A Sound Basis for Happy Living: Laughter

A Sound Basis for Healthy Living: Laughter

“Laughter is an instant vacation”  -Milton Berle

We live in a funny world. There are days in which we laugh from the joy of accomplishing extraordinary feats, to instants of belting out from subtle mishaps, to moments of uproarious crying at a priceless joke, to just painfully laughing at the misfortunes of a crappy day.

But, no matter what kind of situation you’re in, laughter is the best friend that slaps you in the face to wake you up then hugs you in that same moment of hysteria. It’s the pre-language social groundwork for communicating our most soulful reactions, understood universally by all.

Evolution of Laughter: Why do we laugh?

Like most of us, chuckling, laughing, and smiling can be seemingly simple tasks. Yet, scientifically, laughter has very complex social contexts and is even classified into different types.

1. Duchenne Smile/Laugh

This is the unconscious, stomach-aching, “ROFL”, “HAHAHAHAHAHA”, face-reddening type of genuine laughter.

19th century neurologist, Guillaume Duchenne (I know, freaking awesome name), determined there were two distinct types of smiles: the one named after himself, and the one not like the one named after himself. A Duchenne smile involves contraction of both the zygomatic major muscle (which engages the muscles that lift the corners of the mouth) and the orbicularis oculi muscle (which raises the cheeks and the puffy bags under our eyes).

This is the type of smile/laughter that is strongly associated with positive emotion and engages are brains to have an “ah-ha!” moment, initiating our learning/attention pathways. Which makes sense, right? Considering we are much more attentive (and attracted) to people that execute genuine humor, along with a more vivid memory of what was said. This ancient trigger dates back millions of years in primates who used this behavior as a tool to play, learn, and explore amongst their peers.

That being said, much has evolved in human behavior since the time of our furry ancestors, making way for another type of smile/laughter that sadly does NOT resemble anything funny.

2. Non-Duchenne Smile/Laugh

Understandably, Duchenne classified this smile/laugh as being dis-genuine and “fake”. I prefer the modern-day expression: the “Botox smile.” The reason being that only the zygomatic major muscle is activated, keeping the cheeks and crow’s feet perfectly intact.

So, the next time you tell a hilarious joke and you notice ONLY the zygomatic muscle is being used…call them out…or just never tell that joke again.

However, this voluntary eremitic smirk is not necessarily a bad thing. More often than not, we use this tactic as a show of politeness. In an age where being aloof in a social setting is more regarded with negative consequences, social culture has taken to utilize a mutually beneficial interaction: the “fake” chuckle. As renowned sidewalk neuroscientist, Robert Provine, once said, “it is a mimicked laughter for the purpose of manipulating and gathering attention to the topic; a form of beneficial social interaction.”

After spending a decade observing laughter all over the world(Laugher: A Scientific Investigation), Dr. Provine, discovered that less than 20% of real-world laughter incidents had anything to do with something resembling humor. In fact, he discovered that the majority (80-90%) of laughter incidents was due to an elicit response to whimsical, mundane social commentary, such as “I’ll see you later!” or “Look at this guy!”

Here’s the cream of the crop of the study: 46% of the time the person talking was more likely to chuckle at what they were saying compared to the person listening (if they were).

Hence, Provine concluded through his observations, that laughter was not just an inherent genetic gift, but also a form of communication.


It’s no coincidence that fits of laughter tend to have a domino effect in larger groups. In a study out of the University of College London, neuroscientists found that specific sound, such as laughter and chuckling are registered in our minds as positive sounds. While, on the other hand, screaming and wailing are indicative of negative circumstances.

All of these sounds activate responses in the premotor cortical region, which is responsible for controlling facial muscles to move in a way that correlates to the type of sound. For example, in parenting, it is genetic for a mother and father to react to a babies screaming by showing facial expressions of worry and concern. This is the brain’s way of alerting parents that there may be a threat. In the case of positive sounds, like laughter, there is a much stronger behavioral response in the brain, inciting a mirroring cue amongst others to laugh. This social precursor is meant to dispel tense situations/alleviate any notion of a threat, as well as prime strong social bonds amongst other individuals.

Food for thought: Why do you think comedians who perform in front of larger crowds are thought to be funnier?

Laugh at my Pain

Comedian Kevin Hart is notorious for creating humor out of unanimously crappy situations. And as he likes to say:

“Don’t laugh, this is some serious sh**.

