A Chicken In Every Pot

In 1928, Herbert Hoover promised the nation that there would be “a chicken in every pot” if he won. I love that idea, especially if it’s in my crock pot.

But I never could manage to cook a whole chicken in my crock pot. It always came out as a big mushy mess. It tasted okay, but the texture was horrible. And then I found a crock pot recipe for a “rotisserie” chicken.

When I read the recipe I did a mental head smack. I was cooking it way too long! No wonder why mine was a mushy mess. So, I tried the recipe and it was fabulous. Of course, true to form, I changed the ingredients around a bit. After all, blind obedience never was my forte.

I love chicken, not only because it is incredibly versatile, the health benefits of chicken is nothing to scratch at. (Sorry, bad chicken humor). I do cook (and eat) a lot of chicken. But I was recently banned from bringing chicken for lunch by a small group of vegans who were offended by my chicken.

How could you possibly be offended by a chicken? That poor bird never did anything to hurt anyone. Besides, it gave its life for me. The least we can do is show it some respect and appreciation. I know I always say a few words of thanksgiving before I eat it. I just make sure I say them silently so I don’t offend anyone.

I love chicken. I have one in my crock pot right now. I’m getting ready to download the 25 new recipes that showed up in my inbox this morning. I will raise a drumstick in salute to that noble bird. I might even break out into a rendition of the chicken dance. Because there really should be a chicken in every pot.

Episode #16 You can have your kale and chocolate, too!

Are you ever confused about what to eat, what not to eat, what is going to kill you long before your time, and what is going to make you live forever? Do you feel guilty that you’re not following a kale-only diet and you prefer a piece of dark chocolate every now and then? Then this episode is for you!

There is so much conflicting information regrading nutrition, and a lot of crazy fads and bizarre beliefs that can actually be harmful to our health, let alone our mental and psychological well-being. There can even be a lot of public shaming surrounding food choices. Seriously, what’s up with that?

Download this fun and informative episode that helps clear up some of the confusion, and discover why it’s possible to have your kale and chocolate, too!

Seize The Day

A few days ago I woke up feeling heavy and sluggish. Gingerly I rolled over in bed, got up, and staggered toward the enticing aroma of fresh coffee brewing. Ahhhh, coffee! I followed it into the kitchen where my husband and 3 dogs greeted me with wagging tails and a cheery “Good Morning!” Easy for them to say.

Eventually the coffee worked its magic well enough for me to give everyone a pat on the head (including my husband) before going down to my girl cave to get some work done. I also had to clean the kitchen, get dinner in the crock pot, get dressed and head out the door for ballet class. I had a lot to get done, and I was in a crappy mood. I made sure I took my bad mood with me as I made my way downstairs.

But something funny happened. All of a sudden my creative juices began to flow. There I was, writing and working, working and writing. My mood began to shift and I felt lighter, and happier as I pounded away at the keys. Here’s one of my many deep, dark secrets–I can’t type. I never learned how. I’m a writer that can’t type and a physical therapist that hates exercise and thinks that chocolate is food. I giggled at the irony.

I glanced at the clock and got a shock. It was so late I would have to scramble to get dressed in time for class. Forget about cleaning the kitchen and making dinner. I was panicked about being late for class and agitated that I would lose momentum with my work. My bad mood returned.

As I ran around like a crazy person, I stopped cold. What was I doing to myself? I was exhausted, and it was obvious that my stress (as well as my bad mood), was purely self-inflicted. I went back into the kitchen, patted everyone on the head again (including my husband), and sat down to have breakfast with him. Surprised, he asked, “No barre today?” “No,” I replied. “I’m going to stay home, relax, and get some work done.” He smiled and patted me on the head.

There are a lot of life’s lessons in this story. First, we have much more control over our mood than we think we do. All it takes is self-awareness and introspection to lower our stress levels and change the course of our day. Next, it’s important to laugh at ourselves and embrace our idiosyncrasies. Also, sometimes we need to pass on the barre, no matter how tempting it is. Finally,  everyone could use a pat on the head. And a belly rub. It’s good for the soul. Besides, it makes us laugh. Most of all, remember to seize the day, and take charge of your life.

