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Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Wordless Wednesday at Tohono Chul Park

Before you go, I'd love it if you'd sign up for my email list. It's an easy way to receive news, wellness ideas, recipes, and more to nurture your mind, body, and spirit. Please Click this link to join my email list. Type "email list" on the subject line of the email so I know what you want. Type your name in the body of your email. Look for an email from to come directly to your inbox. I'll send one along to you, once every 4-6 weeks. Thanks for the visit and I look forward hearing from you.

The quote for today is from Albert Einstein

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Friday, September 2, 2016

Tips, Recipes, and Ideas to Help You Plan a Vegan Potluck

Celebrating the end of summer can be such fun. If you're anything like I am, you want to keep weekend entertaining simple and low fuss. 

Why not have the gang over, and share the food prep with your nearest and dearest? Want to make the theme one that's especially nutritious and delicious? My suggestion is to plan a Vegan Potluck. 

Take a peek at this sample party invitation. It describes what vegan is and is not. It also provides ideas that your guests can choose from to bring. 

You're Invited to a Vegan Potluck

Bring a Brunch or Lunch Item with Serving Utensils. To help conserve, reuse, and recycle please bring your own reusable plate, and appetite. Your hosts will be making veggie wraps and provide the beverages.

Please keep it simple, and contribute something that doesn't need to be heated. If you're not sure what vegan means ...

Every Vegetable or Fruit under the sun
Every Grain, Legume, Bean, Seed, or Nut in the world 

Vegan does not mean any dairy product including yogurt, cheese, milk, cream, butter or beef or other meat product including pork, fish product, poultry product (including eggs), honey, or mayonnaise or bread with egg in it. 

If you need help thinking of a dish or are still unclear about what vegan means, please call us or look below for ideas. We prefer stuff to be organic, but please make sure that it is at least NON-GMO. 

tossed green salad 
three bean salad
quinoa pilaf or salad
veggie stew or combo
gazpacho or fruit soup
organic fruit or organic fruit salad
salsa and chips
lentil or bean loaf
kale chips or corn chips
pasta salad (without cheese or mayo with egg)
potato salad (made with vegan mayo or dressing without egg)
sweet potatoes
shredded carrot salad
cole slaw (made with vegan mayo or dressing without egg)
spinach salad (without bacon)
organic tofu or organic tempeh dish
organic edamame in pod
nuts and dried fruit
bread, cakes, cookies made without eggs, butter, milk, yogurt, cream, cheese or other dairy or meat derived ingredients
vegetable medley
veggie pâté


My contribution to a party like this would be the wraps and my latest favorite party food, Homemade Hummus with a Kick.

Hummus dip has gained popularity over the last decade. There are many varieties of hummus served nowadays. I've made roasted garlic, kalamata olive, roasted red pepper, and artichoke and love them all. The costly store bought form can be easily made at home for a fraction of the price. Today I'll share my favorite recipe of the moment so you can see how simple and tasty it is to make.

Homemade Hummus with a Kick

Hummus with a Grilled Veggie Tossed Salad


1 Tablespoon Organic Olive Oil
4 Garlic Cloves minced
1 teaspoon cumin
2 Cans Organic Garbanzo Beans (Also Called Chickpeas) rinsed and drained
1 teaspoon coriander
1 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons Organic Tahini (ground sesame seeds)
¼ cup fresh squeezed Lemon Juice
1 Cup Water

Note: I use organic items whenever possible, because they taste better, are healthier for you, and don't pollute the planet.

What to Do:

Heat oil in a small frying pan and add minced garlic and cumin. Sauté for a minute or two or until lightly browned.

Put this mixture and next 5 ingredients in a food processor and purée for a moment. Add the water slowly, and as needed, to make the hummus a smooth consistency or as chunky as you like. Grind in fresh black pepper and salt to taste.

Chill until ready to serve. Hummus will keep in the refrigerator for approximately 5 days. This recipe serves 8-10 people, and can be served to top grilled veggie salads, in a romaine lettuce or collard green hummus veggie wrap, or on a crudité platter with crackers, corn chips, or pita chips.

Check out this whole food quinoa casserole dish, perfect to bring along to the next potluck. Vividly Colored Plant-based Dish that's Great to Serve at a Potluck.

To end your gathering on a high note, Serve a chilled Red, White, and Blue Dessert.

