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Friday, February 12, 2016

Share the Love

Today is a wonderful day to share my love, thoughts, and feelings about you, me, and the meaning of "share the love." I'm going to do it by using original quotations I've created and present to you. Each is a Valentine's gift dear readers. I've shared a few of them in blogs posts, and others are affirmations I repeat to myself. The rest are inspiring ideas I get during meditation or when I'm out living my abundant life. If any have meaning for you, please let me know.

"Love yourself through each day, even if it is challenging. Self-compassion fills each day with promise." Nancy Andres

"I nourish my mind, body, and spirit healthfully and my thoughts, feelings, and actions heal me." Nancy Andres

"Friendships are like gardens. They give us pleasure and comfort, as long as we tend them with care. Nurture your friendships and your garden will grow." Nancy Andres

"Recovery is a day-at-a-time process. I am generous with myself and others and know we can start over any time we need to." Nancy Andres

"I keep life simple by lovingly focusing on my own business and gently releasing others to experience their own choices." Nancy Andres

"Joy is everywhere that I see it. I live life with my eyes wide open." Nancy Andres

"Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life!" Nancy Andres

Sending Much Love to You and You and You on Valentine's Day

P.S. Feel free to use these quotes, but please link back to my post.

This post has been shared at Let’s Get Real Friday Party # 128

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Creative Gift Ideas Women Love

If you're anything like I am, you try your best to select the "perfect" present for each of the women on your gift giving list. Are you stuck for gift ideas for Valentine's Day, Mother's Day, Birthdays, Graduations, and Thinking of You Gifts? No need to fret. I'll provide several ideas to help you whiz through the shopping process. Put some thought into it, and the recipient of your gift will be delighted and so will you.

Photo Jack Moreh/

1.Consider the preferences of the person you are shopping for. Think of the colors she wears and the color scheme and style of furniture in her home. Is it modern (sleek and unadorned), traditional (classic and solid), or Mediterranean (scrolls and flourishes)? Does she like new ideas and up to the minute fashion? Perhaps she wears classic styles and color-coordinates all her outfits. Choose your gift according.

2.What are her hobbies and interests? Is she the outdoors type (sports or gardening items), stay at home home-schooling mom (magazine or newspaper subscription), career woman ( streamlined pocketbook or case for a laptop or tablet), or the woman who wears many hats? Is she a woman who goes to the gym or a health club, while on her lunch break? Perhaps a thermos, gym bag, or gym attire would fit the bill. Does she stop at the market on the way from her kids' soccer practice? She may appreciate an insulated shopping bag or appointment book. Her lifestyle is a good clue to her taste. Accessories like a beautiful scarf, sunhat (UV protection), cross the body pocketbook, wallet, yoga mat (recycled material of course) are items that don't require you to know her size.

3. Give a customized gift, if you can. You don't have to break the bank to do that. Make her a bead jewelry necklace in her favorite colors, frame a picture of the two of you, or make a scrapbook keepsake of a favorite time you two spent together. If you don't have enough pictures of that time, cut out ones from magazines to illustrate joy, fun, dancing, music, bike riding, or other activities you enjoy doing together.

4. A wonderful idea that I've saved for last is affordable, provides hours of entertainment and discovery, and makes an eye-catching gift. 

Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self Discovery, Balance, and Bliss is what I mean, because it's interactive, heartwarming, and shows that special someone you really care. In fact, you don't have to wait for a special occasion. Surprise her by getting it and gifting it right now.

Purchase an autographed copy from my Website by clicking right here, picking up Colors of Joy at a fine Book Store or Shop Where it is Sold, or order it at Amazon Books.

The quote for today is:

This post has been shared at Wonderful Wednesday 162

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Hearty Vegan Black Bean Soup

Hearty Vegan Black Bean Soup

To warm you this winter, ladle out a piping hot, spicy bowl of black bean soup. It features a combo of black beans and colorful veggies that are nutrient rich, appealing, and comfort cravings for a filling, delicious meal.


