Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Recipes for Remarkable Vegan Meatballs

Remarkable Vegan Meatballs, Marinara, and Fusilli from Nancy Andres

I've had the urge to create a plant-based whole food recipe for vegan meatballs, scrumptious enough for all to love. To most of us, as we age, it does dawn on us that we could be eating healthier. Cutting down on processed, cholesterol laden foods is a smart health decision.

See what I discovered during my hands on food testing and cooking experiments, cookbook investigation, and research on the web.






See the Results in a Vegan Meatball Roundup Post to Live For! 

Here's My Recipe...I call it 

Remarkable Vegan Meatballs

This recipe is economical, as it's made from items most of you already have in your pantry or refrigerator. 

It's so adaptable. Serve vegan meatballs for brunch, lunch, or dinner.  Top spaghetti, shells, linguini, or other pasta with vegan meatballs. Savor the flavor in a hoagie, pita, or in a wrap. 

Serve veggie meatballs on a bed of sauteed broccoli or spinach, or top quinoa, barley, or farro with vegan meatballs and mushroom gravy. All these combinations are yummy. 

So let's give a cheer for Remarkable Vegan Meatballs 


½ cup pre-cooked brown rice (any variety will do)
1 can (about 12 oz.) lentils drained
1 yellow onion chopped
4 cloves garlic minced
8 oz. fresh white or baby bella mushrooms cleaned and chopped
1 flax egg: In a small bowl combine 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon ground flaxseeds. Mix with ¼ cup water. Let flax egg mixture sit until thick and viscous about 5-10 minutes before following directions in step 4 below
2 slices of whole grain bread for bread crumbs-any type as long as it equals about 1 cup ground bread crumbs 
Salt and pepper taste
pinch of fresh basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, rosemary chopped fine or 2 teaspoons dried Italian Herb Blend
1 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1 jar of your favorite Marinara Sauce (25 oz.) or homemade

What to do:
1. Put the oven rack in the middle slot of the oven. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. While oven heats...

1. Clean and prep onion, garlic, mushrooms. Place a drop of oil in a saute pan and brown the onion for a few moments (for oil free version use water or veggie broth instead of oil). Then add garlic and do the same. Add chopped mushrooms and cook until all are soft and thoroughly cooked (about ten minutes).

2. While that cooks, get a large mixing bowl and mash the brown rice and drained lentils together. Add whole grain bread crumbs and combine. 

3. Use a slotted spoon to transfer onion, garlic, and mushrooms from saute pan to mixing bowl. Reserve mushroom cooking liquid to add to soup, chili, or other dish.

4. Add flax egg and seasoning to mixing bowl.  Combine all thoroughly. This flax egg mixture is the best I've ever tried. The veggie balls bind well and do not crumble. If you feel mixture is too dry and crumbles, add a drop or two of water.

5. Shape mixture into bite size veggie balls. Place them on a large ungreased baking sheet and put in the oven. Cook vegan meatballs for approximately 30 minutes. You'll know they are ready, when they look and feel firm (squeeze one) and are slightly browned. 

6. Meanwhile, empty the jar of marinara into a medium size sauce pan and simmer covered on stove top until pasta and meatballs cook. 

7. In a pasta pot boil the pasta of your choice (cook according to package directions). When done drain.

8. Top each serving of pasta with a ladle or two of sauce and two or three veggie balls apiece. Garnish with fresh clipped parsley or use the vegan cheese recipe below. Any extra veggie balls can be placed in the extra sauce and refrigerated. This recipe will make a dozen vegan meatballs and serves 4.

To change the pace, use spaghetti squash as the base instead of pasta. 

Plant-based spaghetti squash marinara with tossed salad

Try this fabulous recipe from Kelly, a Transformational Health Coach and holistic practitioner who blogs at Tasting Page. See
Vegan Lentil Mushroom Meatballs on a bed of lettuce now.

Vegan Lentil Mushroom Meatballs - a tasty meat-less meal filled with veggies - Tasting Page

For another slant see this recipe. It features Bulgur wheat and cauliflower for Vegan Italian Meatballs from Chuck Underwood. He's the blogger at Brand New Vegan, and he aims to make switching to plant-based eating as easy as possible. This is a link to his recipe for Vegan Parmesan.

vegan italian meatballs
Vegan Italian Meatballs from Chuck Underwood

Not sure what Bulgur wheat is? See more at health advantages of eating Bulgur Wheat from Dr. Axe.