Here in the United States it’s the Labor Day Weekend. This public holiday honors the American labor movement and its workers. This year it's celebrated on September 5, 2016. I’m proud to say I've done my part to strengthen, create prosperity, and add to the well-being of our country. Wishing you a most relaxing weekend and fun-filled Labor Day.

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Picture Credit/

My quote for today is: “There is no sincerer love than the love of food.” George Bernard Shaw

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Thursday, August 25, 2016

Exercise Improves Mind and Body Health

Isn't it wonderful? More and more research is pointing to the fact that there's a direct correlation between aerobic exercise and brain cell health and even cell regeneration.

Here's a new report for you to see. Brain Cell Health and Aerobic Exercise

I'm grateful I spotted this study. It encourages me to keep up with my exercise routine. I love to get out there for aerobics in a natural setting. I never have been one to go to a gym for treadmill walking. My preference is to commune with mountains, flora and fauna, streams, a river, or sea. Time flies as I hike and walk outdoors, probably because there's so much of interest for me to see.

What's your take on the study and what motivational techniques work for you to keep you active and vitally alive? 

Which kind of aerobic exercise do you enjoy the most? Swimming, biking, hiking, Zumba, walking, or running rev up your engine and improve blood flow to the brain. Exercise is good for your whole family, so plan times when you all will be able to get outdoors for fun and health.

 My quote for the day is: "Physical fitness is not only one of the most important keys to a healthy body, it is the basis of dynamic and creative intellectual activity. " John F. Kennedy

Your feedback and sharing a link to the post is greatly appreciated. Please comment in the space provided below. Don't forget to click publish after you're through. 

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Friday, August 12, 2016

Reduce Clutter to Create Tranquility at Home

Reduce Clutter to Create Tranquility at Home

Are You Ready?

Do you frequently feel out of sorts because your household lacks order? How often have you searched for car keys, papers, or a sweater, but couldn't find one or the other? Struggle no more. This blog provides information about free or inexpensive ways to get a handle on clutter, locate Missing in Action Items, and simplify your lifestyle. 

1. The first step to change is to admit that clutter and disarray exists. As an example, I'll use my past experience. When I took a close look at my old thinking around my stashes of magazines and books, kitchen utensils, and the like, I began to understand myself better. Instead of shaming myself about times I needed things around me to feel good about myself, I decided to let go of self-judgment. All that did was keep me locked into guilt and inaction. Take it from me, the best thing I did for myself was to just be an observer of my thinking and actions. And this is how I did it.

Every day for a week I wrote in a journal about what I did or didn't do to clean up my living space. I recorded how often untidiness, lost item searches, and stress from things being out of place zapped my energy. Writing got this stuff out of my body and onto the page and made it more real and manageable.

I also wrote in my journal about whether I thought putting off household tasks actually saved time for another project or impeded my overall progress. I made sure to record even the tiniest accomplishment, as it served as a morale booster. So make sure to list and even brag to yourself about every positive step. 

Procrastination or failure to own household tasks (wishing and manipulating so someone I live with would do it for me) eventually led to running short of clean underwear or dishes. It also made me feel bad about myself. Slip ups (pun intended) like this made me cranky. Eventually I realized it just wasn't worth it!

Don't abandon the ship and your dream to create a tranquil home, just because it requires time and effort. 

"Be proactive and conquer the declutter challenge. In the end, you'll dance the happy dance." Nancy Andres

2. Get into the habit of taking 10 minutes a day toward the beginning of the day to make your bed, fluff pillows, and take out garbage. You'll be amazed at how doing these simple things upgrades your outlook on law and order.

3. Use baby steps and take another 10 minutes a day to organize. Donate, give away, or throw out unusable items. You know, they're the things you haven’t even looked at within the last year like old socks and shoes, lightly worn but ill-fitting clothing, books you never want to read again, and household goods you have no use for. Give them to your favorite charity and help the needy. Recycling cuts down on the amount of things you have collecting dust, and reduces the amount of junk dumped into a landfill. Then, the next day organize that junk drawer in your kitchen, nightstand, or magazine rack. You'll find that these 10 minute blocks of cleaning add up.

