All Posts in Category: Recipes

My New Caregiving Friend


I have a new friend and a new story to share with you in honor of National Family Caregivers Month. Christine and I met earlier this week on Lisa Garr’s wonderful “Being Aware” Hay House radio show when Christine was brave enough to call in and share her caregiving story. She moved back in with her parents to take care of them because her Mom has Parkinson’s and her Dad has heart/breathing issues. Christine courageously expressed that she has frustration and resentment because she can only do so much, and her parents are making choices about their health that is not in their best interest.

She shared, “I actually WANT to help take care of my parents – it is something I feel fortunate to be able to do. At the same time, I do have anger because I don’t always have the energy to do the things that my mom needs help with, and then I am resentful that she needs the help because she wouldn’t need as much help if she took better care of herself.”

Then Christine mentioned that she too has had some health struggles along the way. She is a three-time survivor of Hodgkin’s Lymphoma and worries about the effect her current environment is having on her own health. She welcomes even simple changes such as eating healthier (my wheel house- I can help!) but her parents resist.

“BOUNDARIES” I exclaimed…which she heard and acknowledged. Setting boundaries is one of the most important and yet challenging decisions we caregivers must make.

When I was a flight attendant many years ago,  we were instructed to put our oxygen masks on first or we would be of no help to anyone else on the aircraft. I really want to emphasize that metaphor to all caregivers: you MUST take care of yourself first. It seems so simple… but it is not. As caretakers of our families, loved ones, friends, or patients (as it applies to professional caregivers) in a health crisis, our needs fall by the way side because our natural instincts are to put the patient first and ignore ourselves.

At some point, many if not most family caregivers will need to turn to professional caregivers and other professional sources for help. That decision is a delicate and sensitive bridge to a new way of living and breathing in the world, so you dear caregiver can live your own life while you still love and care for your family member.

I highly recommend The Family Learning Center as a gentle and approachable place for family caregivers to gather information, support, and get guidance when professional help might be needed.

I have more to share with you about this beautiful story as we have only just begun the conversation. Please join in.

Christine, I have a yummy, healthy, comforting recipe for you and other caregivers that are striving to be more healthy and honoring of themselves as well as their loved ones.

Kale and Chicken Lasagna

Blessings and love,











Summer Fresh Salsa


My husband Stephen doesn’t generally care for salsa but he could eat this heart healthy appetizer with a spoon!


4 large heirloom tomatoes (or 6 smaller vine-ripened ones), seeded and diced
¼ to ½ cup green onions
chopped cilantro to taste (I like lots)
chopped 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
chopped 3 to 4 cloves of garlic, minced
1 teaspoon jalapeño pepper, minced (Optional)
1 can mild diced green chilies
2 or more tablespoons olive oil (Don’t be afraid of this heart healthy fat!)
4+ teaspoons fresh lime or lemon juice
sea salt* and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
*of course, for heart health use a small pinch of salt or omit it all together. (Stephen tells me he doesn’t even like the taste of salt anymore..and he used to eat a whole bag of potato chips without even blinking.)


1. Mix all ingredients in a medium bowl. If desired, prepare half of the salsa in a food processor or blender.
2. Let sit, loosely covered, at room temperature, for the flavors to blend.
Serve immediately or refrigerate and serve within 4 hours.


Add a little tomato juice, water, and chopped cucumber and you have instant gazpacho.

Puree half in a food processor for a less chunky version.

Roast 1/2 of the tomatoes with a little olive oil at 400 degrees for 30 minutes, puree, and add to remaining salsa mixture.

Mix it up! Add orange, yellow and red cherry tomatoes for interesting texture and flavors.

Notes: You can make this salsa in the winter too (when desperate for a taste of summer) even though tomatoes won’t be at their peak.
Even though tomatoes have long been linked to heart health, they are rising even further to the top of the list as a heart healthy food. Garlic may also help decrease the progression of cardiovascular disease and, together with tomatoes, will help boost your immune system and fight the common cold!

Bon Appetit & Namaste!

Heart & Soul Black Bean And Shredded Chicken Tostadas


Mexican food is my weakness. If I am ever having a rough day, Stephen automatically picks me up and takes me out for fajitas or nachos (or anything Mexican inspired) and sets the world right again. Since his heart attack, we have been looking for healthier versions of these authentic craving-busters that would enhance our mood and energy levels.

*Black beans are very higher in fiber, protein, folate, antioxidants, and many other vitamins and minerals. They assist in cardiovascular health, cancer prevention and much more.
This black bean rich, healthy, satisfying meal honors vegetarians, vegans, heart healthy omnivores, and Mexican food fanatics alike with a few easy substitutions or eliminations!

