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Thursday, August 13, 2015

4 Powerful Reasons Journal Writing Is Good for the Soul

         4 Powerful Reasons Journal Writing is Good for the Soul 

I’ve used journal writing for self-care for more than fifty years. During each stage of life, journal writing has helped me identify and accept troubling emotions and thoughts and gradually convert them into positive ones. I found that by spilling my anger, hurt, sadness, worry, amazement, shock, grief, or confusion out on to the page, my attachment or tendency to “rethink” a particular issue lessened and I felt relieved.

In the past, writing in a journal has enabled me to look at the stories I tell myself to determine if I’m interpreting things realistically or letting my emotions take off on a roller coaster ride. As I hold pen in hand and scribble away, I feel the synergy of mind, soul/spirit, and body and this grounds me in the moment. 

In situations that involve other people, my journal acts like an intermediary, a designated place to take a “time out” to vent anger, hurt feelings, and fear. This step allows me to cool down hot emotions. If I later think it's necessary to communicate to others about my feelings, I'm able to do it in a kind, direct, and authentic way. I’ve come to believe soul’s plan is to help me encounter and love myself wholeheartedly. My soul writing helps me grow-up my attitudes and behaviors in relationships with myself, my family, friends, work relationships, and even with people I casually relate to from time to time.

Quiet time spent like this has helped me connect with higher purpose, my soul’s purpose. Soul guides me back to my core, a place of gentle trust and love. 

See a definition of soul here from

Soul is a noun \ˈsōl\

1: the spiritual part of a person that is believed to give life to the body and in many religions is believed to live forever

2: a person's deeply felt moral and emotional nature

3: the ability of a person to feel kindness and sympathy for others, to appreciate beauty and art, etc.

My belief about soul has evolved over the years, yet one constant is that journal writing has been a direct pathway between my mind, body, and spirit. I don't always know what will be revealed through writing, yet this reflective time taps into the “self-empowerment potential” and blessings of the soul's expression.

One of my life goals is to become the “best me” that I can be. If that is like anything you care about, read on. Here are 4 reasons soul journaling can help you.

1. Our soul wants the very best for us and others. It awakens our senses and helps us find ways to be more compassionate, empathetic, and generous.  Soul work through journal writing can improve our relationships with friends, family, and ourselves. It can also help us leave or detach from relationships that are unhealthy for us.

2. Soul writing allows us to take a break from the hectic pace of keeping up with modern technology and the material world. Even if you have to get up a few minutes earlier than everyone else in your home, you deserve to reserve space where there is no noise pollution or distractions. If you're anything like I am, it's important to remember not to listen to thoughts that tell you "you should do something else" or "be somewhere else." Take time to nurture yourself in this way. Journaling allows us to check in with ourselves. Often, it helps us shift gears enough that we can find peace and serenity in the process. Then, we can face the world refreshed and renewed.

3. Whenever we're in-touch with negative thoughts, judgments, shame, and even resentments that we harbor about ourselves and others, a journal is a good place to leave them. When I look at what I’m writing, I can catch those times when I’m blaming others for something I need to accept responsibility for. When I fess up and laugh at what I’m doing, my soul unburdens me of guilt, self-judgment, and I readily accept responsibility for myself. I’ve also learned that just because I feel momentary panic about an event in the future or fear confronting another person, I don’t have to act or change the situation immediately. My soul journal is there to help me see the light.

4. Journaling for the soul can unblock stale energy. It allows us to be a witness to things we're stewing over, but can’t control. Whenever I feel I'm not right with myself, journal writing can be used as a form of meditation. Awareness is often all that I need to let go of obsession about other people, places, and things. Observing my mind like this, helps me remember to mind my own business and leave the rest. What about you? Have you tried journal writing as a self-help tool?

Here’s what great writers, thinkers, philosophers and wise sages say about the Soul. It's from Oprah on Super Soul Sunday.

A definition of Soul that resonates most with me is Marianne Williamson’s belief about the soul. “The soul is the truth of who we are: the light, the love, the truth of us.”