Well, it should come as no surprise that as a species we thrive on employing laughter as a weapon against overwhelming, traumatic events. Essentially, this is a “matured” defense mechanism that allows us to believe whatever unfortunate event is happening isn’t as bad as it seems; or at least we are left to believe we’ll move through it.  Neuroscientist, V.S. Ramachandran, elucidates in his book, A Brief Tour of Human Consciousness, that laughter evolved as a notification to ourselves and to those around us that imminent threat is not actually there.

Dr. Alex Wickerman’s “Why We Laugh”, brilliantly exemplifies the necessary means for which a resuscitated laugh can slap away our suffering and despair, further manifesting into a wanderlust of “high-life condition.”

Laugh at your Pain

We’ve all laughed at someone falling from having too much to drink, or flailing across the rubber synthetic track while slowly jogging the mile in P.E. But, why do we find it funny, even when we KNOW the situation could be serious and we don’t “intend” to laugh?

Dr. William Fry, psychiatrist and laughter specialist at Stanford University, explains it’s because of two reasons:

  1. “Play Frame”
  2. Incongruity

“Play frame” is a psychological term that basically means your brain is putting a real-life event into a non-serious context.  Which is why you won’t laugh at someone who has the misfortune of falling down a 10-story building vs. someone who trips on the sidewalk.

The other piece to the puzzle is incongruity, which encompasses the idea that one will laugh at something unexpected as long as it follows the rules of a “play frame”.

Here’s what’s really interesting:

The neurons that fire as a result of witnessing such hilarious events are called mirror neurons, which happen to be the same neurons that are highly active during feelings of empathy and imitation. Fry goes on to explain that part of the reason why we find the act of someone tripping so entertaining is because we “imitate” the same scenario happening to us in our minds. Sort of like a “ghost” reality.

I’m Not…THAT…Ticklish

Tickling people can be incredibly rewarding. Being tickled…not so much.

Red/orange/yellow = brain regions activated 

Red/orange/yellow = brain regions activated

The sensation of being tickled originates on the top layer of the epidermis (skin), sending pressure signals to the hypothalamus and anterior cingulate gyrus, regions of the brain that control both pleasurable and painful experiences. This is why you laugh, but also feel uncomfortably violated at the same time.

Evolutionary biologists believe that laughing when being tickled is an innate defense mechanism to thwart predators by expressing submission to an aggressor. It’s kind of like telling someone who wants to fight you, “Hey, are those the new Jordans?” and they gleefully respond, “Yea, man. Thanks for noticing!” Pretty sure that never happens, but I hope you can appreciate my glimmering attempt at providing an adequate analogy.

So, why can’t we tickle ourselves?

The cerebellum (the most posterior region of the brain which controls balance and refined motor skills) already knows from the intent of self-tickling that you will tickle yourself, so it doesn’t waste time on analyzing the physical sensory information of being lightly touched. Basically, you can’t fool yourself…which we are all very thankful for, because no one would ever continuously surprise tickle themselves (also considering how ridiculous that would look).

In an fMRI study by Wattendorf et. al (2012), neuroscientists wanted to specifically target which region of the brain is involved with the laughter associated with tickling, and if the same region is involved for involuntary and voluntary laughter. What they found was the hypothalamus (which controls heart rate accompanied by genuine laughter) and amygdala (which controls emotions) are exclusively excited when subjects unconsciously laughed and forcibly laughed during tickling behavior.

Patients who develop cysts or lesions in specific regions of the hypothalamus have high moods and suddenly burst into constant laughter. So, be wary of that.

Fun Fact: Gorillas and mice laugh like us when they’re tickled too, but they giggle at 50kHz, which is out of our audio range. I know, bummer…


Laughter is our oldest language. It’s a gift that every person on the planet, regardless of culture, disability, and religion is born with. Why not utilize it in every moment when it’s therapeutic powers are unveiled in every social context. And benefits are not just emotional, but physiological too:

  • Stronger immune system
  • Relieves pain by introducing natural painkillers into the body
  • Helps relax muscles and relieve stressful/difficult situations
  • Increases personal satisfaction and a healthy outlook on life and the people around you
  • A better method of getting a 6-pack
    • 15 minutes of laughter = 30 minutes of crunches
  • As good as the benefits of sleep
    • 15 minutes of laughter = same health benefits as 2 hours of sleep

Just practicing the act of smiling, even when your emotions contradict happiness or mirth, will make you happy! The micro muscles in your face are directly linked to neurons and pathways in your brain that signal neurotransmitters (brain chemicals) to release happy chemicals like dopamine and serotonin. Virtually, you can trick your brain into being happy by simply forcing a smile, although I know it’s easier said than done. But, try it…maybe you’ll make it a habit.

