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The Green Glow: Day 5 – Mango Madness & other things

I’ve never done this before! This is the 5th day in a row I’ve posted to my blog. I attribute it to my excitement and enjoyment of sharing my 10-Day green smoothie challenge with you. Check out my earlier posts to see how you can join. This whole experience has been EASY BREEZY!

I’ve also been sharing some light lessons on successfully maintaining healthy habits and goals in general. It occurred to me how important it is to assess your progress periodically.

As a breast cancer thriver, about 30 minutes prior to every 6-month appointment with my oncologist, I get blood work done. In December, I had been anticipating my blood work results because I wanted to know if my iron deficiency anemia was improving. I didn’t think so because of the symptoms I was having. I also wanted to know if my glucose level was decreasing.

The benefits of seeing my oncologist so frequently is that he addressed the anemia right away by prescribing medication. That was about 6 months ago. I was concerned about my glucose level because my primary care physician told me about a year ago that I should avoid the “bad” carbohydrates because my glucose was getting high for me.

My anemia has improved as my numbers are in range, but my glucose was higher than it was 6 months ago….still within range, but not where I want it to be.

With doctors, perspective really matters because my oncologist’s focus is on the cancer; whereas my primary care physician is focused on the big picture. She identified an upward trend in my glucose level. My oncologist has never said anything about my glucose. From his point of view, my numbers are within range. In the big picture, I need to prevent any future illnesses if I can.

This is a wake up call that I need to rethink some of my food choices, including reassessing my green smoothie healthy habit. Granted, the holiday season just ended and I tend to eat more sweets during this time. In fact, I’ve yet to post about all of the baking I’ve done. Whatever the case, I inevitably get back on track after the new year.

For the green smoothies, I will complete this challenge. Afterward, I will continue to drink green smoothies, but will focus on low glycemic fruits like berries instead of the ones that tend to be higher on the glycemic scale like the features of the Day 5 smoothie – Mangos, oranges, and banana (some of my favorites). Update: I did a search since typing this post and the three fruits in this smoothie actually are not high glycemic fruits. Oranges are low, bananas are low to medium, and mangos are medium….so Not bad.

I also plan to reduce my intake of high carbohydrate foods like white pasta, white rice, and white potatoes.

Pasta alternatives

I purchased a couple of boxes of what I’ll call “pasta alternatives” months ago because I vowed to be on a low glycemic diet. These versions have more protein and fiber. It’s funny that the boxes indicate “Product of Italy”. Do they makes pastas like these in Italy? I just asked my husband, Bryan, who lived in Sicily for two years and he doesn’t think so.

Tonight, I used the pasta made with pea flour to make macaroni and cheese. I did not like the taste of the pasta itself after I boiled it. However, combined with my delicious cheese sauce and some time in the oven, it wasn’t bad. And to my surprise, my husband and kids enjoyed it. I also plan on using my spiralizer more for vegetables as an alternative to pasta altogether.

Reassessing your goals is important to make sure you’re staying on track. You don’t have to beat yourself up. Just do an honest self-assessment. No shame, no blame. Readjust if needed.

How are your 2020 goals coming along?

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The Green Glow: Day 4 – Very Berry

Oh my goodness! What a gorgeous day to be outside in Austin and we did just that. On my way out to begin my errands, I had the LUSCIOUS Day 4 green smoothie in hand – VERY BERRY. Mixed berries, an orange, banana, and spinach made this a REFRESHING smoothie!!! I replaced plain water with coconut water and added ground flax seeds and ginger. I finished drinking the smoothie in a matter of minutes. That smoothie was VERY, BERRY GOOD!

It occurred to me that consistency is another key ingredient in maintaining healthy habits. I’ve been drinking green smoothies for years and it’s been the last few Januarys that I’ve participated in green smoothie challenges. You don’t have to be perfect in following your plan, but consistency will help you reach your goals.

Even if you slack off a bit, get back at it. Never give up. One healthy habit executed consistently will inspire another healthy habit and so on. Just don’t give up!

The beautiful weather inspired me to get out and attend a health expo at Huston Tillotson University. I’m glad I did because I ran into the dancer who used to teach my daughter ballet when she was little. After that, my husband and I enjoyed a long walk in the woods.

Bryan and I on a trail 1-4-2020 LPC

What was the weather like in your neck of the woods? I hope you get some SUNSHINE when it comes around.

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The Green Glow: Day 3 Pineapple Dreamcake

Happy Friday everyone! I’m energetic on the third day of 2020 and my third day on this 10-day green smoothie challenge. Have I told you how much I LOVE tropical fruits like pineapples??? Today’s smoothie features pineapples beautifully with cherries, a banana, almond milk, and spinach. I added ground flax seeds and a small knob of fresh ginger, which took it over the TOP! Scrumptious!