Journal writing can help you too. It’s a way to check in with your feelings, thoughts, and perceptions. It’s a safe place to vent your anger, sadness, joy, secret longings, as well as record successes and triumphs.

Journal writing has helped me access the innate power I have inside myself to heal emotional suffering. I’ve found that by writing about my unresolved hurts, fear, and pain in I experience in my mental, physical, spiritual, and emotional body, I'm able to process the stress factor in them. This relaxes me and usually lessens the physical symptoms like headache, backache, stomach ache and tension.

When I lack faith, feel overwhelmed, or realize I'm bent out of shape, journal writing often calms me down. Those are the times I address my journal entry to my higher power. Being this specific is just what I need to get closer to my soul and let the rest go.

My journal doesn’t try to fix me, change me, or otherwise force me to snap out of whatever I’m feeling, as some people try to do. My journal loves me unconditionally. It's a best friend who listens, honors, and comforts me by letting me express my innermost despair to my greatest joy uninterrupted. 

If you're looking for a guided journal, please check out Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss. It features 12 weeks' worth of self-development activities and color-coded exercises in an interactive journal format. 

Find it on My Website
Find it @ Amazon Books

Do you journal? Has it helped you sort things out? Do you feel a soul connection when you journal? How does that make you feel? Please let me know. I appreciate your input. Have a great day!

The quotation for today is: 

“Writing is the act of discovery.” 

― Natalie GoldbergWriting Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within

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Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Stop H.R. 1599 Today: Food Safety and Your Right to Know What's In Your Food

Here's an issue I am passionate about, one I hope my Google + circles, social media friends, and fellow bloggers will help support.
The U.S. House of Representatives is poised to pass H.R. 1599, a deceitful, anti-consumer, anti-Democracy bill, on Thursday, July 23.

If passed, H.R. 1599 (The Dark Act) will not only preempt all state (including Vermont’s) GMO labeling laws, but it will also wipe out county bans on GMO crops—a direct attack not only on Democracy, but on organic and non-GMO growers who increasingly face the risk of contamination. 

But that’s not all. H.R. 1599 is written to make it impossible for food manufacturers to voluntarily tell consumers their products are GMO-free, using reliable, independent labels and standards. And it would guarantee no pre-market safety testing of GMO foods—ever.

It's not to late to stop this bill. Flood Congress with phone calls today and tonight. We need the phones ringing off the hook in the offices of every single member of the House. The recent March 2015 Declaration of the World Health Organization to stop manufacture and use of glyphosate (an ingredient in Roundup), a carcinogenic herbicide used on nearly 90 percent of GMO crops, is supporting evidence for the case to say no to the Dark Act. You have the right to know whether this carcinogenic substance is either in or out of food sold in our US markets. Monsanto can not sell Roundup in Europe, where it has been pulled from shelves. Did Monsanto buy off politicians here by lying about genetically modified seeds and report erroneously that nothing proves Roundup is toxic? 

It makes it all the more critical that consumers be able to avoid foods containing GMO's if they so choose—and that politicians are informed that we don't support the Dark Act.

Please dial 1-202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your U.S. Representative TODAY. If the line is busy you can look up your US Congressperson's phone number on the internet or in a phone book. Once you’re connected, ask your Representative to vote NO on H.R. 1599. There is email contact available too. U.S. House of Representatives

WE do have the power to make good things happen. Use you right to free speech and speak out today!

The quotation for today is: Genetically modified (GM) foods may look and feel the same as conventional foods, but they are drastically (and possibly harmfully) different. These types of foods have been altered by taking the genetic material (DNA) from one species and transferring it into another in order to obtain a desired trait. The FDA does not require any safety testing or any labeling of GM foods, and introducing new genes into a fruit or vegetable may very well be creating unknown results such as new toxins, new bacteria, new allergens, and new diseases."

- M.D. David Brownstein, The Guide to Healthy Eating
#nongmo #foodsafety

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Monday, June 29, 2015

Surprising Features and Recipes for Organic Red Lentils

Surprising Features and Recipes for Organic Red Lentils

Organic Red Lentils (ORL) are orange, not red.

