Archive for November 2013

Thankful for our Senses

“Dad, your hand was on fire!” So summarized my youngest daughter after watching my culinary disaster unfold in front of her. We had been chatting as I began to pop some corn the old-fashioned way – in hot olive oil in a pan. As the oil heated, the popcorn kernels were not where I thought and I took an extra minute to locate them. Turning back to the heating pan I saw it was smoking – overheated oil. I quickly slid the pan off the heating element and – here’s the big mistake – lifted the lid to release the smoke. As the air hit the hot oil it burst into flame, briefly igniting my left hand. Can you say, OUCH!? I pivoted immediately and plunged my hand under the cold faucet as the pan sat flaming on the floor and the smoke alarm began to screech. We quickly doused the flame and opened the doors to air out the smoke.

As I got my hand back under the cold water, and then applied Silvadene burn cream and wrapped my very unhappy hand I was struck by something: what an amazingly intense array of sensory nerves we are equipped with! – or, put more plainly, holy cow this is stinking killing me! For about two hours it still felt like my hand was in burning oil. My mouth was dry; I was nauseated. Then it began to ease.

As incredibly unpleasant as that was, and somewhat still is (I’m typing with a bandaged hand), I am thankful for the rich sensory system God built into us. Even in the two seconds it took me to get from flame to water, I sustained a fair bit of injury. Had it not hurt much and I’d moved slower I can only imagine the additional damage that would have been done.

Touch (including pain), along with sight, hearing, taste and smell are what help us make sense of the world around us. These five senses not only protect us from danger, but they allow us to enjoy the world we are in.

We have just marched through another vibrant parade of fall colors in East Tennessee. Our eyes, which consist of more than two million working parts, processed the images and sent them to the part of your brain called the visual cortex. Somehow patterns of light falling on a two dimensional retina were interpreted into a pulsating three dimensional world by our brain.

At birth, our ears are unspoiled organs capable of discerning among more than 300,000 sounds. Of course after years of exposure to loud noises, the hair cells in the inner ear are sheered and flattened, becoming less sensitive – go easy on the volume through those ear buds. Our eardrums are also finely tuned, able to pick up sounds so faint that the eardrum itself moves a distance less than the diameter of a hydrogen molecule.

What about taste? Our mouth and tongue are spread with over 10,000 taste buds that give enjoyment to what could otherwise be just a boring process of refueling. Then, in a part of the brain known as the anterior cingulate, tastes get married to emotional reactions such as delight or disgust.

And smell? Though we pale compared to our canine friends, even the human sense of smell can pick up a whiff of skunk when the amount of scent in the air is less than one ten-trillionth of an ounce. We are able to distinguish about 10,000 different odors.

And that brings us back to our sense of touch. There are hundreds of nerve endings in every square inch of skin. Some are specialized to feel texture and pressure, while others, thankfully, detect temperature and register pain.

When we’re hurting it’s hard not to complain. But as we enter this Thanksgiving season, it’s a good time to thank our Creator for the amazing sensory system He’s given us to interact with the world He’s put us in. In her book, One Thousand Gifts, which I’d highly recommend especially at this time of year, Ann Voskamp quotes Alexander Schmerman, “Eucharist [thanksgiving] is the state of the perfect man. Eucharist is the life of paradise. Eucharist is the only full and real response of man to God’s creation, redemption, and gift of heaven.”

Andrew Smith, MD is board-certified in Family Medicine and practices at 1503 East Lamar Alexander Parkway, Maryville. Contact him at 982-0835





Taco, salsa chicken

Ok guys!! Another super simple chicken recipe with multiple ways to enjoy it! Either as a main dish with some yummy veggie sides, over a salad with some added cheese and sour cream, or on a low carb wrap! Extremely convenient to set and forget in the crock pot overnight, while at work, or bake in the oven for a quick dinner!