1 lb. dried organic black beans
10 cups cold water
1 large organic yellow onion chopped
5 cloves organic garlic grated
1 Bay leaf
1 teaspoon chili powder or more to taste
¼ cup fresh chopped cilantro and a handful of fresh chopped parsley
½ jalapeño pepper (wear gloves to seed and chop)
1 can 15 oz. chopped organic tomatoes (get ones that are packaged in a BPA free can) or use 3 fresh chopped organic tomatoes, when in season
4 organic carrots chopped
4 stalks organic celery chopped
½ cup organic cremini or baby bella mushrooms sliced
Salt and fresh ground black pepper to taste

What to do:

1. Pick over and rinse black beans to remove extraneous matter. Soak black beans for at least 6-8 hours. Spill out soaking water, and rinse well. The US Dry Bean Council provides several methods for soaking beans. See which one you like best.

Note: I offer you the choice of using dried black beans or canned ones. Consider this. Dried beans are more economical and taste better than canned ones, because the flavoring melds into them as the beans simmer on the stove. Here in Tucson, a 1 lb. bag of organic black beans costs approximately $ 2.99 lb. One 15 oz. can of organic beans cost $1.30. Dried beans get hydrated as they cook (expand) and equal 4 cans of black beans at a cost of approximately $5.20. Some canned products are still packed in cans that contain BPA or are highly salted.

On the plus side, canned beans are fully cooked and cut down on prep time. If you’re using canned beans, follow prep directions for onion and garlic in step 2. At step 3, pour out the liquid from the cans of beans and rinse. Add them to the veggies and 10 cups of water and continue on from there.

2. Chop onion and grate garlic. Much experimentation on my part has deemed it the best way to make garlic taste bold, yet not overpower or mask the other ingredients. 

Put onion and garlic into a large ceramic, cast iron, or heavy weight stainless steel pot or Dutch oven on the stove top. Without using any oil, brown onion and garlic for about 2 minutes on medium heat. If any sticks, use a drop or 2 of water. Cook 3 or 4 minutes more, until the onion and garlic are soft and browned. It may surprise you to learn this is an easy way to brown ingredients without oil. It gives the soup a lively flavor, rich color, and adds a delightful aroma to the soup as it cooks. Add soaked dried beans to the pot and pour in 10 cups of water. Bring to a boil and lower to a simmer. Add bay leaf, salt, chili powder, and chopped jalapeño. Cook covered on medium heat for 45 minutes or until black beans start to get soft. Watch pot every few minutes and lower temperature slightly, if you sense soup is ready to boil over. Cooking times vary depending on how fresh beans are, what soaking method you use, and the actual temperature of your stove.

3. Add chopped carrots, celery, mushrooms, and canned or fresh (chopped) tomatoes to the mix and cook for 20 minutes. Unlike some vegetables and fruits that are best eaten raw, tomatoes need to be cooked (ideally for ½ hour) to release the most phytonutrients/health benefits.

Baby Bellas Add a Hearty Dimension to the Soup 

4. Include as many optional veggies as you’d like to include now (zucchini, cabbage, butternut squash, kale, red pepper, and peas are my suggestions) to increase thickness, depth of flavor, and nutrition. Cook 10 minutes longer to release the full power of the tomatoes and heat optional veggies. Before removing pot from the stove, check beans and vegetables to see that they are soft enough to stick a fork in them, but not fall apart completely. Remove bay leaf, grind on black pepper, and sprinkle on chopped cilantro and parsley before serving.

Note: I use organic items whenever possible, because organic produce tastes better, is healthier for you, and doesn't pollute the planet.

Serve the soup in cups or bowls, accompanied by a salad and whole grain bread like I did. Another way to serve it is with cooked brown rice, corn chips, salsa, and guacamole.

