Beauty, Hair Care, Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Hair In Progress-Spotlight on Curls

In 2020 the pandemic put trips to the hair salon for regular trims, hair coloring services, a wash, and set, or a blowout on pause. We were forced to pivot and turn our bathrooms and makeup tables into an in-home salon on the fly.  While most of us are knowledgeable when it comes to our own hair, many of us still found ourselves going through a process of trial and error when it came to finding the right products for our hair type. Moreover, age can play a factor. Many women who are north of forty and fifty plus are dealing with changes in their skin and hair as a result of hormonal fluctuations, perimenopause, and menopause.

As a black woman who is north of fifty, I found this to be especially challenging after I stopped relaxing my hair. My decision to go natural was the result of getting older and from having an autoimmune disease (MS) for twenty-plus years.  However, my relationship with Ms. Clairol was safe. I made the transition with the guidance of a skilled hair professional who took care of my hair every two weeks. I received a combination of services including deep conditioning treatments, hair coloring, and styling.

When the pandemic forced salons to close, I had to figure it out. At first, I was able to wash and blow my hair out at home. I worried about the use of heat weakening my hair. So, I decided to embrace the curls I’d been avoiding for most of my life. It didn’t take long to discover that finding the right products for my curls was going to be a challenge. Nevertheless, it was a challenge I was willing to accept.

From time to time I will post my experiences with different products. I will review the products, provide price ranges, product effectiveness, and more all in an effort to give you as much information as possible.

 

Rating Scale

Poor *

Fair **

Good ***

Excellent ****

My first review is Mark Anthony True Professional Hydrating Curl Cream. 

The pitch: Extra Frizz Control! This Sulfate-Free Curl Cream is a hydrating blend of Coconut Oil, Shea Butter, and Biotin that help de-frizz and add moisture to your dry brittle curls. It provides extra curl styling control with humidity resistance. Curls are now shinier, more defined, and tangle-free. Lightweight enough to use daily after shower. Color safe.

Usage: Apply to wet or damp hair. For my purposes, I applied after I washed and conditioned my hair. I section my hair in two. Then I use about a half-dollar size amount of cream in my palm and work it through from the roots to ends with my fingers. I try to follow my curl pattern and repeat on the other side. I let my hair dry naturally, but you can use a diffuser to blow it dry as well.

Results: I’ve found that my curls have great hold while still feeling soft. I’ve found that some products with coconut oil and shea butter can make your hair smell like a tropical fruit salad, which if you live in a warmer climate, or it’s spring or summer, can be tricky once you go outside. Bees don’t know the difference. Marc Anthony’s hydrating cream smells nice and it’s not overwhelming.

Cost: The cream ranges in price from 8.99-9.99 (depends on where you purchase it)

Available at: Walgreens, CVS, Target, Walmart, and Rite Aid. Check online to see which stores in your area have it in stock

Overall Rating ****

Price Rating ****

Adaptable Recipes, Food Glorious Food, Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus, Makeover Monday Meals

Makeover Monday Meal- Breakfast Edition

It’s already August for many of us it’s been a hot summer. It is also the time when we begin to see more zucchini recipes as it’s the time of year there’s a bumper crop of zucchini everywhere.

I found this recipe in my inbox and it was a hit, even with my seven-year-old nephew, a very picky eater. The best part was that I got to sneak in a little nutrition with all the chocolate goodness. I hope you give this recipe a whirl. There’s a link for A Kitchen Addiction to see what other goodies she has.

This recipe has adaptations for:

  • Gluten-sensitivities
  • Low Sugar
  • Vegan, Vegetarian
  • No-Sugar

Happy Monday to everyone.

