A few weeks ago, I hinted at the idea of getting backyard chickens to have fresh eggs. Well, it has happened! And, today our backyard chickens have been with us for one week. What a week it has been. I have learned so much from those three little chickens. My interactions with them have introduced to me new ways to be creative, examples of purposeful living, and I have gained a new perspective on healthy living. Today, you are going to read about seven lessons about healthy living from backyard chickens. Continue reading Seven lessons on healthy living from backyard chickens→
I’m going to share a secret about one of the most productive ways you can get the latest news and information: listen to audiocasts. Why? Because you can do other tasks while listening, you can access the content easily if you have a smartphone, and it prevents you from reading from a screen. Continue reading How to be Productive→
It’s a rainy day (welcome to spring), and you aren’t quite sure what to do with yourself or (if you have them) with your kids. Here are 15 ideas for a rainy day.
Ideas for a rainy day: Get creative
Turn off the TV. Some folks turn to the TV when they are faced with a “stay inside” kind of day. My advice? Give up the TV – even if it’s just for that afternoon.
Learn a new song. If you play an instrument, take the time to perfect a song. If you don’t play, learn the lyrics of a new song or even try a new dance. If anything, turn on Pandora in the background – music can bring more joy to the most mundane activity.
Try a new craft. That can be something as simple as coloring (for adults and kids), or as complex as a new sewing project. A quick trip to the craft store presents endless possibilities.
Forage for usable trash. Not interested in leaving the house? Never fear! Forage through your house for usable trash. Kids love this activity. You will be amazed at the games that come from a few toilet paper rolls, a box, some string, an egg carton, and a pile dried elbow macaroni. As an adult, try covering an old shoe box with fabric or leather to create an expensive-looking container. Or, create a mosaic from broken dishes, shells, or tile.
Ideas for a rainy day: Be productive
Eat that frog. In my post to help you stop procrastinating, I talk about “eating the frog.” What does that mean? Tackle your “frogs,” those ugly items that haunt your to-do list, first thing. 1 How can you tell a task is a frog? Maybe the task that has been sitting in your queue for over a week, or you have danced around this task by completing related tasks.
Grocery shop on the budget. Take the afternoon to buy affordable groceries. And, if you follow my tips, you’ll also be buying healthful food. It might not be the most glamorous activity, but it will set you up for success throughout the week.
Do some spring cleaning. This might be the perfect time to clear out and clean up that fridge, the pantry, or the closet. Just a reminder to use green household cleaners for your health and your wallet!
Focus on Joy. Lift your spirits by practicing gratitude, brightening your thoughts, and observing the world around you. Check out my post on how to bring more joy to your day.
Ideas for a rainy day: Enjoy relaxation
Journal. Taking the time to jot down your thoughts in a journal can be (in my experience) the key to creative productivity. For me, the act of taking a pencil to a blank page opens up endless possibilities in my mind. Sometimes when I journal, I write about my day. Sometimes, I compose my to-do list. Sometimes, I sketch a drawing. A journal is a judgement-free zone.
Practice Yoga. A rainy day doesn’t mean you can’t be active! Yoga can be a relaxing exercise that not only helps you physically, but also can give you emotional space. Here’s what happened to be when I practiced yoga every day for two weeks . And, yes, you can do this with kids – try the kid’s yoga deck to start.
Read. What a luxury it can be to pick up a book and read quietly. If you have kids, this is a great time to choose a classic story and act out the voices the characters as you read. If you are by yourself, this might be a good opportunity to develop your knowledge of holistic health and wellness. Snuggle up in your favorite chair with a cup of tea and enjoy!
Ideas for a rainy day: Focus on health and wellness
Cook a bunch of healthy food. I tend to make meals “in bulk” once every 6-8 weeks. These meals sit in serving-size portions in my freezer, ready to be warmed up for a quick lunch at work or a simple dinner at home. Here’s how to get started cooking in bulk.
Enjoy spring veggies. What an amazing time to enjoy butter lettuce, tender asparagus, spicy radishes, and sweet young carrots. Here are some ways to prepare spring veggies.
Practice Gratitude. It’s amazing how good you can feel if you let yourself look out the window, daydream a little, and feel thankful for your life. Take a minute to observe those little things. Then, write a thank you note to someone in your life for whom you feel thankful. You can get the kids involved here too!
And now… (drum roll please) the most popular articles of 2016! From talking about good mornings, to packing healthy lunches, to making the most of business travel, these are the articles you read the most this year. Continue reading Nine Most Popular Articles of 2016→
Today, let’s talk about one strategy that can save you time in the kitchen without making you sacrifice a healthful, home cooked meal: The Roast Chicken. Roast chicken is my key to a better week. After I roast a chicken, I get about two cups of leftover chopped chicken, plus – I get a bonus because I use the bones to make homemade broth!
When I roast a chicken over the weekend, the leftovers from the roast are used in lunches and dinners for the week. This cuts my weekday cooking time, and also gives me ample opportunity to get more creative with my meals. For example, this week, I used leftover chicken in a casserole and in a chicken salad. Leftovers from this one roast chicken covered our lunches for the week and most of our dinners!
Here are ten ways to use leftover roast chicken:
1. Chicken casserole (I make mine with pesto, chicken stock, brown rice, frozen chopped broccoli and frozen artichokes)
2. Chicken enchiladas
3. Chicken salad (I make a no-mayo lemon poppyseed chicken salad or a Mediterranean Chicken Salad)
4. Chicken soup
5. Tortilla soup
6. Chicken stir fry
7. Chicken chili
8. Baked ziti with chicken
9. Chicken and dumplings
10. Pizza with chicken and pesto
Now, some of you may not want to roast a chicken, and instead opt to get a rotisserie chicken. While I think that is ok to do in a pinch, rotisserie chicken can come with a lot of extra sodium. Instead, I keep it simple. Prepping a roast chicken doesn’t take too much time, and you can do other things around the house while you wait for your chicken to roast.
