Hearty, healthy Chicken Salad.

Admit it.. you have taken one of these home before..

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You didn’t mean to buy one, but somehow that sneaky bird broke out of formation and flew his little plastic space-capsule right into your shopping cart.  I know, I know, you were distracted at that moment..eyeing a 5 pound bag of chia seeds and toying with the idea of becoming a vegetarian… I get it-  no judgement here my friend.. chick happens.

Phase one of space-ship chicken is a nice chunk of juicy white or thigh meat paired with mashed potatoes and a vegetable.  Your family rises from the table and declares you blessed – it was that good.

Phase two is a bit more complex. That space capsule is now parked in your fridge with a pretty sad looking, picked over chicken inside gobbling up valuable real estate. It’s time to make room for a pan of brownies …What to do, what to do?

Enter the healthy chicken salad recipe below- from my Sept 2015, Coastal Living magazine. This salad is absolutely delicious and healthy AND hearty enough that we ate it alone for dinner one night on a bed of fresh, chopped lettuce. I have made a few adjustments to the recipe- Hope you love it as much as we did!

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INGREDIENTS:

1 cup rice/quinoa blend- completely cooled.

2/3 seedless grapes sliced in half- green, red, a mix

About 2 cups shredded, cooked chicken

1/3 cup chopped green (or red) onion

crumbled goat cheese

walnuts

** I also added chopped celery and chopped cucumber

 

Dressing:

  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • about  1/2-1 teaspoon thyme
  • 2 tablespoons red wine or sherry vinegar
  • 1 tsp dijon mustard
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • 1/4 tsp black pepper

 

  • Step one is making the rice/quinoa blend according to the directions on the back. I found this bag at SAMS ( I mean COSTCO) – of course. I made mine in my rice cooker- 1 cup of the blend with 1 3/4 water.  When this is done, lift the lid and let it cool, tossing it around with a fork so it gets light and fluffy. You can/should make this ahead of time.

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Make your dressing in a small bowl. (I may double the amount next time.)

Cut up and mix all of the ingredients adding the cold rice/quinoa blend right before serving.. toss with your dressing.- sprinkle goat cheese and walnuts on top.

This would be a fantastic salad to bring to a buffet or luncheon with health conscious guests. The photo above is from the magazine, but I tell ya, mine looked exactly like that when I made it..a very tasty, pretty and colorful presentation- you will get rave reviews.

 

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We’re in business!

When it comes to renovating a home..what at a difference a month makes!

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Dining room- Feb

 

We officially have a dining room, YAY! I ordered the light and the chairs from Overstock.com which has really been a great company to work with. Yes, it can be a tad scary because they do not pay for returns unless there’s a defect in the product. So when I ordered these six chairs, I had to cross my fingers that they would look OK cause if they didn’t,  I would have had to pay to ship them back!!

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Dining room- March

I ordered the table from Arhaus.com and was nervous about that purchase too. The table in this “Naomi” line was deeply discounted and way, way cheaper than all of the matching, complimentary pieces like the coffee table and end tables.  I asked the representative if there was anything wrong with the table and she assured me that there wasn’t…that maybe Arhaus was just phasing it out… So I ordered it with the understanding that when they delivered it I had the right to refuse it if lets say the chairs didn’t fit underneath or something…

In the end it turned out great and fit the room well- providing ample seating without overwhelming the small space.

The orchid is from our local grocery  store and I haven’t killed it yet..so for $19.95 I got my centerpiece and voila, we’re in business!

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Water – too much? too little?

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So it struck at 1 am with a vengeance; the worst case of heartburn I’ve had in a very long time. I wracked my brain trying to figure out what on earth I ate that would have caused it- but in the end the problem was what I drank. I have been chugging carbonated water in an effort to stay hydrated, and obviously overdid it.