Salsa- 1 jar (regular not large size)

1 packet of low sodium taco seasoning

4-6 chicken breasts


Pre-heat oven to 350 or set out crock pot

place thawed chicken breasts in 13x 9 pan  (or place in crock pot)

pour salsa and 1 packet of taco seasoning over chicken

** may sprinkle cheese on top if desired

Bake for 35-45 minutes (depending on thickness and # of chicken breasts) OR

Cook on LOW for 6-7 hrs in crockpot overnight OR

Cook on HIGH for 4 hrs in crockpot

Serve as main dish with a salad and veggie OR

overtop of a bed of lettuce add sour cream, cheese, guacamole, etc for a “taco salad” OR

on a low carb wrap for taco night! :)

**Lots of ways to enjoy this incredibly simple chicken recipe. It is extremely moist and you can add a little more “kick” with a hotter taco seasoning, more of it, or some hot sauce!

We actually had this twice this week!!! I like to add a little extra salsa for additional moisture and flavor and prefer mine a top a salad. My husband prefers his as a main dish and can serve with steamed broccoli or green beans and some cauliflower mashed potatoes (recipe coming soon!!)



Roasted Broccoli with parmesan

One of my favorite sides! My hubs was not a huge veggie fan when we met 10 yrs ago!!! He actually had NEVER had a salad before, this is a TRUE story!!! He liked NOTHING green, but as time has passed and I have continued to introduce vegetables in all kinds of new ways, steamed, roasted, sauteed, etc….I have learned that a little cheese makes everything better. On our 4th anniversary we were out to dinner and he actually ordered a side of broccoli, I thought he was just being sweet and getting an extra side for me since it is one of my favorite foods, so I say “honey, you didn’t have to do that” and his reply, “do what? order broccoli? why? its for me!” I was so taken back thinking “where is my husband and what have you done with him! ” :) This is now one of his favorite ways to enjoy broccoli and mine as well! He says it tastes like fried okra?? Try it out and see for yourself!! :)


1 head of broccoli (or desired amount- I did one bag of florets)


garlic salt

olive oil

parmesan cheese


Preheat oven to 400

Grease baking pan w/ olive oil or butter

cut broccoli florets (as small as desired) place on baking sheet

drizzle olive oil and mix on pan to coat broccoli lightly

add lite salt to taste ( I used very little)

garlic salt to taste

Bake at 400 for 20 min.

After 20 min. check and sprinkle parmesan cheese

It should be crunchy/ crispy when it is finished!!!

One of our favorite dishes along side any lean protein or healthy fat!




Baked spaghetti squash and cheese


Baked spaghetti squash and cheese
A fantastic casserole dish, full of flavor, and it even includes one of my favorite SUPERFOODS=Spinach! Recipe has been slightly modified from its original. Recipe credits and photos can be found on:
Recipe type: side dish
Serves: 7 cups
  • 5½ cups cooked spaghetti squash (from about 2 small)
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • 3 heaping tbsp. of almond flour
  • 2 cups unsweet almond milk or Carbmaster milk
  • 1 cup fat free chicken broth (vegetable broth for vegetarian)
  • 8 oz Sargento 2% reduced fat mild cheddar
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • 4 cups (about 4 oz) baby spinach
  • ⅛ cup grated parmesan
  1. Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
  2. Cut the squash in half lengthwise; remove and discard seeds. Place squash on a baking sheet. Bake until tender, about 1 hour (or you can cut in ½, place in microwave for 5 mins, then place in oven for about 45 mins. to cut down on bake time). After baking the squash is a darker yellow and shell feels soft- Separate the strands of squash with a fork and place in a medium bowl; discard shells. Maintain the oven temperature.
  3. Heat butter and oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onions and cook about 2 minutes. Stir in flour. Reduce heat to low and cook, stirring continually 3 - 4 minutes.
  4. Add milk and chicken broth and continue whisking, raising heat to medium-high until it comes to a boil and becomes smooth and thick, about 2 minutes stirring; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Once it becomes thick, remove from heat, add cheddar cheese and mix well until cheese is melted. Adjust salt and pepper to taste, add cooked spaghetti squash and baby spinach, pour into a baking dish and sprinkle parmesan cheese on top. Bake until bubbly and golden 25 to 30 minutes
I made a few slight modifications from the original post to reduce the carbohydrate count. It was fabulous pared with grilled pork chops and a salad for dinner. When I reheated left-overs, it drew attention to my's that tasty! Maybe a great alternative for those that once enjoyed cheesy pasta too! I think you could easily throw in some cooked ground beef or diced up sausage pieces (along with the spinach, just before baking) and make this a full meal instead of just a side item.