Here’s how to cook a roast chicken:
1. Choose an organic chicken from the grocery (Why organic? see why by visiting my post about sustainable food).
2. Clean your sink and surrounding countertops using green cleaners.
3. Cut a small orange into quarters and place it next to the sink.
4. Fill a ramekin with a teaspoon each of black pepper, dried thyme and rosemary and place the mix next to the sink.
5. Put a roasting pan next to the sink too, and set your oven to 350 degrees fahrenheit.
6. Open the roast chicken packaging in the sink and let all the juices run down the drain.
7. Run water over and through your chicken. If there are giblets (these are the organs packed in the chicken cavity), take those out. I usually throw them away, but some people use it to make sauce or gravy.
8. Place your rinsed chicken on a roasting pan.
9. Fill the chicken cavity with slices of orange (lemon works well too!).
10. Sprinkle herbs on and in your chicken until the top, sides, and bottom of your chicken are covered.
11. Place your chicken in the preheated oven
12. Clean your sink and counter tops while the chicken is cooking.
13. After your chicken has cooked for an appropriate time (about 90 minutes – you can see when the chicken’s juices are running clear), use a meat thermometer to make sure the chicken has an internal temperature of at least 165 degrees fahrenheit. To do this, check the internal temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. (see chicken from farm to table for more information about food safety and chicken)
14. Let your chicken rest for 10 minutes, carve, and then enjoy!
On this blog, I want to present creative ideas to make you more productive. And, one way to do that is to offer you strategies that will give you more time. If you want to eat healthfully on a budget, most of the time you have to cook at home. But, this takes up so much time! By roasting a chicken on the weekend, you can use the leftovers in many different ways to make delicious, healthful meals that won’t stretch your budget.
So tell us: How do you use leftover roast chicken?
13 things to do when you are bored and are traveling to your next summer destination
Wondering what to do when you stuck in the car, on a train, on an airplane, in a car, or anywhere you are made to sit and wait? Then this post is for you. If you are doing any travel this summer, see these 13 things to do while you sit and wait to get to your next destination.
About a year ago, I started reading about why we should practice gratitude. So, I started a gratitude vase in my bedroom. I set out colorful markers, a stack of small papers, and an empty glass vase on a shelf. Each night, I spent 5 minutes (well, it was more like 3 minutes at first) writing down three things for which I was grateful. Soon, the vase was full of colorful slips of paper, and I had to add an extra vase to hold all the gratitude. Continue reading Ten reasons to practice gratitude→
This Saturday (around lunchtime), I desperately needed a fridge cleanup. We had veggies in the refrigerator that I knew would not last the entire week, and we also had bits of leftovers from dinners this last week. For example, my spouse and I had grilled up some chicken and eggplant earlier in the week, but there simply wasn’t much left for us to split.
I thought—you know what? I’ll throw some Mediterranean veggies in with these two base ingredients. The resulting salad not only ended up being delicious, but these leftovers transformed into two pretty satisfying salads for a Saturday lunch.
Here’s what I did. I looked through the fridge. We had a little bit of salad mix, a cucumber, tomatoes, leftover grilled chicken (like a ¾ of a breast), and some grilled eggplant. I also found some Kalamata olives, almond slivers, basil, raisins, olive oil, and balsamic vinegar in my pantry. These ingredients make a really nice, mayo-free chicken salad!
A quick note: this became a “chicken” salad, but really the stars of the salad were the veggies. Their flavors really brought out the Mediterranean feel of the dish. You don’t need that much meat to enjoy lunch—a little can go a long way if you add flavorful veggies.
First, I took the sliced almonds and started slowly roasting them in my toaster oven at 250 degrees.
While the almonds were toasting, I chopped up the veggies and chicken into bite-sized pieces. This made the salad more interesting and fun when each bite has a little bit of a different flavor. Once the veggies were chopped, I turned off the toaster oven (my almonds were a light golden brown).
Then, I whisked together my simple dressing ingredients: olive oil and balsamic vinegar.
I moved all of the chopped ingredients in a mixing bowl and gently mixed with a big wooden spoon. Then, I added the dressing to the mixture. I topped it with those crunchy, toasted almond slivers and chopped basil.
Then, I put the little bit of salad greens I had left in the fridge to the bottom of a salad bowl. I topped the greens with the veggies (tossed in dressing) and added this mixture to it to some salad mix. Here’s what it ended up looking like:
Cleanup (also very important on a busy Saturday) was minimal. I just sprayed the area with a homemade green cleaner, and loaded the rest of the dishes in the dishwasher. And, I got a two-fer out of this salad—it helped me clean out the fridge without having to throw food away!
Here’s the final recipe:
For the salad: ¼ cup Kalamata olives
½ cup grilled eggplant, chopped into ½ inch chunks
1 cup chopped chicken
1 medium cucumber, sliced into quarters
¼ cup sliced almonds, toasted at 250 degrees for 5-7 minutes or until golden brown
1 tablespoon basil, chopped
¼ cup raisins
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
For the dressing: ¼ cup balsamic vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
Mix all salad ingredients together in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, whisk the balsamic vinegar and olive oil together. Add the dressing to the medium mixing bowl.
In a salad bowl, add greens. Top greens with the chicken salad mixture and enjoy!
Have you ever made the best of a fridge cleanup? Let me know by commenting below! And, try this salad and let me know what you think!
Healthy snacks can keep your creativity and productivity going throughout the day. For those of you with kids to feed (and those of you with an inner kid to feed), this post is choc-full of yummy, packable snack ideas for back-to-school season. Check out these 15 ideas, organized by craving.