| Feb 2015

Muck, slush, and cheese. An update on our real food adventure.

It’s happening! And it only took three days.

I vowed to give up processed food for Lent. That means nothing store-bought with more than 5 ingredients (that I can pronounce), no crazy refined oils and sugars — just REAL FOOD. And after three days the rest of my family wants to join me in this mission! (This was my super secret goal all along.)

Well, they had no real choice. I’m making most meals and I’m not going to really offer another choice. But I’m going to claim it as a victory!

Friday night is pizza night in our house. Typically, we order from or go to a restaurant in our neighborhood. It’s a great restaurant — but the (delicious) crust is made with overly processed white flour. White flour is stripped of any nutritional value and sometimes contains added “dough conditioners,” unlike its 100% stone ground, organic, whole wheat counterpart. That means, on this first Friday of Lent, we would make our own pizza!

SO here is where I am exposing myself: I can’t cook. I mean, I can heat things in recipe-order, but I am not one of those people who can create a fabulous new dish out of what we have handy in the refrigerator. I’m desperate to learn — and wow, do I have a long way to go.

Here we go:

  • Recipe? Check.
  • Ingredients? Check.
  • Hungry family? Check.
  • A clue about what I’m doing? NOPE.

If I actually knew how to make pizza dough I’d have known it has to rise for a few hours before baking. It was 6 p.m. We didn’t have time for that nonsense.

(Click here for the recipe I used. This website, www.100daysofrealfood.com,  is full of great resources . . . and she’s from North Carolina, too!)

Me: “So wait, we need a food processor? We don’t have a food processor. We DO have a high-speed blender! That’s the same thing, right?”

It’s not. At all.

I put all the ingredients in our VitaMix and managed to make 100% stone ground, organic, whole wheat muck.

Our 100% whole wheat muck

Our 100% whole wheat muck


Our favorite wedding present saves the day!

Our favorite wedding present saves the day!

I tried the mini food processor we used to make the kids baby food. Then, finally, I remembered the awesome wedding present we got 10 years ago. We have a stand mixer!

After transferring the doughy glob three times we had success. Kind of.


Meanwhile, I had Lola cutting tomatoes. We would even make our own sauce (and use the leftover for tonight’s creation). Even I know the dead of winter is not the time to find the tastiest tomatoes. No Roma tomatoes were available (the kind the recipe called for) so I grabbed two pounds of the next best thing (read: the only organic option they had available). Our kids don’t like “chunks” (visible tomatoes) in their sauce so we blended them with the skin on (I’m lazy). AAAAAAAANNNNNDDDDD we got what looked like a pink smoothie.










The kids freaked. I came up with an excuse I didn’t even know was true: “It’s because of all of the air and pulp in the tomatoes. When we cook the sauce for a while it will turn red.” Whew. It did. Eventually. (By the way, I still don’t know if this is true — but it did become more reddish).

I had the kids take turns shredding the mozzarella cheese while I started washing the mountains of dishes we created.

Finally, by 7:30, the time we typically have them in baths and brushing their teeth, we were ready to roll out our healthy, 100% stone ground, organic, whole wheat pizza dough. It was NOT like you see in restaurants, but we needed to eat.

The kids made their own, adding our sauce and a mountain of cheese. I even snuck some basil and goat cheese on my corner.

About 15 minutes later and 4,597 bowls, spoons, and dishes later:  VOILA!  One hundred percent stone ground, organic, whole wheat crust, organic, homemade tomato sauce, organic  mozzarella from grass-fed cows.


Pizza Recipe from 100 Days of Real Food. Please don’t blame the author for our outcome. I’m sure hers tastes better.

Here’s the verdict:

He liked it! Penn Charles liked it!

He liked it! Penn Charles liked it!


Not a fan










Here’s the verdict:

Lola, my girl who will eat anything, was not a fan.

Penn Charles, my picky eater, LOVED it.

I thought the dough was actually very yummy, though thick.

Penn . . . well, my husband will eat anything. But he appeared to like it.

