mushroomandlentilsalad

What do you do with lentil beans? If they are just sitting in your pantry, boy, oh boy, do I have the perfect recipe for you! If you like mushrooms, you will love this salad. It’s filled with protein and takes no time to make.

Ingredients:

Toss 1 pound mixed wild mushrooms, sliced with ¼ cup olive oil; 2 cloves garlic, crushed with press; and ¼ tsp. salt. Roast on large baking sheet at 450 degrees for 20 minutes until crisp. Toss 12 ounces lentils, cooked, with mushrooms; 1 cup parsley; ¼ small red onion, very thinly sliced; and 2/3 cup balsamic vinaigrette.  Serve topped with ¼ inch thick slices blue cheese.

 

Enjoy!

 

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strengthduringcancer

Image: Oneboldmove.com

Since the holidays have come and gone, I find myself feeling like the Pillsbury Dough Girl. The weight gain from all of the holiday cheer has finally caught up to me. So, what’s a girl to do? I am upping the anty on my exercise regimen and am attempting to lose a few pounds. I am working on building my strength and stamina and would like to run in a 5K race. (Okay, maybe walk).Some days are better than others (though isn’t that the case with everything in life?). As I have been ‘wogging’ (walking/jogging) on the treadmill (and especially when I am in pain or struggling), I find myself thinking about the endurance that it takes to get through cancer treatment and how universal the concept of endurance is. Some fundamental components of endurance include:

  1. Establishing clear goals.During both cancer treatment as well as training, the ultimate goal for me has always been completion, getting to the finish line. In one piece!
  2. Following a routine.Routines were very comforting during treatment. I knew what to expect (for the most part) and allocated time and energy accordingly.  I find the same to be true when I am running/walking/wogging/jogging. I like my shoes tied a certain way, wear the same clothes and eat the same things before my exercise routine.
  3. Pace yourself.It’s never good to go out too strongly and therefore peak to early. When it comes to (pure) running, I like to start slowly and end strongly. When I was sick, I did my best to pace myself and not over exert my emotional or physical energy.  This philosophy was a lifesaver on more than one occasion.
  4. After every treatment just as after every long run, I allow time for recovery. Recovery between chemo treatments was challenging (understatement of the year!), but oh so necessary. Our bodies need to heal after extreme exertion and rest is the best way to do it!
  5. Record progress.When I am working on dropping a few pounds, I keep a record of my progress. It’s fun to see how far I’ve come.  I did the same when I was sick. I kept a calendar to focus on my progress, notes and a journal. It was inspiring!
  6. Choosing your attitude.You know this by now. It’s all about looking at the glass as half full or half empty.  Attitude is truly a choice. Sometimes it’s a really (really!) hard choice, but it is a choice nonetheless.
  7. Having faith in yourself.Know that you have inner strength and resources that, when tapped, can take you to unimaginable places, from finishing a year of grueling cancer treatment to completely an incredibly challenging 5K race. Know and believe that you CAN do this.
  8. Reaching out for support.Whether running with a partner for support or calling on personal or professional encouragement during treatment, support can be an incredible source of strength to buoy you through even the most difficult of circumstances.
  9. Counting your Shining Moments. Even on the darkest, hardest days, when your body hurts the most and you feel more exhausted than you have ever felt in your life, counting Shining Moments will not only get you through, but will inspire you to cross the finish line.

The Shining Moment is that I am MUCH happier training for a 5K rather than getting through chemo treatment, as if that were a question!

 

 

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parabens

Image: tumblr

 

In the past few years, much has been discussed about the link between paraben exposure and breast cancer. I have to be honest (as you know that I always am!) and admit that I didn’t pay much attention to this issue until I was diagnosed with the disease. UGH. However, the Shining Moment is that I am now living and learning.

I was fascinated to read this research article written by Amelia K. Charles and Philippa D. Darbre reporting that sufficient exposure to parabens causes human breast cancer cells to rapidly multiply. In fact, parabens are frequently found in the breast tissue of people diagnosed with the disease, especially those who are Estrogen Positive (ER+), like I was.

Here’s how they work: parabens disrupt the endocrine system and thereby interfere with hormones. They mimic estrogen in some ways and interfere in others. They also have some properties that androgens have, making them capable of causing problems with the reproductive functions of males.

Parabens absorb easily through the skin. They also are swallowed or eaten and – when originally developed – were thought to be harmlessly excreted. However, they are not actually harmlessly excreted because the parabens found in breast cancer tissues are unchanged from their original state.

