Vegan Athlete Cookbook: 101 Flavorful Plant-Based Recipes For Health, Strength, and Athletic Performance Review

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00097]I’ve been reviewing vegetarian food for a while and have decided to occasionally review cookbooks too.

Zoey Sampson contacted me for a fair and honest review, and since I really liked her Kindle book, her book will be the first.

Zoey explains in the Foreword that she went vegan because of her feelings about food and animal cruelty. Since she was an athlete, she worried about her new diet’s effect on her stamina and energy. Fortunately, she found the diet improved her workouts. “In fact, I wasn’t just doing well, I honestly felt damn fantastic.”

While I am not vegan (I love dairy way too much), I don’t mind eating vegan meals and would like to try new recipes.

The book is quite substantial and divided into logical sections: Sports Drinks & Smoothies, Energy Bars and Food On The Go, Noodles, Quinoa and Rice; Pizza Perfect; Tofu and Tempeh; Beans, Peas, and Lentils; Soups; Burgers & Not-Meat Meals; Wraps and Sandwiches; Salads, Veggies & Sides; Sauces & Dips; and Power Packed Puddings & Cookies. According to Zoey, “The key to my power packed diet is variety. Fruits, vegetables, plenty of leafy greens, whole grain products, nuts, seeds, and legumes are only a part of what gives me my incredible energy.”

In looking through the book, I saw many recipes I definitely wanted to try (Choconut Butter Shake, Hot and Sour Mushroom Soup, Chili Lentil Soup with Pineapple, Cinnamon and Corn Cookies, Chocolate Coconut Quinoa Slices, Raw Pad Thai, Adzuki Bean Pizza, Sloppy Joes, Curried Tofu, Sweet Potato Curry with Caramelized Shallots, Pistachios and Beans, Vegan Bacon, Saucy Wheatball Subs, Chocolate Zucchini Cupcakes, and many more), and I was also pleased to see nutritional information (including calories, fat, carbs, fiber) included with all recipes.

While there are no pictures in the book, each recipe is clear and easy to read.

The Kindle book is only $3.79 on Amazon.

Five out of five stars.

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Killing Rosa Is Now Available For Purchase

rosa cover

The sequel to the award-winning crime novel, Black-Hearted Bitch, is now available for purchase at Amazon. Like Bitch, Killing Rosa is a fast-paced thriller with violence, sex, and profanity (lots of it).

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Spotlight on Kelly Spillman

I met Kelly Spillman years ago when both of us were teaching at a for-profit college. We’ve been friends since. Curious about how improv might improve her skills in the classroom, Kelly jumped right into classes and almost immediately started performing stand up in Atlanta.

kelly spillman1

You have a master’s in Counseling. Was there anything funny about grad school?

The main things that stand out as funny were how eccentric some of the professors were. Also, most students in my programs were slackers and never did the readings. I hope slackers make good counselors!

You have taught college courses for years. What are some of the funniest things a student has said to you?

I routinely have students claim we need to bring back spanking to solve all of society’s problems. I don’t think Panera and Target can spank employees! I had a student recently add punchlines to test questions. That is the first time a student has done that.

You have just met someone who will teach college for the first time. What’s your best advice?

Make sure you have clear policies and guidelines on your syllabus. Have high expectations for all of your students and have fun in the classroom. Show them you are passionate about your subject area.

You have traveled a lot. What’s a destination you think everyone should visit at least once.

My favorite city is London and I highly recommend everyone visit. Most of the museums are free. There is so much diversity there that you can eat any type of food. You can go see a play every night and can take public transportation everywhere. It is easy to take day trips by train to quaint British villages.

Why stand up? 

I started out as an improviser and I realized that I needed to have more opportunities to be seen performing comedy so I transitioned over to stand up.  You are on your own with stand up so that is empowering. It is thrilling to be on stage by yourself with a mic and earn the respect of a crowd.

Tell me something that recently made you laugh out loud.

I was doing a show over the weekend. I noticed that another comic was talking to a lot of women in the crowd. He was wearing those big ear phones around his neck the whole time. I talked to him after his set and he pulled the cord to the headphones out of his pocket to show me that they were not attached to anything! That cracked me up.

What is the best response to a heckler?

Unfortunately, this strongly depends on the environment. There is no one set way to handle these obnoxious people or comedy “helpers”. You need to come back at them in a funny way because if you come at them too aggressively, the audience will turn on you or the energy of the room will change.