 

Double Chocolate Zucchini Muffins by A Kitchen Addiction adapted by Still A Chick Lit

Yield: 18 muffins

 

Prep time: 15 minutes

 

Bake time: 20 minutes

 

Total time: 35 minutes

INGREDIENTS

2 1/4 cups white whole wheat flour or all-purpose flour (brown rice flour, quinoa flour, buckwheat flour)

1 cup unsweetened baking cocoa (Dutch-Process cocoa powder)

1/3 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit sweetener granulated, or coconut, raw cane, golden, or turbinado sugar, pulsed fine before using)

1/4 cup brown sugar (Swerve brown sugar substitute, or organic brown sugar, light or dark)

2 teaspoons baking soda

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 Cup whole-fat or low-fat plain yogurt (non-dairy: almond, soy, or coconut yogurt) (dairy: Greek plain yogurt low fat, whole milk Greek yogurt, do not use fat-free yogurt)

1 cup milk (dairy: whole, 2%, or skim) (non-dairy: almond, soy, rice, or light coconut milk)

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 eggs (1/4 cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu pureed with ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, vegan egg replacer)

1/4 cup melted coconut oil (measured in the liquid state), melted and cooled butter or canola oil would also work (vegan unsalted butter)

2 cups shredded zucchini

3/4 Cups mini chocolate chips + additional mini chocolate chips for garnish, if desired

INSTRUCTIONS

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line muffin tins with cupcake liners or spray muffin tins with nonstick cooking spray.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, unsweetened baking cocoa, sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, baking powder, and salt until well-combined. Stir in yogurt, milk, and vanilla extract until the mixture just starts to combine.

Add in eggs and melted coconut oil. Stir until combined.

Gently fold in shredded zucchini and mini chocolate chips.

Divide batter into muffin cups. Depending on the size of the muffin cup, each cup will be anywhere from 3/4 to completely full.

Bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the toothpick inserted in the center comes out mostly clean.

Store leftovers in an airtight container.

For More Recipes From A Kitchen Addiction visit:

https://www.a-kitchen-addiction.com

Health, Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus, Mind Body Spirit Connection, Whole Body Wellness

Health and Whole Body Wellness

 

Maintaining our health is always important, but it is increasingly so as we age. While there are many things we can do to improve and maintain our physical appearance, taking care of what’s on the inside is the key to looking and feeling good.

Taking Care of Your Body

Over the past five years, more people are investing in home fitness equipment that comes with personal trainers for different types of workouts. Peloton is at the front of the pack. Fun fact about the word peloton. In a road bicycle race, the peloton (from French, originally meaning ‘platoon’) is the main group or pack of riders. Riders in a group save energy by riding close (drafting or slipstreaming) to (particularly behind) other riders.

Peloton is just one of a number of in-home streaming workouts. There are others that may be more suited to what you like such as:

  • Yoga
  • Dance
  • Barre (ballet-based)
  • Cardio
  • Cycling

Look for a program that fits your budget. Many of these services offer trial periods before your commit to the either monthly or yearly expense of the service. Some workout platforms like Fit-On, have free basic memberships. However, it’s important to remember that if you want more variety, the price of a pro-plan could be worth it for you.

Healthy Diet

A healthy diet is another key to maintaining balance in our lives. It’s important not to focus on calories, carbs, and fat. Rather, approach your diet by putting the best food or fuel into it. Vegetables, fruit, whole grain, lean proteins, and plenty of water are the basis for keeping your body running at peak condition. Treats are okay and don’t need to be measured and weighed if you partake in moderation.

There is a vicious cycle that results from denial. When you feel like some ice cream, chocolate, or whatever your preferred indulgence is, it’s best to go ahead and eat it.  You are more likely to indulge moderately. Conversely, it’s the denial of what your body is craving that leads to overindulgence, binging, and guilt. Allow yourself a treat. When you want to snack, pick something that hits your flavor profile whether it’s sweet and crunchy, sweet and salty, or salty and crunchy. This way you snack smarter.

Read labels. Even light or healthy food products have hidden things in them like salt. Google all the alternative names used for salt and sugar. You would be surprised at how many healthy alternatives are filled with sugar, salt, and preservatives. Also, if you are looking into one of the many meal services available, research their ingredients too. The meals and components have to travel, which means preservatives and more. If this is something that would work for your lifestyle, make sure you pick one that benefits your health too.

Relax and get some rest

Powering down our bodies is as essential as powering them up. Most of us lead incredibly busy lives and spend oodles of time on the go. Find time to disconnect from your schedule to reconnect with relaxation and rest.

