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Recipe for Love

A good recipe can help you cook your way to one’s heart. Someone also once told me that the key to a happy life, is a happy wife. So, for this Valentine’s Day, I decided to put the two together and share this idea for your special holiday planning this week. h/t to Mark Bittman of the NYT for this inspired meal.

Black miso cod, miso soup, salad, rice, and chocolate ganache covered strawberries for the ever-coveted dessert. 

This is a great recipe for someone who is not an experienced hand in the kitchen. It’s amazing, and tastes like the most complicated and delicate dish ever prepared. But, as it turns out, is really easy!

Miso Cod

  1. Combine 1 cup of miso paste with 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of sake and simmer in a small sauce pain. You can bring it to a boil but then let it cool.
  2. Lay out your Chilean Sea Bass or Black Cod (they are very similar) in 6-8oz pieces.
  3. Fire up your broiler. Place the rack 4-6 inches from the top.
  4. Generously coat the fish in the miso sauce.
  5. Broil until done, typically about 5 minutes per 1/2″ of thickness.
  6. Remove from the oven, plate and enjoy!

Pair it with some miso soup (also easy to make):

  1. Bring 4 cups of water to a boil with 1 tablespoon of dashi.
  2.  Add 1/3 cup of red or white miso paste and stir.
  3. Add 6-8 oz of shiitake mushrooms and you’ve got a simple and flavorful miso soup in about 10 minutes.

I’d consider a simple tossed salad with Japanese style ginger dressing.

Lastly no Japanese meal is complete without a bowl of steamed rice! Any Japanese short grain will do, I usually choose Calrose.

Finish it off with chocolate covered strawberries, with fresh ganache:

  1. Destem and wash large, fresh strawberries
  2. Melt 8 oz of dark chocolate chips in a small pan inside of a larger one filled with water
  3. Slowly and steadily stir in ½ cup of heavy cream until fully mixed.
  4. Dip the strawberries and leave them to cool on some wax paper in the refrigerator.

*If you don’t mind a little corn syrup you could add a splash to the chocolate mixture (just a splash) and it will give the ganache a nice shine.  But this is optional. Make as many as you’ll think you’ll eat.

Voila – simple to make, decadent and romantic Valentine’s dinner!

– Sam Spillman, DC

New Year, New Resolution

It is that time of year again, the birth of a new year and maybe a new you. Are you making any New Year’s Resolutions? In the fitness and health care communities we tend to focus a lot on losing weight, diet, starting an exercise program.  And all those are wonderful things. But I think it is important to focus on what will make your life better. What kind of resolutions will improve YOUR life. Not necessarily what your healthcare provider would choose for you, or your spouse, or your parents.  We might want to swear less, or improve a relationship with a loved one, visit family more, get a promotion at work, get more involved with charity, and so on.

Whether you are trying to resist something that is bad for you or start a new thing that is good for you, making a change can be difficult.  

I like to start with the end result and work my way backward. For each goal, I like to make it SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. This is a commonly used business idea, but it can be applied to personal goals too. To me, using this method can help really set ourselves up for success.   

For me, less screen time in the year ahead is a big goal. You may have noticed that it is more difficult to NOT do something than it is to add a new activity. So instead of setting a screen time limit for myself, I’m endeavoring to fill up my time with other things, so that screen time is less of an option outside of work. I’m making a list of books I’d like to read, and a commitment to do more activities after work. I’ve joined a committee of a local charity and I’m going to attend one evening jujitsu class a week.

So as you make your New Year’s Resolutions, try to spend time planning out how you might achieve your goals, as well as determining what goals to set.

You’ve got this. Happy New Year!

Sam Spillman, DC

Giving Thanks for Balance

At the start of this holiday season, we’d like to give thanks for Balance(d). I named my practice Balanced because I believe in a measured approached to things – to the body, to patient care, and to life. It serves as a reminder to me as much as I hope it does for my patients. Last year I wrote about the importance of balance during the holidays, and you can read about it here. This year, I thought I’d share how I keep my balance during the holidays. Keeping your holidays stress free is great advice, but I want to talk a bit about how you actually do it.


For me, as an introvert, I’ve learned it is really important not to over schedule myself. If I do, it can really wear me out. So I keep track of my schedule in a calendar, and when I consider any invitation I look at the time slot and see what’s around it. If attending the event doesn’t leave me any recharge time, or there’s too much travel time, or if it means I’ll miss too much of my exercise plans, it’s likely a pass for me. Of course for those with children, schedules can be more complicated. You just have to keep your mind on the balance.