Let’s say you are hosting a viewing party at your home.  What music is on when your guests arrive?  What food and drinks would you have?  Which TV shows, movies, excerpts would you show?

I used to run a catering department so I would probably be pretty particular about the food and drinks. Lots of colorful fruits and veggies, meats and cheeses and LOTS of alcohol. Martinis and margaritas for everyone! I would probably play awesome, cheesy 80s songs or current music.

Which comic(s), living or dead, would you most like to see perform?

Richard Pryor, George Carlin, Phyllis Diller, Gilda Radner, Elaine May, Del Close, Carol Burnett.

Name some comics, living or dead, who you don’t get.  Gallagher, Three Stooges, Tosh, Lisa Lampanelli.

What’s your dream gig?

Hosting the White House Correspondents Dinner.

What’s the best stand up advice you’ve received?

Make sure to always have fun every time you are on stage. It seems like a no-brainer but I have to remind myself this is supposed to be fun every time!

Who is ruder? A class full of undergraduates or a comedy club audience?

It’s a tie.

In terms of stand ups, actors, etc., who do you think is underrated?

I am going to list amazingly talented people who should be household names: Lizz Winstead, Rob Stapleton, John Roy, Baron Vaughn, Mark Duplass, Aubrey Plaza, Rebel Wilson.

You appear to be fearless. What scares you?

It is true that I am not a very fearful person. I do worry about the extent of apathy I see in some students especially since most of them want to go into healthcare! I also worry about my financial future as a single person. I have not had a raise in 6 years and it is very difficult to earn money performing comedy in Atlanta.

Any books you’d recommend?

Satiristas by Paul Provenza, On Writing by Stephen King, South of Broad by Pat Conroy, Human Stain by Phillip Roth, Lizz Free or Die by Lizz Winstead, Bossypants by Tina Fey, Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver, Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides, Loving Frank by Nancy Horan

Thanks, Kelly. You can follow her on twitter @Gressivegirl. She will be the resident comic at Laughing Skull Lounge in April. Her website will be up soon–


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New Page

I’ve added a new page to the site: Middle-Aged Woman Decides to Learn to Play the Guitar. I’ll be adding new posts on an occasional basis.

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Killing Rosa Is Coming Soon

rosa coverKilling Rosa is the sequel to my award-winning crime novel, Black-Hearted Bitch.

Former hit man Kell Digby, eager for a distraction after her girlfriend Gretchen dumps her, is hired by ex-boss Rosa to take out a business competitor in Miami. The simple hit turns complicated, and Kell is forced to match wits with a dangerous foe.

Killing Rosa will be published in March 2014.

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Spotlight on T.B. Markinson

T B MarkinsonI met T.B. Markinson through our mutual love of books. The author of two books, she is an American who is now living in England.

Let’s say you’re hosting a viewing party at your home. What music is playing when your guests arrive? What food and beverages will you provide for your guests and which TV shows, movies, excerpts, etc. would you show?

My partner loves Pearl Jam. If you’re at my house, more than likely, Pearl Jam is playing. The second favorite band in my house is Smashing Pumpkins. However, for a party, my partner would create a mix of music featuring new and old songs. I took a quick peek at one of the collections she made for a party we had and the mix included Jane’s Addiction, Johnny Cash, Bob Marley, Jon Bon Jovi, Jay-Z, Pink Floyd, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Prince, The Rolling Stones, and many more. However, Pearl Jam and the Smashing Pumpkins would have more songs than all the others.

We love to grill so the food would include brats, hot dogs, burgers, and maybe steaks. Chips and homemade salsa are a must for any party. For vegetarians we’d grill a mix of veggies. And asparagus—my partner’s favorite veggie.

And I’m not sure we’d show any movies or TV shows. More than likely you’d be over for the Super Bowl, March Madness, College Bowl games, or any other big sporting event. We used to live on the Boston Marathon route and had a party every year. But instead of watching it on the telly, we’d be outside cheering the runners on. It’s an amazing event and talk about inspiring.

Now that you’re living full-time in London, what do you miss most about the United States?

The food! I know American food isn’t always the healthiest, but I crave it all the time. We’ve tried finding decent hot wings in London and for the most part we have struck out. We did find a restaurant that comes close to back home, but it’s an American restaurant. Most places in London slather their hot wings with BBQ sauce and they think it’s spicy.