4. Mop up kitchen and bathroom spills on counters and floors as soon as they occur. Keep little messes from spreading.

5. Place a hamper or bin in your kitchen and bathroom for soiled towels and clothing so they won't be overlooked when you're gathering stuff for the wash. Share KP duty with all members of your household. Even the smallest child can take part. Remember this is good training for self-sufficiency. 

6. Tackle one half of each closet at a time. First off, arrange clothes neatly on hangers and button top button or arrange skirt or pants correctly on the hanger. Create your own management system. Some people like to arrange clothes according to category like causal, dress, and exercise gear. Others prefer to sort by colors, and still others like to place all shirts, pants, and outwear into separate sections. If your closet doesn't have space for hanging items, invest a few dollars on hooks, wall racks, or a free standing wardrobe. Put this contraption where it's needed. A great place to hang outdoor clothing is on a hat stand in the mud room. If you don't have a room like that, put extra hooks on the inside of your bathroom or bedroom doors. You can hang bathrobe, pajamas, hats, belts, pocketbooks, or other items that won’t be damaged if you store them this way. 

7. Use clear storage bins and racks for shoes, bags, and odds and ends whenever possible. They are easy to locate and take up less space than those on hooks or racks.

8. Make it a rule of thumb that if you haven’t worn or used an item for a year or more, it comes up for review. Whenever I release something and donate it to my favorite charity or give it to a friend, I feel lighter. I also notice that the clothes I keep are more visible and are easier to keep neat.

8. Be a mindful consumer, when shopping for new clothing or household goods. Before I take home any item, I pause to think about whether I've got something similar at home. I ask myself whether it is an impulse purchase, or do I really need it? If I decide to buy a particular item, I make sure to release an item I already own. If I get something new, I put an older item in the rag pile, donate it, or give it away.

In addition, check out this article from the Los Angeles Times, an interview by Bonnie McCarthy of Peter Walsh, author of Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight.
 'Clutter is never about the stuff' — an organization expert explains why (and what to do about it)'.

Another quotation for today is “Don't own so much clutter that you will be relieved to see your house catch fire.” 

― Wendell BerryFarming: a hand book

Please take a moment to comment below and share this post. I appreciate your visit and wish you a clutter-free day.

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Friday, July 22, 2016

Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein

Yum, yum. This is Scrumptious Pasta and Sauce!

Want to prepare a sauce that's packed full of nutrition, and looks, smells, and tastes great? It features the bright Mediterranean flavors of tomatoes, basil, garlic, and crushed red pepper flakes. A secret ingredient, pinto beans, adds deliciousness, heartiness, and increased protein. Beans make the sauce a perfect thing to combine with pasta, legumes, veggies, brown rice, and many other foods. All beans provide a powerful helping of plant based protein, so perhaps this blog post will encourage you to eat beans more often. 

Look below to see how easy, cost effective, and fun it is to cook with them. You might be tempted to keep the sauce ingredients on hand to enhance the taste of all your favorite veggies. I revealed my secret ingredient so you'll try it. Maybe it will be your clean eating go-to gravy. One I love so much.

Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce with a Secret Source of Veg Protein, Served on Gluten Free Fusilli Pasta


For Pasta
1 12 oz. package gluten free pasta (I used organic brown rice and organic quinoa mix fusilli) and fresh water to cook it in.

For Sauce
2 14.5 oz. Organic San Marzano Style Diced Tomatoes
2 14.5 oz. Organic Tomato Sauce
12 Organic cherry or grape tomatoes or 2 small whole ones
1 4 oz. can Organic Sliced Mushrooms or 1/2 cup fresh ones
1  15 oz. can Organic Pinto Beans
Sprig of Fresh Organic Basil
1 teaspoon Dried Organic Oregano or sprig or 2 of Fresh Oregano 
1 teaspoon Dried Sage and 1 teaspoon Dried Thyme (optional)
2 Organic Garlic Cloves minced
2 Organic Zucchini 
2 Organic Carrots
1/2 Organic Yellow Onion (can substitute red onion or scallions)
Salt to taste (I prefer mine with no added salt, because canned tomatoes and tomato sauce have a lot of added salt)
Freshly ground Black Pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

Notes: Feel free to add other veggies if you like. A few ideas are red pepper, string beans, kale, capers, and celery. When you add additional veggies, it makes the sauce thicker, increases nutrients, and heightens taste even more.
I always use organic ingredients when available, because organic means produce is not genetically modified, not sprayed with chemicals, and is not grown in soil that contains chemical fertilizers.