Another consideration around the holidays is food. I love food. You can often hear me talking about cooking, restaurants, and value-driven ingredients. To balance food around this time of year, I try to keep lunch light and very healthy – especially if I have plans for dinner or a party later. Then there are the oh-so-tempting sweets that pop up everywhere during the season. So, I eat a healthy snack before I head out since counting calories doesn’t work for me. When I am trying to relax and enjoy a party the last thing I want to think about is how healthy the food is I am eating. Filling up a little on healthier foods before I go can also help ease the guilt along with the managing how much I eat. I gain weight easily if I’m not careful, so I tend to stick with my plans.


I’m a big proponent of exercise, as many of my colleagues in the healthcare field are. If you’re trying to keep from gaining weight, or if you’re trying to lose weight during the holiday season, you’ve got to pay attention to your diet the most. However, exercising during the holidays will also help keep your weight in check as well as help to alleviate stress and keep you in a better mood overall. Of course, if you’re on a set plan for a competition, stick with your plan. If you’re like most people, you exercise more because you should and less because you love it – or perhaps you don’t exercise at all. Time is a big factor for those who don’t, but it doesn’t need to be all or nothing. The key thing is to keep your body moving. If during the holidays, you drop from four days a week to three, that’s a good trade-off. Another way to make the most of your time is to consider high-intensity interval training to make your exercise shorter but more intense. You’ll still build muscle, improve your cardiovascular function, and get all those wonderful stress relieving chemicals – going hard for 10-15 minutes can be as useful as an hour of moderate exercise on the bike or a long walk.

So, take these tips and find your balance this holiday season:

  • Look at your calendar frequently and make sure you aren’t overloading yourself and the family
  • Stick to a healthy breakfast and lunch and have a healthy snack so you don’t have to watch too much at a party
  • Keep up with some amount of exercise, even if it’s less than you normally do

Sam Spillman, DC

Cornell Chicken from the Heart

My grandfather was a farmer in the heart of Cornell chicken country. He raised dairy cows, chickens, and corn in upstate New York and when he retired, he continued farming the most delicious corn – and even became adept at growing brussels sprouts – on the few acres behind his house.

Back in the day, Cornell chicken was widely popularized by Cornell University’s poultry science and agricultural program as an inexpensive protein alternative to beef. And Cornell’s very own Robert C. Baker actually invented the barbecue recipe now famous in Cornell chicken recipes – like the one my grandfather perfected. However, Baker’s real claim to fame was his invention of the chicken nugget, which he actually invented while at Penn State but only gained appreciation after he joined the faculty at Cornell. He would travel all over the country sharing his love of poultry and demonstrations of his recipes.

At one point, Cornell had approached my grandfather inviting him to be one of their instructors at the agricultural school but his love of farming kept his focus. I must say I’m glad it did because my grandfather’s Cornell chicken recipe is a summer classic, and brings back some of my fondest childhood memories.

This Fourth of July I’ll be grilling up a batch of my grandfather’s signature summer fare, complete with corn-on-the-cob for the side – though I’ll be getting my corn from the local farmer’s market. Give it try!


What you’ll need: 

  • 1 egg
  • 2 cups of apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup of vegetable oil
  • 3 tbsps salt
  • 1 tablespoon of black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning

What to do:

  • In a bowl, beat the egg and whisk in oil followed by the vinegar and then the seasonings.
  • Marinate whole chicken, or chicken pieces, for 24 hours.
  • Throw it on grill and cook to an internal temperature of 165 F.


Tips for a Stress-less Holiday

The holidays. Some would say it is the most wonderful time of the year. Others might argue it’s actually the most stressful time of the year. To stress, or not to stress – that is the question.

Whatever you stance, here are my 6 tips to a stress-less holiday season:

6. Think of others in this season of giving – from your community, place of worship, family, friends, neighbors, and even those you’ve never met – give of yourself, give what you can. What you get in return will be a comfort of knowing you made a difference.

5. Plan for holiday of tradition that fits your family – introduce activities and traditions that mean the most. Remember you can’t make everyone happy all of the time, so be sure to find happiness for you as you plan your festivities.

4. Just say no. There may be some holiday events you simply cannot make. It’s OK. After all, you’re only human!

3. Prioritize your parties. As you look at the calendar of events, try organizing against opportunities to see all of your friends and family at least once. Aunt Sally’s brunch? Yes. Visit to your great-grandmother? Absolutely. Champagne with your best friend? Yes. That co-worker who invited the whole office to her holiday gathering? Maybe not.

2. Set aside time for your immediate family – your partner, your kids. Create special memories from those unforgettable moments with those closest to you.

1. Make time for yourself. To be your best self during the fun and festivities, be sure to maintain healthy sleep and exercise schedules. Take a break from the chores – maybe schedule a healing massage – and seize opportunity to steal away enjoy a little ‘me-time’.

If you stay true to yourself and manage your stress, you’ll enjoy this time of year much more and limit your personal health risks.

Happy, and Stress-Less, Holidays!

