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Did somebody say SALAD and CHA-LUNGE in the same sentence?

March was a busy month. I returned to work after 5 weeks of recovery from my hysterectomy in January. 2022 definitely seems to be another year of firsts for me. Never have I EVER thought someone would think of a CHA-LUNGE that involved salads! REALLY? If you’ve been following me, then you know that eating healthy is my ultimate form of self-care and this blog is all about self-care. I decided to eat about 90% vegan/plant-based from July 2021-Janauary 2022 in an effort to prepare my body for menopause and to just generally eat more plants and clean. I’ve slowly been incorporating more fish and meats because I like them, but it’s still mostly (70/30) a plant-based lifestyle for me.

Back to the salads. My favorite people at Simple Green Smoothies had the audacity to come up with a 10-Day Salad Challenge and it was absolutely FREE. Spring is in full swing here in Texas and I’m more than happy to get ready for lighter eating. I signed up for this CHA-LUNGE on the spot. I received the recipes, including the shopping lists in an email. Initially, I had planned to just use what ingredients I had and modify the recipes as needed. Experienced home cooks like me know that recipes serve as guides. I was mostly ready, but then something happened….My niece visited from Chicago on Day 1 of the CHA-LUNGE. She blessed us for 6 days straight and we blessed her mostly every day with the Austin, Texas food faves.

That didn’t stop me though because I made 6 of the salads and am still going. Of course, I captured every salad in my own personal photos. I also attached the actual recipes/pictures from the CHA-LUNGE. And the salads are out of sequence because I made them when I could. I hope this post gets your mouth watering. LET’S GO!

My version of Strawberry Mixed Greens: Two plates because one was for my niece. I omitted the green apple because I didn’t have one and used a herb salad blend. Fun and scrumptious.
The Sweet and Crunchy Salad: My version did not have pepitas and I used the herb mix again. The dressing on this one was my FAVE!
Bright Berry Salad: This was REFRESHING! I hadn’t eaten grapefruit in years due to my medications, but I thought what the heck, I’m going to commit to this CHA-LUNGE. I’m so glad I did. I missed grapefruit.
Vegan Potato Salad: This version surprised me! I omitted the black olives because I didn’t have any. I probably would not have added them anyway. I served with a side of homemade fried shrimp.
Healthy Pasta Salad: This was the leftovers I served with half a leftover fish wrap. I used leftover garbanzo beans, red pepper, cucumber, and carrots from the Sweet and Crunchy salad recipe. I’m not wasting any food around here. I subbed green olives for black and red onions for green onions and vegan parm for feta. I completed forgot to add the herbs! It was still DELICIOUS and quick to assemble. I made it on my lunch break.
Kale Caesar: Made with no kale in sight. I had romaine lettuce that I didn’t want to go back plus traditional caesar salads are made with romaine, right? I had some produce I didn’t want to waste, so the only thing I followed in this recipe is the dressing ingredients and the addition of garbanzo beans. It was yummy!
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Feeding a healthy obsession

We all have our obsessions and something I learned about my husband, Bryan, over the last couple of months is he LOVES egg rolls. I typed “love” when I jokingly think it’s bordering on obsession. It tickles me every time we, or he, makes a trip to the HEB Plus supermarket, he feels compelled to go to the sushi counter to pick up a pack of egg rolls. In fact, whatever supermarket we go to, he’s checking out to see if there are egg rolls. If we’re eating out, he will order egg rolls at any Asian or non-Asian establishment that sells them.

We may not be able to financially afford this emerging obsession, so over the holidays, I decided to purchase the ingredients to make them myself. After all, it’s more cost effective to cook at home and it will also be healthier depending on the ingredients you choose. Cooking allows me to be creative and since I’m a seasoned home cook, I let my taste buds help me visualize in my head what ingredients I wanted to incorporate. I didn’t use any particular recipe, but I did follow the instructions on the wrapper package for folding the egg rolls. Spoiler ALERT: They were delicious!

I put my mandolin to use and shredded cabbage and carrots. I actually cut myself pretty badly by not using the other gadget that came with the mandolin. Lesson learned. With the cabbage and carrots, I sautéed onion, minced garlic and ginger, edamame, and lots of spices.
I set up my station on the island. It took me a few tries to fold the egg rolls just right.
Whoila! Egg rolls ready for frying in a shallow pot of grapeseed oil.
Vegan wrappers for my vegetable filling was a PLUS!!!

Our love for egg rolls started when we were growing up in Chicago, Illinois where there are many authentic Chinese restaurants around town. In fact, there is an actual China Town in Chicago and the food is amazing. There are also more authentic Chinese restaurants in Houston, Texas. The Asian restaurants in Austin, Texas aren’t necessarily Chinese, which makes a huge difference.

There is an authentic Chinese restaurant in Midlothian, Illinois Bryan introduced me to while we were dating over twenty years ago. We’ve eaten there many times before we moved to Austin, Texas. The owner visits China several times a year and would tell us about it. Upon a visit to his restaurant after we had already moved to Texas, we described to him the difference in the foods. He told us the reason for the difference is because Chinese people aren’t operating the restaurants. There are people from other areas of the world, with different cultures and influences, operating Asian restaurants, which is why it’s more lumped together as “Asian” cuisine.

I’ve made egg rolls several times over the holiday break and since the new year because they’re delicious and easy to make. With each time, I’ve been perfecting the recipe. This post has got my mouth watering and stomach growling to the point I’m comptemplating making another batch for dinner tonight. I like to STAY READY so I have all the ingredients on hand. I don’t think it will take much for me to talk Bryan into shredding the vegetables on the mandolin. That’s the hardest part.

