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Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Dirty Rice with Collards, Chickpeas, and Savory and Spicy Seasonings




I like to search for delicious recipes and often adapt ones I see on the Internet to satisfy my culinary and health needs. Several months ago I had the good fortune to convert a Cajun/Southern Dirty Rice Dish which originally featured animal protein into a Plant-based, Gluten Free, Main Dish Delight. The ingredients I use are top-notch, rich in plant-based calcium, protein, flavor, and antioxidants.

I’d never heard of “Dirty Rice,” until I spotted a vegan rendition from Letty's Kitchen. She eats this dish as a simple supper with a salad.

My hubby and I have made several changes to the basic recipe, and use it as a go to dish when we crave spicy, wholesome, and filling. Please let me know what you think about my version.

Ingredients:

3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup long grain brown rice (I used brown Basmati for the aroma and taste)
1 bay leaf
½ teaspoon ground turmeric
1 can chickpeas (garbanzo beans) approximately 1 ¾ cups
1 bunch collards greens (about ten leaves) middle stalk (stem) removed from each piece
1 chopped red or yellow onion, or a bunch of scallions to equal 1 cup
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 teaspoon grated fresh ginger
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup raw shelled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon Bragg Liquid Aminos or low sodium non-GMO gluten free soy sauce
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper up to 1/4 teaspoon depending on how hot you like it
Freshly ground black pepper
2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast

What to do:

1. In a sauce pan, bring 2 cups vegetable stock to a boil. Add the rice, bay leaf, and turmeric. Cover and return to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and cook 30 to 40 minutes, or until the liquid has been absorbed. Let the rice sit for a few minutes. Then, fluff it with a fork.



2.While the rice is cooking, prepare the collard greens, (one cup contains 10% of the RDA of protein and 27% for calcium). For additional information about health benefits see What's New and Beneficial About Collards. Wash collards in cool water. Place one leaf on your cutting board at a time. Remove the tough stalk that runs down the leaf by slicing down each side of the stalk. Save the stalks for your compost pile. Stack the collard leaves one on top of each other, with the leaf tips all at the same end. Roll the stack tightly in a long tube. Starting at the thick end, slice the collards as thinly as possible to make spaghetti like strands. Then cut the strands across into ½ in. pieces.









3.Place raw pumpkin seeds in a roasting pan in the oven. Pumpkin Seed Health Benefits from Medical News Today. Set temperature to 450° F. When that temp is reached, remove the seeds from oven and let sit.




4.Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion or scallions. Sauté until tender, which will take approximately 5-7 minutes. Stir in the minced garlic and grated ginger and sauté another two minutes.

5.Pour in the last cup of vegetable broth and add chickpeas into the mixture. I enjoy eating chickpeas as this pulse is full of flavor. Half a cup provides 6g of protein, 6 g of fiber, and 10% of the DV for Iron. Then, stir in the collard strands and cover the skillet. Cook over medium-heat about 15 minutes, until the collards are just tender and chickpeas are hot. Transfer to a colander and drain well.

6.Combine collards, chickpeas, roasted pumpkin seeds, Bragg Liquid Aminos, cayenne, and nutritional yeast with the rice and mix well. Grind in a generous amount of black pepper. Taste and adjust seasoning if needed. Serve piping hot or at room temperature. This recipe will serve 4-6 hungry people. The picture below illustrates this fabulous dish being served with a tossed green salad, one topped with beets and creamy bean dressing.



