Friday, March 21, 2008

EASIER-THAN-IT-LOOKS RECIPE: Mom's Pizza Spaghetti (Baked Spaghetti)

This is a recipe that my mother used to make when I was a kid growing up in the Bronx. Usually it was a Saturday meal, which could be reheated during the week. I used to love it. It's basically a baked spaghetti recipe. However, my eating habits have changed since then so, for example, I don't eat white pasta. I don't eat meat. Fortunately, reasonable substitutes for those things exist (though I'm sure using those foods in this recipe will still work for you if you like.) But I do have two products to suggest that you consider. I call them healthy alternatives.

The Myth of Tofu (Soybean Products)

I know a lot of people cringe at the thought of eating tofu or soy products. It really didn't used to taste good. Nowadays there are tofu products that do actually taste good to me, that I have been eating for years now. Many of you have heard of "Boca Burgers." Many current and former meat eaters like them as a healthy substitute for your local fastfood burger. I personally prefer Morningstar Farms products. They and others make burgers, hot dogs, chicken cutlets, sausage, ribs, cold cuts, cheese substitute ,even bratwurst. Now, I don't eat all of that stuff, but a lot of it is very good. I definitely say to try it.

I generally use whole wheat pastas, but there is another soy product I want to suggest that you try. It's called Shirataki Noodles. They are pasta shaped noodles (spaghetti, etc.) that are made from tofu. So they taste the same as pasta, especially with spaghetti sauce, except it doesn't do the diet damage that pasta (carbohydrates) does. I use whole wheat spaghetti in this recipe, but the shirataki noodles is a reasonable substitute.

This dish reheats well, and is low calorie, and low fat (unless you use ground beef, but even then it should be lean). Whole wheat is a healthy carb (the fiber is good for you). The shiratake noodles would make it lower carb, and higher protein. Enjoy it. It is easier than it looks. Let me know what you think.


1 pound Morningstar Farms Crumble (vegetarian ground beef substitute)
1 (16 ounce) jar spaghetti sauce
1 pound whole wheat spaghetti
1 cup shredded mild Cheddar cheese
1 cup low-fat shredded mozzarella cheese

2 teaspoons of oregano (and other spices are optional, depending on your taste; I like a little pepper, garlic, and basil)


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In large skillet, cook crumble substitute until brown. Mix in the spices. Mix spaghetti sauce into the skillet. Reduce heat and simmer.
Meanwhile, bring a large pot of water to a boil. Mix in pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until cooked to your taste; drain.
Mix together cooked spaghetti, crumble and spices mixture, and half of both cheeses, and pour into 9x13 pan. Top with the remaining cheese and bake for 30 minutes, or until thoroughly heated and the cheese is bubbly.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Religion and Politics (Shhh...Don't Say Anything)

Right up front I'll say, that I know it's not "politically correct" to talk or write about religion or politics. I'm told that as a psychotherapist I may unduly influence people in a particular direction. Actually, I am concerned more about how much these two subjects divide people. I mean, a perfectly good evening can turn into a battleground when someone brings up either of these subjects. Unfortunately, sometimes it seems that people search for differences between themselves and others, when really we all have much more in common than not. With the celebration of holy days this week, and the election primary show we get to witness all day, everyday, they've both been on my mind. I'm going to take a chance and share my thoughts on these subjects.

My religion is love, compassion, trust, happiness and hope. These are the things I pray for, to live these things as completely as possible. My politics are peace, equality, health, prosperity, and love of this country. My vote is going to be for these things. I'm not going to vote for war, division, fear, arrogance, and dishonesty. A problem arises when people's religious beliefs, politics, and lifestyle are in conflict. I mean, saying you believe in one thing and practicing another. I understand why that happens. People have thinking and behaving habits that have developed during their lives, much of which got started in childhood. We had no control over that. Fortunately, as adults we do have control over the choices we make. When our beliefs would have us go in one direction, and our actions take us elsewhere we can develop emotional, relationship, or health problems. For example, we feel (and even say) we love someone. Then we're mean to them. Or we pray for peace, but vote for war. We say we believe that "all men (and woman) are created equal." Then we mistreat a person because they look differently, or talk differently, or even pray differently than we do. The psychologists call this cognitive dissonance , and it can hurt us.

Ok. There it is. One more thing. If you're trying to teach your children your religious beliefs, and/or political values, they're going to get a mixed message if you're not trying to live those values also. And the old parent saying about doing what I say, and not what I do... doesn't work. Especially for teenagers. To them it seems, h-y-p-o-c-r-i-t-i-c-a-l. So I don't mean to "unduly" influence you, but I do mean to give you something to think about. I trust that you'll make the choices that work for you and your family.

Monday, March 3, 2008


Give yourself permission to be free. Release yourself from your own captivity.
Love yourself, and then you'll see.
You WILL be free as free can be!

Skeletons, baggage, your shadow too...
They don't have to dictate what you do.
Let it go.

Free is the sea as it slaps the open beach,
fluid, unrestricted, as the tide extends its reach.
Free is your chi when you let it breath.

Release the ties that keep you bound to your limits.
Outside of the Box is where your freedom sits.
Slavery is dead when you kill it in your head.
It will not die until you open your mind's eye,
To the possibilities in store for you as you explore.

A closet is a small dark place, hide in it. But is it safe?
Or perhaps it's a trap which confines your being.
Doesn't the box that you're living in limit your seeing
the light of your life shining within, the glow of your dreams illuminating your vision?
Freedom is creating your own bold creation.
fly high and be free, dive deep beneath the sea.
Open your life to your possibilities.

Place the wind in your sail, or beneath your wings.
Live the song in your heart, liberate your being.

And when you let it be free, isn't love the best?
You feel its thunder deep in your chest.
Unencumbered by fear, jealousy, suspicion and all the rest.
Move forward with life, let yourself be...

Love, Trust, Care, Hope.
Have the audacity to be free.