Tuesday, September 8, 2009

In Memory of My Daddy

My beloved father died on July 12, 2009, after a long and courageous bout with brain cancer. This blog post is dedicated to his memory that will always live on in my heart and the countless other hearts he touched while he was on this Earth. This blog post also features a healthy omelet recipe, which my Dad would never eat, as he preferred his eggs plain and full of cholesterol.

A Hero's Journey

He sits in a blue reclining chair, his eyes shining with mischief and exhaustion. His day began promptly at five thirty this morning, just as it has every other morning for the past fifty eight years. From the moment his feet hit the floor they are in perpetual motion, each step dedicated to helping others. Selflessly, he devotes the majority of his day to assisting other people with their activities of daily living. No small feat for a survivor of a tragic childhood, four brain tumors, and a tour in Vietnam. Although he conceals it well, some days it is difficult for him to get out of bed. The tumor in his brain wreaks havoc with his balance and hearing. He is completely deaf in his left ear. Frequently, he stumbles into walls and is plagued with seizures and nausea. His head bears faded torturous scars from the three brain surgeries he has endured. There are tiny blue tattoos sprinkled across his forehead which are souvenirs from two bouts of radiation therapy. Rarely does he speak of his illness, only if he feels by sharing his story it will benefit another. The tasks he undertakes may seem mundane to the average person. However, these important gifts he freely bestows upon others are priceless. His list of good deeds is endless and clandestine. He does not believe in tooting his own horn, but rather quietly performs these tasks with no expectation of gratitude or appreciation. His list of daily contributions to others is infinite. It includes fixing toilets for widows, mowing the lawn for the wife of an imprisoned man, teaching new immigrants the idiosyncrasies of American culture, repairing the broken bicycle of a fatherless child, fixing a strangers flat tire, helping a lost, drunken man find his way home, and tutoring a failing student in chemistry. On the days when he is too ill to move about, he contributes by lending a listening ear and compassionate words to those in need. He completes all of these activities with an altruistic joy that permeates his whole being. He takes pride in making someone else’s day and is constantly on the look out of a person in need.

This joyous saint of a man in this chair is my father. Ironically, sixteen years ago my father was convinced his life was without meaning or purpose. As a well-educated and accomplished genius in the pharmaceutical industry, my father once derived his identity from his career. Much of his time was spent on business trips and tending to the needs of our family. After his second brain surgery, my father became too ill to work. The surgery and subsequent radiation had impaired his short term memory and ability to concentrate and focus. With a heavy heart, he reluctantly resigned his position after being deemed permanently and totally disabled by a panel of medical experts. The first few weeks after he stopped working were extremely difficult for him. He sat listlessly in that big blue chair, wondering what the next day would bring. He had loved being productive but sadly his body and mind were no longer what they used to be. His liquid brown eyes were full of pain and anguish. I think some days he was just waiting to die. Well-meaning friends and family, including myself, would ask him what he was planning to do with his time, as if he were on some sort of extended vacation. These questions served only to increase his anxiety. Limited by his medical condition and disability, he lamented why he was on his earth.

I do not recall any single incident that arouse my father from the slumber of his hopelessness. Rather, it was an insidious series of events that made him clearly see the path of his life’s journey. Perhaps it began when my father received a teary late night telephone call from a former colleague whose seventeen year old daughter was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor. Without a moment’s hesitation, my father went to this young girl’s bedside to offer her words of comfort and inspiration but most importantly, truth. My father became like a man on a beach with a metal detector in pursuit of buried treasures. Everywhere he went, he sought out to identify a human need and fulfill it. It seemed as if disadvantaged people were placed directly in front of him by a force of divine intervention. An elderly man standing in the middle of the road bleeding. A single mother with a dead battery in the parking lot of a convenience store. My father’s eye once gain became bright pools of light and inspiration. He discovered something that is available to us all if only we can silence our minds to hear the divine calling.

As his sits in the recliner the pearls of wisdom roll of his tongue. “I spent a long time wondering why I was here and why I have survived.” He murmurs deliberately “Now I know that I am here to help others on their journey.” And from his a small offering of words I learn a vast lesson. Do not spend the majority of your time and energy contemplating your life’s mission and purpose. Your purpose on earth is more readily discovered when you increase your awareness about what is going on around you and seek to help others. Put simply, just be, do what it placed in front of you and turn the rest over to God.

Italian Egg White Omelet

Amount Measure Ingredient -- Preparation Method

-------- ------------ --------------------------------

4 egg whites

1 tablespoon green peppers -- diced fine

1 tablespoon red peppers -- diced fine

1 tablespoon black olives -- pitted and chopped

2 tablespoons mozzarella cheese, part skim -- shredded

1 tablespoon fresh basil, minced

Combine peppers, basil, and black olives in a small bowl.