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Here are some surprising facts I learned about drinking water- especially drinking too much of it:

  • The act of swallowing water, in addition to the water itself, can lead to heartburn, particularly if you guzzle it or take big gulps. Even if it doesn’t make you belch, swallowing air along with your water can irritate the ring-shaped muscle that separates your esophagus from your stomach and cause it to relax, allowing acid to escape into your throat.
  • The human stomach is, on average, the size of a fist, and has an average capacity of 900 ml (about 30 fluid ounces, or just shy of 4 cups). While your stomach can stretch beyond this, in most cases it’s not advisable because you will feel uncomfortably stuffed. Drinking water might add more volume to your stomach contents, and pressure on your stomach can trigger the LES (lower esophageal sphincter)  to open causing heartburn. Heartburn is the result of acidic liquid (usually chyme, or partially-digested food) from your stomach entering your esophagus, or the tube that connects your mouth to your stomach.
  • Carbonation increases stomach distention. If you drank a pint of water, your stomach would distend by a pint. If you drank a pint of carbonated water, however, your stomach might distend to twice that size, the size of a quart. The extra gas in carbonated water creates more pressure in your stomach, increasing the chances that your stomach will regurgitate contents upward.
  • You should drink a good amount of water each day, but try to not guzzle it and make sure it’s room temperature. Click here for a handy custom hydration calculator.

http://www.camelbak.com/en/HydratED/HydrationCalculator.aspx

 

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.livestrong.com, hubpages.com, dr.davidwilliams.com,sites.psu.edu

WOW- This actually works!

I have never had a great memory, and trust me..it isn’t improving with age. So I was especially intrigued when I saw this article in the NYT and took the quiz using their memory enhancing technique. Guess what- I got them ALL right!

There’s hope yet..

In January, I devoted every walk from my home to the train to the contemplation of work details, hoping to improve my recall of them. That was my New Year’s resolution, and so far I’ve stuck to it.

In every one of those walks I was also retracing a memorization technique known to the ancients and shown by modern science to be highly effective.

The “Rhetorica ad Herennium,” written in the 80s B.C. by an unknown author, is the first known text on the art of memorization. (It’s also the oldest surviving Latin book on rhetoric.) It teaches the “method of loci,” also known as the “memory palace.” As its names suggest, the approach involves associating the ideas or objects to be memorized with memorable scenes imagined to be at well-known locations (“loci”), like one’s house (“palace”) or along a familiar walking route.

You can test the method for yourself. If you’re like most people, you would not easily commit to long-term memory a 10-item shopping list. But I bet you could remember it — and for more than a few minutes — if you first visualized it along a walk through your house: The entryway of your house is festooned with toilet paper; your kitchen sink is full of lobsters, dancing; a bathtub-size stick of butter melts on your dining room table; your family is singing karaoke in a swimming pool of hummus in your living room; your hallway is so full of grapes you cannot avoid crushing them with each step; your stairway has a runner of lasagna noodles slippery with tomato sauce; a mooing cow is being milked in your bedroom; stalks of corn grow down from the ceiling in the spare bedroom; a crop of multicolored mushroomsblooms in your shower.

Take a few moments to burn these images and locations into your mind (adding motion, sounds, smells and tactile sense to your imagined scenes helps). We’ll test your memory with an imaginary trip to the grocery store at the end of this article.

Joshua Foer wrote a book about how he trained to win the United States Memory Championship. He points out that we’re so good at forming mental maps and recalling images that we hardly notice it. Recall the last party you attended at a home you had not previously visited. Though you probably only walked through the house a few times, you can probably remember most or all of its layout and location of major furniture. Anything else distinctive you saw — like unusual or appealing pieces of art, vivid wall colors — and the faces of people you met are probably also easy to recall. Effortlessly, you retained hundreds or thousands of visual memories and spatial details.

Research backs this up. After people viewed thousands of images for a few seconds each, studies found that, on average, they could correctly distinguish over 80 percent of them from images they had not seen. This remained true even when the comparison images were of the same object in a slightly different position (like the same cabinet open versus closed or the same telephone at a different angle). Another study found people could usually recall objects they’d seen even after seeing hundreds of intervening ones, demonstrating that visual memories of objects are stored long-term.

It makes sense, then, that numerous studies, extending back decades, showthat the method of loci improves memory. Using the approach, people who could remember only a handful of numbers — seven is the norm, give or take a few — were trained to recall 80 to 90.

Another study found that the method doubled the proportion of people who could remember at least 11 of 12 grocery list items. Students who applied it in an undergraduate economics course outperformed those who did not on an exam. Medical students who used the method of loci to study the endocrine system learned more than those who did not.