Want to make your own Marinara Sauce? Here's a super way to do it. The recipe comes from yours truly who posted it on my other blog. See Versatile Vegan Tomato Sauce.

Tip: Try adding extra veggies to the sauce. When you include carrots, peas or legumes, and edamame it adds vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fiber, and plant-based protein. 

For the final recipe in my vegan meatball roundup...

Nora Taylor shares her version of Spaghetti and Easy Vegan Meatballs. She's the blogger at Nora Cooks, and she uses chickpeas to give vegan meatballs a satisfying, comforting flavor. 

vegan meatball on a fork
Photo Nora Taylor at Nora Cooks

Isn't it surprising that vegan meatballs can be made in so many taste tempting ways? 

Tip: Buying in-season, locally grown produce is an easy way to select produce loaded with eye-appeal, freshness, and often on sale. Since locally grown means items aren't transported long distances to get to your table, it costs less and tastes better. It's alive with goodness.

Before you go, please comment in the space provided below. 

Which recipes sound and look good to you? 

No links in comments please, as I won't be able to publish them that way. 

After your food shopping run, have fun cooking up some vegan meatballs to discover they are healthy, colorful, easy to make, and delicious.

Invite your partner, friends, and family to join the cooking party. Perhaps it will turn into a vegan meatball marathon.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Top Reasons to Visit Tohono Chul Gardens

Are you traveling to Tucson for business or pleasure or are you a local who wants to refresh? A simple way to shed stress from body and mind is to visit Tohono Chul Gardens, Galleries, and Bistro.

This 49 acre urban park is a sensory treat. Rest your weary eyes and spirit on a wide array of colorful flowers, interesting succulents, drought resistant cacti, and other native or adaptive plants that grow well in the southwestern American terrain. 

See why Travel + Leisure named Tohono Chul "One of the World's Great Botanical Gardens" and National Geographic called it "One of the Top 22 Secret Gardens in the U.S. and Canada."

 Top Reasons to Visit Tohono Chul Gardens

1.  Fresh water, vegetation, and food supply attracts wildlife to the area. Reptiles and mammals from Gila monsters and rabbits to snakes, gray fox, and squirrels make their home here.

2. One hundred and forty species of birds are residents, including those who are seasonal visitors.  Sit in the shade and be still. Listen for the call of a mourning dove or spot a graceful blue heron. 

Many birds flit from tree to tree. Take a docent-guided or self-directed tour, whichever you prefer to find out more.

3. The gardens are a haven for butterflies. Some of them are permanent residents and others are seasonal. Monarchs use Tohono Chul as a Waystation. They breed and feed in a protected area, and then migrate to other climes. 

4. Love hummingbirds? This is a great place to see them. I snapped a shot of one and it appears at the top of this post. The photo is attached to an orange background with a green and white border. 

Hummingbirds are magnetized by the bright colors of yellow, pink, purple, and orange, although the color they love best is red. Tohono Chul cultivates salvia, desert honeysuckle, desert willow, and other hummingbird friendly plants including Firecracker penstemon

As you walk Tohono Chul's paths and trails don't forget to inhale deeply. The aroma of flowering vegetation is a healthy way to get intoxicated.

5. A lively pace through the various gardens helps get your blood pumping, allows your body to absorb vitamin D from sunlight, and connects you to nature's healing vibes.

Most paths and trails are wheelchair accessible and Tohono Chul is open every day but July 4, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years' Day. 

Smoking is not permitted anywhere on the grounds, and air smells fresh and sweet wherever you stroll.

One day when there is free admission is May 5th, 2019 for Cinco de Mayo. Authentic Mexican food demos, music, arts, and culture combine to make this an inexpensive way to participate in a lively celebration. 

6. Tohono Chul is a wonderful place for kids and grandkids to explore. Children, parents, and grandparents delight in the scenery. Kids can wade in a play stream, and all of us enjoy being immersed in nature.

7. Tohono Chul is a backdrop for special events and concerts outdoors. For example, I enjoyed a steel drum concert held in the performance garden on Easter Sunday. 

Tohono Chul Gardens is located at 7366 N. Paseo Del Norte, Tucson, AZ 85704. Call 520-742-6456 or see upcoming events on the Tohono Chul Website. Keep this in mind. On Mother's Day there's free admission for mothers and grandmothers.

8. What would an outing be, without refreshments? Tohono Chul has that base covered with brunch at the Garden Bistro

There's even a back patio where you can dine al fresco. While you're at it, admire the art work displayed on the walls, in galleries, and see sculptures that are displayed in the gardens.