Parabens came into use because of their ability to prevent the growth of yeasts, molds, and bacteria and thereby lengthen the shelf life of many products, including cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, foods, and beverages. Plastics, toys, lip balm, makeup, hair care products, moisturizers, tanning lotions, baby skin care lotions and wipes, sunscreens, deodorants, shaving creams and toothpaste all may contain parabens.

So, probably best to avoid these pesky parabens, right?  Here’s how:

  • Read labels & look for the following words:
    • benzylparaben
    • butylparaben
    • ethylparaben
    • methylparaben
    • propylparaben
    • p-hydroxybenzoic acid
  • Because there are several variations for each of the above names, the safest way to avoid parabens is to look for labels that state the product is free of parabens or is certified organic. Be careful, though because labels that say “made with organic ingredients” or “all natural” may be misleading.
  • When shopping for groceries, pick foods that do not have synthetic preservatives. Fresh or minimally processed foods are best, along with those that are certified organic. Packaged mixes and highly processed foods are likely to contain parabens. A cake mix, for example, is not as safe a choice as a cake made from scratch. Sorry, but true.

Now, there are always people who will argue the issue; however the truth of the matter is that before additives, before all the experimenting to see if people could make better what nature so graciously provided, before convenience overrode common sense, we didn’t have to worry about polluting our bodies with man-made chemicals. In fact, there was no such thing as a paraben.

The Shining Moment for me (& my friends) is to go back to the basics and use products that are free from altered substances…and especially ingredients that I couldn’t possibly pronounce!

 

 

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martinlutherkingjr

Image: stanfordfreedomproject.com

Martin Luther King Day 2016 is a very special day.  In addition to taking time to personally reflect on race relations, freedom, and peace, it is a phenomenal opportunity to teach our children valuable lessons about our history. In fact, the Shining Moment is that teachers all over the country are finding ways to talk about the legacy of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.  First thing this morning, I watched his “I Have a Dream” speech. I get teary every time I watch and/or read it.  Here it is below.  I hope that you enjoy it as much as I always do!

Martin Luther King, Jr.

“I am happy to join with you today in what will go down in history as the greatest demonstration for freedom in the history of our nation. Five score years ago, a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice. It came as a joyous daybreak to end the long night of their captivity.

“But one hundred years later, the Negro still is not free. One hundred years later, the life of the Negro is still sadly crippled by the manacles of segregation and the chains of discrimination. One hundred years later, the Negro lives on a lonely island of poverty in the midst of a vast ocean of material prosperity. One hundred years later, the Negro is still languished in the corners of American society and finds himself an exile in his own land. And so we’ve come here today to dramatize a shameful condition.

“In a sense we’ve come to our nation’s capital to cash a check. When the architects of our republic wrote the magnificent words of the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence, they were signing a promissory note to which every American was to fall heir. This note was a promise that all men, yes, black men as well as white men, would be guaranteed the ‘unalienable Right’ of ‘Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ It is obvious today that America has defaulted on this promissory note, insofar as her citizens of color are concerned. Instead of honoring this sacred obligation, America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked ‘insufficient funds.’

“But we refuse to believe that the bank of justice is bankrupt. We refuse to believe that there are insufficient funds in the great vaults of opportunity of this nation. And so, we’ve come to cash this check, a check that will give us upon demand the riches of freedom and the security of justice.

“We have also come to this hallowed spot to remind America of the fierce urgency of Now. This is no time to engage in the luxury of cooling off or to take the tranquilizing drug of gradualism. Now is the time to make real the promises of democracy. Now is the time to rise from the dark and desolate valley of segregation to the sunlit path of racial justice. Now is the time to lift our nation from the quick-sands of racial injustice to the solid rock of brotherhood. Now is the time to make justice a reality for all of God’s children.

“It would be fatal for the nation to overlook the urgency of the moment. This sweltering summer of the Negro’s legitimate discontent will not pass until there is an invigorating autumn of freedom and equality. Nineteen sixty-three is not an end, but a beginning. And those who hope that the Negro needed to blow off steam and will now be content will have a rude awakening if the nation returns to business as usual. And there will be neither rest nor tranquility in America until the Negro is granted his citizenship rights. The whirlwinds of revolt will continue to shake the foundations of our nation until the bright day of justice emerges.

“But there is something that I must say to my people, who stand on the warm threshold which leads into the palace of justice: In the process of gaining our rightful place, we must not be guilty of wrongful deeds. Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred. We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protest to degenerate into physical violence. Again and again, we must rise to the majestic heights of meeting physical force with soul force.

“The marvelous new militancy which has engulfed the Negro community must not lead us to a distrust of all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny. And they have come to realize that their freedom is inextricably bound to our freedom.

“We cannot walk alone. And as we walk, we must make the pledge that we shall always march ahead. We cannot turn back.