Notes About this Recipe: 

I grow and shop for organic ingredients and prepare them as often as I can. I usually don't label food as organic in the recipes I post, but want you to know organic foods taste better and are better for you than conventional ones. Read Organic Oven Baked Cottage Fries and a Full Explanation About Why Organic is Best.
The first time I made a dirty rice recipe, I used a leek instead of an onion (see Letty’s recipe at the link above). It tasted delightful, though it was labor intensive and more expensive than using onion. Leeks require a lot of prep, as dirt hides in every layer. I like simple and cost effective so I tried onion the next time I tested my recipe, and scallions the third. Feel free to use what you like as the flavor is good each way.
Nutritional yeast is inactive yeast, most often enriched with Vitamin B-12. It adds a savory layer of flavor and contributes to the pleasing golden yellow color of the dish. Nutritional yeast is available in the bulk section of most markets.
Bragg Liquid Aminos is a non-GMO Project Verified liquid protein concentrate  and 1/2 teaspoon supplies 290 mg of soy protein. It can replace soy sauce or tamari sauce in many recipes. I like its bold flavor, and feel good that it doesn’t contain gluten, MSG, or ingredients that are genetically modified.

Ginger helps digestion and acts as a stomach aide. It adds a kick, a spicy, pungent yet invigorating note to dishes. Facts About Ginger. 

Turmeric (especially an element in it called curcumin) is a miracle spice that adds tang, color, and powerful anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties to foods. My research and cooking experience shows that it heightens flavor and increases the meals’ health benefits. Be mindful to use it in recipes where you can also use black pepper and oils like those found in flax, olives, or avocados to increase the body’s ability to absorb it. See Therapeutic Roles of Curcumin: Lessons Learned from Clinical Trials. Also see What's New and Beneficial About Turmeric.


Please don't forget to let me know whether you're going to try this recipe. Do you often experiment with new recipes? Are you willing to learn something new, as well as take advantage of a meals' good taste and health enhancing benefits? After you comment below, please remember to click on the word publish.


Our quote for the day follows: "My mom's collard greens. No one else in the world can make them like hers. I'm not just saying that because she's my mom. She's got some Mississippi secret. I could seriously eat them every day." Santigold at Brainy Quotes.

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Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Great Reasons to Travel to Flagstaff AZ

I love to visit Flagstaff, both for business and pleasure. Read on and discover why I think this place is so happening and a travel destination to consider for your next trip.



I'm Delighted Crystal Magic in Flagstaff Now Sells Colors of Joy!



Flagstaff, AZ (elevation 7,000 ft.) is in northern Arizona and is the gateway to the highest mountain in Arizona, Humphrey’s Peak (12,633 feet). Flag is an hour and a half drive to the Grand Canyon and on the way to the Four Corners region, the Navajo and Hopi Nations, and spectacular scenery in every direction. This small city of 68,000 people is a haven for outdoor types, foodies, college students, couch potatoes, coffee or micro-brewery devotees, and everyone in between.







Crystal Magic in Flagstaff is at the corner of N. San Francisco St. and Route 66



I traveled to Flagstaff primarily to open new markets for the woman's self-care journal, Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss. 

I was happy to learn that the weekend I was there coincided with the annual Folk Festival. This special event takes place among the beautiful ponderosa pines on the grounds of the Coconino Center for the Arts and the Arizona Historical Society Pioneer Museum.






S
ome of the best folk and acoustic music in Arizona is performed during this festival, with over 100 acts on five stages, workshops, jams, and food.

An overcast sky and temps in the mid-80's, seemed like an ideal time to take a break from work and to visit the festival. As I sat on a bench, and inhaled the soothing aroma of the pine forest, I joined into the party at the Flagstaff Folk Festival 2017.

Before I go any further, I'll explain that the Flagstaff Railroad Station (on Route 66) is at the heart of this city. Of all the railroad stations I've seen in Northern AZ, the Flagstaff Railroad Station is tops. Freight trains whiz by often, and bench-sitting and people-watching are relaxing pastimes after time spent prospecting for book business on N. San Francisco Street. It’s fun to observe who gets on or off the Amtrak train, after it pulls into the station. Get sightseeing information and coupons at the Flagstaff Visitor Center in the railroad station building and see Route 66 railroad addition and historic district in Flagstaff.



Me Across the Street from the RR Station in Flag


Shops, bookstores, restaurants, government buildings, and a hotel or two line the streets and alleys in downtown Flagstaff. Visitors and locals enjoy the convenience and pleasure of local shopping, and take advantage of various work and play opportunities, dining, and entertainment diversions found in this area. 





