Saturday, June 15, 2024

Books for a Brilliant Summer

Summer Reading is Brilliant

I love to read during the summer, as my schedule is more flexible, reading helps keep my brain cells active, sparks imagination, improves vocabulary, and entertains and inspires me.

When I delve into an absorbing unread novel, memoir, book of essays or poems, or self-help book that’s written from a new perspective or diverse voice, it helps expand my horizons and stimulates personal growth.


My reading goal this summer is to spend more time reading, rather than count the number of books I’ve read.

Without further ado, here are brief reviews of those books I've read so far or ones I  aim to read this summer.

The Truth About the Devlins, a great summer read

Courtesy of G. P. Putnam Sons

The Truth about the Devlins is the newest offering from the prolific writer Lisa Scottoline. Think of it as a thriller, mystery, suspense novel, psychological fiction, and legal story. 

See the author discuss details about this book that may help you decide whether you want to read it or not. 

Scottoline is the number-one bestselling and Edgar Award–winning author of thirty-five novels. Her law background and diligent research about topics, characters, and even settings makes her books so believable and life affirming.



The omen, a great summer read

St. Martin's Press, Jacket Design Michael Storrings

The Women by Kristin Hannah is a compelling historical novel, published in 2024 by St. Martin's Press. It is a story of devastating loss and epic love. The book's main character Frances "Frankie" McGrath is a woman who enlists in the United States Army Nurse Corps during the Vietnam War. 

The narrative reveals the struggles, heartache, and courage of this brave young woman and others who served in the war, yet were forgotten at home. Once started, it's hard to put it down. 

I was intrigued, because it presents many sides of the issue about America involvement in the Vietnam War. 

Memoir How to Say Babylon by Safina Sinclair

Simon & Schuster/37 Ink

How to Say Babylon is a memoir by Safiya Sinclair, published by Simon & Schuster/37 Ink. This non-fiction book, captures moments from Sinclair's childhood on the island of Jamaica, and her strict Rastafarian upbringing. 

It sheds light on the steps Sinclair takes to break free from harsh patriarchal views and repressive control, to find her own voice as a woman and poet. 

I enjoyed reading it, because it's an enigma. The style is poetic and beautiful, yet it holds no punches. It feels personal and universal, illustrating one woman's quest for equality and millions of women's courageous actions to overcome childhood wounds and come into their full power.  

This book has won the National Book Critics Circle Award, was a New York Times Notable Book, and Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick. It was honored as a Best Book of 2023 by The New York Times, Time, The Washington Post, Vulture, Shelf Awareness, Goodreads, Esquire, The Atlantic, NPR, and Barack Obama.

How to Know a Person, great summer reading

Random House, Pete Garceau Cover Design, Photo David Brooks

How to Know a Person: The Art of Seeing Others Deeply and Being Deeply Seen is a non-fiction tome that offers tips about self-improvement, and provides psychological and philosophical insights for those who desire more effective communication skills, improved relationships, and a longing to be seen deeply and see others deeply. 

Rather than a lot of technical and/or tedious statistics and studies, author David Brooks’ clear, direct, and compassionate style shows readers ways he's learned to get more intimate in conversations. 

Brooks peppers the narrative with stories and illustrations of how life tasks, coming to terms with individual strengths and shortcomings, and the wisdom that comes from experience can foster empathy, and lead to improved understanding and connection with oneself and those we interact with.

I thoroughly enjoyed and was inspired by this book. I believe the world would be a better place, if people of all persuasions read it.

David Brooks is one of America’s leading writers and commentators, is an op-ed columnist for The New York Times, a writer for The Atlantic, and appears regularly on PBS Newshour. He is the bestselling author of The Second Mountain, The Road to Character, The Social Animal, Bobos in Paradise, and On Paradise Drive.  


More books on my summer reading list and beyond are:


Dig In! Easy Gardening Projects Using Kitchen Scraps by Kari Cornell


A Thousand Mornings by Mary Oliver


Somehow by Anne Lamott


My Own Words Ruth Bader Ginsburg by Ruth Bader Ginsburg with Mary Hartnett and Wendy W. Williams


Breaking the Mold Changing the Face of Climate Science by Dana Alison Levy


Extra Virgin Recipes & Love from Our Tuscan Kitchen by Debi Mazar and Gabriele Corcos 

Those books I haven't reviewed in this post will probably appear in Part 2. That is, unless I lose interest in reading them or run out of time to finish them.🌞


Dear reader, perhaps you know other books not on my summer reading list that you'd like to recommend.