“There are those who are asking the devotees of civil rights, ‘When will you be satisfied?’ We can never be satisfied as long as the Negro is the victim of the unspeakable horrors of police brutality. We can never be satisfied as long as our bodies, heavy with the fatigue of travel, cannot gain lodging in the motels of the highways and the hotels of the cities. We cannot be satisfied as long as the Negro’s basic mobility is from a smaller ghetto to a larger one. We can never be satisfied as long as our children are stripped of their self-hood and robbed of their dignity by signs stating: ‘For Whites Only.’ We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote. No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until ‘justice rolls down like waters, and righteousness like a mighty stream.’

“I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. And some of you have come from areas where your quest — quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive. Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed.

“Let us not wallow in the valley of despair, I say to you today, my friends. And so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.

“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal. I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia, the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.

“I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice. I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.

“I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of ‘interposition’ and ‘nullification’ — one day right there in Alabama little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.

“I have a dream today! I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, and every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight; ‘and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together.’

“This is our hope, and this is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith, we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith, we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith, we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.

“And this will be the day — this will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with new meaning: My country ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the Pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring!’ And if America is to be a great nation, this must become true.

“And so let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania. Let freedom ring from the snow-capped Rockies of Colorado. Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California. But not only that: Let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia. Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee. Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.

“And when this happens, when we allow freedom ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual: ‘Free at last! Free at last! Thank God Almighty, we are free at last!’”

 

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asianquinoasalad

Image: twopeasandtheirpod

I don’t know about you, but there is only so much salad I can eat before I start to get pretty ho-hum about it. Melissa Costello’s Asian-style quinoa salad is a great recipe to spice up your salad life while also remaining highly nutritional.

I have written about the health benefits of quinoa before. It is awesome! Quinoa contains all nine amino acids and is one of the most protein-rich foods we can eat. It also has twice as much fiber as most other grains, which means it helps reduce cholesterol and glucose levels, lowers your blood pressure, and helps prevent heart disease and diabetes. Quinoa also contains a lot of iron and lysine, which helps keep your red blood cells healthy as well as help tissue growth and repair. Major Shining Moments which is why it is a staple of my diet.

Hope that you enjoy this easy-peasy, delish recipe as much as I am!!

Asian-Style Quinoa Salad

Ingredients

Salad

  • 1 cup shelled edamame beans, cooked according to package directions
  • 1 cup cooked quinoa
  • 1/2 cup diced cucumber (about one-half medium cucumber)
  • 1/4 cup diced yellow or red bell pepper
  • 1 cup chopped red cabbage
  • 1/4 cup shredded carrots
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • * 2-3 servings

Asian Dressing

  • 3 tablespoons Bragg’s Liquid Aminos
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons rice vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons chopped green onion
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup
  • pinch of red pepper flakes

Instructions

  1. Put salad ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Whisk the dressing ingredients together in a small bowl.
  3. Toss the salad with the dressing and let it sit for 5 to 10 minutes so all the flavors are incorporated.

 

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Friendship

friendship

Image: lossforwords.net

When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand.  The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.

~Henri Nouwen

WOWZA! This quote stopped me in my tracks. Really, it did. If it didn’t stop you, or make you think twice about your true friendships, please re-read it. I am so incredibly lucky to have such good friends who mean the world to me. You know who you are!

I vividly remember a time I spent in New York with a few girlfriends between chemo and radiation.  Boy, oh boy, was it an incredible Shining Moment. Though sleep deprivation continued on my short trip, I felt fueled and (dare I say it?) energized. On this trip, my gratitude for friendship had been illuminated – yet again.  I was seeing old friends and meeting new ones. My mind and heart felt full and nourished for the next (and final!) leg of my treatment journey.

Every single day, I take time to think about and express my appreciation for the gift in my life that is friendship, the ultimate Shining Moment.

 

 

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The Dogist

thedogist

Image: 6sqft.com

A New York photographer is capturing canines at their cutest-and shining a light on pups in need. His name is Elias Weiss Freidman who just happens to be my radiation oncologist’s son. (Cue the happy dance).

When Friedman Instagrammed a photo of a dog (boxer) he encountered in Vienna in 2013, it got more likes than anything he’d ever posted. He knew he was onto something with all the responses.

That snapshot became the first image on The Dogist, Friedman’s street-style blog featuring subjects on the sidewalks of New York and other cities.  With the help of kneepads and some squeak toys, he captures charming portraits: a 6-month-old corgi with its head cocked inquisitively, a pair of regal greyhounds out for a walk in the park, a fluffy papillon wearing tiny yellow rain booties, and many more. He’s become very adept at getting the hounds to pose.

