Nursing: I Didn’t Choose it Because it Was Easy

As a nurse, there are weeks of work where I don’t sit longer than to quickly shove down my lunch down and to speedily chart. There are times I end a day with my legs aching and barely the strength lift  open my eyes and all I can think is “my brain hurts.” But even in those moments, I can sit and say I love what I do. I didn’t choose it because it was easy, I chose it because I care.

Oncology Nurse

I’ve written about my job often, about how it isn’t easy and why I love it. This isn’t anything new. But every day I discover something new about why I love what I do. I love that my friends have different interests and passions. Hearing about what other people do for their jobs is one of my favorite things. We were all created differently and with a separate purpose. Even within my field there are many different types of oncology nurses and I get to learn how to be a better nurse through each of them.

There is one thing that is in common though with each oncology nurse I know. They care and they care deeply.

I don’t know what your passions are. I don’t know if like me you are a nurse or if you like economics or if you get how computers work from the inside out or if you create the most beautiful things. But I hope you love what you do. Or have something in your life that you love what you get to do there.

I can say even in the toughest moments of my life when I know I’m hugging that young mom for the last time or I’m speaking to the family member as they look at me and ask me if their loved one is dying I love what I do. Because I know without a doubt I was created to do this.

 

Note: this post was originally published on November 10, 2014.

#Chase2015: A Season of Change

Over the past few weeks, I’ve made many decisions to change the way I live, or had been living. It’s not that I was extremely unhealthy, but I was making unhealthy decisions that were wreaking havoc on the state of my brain, body, and heart. I have a stressful career (as many careers are), but in many fields of nursing, from the time you walk in to the time you leave you are moving.  You’re moving both body and mind and have to be on your A-game at all times. Human lives aren’t something to mess around with. As a result, I have to be very conscious and careful of the decisions I make both inside and outside of work to stay healthy.

One of the biggest changes I’ve made in the last month is going gluten-free. I’ve had many physicians suggest at least trying it, but I was insistent corn was enough and that I was fine with gluten. I even thought that there was no way I would have all the symptoms they say happen when you take gluten out. Well, about 24 hours in to being gluten-free, it was clear I was wrong – others were right. I was severely fatigued, extremely pale, itching everywhere, and just felt miserable. This lasted for about a week, and then all the sudden I felt the better. A month into it I feel the best I’ve felt in years. I feel like myself again. Even if I am one of the people who can’t tolerate gluten, I still don’t think that gluten-free is for everyone, but it is for me, at least for now.

Beyond going gluten-free, here is my list of things I’m focusing on to round out the end of 2015 the healthiest me I can be:

1. Taking a day of rest

As a Christian, the Sabbath is taught, but many years into my faith I am just beginning to understand how truly a day of rest is important. This doesn’t mean sitting on the couch all day, but it means doing things that give life to me and making sure I do rest properly on this day.

2. Stretching

I’m great about walking and good about exercising, I’m awful at stretching. In the last few weeks since making a point to stretch. I can’t explain the difference it has made, but it is wonderful.

3.  Saying “No”

It took me a long time to learn there is such a thing as saying no to good things. Letting go of people pleasing and truly asking the questions… Is this going to stress me out to an unhealthy level? Will this fill me up? Is this an absolute must? Choosing to make my yeses full good yeses and saying no even when it’s hard. It is okay to say no because you need a night at home. It is okay to say no because you have errands to do. It is okay to not do everything.

4. Going technology-free

It isn’t an always thing, but I want at least an hour out of my day to be technology free. Whether this is reading, walking without my phone, cooking… whatever it is, take time away from technology and social media. I’m hoping to continue to increase this time, especially on weekends. We don’t know the long term effects of technology, but we are starting to see some short term effects and some aren’t pretty.

5. 10,000 steps

I got my fitbit in April and it has been  a great tool. I notice such a change in my energy when I keep up my fitness level. A minimum of 10,000 steps 6/7 days a week is my goal. An attainable, challenging goal that helps to keep me healthy.

6. Daring to Dream

This is the most important to me. Somewhere along the way after bad relationships and failed dreams, I left dreaming behind. But the truth is, the heart needs to dream. The heart needs to acknowledge what it is it desires to do most. So I’m taking the chance to dream again, and not just dream, but dream big.

Some of these steps are harder than others, but they are all beneficial. As I sit here after truly putting these into practice for the last few weeks I feel great. I feel rested, I feel healthy, and I feel like myself. You can’t always control you health issues or diseases, but you can make the decisions to live the healthiest you can at that moment. It isn’t fun at every restaurant having to list of allergies and intolerance, but being up all night itching from hives and being extremely fatigued the next day is far worse. Choose to be healthy. Choose to chase out the end of 2015 as the healthiest you there can be right now.

