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Sunday, December 21, 2014

4 Ways to Discover Balance and Joy This Holiday Season

Discover balance and 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 wonder 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, and heavy sauces and 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 a lifestyle change 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 weight loss or gain. This way you can be 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.”

Friday, December 5, 2014

3 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

3 Ways to Reduce Holiday Stress

For many, this time of year is anxiety producing and stressful. Right now you may think there is too much to do or worry that holiday shopping and decorating, cards, food prep, and house cleaning won’t be finished in time for the holidays.

Before you jump off an emotional cliff, ask yourself these questions; am I trying too hard to create a “perfect looking" holiday? Are the horrors of past holidays coming back to haunt me? Do I believe I have super powers, can run myself ragged, and will know when to stop before total exhaustion sets in?

Research suggests it’s never too late to change outmoded behaviors and attitudes. When you open your mind to a new way of being and pay attention to your true needs and wants, you will find greater satisfaction and joy this holiday season and all year long.  

1. Learn ways to moderate your emotions. Set the tone for your day in the morning. Wake up a few minutes early to allow for quiet time to practice Mindfulness Meditation. It is a powerful tool that helps you notice thoughts, observe your emotions, and increase self-knowledge. Keep it simple; breathe in and out for a few moments. A mind-body practice like meditation develops increased awareness of the present, and can reduce symptoms of anxiety and depression. Meditation lowers heart rate and deep breathing has a calming effect for hours after you move into your day. Meditation helps you clear your mind and encourages rational thinking. Rational thinking enables you to plan ahead, and make effective decisions about daily activities. Studies show that daily mindfulness meditation done over a period of at least 8 weeks, makes a significant improvement in overall quality of life and health. 

2. Simplify your celebration by anchoring it to reality. Do you act out of a genuine love of a particular custom? Perhaps it's time to release traditions and preparations that don’t align with your time, budget, or spirit. Limit time spent with people, places, and things that drain your energy. Reserve time for those people and functions that matter to you.

3. Remember you have options. There are no holiday police, who dictate what is right for you. You may want to relax at home, have company, visit friends and family, or create a new tradition this year. Some folks shift gears by going to the movies, visiting a park, helping a shut-in neighbor, or do service at a soup kitchen. Perhaps this year you want to get away from it all on a vacation. You will fail, if you try to people-please everyone in your life. Aim to be loving and kind to yourself and others. Make the choice to do what works best for you!

For those times when you're traveling with kids, here’s help for you.

Please comment by sharing your tips for stress reduction. If you'd like to, mention what things you want to reduce, improve, or eliminate in the new year. Studies show when you use pen and paper and record your intention, it reinforces the idea in your mind and body.

For many more creative ideas about effective self-care practices and exercises that help you appreciate simple pleasures, pick up a copy of Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss. It’s a great gift for all the women you love. See more here.

The quotation for today is an original, "“Self-care is a privilege only you can grant yourself.” Nancy Andres

Before I go, I'd like to thank you for your support and encouragement during 2014. Wishing each and every one of you a very Happy, Healthy 2015. 
This blog post appears on the Special Holiday Edition of the Healthy, Happy, Green, and Natural Party Blog Hop 2014

This blog post appears on Tuesdays With a Twist#88 is Live!

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving, Gratitude, Thoughts and Feelings

Thanksgiving has come again and I'm counting my blessings. Gratitude fills me up for good health and joy in my life. I'm blessed by sharing love with a special someone and appreciate my career, friends and family, and a calling to serve a Higher purpose in my life. I am thankful I live in a free country, where I create the space and time to make new discoveries about myself and others and be more truly who I was meant to be. And I'm grateful for blogging, which gives me the opportunity to write down how I feel and what I think.

Here's the quote for today:

"Half our mistakes in life arise from feeling where we ought to think, and thinking where we ought to feel." J. Churton Collins

Wishing you a festive holiday and the insight to sense when enough food (or anything) is enough.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Take Action with Your Food Shopping Dollars

Take Action with Your Food Shopping Dollars

When I crave plush parsley for Tabouli or juicy Pink Lady Apples for a snack, I go to my herb garden, my local farmers’ market, or the health food store, rather than journey to the supermarket. I take advantage of the simplicity, intimacy, and quality this way of meeting my food needs provides.