One shop made me reminisce about days gone by, as I spotted the candy shop window with its' jelly apple display. Another made me smile as I admired the craftsmanship of artists with items displayed in the Artists’ Gallery (A Contemporary Fine Art and Craft Cooperative) window. Other shops carry handmade and one-of-a-kind merchandise too. Of those shops I sampled, I found that each proprietor and his or her staff go out of their way to be helpful. Isn't that a switch from Internet or big box store shopping?


After I picked up my morning coffee, I went walking in Flagstaff and saw this.


Two popular sights in Flagstaff are the Lowell Observatory and the new Flagstaff Movie Theater at 4751 E. on Marketplace Drive - Just East of Flagstaff Mall. 


Since there was a monsoon one of the nights we were there, we were rained out of an observatory trip and chose to go to a riveting movie, "Beatriz at Dinner” instead. I recommend this film, starring Selma Hayek. She gives what I felt was an Academy Award Performance. The rest of the cast is excellent too. I don't care for how the picture ended, but life and art can be that way at times.

This is the sixth or seventh time I've been to Flagstaff, and I like to stay at different hotels each time. If you’re a light sleeper, even though most hotels are sound proof, I suggest you book accommodations that are away from the station. The trains speed by 24-7 and do make vibrations.

There are ample accommodations for every category room, except for an ultra-deluxe hotel chain. Flagstaff does have RV parks, campgrounds, B and B’s, and rentals galore. It's smack in the middle of the Coconino Recreation Camping and Cabins Grounds.

Summertime is peak season to vacation in Flagstaff, as people from neighboring desert climes like Phoenix at 115° F and Las Vegas at 111° F, come here to cool off. Many activities go on during each weekend. While I was there, it was also orientation weekend for NAU and Pride Weekend. 

Reserve your room early and plan ahead. This small city is a magnet for tourists and business people, as its’ at the intersection of US Interstate 40 and US Interstate 17, making it a hub for transport in the Northern Arizona area. For additional restaurant, lodging, and tips for travelers see this.

It was good to see many bicycle riders and eco-friendly buses there. For those who are interested in public transportation, here’s a link for Bus Information and one for Amtrak Information.

Electric Bus with Drury Inn in Background


When you travel to Flagstaff, take time to enjoy the sights, scenic views, and mild summer temperatures as you work and play in this laid-back northern Arizona city.

Have you ever traveled to Flagstaff? Did you enjoy my travelogue? I welcome comments in the section below. If you're new to commenting, please don't forget to click the publish button, after you enter your comment in th space provided below.

If you're not traveling to Flagstaff soon, please pick up your copy of Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss right now from My Website, These Fine Shops, or on Amazon Books.  Journal writing is a fun way to improve your relationship with yourself and others and free the joy inside.





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Thursday, June 8, 2017

How to Use Your Journal to Create Self-compassion


Keeping a daily journal to process the difficult events of your day through a lens of self-compassion, helps reduce stress, develops self-awareness, and stimulates insights about how you treat, think, and feel about yourself.

What is self-compassion? “The art, skill, and practice of treating yourself with kind consideration, accepting your shortcomings and mistakes without self-criticism, and witnessing your human suffering with an open, caring heart.” Nancy Andres
When you make journal writing a daily self-care habit, just like brushing your teeth and wearing clean clothes, it can lift a gloomy mood,  bring personal growth, and refresh your spirit. You don't need to write a blow by blow description of every event of the day. Take five or ten minutes to jot down a brief description of what were the high points and troublesome moments of your day. 


Here's Journal Goals to Aim For and Tips to Help You Move Forward 


Journal writing can help you be more patient and honest with yourself. It sheds light on those emotions that come into play, when you have a knee jerk reaction, as well as times when you've felt less than. You know, those times on the job or with relatives or friends, when you compare your insides and your situation to other people’s outsides. 

I've discovered that each time I repeat this old, ineffective pattern, I'm setting myself up for self-esteem disaster. Ask yourself whether you agree or disagree and why. Read-4-Powerful-Reasons-Why-Journal-Writing-is-Good-for-the-Soul.