If you prefer to eat your meal after the visit, whip up yummy taco and salsa recipes for Mother's Day Brunch, Cinco de Mayo, or any time you crave a south of the border treat.

Water features in several areas of Tohono Chul gardens helps deflect the heat created by the desert sun. In all seasons it's important to stay hydrated, wear a hat, and apply sunscreen.

The words "tohono chul" translates to "desert corner," and comes from the language of the Tohono O'odham, the indigenous people of southern Arizona.  I invite you to travel to this tranquil desert corner to experience nature's bounty.

Please comment below in the space provided, and don't add your link in it. I won't be able to publish it that way.

Are your curious about the southwestern Sonoran Desert flora and fauna? What animal or plant species would you like to see up close and personal?

Have you visited Tohono Chul Gardens? If so what did you enjoy? 

If not, what would be your first stop there?  

Please like and re-share this post on social media. Thanks for your visit and I suggest you...

For other posts about Tucson see..

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Monday, April 15, 2019

Awesome Tips to Help You Raise Greener Kids

Want to be a greener family this year? It may be easier than you think. Continue reading to get...

 Awesome Tips to Help You Raise Greener Kids, an Earth Day Roundup Post

Bright green has been adopted by environmentalists to symbolize the planet’s essential need to protect, recycle, grow, and reuse (transform) natural resources. 
Green energy suggests growth, change, and harmony. 

This post is offered to celebrate the planet and help parents and grandparents learn new ways to be eco-friendly.

Kids learn more from what you practice than what you say. Inspire your offspring by acting greener, and they will emulate you.

1. Do more of your errands on foot or bike, and take kids along. 

2. Reserve time to get outdoors for family interactions. Take in the beauty of nature. Add quality to relationships, and remove electronic devices from the equation.

3. Have fun this year at a family beach party, gather at a picnic table, play sports, relax in the shade of an oak tree, converse, and garden.

4. Appreciate sunlight. It provides a healthy dose of Vitamin D, and shows off the landscape with its flowers and fauna.

5. Help clean up a local park, nature preserve, and community garden. When kids join in to spruce up an area, they relate to nature in a caring way, and are less likely to dump garbage, damage, or destroy vegetation and property. 

Child holding borage flowers
Ashley Adamant's Daughter Loves Borage Flowers

6. Ashley Adamant from Practical Self Reliance, an eco-blog based in Vermont shows us ways to teach kids about herbs

Here's one example of how Ashley helps her kids understand and appreciate nature. 

"Exploring herbs is just part of their everyday life.  Herbs are tangible and easy to understand, even for the smallest of children.  Their young brains are wired for learning and pattern recognition, and the same openness that allows a toddler to learn language also allows them to recognize patterns in the natural landscape." Ashley Adamant.

7. Encourage kids to get involved in growing, tending, and harvesting produce. This increases awareness of where food comes from, improves physical development skills from digging, lifting, watering, etc., and your youngsters will be willing to taste and even savor those veggies and fruits they truly have had a hand in growing. 

8. Read 30 Great Ways to Upcycle and Recycle outgrown children’s clothes. Ideas from Tiffany Taylor at Morning Chores. 

9. Sort through personal belongings and have kids do the same. Recycle books, toys, games, electronic devices, and sporting equipment by giving them to a school or recreational facility. 

10. Marla Gates, the green blogger at Organic 4 Greenlivings provides 3 Tips to Go Green as a Family as You Prep for School.

11. Megean Weldon, the green blogger at No Waste Nerd suggests  5 Easy Things Kids can Actually do to Help the Environment.

One example from this post is:    "Give them (children) their own reusable water bottle, napkin, lunch box, and cutlery. Just like we carry a kit to avoid disposables, allow them to be in control of their waste avoidance too. Make using reusable items, as opposed to tossing the single use items, the norm as early in their lives as possible."

12. For eco-friendly clean ocean ideas see 11 Simple Ways to Save the Ocean from Turning Into Plastic Soup . The author of this piece is Sara Critchfield.

Published with permission from  

 Before you go, please comment in the space provided below. 

Share ideas, questions, and tips. Please no links in your comment, or I won't be able to publish it. 

Discuss environmental issues with friends, family, community groups, and political figures.  

Vote with your pocketbook and support those organizations and people that are eco-friendly.  

Be vocal about your eco-opinions on social media and in the voting booth. 


It's up to each one of us to do what we can to preserve precious natural resources, reduce our carbon footprint, and live greener lives!