Don’t Tell Me What To Do

Are you ever amazed that some people believe that they have the right to tell you what to do? To control what you say, do, think, or eat? Yes, I said eat.

I’m part of a group that meets twice a week for some pretty intensive physical and mental conditioning. It’s exhausting, especially since I have to drive an hour to get there and an hour home. But, it’s well worth the effort. After all, I don’t ever want to become complacent, or choose not to do something because it’s “too hard.” Besides, I love a challenge.

Those 2 days are long, exhausting, and depleting. If you don’t bring food to sustain you, you will die. Or at least pass out. Since there is no scheduled break, we step off of the mat anytime our blood sugar threatens to plummet. I always bring chicken, because it’s the only thing that keeps me going without making me feel sick.

After doing this for two years, last week I was informed that my chicken was no longer welcome in the building. I couldn’t eat it anymore because the smell of my chicken was offending the delicate senses of the vegans in the room. Huh.

They never even thought to consider that I might be offended by their 6-clove-garlic-seaweed-ginger-tofu curry. Or that they might want to think about using deodorant and occasionally washing their feet.

But I would never say that. Because I believe that we should live and let live, unless it is causing someone harm. I believe in free will choice. I believe in mutual respect and appreciation. Most of all, I believe this courtesy should be extended to one and all.

So, I will continue to bring my chicken. Because I can. Because I will. And because no one can tell me what to do. But the ninja in me sure would like to see them try.

Lunch Time, Brown Bags, and April Fools

When I was growing up, I never ate lunch in the school cafeteria. The first time I did eat in a school cafeteria was on my first day of college. It was pretty awful, and I had an even greater appreciation for the brown bag lunches that my Mom packed for me and my sisters every single morning.

In elementary school we walked home for lunch every day. But once we entered junior high, my sisters and I brought our lunch from home. Our mother would pack a sandwich, piece of fruit and a cookie and put them in the classic brown bag. Sometimes she would put a hard-boiled egg, left-over chicken, or anything else that was handy. Lunch was always predictable and reliable.

However, one day each year, our mother took a few liberties with our lunches. She had a great sense of humor, and loved a good joke. Every April Fool’s Day, the joke was on us. And in our lunch bags. Peanut butter sandwiches were laced with rubber bands. Two pieces of bread would hold a hand written note that said “April Fool’s!” On one occasion the note read, “This is not a piece of jumbo.” (Western Pennsylvania slang for bologna). One time the sandwich was a picture of a slice of jumbo. If there was an egg, we weren’t sure if it was hard-boiled or raw, until we cracked the shell.

She did it every year. We knew it was coming, although a few times we did forget about her favorite holiday. At least, until we opened our lunch bags. Oh, yes, it’s April Fool’s Day. I can imagine her at home, watching the clock so she knew which child was in lunch period, opening her special brown bag. As much as she loved her little joke, she would never let us go hungry. She always had an extra lunch for us sent with one of our friends. So, by the time we were in high school, our friends knew about Mom’s joke, and eagerly anticipated April Fool’s Day to see what she came up with this time.

So, on this April Fool’s Day, I celebrate my mother and her sense of humor. I raise a slice of bread slathered with peanut butter and laced with rubber bands to my mother’s memory. And to further honor her, I share with you the lessons I learned from her and those lunches. First of all, it’s important to have a sense of humor. It’s good for your health. It’s important to laugh often, and laugh hard. A good belly laugh is good for your spirit and has the added benefit of working your abs without doing crunches. It’s important to go along with a joke, even if you already know it’s coming, and you are on the receiving end. It’s even better to share the joke with friends. It teaches you not to take yourself too seriously.

One last thing…always have a back up plan, just in case your brown bag is full of rubber bands, raw eggs and April Fool’s. It’s good to be prepared for the unexpected.

 

The best of times and the worst of times….

Family vacations. You got to love them. They truly are the best of times and the worst of times. My husband and I went on a family vacation last week with my sister and her family. We rented a beach house on the Outer Banks of North Carolina, just like we did last year. We had such a great vacation experience last time, we spent the entire year looking forward to going back. To make our vacation even more special, my sister and her fiance were going to get married on the beach in a small, private ceremony.