1 can precooked low sodium or 2 cups previously cooked black beans
1 can refried black beans low sodium (Or soak 1 pound of black beans and make your own)
4-8 Fiber and Flax Corn Tortillas (1 to 2 per person) low sodium
1 cup nonfat sour cream or non-fat plain yogurt (omit for Vegan dish)
3 cups finely shredded romaine lettuce
Chopped tomatoes (not needed if making homemade salsa)
Chopped cilantro leaves
Chopped black olives (omit for heart healthy)
Chopped green onions (not needed if making homemade salsa)
Diced avocado
Summer Fresh Salsa
Shredded chicken
Salad dressing~ optional (Sometimes guests prefer to make a salad and sprinkle it with the healthy homemade crispy tortillas on top).


1) Lightly spray tortillas with cooking oil. Cook at 400° for 8 minutes or until crispy.
2) Mix together beans and refried beans in small pan to heat on low.
3) Remove crispy tortillas from the oven and place on a platter.
4) Layer the ingredients onto the tortillas, beginning with black beans. I like to set up a tostada bar and let my family top their own tortillas.
Make mini-tostada cups by trimming tortillas to a slightly smaller circle, spraying with oil, and pressing into a large muffin cup tin. Bake at 350 degrees until crunchy, about 8 minutes. This makes for fun, festive appetizers!
Make your own tortilla chips by cutting a stack of tortillas in half and then in quarters, creating triangles. Spray and very lightly salt and place on a cookie sheet. Bake in a 400 degree oven, watching closely until crunchy and golden brown, about ten minutes. Turn over halfway through for best results.

La Tortilla Factory Smart and Delicious, Fiber & Flax Corn Tortillas are incredible tasting and are the first corn tortillas to include the added health benefits of fiber and flax. They’re packed with five grams of fiber, 200 mgs of Omega-3s, and 20 grams of whole grains. And with only 45-90 calories and 15 mgs of sodium per tortilla, they’re a great way to add nutrition minus the guilt!
Trader Joes carries no sodium tortillas that are delicious as well.
Beware though. Some supposedly healthy tortillas have as much as 350 mg of sodium each.

Bon appetit & Namaste!

Mexican Shredded Chicken



4 to 6 organic chicken breasts
1 container of your favorite salsa (preferably organic) or a few cups of homemade salsa
1/4 cup of water if needed
I package low sodium Mexican seasoning (optional)
Use some other salt free spices and herbs if focusing on heart health.

Place chicken breasts in glass dish and cover with salsa. Place a small amount of water in jar and put the lid back on and shake to remove the remainder of the salsa. Pour over chicken.
Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes to one hour (depending on how thick breasts are) until chicken is no longer pink in the center and shreds easily with two forks.
Great for salads, tostadas, tacos, nachos, burritos and more!

Bon Appetit & Namaste!

Skinny Shredded Chicken


I make this chicken for almost any recipe that requires cooked chicken. There is no sodium and it is extremely low in fat. This is the perfect chicken for soups, pasta dishes, and more. For Mexican inspired dishes substitute wine for a jar of salsa, no spices required!

4 to 6 organic chicken breasts
1/2 to 1 cup of white wine, such as Pinot Grigio
Italian Seasoning, and/or cilantro and parsley

Combine chicken and wine in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on top of chicken. Bake for 20 minutes or until the center of the meat is no longer pink. Remove chicken from dish, and shred the meat with two forks in the cooking juices.
This recipe is as delicious and versatile as the shredded chicken recipe above and I love to use it when I am adding poultry to my soups or pastas. Be sure and add the pan juices as well to the pot of soup because they add an entirely new layer of flavors.

Cilantro is also great for inflammation and psoriasis.
Parsley is also great for detoxing….so mix it up!

Bon Appetit & Namaste!

Pumpkin Walnut Coconut Chip Muffins


(Vegan & gluten free)

This addictive recipe comes directly from my friend Julie Richardson who is a nutrition and fitness expert. Stephen requests them constantly so I try to have some in the freezer to take out at all times. I love to make a large batch and bake them in mini muffin pans for gifts. These make a dynamite addition to any nurses station, doctors office, or home that is sheltering a patient.


3 ½ cups Oat Flour *(can substitute a little coconut flour, or almond flour)
2 cups organic brown sugar (I use a little less)
2 tsp baking soda
½ tsp salt
1 tsp ground nutmeg (I grate fresh)
1 ½ tsp ground cinnamon (I use about 2 tsp)
¼ tsp ground cloves
I can (15 oz) organic pumpkin
½ cup olive oil
½ cup organic unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup light coconut milk
2/3 cup shredded coconut unsweetened (I use more)
1 cup mini dark chocolate semi-sweet chips
*I add 1 cup toasted walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray muffin tin with cooking spray. In a large bowl, stir together flour, sugar, baking soda, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves. Add the pumpkin, oil, applesauce and coconut milk and mix together. Stir in the shredded coconut and chocolate chips. * Add toasted walnuts if doing so. Fill the muffin tins 2/3 full with batter and cook for approx. 25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cover with foil. Allow to steam for 10 minutes. Remove muffins and place on a cooling rack, tent loosely with foil and allow to cool completely.