If plums, carrots, lettuce, and cucumbers aren't commercially prepackaged, my tactile, visual, and olfactory senses can determine the best buys of the day. I select fruits and veggies that smell garden-fresh, are vivid in color, appear unblemished, and are crisp or firm to the touch. Close examination increases my chance that the produce I get won’t spoil before I get to prepare, serve, and eat it. That’s why I check leaves, roots, peel or skin, and pick ripe but not mushy fruits and vegetables.

My local store uses minimal packaging, thereby conserving natural resources and reducing the amount of new garbage dumped in a landfill. I bring canvas shopping bags whenever I shop for food or other goods, and reduce my carbon footprint even more.

My routine is to check ahead, so I know what days of the week orders are delivered. On food shopping days, I remain flexible with menu planning. I want to get those items that are in-season, at the peak of freshness, and that fit in with my nutritional needs. At a local market, I'm not forced to stock up and buy three prepackaged red peppers, when all I need is one. This allows me the freedom to buy no more than I can serve within a day or two.

In late summer, when Wilcox farms are resplendent with mouth-watering peaches, this locally grown fruit is unquestionably the best! Assembly line and out of season crops from South America or New Zealand may be in transit for several days and sit in warehouses for weeks, before they reach the mega stores and then my table. The local harvest may be too small to satisfy supermarket quotas, but when made available in neighborhood stores, far surpass bland cardboard tasting imports.  Since stores are nearby, I don't waste gas. The errand is an opportunity to catch up on what's happening in my neighborhood and make other stops along the way. I enjoy the cordiality and informality of dealing with people I know. Lines are short, sometimes none-existent, and eliminate much of the impersonal nature of life in the express lane of the supermarket.

My local health food store and farmers’ market sells organic. This is another reason why my produce including tomatoes, grapes, potatoes, and kale are so tasty and healthful. These items haven’t been waxed, chemically sprayed, irradiated, or injected with additives. If a product is marked organic, I know it isn't genetically altered either. I make the conscious choice to eat foods that are in the original state Mother Nature intended. I also know that organic farming doesn’t use synthetic pesticides and pollutants. Each time I shop organic I save a small spot of the planet by not polluting the ground, water, air, or my body. 

That's why it’s important to me to write letters, blogs, and articles that alert you as well as the manufacturers, FDA, elected officials, and stores about food products that help and harm the food supply. I put my money where my mouth is and boycott products that are genetically modified or I deem unsafe. I have seen that an ongoing demand for organics and non-genetically modified foods motivates farmers, manufacturers, suppliers, wholesalers, and retailers to pay closer attention to what they offer for sale. If we are vocal enough, organics can become more readily available and at a lower price.

Here's info from Eating Well Magazine that addresses this question:

 Shopping and growing food in my neighborhood, gives me a feeling of continuity and community. Even more basic, it gives me a sense of history and earlier people, who hunted, gathered, and grew food for their families. I’ve noticed the path to my home vegetable garden reverberates with the sound of their steps as well as those of my ancestors’ footprints too. Being a part of the food circle, draws me close to the Source. I give thanks to the Earth in her richness and all the people who play a part in bringing this bounty to me.

Then, I reflect about those who may not use their power. Illness, poverty, apathy, fear, or lack of knowledge may be an issue for them. I am grateful that over 25 years ago I set the intention to do what I can to share a healthful meal with others, contribute to the Community Food Bank, and volunteer to do shopping for a shut in. In what ways do you share your abundance? How do you spread the word about local, healthful food? I challenge you to use your intelligence and find a way to be bold and take action. Positive change can start with that first right step. Journalist Anthony Gucciardi shares his view about the average consumer being an activist just by the choices he or she makes when shopping.

Also, please read this from John and Ocean Robbins at the Food Revolution about labeling GMO and speaking out.

Please comment by emailing me at or reach out through social media. Nancy-Andres-Health-Lifestyle-Writer-Author on Facebook and Nancy Andres on Pinterest.
 I’d love to hear what steps you take or plan to take to shop local, grow local, and vote with your food shopping dollars.

Here's what Lorraine Schwartz from NM shared with me.
"Your article on food choices was really good. Some of us need the reminder to support our local farmer's markets and natural grocers. We have one locally owned health food store in town so it is good to know that any purchases provide good paying jobs in addition to knowing the food is fresher and healthier. Cid's Market has been in business for over 25 years and is owned and run by a couple formerly from New Rochelle. Keep up the writing-it gets better all the time. So happy your book is doing well."