Friedman also visits shelters around the country to take pictures of four-legged friends in need of homes.  Last year, when The Dogist featured a 4-month-old shih tzu from the ASPCA Adoption Center in New York, the center’s phones rang off the hook. Every shelter dog he has posted on-line has been adopted. That inspired him to launch his “Give a Dog a Bone” campaign: Donate $50, and Friedman will deliver a rawhide bone to an adoptable pooch, then post a photo of the pup with its treat.

Friedman released a book called The Dogist that includes 1,000 of his canine portraits and is collaborating with local animal shelters for the book tour. He wants to give the dogs a voice, and boy, oh boy, has he ever. Plus he gets to play with dogs all day without picking up after them!

The Dogist is a great gift to give to all of the dog lovers in your life. It’s on my coffee table, and my friends who open CANNOT put it down. It’s a winner!

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flaxseed

Flax-seedoil.org

Flaxseed oil and seeds (also known as linseed) have both been promoted as valuable substances for preventing cancer, but when I was in the middle of treatment, I wondered whether it was safe to consume? Here’s the thing: it is always important to double and triple check with your oncologist and/or dietician what you can take (or not take!) during treatment because any food or supplement can potentially negatively interact with medications. And why on earth would you want to potentially undo the hard work of your treatments?!? Just saying…

The Shining Moment is that experts seem to consistently agree that is both safe and effective during cancer treatment (and my doctor and dietician corroborated). I’m such a huge fan & eat it every day.

There are many great reasons for consuming Flaxseed.

  1. It is one of the best sources of Omega-3 fatty acids, which may not only protect against the development of cancer but may also shrink tumors and prevent the muscle loss that commonly occurs during cancer treatment. The Omega-3’s are also – as I’m sure you already know – super-duper for lowering cholesterol.
  2. It is a good source of lignans, which is a Shining Moment for people who have ER+ (estrogen positive, like moi) FBC (my loving reference to f-bomb breast cancer, for new readers). According to Breastcancer.org, flaxseed is a good source of lignans — compounds that may have a weak estrogen effect. When a weak estrogen-like substance takes the place of your body’s natural strong estrogen in a breast cell’s estrogen receptor, then the weak substance can act as a relative anti-estrogen. By acting in this way, lignans might help work against breast cancer that depends on estrogen for its growth. The lignans are concentrated in the hull of the flaxseed. If the seeds are ground up, your body has an easier time getting to the lignans.
  3. It is high in both soluble and insoluble fiber, which is always a Shining Moment for bowel health.
  4. It can help with hot flashes – for some people. One study of menopausal women, published in 2007, reported that 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed mixed into cereal, juice, or yogurt twice a day cut their hot flashes in half. Yep. The intensity of their hot flashes also dropped by 57%. The women in this study noticed a difference after taking the daily flaxseed for just one week and achieved the maximum benefit within two weeks. Sorry to say that this wasn’t the case for me, BUT as you may recall, I was the side-effect queen and a total anomaly.

Though the U.S. Department of Agriculture makes no recommendation about the amount of flaxseed that a person should consume each day, many dietitians advise eating 1 or 2 tablespoons of ground flaxseed meal daily. By the way, though the jury is still out and more research needs to be done, it is generally believed that flax meal seems to be more effective than oil.

In terms of preparation and storage:

  • Grind it! I buy mine ground but you can grind it yourself. The reason for consuming it in a ground form is because  flaxseed, when eaten whole, is more likely to pass through the intestinal tract undigested, which means your body doesn’t get all the healthful components. If you want to grind flaxseed yourself, those little electric coffee grinders seem to work best.
  • Keep all flax products refrigerated or in vacuum-sealed containers…in the freezer.
  • FYI, Milled = ground = flax meal. Milled or ground flaxseed is the same thing as flax meal.
  • Buy either brown or golden flaxseed.There is very little difference nutritionally between the two, so the choice is up to you.
  • I put flaxseed in smoothies, on salads, in soups, or on oatmeal.  It has a nutty flavor that I have come to enjoy immensely.

Do you take flaxseed?  If so, what do you think about it?

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“Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to it. ~ Dennis Kimbro

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colormehappy

Image: Takepart.com

Break out that Crayola 64-pack! Adult coloring books are trending big and sales are booming, with good reason! Besides being fun, there’s also this:  According to clinical psychologist Kimberly Wulfert, PhD, “Coloring inside the lines, the left brain stays busy, freeing up the right brain’s intuitive curiosity.  That combined with the physical sensation of coloring helps people stay in the moment longer-a great way to reduce mind and body tension.” With so many different versions out there, all I can say is “Please pass the Cerulean Blue.”

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