A Favorite Recipe: Light Chicken Salad (no mayo!)

light chicken salad made with greek yogurt

Chicken salad is one of my go to comfort foods. It’s light yet filling and goes well on a salad, on bread, or in a wrap. Easy for picnics, road trips, or a packed work lunch.

My favorite store-bought chicken salad is Trader Joe’s wine country chicken salad with cranberries and pecans. I could eat an entire container in one sitting, it’s that good. But at 11 grams of fat per serving I only allowed myself to purchase it as a special treat.

Over the past year I’ve mastered a lighter version of my favorite chicken salad. What is the secret?Fat free greek yogurt!

light chicken salad

By simply replacing yucky processed mayonnaise with greek yogurt you save your waistline for a whole lot of damage and also increase your protein and probiotics intake. The greek yogurt offers the same texture and tangy taste as the mayo but cuts the calories and fat into half!

The recipe below makes enough to feed Ryan and I for lunch for three days. You’re going to love it and will never want full fat mayo chicken salad again.

Ingredients:

  • 1 full rotisserie chicken cut into small pieces
  • 3/4 cup greek yogurt (adjust to your liking. Recipe is fine with more or less)
  • 1 cup diced celery (I like a lot of celery)
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup craisens
  • 2 tbsp of honey
  • 1 tbsp stevia (or other natural sweetener)
  • 1 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tsp salt

Mix all ingredients thoroughly. Enjoy chilled on a salad, wrap, crackers, or bread. Happy taste buds and no guilt!

greek yogurt chicken salad

xoxo Katie

In Defense of the English Major

  in defense of the english major, Katie a beautiful little adventure

I was an English major in college. No, I was never a teacher, nor did I have any great works published. I simply love to read, analyze, think about, discuss, and write about literature. Being an English major forced me to think critically and abstractly on a daily basis – uncovering themes and tropes as well as applying these thought processes to myself and the world around me.

We English majors get a lot of flak. During college the first response when I informed people what I was majoring in was, “What are going to do with that?” or “That sounds like a  waste of money.” Now, 9 years later, people still ask, “Are you actually using your English degree?”, “Was your degree a waste?”, or “You’re writing, but are you getting paid?”. It’s very rude!

I chose to study literature and still love it today because literature is a study of life in all its greatest forms. You get to experience life through the eyes of the greats from all time periods and doing so heightened my awareness of the human experience.

Additionally, it has broadened my perspective and has helped me become self-aware. I know I drive Ryan and my friends crazy by over analyzing every word, every moment, and every episode of Mad Men (or even  things like pop song lyrics and The Walking Dead). I can’t shake it, it’s part of who I am.

Being an English Major not only primed me to think differently about the world – it has also provided me with valuable tools to use in the workforce. Yes, it took a couple of years to figure out how to hone these skills and use them to my advantage. I couldn’t tell you how many interviews I went to where people stared dumbly at my resume, “so…English major eh?”.

Yet, I feel the my major has allowed me to possess and master certain skills sets that make me a desirable employee in many fields.  Skills like critical thinking, analytical thinking, writing skills, interpersonal skills, synthetic thinking, lateral thinking, creativity and most importantly communication skills. If you can communicate with varying audiences effectively, you can do pretty much anything.

But my choice to be an English major had nothing to do with the skills it would equip me with for the post-graduate job force. As a bright-eyed 18-year-old, I didn’t even consider those skills. I decided to be an English major because I loved to read. Reading allowed me to become other people, to see the world through the eyes of Bronte, Hemingway, Yeats, Milton, and Joyce. It wasn’t a form of escape, it was a way to live a life outside of my own. To experience the world and meet new people outside of my small college campus.

With each piece of literature I was invited to question our society, examine our culture, and analyze the world we occupy. I learned to step behind the lens of varying perspectives and to stretch my mind while nurturing my own opinions and spirit. By doing so I became more part of the world; more human.

People may ask, “So? Why would you become an English major? Why is that so important? How does that make you valuable to the future and the workforce?”

My reply?