  1. Spend time with hobbies- Whether it’s model airplanes or cars, sewing, knitting, crocheting, painting, or drawing, hobbies relax our minds to focus on something we enjoy.
  2. Read- Turn the television off and put down the smartphone to pick up a book or magazine.
  3. Watch television- Put on your favorite program. Watch a nature show or binge a series. There’s nothing like watching a guilty pleasure.
  4. Get all the electronics (phone, television, computer, laptop) out of your bedroom. Make your bedroom a real place of rest. This will allow you to turn off the distractions so you can get the 7 to 8 hours your body needs.

 

Keep your mind clear and centered

Our mental and emotional health plays a big role in the health of our physical body. To keep everything balanced, we need to find ways to deal with the biggest enemy of good mental and emotional health, stress.

Stress, anger, and sadness, are three things that can wear us down. Therefore, it’s important to deal with the issues that cause them.

  • Talk to a professional. There is nothing wrong with seeing a therapist or psychologist for talk therapy. It’s a safe space to let our emotions out and to figure what’s a healthy way to deal with them.
  • Friends, family, spouse, or partners. Talking to the people we love can help us feel supported and loved. However, there’s a difference between unburdening ourselves and offloading our problems onto someone else’s shoulders. The latter is something to avoid doing for the sake of your relationship.
  • Worship If you’re a religious or spiritual person connecting with God through a church, synagogue, or mosque can provide a sense of being grounded and having a greater purpose in life.
  • Meditation – This allows you to connect with yourself. It also helps you learn how to quiet your mind, which keeps stressful thoughts at bay.

 

If you can find a way to implement some of these tips, you will be on your way to whole-body wellness as a woman who is north of forty plus shining brightly for years to come.

Health and Wellness Keys to Balanced Body

Beauty, Beauty, Hair Care

How’s Your Hair Doing? Pandemic Hair and Beyond

For men and women alike, the pandemic brought our regular barbershop and salon appointments to a halt. For the majority of 2020, we had to figure out how to handle caring for our tresses at home, which was cool if you were a barber or hair care professional. However, for the rest of us, it was a lot of trial and error. With a whole lot of errors seen online with posts of self-cutting hair attempts gone very wrong. At least it happened across the board for everyone. Even celebrities were committing hair infractions left and right too.

However, according to L’Officiel How Hair Care Became The New Skin Care (01.13.2021 by Hannah Amini). Skincare and other wellness routines have become a source of therapy and experimentation.

When the access to hairstylists was limited, many took and are taking otherwise daunting treatment regimes into their own hands.  With many people purchasing the products and equipment needed to maintain their hair. Everything from rinses to permanent and semi-permanent hair color, hair treatments, and more are taking place at home.

There is more interest in maintaining healthy hair through natural products they purchase or raid their pantry for, such as mayonaisse or avocado to make deep conditioning hair masks for healthy and shiny hair. There’s been a boon of tips to be found on social media platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram, with some influencers gaining followers and sponsors who pay them to try their products. Moreover, there is a wave of hair-based entrepreneurs with  homemade products for every hair type from natural to color-treated, with every type in between, available for consumers to purchase.

For women who had chemical processes like relaxers, perms, Brazilian keratin treatments, and Japanese straightening. Then there was the matter of hair weaves, extensions and heat treatments too.

According to Go natural, try a new style or panic? How black women in the coronavirus era deal with their hair (Los Angeles Times, Arit John April 11,2020)  Many black women found themselves trying to figure out what to do with their hair during the pandemic. Salons, beauty supply stores and stylists that cater to black women adapted by revamping their digital presence with instructional videos and the sale of products online. Felicia Leatherwood, a celebrity hairstylist who has worked with Issa Rae of “Insecure” and director Ava DuVernay, said some black women are experienced “anxiety on top of anxiety” during the pandemic.

“They have anxiety about what’s happening, and then they have anxiety about discovering their hair and working with it and realizing that they actually have not liked their hair, never really liked their texture,” said Ms. Leatherwood.

As a black woman who decided to go natural several years back, I can attest to the nervousness I felt when the pandemic shut everything down. However, I grew up with a mother that loved hair and had no problem trying out products and keeping a supply of haircare at home. I went through trial and error to find out what worked best for me after having my hair relaxed for the majority of my life. I never had an issue with my hair’s texture, but when I was growing up, there wasn’t any product for my curly hair. Nowadays, it’s an embarrassment of riches.