This is a photo of dried organic red lentils (ORL) in a strainer, ready to be picked over and rinsed. This is an important step in making any kind of lentil recipe.

ORL are a bit sweeter and nuttier than other lentils.

ORL readily absorb a variety of flavors from other foods and seasonings. Adding veggies, spices, and herbs make lentils abound with flavor.

ORL are a good source of gluten free plant-based fiber.

ORL are naturally fat and cholesterol free

ORL are a good source of protein and fit in with a vegetarian, vegan, and conventional eating plans

ORL can be sprouted easily and added to salads.  The link below is for sprouting green lentils, but the method can be used with whole red lentils as well. With red lentils, rinse at least twice a day. Red lentils take only a day or 2 to sprout (depending on how fresh they are). Here's Cassie to show you how. How to Sprout Lentils/.

When cooked in a recipe, ORL are ready to eat in about 20-30 minutes. The cooking time varies, depending on whether you use whole or spit ones. Cooking times are influenced by the cooking method (boiled, baked, slow cooker, or pressure cooker), amount being prepared, and kinds of ingredients in the dish you are preparing (ex. tomatoes and tomato sauce increases the amount of time needed to thoroughly cook lentils). When you want a shortcut, use canned lentils, but remember this type of lentil is fully cooked.

ORL are relatively inexpensive (prices usually range from $2.99-3.99 per pound). Cooking (boiling) lentils expands their volume. Lentils supply many important nutrients and using them in recipes is a frugal way to eat smart.

ORL can be a comfort food. It is for me. Their slightly sweet taste and ability to fill you up, without fat, is certainly a healthy way to satisfy even the heartiest of appetites.

ORL are versatile. You can cook them, as part of a pilaf using fragrant Basmati rice or enjoy lentils as a flavorful pureed side dish called Dahl, as they do in India. Lentils have an earthy flavor that enhances soups, stews, chili dishes, and lentil loaf or patties.

ORL can be an important part of meal planning throughout the year.

One portion of ORL (1 cup of cooked lentils) contains 90% of the Daily Value (DV) for folate, a natural food source of this B vitamin that helps cell growth and metabolism. Red lentils also contain 63% of the DV for fiber, and 36% of DV for protein. To understand Percent Daily Value see this. Info from Mayo Clinic about Percent Daily Value

Now to the delicious part of this blog post...

I couldn't find a Red Lentil Soup recipe that worked for me online, so here’s my original recipe that I adore. I make it at least once a month for my family and friends. I freeze any leftover soup in individual containers and heat and serve, when I'm rushed for time or don't have the ingredients on hand to start from scratch.

Nancy A's Hearty Red Lentil Soup Recipe


1 pound whole organic red lentils(clean them well)
6 cups fresh water or half organic low sodium vegetable broth and half water
1 large yellow organic onion chopped fine
4 organic carrots chopped
4 stalks organic celery chopped (use the leaves too)
1 organic turnip chopped
1/2 cup cooked organic rolled oats (or cooked brown rice, if you need to eat gluten free)
1 lg. bay leaf
1 Tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos
3 cloves organic garlic
1 pinch of non-salt seasoning and freshly ground black pepper to taste
a sprig of fresh parsley, a spring of fresh basil 

Optional Ingredients: any cooked vegetables or cooked beans you enjoy. For instance, you can add zucchini, spinach, kale, butternut squash, string beans, pinto beans, or parsnip. When I made this recipe the last time, I included the contents of a can of organic pumpkin. Then, I needed to add an extra cup of water, because the pumpkin made the soup too thick to stir. When adding extra veggies, remember to add extra spices and a little water. Dried herbs go into the pot right away. Fresh herbs go in at the end of the cooking process.