Recipe makes approx. 24 regular muffins

Bon Appetit & Namaste!

Old Hollywood Inspired Halibut with Puttanesca Sauce

1 can quality plum tomatoes such as organic Muir Glenn (28 ounces) or 2 14 ounce cans diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic
3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
4-6 cloves garlic, minced
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
1/3 cup oil-cured black olives, halved and pitted
or green olives if you prefer
2 tablespoons capers
3 tsp anchovy paste
1 teaspoon finely chopped fresh rosemary
4 halibut steaks (about 6 to 8 ounces each)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley

Drain tomatoes, reserving 1/2 cup liquid. Seed and coarsely chop tomatoes. If using diced tomatoes, use entire can, no chopping and seeding required. Heat 1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add garlic, and cook until aromatic, 1 to 2 minutes. Add onion, and cook, until transparent, about 5 minutes. Raise heat to medium high; add tomatoes, reserved liquid, olives, capers, anchovies, and rosemary, and cook, stirring often, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from heat, and set aside.
Heat remaining oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Season both sides of halibut steaks with salt and pepper. Cook steaks until golden brown, 4 to 5 minutes on each side.
Reheat sauce until it simmers. Stir in parsley. Serve halibut with a little sauce on each steak. Top with fresh basil (optional). Serve with a nice bottle of wine, fresh warm baguette to dip in the puttanesca sauce and your favorite Frank Sinatra tunes.
*Adapted from and inspired by a traditional Martha Stewart Recipe

When I shared with Stephen what I would be making for dinner he said, “What? You’re cooking fish just for the Hal-i-but?” Yep. That sums my husbands humor. Oy!

*Stephen is a much better writer than comedian… and he has had quite an interesting life in Old Hollywood.

Bon Appetit & Namaste!


Inspired by Old Hollywood

I am slowly realizing that getting older is simply an invitation to do better and feel better, because we know better.

Another luxury of getting older is being able to set boundaries and declare who you want around you. When you surround yourself with like minded souls, those who want to inspire and be inspired in their lives, transformation happens. Big things get done.

My biggest source of inspiration is my husband and best friend, a man who has gone through the labor pains, and continues to go through the labor pains, of getting films out in the world that make us feel better about being human.

Watching Somewhere in Time, What Dreams May Come or films from The Spiritual Cinema Circle, is like sitting down to a feast of your favorite comfort foods with your most beloved family and friends…..but without the calories. You leave the table comforted, inspired, and feeling better about humanity.
Stephen is the man you experience in the Spiritual Cinema Circle discussions. He is charming, generous, well spoken, intelligent, uplifting, caring, sensitive and funny. He is also way too talkative and upbeat at 5 AM (even without his first cup of coffee), tells absurd “jokes” that aren’t even in the same zip code with funny, dances like a clown, can’t carry a tune, and often behaves like a twin brother to our son Carter. But no one is perfect and I adore him.

Stephen’s stories about growing up in Old Hollywood are “sitting on the edge of your chair” fun. Stephen Simon is a special soul who was planted into an incredible film family, so he could bring some of that Old Hollywood energy back to those of us who starve for simple, inspirational messages during complicated times.

Being married to my best friend Stephen is nutrient-dense and heart-healthy. So is the dish Halibut with Puttanesca Sauce. Halibut’s firm white meat and delicate sweet flavor make it a perfect pairing for a robust tomato puttanesca sauce that you can make with ingredients from your pantry.

Old Hollywood Inspired Halibut with Puttanesca Sauce feels like a dish that might be served in an intimate, family owned Italian joint formerly frequented by my husband’s unofficial godfather, Frank Sinatra.

La vita è deliziosa! Life is delicious! Especially when surrounded by family, friends and rich traditions!

Check out The Spiritual Cinema Circle at
Photo above of Stephen and his sister (movie critic) Susan Grangers’ mother Harriet Deutsch, dancing with Frank Sinatra.

Bon Appetit & Namaste!


This heart healthy sauce (you would never know it) derives its distinctive addictive character from smoky crushed red pepper flakes, flavorful sun dried-tomatoes, and slightly sweet evaporated skim milk.

