Miscellaneous

Easy Naan Bread Recipe

Naan bread is surprisingly simple to make. Once you have mastered the basics, you can add your own variations to this healthy recipe.
Ingredients for Easy Naan Bread Recipe
 
1/4 tsp. yeast
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 c. thick yogurt, such as Balkan-style or Greek-style
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1 egg
3/4 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. water
1/8 c. vegetable oil or butter
Naan Bread is Easy to MakeTools and Equipment
 
1 large mixing bowl
1 measuring cup
measuring spoons
mixing spoon
spatula
dish towel
pastry board (or a clean, flat surface for kneading)
rolling pin (optional)
large baking sheet or griddle
 

Preparing the Easy Naan Recipe

  1. Turn on the oven to 350 degrees F for 3 minutes and then turn it off. While oven is heating, place mixing bowl inside just long enough to warm it up a little bit.
  2. Take out the mixing bowl from the oven and put all dry ingredients into it.
  3. Thoroughly mix together all wet ingredients in the measuring cup.
  4. Make a small well in the center of your dry ingredients mix. Pour the wet ingredients into the well.
  5. Using the mixing spoon, mix together the wet ingredients with the dry until it becomes sticky. Sprinkle a small amount of oil on top of the mixture.
  6. Moisten the dishtowel with warm water and cover the bowl with it. Place the bowl inside the warm oven until the contents double in size (approximately 1 hour).
  7. Flour the pastry board or working surface and set aside some flour for kneading.
  8. Take out the bowl and turn the oven on to 500 degrees F. 
  9. Divide the dough into either 12 small or 8 larger sized balls. Knead each ball one at a time. Flatten each ball (using the heel of your hand or a rolling pin) until they are approximately 1/8" thick ovals. Use the flour you set aside to adjust the consistency and help with kneading.
  10. Place on a baking sheet and bake for approximately 3 minutes, flip and bake until the bread is light gold in color.

Serve with your favorite dips for naan bread. Note that individual cooking times vary depending upon ingredients used, oven and altitude. Naan bread also cooks well on a stove top grill (especially cast iron) or a griddle. 

 
Tips and Variations
 
 To make gluten-free naan bread, you can substitute wheat flour with any of the following:
  • Amaranth (1 c. amaranth to 1 c. whole wheat flour)
  • Buckwheat (1 c. buckwheat to 1 c. whole wheat flour)
  • Corn (1 c. corn to 1 c. whole wheat flour)
  • Potato (5/8 c. potato to 1. c. whole wheat flour, binds better when combined with tapioca or sweet rice flour)
  • Rice (7/8 c. rice to 1 c. whole wheat flour, binds better when combined with tapioca or sweet rice flour) 

For other suggestions, refer to holistic cookbook such as the Freedom from Allergy Cookbook by Ronald Greenberg, MD and Angela Nori.

You can also make your own thick yogurt. Other ingredients you can add include garlic, herbs and cheese. 
 
Whether you are a seasoned baker or a beginner, making naan bread is quick and easy to make.
 
(c) 2012 by Rhona-Mae Arca. All rights reserved.
 

Doggone Holidays - Unique Ideas for Dog-Friendly Vacations

I was quite surprised that this piece of mine fell victim to Suite101.com 's Great Purge. I had a blast writing this. There are just so many places to take Maestro to!People love their pets. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, over 49% of Americans consider their pets to be full-fledged members of the family. In 2009, 18% of Americans took their pets on vacation with them.Businesses in the tourism industry are getting the hint. Some establishments offer packages for dogs and the people in their lives, such as activity camps and canoeing adventures; while one beach town has opened the majority of its doors to canine visitors.Outdoor Vacations for Adventurous Dogs and Their Families Camps are sprouting up with fun activities for dogs to enjoy with their entire family. These companies include classes such as agility, flyball, frisbee, rally obedience and swimming. In addition, these camps offer workshops and demonstrations for human family members on various topics, such as first aid for dogs, understanding your dog's body language and troubleshooting behavioral issues.

Canine Club Getaway on Roaring Brook Ranch (Lake George, NY), offers five-day getaways for the entire family. In addition to classes and demonstrations, they offer hikes, Barks and Crafts, a costume contest, Yappy Hour and doggie weddings.

In Chicago, IL, Camp Dogwood designs offers weekend and extended camps throughout the fall, winter and spring. Some of their unique classes include Training Secrets: Teach Your Dog to Do Anything, Dock Diving Workshop and their Rowdy Rover Workshop.

For active dogs and their humans, Dog Paddling Adventures in Richmond Hill, ON, offers exciting outdoor adventures year-round. They offer canoe trips in the summer and in the winter, they offer skijoring and kicksledding in trips. They run hikes in the spring and fall.

Luxurious Vacations for Pampered Dogs and Their Families

An increasing number of hotels, motels and bed and breakfast establishments welcome pets. They offer amenities for their canine guests, ranging from pet beds and water dishes to massages and special menus for the dog. Pet sitters can be arranged when owners want to do some sight-seeing or shopping without the dog.

Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale, AZ is one of four hotel resorts recommended by Modern Dog Magazine. Canine guests arrive to find treats, a water bowl and dog blanket in their room. Their goodie bag includes a leash, tennis ball, dog toy, MANKINDog wristband, waste bags and more treats. Hotel Valley Ho offers in-room doggie massages for their canine guests.

In Vancouver, BC, dogs and cats registered in the Palisades Pooch Program at the Pacific Palisades Hotel are welcomed in grand style. In the pet corner, visiting pets are listed on the hotel welcome board. Each canine and feline guest receives treats, water bowls and a special door sign to use when the pet does not want to be disturbed.

For families who want to include their dog on all aspects of their vacation, head to Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA. In "Carmel redefines dog-friendly vacations", Ann Tatko-Peterson states "It has 25 hotels, inns and bed-and-breakfasts welcome pets of all sizes, and 44 restaurants, bars and coffee houses that offer seating where dogs are permitted." Various art galleries, stores, city hall and even the Church of the Wayfarer welcome pets.

Families who consider their dog a full-fledged member of the family have a growing number of vacation spots that welcome and cater to these pampered pets, including activity camps, hotels and tourism sites. Pet owners should research traveling with their dog and handling pet travel anxiety before embarking on a dog-friendly vacation. It is best to make reservations in advance to ensure that the accommodations are prepared to receive all members of the family, furry and non-furry.

(c) Rhona-Mae Arca, 2010. All rights reserved.

Product Review: FitBall Wedge

Originally written for Suite101.com in November 2010. Another one that didn't survive "The  Big Purge"
Do you suffer from back pain or poor posture? Sway, wiggle and squirm your way to correct posture and pain relief with the FitBall Wedge.
On December 11, 2009, Fox News reported that a study conducted by the Institute for Medicine and Public Health found that people spend an average of 56 hours a week sitting. In "That's the Way the Ball Bounces!" from Working Well, it states that the average American spends 14 hours a day sitting.
Even more alarming is the conclusion Genevieve Healy, Ph.D. from at the Cancer Prevention Research Centre after a conducting a study at the University of Queensland in Australia. She reports that not even 30 minutes a day at the gym can counteract the effects of sitting for eight, nine, or 10 hours a day.
Active sitting can relieve pain and fosters overall health. It is also known as "unsupported seating" and "sitting in motion." Active sitting encourages the body to move and adjust constantly. It also encourages the body to sit in a more natural position.
There are numerous benefits to active sitting, as stated by Fitterfirst, a supplier of active sitting devices:
  • improved core fitness: Continuous movement to re-stabilize your torso strengthens your spinal and abdominal muscles.
  • burn calories: You can burn up to 350 calories a day from active sitting.
  • improved balance: Active sitting is a form of balance training.
  • fosters natural body posture and alignment.
  • maintains blood flow. 

What is the FitBall Wedge?

  The FitBall Wedge is an active dynamic seating device. It is an 13" inflatable wedge made of PVC. One side is smooth while the other has sensory bumps. There is also a 10" FitBall Wedge Junior for children.
The FitBall Wedge can be placed on the seat of any office chair or task chair. While sitting with the FitBall Wedge, make sure that both feet are firmly on the floor. Bounce in your seat, move back and forth and from side to side to enjoy the benefits of active sitting.
Alternatively, you can place the FitBall Wedge on the back of a chair for extra lumbar support.
You can use an air mattress pump or air raft pump to inflate the FitBall Wedge. Beginners should start with more air in their FitBall Wedge until they have adjusted to active sitting.
Simply wipe down the FitBall Wedge with soap and water to clean it.
User Testing and Assessment of the FitBall Wedge
  I purchased the FitBall Wedge one week ago to encourage my piano students to sit properly at the piano and to ease my own back pain.
My students, aged five to 50+, giggled over the new cushion and its bumps. "This is fun!" was a sentiment shared by most of my students just minutes into a lesson. My three fidgety students appeared more focused during their lessons. It helped that I placed another active seating disc at their feet. Each student who used the FitBall Wedge looked more relaxed at the piano bench and sat with proper posture. I have often noticed classically-trained pianists play with stiff posture and limited range of motion. My students were forced to move with the wedge, making their playing more natural looking, ergonomic and expressive.
I found the FitBall Wedge a back-saver. Between teaching and preparing for eight performances this month, I am at the piano over 30 hours a week and then sitting in front of a computer for at least an additional 10 hours a week. My back pain disappeared within minutes of sitting on the FitBall Wedge.
There are two minor drawbacks. The FitBall Wedge is available in only one colour. I also wish it could fit more easily into a bag full of music books. However, it still is more portable than a core stability ball.

Improve your posture and reduce back pain with the FitBall Wedge active seating disc. Photo by R-M Arca.

As with any active sitting device, people with poor balance or who recently had back surgery should consult with a medical professional first prior to using the FitBall Wedge. If used improperly or with incorrect posture, the postive effects of active sitting can be nullified.
About the FitBall Wedge and Ball Dynamics International
  The FitBall Wedge is manufactured by Ball Dynamics International LLC. It was founded Joanne Posner-Mayer, P.T., an expert on therapeutic Swiss Ball applications.
For more information, read "Sitting Too Much?" by Selene Yager, Women's Health Magazine, Exercise Ball Moves to the Office and Understanding Musician Injuries.