Please comment about your favorites in the comment section below.


If my post piqued your interest, please share that info.


Have you read books mentioned above? l sure wish you'd share what you thought of them. 

Don't be shy about sharing a link to this post on social media. 

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Saturday, June 1, 2024

The Best and Easiest Vegan Red-skinned Potato Salad

Red-skinned Potato Salad-Delicious and Easy to Make

The Best and Easiest Vegan Red-skinned Potato Salad has simple instructions, is a snap to assemble, and tastes grand. 

It's a recipe that's easy enough to make for family meals, and festive and fun to serve at picnics or potlucks. 

It has eye appeal, is packed with fresh flavor, and is sure to satisfy!

6 red skinned organic potatoes 

Boiled and Drained Red-skin Potatoes

1 medium sized farm-fresh zucchini

Farm Fresh Zucchini for Red-skinned Potato Salad

4 or 5 fresh organic scallions cleaned and chopped fine (use both green and white parts)

1 small bunch fresh organic Italian Parsley chopped (use leaves and stems)

Parsley, Scallions, Red-skinned Potato Salad Dressing

Note: This dish is colorful, and it's vegan whole food ingredients including red-skinned potatoes, make it healthier than mayonnaise type recipes that use yellow or russet potatoes.
Red-skinned potatoes and many whole food plant-based ingredients are good sources of both protein and fiber. They contain many antioxidants and vitamins that help your body function properly and prevent disease.

Salad Dressing

1 or 2 organic garlic cloves, minced
1⁄4 cup organic extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh squeezed lemon juice
2 teaspoons organic apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon maple syrup or 2 teaspoons stevia (or use fruit juice instead)
1 teaspoon organic Dijon mustard
1⁄2 teaspoon salt, and pepper and mixed Italian seasoning to taste 
What to do:
1.      Most of the nutrients in potatoes are close to the skin. I suggest you scrub potatoes well, and leave skins on. Put cleaned whole potatoes in a saucepan and add just enough water to cover all. Cover with a saucepan lid, leaving a few inches of the top exposed. Bring water to a boil and cook potatoes on medium for at least 15-20 minutes or until potatoes are still firm, but a fork can pierce them easily. Then drain.

2.    While potatoes are cooking, clean and chop one medium zucchini into bite-sized pieces. Clean and chop a small head of fresh parsley. Clean and chop fresh scallions (use yellow onion as substitute if necessary). You may chop veggies by hand or in a food processor. 

3.     In a large airtight container assemble the salad dressing ingredients which are minced garlic, olive oil, apple cider vinegar, lemon juice, maple syrup or stevia, Dijon mustard, salt, pepper, and mixed Italian seasonings. Combine with a whisk or use the side of a fork to blend.

4.    Blend potatoes, zucchini, scallions, and parsley into the salad dressing. Mix and cover. Put container in refrigerator, and let marinate for up to a day. 

If you want to include additional veggies, select colorful ones like carrots, cucumbers, radishes, red pepper, and broccoli. Just increase the amount of salad dressing you use to accommodate extra veggies. 

For informal gatherings, serve this dish in the container. If you prefer, use a serving bowl or platter. 

Vegan red-skinned potato salad tastes great with veggie burgers, or any type of sandwich lunch.

Black Bean Burger on a Whole Grain Bun with Fresh Red-skinned Potato Salad

For a high protein meal, eat potato salad at room temperature with tofu, tempeh, or chickpea salads or salad wraps.

Make-ahead meals are excellent choices for summer, especially during those times when temperatures soar, and it's too hot to cook.

Recipe for Easy and Best Red-skinned Potato Salad

Before you go, please leave a comment below.

Do you like to serve potato salad often? When you make it, what ingredients do you include? Please share your ideas below.

I appreciate each comment, but will not publish those with links. Thanks for understanding.

I'm happy to have had time off from blogging, and grateful to come back refreshed and renewed.