Now, 18 months later as some states have allowed salons to re-open, and with many of them still following Covid protocols, we can safely go back to our hair salons and barbers. Nevertheless, it’s important to maintain your hair in between appointments and not let the lessons learned during lockdown go to waste.

 

Here are some tips for all hair types. Shampoo 101: Choosing the Right Shampoo for Your Hair Type (byrdie.com

Experts for the article

MEET THE EXPERT

  • Sharleen St. Surin-Lord is a board-certified dermatologist based in Maryland.
  • Shab Reslan is a trichologist and hair health advisor at HairClub. Trichology is
    the branch of medical and cosmetic study and practice concerned with the hair and scalp.

A good at-home haircare system should include

  • Shampoo based on your scalp.
  • Oily Scalp- If you have very oily hair, avoid hydrating shampoos that will weigh your hair down. You need something to help clarify your hair and to build volume.
  • Dry Scalp- Avoid shampoos with sulfates that dry hair out. Look for shampoos that promote moisture, hydration, smoothing, or curls.

For Hair Care based on hair types

  • Fine Hair: Look for volumizing shampoos that can boost your strands without weighing hair down.
  • Thick Hair: Hydrating or moisturizing shampoos are great for adding moisture, shine, and smoothness to thick hair that lacks moisture.
  • Straight Hair: Smoothing or straight hair shampoos are typically rich in extra moisturizers and smoothing agents that help seal the cuticle and provide a great start for straight and smooth styles.
  • Wavy Hair: Balancing shampoos are typically a nice middle-of-the-road option. They’re not too moisturizing but won’t dry your hair out.
  • Curly Hair: Look for very moisturizing shampoos that contain ingredients that reduce frizz without weighing down the curls.
  • Damaged/Colored/Brittle Hair: Strengthening or fortifying shampoos are good for damaged, over-processed, highlighted, weakened, or brittle hair, as they usually contain extra protein to improve hair’s condition.

Shop Around for the right haircare.

There are a lot of products on the market, look to the internet to research and get  reviews from other people. Whether you’re back at your salon or not, it’s good to ask your stylist for tips and recommendations. a good stylist wants to help you feel and look your best. When you take care of your hair too, it makes them look good as well.

Look to beauty influencers online to see what products they are touting. Naturally, keep your perspective. Many are paid to hawk the products, but if they are using them with good results, delve into a little. Many new companies offer samples to get you started. This way you don’t waste money investing in something that may not work and just wind up taking up space in your bathroom.

Finally, make sure you keep it fun too. Haircare is serious health business, but it’s all about your crowning glory. Find what makes you feel like your most authentic and beautiful self.

 

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For more information check out the following sites for a more in-depth look at haircare.

 

https://www.byrdie.com/shampoo-101-choosing-the-right-shampoo-3517815

https://www.latimes.com/lifestyle/story/2020-04-11/coronavirus-black-hair-care-natural-braiding

https://www.lofficielusa.com/beauty/at-home-hair-care-covid-trend

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Fashion Fit to Live and Write In

Whether you’re single, a single parent, or married, all of us have a certain rhythm in our lives that we’re used to. Most of us go to work everyday and take care of children and in some cases, older parents as well. All of which means we have a lot of working parts in what seems to be perpetual motion. When Covid-19 entered our lexicon and lives, it threw a wrench into everything.

In the beginning, the slowdown was welcome. We finally had a chance to take a breather from the hectic pace of life. People went back into the kitchen and made comfort foods to get through all the changes and stresses the pandemic brought to our lives. Moreover, it also meant we could ditch the work clothes, at least from the waist down. We got to be comfortable, maybe a little too comfortable. If you thought the freshmen fifteen was in your rearview mirror, we now have the Covid-19 just in time for being around people again.

With the reopening of businesses and offices, it’s time to get dressed for work again. Many offices have decided to relax their dress requirements to make it a little easier to get reacclimated to life in a cubicle. The key is to find clothing to fit your work and life out and about.

Clothes that look and feel good

Luckily, designers and clothing manufacturers were watching and listening. Athleisure is a hybrid of workout clothes and loungewear, which makes for super versatile pieces that can go from the gym to the couch and even to the office.