Your journal can become a dedicated place to improve your relationship with yourself. Revealing your true feelings about who you think or feel you are, what you want, and your concerns, requires trust in the self-exploration process. If you're nervous about this, my suggestion is to "act as if you do trust the process." 


"Spelling out your dreams and vision for the future, as well as goals, wishes, and wants reinforces whatever you write down. Make your words about yourself caring, kind, gentle, positive, peaceful, loving, and healing and you are affirming and accentuating your determination, motivation, and endurance to be there for yourself. This is true self-compassion." Nancy Andres




For any challenging event, emotionally wrought experience, or area of distress you experience during the week, try to recall and write down exactly how you felt. Getting this stuff out of your mind, body, and spirit can help you put some distance from the situation and look at it in a new light.


Use space in your journal to record any change or forward movement you've made since the last time you experienced something similar. If you don't notice any forward motion, assure yourself you're doing the best you can. That's a perfect example of self-compassion. 





It helps to identify and connect with your humanness and vulnerabilities. Get in touch with your motive or motives for acting the way you did, and you'll see it's your responsibility to care for yourself and get those needs meet in a healthy way. 

For me, most often I act impulsively when I have a desire to be liked, accepted, considered, valued, and praised. Those are all things I need to give myself. Journal writing is a simple way to figure this out. 

When you've tried everything I've suggested and still feel stuck, you have an opportunity to reach out to and get help from emotionally mature, available people in your life. Pick someone who's a good listener and will help you sort things through. 


Then, write down every kind thing you can remember about the incident. One example is to thank yourself for not shouting at the other person or calling them names. If you've overstepped a boundary and did react badly instead of responding appropriately, think about a way to make an amend to that person. Do it as soon as you can, to clean up your side of the street! Self-care-Activities-to-Encourage-Optimal-Health.

Next, try to notice if something about the situation triggered an event or experience from the past. One way to check whether this is happening is to identify whether you feel extremely vulnerable and immature, like a duck out of water. See 5-steps-for-managing-your-emotional-triggers for more help. 

Another way to identify feelings from the past, is to evaluate if emotions are intense. When your emotions get hot and heavy, it usually means what happened in the present reminds your subconscious that in the past something bad or hurtful happened to you. It  "sets off" or "triggers" old or frightening recollections, and you feel panic and out of kilter.

I know from past experience that when someone is unkind or rude and I'm hungry, lonely, tired, and off-center, it’s a challenge to brush it off or express my displeasure in a kind, direct way. I usually get tongue tied and regress to old behaviors of silently blaming, judging, and criticizing others instead of saying how I want and need to be treated. Straying from this path of self-care and self-expression makes me feel creepy. Can you relate? If you keep on repeating the same ineffective coping skills or patterns, give yourself permission to consider seeking professional help.

Journal writing gives me the ability to own uncomfortable residual feelings on paper, whenever I still feel bad about an interpersonal or personal issue. I reflect and determine if I am judging myself too harshly, or holding on to guilt, shame, anger, sadness, or hurt. I make it a point to care and comfort myself like I would do for a child. That means I shower myself with love, acceptance, and forgiveness. Read 6-ways-to-shower-yourself-with-kindness for more tips.

It's important to observe the stories you write about yourself and others and what issues you struggle with. When you love and have compassion for yourself, it can transform your life, one event, day, and experience at a time.





"Genuine self-concern is the foundation for extending kindness and compassion towards all other people. Be gentle with yourself today, affirm your goodness, and your relationship with yourself and others will improve. Journal about things you’re grateful for and even the smallest improvements you've made. It's sure to help you feel increased self-compassion each day of your life." Nancy Andres




For many additional tips and guided journal activities that help you create greater self-compassion order Colors of Joy: A Woman's Guide for Self-Discovery, Balance, and Bliss. It makes a colorful gift to give yourself. Colors of Joy is also a delightful way for you to show a loved one you are thinking of them. If you prefer, Purchase it at Amazon Books.