10 Tips to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

Keeping your New Year’s resolutions. It’s tough – we’ve all been there. You gain so much clarity at the end of another year and you find your focus – determined to (finally) achieve those targeted goals. January is welcomed in with a surge of excited anticipation at how amazing everything will be once you hit those goals. Then, February comes. Sticking to those resolutions may be tough but, with a little help, we can do it.

2017 New Year's ResolutionsHere are 10 tips to help you stay the course and rise to the resolutions.
  1. Keep it attainable. Set specific, measurable, attainable, realistic (SMART) goals. This will make the process manageable. Trying to lose 100 pounds is steep goal – but trying to lose 5 pounds per month, is a realistic goal that you can measure your progress by. Celebrating the smaller victories will only fuel your motivation to continue.
  2. Skip the fancy fitness trackers. A large study just published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reveals that people tend to actually gain more weight while using these trackers, because they overeat when they feel they are burning more calories.
  3. Exercise moderately, but stay away from the super intense workout routines. Advertising for some of these intense programs focuses on the incredible results you could enjoy. However, the reality is that most people are more likely to get injured in one of these programs than reap the rewards. Start an exercise program gradually and give your body time to adapt. When you are ready for the high intense activities, try working under the supervision of a trained professional.
  4. Get more sleep. Sleep helps you to be happier; to think better; to heal faster; and to get more out of your workouts. Maybe you’re already getting the great-8 – and you wake up feeling energized for the day without the aid caffeine – but if that doesn’t sound like you, take note and plan for more sleep.
  5. Make informed buying decisions.  Getting to the gym can be a hassle, and you’re convinced that if only you had the exercise equipment at home, you’d be on it every day. But, did you know that there are lots of resources on body weight exercises that you can do without spending any money? If you are in the market to outfit your home gym, be sure to do your research and buy from a reputable brand dealer.
  6. Pass up the sports drinks and diet sodas. Sugar is not your friend, and we’ve all heard about losing electrolytes while working out – but unless you’re in the middle of an endurance competition or training session, your average run or exercise class isn’t going to deplete you. You’re just sabotaging your hard work with unnecessary sugar and calories.
  7. Practice willpower. Willpower is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it gets. The toughest choices are easiest to make earlier in the day when you’re fresh and your resolve is strong. Set yourself up for success. Make the tough choices early in the morning and take it easy on yourself at the end of the day.
  8. Walk more. Walking is great- it helps lubricate your joints; relieves pressure on the spine from sitting; burns calories; and helps clear the mind. So take that empty parking spot at the end of the row and take a few laps around the office – it will help keep you moving towards those goals, plus your joints will thank you.
  9. Receive regular adjustments. Once you’re injured, the risk of re-injury increases. Seeing your chiropractor for proper adjustments regularly can result in a lower incidence of re-injury. Keep your body tuned in good alignment, and don’t forget about the physical therapy.
  10. Smile. Smiling can lower your heart rate, and reduce blood pressure and stress. It causes endorphins to be released and elevates your mood. Smiling also lowers pain and can improve relationships with people around you. Plus, it’s a lot easier to smile than frown, and your face will thank you for it!
With these tips, we hope you keep all of those resolutions – and wish you all the best for a happy, healthy and fit 2017.

Thanksgiving: What I’m Thankful for in 2015


pumpkin with a Happy Thanksgiving paper price tag - holiday shopping concept

With numerous studies showing that gratitude promotes health, maybe I should consider handing out prescriptions for thankfulness. Or even better, give you a chance to win a gift card to Marie Bette for telling Balance what you’re thankful for – just like this post and leave a comment with at least one thing you’re grateful for this year. Winners announced this Friday, November 27!

I’ll go first. I have a lot to be thankful for in 2015!


  1. The birth of my niece, Zoe.

Zoe made me an uncle. I was able to visit her and my sister and brother-in-law shortly after her birth, and we FaceTime every week. I have been most surprised by how quickly Zoe changes as she grows. Half the memory on my phone is now taken up with pictures of the best baby I’ve ever met, and I’m reminded to take care of myself so I can be an uncle who is around for a long time to come.


  1. The birth of Dr. Eng’s baby, Hannah.

I’ve also celebrated the birth of Dr. Eng’s daughter, who arrived last month. Everyone at Balance is happy that Hannah and Dr. Eng are doing well.


  1. Trying hot yoga for the first time.

As I wrote in a blog about my first yoga experience, it’s good to try new things. Getting in a rut of doing the same exercises over and over doesn’t give your body a chance to fulfill its greatest health potential and can even result in a repetitive strain injury. Realizing I needed more flexibility training, I took a hot yoga class earlier this year – and I liked it! I’ve attended several classes since and am making it a regular practice.


