Another new year. I am so grateful for another new year and I’m praying that this year is better than the last one! As a teacher, I watch our local news each night to hear the “COVID numbers.” I am so fearful that we will have to close schools again – as we did two years ago. It was detrimental to our school family. Many of them did not return to school in the fall after the shut down, but their families chose to keep them at home, doing virtual learning until midterm. Kids need to be in school. Not only did our kids lose academic instructional time, they also missed out on valuable emotional development. I see so much of this now. I find myself wondering why the fifth graders are acting so immature. And then I remember that these students lost a big chunk of their third grade year and many of them also lost part of their fourth grade as well. That’s a LOT of time. So I try my best to show grace to them as they struggle to figure out where they are heading. We are fighting so hard for these kids – trying to do what’s best for them. Trying to fill in the gaps they missed.

But teachers are tired. There are not enough subs. Not nearly enough subs. I haven’t taken a day off this school year because I can’t find a sub. I have gone to school on days when I felt like poo. I’ve gone to school on days when I probably should have stayed home with Elizabeth when she was sick.

I’m tired.

So this Christmas break was a welcome time off. Our break started on the Wednesday before Christmas. I spent most of the next two days cooking food to take in for our Christmas dinners with Michael’s mom and my parents. We traveled in to see them on Christmas Eve and returned home the Sunday afterward.

I had big plans to clean and organize the house. It is wrecked. I have gotten a lot done, but not as much as I planned. And that’s okay. It’s a start.

Along with the New Year comes a new determination to get the house together and get my life together. That means getting back to meal planning and cooking on the weekends so that I don’t have to cook as much during the week. I’m also trying to cook a little healthier, so there’s that!

I am very blessed that my kids – and Michael – love salads. So I have several dinner salads on this week’s menu. Monday night, I made this beauty!

Ramen salads aren’t new. And there are as many recipes for it as there are cooks who make it! Here’s my version of this yummy salad.

Crunchy Ramen Salad

Salad:

  • 16 oz. bag of coleslaw mix
  • 2 Ramen packages (noodles only), slightly crushed
  • 1/2 cup of thinly-sliced almonds
  • 1 cup of mandarin oranges, drained
  • 1 cup of shelled edamame
  • 2-3 green onions, sliced

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Spread Ramen noodles and almonds onto a large baking sheet and bake for 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and allow to cool slightly.

In a large bowl, pour in the bag of coleslaw mix. Add the oranges, edamame, onions, and noodle and almonds. Toss to combine.

Dressing:

  • 1/2 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup of maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup of rice vinegar
  • 2 tsp. of soy sauce
  • 1 tsp. sesame oil

In a small bowl, add all dressing ingredients and whisk until completely combined. Taste and add more syrup or vinegar to taste. Add dressing to the salad and stir to completely coat.

Well Duh #1: I ended up using a good bit more maple syrup and rice vinegar. I like my dressing for this salad to be pretty sweet with a good kick of acid.

Well Duh #2: I really wanted to use a lighter oil – particularly avocado oil – but I searched the pantry and found that I didn’t have any! Vegetable oil worked just fine.

Well Duh #3: I steamed the edamame in the microwave and then let it cool a bit since this is a cold salad.

Well Duh #4: I added cooked, shredded chicken to my salad and the kids’. Michael is still eating mainly plant-based, so I left the chicken off of his.

Well Duh #5: If you’re making this salad ahead, wait until serving to add the toasted noodles and almonds. If I was taking this as my school lunch, I would mix everything together but take the noodles/almonds in a little ZipLoc to add just before I ate.

The Tribe LOVED this salad! We are all ready to get back on track with healthier eating and this was a great start! Full of great flavors and textures, it is also REALLY filling!

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