The quote for today follows:

“Be kind to yourself. Remember that when you abuse yourself, you will experience the anger, regret, and apathy of the bully as well as the depression, anxiety, and insecurity of the victim. Whatever you do, be kind to yourself.” ― Vironika Tugaleva

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Remember to practice self-compassion for as long as it takes this attitude and behavior to become a habit. And then keep on practicing. Thanks for visiting and please come back again.

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Tips to Reduce Clutter and Organize Living Space






It's relatively simple and rewarding to take steps to create order and space in your home. I’ll offer tips to help you organize mail, magazines, newspapers and overflowing closets or shelves. The worthwhile ideas below provide motivation and methods to help you arrange and streamline possessions. You’ll be better able to spot what you’re looking for quickly, get more done in less time, and reserve precious hours for what you really want to do.

1. Start with one task at a time. According to Cynthia Townley Ewer, the editor of Organized Home dot com, "Start slow, small and steady. Just as clutter arises gradually, over time, so it must be fought gradually over time." Schedule fifteen minute cleaning sessions and reward yourself when done. Files overflowing? Tackle them by using the same technique Townley Ewer suggests above. Weed out those folders you no longer need, combine those you can, and leave those that work as is.

2. 
Make your bed early in the day every day. You'd be surprised how quickly this helps dress up your bedroom. Doing this one small thing gives you a sense of accomplishment, and encourages you to tackle the next "easy" decluttering project revealed below.

3. Put important items in a designated place. Install a key rack near your front door or in the kitchen. As soon as you come in, hook keys there mindfully. Place an eye glass case and glasses in the same drawer every day, and arrange medications on a tray in your kitchen or bath. Consciousness and control walk hand in hand. 

4.Purchase closet, shelf, and drawer organizers. Devise a clothing storage system that works for you. If you haven't used items of clothing or furnishings in one year, it's a safe bet that you can sell, donate, or recycle them. Feng Shui principals teach not to hold on to anything unless you love it. Save only those things you thoroughly enjoy.

5. Make a grocery shopping list and stick to it. You'll soon see that you save money, can easily find items in your pantry, save time, and reduce overall stress.

6. Prevent overwhelm before it begins. Are you financially overextended, because you collect or hoard stuff? It's up to you to choose to simplify spending, live within your means, and reduce the amount of financial responsibilities you take on so you'll sleep better at night. If you don’t know how to or can’t do this alone, ask for help from a financial planner, organizational expert, or therapist.




7. Reflect on your attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions. The National Association of Professional Organizers recommends you sort mail and bills as they come in. Clutter makers like newspapers, magazines, and books need to be recycled or donated on a regular basis too. A good rule of thumb to prevent reading matter pile up is to donate, share, or recycle what you’ve finished reading every week.



Which Would You Rather Create? Stress or No Stress?


8. Devote a few minutes at the beginning or end of your day to tidy-up. Wash dishes, discard garbage, and put away out of place clothing, towels, and odds and ends. Don’t put off tasks. Motivate yourself by affirming it's easy to get off to a fresh start each morning, when there's less mess from the night before. Use early morning to meditate and reflect. Envision yourself accomplishing goals, having fun during the day, and relaxing or living it up in the evening. 

9. Acknowledge you are deserving of thriving in pleasant surroundings. What small steps can you take to accomplish this in the next fifteen minutes? Then go for it! 

For more see 3-Secrets-to-Help-Clutter-Proof-Your-Home and Reduce-Clutter-to-Create-Tranquility-at-Home.


The quote for today is : “A simple life is not seeing how little we can get by with—that’s poverty—but how efficiently we can put first things first. . . . When you’re clear about your purpose and your priorities, you can painlessly discard whatever does not support these, whether it’s clutter in your cabinets or commitments on your calendar. (148)” ― Victoria MoranLit From Within: Tending Your Soul For Lifelong Beauty
For more see Goodreads Page on Clutter Quotes. 