Guacamole and Organic Corn Chips Go Well with Black Bean Soup

Feel good about making this hearty soup for yourself, family, or friends. A 1 cup portion of black beans is a good source of Thiamine, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Iron, and Manganese without cholesterol or fat. Black beans are an excellent source of dietary fiber and protein. One cup provides 15 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein. Their hearty taste and high nutritional value makes them satisfying, economical and a smart food choice. My recipe is delicious and spicy, without being dangerously hot. If you’d like to turn up the heat, add one or more of these: salsa, cayenne pepper, shake of Tabasco or other hot sauce, crushed red pepper flakes, or more cilantro and garlic.

The quote for today appeared on Brainy Quotes and it follows: "Only the pure in heart can make a good soup." Ludwig van Beethoven

I'm curious to know other ways you use black beans. I welcome comments, questions, and hope you'll share your ideas or tips about this nutritious legume. Sharing is caring. 

Follow me on Google Friend Connect and you'll get notified each time I post (right now it's twice a month). Your support and encouragement is appreciated. 

This post has been shared at Healthy Living Link Party #45

This post has been shared at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop #93

This post is featured at The-Plant-Based-Potluck-Party-Link-Up-72/

Share the Food & Fun at the Plant Based Potluck Party Link Up #34

This post has been shared at The Plant Based Potluck Party Link Up #71

This post has been shared at PIN WORTHY WEDNESDAY #66

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Saturday, December 26, 2015

Spaghetti Squash Magic

Here's an eye-catching recipe for spaghetti squash marinara that's sure to please your senses as well as make your family, friends, or potluck crowd jump to their feet and applaud.

Spaghetti Squash, Create Magic in a Casserole Dish

The other day I wanted to have pasta, but discovered long ago that eating semolina (a form of wheat that most pasta is made from) makes me feel bloated or sleepy or both. Some might say I have a gluten allergy, but I like to call it gluten sensitivity. I know what's good for me to eat and what isn't. I'm in tune with my body and my body is in tune with me. 

Anyway, as luck would have it, I spotted this fresh organic spaghetti squash on sale at my local Sprouts Market. Yahoo. I couldn't wait to get it home.

Since there was going to be just the 2 of us (hubby and me) for dinner, I decided to cook the whole squash, string it, but transform only enough of it (2 days' worth) to make a Meatless Monday meal and Fun Tuesday meal. On the first day I served it for dinner. The following day I presented it at lunch and got rave reviews. The real reason I know it was good, was because my hubby wanted to eat it two days in a row and wanted two helpings each time.

Now on to My (Nancy A's) Recipe for Spaghetti Squash Marinara


1 large spaghetti squash

sufficient water to coat the bottom of a baking pan and have the level of water come up  1/2 inch when the squash is placed inside on its side

salt, pepper, and mixed seasoning of your choice to sprinkle on the squash, after it is stringed

ingredients for my homemade marinara mushroom tomato sauce are provided at this link. best recipe for homemade marinara sauce

nutritional yeast to sprinkle on after it's all ready (I buy a brand fortified with B-12) and use it for its good taste and nutritional value

What to do:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Wash the outside of the squash under cool water (use a vegetable brush off dirt). Put squash in a baking pan on its side. Pour in enough water to come up 1/2 inches so squash doesn't burn while it roasts.

2.Pierce the squash in a few places with a fork, so it releases any trapped air and avoids having it explode when cooking in the oven. I cook all squash uncut, because I find it's hard to cut it in half or remove peel. No need to peel it. You can string it without removing peel.

3. Roast the squash whole, anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour, depending on how large it is. You'll know the squash is ready when its skin starts to turn light brown and the fork you use to pierce it goes in easily. If you cut it open and it's hard to string it, don't hesitate to cook it for a few more minutes.

4. Slice the squash lengthwise like the photo below indicates. Remove pulp and seeds by scooping them out with a spoon or knife. 