What I learned: 

  • Leave a few hours to make proper pizza dough.
  • Don’t try to make it in a blender.
  • Slushy, pink, blended tomatoes will eventually become darker with cooking.
  • If you put enough cheese on anything, it will be good.
  • What are your favorite, family friendly REAL FOOD recipes? Share! Please. My family thanks you.


  • Debra Silber

    Adventures with Children. I can get behind that. I often am the one leading the way. My kiddos love when we get creative in the kitchen. We substitute ingredients if needed. Results may vary. But, it the thought that counts (oh, and spending quality time with my loves).

    Love your family!

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Thank you! We’re still doing the dishes, but it was a fun night.

      • Julie

        Pretty sure the kids will remember this night for quite a while.

        • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet


  • Nicky

    I’m Italian, and I’m wishing that I lived next door so that I could come and help. 🙂 Tip for the sauce: this time of year, skip fresh tomatoes and use a can of whole tomatoes (you can puree if you want), salt, pepper, and fresh basil. I promise it will be wonderful.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      lesson learned.

  • Susan

    Next time you really should try a cauliflower crust pizza! I admire your efforts of eating clean…but even whole organic wheat contains gluten…and if you really want to eat clean, you should eliminate that as well. I find that with the cauliflower crust, I never feel deprived of my pizza or breadsticks (both are FABULOUS!) Here’s a fabulous recipe!
    Good luck and I hope you find you want to continue clean eating after the 40 days!

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Worth a try!

  • Emily


    I used to make our weekly pizza with this. The No Knead Artisan Bread is so yummy and easy! And makes a tasty pizza crust. But I learned I didn’t need to add the water in the oven for steam–it worked awesome without.

    Have fun on your adventure together!

  • leigh bhe

    So, I have a great recipe for home made sauce (pizza, pasta, etc) and it is super easy (and uses a blender)
    1. 3 whole tomatoes
    2. 1 can (medium size) tomato paste
    3. whole white vidalia onion (you need to cut it up, saute it until it is golden brown)
    4. head of cauliflower (cut it up and steam it until cooked and soft)
    5. salt, pepper, and other spices you would like for taste

    So, saute the onions, and then add them, plus the tomatoes, and paste to the blender, and blend until SMOOTH. Put the smooth mixture in a large saucepan. Then put cauliflower in the blender and blend until smooth, add to the saucepan. Now, let all ingredient simmer while you all additional spices you like. The kids won’t be able to taste the onion and cauliflower, and they will love it.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      I’ve saved this. Will try it when our vat of sauce disappears. Thank you!

  • Andi

    Try pasta made with veggies and spaghetti squash!

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Actually doing that tonight!!

  • Karen

    I have been following 100 Days of Real Food for several years now. One of their sponsors (well, used to be) is emeals.com. That can help sooo much with planning/cooking – and they have several plans to choose from. I use them for the winter now, and around May I’ll be on my own – we get a CSA share starting then. BTW – I just started canning this summer. It takes a lot of time, but so worth it! I found an awesome recipe for making tomato sauce – it’s for a slow cooker, but I found it to be way too watery, so I make it on the stove top. My husband absolutely loves it – store bought can’t even compete!


    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      love this!

  • Terri Fenner

    Here’s my 2 cents you don’t need but asked for….I applauded your patience. Love that the kids are making lifetime memories they will share with their own grandchildren and learning healthy behaviors. My teen started checking out cookbooks from school in kindergarten. I didn’t know there were cookbooks marketed for kids until then. My fav fam friendly whole foods…..?