  1. Hiring Dong Ha, a massage therapist and physical therapy assistant for Balance.

I’m constantly thinking about how Balance can offer the best services to our patients and recently hired Dong Ha to offer therapeutic massage. Dong brings to Balance over twenty years of experience as a physical therapist and great massage skills. I am delighted that Balance patients are now able to receive massage as part of their treatment plan.


  1. Plans to move Balance to a bigger space, coming soon.

In early 2016, Balance will be moving into renovated space in the historic King Lumber Company Warehouse on Preston Avenue. Just a quarter mile away from our current office, the new location will be larger, allowing us more room for physical therapy and for performance enhancement services. The new office will also have more parking. Stay tuned to our blog and Facebook for updates on this exciting move!


  1. Introducing Gray Cook at the Virginia Chiropractic Association Fall Convention.

Gray Cook is the founder of Functional Movement and a professional hero of mine. Gray’s work has significantly influenced my professional development and my patient care. It was an honor to introduce him when he spoke to Virginia chiropractors at our fall convention.


And last but certainly not least…


  1. My patients.

I hope to be learning as long as I’m living, and I learn a lot from you, my patients! You are a wonderful source of new information. You’ve told me about therapies that you have had success with at other places. You’ve given me suggestions for good places to eat in Charlottesville and when traveling, hotels to stay in while visiting Costa Rica, places to visit in Paris, the best place to try hot yoga in Charlottesville… Each of you makes it really fun to come to work.


Thank YOU for choosing Balance Chiropractic as your partner in health in 2015. I look forward to helping you stay strong and healthy in 2016.


6 Ways to Be Safe & Healthy and Have Fun on Halloween

  1. Make sure kids can be seen in the dark.

Cinderella’s gown might not have included a reflective light band, but your princess’s costume should. Reflective bands – the kind worn by cyclists around their legs or arms – are cheap and easily available at local bike shops, Target, Wal-Mart, and online at Amazon. Wrap one around your child’s arm so they can be easily seen even as the sun goes down.

And slow down when you’re driving through neighborhoods on Halloween! Remember that children aren’t always aware of their surroundings or potential danger – so we need to be aware of them.


  1. Avoid face masks.

Encourage your children to choose a costume without a face mask, which has a risk of suffocation. A full mask may also make it harder for a child to see, causing lesser injuries like bumps and bruises from tripping and falling.

Opt for a hat, crown, or face paint instead. Easy to use face paint can be found on the costume aisle or at a craft store.


  1. Get to know your neighbors.

holidays, halloween party and decoration concept - close up of carved pumpkins on table

Throwing an old-fashioned block party lets your kids – and you! – have fun while finding safety in numbers. Invite neighbors to bring treats for all to share and throw some apples for bobbing in a large basin of water, and you have a party. Don’t forget to set out safety cones or “watch for children” signs to remind passing drivers to be extra careful in your neighborhood.

If your neighbors aren’t up for a party, find one at a local community center or church. In Charlottesville, you can join the popular Trick or Treating on the UVA Lawn, where UVA undergraduates living on the Lawn pass out candy. Several University groups also set up games and prizes at the end of the Lawn. If you’re worried about all the candy piling up in your child’s bucket, stop by the Department of Family Medicine’s booth, where they pass out books.


  1. Be aware of the limits of “fun scariness.”

Dressing up for Halloween gives children of all ages an opportunity to use our imaginations to be creative and have fun. For children in particular, the scary elements of Halloween can help them face fear in a controlled way, giving them a sense of power over it. For younger or very sensitive children, however, the scariness can become overwhelming. If your child seems anxious about all skeletons, scary masks, and faux headstones popping up in October, read her or him books about Halloween or being scared that have positive messages, such as The I’m Not Scared Book. You may also explain the how behind scary things: How does that skeleton move? Is it alive? No, it’s blowing in the wind!

Most importantly, just listen to your children and let them know that however they feel is ok, and you are there to protect them – and help them choose a non-scary costume!


  1. Donate some of your candy to care packages for overseas military.

Many dental offices have begun collecting excess Halloween candy, which they then send to military personnel serving abroad. Some dentists offer incentives in return. The Halloween Candy Buyback website allows you to input your zip code and find a dentist near you who is participating. Platinum dental participants are offering xylitol-based sweets in return. The Halloween Candy Buyback is also donating toothbrushes to overseas military.


  1. Recover from your race for candy.

All parents know that by the third or fourth block of trick or treating, there’s a decent chance you’ll be carrying a Minion or a Tinkerbell who is too tired to walk back home. Between that and staying up late the night before to make enough monster cupcakes for your kid’s class, you may be feeling drained come November 1.

Regain your wellbeing with a massage by Dong Ha at Balance Chiropractic & Physical Therapy. Dong is trained in both massage and physical therapy and has twenty years of experience, ranging from working with national-level athletes to post-orthopedic surgery rehabilitation. Book your appointment by calling (434) 293-3800 or emailing [email protected]