When it comes to love, evoking laugher is one of the strongest social cues towards hooking in a mate. Women and men equally seek a partner that can make them naturally laugh and smile. It exudes simultaneous behaviors of confidence, vulnerability, affability, cooperation, deep understanding (even in pain), and obnoxiousness.

Screw the inappropriateness of laughing in serious circumstances and embrace the fact that laughter is the next step forward in all setbacks. Not only can we consciously soothe our own experiences of adversity, but we can encourage others to push through it as well.

Because at the end of the day, how we act, react, and interact IS the domino effect for happy living…so laugh with it.


7 Predictions for the Future of Healthcare

(This post by Sean Mehra, HealthTap’s Head of Product, originally appeared in VentureBeat)

I’ve got an awesome job. Every day, I envision the future of healthcare and strategize how innovative technologies can transform how we give and receive care and, ultimately, make the world a happier and healthier place.

Here are my seven predictions about where healthcare is headed:

1. We will see a democratization of medical knowledge

For thousands of years, the science and art of medicine has been passed down from generation to generation under an apprenticeship model (it’s called “a practice” after all). Today, we have an opportunity to leverage technology to make doctors’ wisdom accessible to all. To date, we’ve published entire encyclopedias of medical knowledge, but they remain largely impenetrable by the mass audience. What’s missing is useful, user-friendly information that guides healthy behavior.

The technology already exists for health information to be published, catalogued, and searched by anybody online. As this trend spreads, this democratization of medical knowledge will offer clinicians worldwide a chance to learn from each other and  improve the quality of care. What’s more, platforms that unlock the crowd-sourced wisdom of the medical community will offer patients immediate access to doctors’ guidance.

2. A transparent meritocracy amongst doctors

Patients typically choose their doctor by either word-of-mouth referral, or online consumer reviews of a doctor’s bedside manner, waiting room decor, or office staff’s disposition — not by the quality of care they provide.  That’s because most consumers aren’t qualified to assess how a doctor’s care affects health outcomes.

But imagine a world where doctors rate each other on the characteristic that matters most: competence. Taken further, imagine if consumers had access to a single score that captured a doctor’s professional reputation as determined by other doctors — a score that combines meaningful indicators such as the impact of their clinical research and academic publications, the number of patients referred to them, and the caliber of their medical training.

A system with this kind of transparency will reward doctors who actually deserve esteem from peers and patients, not just those with access to big marketing budgets, large employers, degrees from elite schools, or extensive social networks.

3. Finally — consolidated patient information!

Despite the increasing prevalence of electronic health records, patient information is stuck in the days of the Wild West. Information is siloed in non-interoperable data repositories, from EMRs to health devices, managed by different parties, and stored in various formats.

While we have more, richer data about each patient today than in past decades, doctors can’t effectively use these data until they are consolidated into a standardized, usable data stream. Favorable regulatory forces are pushing for standards (like the “Blue Button”) that make health information easily retrievable for patients and with increasingly empowered and savvy healthcare consumers. It’s only a matter of time before a platform emerges that can aggregate and safely store patient information in one place.

This kind of platform will, in turn, facilitate the integration of new technologies into healthcare. In addition to prescribing medications, for example, doctors will prescribe apps to capture health data or foster behavior change. Such practice will ultimately become a practical and seamless part of administering care.

4. Tech will catalyze drastic system-wide cost savings and efficiencies

When 30 to 40 million Americans enter the healthcare system in 2014 under Obamacare, our current system will experience enormous demand shock. Without structured change, the influx of previously uninsured patients will yield a shortage of doctors and will strain doctors’ time and resources, particularly among primary care physicians.

To cope, we will need an efficient system to triage health queries and manage patients based on urgency, severity, and available capacity. Furthermore, technology must enable doctors to care for larger patient populations more quickly and without compromising quality of care. Smart dashboards, alerts, reports, automated follow-ups, synchronous and asynchronous communication, and data sharing all will become part of a doctor’s “command center” that helps him or her monitor the health of thousands of patients simultaneously.

Innovation can expand the “production possibilities frontier” for any capital- and labor-constrained market. The potential impact of technology is immense. For example, of the $1.8 trillion spent annually on healthcare in the U.S., roughly $500 billion is spent on doctor-patient visits alone. Roughly 25 percent of these visits are purely informational (no procedures are performed, and no prescriptions are written). If technology can efficiently serve patients seeking such visits, annual healthcare costs could immediately and dramatically drop by $125 billion.