The first three days were great, even though it rained. Not the cleansing, refreshing kind of rain, but torrential, unrelenting sheets of rain. That was okay, because we were together, enjoying each others’ company. When we weren’t getting on each others’ nerves, that is. Eventually we got plenty of quality time on the beach in the pouring rain. After all, the whole point of going to a beach is to get wet, and we managed to do that quite well.

The rain finally stopped and the sun came out on the day of the wedding. The wedding that my husband and I nearly missed because we had to take their dog to the vet two hours before the ceremony. The closest vet was 45 minutes away, without traffic. Bless the vet and his wonderful staff; they knew we were on a tight schedule and they had us in and out in less than 30 minutes. That gave us plenty of time to wipe the dog drool off of us and shake off the dog hair before the ceremony.

We cooked a lot of our meals and ate in, which worked out great. Except for the end of the week, when we decided to make the chicken we had bought on the first day. Apparently, the chicken was less than fresh, and the menfolk drove the 45 minutes down the road (in the opposite direction of the vet’s office), to avoid the risk of salmonella poisoning. Dinner was saved! All we had to do was put it in the crock pot on low heat for a nice, home cooked meal after a day on the beach. Too bad we forgot to plug it in. Ah, well.

On the last day we went paddle boarding. It was a lot of hard work, but it sure was fun, and even very peaceful. As a matter of fact, it was so peaceful that we didn’t notice that we were slowly being swept out to sea. It took over 3 long hours to swim it in, dragging the boards behind us. I discovered I was in much better shape than I thought.                                                                                          

All things considered, we had a wonderful time. It was a fantastic family vacation, and full of the stuff that legends are made of. When we said our good byes and headed our separate ways, it was with some trepidation that my sister asked if we were up for joining them for vacation next year. I looked at her in amazement. I answered “Are you kidding? And miss out on all of this? No way!” I’m already looking forward to next year, and another great family vacation!

 

Brown bag, lunch time, and April Fool’s.

When I was growing up, I never ate lunch in the school cafeteria. The first time I did eat in a school cafeteria was on my first day of college. It was pretty awful, and I had an even greater appreciation for the brown bag lunches that my Mom packed for me and my sisters every single morning.

In elementary school we walked home for lunch every day. But once we entered junior high, my sisters and I brought our lunch from home. Our mother would pack a sandwich, piece of fruit and a cookie and put them in the classic brown bag. Sometimes she would put a hard-boiled egg, left-over chicken, or anything else that was handy. Lunch was always predictable and reliable.

However, one day each year, our mother took a few liberties with our lunches. She had a great sense of humor, and loved a good joke. Every April Fool’s Day, the joke was on us. And in our lunch bags. Peanut butter sandwiches were laced with rubber bands. Two pieces of bread would hold a hand written note that said “April Fool!” On one occasion the note read, “This is not a piece of jumbo.” (Western Pennsylvania slang for bologna). One time the sandwich was a picture of a slice of jumbo. If there was an egg, we weren’t sure if it was hard-boiled or raw, until we cracked the shell.

She did it every year. Every year we knew she would do it, although a few times we did forget about her favorite holiday. At least, until we opened our lunch bags. Oh, yes, it’s April Fool’s Day. I can imagine her at home, watching the clock so she knew which child was in lunch period, opening her special brown bag. As much as she loved her little joke, she would never let us go hungry. She always had an extra lunch for us sent with one of our friends. So, by the time we were in high school, our friends knew about Mom’s joke, and eagerly anticipated April Fool’s Day to see what she came up with this time.

So, on this April Fool’s Day, I celebrate my mother and her sense of humor. I raise a slice of bread slathered with peanut butter and laced with rubber bands to my mother’s memory. And to further honor her, I share with you the lessons I learned from her and those lunches. First of all, it’s important to have a sense of humor. It’s good for your health. It’s important to laugh often, and laugh hard. A good belly laugh is good for your spirit and has the added benefit of working your abs without doing crunches. It’s important to go along with a joke, even if you already know it’s coming, and you are on the receiving end. It’s even better to share the joke with friends. It teaches you not to take yourself too seriously.

One last thing….always have a back up plan, just in case your brown bag is full of rubber bands, raw eggs and April Fool’s. It’s good to be prepared for the unexpected.

Be healthy!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP