Self-Lovin’ Is Not Selfish

Published on: 01/17/2023
woman engaging in self care by walking in the forest
Welcome to 2023! New years can be exciting because they are something new, something spicy 😉, something that may inspire us to create new beginnings, or not. And not is fine too!  Just because it is January, you do not have to change a thing about yourself or your life. If you are feelin’ it, pivot, readjust, shift in any shape or form. But if you are not, you are still amazing just as you are today. Whether you desire to make a change or not, make sure you stay true to yourself. What are your thoughts and goals? No matter what you decide to do or not do, always remember to love yourself, respect yourself, and treat yourself with the best of intentions, just as you would your favorite people out there in the universe. Self-lovin’ is not selfish. It is necessary. You cannot treat others with the love and respect they deserve, or expect in return if you do not give it to yourself first. Self-discipline can be a part of self-love. It is not to make you feel bad or set yourself up for failure. It is a form of love that can be hard at times, but you are worthy of the strength and perseverance it takes to reach your goals. To keep going. Forgive yourself as needed and push yourself at times, but never with judgment or negative thoughts. With grace, kindness, wholeness, respect, balance, toughness, energy, courage, and forgiveness. 

As we enter this new year, think about what is your happy healthy? You cannot “diet” forever and expect to feel happy and joyful around food, one of life’s simple pleasures. Yes, dieting can bring weight loss, but what is the cost to your happiness? It is usually not sustainable, which will not make you happy. Find your healthy space where you feel happy. This place should be where you make healthy choices most of the time, but you still feel happy when you choose not to. Or when you feel you did not necessarily need to have that third drink 🙃 and dessert, but you did, which is okay. Do not judge yourself for it. Be kind to yourself, forgive yourself, and make your next choice a healthy one. Keep moving forward, keep loving yourself exactly how you are today, and love the process of evolving new behaviors and new habits of your choosing, always choosing you.♥️❣️

Happy healthy meals are leaving the table satisfied, both physically and mentally, but not overly full. One of the most consistent ways to make this happen is lots of veggies. They help to bulk up your meal and provide lots of nutrients, fiber, and color. I focused on lots of veggies this month, lean protein, and of course a sweet treat – happy cooking! 🍗 🥦

Ready for some crunch and zing with your greens? This salad is a lightened-up version of your typical recipes, which call for frying the noodles, as well as adding a lot of sugar and excess fat to the dressing. It is fun to make for a crowd, and a great one to add protein to for multiple lunches or dinners throughout the week. INGREDIENTS
For the salad:
1 large head Nappa cabbage (or 2 small head), rinsed and chopped or torn into bite-size squares
4 green onions, white parts diced
1 package Ramen Noodles
6 ounces peanuts, low salt (could also use slivered almonds, sunflower seeds, or a combination of all)

For the dressing:
3 Tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce
10-12 packets of sugar substitute (ie. Splenda)
½ cup apple cider vinegar 
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 Tablespoons vegetable broth, low sodium
1-2 garlic cloves, crushed (about 1 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon fresh ginger, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Cover the roasting pan with parchment paper. Open the Ramen noodles and remove the seasoning packet. Place noodles in a sealable bag. Using a mallet, lightly pound noodles into bite-size pieces. Pour onto parchment paper. Add peanuts or nuts of your choice. Roast for 10-15 minutes, or until noodles are lightly browned, stirring halfway. Remove from the oven and let cool. Set aside ½ cup of noodles and nut mixture.

While noodles are roasting, toss cabbage and green onions in a large salad bowl. Set aside. 

Place dressing ingredients in a blender. Blend for 1-2 minutes.

Toss cabbage and green onions with half of the dressing. Add bulk of noodles and nuts, more dressing to your liking, toss and top with the remaining half cup of nuts and noodles. Suggested other toppings: edamame, shredded red cabbage, shredded carrots, roasted chicken, tofu, etc.

This has been on the must-do cooking list for a while, and it did not disappoint. Easy prep work with a fun and delicious result. My daughter created the sauce as well, which is a yummy addition to this pretty, fun, light, and tasty “flower.”INGREDIENTS
1 head cauliflower,
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 cloves garlic, minced
2+1 Tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juicePREPARATION
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Rinse the cauliflower head and pat dry. Remove the outer leaves. Carefully cut off the bottom so that it’s flat, being careful not to cut off so much that it falls apart. We need the head to stay intact!

In a small bowl, whisk together the olive oil, parsley, basil, garlic, 2 tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, smoked paprika, salt, black pepper, and lemon juice.

Place nonstick foil on a roasting pan. Place the cauliflower head upside down (core side up) onto the foiled pan. Using a pastry brush, generously brush the cauliflower all over with the sauce, making sure to let some drip into the core of the cauliflower. Flip over and brush the remaining sauce all over the top. 

Roast in preheated oven for 45 minutes, or until the cauliflower is tender and pierces easily with a fork.

Sprinkle the top of the cauliflower with the remaining tablespoon of Parmesan cheese. Place the cauliflower under the broiler and broil for about 3-4 minutes, until the cheese is browned. Sprinkle with basil and parsley and any other desired spices. Makes 4-5 servings side-dish servings, or 2 main-dish servings.

I always serve at least two veggies to choose from at dinner, and when pressed for time, a veggie plus a fruit, just to make sure there is plenty of produce – to be sure we hit the 50% mark for the meal! Here is a second favorite veggie from this past month, which of course involves Brussel sprouts. These are seriously tasty and are NOT dripping with oil as most restaurant versions seem to be the case lately. The use of the air fryer is a bonus if you have one, adding that crispiness without the extra oil. INGREDIENTS
1 ½ pounds Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved
2 Tablespoons olive oil
¼ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese
Nonstick cooking spray or olive oil spray 
Optional toppings: balsamic glaze, hot honey, hot sauce

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cover the roasting pan with nonstick foil and nonstick cooking spray.

Place prepared Brussel sprouts in a large mixing bowl. Add oil, salt, and pepper and mix well. Spread out evenly onto the prepared pan.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until easily pierced with a fork. Remove from oven and let cool slightly. Flatten the sprouts with the bottom of a sturdy glass, pushing straight down on each one. 

Preheat the air fryer to 400 degrees F. In batches as needed, place sprouts on the air fryer tray. Spray lightly with nonstick cooking spray or olive oil spray and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. Air fry for 4-5 minutes, or until sprouts are crispy and cheese is melted. Repeat with additional batches. Serve warm. Sprinkling with a sauce of choice.  Makes about 6 servings.

As we were recently in Portugal, I could not wait to create some Portuguese dishes upon our return. Though seafood is an absolute favorite of mine, by the time we got home, we were craving chicken 😀. The original recipes use whole chicken or chicken pieces, but to keep things leaner, I used boneless skinless chicken thighs and breasts. I tweaked some of the spices for a delicious and moist combination, especially with the sauce. I suggest serving it over brown basmati rice, with lots of fresh veggies!INGREDIENTS
2 pounds boneless, skinless, chicken thighs and/or tenderloins, trimmed
For the marinade:
1 Tablespoon Ancho chili pepper
2 Tablespoons smoked paprika (yes, the smoked is needed here, if possible)
6 cloves of garlic, peeled
½ Tablespoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon coriander
¼ cup plus 1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar
¼ cup olive oil
½ teaspoon black pepperFor the sauce:
10 ounces plain Greek yogurt, nonfat
1 bunch of fresh cilantro, finely chopped (yes, if not a cilantro fan, you can substitute basil)
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon coriander
1 ½ Tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. 

Cover the roasting pan with nonstick foil and set aside.  

To prepare the marinade, add the Ancho chili pepper through black pepper into a blender. Blend into a paste. 

Place chicken pieces into a large bowl. Pour marinade on top and mix well, until all pieces are covered with marinade. (*Note: You could marinate the chicken overnight or in the refrigerator for an hour or longer, but not necessary.) Spread chicken onto prepared pan. Place pan in the oven and bake for about 15 minutes, flip chicken, and back for another 15-20 minutes, or until chicken is thoroughly cooked through. Place on a serving platter and sprinkle with extra cilantro and smoked paprika.

While the chicken is cooking, place the sauce ingredients in the clean blender and blend until smooth. Serve with chicken. Makes 7-8 servings.
Suggest serving with the tastiest sauce ☺️:


​Optional Tahini Dipping Sauce
⅓ cup water
⅓ cup tahini paste (I always recommend the Soom brand, just the best!)
3-4 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons Greek yogurt
½ teaspoon cumin powder
½ teaspoon kosher salt plus more to taste
½ teaspoon garlic powder
Add all ingredients to the blender. Blend and add more water for desired consistency. Enjoy!

Okay, these contain chickpeas as well, but there are only so many words one can put in a title! They are tasty, warming treats, which could be consumed as part of breakfast, a snack, or an after-dinner treat. They are naturally balanced, as they contain protein, whole grain, and produce. I even prepared the nutritional analysis so you could see for yourself! Be sure to remove them from the oven at the timer, as they should still be soft to the touch. If not eating them directly from the pan ;), heat a serving for about 10-12 seconds in the microwave. 
½ cup chickpeas, rinsed
⅓ cup natural peanut butter
2 bananas, medium, mashed
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup whole-wheat flour
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
⅓ cup mini chocolate morselsPREPARATION
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line an 8×8-inch baking pan with parchment paper, draping it over the sides, for easy removal. Place the chickpeas in a medium mixing bowl and mash with a masher. Add the peanut butter and mashed bananas and blend using a fork. Add the egg, vanilla, flours, baking soda, and salt. Stir well until a smooth consistency. Add the mini chocolate morsels and stir to combine. 

Place the mixture in the prepared baking pan. You can spread a bit with the spoon but will need to use your cleans hands to spread it out evenly.

Bake for 18 minutes and remove from oven. Grab the parchment paper sides to immediately remove from the pan and let cool for about 10-15 minutes. Slice into 16 bars. You can keep the extras in an airtight container in the pantry for 5-6 days, or the freezer for a month. Be sure to heat your serving in the microwave when indulging!
Nutrition Information 
Serving size: 1 bar 
Per serving 
Calories: 116; Total fat: 4g; Saturated fat: 1g; Sodium: 153mg; Cholesterol: 39mg; Total carbs: 16g; Fiber: 2g; Sugars: 4g; Protein: 5g

You must love and care for yourself, because that is when the best comes out.

 ~Tina Turner
​For comments, thoughts, requests, or anything else you feel the need to share, please do: or visit me at​REFERENCES
Ayala EE, Winseman JS, Johnsen RD, Mason HRC. U.S. medical students who engage in self-care report less stress and higher quality of life. BMC Med Educ. 2018 Aug 6;18(1):189. doi: 10.1186/s12909-018-1296-x. PMID: 30081886; PMCID: PMC6080382.Clay, R. A. (2020, July 1). Self-care has never been more important. Monitor on Psychology 51(5).

Davis, T. (2018, December 28). Self-care: 12 ways to take better care of yourself. Psychology Today.


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With a longstanding dedication to healthy cooking and eating, I promote nutrition with a rebellious twist: the belief that perfection is not required for success on your wellness journey. 

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