Monday, September 26, 2011

Chicken Salad Heaven

After experiencing some difficulties trying to get into the football game on Saturday evening I instead decided to stay home and get my life together for the evening so I could get up Sunday and get on track with school work. This turned out to be a wise decision as I got sucked into cleaning my personal email and filtering through my Pinterest account.

I've been eating Lean Cuisines and Healthy Choice meals like it's going out of style, and quite frankly for me it is. I'm over eating frozen things--and really over so much pasta. What's the deal with these two needing to plug so many carbs into all of their meals? For someone who isn't the biggest fan of pasta (and getting sick of frozen meal) I decided to embark on a new journey for the school year. Preparing my own food...what an original idea right?

Recently becoming even more obsessed with Hungry Girl I decided to pick a few recipes to cook for the week, and even freeze some for later. Back to the freezer...but at least frozen fresh food I cooked is a little better?

The first one I decided on was the Totally Nuts Creamy Chicken Salad Sandwich. I'm a HUGE fan of chicken salad, but hate that adding "salad" to any food means stacking up on the calories. This recipe was modeled as a healthier version of Arby's Chicken Salad Sandwich which has 840 calories--yikes!

I set off to make this dish which was quite easy, though I made a few adjustments...

Using the George Foreman was a great way to quickly cook the chicken making it tender enough to shred apart

 I prefer walnuts, and didn't want to spend $4 on a bag of pecans when I already had something similar in the pantry

The fat-free mayo worked well (I didn't add the garlic powder) but I'm intrigued to make this next time with plain greek yogurt. I've heard it can be a great substitute for chicken salad!


Overall I really enjoyed this recipe. I ate it on a sandwich for lunch after letting it chill in the fridge for a few hours. While it was good in sandwich form, pieces of the salad were falling off everywhere. If I ate it as sandwich again I would try to use a whole wheat pita pocket. I brought it for lunch today at work in a container and then ate the salad with Wheat Thins--this was great! I could still really get the flavor of all of the ingredients without so much bread in the way.

For those of you with busy schedules this was so easy to whip up and will probably keep for the duration of the week. You can access the recipe in the link above, but I'll provide here for convenience as well...enjoy!

1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/8 tsp. garlic powder (I omitted)
1/8 tsp. salt
4 oz. cooked and chopped skinless lean chicken breast
1/4 cup halved red seedless grapes
1/4 cup chopped apple
2 tbsp. chopped celery
1 1/2 tbsp. chopped pecans (I switched to walnuts)
4 slices light bread, honey-wheat flavor if available
2 large lettuce leaves (I omitted)

Place mayo, garlic powder, and salt in a large bowl; mix well. Add chicken and stir to coat. Add grapes, apple, celery, and pecans; stir well and set aside.

To make each sandwich, lightly toast bread slices (if you like). Lay out 1 bread slice and top with a lettuce leaf. Evenly place half of the chicken salad (about 3/4 cup) over the lettuce. Top with the other bread slice.

Repeat with remaining bread, lettuce, and chicken salad to make the second sandwich. (Or cover and refrigerate the remaining chicken salad, and assemble that sandwich another day.)


Serving Size: 1 sandwich (half of recipe)
Calories: 254
Fat: 7g
Sodium: 923mg
Carbs: 34g
Fiber: 6.5g
Sugars: 11g
Protein: 20g 
® value 7* 

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Teaching Is a Labor of Love

I've disappeared again and sincerely apologize. While blogging and reflecting on my thoughts is something really important to me I have not placed it high on my list of priorities with so many things on my plate this semester. Rather than my early morning or late night thoughts being crafted into blog posts I have been taking more time to sleep or actually reading my school books. Fancy that!

One of the additional things I'm doing this fall is co-instructing a University 101 freshman seminar course with a professional staff member on campus. It's a three-credit college level course that pro-longs orientation for students, connects them with resources on campus and assists them in transitioning in a way to make them successful students here at USC. It has been an absolutely amazing experience so far but I did not realize just how much work would go into it.

My mother has taught for just about thirty years and growing up I definitely saw how much effort was put into planning lessons. I was confused of why someone would need to do so much planning when they had taught kindergarten for 20+ years, but I now understand. Every year is different. Every class is different. Every student is different. Material changes. One way will not always work for different groups of people. Now I also see my boyfriend who is a high school teacher and additionally coaches three sports. Seeing the amount of dedication, time and effort  he puts in to make high school seniors excited about economics is admirable. Hearing stories of the students he's influenced is even more heart-warming.

Where I'm going with all of this is that I am enrolled in an "Intro to College Teaching" course to supplement my U101 teaching experience. It's a small group seminar design where we discuss what's going great in our classes and what we have challenges with. We're constantly learning about ways to facilitate, hold discussions, and engage our students. Yesterday our professor, Dr. Jenny Boom, shared a blog post with us written by Louis Schmier who teaches in the Department of History at Valdosta State University.

Reading this piece I connected with every word. Every late night I have stayed up preparing for 8:00 am U101 class (it's as brutal for me as it is for the students!) and every worry I've had for my student's learning and success is natural and a necessary part of teaching that is not always evident to students or outsiders. Knowing that many of my friends and followers are connected to education in some way I wanted to share.

This post is long so I have just copied the first two paragraphs, but please feel free to visit his blog to read the rest of this post. Enjoy!

"I haven’t been in the mood to share any thoughts lately. But, yesterday I was at a joyous Bar Mitzvah party and got into a conversation with an out-of-town guest from New York about the economy. In the course of our exchange, I mentioned that Georgia teachers were being furloughed. Her passing but revealing response placed teachers in the derisive category of “overpaid ‘burger flippers’ who have it so easy and don’t do all that much anyway.” She didn’t know me, and in deference to the occasion, I let the comment pass. But, not now. On this Labor Day, when we honor work, when we officially respect and revere working people, when we relax from work, I want to say that teaching requires a lot of work; it demands the intense and lasting “sweat equity” of devotion, passion, compassion, conviction, commitment, persistence, endurance, and perseverance. Contrary to this woman’s views that unfortunately is held by too many both inside and outside academia who far too often treat teachers as rank amateurs or unskilled doofuses, teaching is not an unskilled job; it’s not something you do when you can’t do anything else; it’s not a walk in the part; it’s not a piece of cake; it’s not a 9 to 5 job fraught with overwhelming amounts of vacation time; it’s not merely talking; it’s not something you can do in your sleep; it’s not something anyone can do. 

Teaching takes intense love; it’s about falling in love and staying in love with public service; it’s about staying in love consistently and unconditionally with each and every student. Teaching is about deep and acute awareness and otherness. Teaching is always about getting great things done for others, not about getting credit for yourself. Always. It’s always about each of those students, about challenging their habits, about stretching their imagination, about helping them reach for their potential. Always. It’s never about any of us academics, never about enlarging both our resume and renown. Never."

-Louis Schmier