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Monday, April 1, 2019

Interview with Lori La Bey Healing for Dementia Patients and Family

Did you know that Dementia is one of the major causes of disability and dependency among older people worldwide, but it is not a part of the normal aging process? 

I’m including this hot topic now at Colors 4 Health. It's Part 5 of the Healing Series, because almost everyone knows someone who is or has suffered with Alzheimer’s disease or Dementia. 

Just a few weeks ago, our dear family friend died of Alzheimer's disease. I dedicate this post to all those who have had or will have some form of dementia.

Research shows approximately 50 million people have dementia, and there are nearly 10 million new cases every year worldwide.

Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia and may contribute to 60–70% of cases. 

There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease as yet, but there are many online resources for patients, caregivers, and the health professionals who treat them, due in large part to an energetic, imaginative woman named Lori La Bey.

Anita Jader Photography/Pin Nancy Andres

Lori La Bey is the Founder, CEO of Alzheimer’s Speaks. This organization offers multiple platforms to improve dementia care around the world including a radio show, blog, videos, articles, projects and initiatives

In fact, Dr. Oz and Sharecare acknowledge Lori as the Number One Influencer Online for Alzheimer's in the world.

Lori is a keynote speaker, trainer, and unfaltering champion for Alzheimer/Dementia Awareness. I'm grateful she agreed to take time out of her busy schedule to speak with me.

Lori’s podcasts and radio show bring vital information about Dementia and Alzheimer’s to the public, and she has been recognized by AARP MN as a 2018 “Disruptor and an Inspiring and Accomplished Leader.”  

Oprah named her a “Health Hero” and Maria Shriver named her an “Architect for Change.”

Lori has been concerned with memory loss issues for over 30 years, ever since her mother starting having memory problems. 

Lori’s mom was in the end stages of Alzheimer’s disease for 4 years, before she passed away in 2014. 

This journey has taught Lori many beautiful life lessons and changed her life.

Now to the interview questions...

Nancy Andres Question:

What motivated you to start Alzheimer’s Speaks?

Lori La Bey Answer:  

My mother’s journey with dementia was life changing. Feeling lost, unsupported, and with little direction, I sensed our family couldn’t be the only one who was frustrated, exhausted, and depressed by negative marketing, lack of education, and resources.  I decided to do something about that.  I left my career of 25 years and vowed not to work in a broken system.  I figured I could do no worse, but the possibilities of connecting families and professionals to services, products, and tools was exciting and well worth the risk. 

So I committed my time, energy, life savings, and retirement funds to shifting our dementia care culture from crisis to comfort around the world.  It’s been a long road, but in the past ten years, it’s been wonderful to see the changes occurring and the collaborations coming together to improve life for those diagnosed, their families and friends, professionals, and communities at large.

Nancy Andres Question:

Please share one meaningful event that occurred in your personal journey coping with your mom’s Alzheimer’s?

Lori La Bey Answer:  

As I walked into my mother's room I saw her shadow through the drawn curtain. It looked like she was taking a nap. 

I looked down from my Mother’s sweet smile and saw her top hiked up just below her breasts. Her elastic pants, now way too big, were just below her belly button. Mom’s full round tummy was exposed to the warmth of the sun.

“Hey Mom,” I said, “Do I need to pull out that bikini for you?”

Mom’s eyes twitched before she slowly opened them. She giggled like a small child and said, “Oh no Lori, I don’t think I should be wearing a bikini.” Then, she giggled some more, closed her eyes, and fell back to sleep. 

In the previous several months, she had lost her appetite, and had lost eighty pounds. As I rubbed her tummy to comfort her, I discovered she had a hernia. That and the bagginess of her clothes all said to me, Mom isn’t going to be around much longer

This disease is nibbling not only at her mind, her soul, but now her physical body. Alzheimer’s disease was winning the battle. I knew this all along, but today it just felt so permanent, so imminent.

You see my mother had been in the Nursing Home since 2001. She was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in the mid 90’s, but had memory problems since the early 80's. My reaction that day was to sit and ball my eyes out.

My heart felt like it had been dropped kicked one more time. How many times have I said goodbye to yet another piece, another phase of my Mother’s life? My life? I had to say goodbye to a part of this wonderful woman I love with all my heart. I wondered how many more times are left.

With no warning God spoke to me so clearly.

 Lori, you have one more connection, one more great story to tell, one more wonderful memory of your mother. For that be grateful. Today it was the bikini story. Tomorrow is an opportunity for another story. Just embrace the moments. Write them down and share what you have learned. Find the gift wrapped inside the pain. Learn the lessons of the pain Lori. Learn the lessons. 