How to Make It

1. Open diced tomato cans, tomato sauce cans, and rinse fresh tomatoes. If you're using fresh tomatoes, chop them in the bowl of a food processor until chunky. Place all in a large saucepan that has a cover. Add minced garlic, red pepper flakes, and bring all ingredients mentioned in this step to a boil. Stir and turn heat to simmer. Then cover and cook for 15 minutes. While tomatoes are simmering on the stove top, do the next step.

Note: Select fresh tomatoes that are bright red in color. This is a signal that they have ripened fully and are loaded with a valuable nutrient called lycopene, an antioxidant that helps prevent cancer and lowers unhealthy cholesterol. Cooking tomatoes for at least 30 minutes  releases more lycopene than cooking for less time. That's why my recipe suggests you cook tomatoes for 30 minutes total. Canned tomatoes are picked when at the peak of freshness and can be used when you don’t have fresh on hand. I buy only those that are packed in BPA free cans, because bisphenol A, a synthetic estrogen found in the epoxy coating of food cans, has been linked to many health problems. Many companies have publicly pledged to stop using BPA in their cans, but check to see that the ones you buy are labeled BPA Free.

2. Rinse canned beans, mushrooms, and all fresh veggies in cool water. Prep zucchini and carrots by washing and scraping off sand and dirt with the side of a knife. Keep as much skin on as possible, as it contains fiber and nutrients. Peel onion and garlic. Rinse basil and any other fresh herbs and veggies you want to include. Put all remaining ingredients except pasta in the bowl of a food processor and chop until they reach a consistency that you like. I like to see little chunks of veggies in my sauce as it adds bright splashes of color and texture. Chop as fine or as chunky as you wish, but for 2 minutes max. Pour veggies into simmering pot of tomato sauce, mix, and cover. Bring to a boil again and simmer for 15 minutes more. 

Zucchini on the left is scraped clean as is the carrot on the right

Basil, Pinto Beans, and Mushrooms

3. While veggies, beans, and tomato sauce mixture is cooking (the last 15 minutes of the cooking process) put up a large pot of fresh water to use to cook the pasta. Follow the package directions (the package of fusilli I used stated that 1/2 cup of dried pasta is one portion and to cook fusilli from 7-10 minutes). It's best to test pasta for doneness at 7 minutes, so it doesn't get overcooked. When done, place pasta in a colander and strain. Put individual portions of fusilli into dishes, top with sauce, and serve while still piping hot.

This is Freshly Made Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce 

Right below is another way I used my versatile vegan tomato sauce, a day later.

I combined 2 cups of Tomato Sauce with 2 cups of Lentil Soup for this Mouthwatering Soup Transformation

For information about lentil soup see this link:

A few days later, I served the remaining sauce on steamed green cabbage and red skinned potatoes. It looked fabulous and was so delicious. I seasoned the dish with organic garlic powder, 1 teaspoon of extra virgin organic olive oil, freshly ground black pepper, and a pinch of Himalayan Pink salt.  

Organic Green Cabbage, Organic Red Skinned Potatoes, and Sauce

When you tabulate the cost of a home-cooked meal like this to meals that have been processed commercially and frozen, or eat a similar meal in a restaurant, you'll realize you come out way ahead of the game by eating at home. You save money, are eating real food, and can trust the quality of the ingredients that are in it. My secret ingredient protein tomato sauce recipe only takes 30 minutes to prepare, so you save time too. Refrigerate extra sauce, as soon as you're finished making it. It will stay fresh for up to four or five days. Have fun inventing new ways to serve it. Other ways to use it might include to put it into gluten-free burritos or organic corn tortillas, or use it to top off spiralized zucchini. 

Don't forget to let me know what you think of my "secret ingredient" vegan tomato sauce. This is how to do it. Scroll down at the end of this post and write in the space that says "enter your comment." Then, click on "publish" after you've written your comment. Thanks so much.

The quote for today follows: "Putting even one thing in your shopping basket that's locally produced or organic makes all the difference. It's a vote for the future, for animal welfare, for the environment, for your children's children." Sheherazade Goldsmith

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Thanks for Visiting

Hope you enjoyed your visit and will return again. Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life! Warm regards, Nan