This blog post has been shared at The Plant Based Potluck Party Link Up #32

This blog post has been shared at Tuesdays With a Twist #84

This blog post has been shared at Natural Family Friday Weekly Link Up-Nov. 14, 2014

This blog post has been shared at the Healthy, Happy, Green and Natural Party Blog Hop #47

This blog post has been shared at Real Food Friday Link Up #64

The quotation for today is:
"I would like to see people more aware of where their food comes from. I would like to see small farmers empowered. I feed my daughter almost exclusively organic food."


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

How to Make Eggplant Lasagna That's Delicious Sans Pasta and Cheese!

How to Make Eggplant Lasagna That's Delicious Sans Pasta and Cheese! 

I get so excited when I have tested a recipe, and tweaked the measurements so the food tastes just right. Then I can share it with you, real food lovers. Learn how easy it is to assemble this gluten free dish and why the combination of ingredients makes it high in nutrition, cholesterol free, economical, and one that will make you a star in your kitchen.

This plant based whole food (PBWF) entrée is eye appealing, satisfying, and a good dish to serve year round. Eggplants are in the markets right now, and fit in nicely to your fall meal planning schedule. Serve it to your family, and even a meat and potatoes guy will rave. It’s a handy dish to cook ahead to serve a crowd. 


For the Thick, Luscious Tomato Sauce:

1 lg. can (28 ounces) organic diced tomatoes packed in their own juice
1 sm. can (15 ounces) organic tomato sauce
1 sm. can (15 ounces) organic diced tomatoes
1 can (6 ounces) organic tomato paste
1 sm. can (4 ounces) organic sliced mushrooms, rinsed and drained
Optional: chopped organic carrots (add along with the mushrooms for a sweeter sauce)
2 cloves organic garlic chopped
1 sprig of organic basil (4 leaves) minced
2 sprigs of organic parsley (curly or Italian-use what you prefer)
1 teaspoon fresh organic oregano or ½ teaspoon dried organic oregano
2 Tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil

Note: If you prefer, use fresh organic tomatoes and organic mushrooms. That means to use about 4 cups fresh tomatoes and 1/4 cup fresh mushrooms

For the Eggplant Lasagna: 

1 large or 2 smaller organic eggplant (any variety will do, but make sure eggplant is firm to the touch)
1 package of extra firm or firm organic tofu (all organic tofu is non-gmo. If you can’t find organic, make sure the package of tofu is labeled non-gmo)
1 Tablespoon salt free organic seasoning mix 
1 bunch organic parsley minced
A pinch of salt and fresh ground black pepper

What to Do:

1. Start tomato sauce first. Open all cans, take out a 4 qt. saucepan and place it on the stove. Pour 1 teaspoon of olive oil into pan and brown the garlic on medium heat until golden. Reserve the rest of the oil for later. Then add the tomato paste and brown that slightly. Turn off stove and add diced tomatoes and mushrooms. Blend. Then add tomato sauce and blend. Turn on stove again. Bring mixture to a boil, mix and reduce heat to a simmer ( this should be set at a temperature that is high enough to keep the sauce boiling, but low enough that the sauce won’t stick to the bottom or burn).Stir every few minutes. Add the fresh basil and oregano after sauce has cooked for 10 minutes. I do not add extra salt here as the tomato sauce and chopped tomatoes are packed with enough salt to season them. Sauce should cook for ½ hour from beginning to end.
2. Peel and slice your eggplant lengthwise into thin strips. If you have a Mandoline Slicer, use it to make thin slices. When I made this recipe the first time, I didn’t have a slicer handy, and used a sharp knife. The pieces I made were 1/2 in. thick. Aim for slices that are 1/4 in. thick. Sprinkle eggplant with a pinch of salt. 

Part of learning how to make a new recipe is the joy of making mistakes. I’ve discovered that most of the cooks I’ve known over the years have learned the best cooking lessons from trial and error. Join the crowd of daring people, and let your creative cooking streak soar. Just remember to keep an eye on what you're slicing, and stir the sauce from time to time.

3. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

4. Drain the tofu this way or drain it in a colander.

After about 15 minutes, pour off liquid and put the tofu into a medium size mixing bowl. Crumple tofu into small pieces so it looks like ricotta cheese. Keep bowl of tofu refrigerated until you’re ready to use it.

5. Brown (sauté) a few pieces of eggplant at a time in a large frying pan, using the rest of the olive oil. Cook until golden brown and eggplant is fairly soft, but not falling apart. 