What to do:

1. Pick over and rinse dried lentils. Pour water and/or water and broth into a dutch oven or other large pot that has a cover. Add lentils into the pot and place on the stove. Set control to boiling temp. 
2. While contents heats, clean and chop all veggies, garlic, onion, and fresh herbs. If you have a food processor, chop all veggies well. If you don't have a processor, do the chopping by hand.
3. Add onion, carrots, celery, turnip, bay leaf, Bragg Liquid Aminos, chopped garlic, and a pinch of salt-free seasoning blend to pot. Let ingredients come to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cover. Cook for at least 20 minutes, stirring every few minutes. This kind of soup has a tendency to stick to the bottom of the pot so take care (Notice: I used no oil). Cook until lentils and veggies are tender, and begin to get mushy. 
4. Add chopped parsley, basil, and any cooked veggies you have decided to add. Also add the oats or rice, and heat thoroughly for approximately 10 minutes. Ta Dah! You're good to go. Season with more salt-free seasoning and pepper at the table. Soup stores well, in the fridge (for about 4 days) or freezer (for a few months). It's an easy, delicious, and nutritious way to eat more veggies and legumes. Make it often and enjoy!

While you're at it, check out additional recipes below that feature red lentils. They sound fabulous to me. During the next few months, I'm going to try each and every one.

Here's a flavorful recipe from Susan Voisin Berbere Spiced Red-Lentil Hummus

Want to make a Fat Free Vegan Curry? Recipe is from Veronica Grace Red Lentil Tarka Dal Curry/

Chef AJ from the Forks Over Knives Website shares Red Lentil Chili Recipe

How simple and flavorful can lentil dishes be? Let me know which red lentil recipes appeal to you. Would you like to share one of your favorite red lentil recipes with us here? I sure would like to learn new ideas from you.

Thanks for visiting today. If you can, post a link to this blog on social media and like and pin it. Why not become a follower? If you do, you'll be notified the moment I post again. I'd love to get your feedback. Send comments and questions to me by clicking on the white envelope. My email is Let's get social.

I'm a Health and Lifestyle Writer, Author, and Tucson Wellness Blogger. For a peek at the 12 week interactive self-care journal program, Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery Balance and Bliss check Colors of Joy on Amazon Books.  Colors of Joy provides unique activities that help women get in touch with their feelings, thoughts, and aspirations and experience more joy in daily living. See
Colors of Joy Now

I found the quote for today at

When baking, follow directions. When cooking, go by your own taste. ~Laiko Bahrs

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Thursday, June 4, 2015

Vividly Colored Plant-Based Dish Has Eye and Taste Appeal

Vividly Colored Plant-Based Dish Has Eye 


Taste Appeal

Bring the vibrant colors of the fields and farmer’s markets to your table. Learn how easy it is to create a main course dish that looks and tastes great, smells delicious, and is healthful too. 

Before I share my recipe, I'd like to introduce the colorful components of this dish to you.

AsparagusFresh Green

Asparagus is a sweet tasting vegetable, and one of the first to be harvested in the spring. Lucky for us; it's available in markets during most of the rest of the year too. The tender stalks are rich in vitamins K, C, and A as well as folate, which is a B vitamin. These vitamins are good for blood, eyes, and the immune system to help you ward off illness and stress. Asparagus contains the amino acid asparagine, one that cleans out toxins from your body. That is the reason, after you eat them and urinate, you may notice that your urine may smell strange. Asparagus info

Red Bell PepperBright Red

Red bell pepper is a fruit not a vegetable. It's a good source of fiber, folate, vitamin K, and the minerals molybdenum and manganese. Red peppers are mature green peppers and have more carotenoids and vitamin C than the green variety. See more about red pepper benefits from Annie Stuart at WebMD. Red Pepper Benefits

Carrots-Vibrant Orange

Almost everyone knows that carrots are rich in beta carotene, an organic compound that is good for your vision, immune system, and general well-being. Perhaps you don’t realize carrots are the root portion of the carrot plant. When the taproot reaches about 1 inch in diameter, it is harvested. This is the time when the root is most juicy and tender.  Carrot Facts

Quinoa-Ivory, Brown, Red, and Tricolor

Quinoa is high in protein and comes from the seed of a plant. It isn’t a grain or cereal grass, but is a member of the same food family as spinach, Swiss chard, and beets. Many researchers refer to quinoa as a "pseudo cereal." This term is typically used to describe foods that are not grasses, but can still be easily ground into flour. In any case, this product is a powerful plant-based building block for health and comes in several hues. Pick the color that calls to you. They're all nutritious. Here's more information for you. Quinoa info from USDA

Here’s my recipe. It takes only 15-20 minutes to prepare.

