you didn’t have a child looking for your attention? Probably doesn’t happen often! Create your space and jump into a few fun postures. Your child will be intrigued, curious as to what you are doing and will want to explore with you. Most yoga postures, if not all, are intrinsic movement for young children. A lot of young children sleep in a child’s pose, sit like a lion and love to fly like a butterfly!  Even babies like to play alongside mom and dad while they practice, and by the time they start walking they will probably be intrigued to do a downward dog beside yours.

3. Follow Your Child’s Lead

Let your inner child shine through. Release your ‘parent’ mind and body and remember all the fun you had as a child. Don’t be afraid to make various animal noises as you move your body through various postures.  Step away from an authoritative, coach or leader role and be an equal participant with your child. What do they seem interested in? Do they like to continually move their body and have the need to expend some energy? If so, try moving from one posture to another. Story meditations, where they can still listen attentively may be enjoyed, but invites the mind to become focused.  Do they enjoy moving at a slower pace, taking their time to refine skills, and thinking through a scenario before acting upon it? If so try holding each posture for a little longer, breathing deeply and visually releasing each part of their body while it remains still.  Follow your child’s lead and allow them to express which postures are their favourite, they may even come up with some new fun one’s for you to try!

Enjoy the fun of yoga with your child and family.  Carve time out of your schedule and follow the tips above, the experience you will share as a family will be well worth it!

Amanda DeGrace

Accelerate your career and be empowered by Amanda DeGrace, respected fitness professional & yoga teacher. Energy, charisma and an amazing passion for life are qualities displayed by Amanda in both her everyday life and her yoga and wellness classes. Amanda is CEO of DeGrace Energetics, and creator of the innovative Little Lotus Yoga program. Amanda currently teaches in the Ottawa area and presents at educational events and trainings across Canada.  Be inspired and empowered as Amanda shares her enthusiasm to keep moving, keep fit and keep it fun!

DeGrace Energetics & Little Lotus Yoga programs may be found at

Follow @littlelotusyoga on twitter for up to date information, recommended resources and to continue enjoying yoga with your children.

Join our “Little Lotus Yoga” fan page on Facebook to access pictures of postures, yoga sequences, guided meditations and recommended resources.

« Previous Page


Candace also blogs for
the Yummy Mummy Club!