5. Our medical knowledge will advance at record speeds

Medicine will benefit from the wisdom of crowds. With transparent, large-scale knowledge sharing across doctors and patients, medical experts will collaborate to refine treatment regimens, discover new approaches to old problems, and share feedback on unexpected outcomes at a pace previously unimaginable.

By looking at trends in patients’ health questions and concerns in real time (both before and after a doctor visit), the CDC and other health organizations will learn about geographic outbreaks before patients make their way to ERs and waiting rooms. Conceivably, predictive analytical frameworks could detect outbreaks before they happen. Advanced algorithms will also detect correlations between certain medications and unexpected side effects based on patient reports within a particular demographic — correlations that might never be discovered during traditional clinical trials. The possibilities of “big data” are limitless and exciting.

6. Doctors will be trained to bring “care” back into “health care”

06-GET-HELP-VideoChat--HealthTapThe average doctor-patient encounter in the U.S. lasts seven minutes (largely a function of reimbursements being tied to the number of patients seen). As a result, doctors are hard-pressed to find time to build meaningful relationships with their patients.

Not surprisingly, patients often complain about their doctors’ bedside manner. Technology can actually help foster a stronger culture of care in a fast-paced world – when visits are more efficient, doctors have more time to hold a hand, share a smile, alleviate anxiety, and talk with each patient. We’re already seeing medical schools adapt curricula to emphasize making patients feel better not just physically, but also emotionally. Technology will accelerate this trend by providing doctors ongoing access to peer feedback about their medical knowledge and patient feedback about their bedside manner. The result? Making patients healthier and happier.

7. We will see unprecedented market caps

We’re living in an era when many promising ventures will create new jobs, markets, and market values that surpass those of today’s tech companies.  Think about how massive existing health care companies have already grown in terms of brick and mortar facilities, in-person services, and archaic IT systems.

Yet some of the world’s leading technology companies like Amazon, Google, and Apple have already transformed traditional markets (think newspapers, books, and music) into lucrative technology-based markets with lower costs for consumers. Health tech companies can similarly disrupt the multi-trillion dollar health care market — except, in healthcare, the lifetime value of customers is exponentially larger than any other tech industry. This presents a monetization potential never before seen in the business model of tech companies.

The opportunities at the intersection of health and technology will enable humanity to create health and wealth on a global scale — seizing huge business opportunities while generating tremendous positive social impact for everyone, everywhere.

Health is ripe for technological disruption and worthy of the world’s best resources. This industry beckons the brightest engineers, designers, doctors, legislators, and business mavericks to band together and make these predictions a reality. Join the cause!

Screen Shot 2013-06-23 at 6.35.05 AMSean is HealthTap’s head of product. He is an engineer, designer, science geek, and serial technology entrepreneur leveraging his experiences in consumer internet, biomedical engineering, online social gaming, and UIUX design to make disruptive changes in the U.S. health care industry, enabled by information technology.

Sean earned an M.B.A. from Stanford Graduate School of Business and a B.S. in Biomedical Engineering and Pre-Medicine from Yale University.

AppRx: Top 10 Healthy Eating iOS Apps

organic fruitEvery week, we bring you AppRx—high-quality health, fitness and wellness apps reviewed and recommended by HealthTap’s network of 63,000 top doctors.

In this week’s edition, we bring you the highest-rated Healthy Eating Apps for your iPhone or iPad from our HealthTap directory. This week’s list is filled with apps to help you track your sodium intake, navigate the grocery aisles for healthy alternatives and nutrition tips. Got something to add to the list? Let us know in the comments section.

1. Fooducate – Diet Tracker & Healthy Food Nutrition Scanner

AppRx: FooducateDescription:  Don’t Diet – Eat Healthy with Fooducate! Scan and choose healthy groceries. Over 200,000 unique UPCs! Do you want your family to eat better, healthier food?  Are you confused by ingredient lists, nutrition labels, health claims, and marketing hype? Are you interested in weight loss without a diet full of artificial crap? Download FOODUCATE and hurry to the supermarket. Instead of dieting, eat real food!