I’ve discovered quite a few brands with styles that appeal to the north of forty-plus women and writers on the move. Halara is a company I saw on TikTok. If you’re a tennis fan like me, their Wannabe dress with biker shorts is right up your alley. It’s form-fitting and the short has pockets. (I love pockets). The material is breathable and will keep you looking cute when you’re out and about. Their sizes range through plus-size 3X.

Their leggings come in a variety of styles to suit different body types and can be dressed up or down with a jacket or shirt to wear to the office, but that depends on your offices’ vibe. It’s great to meet friends for coffee, or a quick stop in the grocery store. It’s functional and stylish.

If you’d like to see more of what Halara offers and look through the range of sizes, visit their website. Or check them out on Facebook, Instagram, or TikTok

https://www.tiktok.com/@halara_official?

https://www.instagram.com/thehalara/

https://www.facebook.com/thehalara/

https://m.thehalara.com/

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Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Opportunities for Women of Color Writers

Publishing is an industry based on the dissemination of information. This information is available in newspapers, magazines, and books. One of the reasons the invention of Guttenberg’s Press is considered the greatest invention ever, is it made the written word available to many. Words equal knowledge, which means the written word has the power to change and shape cultural issues. This is why it behooves us to include as many voices to reflect the diverse world we live in. Unfortunately, this in an area the book publishing industry has struggled with.

The old saying, the fish rots from the head, is an old, but true statement. The lack of diversity in publishing begins in its own halls. According to Alison Flood’s January 30th, 2020, article in The Guardian, US Publishing Remains as White today as it was Four Years Ago, 7% of respondents described themselves as “Asian/Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander”, with 6% “Hispanic/Latino/Mexican”, 5% “black/African American” and “biracial/multiracial” at 3%. Native Americans and Middle Easterners each comprise less than 1% of publishing staff.

Sadly, the same lack of representation exists with their list of authors. In the New York Times Opinion Section, Just How White is the Book Industry, 95% of books were written by white authors. This goes beyond simple racial bias. Gender, sexuality, age, socioeconomic background, disabilities, and religion are also factors. Publishing needs more diverse writers/authors who can give voice and give readers a chance to learn about other people’s perspectives to broaden their views on a variety of topics and issues.

She Writes Press is a women-focused publishing house. In 2019, they were the first hybrid publisher to receive the 2019 Independent Publisher of the Year. Reedsy, the blog for writing professionals and publishers, defines hybrid publishing as companies that combine elements of traditional publishing and self-publishing. In other words, they function as a traditional publisher, with the key exception that their authors will subsidize the cost of publishing and will not be given an advance on royalties.

If you would like to know more about the differences between hybrid, traditional, and self-publishing, Reedsy or Publishers Weekly, can provide you with the details along with the pros and cons of each option.

She Writes Press takes the need for BIPOC writers seriously. So, as a way to address the need for broader representation in fiction and nonfiction, She Writes Press launched the SparkPress Toward Equality (STEP)contest for BIPOC writers in furtherance of its mission to give voice to more women.

If you have a project you would like to enter, the contest is open to fiction and nonfiction writers and submissions are open until July 5, 2021. If you’re a woman of color and a writer, you can check out their website for more information about the contest and their company.

https://shewritespress.com/equality-in-publishing/

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Makeover Monday Meals- Lunchtime Edition

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It’s officially summertime and the living is easy and hot. Heading outside to barbecue or grill is great for holidays and the weekend, but in the midst of a busy work week, not so much.

Here’s a great recipe for a tasty, light, and easy chicken salad you can make using leftover grilled chicken, or low-sodium canned chicken breast. You can even make it vegan or vegetarian. Swap out the chicken with extra-firm tofu or seitan.

This recipe is keto friendly.

Light and Easy Chicken Salad

2 cans low-sodium chicken breast, drained or 1 1/2 cups of shredded from rotisserie chicken (1 cup of cubed extra-firm tofu or seitan)

3 tablespoons plain yogurt ( plain Greek yogurt, low-fat plain, whole milk plain, whole milk Greek yogurt) (plain vegan almond, rice, or soy yogurt)

1 1/2 tablespoons mayonnaise (light, olive oil, or vegan)

1 tablespoon onion powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground mustard powder or prepared Dijon mustard

1 Granny Smith apple, diced (skin on)

1 Macintosh, Gala, Empire, or Pink Lady apple, diced (skin on)

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup raisins (dark or golden, your choice)

1/4 finely diced red onion

Chopped walnuts or pecans

In a large bowl mix the mayonnaise, yogurt, onion powder, and mustard together to combine.