Can you imagine a world without literature?A world without stories, letters, poems, plays, movies, song lyrics?

What would be the purpose to life? To simply work, produce products, sell, consume, and die? That would be proposing a life without art, a life without symbolism, a life without humanity.

Civilization is built upon stories and texts and analysis of history. We learn from the past and history is written and told; why else is it called history? From these stories we learn to endure and to grow and to live.

Our existence is meant for more than simply working and producing in order to survive. We are born to create and to enjoy and to share.

I believe all students can mutually agree that they learned more about life than about earning a living during their four years at college. I am fully in support of English Majors.  I can’t think of any better major to personally equip me both mentally and spiritually for my tenure as a human on earth.
xoxo Katie

Do What You Want To

Last week defeated me in more than one way. I felt drained, stressed, anxious, and like I had no extra room for happiness in my brain. My happiness and spirtuality didn’t seem like a priority.

On Sunday morning, my husband Ryan, who had an equally grueling week, said, “I know you want to rush out the door, but just take 16 minutes to watch this video with me. It’s important.” The video opened my eyes.

I curled up in bed with Ryan and was introduced to SloMo, the eccentric 70-year old who can be found performing a type of Tai Chi on roller blades while blasting classical music in San Diego nearly every day. The 16 minute video about SloMo instantly changed my perspective and I found myself re centered and awake. Ready to live.

At first glance, SloMo appears to either be a crazy homeless man or a mentally handicapped person aimlessly skating along the boardwalk. But oh was I quickly reminded to not judge a book by its cover! SloMo is John Kitchin, a retired neurologist who abruptly gave up his career in medicine and moved to a studio near the beach to live out what he loves doing most, skating in slow motion on the boardwalk.

Before he transformed into SlowMo, John Kitchin lived an all too ordinary life, one that was overworked, over scheduled, and obsessed with money and material objects. He was lost and unhappy and  had turned into a self-proclaimed “asshole”. One day while working at the hospital, Dr. Kitchin met a 93-year old man who was relatively youthful and was smiling.

Dr. Kitchen asked him what his secret to living such a long life.

His response? “Do what you want to”.

Twenty years later a lost and unhappy Kitchin gave his life a hard look. He was living by society’s rules that hard work, making money, and buying nice things will make your life complete. Here he was depressed and frustrated – living a life that was 90% about money and only 10% about spirituality. He was ready for a change.

At this time he also began to start seeing things a little fuzzy. Faces were beginning to be a little out of focus for him. He made a spastic decision to quit his former life as a capitalist and live a life doing what makes him happy.

Fast forward to his life living in a studio apartment on the beach, living out his day creating art and music and smiling and high fiving passersby as he happily skates toward the horizon for hours a day. He’s made his own rules. He has discovered that his one-legged way of slow motion skating provides a way for him to experience a sort of religious ecstasy and a connection with himself, calling it The Zone.

At first he thought this was all connected with his mental breakdown and he was going to continue to lose sight of himself and deteriorate until it killed him. Seven years later he has never felt more connected, happy, or centered. “Do What You Want To” has become is mantra for living.

Is he on to something? Decide for yourself. Believe me, it’s worth the sixteen minutes of your day:

SloMo has reminded me to slow things down. Forget the rules that others are making for you and make your own. Simplify your needs. Find what makes you happy. Reframe your life. Do what makes you happy a little bit each and every day. I will like my life depends on it, because it does.

xoxo Katie

Life is Begging Me…

the color purple“I think it pisses God off if you walk by the color purple in a field somewhere and don’t notice it. People think pleasing God is all God cares about. But any fool living in the world can see it always trying to please us back.”  – Alice Walker, The Color Purple

I once heard that you can only live a successful life if you only allow yourself 3 main priorities. This week, my business and personal life chose them for me, leaving my writing and blog on the sidelines. I’m taking some time off from the blog this week. I’ll be back next week.