Anchor Drop Chooses to Live Healthy

I don’t know about you, but summer seems to have come and gone and with the busyness there were plenty of bad habits acquired. We as a team at Anchor Drop have decided to shake some bad habits and pick up some healthier habits this fall and we are excited to share this journey with you. Some of us are making diet changes, while others are making changes in schedule, others are choosing to be more active, and others are choosing to make more time for themselves. Any combination can help each of us to be healthier and happier individuals.

 

Travel with us

One of our favorite things about the AD team is that we are all at very different periods in life, but we can all relate and do life together. We encourage you as we share our changes and journeys towards healthier lives for you to share your journeys with us.

Living healthier is something that is a daily decision. No one will be perfect every single day, and we all need cheat days. Some of us don’t need to work on our diet, but do need to work on our schedules. Others are doing really well at making time for themselves, but they aren’t being as active as they should to reap the health benefits.

So wherever you are, and whatever health changes you are choosing to strive for, we encourage you to journey with us.  We can all take steps to being healthier one day at a time as we chase out the end of 2015!

Basil and Parsley Pesto Chicken Bake

I don’t know about you guys, but my basil plant is booming, and I love it! So coming up with all the recipes I can to use the deliciousness that is fresh picked basil is currently a must. My neighbor just happened to be out in the yard and offered me some of her parsley freshly picked from her garden. This was just my luck as this turned out delicious. It was one of those recipes that was a completely easy and delicious!

FIRST WEEK OFJULY ONLY

Especially in the last few weeks at has become increasingly hard to find recipes as I have not only had to remove corn from my diet, but also gluten. I swore for years that gluten was not a problem, but after probably the 10th doctor suggested I try going without gluten, I did, and what a difference it has made. Stay tuned over the next few months as I talk about my healthy lifestyle changes I’ve made, which includes admitting I am in the crowd of “gluten intolerant”. (I swore I was one of the lucky ones who didn’t have this intolerance – but I was oh so wrong).

For this recipe you will need a ninja, blender, or food processor to make the pesto. (I’m a big fan of the ninja, but for this I used the food processor)

FullSizeRender (3)

 

Once you have blended all this together, all you will need is a 15×10 pyrex that is greased with oil of choice. Place the chicken in the center, the pesto on top, and the tomatoes diced in half on either side.

I hope you find this recipe as easy and delicious as I have!

Basil and Parsely Pesto Chicken Bake

Prep Time: 20 minutes

Cook Time: 45 minutes

Total Time: 1 hour, 5 minutes

Ingredients

  • 1 lb raw chicken breast in tenders
  • 24 grape tomatoes halved
  • 1/4 cup shredded Parmesan (omit of dairy free)
  • 24 almonds
  • 2 cups fresh basil
  • 1 cup fresh parsley
  • 2 tbsps minced garlic
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Instructions

  1. In food processor place parmesan, almonds, garlic, olive oil, basil, and parsley and mix until desired texture.
  2. In a pyrex 15 x 10 oiled pan place chicken in a row in the middle. On either side place the tomatoes and on top of the chicken evenly spread the pesto.
  3. Bake at 300 F for 45 minutes
http://anchordrop.org/2015/08/30/basil-parsley-pesto-chicken-bake/

 

Sweet and Spicy Arugula Rice Noodles

Last week I spent a ton of money at the farmer’s market with no real plan. So then I had to come home and find recipes to go with all of the random ingredients I purchased. So now this week, I stuck with the left over random ingredients that need used up before they go bad and before I leave to go to my parents’ for my little brother’s wedding this weekend. It is times like these that I come up with some of my absolute favorite recipes. Armed with arugula, green onions and a desire for something sweet and spicy, I went to work.

sweet and spicy

I went searching on the internet for ideas, and this is what I came up with. Due to allergies I took a few different recipes and modified what was in them. It was a quick, easy, and super delicious meal that left me feeling full, but not heavy. I hope you enjoy this as much I as I did! (I was even able to make it without too many interruptions from my four-month-old puppy)

Bayli (my adorable puppy, see below), event  thought is smelled delicious and wanted to get a bite. Thankfully I caught her just in time before she about ruined my meal. After I thoroughly enjoyed this I took Bayli on a nice long walk, and then ate a delicious gluten-free zucchini brownie. I guess that is what happens when you buy too much zucchini at the farmer’s market.