Makes 4 servings.
• ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes
• ½ cup boiling water
• 6 oz boneless, skinless chicken breasts
• ¼ cup dry white wine or low-fat chicken broth
• 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning
• 3 Tbsp chopped shallot (1 large shallot) or green onion
• 1¼ cups chopped fresh mushrooms
• ½ cup fresh peas or frozen peas, thawed
• 8 oz penne pasta
• Vegetable oil cooking spray
• 5 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
• 1 Tbsp all-purpose flour
• 12 oz evaporated skim milk
• 1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
• 1/8 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
• ½ cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 350°. Place sun-dried tomatoes in a bowl, add boiling water, and set aside. Fill a large pot with water and bring to a boil.
While waiting for water boil, combine chicken and wine in a shallow baking dish. Sprinkle the Italian seasoning on top of chicken. Bake for 15 – 20 minutes or until the center of the meat is no longer pink.Remove chicken from dish, shred the meat, and reserve the cooking juices.
Drain the sun-dried tomatoes and slice them thinly. Pour the reserved cooking juices from chicken into a sauté pan. Add shallots, mushrooms, peas, and sun-dried tomatoes. Sauté over low heat for a few minutes, until liquid has been absorbed and the vegetables are wilted.
Remove the pan from heat and cover it to keep the vegetables warm.
Add penne to the water in the large pot, which should be at a full boil. Cook over high heat about 8 – 12 minutes or until desired doneness.

While pasta is cooking prepare sauce.
Preheat a small, heavy saucepan for about 1 minute over medium heat, and then spray it twice with vegetable spray. Toss in the garlic and flour, and then using a whisk, blend in the evaporated milk.
Add nutmeg and red pepper flakes. Whisking constantly, bring mixture to a boil. Continue to cook for about 5 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Reduce heat and stir in basil. Drain pasta and transfer to a
warm serving dish. Add the chicken, vegetables, and sauce.

Top with fresh basil and serve with shaved Parmesan if you desire.

Bon Appetite and Namaste!

Heart Healthy Lentils With Roasted Red Peppers, Dill, Mint and Feta

This simple vegetarian dish comes together in just 30 minutes, making it a good choice for a protein-rich weeknight dinner.

1 cup brown lentils, picked over and rinsed
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 clove garlic, grated
1 12-ounce jar roasted red peppers, rinsed, drained and chopped into 1/4-inch pieces, about 1 1/2 cups total
*½ cup sun dried tomatoes
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt (I omitted and added fresh lemon juice for heart health)
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons chopped fresh dill (divided)
2 tablespoons chopped fresh mint (divided)
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese
*Lemon juice

Cook the lentils in a large pot of gently boiling water just until tender, 15 to 25 minutes. Drain.
While the lentils are cooking, heat the oil in a large skillet until it is hot enough to sizzle a piece of onion. Add the onion and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, until soft and golden, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the red peppers, salt and black pepper.
Keep warm over low heat.
Add the cooked lentils, 2 tablespoons of the dill and 1 tablespoon of the mint and cook, stirring, until heated through, about 5 minutes. At this point I also added sun dried tomatoes (great for the heart) which added texture and sweetness. Sprinkle with the vinegar and stir to combine. * I also added lots of fresh lemon juice….yummy.
Spoon into a serving dish and sprinkle with the feta if desired. Top with the remaining 2 tablespoons dill and the remaining 1 tablespoon mint.
From “Fresh & Fast Vegetarian” by Marie Simmons
Recipe Published November 8, 2011 in The Oregonian
These delicious lentils are wonderful served with Tuna or halibut baked in parchment with olive oil, capers, red peppers and thyme.
Want to literally keep your heart happy? Eat lentils.

* Lentils, a small but nutritionally mighty member of the legume family, are a very good source of cholesterol-lowering fiber. Not only do lentils help lower cholesterol, they are of special benefit in managing blood-sugar disorders since their high fiber content prevents blood sugar levels from rising rapidly after a meal.

A study published in the Archives of Internal Medicine confirms that eating high fiber foods, such as lentils, helps prevent heart disease.

Lentils’ contribution to heart health lies not just in their fiber, but in the significant amounts of folate and magnesium these little wonders supply. Lentils’ magnesium puts yet another plus in the column of its beneficial cardiovascular effects. Magnesium is Nature’s own calcium channel blocker. When enough magnesium is around, veins and arteries breathe a sigh of relief and relax, which lessens resistance and improves the flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients throughout the body. Studies show that a deficiency of magnesium is not only associated with heart attack but that immediately following a heart attack, lack of sufficient magnesium promotes free radical injury to the heart.
When researchers analyzed this data in relation to the risk of death from heart disease, they found that legumes were associated with a whopping 82% reduction in risk!!
Heres to your heart health!

Try pairing with Grilled or Pan Seared Salmon with Fresh Lemon Juice for a feast for the heart. Also wonderful served chilled.

Adapted from “Fresh & Fast Vegetarian” by Marie Simmons as seen in The Oregonian’s Foodday & Living section.

Bon Appetit and Namaste!