Before you go please comment. Let us know which tips you can or do use and which ones you resist doing. Do you have ideas I didn't mention that you'd like to share with us? Scroll down, enter your comment, and then click publish.

Thanks for visiting. Wishing you a clutter-free day!



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Saturday, May 6, 2017

Marvelous Marinated Veggies and Tofu Fajitas


Multigrain Tortilla Stuffed with Marinated Fajitas Mixture. Guacamole, Salsa, and Corn Chips too.



Whether you’re hunting for a flavorful recipe for Meatless Monday or Tex-Mex inspired theme for Cinco de Mayo or Mother's Day, consider serving this recipe. Perhaps you're hankering for a vegetarian brunch or dinner entrée that’s fun and healthy to eat any day of the week. Look no further. Serve versatile marinated veggies and tofu fajitas. Bold on taste, easy to prepare, and health benefits galore! Serve this dish once and your family will clamor for more.


Recipe for Marvelous Marinated Veggies and Tofu Fajitas

Ingredients for Fajita Marinade


Prep 10 minutes. This marinade works well for Fajitas, Tacos, Enchiladas, or Burritos.


1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

1 teaspoon paprika

1 teaspoon onion powder

For a Shortcut: Substitute 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Mexican Taco Seasoning Mix or 2 1/2 Tablespoons of Ready-mixed Mexican Seasoning Blend for the six ingredients listed above

1/4 cup fresh squeezed lime or lemon juice

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup apple cider vinegar

1/4 cup Braggs Liquid Aminos or low sodium soy sauce

3 cloves garlic, minced





Ingredients for Fajitas

Prep 10 minutes. Make each strip bite sized.


1 large sweet peeled yellow onion chopped


2 carrots scraped and sliced into strips


1 large zucchini scraped and sliced into strips


5 or 6 cleaned and sliced baby bella mushrooms


1 large red pepper sliced into strips


1 brick tofu, drained and sliced into strips (10 to 14 oz brick)


Optional Toppings: salsa, guacamole, vegan cheese, cashew sour cream

Note About Ingredients: 



I use organic ingredients when available, because organic means nutrient content is higher and produce is not genetically modified, not sprayed with chemicals, and is not grown in soil that contains chemical fertilizers.












What to do:

1. Whisk the first 6 ingredients for the marinade- chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, cayenne pepper, paprika, and onion powder in a small bowl. I took an easy way out and used a ready mixed Mexican Seasoning instead. Add other marinade ingredients and whisk again. Then set it aside.

2. Prep and prepare onion, carrots, zucchini, mushrooms, and tofu as described above. Place in a large storage container, pour on marinade, cover and refrigerate. See Simple Way to Drain Packaged Tofu and Tofu Recipe Ideas.




3. Marinate for at least 20 minutes or even up to 12 hours. The longer you let the flavors meld, the bolder the taste.

4. About 10 min. before you’re ready to serve it, heat 1 extra tablespoon of extra virgin olive oil in a cast-iron grill pan or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add marinated tofu and veggies, and cook until veggies are as soft as you like them and tofu turns light brown.

5. At the same time, warm tortillas in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit or in a cast iron pan on top of the stove at medium heat.

6. Serve stuffed, wrapped fajitas with brown rice and beans. If you’d prefer, serve fajitas with a side salad, corn chips, soup, or other appetizer.

Any way you serve it, the recipe ingredients are economical. The components are loaded with plant-based protein, fiber, antioxidants, vitamins, and minerals, yet are cholesterol free. 

Season dish to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Serve this colorful array of plant-based goodness to family or friends often. It's a meal they will love. Happy May.

Corn Tortillas Topped with Marinated Fajitas


The quote for today follows: "There is no sincerer love than the love of food."  George Bernard Shaw

Before you go, take a moment to comment. Do you enjoy eating Fajitas and other south of the border fare? What are the reasons you cook most meals at home, get take-out, or eat  a lot of your meals in restaurants? Please offer feedback in the space provided below. That way I'll know this post is being seen and enjoyed by you.


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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