Patients who have had treatments known to impair recall and cognitive function — like coronary bypass surgery and surgery and chemotherapy for breast cancer — improved their memories with the method of loci. As a memory aid, it’s superior to rote memorization and converting items to images alone. Placing those images in a memory palace helps recall.

Before books were common, the method of loci helped lawyers and others retain and recall information necessary for their jobs. The locution “in the first place” is a holdover from this ancient method of memorizing speeches. It works because it harnesses humans’ evolved skill at remembering details of locations, which helped hunter-gatherers recall what was edible and where to find it, and what was poisonous and how to avoid it.

It does not take an extraordinary mind to develop an extraordinary memory. Competitors in memory championships or those seen on Fox’s “Superhuman” — memory athletes — weren’t born with photographic memories. They have practiced for years using the method of loci, supercharged with other mnemonic methods. With them, some can memorize hundreds of random numbers in a few minutes or the order of cards in a deck in tens of seconds. But, as Mr. Foer learned, memory athletes’ memories excel only in areas they’ve trained — they still misplace their keys like the rest of us.

Indeed, science shows that these are normal minds after extraordinary training — the same hardware running different software. Brain anatomy of memory athletes and those without exceptional memories are the same. Because they have trained specifically to recall numbers and faces, memory athletes outperform others in doing so. But recall of magnified images of snow crystals — for which memory athletes have not trained — is identical. After observing a game for five or 10 seconds, master chess players can recall the positions of nearly all the pieces. A novice can recall only a few. The difference is training, not exceptional memory. Shown a random configuration of pieces that could not arise in a game, chess masters are no better than novices at piece position recall.

My commute has become my memory palace, not for groceries, but for aspects of my work. Features of certain landmarks — specific houses and parks I pass — have become loci for them, converted to images and scenes of my own invention. I figuratively walk through my work as I literally walk to it. For example, I associated an analysis of the time patients wait for care with cars waiting at an intersection I cross.

We think memorizing is laborious, boring work because we’ve been taught to do it by rote. You may recall, as I do, countless hours in third grade poring over multiplication tables or, in ninth grade, endlessly conjugating French (or Spanish) verbs, or in 11th grade, incessantly reciting Macbeth’s “Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow” soliloquy in the attempt to firmly place them in long-term memory. These brute-force approaches are dull because they’re devoid of any creativity.

In contrast, the best memorizers place the most flamboyant, bizarre, crude and lewd images and scenes (and their actions) in their memory palaces. The more distinctive, the more easily they’re recalled. This is why the Puritans recoiled from the method of loci — they knew students were relying on “impure” and idolatrous imagery — and it fell out of favor as an educational tool. Today our memories are eroded by external memory devices like cellphone cameras and apps.

Now, about that grocery list. In your mind, enter and walk back through your house. What do you see? Can you get all 10 items?

(Separately, we’ve created a short interactive quiz that tests your memory. Give it a try.)

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Jesus Calling

 

I gave my life to the Lord almost thirty years ago and was baptized in a jacuzzi under a setting California sun. (No, the jets weren’t on)

sunset-001

I didn’t see angels, speak in tongues or fall out of the water and start flopping around on the deck and quite frankly, I was a bit disappointed. I “asked Jesus into my heart” about five hundred times over the following few weeks fearing I hadn’t done it “right” and looking for a sign that the deal was real.

What I came to realize as I matured in my faith was that this was a relationship I was building.. not a one time, satellite-style launch. And just like with any friendship, you have to get to know the other person, spend time and experience life with them in order to develop that intimate trust, love and deep bond.

I’m not going to preach, but if your life feels more like a free-fall than a journey, if a week like this past one leaves you scared and sad and angry and even wondering what the point of it all is, may I suggest a wonderful little book that could transform your entire way of thinking?

Jesus-calling-stack-of-books

Happy Easter!

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photocredit:gaboski.wordpress.com,thecripplegate.com

 

 

A Bathroom Free-for-all

Last year I wrote about a transgender locker room debacle at a Planet Fitness gym in Michigan. (See below) Well, the issue has now blown up in North Carolina where the Governor is taking serious heat for striking down a newly passed ordinance that would have allowed people to use whatever bathroom or locker room they felt most comfortable in. His  concern is for women who may be exposed to men posing as transgender.