Line a serving platter with paper toweling to absorb excess oil. Put eggplant pieces onto the platter. Then grind on fresh black pepper.

6. Place a large rectangular glass oven proof pan (I used one that’s 13x9x2 or 3 qt.) on a hotplate on your kitchen counter. When sauce has cooked for 30 minutes, turn it off and give it a stir. Put the pot on another hotplate next to the lasagna pan. Use a large kitchen spoon to scoop a layer of tomato sauce into the pan. Even it out to cover the bottom completely. Spread a third of the browned eggplant slices over the sauce. Then add half of the tofu and spread it over the eggplant. Make sure to season the tofu well with mixed Seasoning Blend and fresh herbs like parsley, thyme, sage, and rosemary. The more the merrier. If you like garlic as much as I do, sprinkle fresh minced garlic or garlic powder on tofu too. Spread on another layer of eggplant, then sauce. Add a final layer of tofu and season well. Put on the last layer of eggplant and top with sauce. Sprinkle fresh parsley, basil, and freshly ground black pepper on top.

7.Cover pan with tinfoil, but make sure it doesn’t rest on the food. 

8. Bake Lasagna casserole for 45 minutes to 1 hour or until it is bubbling and you can easily pierce the eggplant with a fork. Take it out of the oven. Let it set for about 10 minutes and serve with a tossed organic green salad. If you'd like, serve it with gluten free organic or non-gmo labeled garlic bread to sop up the extra sauce. If you are making the lasagna for the next day, refrigerate covered. Warm the dish in the oven. When you serve it, get ready for the oohs and aahs. Refrigerate any extra sauce for another day. Now that you've read the recipe, read on to learn why this dish is so healthful for everyone. 

Here's interesting details about the three main ingredients:

Eggplant is a fruit (because it has seeds) that is available year round in markets, but it’s in season and most delicious from April through October. It comes in many varieties, but all are a very good source of dietary fiber, vitamins like B 1, B6, K, Niacin, and minerals like potassium, copper, and manganese. Eggplant contains compounds that are phytonutrients, ones that provide anti-cancer, anti-microbial, anti-LDL (bad cholesterol), and antiviral protection.

Tomatoes and tomato sauce are rich in lycopene, the substance that gives tomatoes their rich, red pigment. Eating tomatoes helps reduce the risk of heart disease, cancer, and improves the body’s ability to regulate fats in the bloodstream. Tomatoes are a good source of vitamin A, C, E, and K and also biotin. See this article from Scientific America for further information.

Tofu, a product made from soybeans, is produced with significantly less processing than most soy milk and soy burgers. It contains a high level of isoflavones, potent antioxidants. Buy the kind that is organic, calcium enriched, and fermented because it’s more easily digested and a great food that helps your body build and maintain strong bones. Tofu is an inexpensive plant-based source of protein, one that is cholesterol free.

Eggplant Lasagna is a dish that is versatile. It's a festive meal to serve at dinner time or at lunch. Cut up the leftovers into individual portions, because it freezes well and comes in handy when you want a quick meal.

Please give me feedback through Google +, and like and pin me on social media. 

Buon Appetito!

The quotation of the day comes from Garfield the cat.

“When the lasagna content in my blood gets low, I get mean.”


 See this post at Healthy, Happy, Green, Natural Party Blog Hop # 42
and it was picked to be featured too!
Live It Up at the Healthy, Happy, Green & Natural Party Blog Hop #43

See this post at the Plant Based Potluck Party Linkup #27

Natural Family Friday Linkup #5

Real Food Fridays # 60

Meatless Monday LInkUp & Pumpkin RoundUp
Before you go, 
Here's a simple way to join others and take part in Change The World Wednesday! 
The Challenge this week is to be aware of spending habits. Before you purchase anything new ask yourself whether you actually need it or want it. Cutting down on material things simplifies your life, doesn't drain natural resources, reduces carbon footprint, reduces over-consumption, and saves money. Why not do this: Make a shopping list of those things you need to survive this week, and those things that are icing on the cake. Can you limit spending to things you actually need rather than those extras that drain your time, energy, resources, and patience? Take the CTWW Challenge.

Change The World Wednesday on Reduce Footprints

Thanks for Visiting

Hope you enjoyed your visit to my blog and will return again. Wishing you a day that's brimming with good health and peace. Warm regards, Nan