How’s that for some good news?

As a vegan, I often depend on whole, natural nuts as a source of protein. But, knowing they are also a source of fat and calories, I hesitate to eat too many. So, you can imagine how thrilled I was to read the September issue of California Farmer Magazine with the headline, “Almonds: 20% fewer calories than thought.”

As it turns out, the way calories have been calculated is a 100 year-old process, known as the Atwater general factor system. You are probably familiar with the concept that protein, fat and carbohydrates are assigned a caloric value.

Recently a team from the USDA’s Agricultural Research Service, led by Dr. David Baer, used a new method of measuring calories in almonds to determine the number of calories actually absorbed during digestion. You can read here or here for more information.

I learned a few other interesting bits of information about almonds in recent weeks. First of all, it is better to eat them raw, as they are more easily digestible. My trainer and other vegans recommend soaking them overnight in water, to soften them, which makes them even more digestible.

A few weeks ago, my friend Liz, a reflexologist who studied under Atom Bergstrom, an expert for Longevity Guru, told me that according to Bergstrom, people should eat ONE raw almond each morning for every 10 pounds you WANT to weigh. So if you want to weigh 150 lbs., you should eat 15 raw, soaked almonds each morning. I’m not sure if this is based on scientific fact – but it’s up to you to do more research.

One thing is for sure: almonds are an easy and satisfying snack. I always carry them on my travels!



The Wall Street Journal is one of the most respected publications in the world. As a matter of fact, I have often noticed that what I hear on the local news is from The Wall Street Journal the day before.

I have been interviewed by WSJ reporters and thought they were thorough, inquisitive and innovative in their thinking. So when my highly respected business colleague, Mindy, asked if I saw the article in today’s Wall Street Journal entitled, “Would we be healthier with a Vegan diet?” — I about fell off my chair.

In the fresh produce business, I am used to my company being ahead of our time with new product introductions like the Kiwifruit, Spaghetti Squash, Purple Potatoes and Habanero Chiles. (Click here to watch a quick video that showcases some of our produce introductions over the years.)

But never did I expect that my personal vegan journey would coincide with the headlines in The Wall Street Journal!

I hope you will take a moment to read what Dr. Colin Campbell has to say. He wrote “The China Study” and the facts and figures tell quite a story. As you know, my vegan journey continues and I feel fantastic.

I feel lucky that my amazing mother happened to get a job in the produce business and 56 years later, we are still working together to Change the Way America Eats Fruits and Vegetables!

Eat your veggies!


As you know, I decided to go vegan for the month of August to see what it was like. What I didn’t tell you was I coincidentally had my annual blood test on July 25, so, I’ve been able to measure the effect of following a whole food, plant-based diet on my body.

I would say I’ve been 99.9 percent vegan, as there is a small chance there was butter in some steamed vegetable dishes I ordered at restaurants. Last Friday, I was a little nervous to go to my doctor to get my results. I mean what if going vegan didn’t make any difference? Well, I had nothing to be afraid of — and I was actually impressed with the change in my numbers after being vegan for five weeks.

                             July 25      September 6       Normal Range

Total Cholesterol         219              193                0-199

Triglycerides                96                 87                0-149 (under 100 is best)

HDL                              76                 75               > 60

LDL                              124               101             < 100
It will probably not come as a surprise to you that I have decided to stay vegan for a while. I plan to take another blood test in mid-October to see if there has been any improvement.

I’ve only lost a few pounds, but psychologically, I feel so much better. I have less worry about my risk for heart disease and I know I am setting a good example for others. My 89-year-old mother, Frieda, has become vegan and feels fantastic and has lost a few pounds. My daughter, Alex, is about 90 percent vegan and there have been almost a dozen friends who have joined in at some degree.

For a little extra inspiration, please spend five minutes watching a TedX video sent to me today by the son of a friend. The young man in the video beat Crohn’s Disease by changing his diet!

Link to video:



Each day in Kauai my goal is to take a long walk.

I love to exercise while on vacation and I have always enjoyed taking advantage of the time change and getting up early and walking long distances. My second day here, I decided to take a round-trip walk to the local grocery store, which is about 4 miles.

In Kauai, it will always rain during the morning, so I tried to time my walk to avoid the rain. No such luck.

Just as I reached mile 2 and was heading back, the drizzle started. So I ran over to the nearest building to take cover and then the downpour began. I waited and checked all my emails, played Words with Friends and posted on Facebook, but after 15 minutes of continuous rain, I didn’t think it would stop. I texted my daughter Alex asking if she could jump in the car and come get me, but wait … the clouds were dissipating in the distance and I thought I saw some sunlight. 

So I texted her to wait.

And sure enough, by patiently waiting for the rain clouds to finish, the sun did come up and I was able to walk home. And what a great metaphor about life. How many times are we on a “walk” and a rain cloud appears.

We get delayed, side-tracked or frustrated. We consider altering our course because that “rain cloud” is annoying us. What if we just sit it out, take a deep breath, and not let it affect us. We think of it as a “welcome break.” And then when our personal rain cloud disappears, we can resume our course. Or we can alter our course.

But, we aren’t hasty. We are measured and thoughtful. Sometimes a rain cloud appears just to make you slow down and think. Consider alternatives. Rest your mind and body. What a great lesson to learn while walking the roads of Princeville, Kauai in the rain.