The female mayor of Charlotte promptly criticized the Governor for discriminating against a “large part of our population.”  (Please… a large part?)

Has the mayor been in a bathroom at McDonalds, the mall or a rest stop lately?  It’s bad enough to feel like you are partially exposed thanks to the gaps between the doors, but imagine now there’s a dude in there waiting for his turn.

Does the mayor belong to the “YMCA”? How would she feel taking a shower with a strange  man in the stall next to her?

Does the mayor have daughters? Do they attend public schools? Can’t you see how all this would go down with middle school boys? Uh huh…

No wonder Donald Trump is where he is today.  It’s like our politicians have gone insane. I love everybody..I really do. But if you have to use the bathroom, you should use the facility that matches what you’ve got going on under your clothes.

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A real dilemma…

WomensLocker

A woman in Michigan was recently booted from Planet Fitness because she was “behaving in a way that caused a “disruption.”  This all started when the mother of two was changing in the ladies’ locker room and a man walked in and began to take his clothes off as well. She ran straight to the desk and told them that a guy was in the ladies locker room and that she was  frightened.

The employees informed her that Planet Fitness has a “no-judgment” policy, which allows people to pick locker unisex-bathroom-logo-hirooms based on “their sincere, self-reported gender identity” which meant that this man, who later said he identified as a woman, had every right to use the ladies’ locker room to change, shower etc.

The shocked woman shared this revelation, and Planet Fitness’ policy, with other women in the gym so that they would be aware of the situation..which the gym claimed caused a “disruption” to other members resulting in the cancellation of her membership.

All I’m going to say here is that businesses need to come to terms with this in a way that protects ALL of their customers  not just emotionally, but physically as well. After reading about this,  I had to ask my daughter what she would do if she was getting out of the shower in the locker room and a 40 year old man suddenly walked in.  Is Planet Fitness seriously  comfortable telling my teenager not to apply her “judgement” or follow her instinct in that situation?

I have no idea how to solve this issue , but my guess is that just like with everything else, we will all eventually lose.  Gyms will probably be forced to close up all locker rooms and install single person, uni-sex bathrooms instead.

 

The Zombies are here.

Most of us have probably seen this picture.

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If you look closely, you can see that this woman’s jacket has basically been sheared in half; torn from her body by the force of one of yesterday’s bomb blasts at the Brussel’s airport. The police said they found an additional unexploded nail bomb at the same site..let that sink in for a minute- a nail bomb.

In my mind’s eye I’m trying to envision these two suicide-bomber brothers sitting at the kitchen table packing nails into a container in preparation for their deadly deed. (This wouldn’t be the first set of brothers to do so- remember Boston?)

Were these two fellas watching TV as they worked? Listening to music? munching on snacks? chatting about their plans?

I’m finding it increasingly difficult to imagine these rabid killers in modern day settings- shopping, showering, shaving..  It’s like they are extra-terrestrials- not of this earth..  foggy eyed, brain fried zombies from another planet who zip up fake skin cover-alls before they leave their homes so they blend in with the rest of humanity.

As I listen to the talking heads on TV today discuss the reasons why people commit these horrifying acts, I’m finding it ever harder to buy into their logic. Poverty, unemployment, disenfranchisement..whatever. We keep wrapping these robotic killers in our own cultural contexts so that we can create a mechanism by which we can relate to them and hopefully “cure” whatever is broken in their lives before they strike again. We see it as a personal, societal failure when a mother in San Bernardino drops her baby off at the sitter and joins her hubby on a suicidal shooting rampage. You see, if it’s our fault, we can fix it.

I’m not recommending this, but five minutes online getting an unedited glimpse of the depraved atrocities being committed by these sickos will convince you that there is no cure for whatever has mangled their minds and no, they’re not acting out because they hate their boss or the airline or that rock band.

These brothers didn’t look at that woman in the yellow jacket and think about how much they hated her.. it’s just not that personal.

These are zombies who want to kill big and die hard – period.

 

 

 

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photocredits:www.npr.org