Separate egg whites from yolk. Discard yolks and whisk egg whites.

Spray skillet with vegetable oil spray and heat on stove on medium high heat.

When pan is hot place veggie mixture in and cook for 1-2 minutes

Pour egg whites into skillet. Cook for approximately four minutes stirring

constantly. Sprinkle with cheese. Cook for additional minute or until cheese is melted. Fold onto plate and serve.

Sunday, March 8, 2009


Being unhappy with your life's circumstances is a very isolating experience. When we are dissatisfied with the way we look or feel, we disconnect from the deeper adventures life offers. We tend to become absorbed in our own thoughts, lives, and struggles. As a result, we lose sight of the vital connection that we share with all living beings.

Learn to see yourself in everyone by responding to the following questions in your journal or out loud.

1. All human beings have feelings. We feel joy, ecstasy, grief, and sadness. When we cut ourselves, we bleed and feel pain. Although the mechanisms of our injuries are diverse, our emotional and physical pain is the same. How is your personal pain similar to the pain of a billionaire or a homeless person?

2 This week, view everyone you meet as your own daughter or son. Instead of judging the surly cashier or belligerent client, try to see the small child that exists within her. Recognize that angry or contemptuous behavior is often a defense mechanism used to hide feelings of shame and disconnection. What do you notice when you observe other’s behavior in this way?

3. Rather than arguing or attempting to convince others that you are right, strive to be compassionate. Make every effort to distract yourself and others from pain by focusing on the positive aspects of a situation. How does it feel when your let go of your need to be right or be in control of every situation?

4. Spend one entire day this week viewing all people and things in nature as if they were a part of you. When you look into the eyes of your neighbor, boss, and mother-in-law, see your own inner reflection staring back at you. What is the common ground that unites you with others?

5. Try to remove all labels that you place on yourself. Our tendency to put ourselves in categories limits our potential and disengages us from the rest of the world. What labels do you place upon yourself and how do these roles lock you in a position that inhibits your personal growth?

6. Write about what you have in common with the following individuals: a heroin addict, a millionaire, a supermodel, an autistic child, and a monk. How is everyone you meet a part of you?

Friday, February 6, 2009


Here is a delicious, easy to prepare recipe that is a definite crowd pleaser. If you like this recipe , you will love our book The Inner Peace Diet, just published by Penguin. Wishing you a peaceful and happy weekend!


1 package Boca meatless Vegan Sausage
Cajun seasoning to taste
1 (10 ounce) bag all natural tortilla chips
1 cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese
½ cup low fat sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
1 small red onion, diced
1/3 cup tomatoes, chopped
2 TBS jalapeƱos, minced
1.5 cups canned organic red beans, rinsed and drained

1. Preheat oven to 350 F.

2. Prepare Boca Italian sausage according to package directions. Season with Cajun seasoning. Arrange the tortilla chips on a large, oven-safe platter. Scatter the cheese, red, onions, tomatoes, jalapeƱos, and beans. over the chips in layers. Take care to divide evenly.

3. Bake in oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until the cheese has melted. Serve and enjoy with friends!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


Mardi Gras is right around the corner. Here is a healthy, vegetarian Creole style dish that is virtually fool proof and a cinch to cook in your crock-pot. Wishing you a happy and peaceful day!

Vegetarian Creole- Style “Sausage” with Rice and Beans
Serves 8

1 package Boca meatless vegan sausage (found in frozen aisle of grocery store)
2 fresh organic tomatoes, diced
1 Vidalia onion, diced fine
1 small green pepper, diced
1 small red pepper, diced
4 cups organic vegetable stock
2 teaspoons Creole seasoning (or adjust to suit your taste)
1.5 cups uncooked brown long grain rice
2 (15 ounce cans) of dark red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1. Prepare veggie sausage according to package directions. Slice veggie sausage into bite sized pieces and place in bottom of 4 quart slow cooker.

2. Add tomatoes, Vidalia onion, green pepper and red pepper to slow cooker. Slowly add vegetable stock, brown rice, and Creole seasonings. Gently stir to combine.

3. Cover and cook on low setting or 3 and ½ hours. Then, add in red beans and stir to combine. Cover and cook for additional 30 to 45 minutes. Serve and enjoy!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009


Lately it seems as if the media is flooding us with stories of fear, lack and trepidation. With all of this negativity, it can be hard to access your own sense of inner peace. This week, try to carve out some time for yourself and begin your day from a place of serenity and peace. Here is a great meditation and breakfast smoothie recipe to get you started.