IMG_4179

FullSizeRender (1)

 

Sweet and Spicy Arugula Rice Noodles
Recipe Type: Main Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Erica Smith
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 2 Servings
Ingredients
  • 10 green onions diced (only use the white part)
  • 3 fl oz sweet chili sauce (I used Trader Joe’s brand)
  • 2 Tbsp soy sauce or tamari (if gluten sensitive)
  • 2 sweet chicken sausages, diced (I used Trader Joe’s chicken apple sausage)
  • 1 cup zucchini, seeded and diced
  • 1 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 package (~2 cups cooked) rice noodles
  • 2 1/2 cups arugula, washed and dried
  • Cooking spray of choice
Instructions
  1. Put water on to boil for rice noodles in medium pot(read the directions on your specific rice noodles to find out how they want them cooked).
  2. In large pot spray with cooking spray of choice then on low heat brown the chicken sausage (make sure to check the package as some are not fully cooked).
  3. When the water is ready add rice noodles. While the rice noodles and chicken sausage are cooking, dice the zucchini and onions into small bites. I only used the white part of the onions. For the zucchini I sliced it then cut it into fourths.
  4. When the rice noodles are done put them in a strainer to dry.
  5. Remove the sausage form the heat
  6. Add soy sauce, minced garlic, green onion, zucchini, and sweet chili sauce in large pot. Place on low heat for 5-7 minutes or until onions and zucchini are soft.
  7. While that is simmering, cut the sausage into bite sized pieces and add.
  8. Once vegetables are soft, add the sausage and allow to simmer for 2-3 more minutes.
  9. Turn off heat but leave pot on stove and add rice noodles Stir allow rice noodles to separate and start to absorb flavor.
  10. Once the rice noodles have nicely separated add the arugula and stir fro approximately 1.5 minutes.
  11. Serve and Enjoy!

Unexpected Community

Imagine what it would be like to live in the past, even just 100 years ago. Imagine living in a time and at a place where your community, your whole and only community, was where you lived Travel wasn’t as easy. There were no cell phones and there certainly wasn’t the internet. Your community was determined by your geographical location. This would mean you didn’t get to be very picky with whom you were “in community.”

Unexpected Community

In the past year I’ve had the blessing of getting to know my neighbors well. This is the first time in a long time I haven’t moved after a year of being some place, and I believe a lot of that has to do with my neighbors. I have an incredible group of friends outside of my neighborhood, but I’m also blessed that I can walk to a couple of neighbors houses and it’s like sitting with family. My neighbors aren’t people I would have naturally become friends with if I didn’t live next to them, but they enrich my life.

When I had to make the tough decision to put down my dog due to fear aggression, two of them sat and cried with me. When I miss my family a little too much, they provide that comfort of family here. They bring me goodies and delicious food, and I do the same for them. When I recently got a new puppy, they have lovingly taken on the names of “aunt”, “bestie”, and “grandma” to my puppy and love her as if she was their own. They love me as if I am their own.

It makes me wonder, how drastically different my life would be without social media, my cell phone and the internet. True, my life would be missing a lot, but here is the question I find myself asking: what if I make an effort to live both in the modern world and in the world presently around me?

I can tell you, this glimpse of community I have with my home right now has transformed my life and made me a much better person. Community at its finest is found when you least expect it. Take a risk. Talk to your neighbor. I promise it will be worth it.

Mock P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps

I don’t know about you, but when I got introduced to P.F. Chang’s lettuce wraps for the first time, I fell head over heels in love. I loved the crisp lettuce on the outside, with this unique flavored meat on the inside. However, since those days I’ve developed more than one food intolerance and allergies to boot. As a result I am no longer able me to enjoy lettuce wraps at P.F. Chang’s. So, I had to create them in my own kitchen. The result was delicious and healthy! They were also super easy to take for lunches for the next few days.

IMG_0180

I went digging through a few different recipes to get an idea of how to get the taste I was looking for. After researching  a bit, I then perused my kitchen for ingredients. A few things I interchanged from the original recipes I was looking at. In my opinion, I really like the way the taste turned out. If you have allergies or are trying to recreate some of your favorite recipes at home, I always suggest looking at a few different recipes and then putting your own spin on it. It may take a few times to get it right, but the product in the end is worth it. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite restaurant knock offs I’ve done yet, my Mock P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps!