Wishing you a wonderful June and ...

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Monday, April 1, 2024

Awesome April Affirmations to Support Growth

Blue Bird on a Spring Branch

The month of April has always been a breath of fresh air to me. I sense so much positive energy, and in that frame of mind, I present Awesome April Affirmations to Support Growth.


They were written and are published on Colors 4 Health to support us as we take a personal inventory, release ineffective ideas and habits, and replace them with attitudes and behaviors that help us grow and renew our mind, body, and spirit. πŸ’—


Awesome April Affirmations to Support Growth 

"I let go of anything or anyone that drains my energy and detach with love."

"In a world bustling with activity, I slow down and connect with inner peace, contentment, relaxation, serenity, and joy."

"I use springtime energy to motivate me, and implement new behaviors that uplift me in work, relationships, and daily living."

"I am a spiritual being who is on the planet in human form. I accept and integrate all facets of my make-up. I am fully alive."

"Love and generosity are my aspirations. These superpowers help me see the sacredness in all living things."

"I prepare and eat fresh in-season foods mindfully, and am grateful for shelter, clothing, and a life that serves a higher purpose."

"I affirm I’ll take a nap or go to sleep when tired, and wake up early enough to have time for myself."

"I check-in with myself often, and allow my intuition and experience to guide me to those healthy practices and activities that enrich my mental, physical, spiritual, and social well-being."

"I reconnect with nature each day, and accept responsibility for living more harmoniously with Mother Earth."

Flowering Plants, April Desert

"I am open-minded, and listen to others to better understand their stories and struggles, as well as their hopes and dreams."

"My life is rich, as I live mindfully and sustainably, and appreciate and learn from each experience, person, place, and thing in it."

April Affirmation to Stimulate Growth

Please comment below in the space provided.
Do you ever compose and recite affirmations? Why or why not?
Which affirmations help you shift your focus to positive thoughts? Please explain below.
I read and appreciate every comment, but am not able to publish those that contain links.
Try to be consistent with reciting affirmations aloud for at least three weeks. Pick only those affirmations that resonate with you or write and recite ones of your own. 
Then, check in with yourself to note improved concentration, motivation, self-regard, self-compassion, and self-confidence levels. After three weeks, drop by again to report on your progress as well.
Thanks for the visit and please spread the love on social media with a link back to this post.

P.S. I'm giving you a heads up about Colors 4 Health. For the next two months I won't be posting. I'm taking a much needed break from blogging to reboot, refresh, and restore mind, body, and spirit. See you all at the beginning of June. Wish you a beautiful April and May. Love, Nan

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Friday, March 15, 2024

Baby Butter Lettuce and Fennel Spring Salad

Delicious Baby Butter Lettuce Spring Salad

Spring is a great time to enjoy a light, crunchy salad of baby butter lettuce, fennel, asparagus, radish, and avocado dill dressing. This whole food plant-based (WFPB) dish is both scrumptious and healthy.
Research shows the fresher and more color-rich the produce, the healthier it is to eat. 

Fruits and vegetables that are grown locally, allowed to ripen naturally, and consumed shortly after harvesting, contain higher levels of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, than produce that has to be transported from far away.
Locally grown in-season fruits and veggies are usually less expensive, more eco-friendly, and makes simple ingredients pop with flavor.
I prefer to buy organic produce, whenever possible, because organic farming works in harmony to sustain a healthy, fertile, and biologically active environment, one that is kind to people, animals, and our planet.

Baby Butter Lettuce and Fennel Spring Salad

Fresh, Crisp, and Clean!

Light, yet Nutrient Dense and Delicious!

Oil-free, Sugar-free, Gluten-free, and Vegan!

Smart Choice for Lunch or Dinner!

ingredioents Spring Salad with Fennel
Ingredients for Salad:
6 cups baby green and/or red butter lettuce

1 large bulb fennel sliced thin

1 bunch red or multicolored radishes sliced thin

1 medium chopped sweet onion or 4-5 chopped scallions (optional)

16 stalks cooked asparagus (select stalks that are thin. Those are the most tender)

1 seedless cucumber chopped (optional)

Ingredients for Avocado Dill


1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice

2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar

1/2 cup water

1 large or 2 small avocados

1/2 cup fresh chopped dill

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano and fresh ground black pepper to taste

What to do-
1. Wash and prep all salad ingredients.