Steamed Asparagus, Red Pepper, and Carrots with Quinoa

Note: Make an effort to buy and serve organic produce, as conventionally grown fruits and veggies often are heavily sprayed with harmful pesticides and may be genetically modified. Organic, non-GMO products are better for you and the health of our planet. 

1 Cup organic quinoa of any color
2 Cups Water (for quinoa)
Optional- 2 teaspoons Bragg Liquid Aminos or 2 teaspoons of Coconut Aminos
1 lb. slender asparagus stalks. They require no peeling and taste sweeter than the chunkier kind.
2 Cups carrots scrubbed and sliced into 1 in. x 1 in. strips
1 Cup red bell pepper, cut into 1 in. x 1 in. strips
¼ teaspoon salt (leave this out if you use Bragg Liquid Aminos)
1 Tablespoon fresh chopped dill and 1 Tablespoon fresh chopped parsley
2 Cups water (for steaming asparagus, red pepper, and carrots)
2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice

Part 1

Wash asparagus, red pepper, dill, and parsley. Cut off dry or tough ends of the asparagus and cut asparagus into 1 in. pieces. Core and slice the pepper into 1 in. strips. Scrub the carrots (leave the skin on) and slice into 1 in. strips.

Pour 2 cups water in the bottom of a 3-4 qt. saucepan and insert a steamer basket above. The amount of water you need depends on what size pot you have on hand. Add enough water to allow it to boil, but not rise above the steamer basket. The idea of steaming veggies is to cook them, but not let the produce soak in water and boil away nutrients. Place asparagus, red pepper, and carrots into the steamer and cover. Steam (simmer) for 5-8 minutes or until produce is tender, yet still brightly colored.

 Part 2

Rinse quinoa well and cook according to package directions. An option is to add 2 teaspoons of one of the following to water for an extra dimension of flavor: Bragg Liquid Aminos, Coconut Aminos, low sodium soy sauce, or vegetable broth. You'll know the quinoa is cooked, when all the water is absorbed. It takes about 15-20 minutes for it to expand and look like each circle has a circle within a circle.

Fully cooked quinoa

Fluff the cooked quinoa lightly with a large serving fork or spoon and transfer to a serving dish. Top with freshly steamed produce. Drizzle olive oil on top. Sprinkle on the chopped dill and parsley, add salt, freshly ground black pepper, and a splash of lemon juice. That's when you'll know you’re good to go.

This simple yet flavorful dish is fabulous when served hot, accompanied by a tossed salad to feed four. It tastes great, served chilled, on a bed of romaine as an entree salad. Get creative. Add additional veggies like kale, squash, and red cabbage, and steam them as well. If you prefer, garnish with raw veggies like celery, cucumbers, turnips, or jicama for added crunch. Your family and guests are bound to cheer, when you serve this whole food plant-based dish at brunch, lunch, or dinner. It's also a colorful way to pack nutrition and taste into a Meatless Monday meal.

I'd love to get feedback. Send comments and question to me by clicking on the white envelope. If you become a follower, you'll get automatic updates whenever I post. My email is If you can, talk up this blog on the social media outlets you use. 

Nancy Andres, Health and Lifestyle Writer, Author, Blogger lives in Tucson, where she appreciates the high desert colors of a city surrounded by mountains. For a peek at the 12 week interactive self-care journal program, Colors of Joy: A Woman’s Guide for Self-Discovery Balance and Bliss check Colors of Joy on Amazon Books.  Colors of Joy provides unique activities that help women get in touch with their feelings, thoughts, and aspirations and experience more joy in daily living. See Colors of Joy on Nancy's Website.

The quote for today is from Cesar Chavez

"If you really want to make a friend, go to someone's house and eat with him... the people who give you their food give you their heart."