Choose a meditation space where you will not be interrupted. This place should be away from distractions such as the telephone, computer and doorbell. Find a space in your home for a place that feels peaceful and serene. Ideally this area will be free of clutter and should not be associated with stressful triggers such as work problems or traumatic events. It is important for you to be able to feel as relaxed as possible when you enter your meditative process. Many people choose to meditate outside in nature. For others the only quiet place they can access is their bathroom. You may want to create a meditation table or altar to inspire you. Your meditation altar can include pictures of loved ones, statues, religious relics or other treasured items to enhance your time of inner reflection. There is no right or wrong place to meditate and become one with your spirit.

There are many different types of meditation. Some meditations involve the use of a mantras or repeated words or phrases. Other meditations encourage you to visualize various images in your mind’s eye. Walking meditations are yet another way to bask in a sense of limitless peace. Each chapter in this book will feature a different meditation technique. Experiment with all the various techniques and decide for yourself which one works best for you.

The following exercise is a simple, introductory meditation.

Sit in the floor, in your bed, or on a pillow with your legs crossed. Alternatively, you can to sit on a chair with both feet placed flatly on the floor in front of you. Sit with your back straight and envision each vertebra stacking one on top of the other, bone by bone. Place your hands on your knees with your palms facing up. You may choose to keep your eyes open, gazing at a fixed point in the room. Or, if you want to, you can meditate with your eyes closed.

As you begin your meditation say aloud or to yourself “I am totally relaxed, surrounded by peace and goodness”

State your intention for this meditation. Choose an intention that feels right for you and meets your needs on that particular day. Some examples of intentions are “I dedicate this meditation to creating a healthy body.” “I devote this meditation to world peace.” “” I dedicate this meditation to letting go of negative feelings and replacing them with peace and joy.”

Focus on your breathing. Slowly breathe in and out through your nose. Allow your whole body to relax. Let go of any tension you feel in your muscles. Gently let go of any stressful thoughts or worries.

Visualize a blank television screen in your mind’s eye. Allow all of your thoughts to disappear. When your mind starts forming thoughts, words or pictures gently notice these thought forms and bring your focus back to the blank television screen.

Experience all of your senses fully. If you are feeling tired or restless, notice these feelings and sensations and give yourself permission to experience them. Do not resist or judge anything. Focus on breathing in and out and allowing everything to be as it is in this moment.

If you distracted by outside noises such as sirens, telephones or rain, simply notice these distractions and let them go. Having thoughts arise during meditation is as natural as breathing. Welcome the thoughts and then quietly let them go as you surrender to silence. Focus on breathing in and breathing out. Continue this practice for twenty minutes. You may choose to meditate for as long as you desire. At the end of the mediation session, take several long, deep breaths. Feel a sense of gratitude and appreciation for this time of inner reflection.

Serenity Smoothie

1 cup skim milk
1 cup nonfat yogurt
1 large banana, frozen
1/2 cup fresh blueberries
4 large strawberries, hulled
1/4 small cantaloupe, diced
2 tablespoons organic honey

1 tablespoon flax seed oil

1. In blender, combine milk, yogurt, banana, blueberries, strawberries, cantaloupe, flax seed oil and honey.

2. Puree on high speed until thoroughly blended. Serve immediately.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009


Happy New Year! We wish you a peaceful and joyous 2009! Here's an easy to prepare and delicious gourmet recipe that we hope will jump start your healthy eating goals. Whatever your new year's resolution or lack thereof, remember to be kind and gentle with yourself today (and everyday).

Mike’s Bean Salad with Red Peppers and Feta Cheese

Yield: 6 servings

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 0 minutes

Serving size: 1 cup

Each serving has:

431 calories
55 g carbohydrates
15 g fat
16 g fiber
22 g protein

1 cup canned dark red kidney beans, rinsed
1 cup white beans, rinsed
1 cup light red beans, rinsed
2 medium red bell peppers, diced
[1/2] cup canned whole sweet corn, drained
2 tablespoons fresh garlic, chopped fine
1 medium red onion, diced
1 ounce fresh cilantro, chopped fine
1/2 cup red wine vinegar
1/4 cup olive oil
1 cup feta cheese, crumbled
[1/4] teaspoon cumin powder
to taste salt and white pepper
4 whole leaves red leaf lettuce, washed

1. Combine the beans, red peppers, cilantro, garlic, cumin powder, onion, vinegar, olive oil and corn in a large bowl and toss well.

2. Let stand in refrigerator covered for at least one hour before serving.

3. Drain excess liquid from salad.

4. Divide the salad among 4 portions and serve on top of bed of red leaf lettuce. Top each serving with crumbled feta cheese. Salt and pepper to taste.