Add the chicken, apples, cranberries, raisins, and onions. Mix well to combine. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Serve on a bed of lettuce topped with walnuts or pecans. It’s also great as a light starter for a party served in endive or Bibb lettuce. Makes a great sandwich on toasted whole wheat or brioche bread.

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Food Fabulous Food- The Best Ever Fried Chicken- We put the recipe in Woman’s Day to the test

The Best Ever Fried Chicken

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The fast-food restaurant wars are back! Only this time, it’s not to crown the best hamburger, it’s all about the best chicken sandwich.

According to QSR, roughly 65 percent of the U.S. population ordered a breaded chicken sandwich from a quick-service restaurant in the last six months.  

Perhaps due to a frantic news cycle, around restaurants and across the country in general, it appears we’ve reached a lull in the chicken sandwich wars. But don’t expect that to last.

In Danny Klein’s April 2021 article, the reason brands jumped into the fray in the fall and winter of 2019 and over the duration of 2020, isn’t complicated. Ever since Popeyes’ August 2019 launch, quick-serves fixated on replicating its viral success. Even fast-food behemoth MacDonalds entered the wars with its chicken sandwich and saw a sizable boost in traffic in their restaurants.

I know people have definite favorites. Some love Popeye’s, while others head to Chick-Fil-A. There are a few new faces like the Florida-based PDQ, which recently opened a location in Farmingdale, New York.

While the fast-food chicken sandwiches are good, there is nothing like homemade fried chicken. There are countless recipes that all claim to be the best. As for this home cook, I prefer my grandmother’s recipe, but I am always up for a challenge. So, when a recipe says Best Ever Fried Chicken, I have to put it to the test.

The Woman’s Day recipe has all the essentials of southern cooking, buttermilk, and spices. However, the difference is in how the chicken is coated. The recipe works for a 10-piece chicken assortment or for the revered chicken breast. Not to mention when you make it home, you can add the spices you like. What’s not to like.

Is it the best ever fried chicken, no, but it is pretty good. You should give it a whirl.

Best Ever Fried Chicken Woman’s Day Recipe

INGREDIENTS

1/4 cup sugar

2 cloves garlic, thinly sliced 

6 cups low-fat buttermilk, divided 

4 tbsp. celery seeds, divided 

Kosher salt and pepper

1 whole chicken (5 to 6 pounds), cut into 10 pieces

2 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 tsp. cayenne

4 cups peanut or canola oil, for frying 

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DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, whisk together sugar, garlic, 4 cups buttermilk, 2 Tbsp celery seeds, and 1/2 cup salt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour. 

Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together flour, cayenne, 1 tsp salt, 1 Tbsp pepper, and remaining 2 Tbsp celery seeds. 

Attach a deep-fry thermometer to a large Dutch oven and heat oil on medium to 325°F. Place remaining 2 cups buttermilk in a second bowl. Working with a couple of pieces at a time, remove chicken from marinade, letting excess drip off. Coat in flour, shaking off excess, then coat in buttermilk and in flour once more. Shake off excess flour and add chicken to oil. 

Fry chicken until golden brown and cooked through, 4 to 10 minutes depending on piece. Repeat with remaining chicken, adjusting heat to keep oil between 300°F and 325°F.

PER SERVING: 485 calories, 27.5 g fat (6.5 g saturated fat), 37 g protein, 1,005 mg sodium, 21 g carbs, 1 g fiber

COST PER SERVING: $1.83

WD TEST KITCHEN TIP: Dip chicken in marinade and flour twice before frying for a shatteringly crisp crust. Switch it up by adding sugar, salt, and other seasonings to the buttermilk marinade. Remember, the temperature of the oils changes when the chicken is added. Be sure to temp the oil between batches to make sure it stays at 325-degrees.