    I only have a 13 year old, he would eat cardboard if I told him it had no growth hormones or antibiotics & was healthy. I’ve found teens rarely chew, only swallow. In Austin, Texas, there are pleanty of joints & food trucks that offer organic whole food meals from scratch, even pizza. I know HOW to cook, it’s being older and the 49,000+ that dishes would convince me the phone or car was my favorite cooking tool. Order, drive, and pick up. Otherwise, my child would help cook and eat 40 days of cage free organic eggs for breakfast, have organic bread from a Whole Foods Market with one ingredient, freshly ground peanut butter with organic berries simmered (one pan, one spoon) in own juice with a small amount of sugar to thicken as jam for lunch, and maybe dinner too, then free range organic chicken tenders with organic tater fries in oven on parchment paper (no broccoli in sight). I applaude you, your adventurous family. Maybe with your many hours of free time, (lol) take an organic cooking class and beg other students for their meals (freeze them at home for later). Good luck H. family, you will do great and the rewards last a lifetime, avoid the freeway, billboards of fast food can be crazy makers! I know, sounds like I’m reading fortune cookies, but I’m just a sappy old lady. Now get off the computer and go hug your family, take a breake and have a finger painting party.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      All great advice. Our kids are asking what we are cooking next. I’m claiming it as a victory!

  • Emily

    Try Lilly’s Pizza if you need a shortcut one week. 😉 Their dough is organic and whole wheat, and most of the toppings are organic also.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      seriously??? how did I not know this?

      • https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyjespersen Amy

        Haha didn’t see this and just posted the same place!
        Amazing. My husband is a chef downtown Raleigh and this is on our list.

  • Heather C.

    Bravo on trying to eat healthier! Your pizza looks really yummy.

    Here’s my favorite real food recipe:

    Tumeric Milk (aka Golden Milk)
    (Serves 2)

    -2 cups of your favorite milk (I use organic whole milk. I’ve seen lots of recipes recommend almond milk.)
    -1 teaspoon ground turmeric
    -1 teaspoon Ceylon cinnamon (real cinnamon)
    -1 pinch of black pepper (to taste)
    -1 pinch of ground ginger (to taste)
    -1 tablespoon raw honey
    (I recommend organic everything.)

    Put milk in a pan over low/medium heat, add turmeric, cinnamon, black pepper, and ginger, stirring to prevent the milk from burning. It will start off a pale yellow, once mixed, but as the turmeric heats, it will turn a brighter yellow. Let it warm until you start to see bubbles on the surface of the milk, but don’t let it boil. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the honey. Pour it into two mugs and enjoy! It’s great on a cold day as a hot cocoa substitute!

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      sounds delicious!

  • karen

    Check out Mel’s Kitchen Cafe. She has a fast and easy pizza dough recipe that doesn’t require rising. I just sub in 100% whole wheat flour. That woman basically taught me to cook and they are almost all real food recipes.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Good call!

  • http://www.Sparklescreen.com Dianna Akers

    Frittata, like a quiche but with potato instead of pie crust, eggs, cheese, and your favorite vegetable.
    Black bean, hominy, tomato, yellow pepper, avocado, cilantro and red wine vinegar tossed salad.
    Shrimp, canned white beans, chopped plum tomatoes, cilantro, spice preferences served over pollenta.
    My 8 and 9 year old girls like all of these.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      good suggestions! Thank you!

  • Ella

    I really enjoy your posts, but it’s always hard to tell who wrote each post, you or Penn. I was so confused throughout the post trying to figure it out. I wish you would indicate somewhere who is writing it? Or should we always just assume it’s you?

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Good call. It was Kim. We should totally sign in as ourselves. Thanks.

  • http://www.debsgreenhouse.vpweb.ca Debbie

    Hey, really enjoying the Holdernais Adventures. I recently posted our familys favourite meals….can’t say enough good things about it. All my recipes are in an album on my FB page: Debbie Foisy. It’s worth a look. Each meal feeds 6 people. We garden, raise our own beef, all that good stuff my Parents & Grandparents taught me:)

  • Dee

    Check out the blog Annie’s Eats. She has great recipes and makes so many things from scratch that are pretty easy to do. Good luck. I too am trying to cut out processed food and even canned tomatoes. Also try recipes in Cooking Light magazine. And a crock pot is a life saver.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Great suggestions! Thank you!