Gluten-Free Turkey Lettuce Wraps
Recipe Type: Main Entree
Cuisine: Asian
Author: Erica Smith
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 4
A mock P.F. Chang’s Lettuce Wraps lightened up with lean ground turkey.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb lean ground turkey
  • 7 green onions, diced
  • 1/2 each green, red, and yellow pepper, diced into small chunks
  • 1/2-1 tsp of red cayenne pepper
  • 1/3 white onion, diced
  • 1/3 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 can water chestnuts, drained diced
  • 1 cup shredded Brussels sprouts
  • 1/3 cup chives, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup tamari
  • 3/4 cup grape tomatoes, cut in half
  • 1 head of lettuce
Instructions
  1. First in a large skillet I cooked 1 lb of ground turkey. If you prefer ground chicken, that can easily be interchanged.
  2. Once the meat was done, I drained out the grease and added in all the additional ingredients minus the lettuce. I let this simmer for about 20 minutes on low-allowing all the flavors to marinate together.
  3. While this is simmering, I pulled apart the lettuce leaving the pieces whole and washed them. You want to leave enough time for the lettuce to dry.
  4. Once done, let it cool for a few minutes then scoop one to one and a half large spoonful into each lettuce pocket.
Notes
To ensure this recipe is gluten-free and corn-free, be sure all ingredients are labeled or certified gluten- and corn-free, if they’re not naturally.

Chickpea Potato Curry Stew

I had potatoes that needed used up and I wanted curry. With no real recipe at hand, I diced up left over veggies from the week, opened a can of chickpeas, dug out my curry seasoning, and hoped for the best. And you know what? It turned out to be something fabulous that I have already made again! The best part is, once everything is diced up, it is an easy one pot meal.

This is packed with fresh, colorful veggies and is full of healthy fiber. Fragrant curry spice is also super warming for cold winter months. Perhaps best of all, though, is that it reheats spectacularly and is perfect for lunch the next day (or three, if you’re me).

dish4servingsthaicurry (1) Continue reading “Chickpea Potato Curry Stew”

Strawbango Protein Shake

 This morning I woke up to snow…everywhere. And still falling. Chicagoland will be upgraded to a “blizzard” in just a few hours. Yikes! Naturally, I wanted to imagine myself somewhere tropical. So I made a tropical tasting protein shake and it was delicious! I used the protein powder I had on hand (Tera’s Whey) along with strawberries, banana and my favorite Trader Joe’s Vanilla Coconut milk. I added in some chia seeds for some extra omega-3s and boom – a tropical vacation in a glass.

 strawbango

[yumprint-recipe id=’2′]

Healthy Corn-Free Nachos

When I found out I was allergic to corn, nachos are one of the things I had to let go. Last week, I decided it was time to work on a new version. I also received a gift at Christmas from my sister of Fresco Spice Blends, so I tried out the Sweet Red Bell Pepper and Garlic Spice Blend and it turned out delicious!

spicesseasoning

To recreate my creation, start with placing olive oil over the bottom a skillet and placing the chicken in it. Then coat the top of each piece of chicken with a mix of the fresco blend, ground cumin, and a dash of red cayenne pepper. Flip the chicken to the other side and spice up that side with the same combination.

chickensimmer

While the chicken finishes cooking, spray a cookie sheet then place a bag of veggie chips (I used Trader Joe’s) on a cookie sheet and dice up vegetables. Once chicken is done, add zucchini and onions and saute for five minutes.

foodprephealthynachos

Upon completion, place the chicken and veggies that have sautéed on top of the chips.  Add other veggies, if desired. Optional, top veggies with cheese. Bake for 15 minutes at 350° F. For serving, I had peach salsa and guacamole. It was scrumptious!

healthynachos

Healthy Corn-Free Nachos
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
Serves: 6
Ingredients
  • Gluten-free, corn-free chips of your choosing (I like <a href=”http://www.terrachips.com/”Terra Chips</a>)
  • 1/2 red bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 yellow bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1/2 sweet onion, diced
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • Olive oil
  • Fresco Spice Blends Sweet Red Bell Pepper and Garlic Blend
  • Cumin
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • Guacamole, as desired
  • Salsa, as desired
  • Colby Jack Cheese, as desired
  • Sour cream, as desired
Instructions
  1. Preheat your oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Pour the veggie chips on the paper and spread them out like you would nachos. Set aside.
  2. Cut the chicken into cubes or strips. Season with Fresco Spice Blend, cumin, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper. Set aside.
  3. Heat a glug of olive oil in a sauce pan over medium heat. Once hot, add the chicken and cook, stirring frequently, until chicken is cooked thoroughly. Transfer to a separate bowl and set aside.
  4. Return the sauce pan to the stove and add another splash of oil. Add onion, peppers and zucchini. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until they begin to soften.
  5. Turn of the stove and transfer the sauteed vegetables to the bowl with the chicken.
  6. Once the oven is preheated, top the veggies chips with the chicken and veggie mixture. Sprinkle with cheese and place in the oven for 10-15 minutes, or until the cheese is melted. If desired, turn on the broiler.
  7. Transfer the chips, once they’re ready, to a big plate. Serve with guacamole, salsa, additional cheese and/or sour cream, as desired.
  8. Share and enjoy!
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...