Fried won tons and egg rolls. Yum!
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Bowls of self-care

We are living in strange times indeed. The COVID-19 pandemic is one for the history books. The silver lining to me is we’re being forced as a human race to collectively slow down and rethink how we go about our lives, which I hope allows for lots of self-care.

My type of self-care is nourishing myself with nutritious foods. Three of the four people in my household are high risk if we somehow catch this virus. I’m focusing on our health.

The epitome of comfort in my book is a bowl of soup.  As I’ve written many times, the activity of cooking is soothing to me. Here are two nutritious and delicious soups I’ve made often for my family: chicken tortilla and black bean soup. I used to make chicken bone broth every weekend but I’ve switched to vegetable broth since nowadays I eat mostly vegan/plant-based. My pantry and freezer staples always help me rise to the occassion.

Black bean soup. LPC

I hope you make time for self-care and whatever that means for you. I’ll continue to cook and share, hoping you get inspired by my recipes and even share some of your self-care ideas with me.

What steps are you making to care for yourself?

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DAY 10: I made it!

I’m not sure where the 10 days of the 10-Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE went but the Creamy Blueberry Smoothie was just as scrumptuous as the first smoothie and every other one in between. This was truly a varied mixed of smoothie recipes, some with and without greens. Can you tell I highly recommend Simple Green Smoothies? I’m so glad I prioritized putting my blender on overdrive because the smoothies definitely provided the fuel to help me get through my busy days. Yup, I’d do this again! Cheers!

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Day 9: Glorious Glow

Today’s smoothie is a healthy, immune boosting concoction. NEVER have I EVER blended a smoothie with such a beautiful hue. I have to say, the people at Simple Green Smoothies created a fantastic batch of recipes for this winter challenge. I’m surprised that many of the recipes didn’t include greens. I just added them out of habit.

Day 9 of the 10 Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE included the magnificent mango, my favorite fruit.

Honey Turmeric Smoothie ingredients

You can’t tell me my insides weren’t glowing after drinking this.

Freshly blended Honey Turmeric Smoothie

The only change I made was substituting oat milk for cashew milk. It was delicious! And don’t ask me how I got my blouse to match my drink. It was meant to be.😜

Twins

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Day 8…sweet and creamy

What I love most about this 10 Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE is that the recipes are already put together. All I have to do is read, gather the ingredients, blend, and enjoy the fruits of my labor. I’ve been impressed with the great variety of flavor combinations. Today’s was the Creamy Banana Smoothie and I almost titled this post the “creamy dream” or “dreamy and creamy” then I came to my senses. Yes, my mind went straight to the gutter. Whatever the case, this smoothie definitely lives up to its name.

I improvised because not only did I not have cashew yogurt, I didn’t have cashew milk. Sooooooooo I substituted with almond milk and added raw cashews and mixed greens (can’t help myself). Then, I added this one last addition that might make me change the name to the EPIC Creamy Banana Smoothie. I added a dash of high quality cinnamon powder. It was so good.

As in life, my friends, be willing and flexible enough to improvise. You might end up liking the outcome much better.

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Day 7…no words

Ok. I have words 😜 for Day 7 of the 10 Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE. It’s called the Pre-Workout smoothie and it was DELICIOUS!!! I don’t normally fuel up with food or drink prior to exercise because I mostly work out in the mornings, prior to my work day, which is early. However, today is Sunday, I slept in, and after attending church online and tidying up the house, I didn’t exercise until much later in the morning. So I gulped this beauty down prior to my dance session.

Pre-Workout Smoothie ingredients

I definitely had more pep in my step while working out. The coconut water makes the smoothie very hydrating. This will be part of my normal smoothie rotation. Another winner!

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Day 6: A Sweet Treat

I’ve made it to Day 6 of the 10-Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE and the smoothie combinations keep getting better. The Peanut Butter Chocolate Smoothie was a treat for breakfast. I paired it with a plant-based egg and vegetable sandwich and ended up with a protein packed meal after a cold morning running errands.

Plant-based egg & vegetable sammich on sourdough bread with a topping of sirracha sauce

I have to say I didn’t like the taste of the Smart Balance peanut butter. I bought it on clearance but never again. However, the taste was mostly masked when I blended it with the other ingredients. This was still a delicious smoothie. Can’t wait to share Day 7 with you!

Once again, I couldn’t help but add spinach. Yum!
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Day 5…EPIC

I can’t believe I’m half way through the 10 Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE. Today’s smoothie was SCRUMPTUOUS! It’s called the Epic Almond smoothie. This is my second time this week blending a smoothie with almonds and I was pleasantly surprised. I knew it would be delicious but WHOA!!!

I was in a rush this morning and didn’t get to take a picture of my ingredients but I’m sharing the recipe below. The recipe didn’t call for greens but I couldn’t help myself. Cheers to Friday!

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Day 4: LIQUID GOLD

You’ve got to be kidding me! An actual smoothie that is not GREEN. Oh my GOODNESS! Day 4 of the 10- Day Green Smoothie CHA-LUNGE didn’t diasappoint. Never have I ever made a smoothie such as this! It was very refreshing and had my mouth percolating.

My body needed this dose of Vitamin C, especially with the stress I’ve been under trying to make deadlines. I’m telling you this is self-care in a glass.

Perfect Lemon Smoothie brightened my day.
I added a banana for extra body though it is not part of the recipe.
😍