2. Place them in a covered salad bowl and refrigerate until ready to serve. 

3. Right before serving, whisk, blend, mash, or process the salad dressing ingredients together, and pour over salad. Toss and serve immediately.

This recipe serves four people. Refrigerate extra portions, but use within a day or two.

Questions and Answers About Main Ingredients

What is fennel?

Fennel is a sweet tasting veggies

Fennel is a member of the carrot family, though not a root vegetable. The base grows above ground into a thick, crisp bulb. Above the bulb, you’ll see stalks with light, feathery leaves that resemble dill. 

When fennel goes to seed, it produces small yellow flowers among the leaves. Every part of the fennel plant is edible.
Recipes most often use the bulb, but you can finely mince the fronds to use as an aromatic garnish for salads, soups, or pasta. If you prefer, save the fennel stalks and leaves to add a sweet note to homemade vegetable broth.
Fennel may look like a feather-topped, potbellied relative to celery. However, its flavor is remarkably different. 

The white bulb and bright green fronds have a gentle, slightly sweet anise (licorice) flavor. It's crunchy, cleansing, and refreshing to the palate. It's a great addition to any salad.
Why are asparagus a wonderful veggie?

Asparagus tastes yummy and is so healthy. It's easy to prepare, has a pleasing texture, and tastes naturally sweet. See how to cook asparagus properly, and nutrition facts at  Asparagus Spring Veggie for Wellness.

Why use an avocado instead of oil in salad dressing?

Avocado and Dill Dressing with Salad

Reducing overall oil from our diet is a heart-healthy move. Although avocados are high in fat, they contain “good” fats like omega-3 fatty acids that make us feel full and reduce the urge to overeat. 

 Avocado is a green fleshed fruit that is nutrient dense and tastes sensual. 

Enjoy recipes that include avocados, as you’ll get nutrients including vitamins C, E, K, and B-6,potassium, niacin, folate, magnesium and more. For more about avocados see Benefits of Eating Avocados with Serving Ideas.


When is a good time to use dill?

Dill for Avocado Dill Dressing

Dill can elevate the flavor of various dishes, and is commonly found in European and Asian cuisines.

Dill's flavor diminishes rapidly during the cooking process, so it is most often added to hot dishes at the end of cooking or used in cold dishes including salads, pickles, and dressings.

Why is baby butter lettuce delicious?

This variety of lettuce is at its peak in the spring and fall and flavorful during March, April, and May. The leaves are soft, tender, and mildly sweet. Each leaf is approximately half the size of regular size butter lettuce. The smaller size makes it attractive, more tender, and easier to prepare. 

When this type of lettuce is not available, use Bibb or red or green leaf lettuce as a substitute.

Baby butter lettuce is nutritious, colorful, and adds fiber and plant-powered protein to salads, sandwiches, and as a garnish for other dishes.

Baby butter lettuce is a good source of calcium, iron, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. One quarter cup (85g) has 20 calories, and is a fat-free whole food way to get many vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants.

What type of radishes are used in this recipe?

Radishes for Salad

The radishes in this recipe are round shaped ones (called Easter egg radishes) that are red, purple, and white skin colors with white flesh. They have a slightly peppery taste. 

Their spicy flavor adds balance and contrast to the salad's sweetness. 

Radish plants grow with swollen tap roots, which can be globular, tapering, or cylindrical. Root skin colors range from white through pink, red, purple, yellow, and green to black, but the flesh is usually white.

This recipe allows for flexibility. No matter how you toss it or which optional ingredients you include or omit, Baby Butter Lettuce and Fennel Spring Salad is a treat to eat!

Before you go, please leave a comment in the space below.

Do you eat a salad every day? Please share your answer below in the comment section.

What's your favorite springtime salad and what veggies do you like to  include?

I love to eat many types of salad. Salads are easy to prepare, and help me get my 2.5 cup daily portion of veggies recommended in the Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2000-2024. 

As long as I’m "eating the rainbow" with a diverse, fresh array of vegetables and not adding food toppings like bacon bits and deep fried onion rings, or high saturated fat salad dressing, I'm good to go.

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