Resources Woman’s Day magazine

QSR Magazine https://www.qsrmagazine.com/fast-food/chicken-sandwich-wars-will-ignite-again-2021

Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Makeover Monday Meals-Breakfast Edition

Monday gets a bad wrap. It’s the day after Sunday, which is the day most people relax and slow down. So, to get back on track, a lot of us stop to get caffeine and the carbohydrate of our choice to start the day.

In addition to an endless combination of coffees, teas, and drinks, both hot and cold, Starbucks has a blueberry streusel muffin that blueberry lovers can’t resist. if you’re one of them, this recipe by the Copycat blog delivers. Best of all, you can make it the day before, and just bake it off in the morning for a delicious warm treat with your beverage of choice.

This recipe has been adapted for the following dietary lifestyles:

  • Vegan/Vegetarian
  • Gluten-free
  • Low Sugar
  • No-Sugar

Copycat Starbucks Blueberry Streusel Muffins adapted by me

Ingredients

Streusel Topping

3 tablespoons melted unsalted butter (unsalted vegan butter)

2 teaspoons lemon zest

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

3 tablespoons sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit granulated sweetener, golden sugar, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar, pulsed finely)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)

Muffin Batter

2 eggs (1/4 cup Aquafaba, ½ cup silken tofu plus ¼ teaspoon baking soda, 2 flaxseed or chia seed eggs, egg replacer, or vegan egg replacer)

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (gluten-free all-purpose flour, 1 to 1 gluten-free baking blend, sorghum, millet, sweet rice, or brown rice flour)

1 cup sugar (Swerve sweetener, Splenda granulated, monk fruit granulated sweetener, golden sugar, coconut, turbinado, or raw cane sugar, pulsed finely)

2 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

¼ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup milk or buttermilk (dairy milk whole, 2%, or 1%) (low-fat buttermilk, light buttermilk, full-fat buttermilk) (non-dairy: almond, soy, almond, or light coconut milk plus 1 tablespoon lemon juice or apple cider vinegar mix and let sit for at least five minutes)

3 teaspoons melted unsalted butter (vegan unsalted butter)

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 cups blueberries fresh or frozen

Instructions

Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare streusel topping

Mix melted butter, sugar, lemon zest, and flour in a small bowl. Set aside.

Blueberry muffin preparation

Whisk the melted butter, vegetable oil, eggs, and milk (or buttermilk) in a bowl. Whisk until the mixture is uniform.

In another bowl add 2 1/2 cups of flour that you have sifted, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and stir to combine.

Combine the whisked egg mixture and the dry ingredients in a bowl, stir to combine.

Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of flour over the blueberries, then add the blueberries to the muffin batter, stir only until they are mixed. If you overmix the batter after you add the blueberries the blueberries will burst and turn the batter purple.

Grease muffin tin with non-stick spray.

Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full of batter. Top with streusel mixture.

Bake at 425 degrees for 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 375 and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Don’t overbake. Cool over a wire rack for ten minutes before inverting the muffins onto the rack.

  • Make-Ahead Instructions: Mix the batter and make the streusel. Refrigerate both, covered overnight. Follow the instructions to bake, but lower the temperature to 350 and bake for 20- 25 minutes, depending on your oven. The muffins are done when a toothpick inserted in the center comes out with a few crumbs. Do not overbake.
  • The muffins will keep at room temperature lightly covered for up to three days

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Living Your Best Life North of Forty and Fifty Plus

Say No To Toxic People in Your Life

It’s long been said that with age comes wisdom. For the majority of us who are north of forty and fifty-plus, that is the case. We understand the value of an education and the need for equality in matters of race, gender, and politics. Moreover, we have the benefit of hindsight to use the lessons learned from making mistakes to better our lives in the long run. There is an area that many of us still have issues with and it’s an area that has to do with our emotional lives and relationships.

All families have eccentricities and idiosyncrasies. Some of us have colorful uncles and aunts, outspoken sisters, cool brothers, fun dads, and moms who don’t take any guff from anyone. While we can’t choose our families, we can choose our friends. We migrate towards personalities that jibe with ours from the moment we enter school. Lifelong friendships are made in the halls of elementary school right on up through college.

