Stop the Insanity!

Early winter brings so many surprises: rain, snow, ice, harsh winds and an onslaught of telephone books.

Daily, through the month of January, I approach my mail box with trepidation; what giant waste of natural resources will be waiting for me next? I mean, come on, in this day of technology at our immediate fingertips, does anyone really still use phone books? Okay, I will grant that there are those still out there that would rather let their fingers do the walking through thousands of pages of a telephone directory instead of over the keyboard to instant access to the internet, but exactly how many phone books does one person really need?

Just how many phone book does a person really need? By Darla Welchel

To date, I have received six! Six local and not so local books filled with countless numbers that I will never need and ads that I will never look at. As I was properly disposing of last years accumulation of useless books that I barely ever opened, I realized that some of them were still wrapped in the protective, non-biodegradable, plastic. Honestly, the only one I ever use is the local Tri-City book, of which I received three – all with one or two different towns added to it to increase the ads sells.

People say that print newspapers are on their way out, and that is seen by the decrease in ad sells; but do producers honestly think that consumers still look through the phone books to find the best deals? Maybe locally, but if I’m looking for something specific, I travel no further than Google. I mean you can ask it anything and a dozen different sites will pop up with the item you are looking for usually heading the list.

With so much hype about global warming, deforestation and the need to become a paperless society, why oh why are we be inundated with so many enormous waste of natural resources? Yes, I know, many are made from recycled paper, but when people are done with them, most end up in the landfill, not the recycle bin.

To me this is insane, but I guess as long as there are companies out there willing to advertise in these books and publishing companies willing to print them, we will continue to showered with more useless telephone books during the month of January.

In Search of the Perfect Chicken Salad

After converting to a healthier lifestyle over a year and a half ago, finding new and interesting recipes that are healthy, yet tasty, has become a challenge.

Mostly, I’ve just gotten lazy and bored.

Chicken is by far the best protein source, with the exception of Edamame – that’s soy beans to the lay person. But I’m really fussy about my chicken; I will only eat boneless, skinless chicken breast meat – probably helped butcher one too many chickens in my youth. And before you mention fish, just know I don’t eat anything that comes out of water. The lazy and boring part comes into play about now. I’ve grilled or baked chicken breasts a number of different ways, but after a while, it all starts to taste and look the same. Plus its a HUGE hassle to cook two to four ounces of chicken for lunch – I really have issues with leftover chicken, long story. Needless to say, I often opt for a handful of roasted soy nuts or a slice of low fat cheese and an apple for lunch – see, lazy.

Cranberries and pecans and chicken, oh my! By Darla Welchel

A few weeks ago, Clint and I were cruising through SAMS, checking out all the samples – you know, eating lunch – when we discovered a taste of pure ambrosia. It was a cranberry chicken salad with pecans – my mouth is watering now just thinking about it.  The chicken salad not only contained cranberries and pecans, but was mixed with a honey poppyseed dressing. Although it was pricy, over $11 for a meager container, we had to have it. It was so scrumptious, that we were getting back in line for another taste. SAMS’ marketing gurus know what they are doing with the free samples; they paired the chicken salad with 100% whole wheat mini pita flatbread. Of course, we bought some of those as well – one wasn’t any good without the other, right? We figured that this expensive purchase would get us through lunches for the next week or so.

Wrong. Try a couple of days.

The only sensible and economical solution was to figure out the combination of ingredients and make our own perfect chicken salad. We had the canned white meat chicken and pecans, so we were two thirds of the way to our goal. We found dried cranberries in the bulk organic food section at Crest. The dilemma was the honey poppyseed dressing; we found several different brands of poppyseed dressing, but none with honey. Okay, we are both educated people – no, seriously we are – the simple solution would be to add our own honey. While we were excitedly going over the contents of our new favorite dish, we recalled that the purchased version also had celery.

With ingredients in hand and a very large bowl, I began the process: drain and fork the chicken, check; chop pecans and celery, check; add cranberries, check. The only scary part was the dressing. Adding too much honey could ruin the feast, whereas too little was easy enough to overcome.  I opted to mix it in smaller batches and finally came up with a 7:1 ratio of dressing to honey. The results – perfection! This dish might not be an exact duplication of the more pricy container, but it was less than half the cost of the SAMS version.

This week I can be as lazy as I want with my lunches, but it will be anything but boring.

Cranberry Pecan Chicken Salad

4-13 oz. cans of white chicken

1 cup coarsely chopped pecans

1 cup diced celery

1 cup dried cranberries

15 oz. poppyseed dressing

2 oz. honey

Drain and fork chicken to separate. Add pecans, celery and cranberries; mixing thoroughly. Add poppyseed dressing alternately with honey. Mix and serve on pita flatbread or other whole grain bread. Store in air-tight container. Enjoy!

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