Recommended By: 121 Doctors

Price: FREE

2. Food Labels With Nutritional FactsAppRx: Food Label with Nutritional Facts

Description: Can’t stay away from McDonald’s or Burger King? Need to find healthy alternatives at the grocery store? Then this app is for you. Search a database of 7,000+ Foods and review nutritional facts, from total fat, cholesterol and sodium levels, to vitamins and minerals

Recommended By: 106 Doctors

Price: FREE

 3. Nutrition Tips

AppRx: Nutrition TipsDescription: Find a wealth of useful & practical nutritional tips and information to help you and your family have a safe and healthy diet. This amazing FREE app gives you hundreds of interesting and useful nutrition tips, diet & weight loss tips, and nutritional health facts! Find a wealth of useful & practical nutritional tips and information to help you and your family have a safe and healthy diet.

Recommended By: 84 Doctors

Price: FREE

4. Eat This, Not That! Restaurants

AppRx: Eat This, And Not ThatDescription: Join the food revolution! Based on the best selling book series, the Eat This, Not That! Restaurant app is the complete no-diet weight-loss solution. Discover thousands of simple food swaps, track calories, and create a personalized weight loss plan. Now you can eat smart, eat healthy, and eat well and still lose all the weight you want.

Recommended By: 64 Doctors

Price: $4.99

5. Find Me Gluten Free

AppRx: Find Me Gluten FreeDescription: Find Me Gluten Free helps you eat gluten-free. View local business ratings and reviews, gluten-free menus, get directions, and call them right from the app. Also, easily view gluten-free menus and allergen lists of chains and fast food restaurants. Find gluten-free pizza, bakeries, fast food, local businesses, and more!

Recommended By: 38 Doctors

Price: FREE


6. Restaurant Calorie Counter

AppRx: Restaurant Calorie CounterDescription: Restaurant Calorie Counter enables you to find and track restaurant food items and exercises. With this app, you can control your intake of calories and nutrients with recommended upper limits. With over 15,000 food items from over 100 top restaurant chains, and a handy restaurant index in alphabetical order. It does not require internet connection.

Recommended By: 37 Doctors

Price: $0.99

7. EZ Sodium Tracker

AppRx: EZ Sodium TrackerDescription: EZ Sodium Tracker makes tracking your daily sodium easy! Simply tap to add sodium as you consume your meals. Not sure how much sodium is in a food or drink? Use our lookup tool and search our database of over 17,000 food items! Then browse our motivating charts to learn key information about your daily sodium intake!

Recommended By: 35 Doctors

Price: $2.99

8. Nutrition90

AppRx: Nutrition90Description: A complete companion app for all your 90-day extreme fitness program’s nutrition logging needs. Keep track of your nutritional intake with the handy color-coded checklist, laid out according to your chosen workout phase and nutrition level. Includes water intake! Keep notes about your nutrition and workouts each day. Review and edit any data for any day; fill in missed days and get caught up if you’ve already started the program. You can even email yourself a complete log of your activity at any time!

Recommended By: 30 Doctors

Price: $1.99

9. Food Additives 2

AppRx: Food Additives 2Description: Food additives may have revolutionized the mass production of the food that we consume, but at what cost to your health? Fully searchable, this application lets you quickly & easily access the general information of 450+ food additives (self contained database, so no internet connection needed!). Avoid those additives that are potentially dangerous or unsafe to your health & see which ones are considered safe. This application is perfect for those at risk, the health conscious, parents, vegetarians, vegans and/or people on religious based diets.

Recommended By: 30 Doctors

Price: $3.99

10. Chemical Maze – Complete Edition

AppRx: Chemical Maze - Complete EditionDescription: Chemical Maze – Complete Edition is The ultimate shopping guide to decode the Food Additives and Cosmetic Ingredients Maze. Whats in your Food? Whats in your Cosmetics? Are you at risk? This is your ultimate shopping guide to get you through the Chemical Maze. This App includes a full and updated listing of Food Additives and Cosmetic Ingredients based on the international best selling research & author Bill Statham. Over 10 years of research and not just information pulled from public websites.

Recommended By: 29 Doctors

Price: $6.99

Top 6 Health Concerns Men Should Watch Out For

Mens HealthSeptember is Prostate Awareness Month! Prostate Cancer is the most common non-skin cancer in America, affecting 1 in 7 men. It’s also 100% treatable if detected early, underscoring the need for men to get regular health check-ups.

Men are notorious for ignoring routine doctor visits, early symptoms of disease and their health risks. But ignorance is not always bliss. In fact, studies have shown that women are healthier and live longer because they take a proactive role in knowing about and managing their health.

The good news is that many of men’s biggest health risks can be reduced by better understanding family health history and making healthier lifestyle choices.

Here are the top 6 health concerns that men should watch out for.