In order to maintain any healthy habit, it’s key to set yourself up for success. For example, with this challenge, I did some things ahead of the challenge to ensure I wouldn’t have any excuses not to reach my goal of completing the 10-day green smoothie challenge.

Although the instruction manual divides the shopping into two grocery trips (likely to be spaced out by a week), I completed all of my shopping for the challenge in one weekend.

Most of my fruits are frozen, so I don’t have to worry about them spoiling. One tip I did to ensure my fresh spinach doesn’t spoil is I immediately froze some of the fresh spinach. Trust me, I’ve been doing this for a while, so frozen, fresh spinach works great in smoothies. When I’m ready to blend, I just let my frozen fruit thaw a bit in a measuring cup on the counter.

It’s essential to set yourself up for success in maintaining any healthy habit, or any goal, for that matter. Preparation and planning will help get you there.

What are some of your health goals for 2020? How will you set yourself up for success?

Smoothie prep LPC
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The Green Glow: Day 2 – Pink Flamingo

Pink Flamingo Smoothie is a Winner! LPC

Happy Thursday! Today is my first day back to work in 2020 and I’m feeling FABULOUS! I prepped today’s smoothie recipe last night and it was more “pink” last night than this morning. It was more of a greenish brown by the time I drank it, but still DELICIOUS!

Pink Flamingo LPC

I suppose the strawberries, combined with the mango, spinach and almond milk would make a “pink” hue; however, I substituted strawberries for mixed berries. The hue came out to a shade of pink, which may not be very reflective in the picture. To this smoothie, I added ground flax seeds. I forgot to add the knob of fresh ginger, but it was still YUMMY. Each recipe serves one, but I always end up with a little extra. The jar to the right is about a half a cup. I’ll drink that up as a snack before dinner.

I want to share a tip on acquiring a collection of mason jars. It’s really simple. Don’t ever throw away used jars such as spaghetti jars, jam jars, coconut oil jars, pickled pepper jars, salsa jars, spice jars, etc. I remove the labels by soaking in hot water and then BOOM, I have a new jar in a different size. I have a cabinet full of purchased and re-purposed mason jars I use for my smoothies.

If you’re interested in adding this one healthy habit of drinking a green smoothie to your day, check out the website at https://simplegreensmoothies.com/ for more information.

Cheers to our health!

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The Green Glow: Day 1- Beginner's Luck

Hi friends from across the globe!!! Happy 2020! Today marks the first day of my participation in a green smoothie CHALLENGE. As promised, I will post my daily progress for 10 days. The challenge itself should be a piece of cake. After all, I’ve participated for the last 3 or 4 years. Listen, I don’t need a challenge to make me drink a green smoothie because it’s an everyday healthy habit I’ve done for a few years now, but who doesn’t love a challenge??? It helps remind me of my health goals. I want to encourage you to add at least one healthy habit a day.

I’ve been enjoying green smoothies, cleanses, and vegan recipes from https://simplegreensmoothies.com/ for years now. Almost more than drinking the green smoothies themselves on this 10-day challenge, I love the names of the smoothies. Today’s smoothie is called Beginner’s Luck. I’m not a beginner and I don’t believe in luck, but this smoothie is like a tropical themed party in my mouth. It features some of my favorite fruits – mangoes, pineapples, and a banana. Once the spinach is added, the result is a scrumptious, creamy, beautifully green smoothie. I think anyone new to drinking green smoothies will be hooked after trying this one.

These smoothies are nutritious as is; however, I add extra boosters to amp up the nutrition factor. For Beginner’s Luck, my liquid was brewed organic green tea that I chilled instead of plain water as the recipe indicated. I also add flax, chia, or hemp seeds to all of my smoothies. And for good measure, I add a small knob of fresh ginger.

If you’re interested in this challenge, check out the web page https://simplegreensmoothies.com/ to find out more information. It’s free join…you just need to purchase the ingredients.

Here’s to health, happiness, adventure, joy, success, and love in 2020. May the light lessons you face along the way help you reach your goals. Cheers!

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The Green Glow: Coming in 2020

Green smoothie challenge January 2019

Hi WP friends from across the globe. For the past 3 or 4 years (I’m too lazy to confirm) on January 1, I’ve participated in a green smoothie challenge, which I LOVE. I drink green smoothies every day, but this is a treat because I will be doing a LIVE cleanse with people from all over the world. If you follow my blog, you know I’ve written about my green smoothies many times. If you’re curious, you can read a few posts here: https://enlightenedsocialworker.blog/2019/09/28/sometimes-a-vegan/ https://enlightenedsocialworker.blog/2017/04/15/glowed-up/ https://enlightenedsocialworker.blog/2016/11/08/i-love-green-smoothies/

Normally, I post to my facebook page daily when I’m on the challenge (hence, the pictures from January 2019); however, I’m thinking about doing a quick post to my blog site daily. The difficulty with doing a daily blog post is my work schedule, but if I can post to facebook, I can upload a blog post to wordpress.