However, as time goes on, people change. These changes happen within our families and friend groups, and it doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Outside factors contribute and shape people over time. Some of the changes are for the better, while others are not.  Sometimes friends and family members become toxic. A toxic person is anyone whose behavior adds negativity and upset to your life. Many times, people who are toxic are dealing with their own stresses and traumas, which should be kept in mind up to a point. Therefore, we need to educate ourselves to recognize the signs of toxic behavior, so that we can respond to it accordingly.

What Are the Signs of Toxicity?

 The Talk Safe Blog lists six behaviors of highly toxic people:

Blaming. Toxic people endlessly blame others and seem completely unable to “own” their own contribution to any problem. They never see themselves as a part of the problem.

Passive aggression. Toxic people don’t fight, they jab. In other words, they throw punches, then pull back, and repeat it.

Criticism. Toxic people are highly critical. They critique your looks, wardrobe, work, food, etc. in a very nitpicky way that keeps you on edge when they’re around.

Manipulation.

Negativity. They never see the good side of anything. They’re perennially glass half-empty people or Debbie/DeWayne Downers

Emotional blackmail.

In 3 signs a person with Toxic Qualities is Manipulating You (greatist.com) by Kari Langslet and reviewed by Janet Brio, Ph.D., LCSW, CST lists the signs as:

Being judgmental: The person may constantly pass judgment on you and others.

Obsessive neediness: They place huge strains on your time and energy.

Denialist: They refuse to take responsibility or apologize for their actions.

Not only will a number of us recognize these qualities in friends, we see it in spouses, girlfriends/boyfriends, and family members. So, what can we do to mitigate the toxicity they bring to our lives? According to Shannon Thomas, who was interviewed for the article in Greatist, start with detached contact, which means you still have occasional interactions but from a new emotional state.

“Getting a toxic person out of your life is all about setting boundaries, “For example, you may not return a toxic person’s call right away and, instead, wait 30 minutes to call back.” This can help you work through the anxiety of not jumping when they tell you to jump. Most importantly, the best way to remove a toxic person is by implementing no contact. All of it is wonderful advice, but what do you do when it’s a family member whose the toxic one?

According to When Family Becomes Toxic in Healthline, if you’ve experienced a toxic family dynamic, your feelings may go beyond frustration or annoyance. Instead, interacting with or even thinking about your family might cause significant emotional distress. Katherine Fabrizio MA, LPC, specializes in working with daughters of toxic mothers. She offers this general rule of thumb:

“If you end up feeling bad about yourself after most encounters with a family member, there’s probably a good reason for that, one worth looking into.” In other words, look back at your childhood, if you felt controlled, unloved, and criticized, you may want to examine how those feelings still affect you as an adult. You may have experienced some type of abuse that goes beyond physical to mental and verbal abuse. It’s important to seek professional help from a psychologist, therapist, counselor, or psychiatrist to help deal with these issues.

The best thing to do is to have no contact. If that’s not entirely possible, try to take steps to build yourself up to maintain your emotional well-being so you can handle being around that person. Beyond that, set limits. If you can share jokes and keep to topics that don’t elicit or trigger arguments, then do that. You are allowed to detach yourself from topics like religion, your dating life, relationships, or family history. Don’t allow yourself to be baited or drawn back into anything messy.

It’s okay to say No!

You have the right to decide on what you want to share and what you don’t. Set boundaries and don’t let them be crossed. Ultimately, if a toxic family member stays on that path and always wants to engage, then you may have to withdraw. It doesn’t mean you don’t love them, but you have to love yourself as well. That means not sticking your finger in the socket. The old saying is “hurt people, hurt people.”  It’s also been said, “fool me once, shame on you, fool me twice, shame on me.”  Leopards don’t change their spots and zebras don’t change their stripes, until a toxic family member recognizes their toxicity, they won’t change. Therefore, you have to change your response in order to have peace within your spirit.

If toxic family and friends don’t respect your boundaries and aren’t bringing anything positive to your life, they don’t have to be a part of your everyday life. Surround yourself with the people in your life who are uplifting, encouraging, loving, and accepting. They are the ones who love you and want you to be happy. Like you want for them.

For more information check out The Talk Safe blog for more articles and to connect with mental health professionals.

Greatist.com

For more about toxic relationships check out Healthline

https://www.healthline.com/health/interpersonal-relationships