1. Heart disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States and more common in men than women. First degree relatives (siblings, parents and children) of a person with heart disease have an estimated two to three times risk of developing the condition. This risk can be even greater if there are multiple affected family members or if heart disease was diagnosed at young ages (before age 65 for a woman or before age 55 for a man). Read More

Father playing with baby2. Diabetes (type 2)

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes. An individual with a family history of type 2 diabetes is two to four times more likely to develop the disease. Brothers, sisters and children of an affected person have an estimated 8% to 14% risk, and some researchers believe that a child of an affected mother who was diagnosed before 50 can have an even greater risk. Read More

3. Stroke

A stroke happens when blood flow to the brain stops or is greatly reduced. Family members of a person with a stroke, especially close relatives, can have a greater risk of developing the condition than someone without a family history. Read More

4. Alzheimer’s Disease

Late-onset Alzheimer’s disease is a form of dementia that affects people over age 55. Family history is an important risk factor. Brothers and sisters of an affected person have an estimated 2% risk, while this risk jumps to 4% if there is also an affected parent. In general, the higher the number of affected relatives, the higher the risk. Read More

Man shopping in produce section5. Lung Disease

Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is a group of chronic lung conditions including bronchitis and emphysema. While cigarette smoking is the number one risk factor for COPD, genetic factors may also play an important role in the development of the disease. Read More

6. Cancer

After lung cancer, which is primarily caused by smoking, prostate cancer and colorectal cancer are the leading cancers in men. Both of these cancers can be caused by inherited cancer predispositions in some families. The additional presence of breast, ovarian, pancreatic and/or uterine cancer may increase the chance of there being an inherited cancer predisposition in the family.

What you can do:

Men: Your family health history is vital to managing your health. Use online resources like Inherited Health to:

  1. Collecting your family health history
  2. Learn about your hereditary disease risks
  3. Share this information with your doctor who can help you create an action plan for better health.

Women: Start potentially life-saving conversations with your husband, father, uncles, brothers and sons about family health history and invite them to help you build a family health history network at Inherited Health.

(Blog post courtesy of Jordanna Joaquina, MS, CGC, Director of Genetics and Co-Founder of Inherited Health.)

Got a health question? Ask a HealthTap doctor today!


Healthy Eating: Mandarin Almond Chicken Recipe

Marianne BloudoffWe’re thrilled to kick off our Healthy Eating series featuring our HealthTap Influencers. Every week, we’ll be featuring a different delicious, healthy, and easy-to-follow recipe from one our community of Diet and Nutrition Experts.

This week’s recipe is courtesy of Marianne Bloudoff, a registered dietitian, foodie, and blogger living in British Columbia, Canada. She works with families to make healthy lifestyle changes. She is also a HealthTap Founding Influencer and blogs at French Fries to Flax Seeds.

Sweet, sour, crunchy, and delicious! This family pleasing stir fry uses ingredients you probably already have in your kitchen to create a bright, fresh, and healthy dinner in a snap. Pair it with brown rice or quinoa for a satisfying meal. Serves 4.


  • Mandarin Almond Chicken Recipe3/4 cup blanched whole almonds
  • 1 tbsp avocado oil (or other oil with high smoke point)
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed
  • 3 carrots, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 4 celery stalks, thinly sliced
  • 1 can mandarin oranges packed in juice, drained and juice reserved
  • 2 tbsp soy sauce or tamari
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 2 tbsp corn starch
  • 2 tsp chicken or vegetable bouillon
  • 1 – 2 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • sesame seeds, for garnish


  1. Heat a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add the almonds, and toast until golden brown. Remove from pan. Turn heat up to medium high.
  2. Add oil to wok, and then add onion and garlic. Stir fry for 1 – 2 minute, then add chicken. Stir fry for 2-3 minutes.
  3. Add carrots and celery to wok, and stir fry for 2-3 minutes, until chicken is cooked and vegetables are cooked but crisp. Add the almonds back to the pan. Turn heat down to medium low.
  4. In a small bowl, whisk together reserved mandarin orange juice, soy sauce, vinegar, corn starch, bouillon, sugar, and sesame oil. Add to wok, and cook until thickened.
  5. To serve, top with mandarin orange slices, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.

Note: Don’t add the mandarin oranges until serving, otherwise they tend to fall apart in the stir fry.

Source: http://frenchfriestoflaxseeds.com/2014/05/27/mandarin-almond-chicken/

Marianne BloudoffFind Marianne on HealthTap and follow her on Twitter today!