5. Take a fork and string the cooked spaghetti squash like I did in the photo below. 

6. When half the squash was prepared, I put the strings of spaghetti squash into a casserole dish and mixed in the marinara sauce. I made my own marinara sauce and let it simmer on the stove top while the squash cooked in the oven (use ingredients mentioned in the link above). After both parts of this recipe were cooked properly, I combined them and reheated it. I served each portion with a little bit of nutritional yeast sprinkled on top. Here's what it looks like both as a lunch and dinner main dish idea.

I portioned out the remaining squash into freezer containers (without sauce) and put the containers into the freezer. 

Cooked and Stringed Spaghetti Squash in Casserole Dishes

Next time I want to serve it, I'll defrost and heat as much as I need. It can be used as a quick fix veggie or added to soup for its nutritional benefits and texture. Another way to mix it up is to incorporate the spaghetti squash into a simple sauté, one made from a clove of minced garlic, a teaspoon of organic olive oil, and fresh chopped basil or other fresh herbs like oregano, tarragon, or cilantro. Perhaps you'd rather top the spaghetti squash with Arrabiata (spicy) Sauce or Primavera (loaded with fresh veggies like carrots, red pepper, peas, string beans, onions) Sauce. Use any extra tomato mushroom marinara sauce on string beans, in soup, veggie chili, or any time you want good taste and added antioxidants.

Squash is so versatile and economical. You'll probably be surprised at how many ways you can fix it. Cooked and stringed spaghetti squash keeps well for a few weeks or even months in the freezer. Once defrosted, it tastes yummy, prepared as I mentioned above.

Plain cooked spaghetti squash contains only 42 calories per cup. That's much fewer calories than regular pasta (220 calories per cup). It's low in saturated fat, very low in cholesterol and a good source of Niacin, Vitamin B-6, Pantothenic Acid (B-5), Potassium and Manganese, and a great source of Dietary Fiber and Vitamin C.

Have you ever made spaghetti squash? If not, are you inspired? If you've cooked spaghetti squash before, how did you prepare it? Please share your comments, questions, and get social with me. I'd love to hear from you.

The quote for today is:

"One of the very nicest things about life is the way we must regularly stop whatever it is we are doing and devote our attention to eating.  (Luciano Pavarotti and William Wright, Pavarotti, My Own Story)" Quote listed at 
She Cooks He Cleans

Before I go I'd like to wish you all a Joyous Holiday Season and 

Many Blessings in the New Year! 

Now and throughout 2016 reach out to others. Your kindness

will light up the world.

Check out my Facebook Page to Get More Tips for Good Eating and Wellness Here .

This post has been shared at The-Healthy-Happy-Green-and-Natural-Party-Blog-Hop-93/

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This post has been shared at the Healthy Living Link Party #42 and is was selected as a feature post 

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This post has been shared at Real Food Fridays # 119

This post has been shared at Share the Wealth Sunday Blog Hop 36

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

How to Maintain Good Health this Holiday Season

Citrus fruits contain loads of Vitamin C and are especially good to eat during cold and flu season

Enhance joy this holiday season by aligning your mind, body, and spirit. If this seems like too much of a challenge to you, you’re not alone. According to a study from Weight Watchers, the average American gains around 7-10 lbs. between Thanksgiving and New Year’s.

The holiday blues and seasonal affective disorder plague others. Learn what Maude Purcell LCSW, CEAP suggests to help you outsmart the holiday blues at Beat the Holiday Blues

Are you one of the those people who have unrealistic expectations of yourself and others or a preconceived notion of how the holidays should turn out? Has entertaining, party going, gift shopping, and life on the run become a drudge or thrown you off center? There is help for you.

Here are 4 ways you may wander off from a healthy course and 4 remedies to fix them.

Excuse # 1: Everyone strays from their routine, especially since it’s a stressful and “so much happening” season.