Be sure to notice and admire all that is going on in your world, the good, the bad, and the ugly. I was reminded this morning that I’m in control of the beauty and when you find it, it’s blatantly clear that this world was made for love.

xoxo Katie

 

8 Ways to Motivate Yourself To Workout (when you really don’t want to)

8 ways to motivate yourself to workout

I try to exercise around 4-5 times a week, whether it be a run, a fast walk, or body pump or cardio class. I consider working out one of my top hobbies – I love the endorphins, I consider taking care of my body and brain a top priority in my life, and it’s a major stress reliever for me. Let’s also not forget that I have to balance out my intense love for ice cream, cheese, and carbs.

Yet, there are many days when the last thing I want to do is drag myself to the gym and workout for 60 minutes. I want to go home and just crash or be lazy.

exhausted-gif-1

I’m the queen of making up a million reasons why I shouldn’t go. It’s raining. I’m hungry. I should do laundry. I have cramps. I had a long day. It’s going to be too crowded. I will after I take a nap. I deserve a day off. I want ice cream.

I need a routine and I need motivation.

Here are my top ways of keeping myself motivated to work out, when I really really won’t want to.

1. Tell Yourself You’re Only Going to Workout for 15 Minutes

They say that 80% of success is simply showing up. As soon as I start a work out I almost instantly get into the “groove”. So by telling myself I’m only going to walk for 10 -15 minutes,  barely even pushing myself, I get myself started. My body starts to wake up after about 5 minutes and soon enough I  find myself running at full speed and nearing the end of a 45 minutes workout. I’ve never ever regretted a workout.

2. Reward Yourself

Set up small and instant rewards for yourself. For example, I tell myself that I can have uninterrupted couch time and binge on my favorite TV shows the evening after a work out. Maybe a long and relaxing bubble bath, a night free of chores,  or a bowl of your favorite snack is an incentive for you.

3. Bring a Buddy

A work out buddy holds you accountable and makes going to the gym seem like more of a social activity. Help each other, push each other. Make it fun!

4. Give Yourself A Results Goal

Print out a picture of a new dress or bathing suit you’d like to buy for the summer. Make the destination of you summer vacation the wall paper of your phone or work computer. Look at photos of you in a healthier state. Visualizations of goals I want to meet help me realize that they are in the near future – meaning I better get my butt in gear sooner rather than later!

5.  Put Out You Gym Clothes The Night Before (or wear them all day!)

If you go to the gym after work, pack your gym bag and put it in your car the night before. Or, if you can, wear a part of your work out gear to work. I’ve been known to wear my sports bra under my work day sweater or top (I work in a very casual office though). If you’re a morning exerciser lie out your work out clothes right next to your bed so you can’t miss them. Better yet, if you need a real push,  sleep in them!

6. Remember How Good You’ll Feel When You’re Done

As I said above, I never ever regret a work out once I complete one. Try to visualize how amazing you’re going to feel after your run. Those endorphins are game changers! If I’m tired – I wake up. If I have cramps or fatigued feelings – working out always improves them. If I’m feeling depressed or anxious working out helps resolve some of those issues. Oh and that sweet burn, toxin release, and feeling of accomplishment! Can’t beat it!

7. Stay Positive. Smile

This may sound obvious, or even a little cheesy, but nothing will kill your motivation like a negative attitude. I find that if I make a firm intent in the morning to work out after work and smile while thinking about following through with it, I’m much more likely to end up working out. By the way, smiling helps me when I’m actually in the middle of a run or a body pump class as well. When I feel like I can’t push anymore, I break out in a big smile and it helps to open up my brain a little. (Remember mind over matter) Try it.

To help you smile here is a totally weird gif of poodles and “she poodle” doing aerobics:

workout poodles silly weird

8. Think About The Money Being Wasted

Think of the money you are wasting by underutilizing your gym membership. I pay a monthly fee for my gym membership but I like to look at it as a per day charge.  My husband and I pay $72 a month – which comes down to $2.32 a day. If I don’t go for 5 days in a row – that’s wasting $11.60. I would never just throw out $11.60 on anything, or even $2.32. You’re paying for it, use it!

What motivates you to keep up with your workout routine?

xoxo Katie