My body trembled and tears poured down my face like a faucet. My shirt was soaked, my eyes were so puffy. I could barely see, but my heart was once again full of hope.

As I left that day two things hit me. One, Alzheimer’s disease kills individuals multiple times on multiple levels. You can look at it as painful and one loss upon another; or you can look at it like a cat with nine lives. Each life being different from the last, but each offering much love and comfort. Love is simple, uncomplicated, lives within each of us. The lesson is to learn to love the many levels of the individual.

So each day since the bikini incident, I try to look forward to embrace each tiny moment with Mom with love and thankfulness for the gifts in my life, even those that cause me great pain and discomfort. I know each is a memory, each is a piece of her, and a piece of me that cannot be taken from us. 

Some days I admit, the chaos wins out. I crumble and cry. I lay broken as the cookie crumbles a bit more, and then another moment passes. Another day arrives, and I feel the warmth of the sun and I am thankful for the nine lives that live within each of us.

Lori gave her permission to edit this story. To read it in its entirety see The Bikini by Lori La Bey.

Nancy Andres Question:

In addition to this experience, what other things did you do to express your concern and love, and still make time to care for yourself?

Lori La Bey Answer:  

For my mom-

I developed a tool, Your Memory Chip.™” See it on YouTube. 

It asks three questions of me, and was developed, because I wasn’t always the gracious daughter my mother deserved.

1. What is the most important thing I want her to know?  That I love her, but I learned that words were not enough.  I had to use multi-sensory engagement to give her more ways to connect with me, remember me – my approach, my tone of voice, the perfume I wore, the words I used, how and when I touched...

2. What do I need to focus on to care for her?  I found it wasn’t my checklist.  I needed first to focus on was she happy, safe, and pain-free. This changed how I cared for her, how I viewed letting others in to help, and so much more.

3. What do I want to remember?  Well, if I want to remember her, I better look for and capture those moments of joy, no matter how small.

For me-

I did a lot of journal writing and writing down stories she told me to capture those special moments. I also made time to be with my friends weekly.  It filled my soul so I could care better for my mother, and feel more balanced in my life.  

Mediation was something I did too. I'd play a meditation CD, light a candle, turn out the light, and be still. I attended meditation classes as well. 

Gardening helped me feel really grounded. Sitting outside at night and being amazed and fascinated with the moon, stars, and nature was healing too. A massage didn’t hurt either!

Nancy Andres Question:

In retrospect, are there things you wish you knew more about, when you were dealing with your mom’s illness?
Lori La Bey Answer:  

Very basic information like what we could expect from her and the disease, how do we best care for her as a family, where can we find resources and support, when the doctors didn’t even seem to have answers, how to find other people living with and dealing with dementia, what was the Alzheimer’s Association and ways they could help us.

Hope and joy were never discussed, like they weren't an option.  It was a very sad state back then, and I’m glad things have changed. However, we still have a long way to go.

Nancy Andres Question:

What suggestions can you offer to those who have Alzheimer’s or another form of Dementia, and feel challenged and uncertain?

Lori La Bey Answer:  

Know there is still life to be lived with dementia.
Don’t give your relationships over to dementia. No matter what type of situation occurs, think of it is just another thing to adjust to. 
Know our relationships are always changing, but our connection with one another always remains – we just might have to communicate differently. 
Know you deserve services and support – so don’t be afraid to share your thoughts, feelings, and challenges with others and find creative ways to make a difference. 
Let your voice be heard.  Talk about your experience knowing it will help others on their journey.
Keep socially engaged
Advocate for those who have dementia and those caring for them

Additional reading and resources for you

Awesome ways to use colors for healing

Healing and recovery through self-compassion

Colors of Joy, Self-care Journal Prompts for Healing

Counseling for caregivers

Sorrow's Company: Great Writers on Loss and Grief

Tips to combine journal prompts and quotes to heal

Colors for self-compassion, healing, and recovery

Lori and her mother's touching story warmed my heart. 💖

It takes center stage in my healing series to show you ways to maintain your quality of living, as you come to terms with a serious health challenge. 

Even if you're not directly impacted by dementia, I hope it helps raise awareness about this condition and serves as reference material. 

Perhaps Lori and her mom's journey will help you be more fully present when you spend time with loved ones and while you take time for yourself.

Do you often notice and appreciate "things as they are in each moment," and feel grateful about being alive each day?

Please comment below and share on social media.

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