      • https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyjespersen Amy

        Annie’s Eats is a secret! Once you have her page, don’t share with anyone. You will be a superstar at all food related things!

  • Dee

    I saw pizza dough yeast at the store today (Walmart ) and you don’t have to wait for it to rise. It was in the baking aisle. The recipe on the back of the yeast packet looked pretty simple. I’ll try it and see how it works. Love all your blog posts and videos.

  • https://www.linkedin.com/in/amyjespersen Amy

    Go to Lilly’s Pizza in Raleigh. 🙂

  • http://brittanybullen.com Brittany Bullen

    Don’t you just LOVE your vitamix? Best kitchen invention in my life, hands down. Now here’s the bummer part–

    Back in the day when my first boy was a baby, I was a freaked out new parent and convinced myself that if I didn’t become a raw vegan, my child would get cancer and die (completely rational assumption, I know). So we went whole hog, which meant getting rid of everything we owned that helped us to cook our food, including (sob!) our Kitchen-Aid mixer, which was identical to yours! Oh, how I miss that red beauty! Ours was a wedding present too. =)

    So, needless to say, the raw vegan thing didn’t last, so here I am with a big fancy juicer I never use, Kitchen-Aidless, unable to make delicious unprocessed pizza crusts. Or maybe just too lazy… but I’m glad yours turned out okay!

    Good luck with Lent!


  • Michelle Paolucci

    Love this!!! You are so funny and your kids are absolutely the cutest!!! We had a few snow days here in Chattanooga and I came across your “snow video”!!! I had actually seen your first “Christmas Jammie’s” video a few years ago and thought it was funny and cute..so when I saw this snow video I went to you tube and watched the rest of your videos on a Friday night!!! It was a great distraction for me because my husband and I have also gone to “Trying to eat healthy” and I need to stay occupied or else I eat out of boredom!!!! Needless to say I was thoroughly entertained by your videos!!! Lots of my favorite songs and similar humor we have in our family!!! I myself had the police and fire department show up just two weeks ago when I was boiling chicken to make low carb chicken salad…at 11:30 pm. My husband was sleeping and I forgot about the chicken on the stove….the alarm started going off… I took pot off the stove out it in sink on top of my chicken cutting scissors which melted to the bottom of the pot… The alarm woke my husband from the dead so I figured he would answer the call from our alarm company and tell them the usual…”my wife is cooking again” so I walk into bedroom and say ” I think I will take a shower” bc you know that is what you do after you have burnt chicken …to my defense it had snowed the last two days so I had not left the house and felt like it was time for a shower…while I am in the shower I hear my cell phone ring and of course couldn’t get it…then my I hear my husband’s cell phone ring and I hear him answer and say…yes Michelle was cooking…I will call them…so I ask naturally ” was that the alarm company?” And he says…” No your Mom…the alarm company called her bc they couldn’t get ahold of us” …” Oh crap is what I think….u better call them or they will show up. We never have to call them …they always call us. So my husband calls and they say it is too late to cancel the call….so they both show up while I am in the shower and dear husband had to get out of bed and get dressed to tell them “everything is ok!!!” …and also throw out a few choice words to me while I am showering!!!! Please keep up the great work…I was disappointed not to be able to see your response to fans…I bet that that was really funny!!! I have always loved parodies…loved weird al yancovic!! Hope to see you reality show as well!! Thanks for sharing your life and humor!

    • Michelle Paolucci

      I forgot to mention the main reason I was going to post…I follow “low carbing with friends” they have a few crustless pizzas on there and low carb ones as well. I have made some really good, healthy recipes from their website.

      • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

        will check it out!! Thanks.

    • http://theholdernessfamily.com pennternet

      Thank yo uso much for the kind words. It sounds like you and I went to the same cooking school!

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The Holderness family has been dancing in pajamas and singing during snow days for years — but last year they hit the record button on the camera and published their goofy video on YouTube. Penn, Kim, Lola, and Penn Charles continue to make hilarious videos around tent-pole events and circumstances most families face.