Remedy #1: Talk about feelings as they come up, rather than stuff feelings with foods, over-spending, or a frenzy of activity. Limit commitments, holiday events, or preparations to things you really want to do and only add extra things if they won’t tax your sense of well-being. Choose to be with the people who matter the most to you and bow out of situations with people, functions, or customs that have less meaning for you. If you feel bent out of shape or anxious, meditate or do deep breathing exercises to bring you back to your center.

Excuse #2: I have no time or energy for exercise.

Remedy #2: Fit exercise into holiday activities, by parking your car as far away from stores as possible and use the stairs instead of escalator or elevator at the mall. When you can, walk to shops, post office, or food shopping instead of driving. Stretch at your computer, on line at the bank or farmers’ market, or in bed before you get out of it in the morning. Include the playground, park, roller or ice skating ring, biking, skiing, and walking in family fun activities for the holidays. Give exercise gifts like a spa day or gym membership to yourself or others.

Excuse #3: I’m too pooped to cook. This excuse may create a dangerous situation, because you’re likely to grab snack or junk foods instead of real food or overeat in a restaurant. Most foods sold commercially include ingredients like soy oil (unless it’s organic it’s likely to be GMO), artificial sweeteners, high sodium , oil laden sauces, and sugary dressings.

Remedy # 3: Shop for holiday presents throughout the year. That way there's no last minute rush. Cook up batches of food and freeze to use when you’re too tired to whip up something that day. If you go to a restaurant instead of cooking, make sure to eat smart when you eat out. Here’s a link to a blog post that will help you do just that. Eat Out Eat Smart

Excuse # 4: I’ll start to diet in the New Year. In days gone by, I've said this to myself in hopes that it would postpone the pain I'd feel from disciplining myself to push away from the table and stop eating unhealthful foods. I also thought stalling with a start date gave me permission to gobble down that basket of bread right now. But I did feel the pain, as I patted my middle section and felt where all that bread went. That’s not all. The day after a holiday party and three cups of Eggnog, I felt bloated, unattractive, lethargic, and cranky from sugar and simple carb overload.

Remedy # 4: Change your mindset to change your behavior around food. Look at what you eat, when you eat, why you eat, and perhaps you’ll conclude that prevention is more effective than cure. Researchers have found that it’s advantageous to make this a priority the minute you realize you need to clean up your food eating act. You won’t have regrets for maintaining a bad habit or guilt from procrastinating. I have noticed when my awareness level and motivation is at a peak, the momentum keeps me going longer and stronger. Be gentle with yourself if you have a food slip, but start anew to notice what foods you crave or gorge on. Ask yourself when, where, and under what circumstances do you eat unhealthily? Set a health improvement goal rather than just considering weight loss or gain. Using this self care technique makes you a winner over and over again. 

Here are 2 Websites that address emotional eating...

Keep in mind the winter holiday season coincides with cold and flu season. That’s why it's important to ward off illness and energy drain by eating nourishing foods and filling yourself up with the love, peace, brotherhood, and light that Hanukkah, Christmas, and Kwanzaa holidays convey.

Be well. Live well. Lead a colorful life. Happy Holidays Everyone!

The quotation for today comes from Geneen Roth, Author of Women, Food, and God: An Unexpected Path to Almost Everything“Freedom from obsession is not about something you do; it's about knowing who you are. It's about recognizing what sustains you and what exhausts you. What you love and what you think you love because you believe you can't have it.”

Order a copy of Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance and Bliss. It's packed full of activities to help you start off 2016 on the right foot. Click right now to order an Autographed Copy of Colors of Joy .

This post is a revised version of one that appeared 12/21/14.
This post appears on the Special Holiday Edition of the “Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party” Blog Hop! and was the Healthy Feature at the Live-it-Up-at-the-Healthy-Happy-Green-and-Natural-Party-Blog-Hop-93/

Live It Up at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop #93

This post is part of PIN WORTHY WEDNESDAY #63
This post appears at Friendship Friday Blog Party & Social Media Boost 202
This post appears at Inspire Me Monday #206 – Week Of December 13, 2015

Thanks for Visiting

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