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Monday, May 11, 2015

Organic Oven Baked Cottage Fries To Live For

We love potatoes at our house, but I don't eat those highly salted, greasy, and less nutritious processed (peeled) ones that are the customary kind sold in supermarkets. Learn my secret recipe that keeps it simple, economical, healthful, and delicious. It's a home rendition of an old time favorite that's easy to prepare and will bring raves when it's served. 

I shop organic, because it's important to me that our food comes from a source that hasn't been genetically modified. I know organic food has higher nutrient value and tastes better too. A local health food store and farmers’ market are two of the best places to buy organic potatoes.

The organic label means produce like tomatoes, grapes, potatoes, and kale hasn't been chemically sprayed, irradiated, or injected with additives. I make the conscious choice to eat organic foods, because they are in the original state Mother Nature intended. Each time I shop or grow organic I save a small spot of the planet by not polluting the ground, water, air, or my body. 

I suggest you serve your cottage fries as a snack, a mouthwatering replacement for store bought potato chips. Commercially manufactured chips can be expensive and loaded with oil and/or contain preservatives and additives. 

Here are photos of the main ingredients

Organic Russet Potatoes, Knife, and Scrub Brush

Organic Rosemary (bottom left), organic thyme (top left), organic oregano(right)

Organic Garlic
Organic Olive Oil


8 Organic Russet Potatoes 
1 Tablespoon fresh rosemary (hold stalk in hand, and snip leaves into little pieces, making them about 1/4 inch long) 
1 Tablespoon fresh thyme (slide or run fingers along stem to remove leaves and chop leaves into fine pieces)
1 Tablespoon fresh oregano (run fingers along stem to remove leaves and chop them into fine pieces)
3 cloves fresh organic garlic minced
3 Tablespoons organic extra virgin olive oil
Pinch of Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper to Taste 

How to Make Oven Baked Cottage Fries:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven is heating, wash and scrub 8 medium russet potatoes. Do not peel potatoes as the skin is high in fiber. Baked potatoes are an excellent source of potassium, vegetable based protein, and important nutrients like Vitamin C and antioxidants. See more at Washington State Potato Commission. Slice, chunk, or cube potatoes into a size and shape you like best. Place in a large bowl filled with cold water, until ready to put in the oven. This prevents potatoes from turning gray (from oxidation).

2. Mix the herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper together in a small mixing bowl or cup. If you don't have fresh herbs on hand, use dried ones. Dried herbs are more potent than fresh ones, so use half strength. If you don't have these herbs on hand, substitute basil, parsley, or tarragon. Each one tastes great on potatoes. Try combos of any or all of them instead. 

3. Coat the bottom of a flat baking sheet with 1 Tablespoon of organic olive oil. I dip a corner of a paper towel into the oil and use it to spread the oil out evenly.

4. Drain off potato water, coat potatoes with herbs, garlic, salt, and pepper and toss. Then pour potatoes onto baking sheet, so they are spread out in one layer.

5. Drizzle the rest of the oil on the potatoes and bake for 10 min. Stir to loosen any potatoes that have stuck to the pan and bake for another 20-25 minutes or until you can easily pierce potatoes with a fork, and outside is golden brown. Cooking times vary depending on how thick the pieces of potatoes are, your oven calibration, and what the total weight of potatoes actually is. 

Cottage fries look appetizing on a platter or alongside a hummus sandwich or veggie burger. Serve with a green tossed salad to create a plant-based meal everyone will love. A portion is approximately one potato for each person. I always make much more than I need, because I like to freeze individual portions to use later on.

Please let me know if you're going to try your hand at making this dish or if you like this recipe. At my house, it's a fantastic accompaniment for dishes like scrambled tofu, lentil and veggie loaf, or pinto beans with broccoli. 

Send comments to and if you can, talk up this blog on any social media outlets you use. Here's a link for Pinterest and one for Facebook.

While you're at it, follow this link to my Website. Learn how my woman's interactive journal,
Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self Discovery, Balance, and Bliss can help you use color, journal writing, affirmations, and reflection to improve self-care practices and increase your sense of well-being.

The quote for today is:

"What I say is that, if a fellow really likes potatoes, he must be a pretty decent sort of fellow."A. A. Milne Read more at

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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