Aloha and Mahalo!


It’s no secret that when you get to vacation in Hawaii, chances are your pace will slow down and you will find yourself relaxed.

The last time I was in Kauai was 26 years ago, when my sister Jackie and her husband Doug got married.

But this time it was a “girls’ vacation” with my eldest daughter Alex. Before we left for Kauai, both my sister Jackie and my coworker Terri encouraged us to spend an afternoon at the Hanalei Community Center to hear original slack key guitar music played by Doug and Sandy McMaster.

I was especially interested in hearing them because of the effect they had on Jackie last year. In July 2011, Jackie was diagnosed with breast cancer. With her doctor’s permission, she and Doug spent two weeks vacationing in Kauai in early September celebrating their 25th wedding anniversary before she returned home to have a double mastectomy.

When Jackie came back from Kauai, she was excited to give me a CD from Doug and Sandy. She said the music was relaxing and healing, and she planned to download a few hours of their music onto her iPod and listen to it during her upcoming surgery. She was convinced it would help her recovery. And, interestingly, one of her close friends from high school who has a masters degree in music therapy validated that music can be healing. Multiple studies show listening to pleasant, mellow and familiar music during surgery and recovery can help you mend faster!

This past Sunday afternoon, Alex and I drove to the sleepy town of Hanalei on the north shore of Kauai to listen to Doug and Sandy McMaster. While Doug is the master guitarist, Sandy is the narrator and ukulele accompanist. Slack key guitar was brought to the islands by Mexican Vaqueros in the 1700s who taught Hawaiians how to tend to their cattle herds.

My career as a guitar player lasted about a year when I was a teenager, but I do recall how to tune a guitar and there was a set cadence for written music. But slack key is different. It’s always played in altered guitar tunings and there are extra notes every few bars, which means there’s not a normal pattern.

It was fascinating to watch Doug demonstrate how a slack key guitarist will play one rhythm with the thumb on the lower strings, while his fingertips played a different melody and harmony. This unique rhythm with no vocals is what makes it so healing, relaxing and majestic!

When I called Jackie to tell her we went to see Doug and Sandy, she asked me if I fell asleep while they played?! I told her no, but I did find myself closing my eyes. She told me the music was so relaxing she could not stay awake during their concert.

The McMasters handed out a small flyer listing reasons people purchase their CDs:

1. Feel better instantly
2. Stress relief and relaxation
3. Creativity and problem solving
4. Illness recovery
5. Lower blood pressure
6. Professional practices (doctors, dentists, massage therapists, yoga, psychologists, etc.)

You can check them out on their website

Attending their two-hour concert and listening to their CDs back at our timeshare surely has made for a relaxing vacation. If you ever find yourself in Kauai, I highly recommend you make time to experience old Hawaiian slack key music. And remember, you will take off your shoes when you enter the community center and be prepared for “Bob” the rooster, crowing when they play his favorite song!



When I ran into my recently-turned-vegan friend, Patrick, about six weeks ago at a conference, he encouraged me to watch two movies.

The first one, “Forks over Knives,” I have written about several times. Read my previous posts here and here.

It has now been five weeks since I started eating a whole foods, plant-based diet, so I thought it was time to watch his second recommendation, “Fat Sick and Nearly Dead,” which I watched this weekend.

The documentary was made by Australian entrepreneur, Joe Cross, who weighed 310 pounds and had been dealing with a debilitating auto-immune disease which caused dozens of extremely painful spots on his body. He attributed his obesity and disease to the typical American fast-food diet, so he decided to drastically change his eating habits.

The movie is about Joe’s 60-day driving trip across America where he consumes only juices made of fresh fruits and vegetables and the hundreds of people he meets along the way. He actually has a portable juicer in the back of his car and he stops at stores and farmers markets to purchase fresh produce!

His goal was to get to a healthy weight, feel good and be off all medicines. What touched me most was the story of Phil Staples, a truck driver Joe met at an Arizona truck stop. Coincidentally, it turned out Phil had the exact same disease Joe has. Except Phil weighed over 400 pounds. The last 30 minutes of the movie is how Joe inspires Phil to stop eating junk food and consume only fresh juices for a short time. And then, the most amazing thing happens: Phil inspires an entire town to start having community juicings.

I have two friends who periodically do juice fasts. My friend, Marc, who lives in Europe, does one every January. I always thought he was a little nutty, but he has told me time and time again that it provides real clarity for him. My other friend, Gillian, was doing a 10-day juice fast when I visited her last year in Chicago. She told me once in a while, she just needs to get all those toxins out of her body. After watching the movie and seeing the physical changes of the people featured, I started to think, what would I do to improve my health?

All I can say is that two months ago, I never would have dreamed of giving up steak, chicken, eggs and cheese. But I have, and I feel fantastic! Now I am seriously looking at getting a juicer, so I can juice and see how it affects me and my body.

Needless to say, I think it’s worth it for you to watch “Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead.” By the way, at the end of the movie, Joe gets off all of his medicines, and no longer has the symptoms or pain of his auto-immune disease. He is able to run on the beach regularly and has a pretty fit looking body!

Check it out!