What I LOVE about doing the LIVE challenge is I get to connect with people from around the world who also want to make better healthier choices for themselves. It just motivates me even further!

Tall, Green and Lean

I am SO looking forward to better health in 2020! How about you? Do you want to join me?

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Sometimes a vegan

I borrowed the title for this post from a colleague at an office birthday party coordinated for our boss. I brought homemade “herbalicious” hummus and organic carrots and cucumber slices. She asked me if I was vegan. (I often prepare vegan dishes for work events). After a moment of reflection, my response was, “Sometimes!” She said that should be the title of my next book…”Sometimes A Vegan”. I like it.

Homemade hummus.LPC

I paused when responding to her because I prepare and eat vegan dishes often. I do love meat, but I crave vegetables. I started off on my vegan journey with various detox cleanses that I would do a couple of times a year. What I loved about my vegan cleanses is that the food was filling. I was not hungry on any of the cleanses, plus I learned how to make amazing recipes, got the added benefits of improved sleep, mental clarity and glowing skin. I’ve written several posts about my cleanses.

When I think about it, my love of vegan food has progressed from an annual cleanse for a specified duration, to participating in cleanses a few times a year, to incorporating vegan dishes into my meal rotation regularly. I have even modified some of my Haitian recipes like beans and rice to make them vegan.

For example, my mom taught me to fry a few pieces of salted pork in my beans. I’ve even tried simmering my pot of beans with smoked ham hocks in the past. However, for the last couple of years, I’ve completely omitted meat from my beans. This happened organically over time, especially after my breast cancer diagnosis. I’ve learned to load up with flavorful spices and herbs. I don’t miss the pork.

Red beans and Rice. LPC

I purchased this book at the recommendation of my green smoothie Facebook group members. LPC

I’ve been doing research lately on perimenopause and the best food choices to help manage it. I’ve been reading about how this is the time in a woman’s life (my time) to be really vigilant about nutrition and being active. As you get older, it’s not as easy to lose weight, or maintain it, for that matter. I can attest to the fact that it’s harder for me to lose weight. I can tell my body composition is changing without much effort from me. I don’t need my butt or stomach to get much bigger than they already are, but they’re trying.

Is a vegan diet sustainable as I go through perimenopause? I don’t think it is for me. One issue is I developed anemia due to heavy blood loss during my periods. Just a few weeks ago, I think I hit a milestone in how much blood I lost during just the first two days of my period. It doesn’t happen every month, but when it does, it’s significant.

I’ve read that a vegan diet may be lacking in iron, which is what I need. Don’t get me wrong, it’s true: leafy green vegetables, lentils/beans, and other vegetables have iron. However, the best type of iron absorbed by the body is “heme” iron, which is found in meat sources. Since I learned about the anemia about 6 months ago, I’ve been focused on eating more iron rich foods.

Burger with cheese, sauteed onions, arugula, fermented pickles on naan bread.LPC

So what diet is the best diet for perimenopause? I’ve found compelling research that a low glycemic diet is the best diet. This is consistent with what my primary care physician told me in December 2018. She told me to replace the bad carbohydrates with good ones and to abstain from white rice, white floor, and sweets. Now, she made the recommendations because my glucose was getting a little high, but this diet seems to have multiple benefits. I’ve gotten my glucose down. I think my apple cider vinegar tonic helped.

Now, I realize I just used the words “good” and “bad” to describe food, which I prefer not to. It would serve us all better if we looked at food with a healthier mindset such as focusing on the nutritional benefits. Also, I’m not a “dieter”. I’m working on what food choices will be the most beneficial to me. I will work on my food narrative.

Mushrooms getting ready for the air fryer. LPC

My food journey has evolved over time and I’m ok with that. My main goal is to be healthy in mind, body, and spirit. I want to have a great relationship with food and it is getting better. Ideally, I don’t want to look at certain foods as bad. I’ve always adopted the mindset that moderation is the key. Over the years, I’ve become more mindful of the types of foods I put into my body.

What are your favorite foods? I’d love to hear from you!

Breakfast: sauteed sweet potatoes, quinoa, eggs, and bacon. This hardy breakfast held us for hours as we toured two museums on Saturday, 9/21/19.LPC

Blanton Museum of Art, 9/21/19. LPC

Blanton Museum of Art, Austin, Texas..LPC