What’s the weirdest thing you’ve eaten in England?

You know, nothing comes to mind. In other countries I’ve had weird food, but not here. In Botswana I tried crocodile. I don’t remember it having a lot of flavor. Maybe I’ll try haggis or blood pudding, but haven’t yet.

What’s the last great book you’ve read? What is the first line?

Around the World in Eighty Days.

“Mr. Phileas Fogg lived, in 1872, at No. 7, Saville Row, Burlington Gardens, the house in which Sheridan died in 1814.”

I just love the name Phileas Fogg.

Name three of your favorite writers. Write a one word description for each.

Ernest Hemingway: Abrupt

John Steinbeck: Descriptive

Dorothy Parker: Snarky

Name some popular writers who you don’t get.

This isn’t fair of me to say since I haven’t read it, but the author of Fifty Shades of Gray. From what I hear on the book blogs the writing needs some serious polishing and yet it’s super successful. I keep meaning to read it to find out for myself what all the fuss is about. I do have to say bravo to the author for being so successful. I’m not big on bashing any writer since I know how difficult it is to write a book. No matter what, that’s an accomplishment.

If you could live in any book, which one would it be?

Cannery Row. Not only do I love Steinbeck’s descriptions, but his characters are a hoot and I would love to be able to interact with them.

You’re a fan of old movies. How did that happen? Tell me about some of your favorites.

I was a quiet child—for the most part. And I fell in love with books and movies from an early age. I also had troubles sleeping so I would stay up late at night. We only had basic cable and not the fancy channels like HBO. I developed a habit of watching the channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM) at an early age and I fell in love with so many. My faves include: His Girl Friday, The Thin Man Series, anything with Cary Grant and/or Katharine Hepburn, Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, It’s a Long Hot Summer, Hitchcock films—I really could go on and on. These films are more about the story and not about special effects. And I loved the way Hitchcock played with shadows in his flicks.

Do you play any musical instruments? Which musicians do you listen to?

I played the violin for one year when I was a kid, but unfortunately I quit. I regret that now. It would be nice to play an instrument as a way to relax. My partner loves Pearl Jam and we listen to them a lot. When I have the house to myself I torture my animals with eighties music. Yep, I’m one of those.

You’ve published two books—Marionette and A Woman Lost. How are they most similar? How do they differ? Provide a short excerpt for both that you’re proud of.

While the main characters are dealing with their own issues, both are strong-willed, independent, and flawed. I loved flawed characters in books and movies. Paige, in Marionette, has a lot more issues than Lizzie in A Woman Lost. I think the major difference is the subject matter. Marionette tackles two difficult themes: suicide and violence against gays. It has a serious tone from the start. A Woman Lost deals with some issues of being gay, but mostly from the family level, not societal.

womanlostA Woman Lost. This excerpt is between Lizzie and her brother’s fiancée, Maddie. They recently met and are getting to know each other before the wedding. It starts with Lizzie speaking.

“What do you mean? What did you think I’d be like?” I slumped down in my chair.

“Don’t get me wrong, you and Peter are very alike in some ways. You two are almost identical twins. It’s scary sometimes. You are both secretive. And you are both very driven individuals. But something else drives you … not just success.” She paused and took a sip of wine. “Challenge. Yes, you love a challenge.” Another sip of wine. “However, I haven’t figured out if you like to conquer things as well. Or people.” She patted my arm, letting her hand linger a few moments.

“Now, your turn.” I looked eagerly at her.

“I’m not sure you can handle my secret,” she said in a demure voice.

“Oh, come on! Or I’ll think you’re rodomontade.”

She set her wine glass down. “A what?”

“Rodomontade. Someone who’s a pretentious braggart.” I flashed a cunning smile.

“How long have you been holding onto to that one?” She poured more wine into her glass. “Do you use such impressive words all of the time or just around those you are trying to impress?”

I didn’t want to admit that I saved them for those who intimidated me.

“Stop stalling.” I dipped a strawberry into the chocolate fondue.

“Okay. I wouldn’t want you to think of me as a rodo-thingy.”


“You can keep saying it, but it doesn’t make it sound any cooler.” She took a sip of her wine. “This secret isn’t a big secret. I mean many people know about it … but I haven’t told your brother. And, I should add, I don’t intend to.”

I waited anxiously. What could it be?

She looked away and blurted out, “I’m bisexual.”

I choked on my water. Did I accidentally swallow an ice cube, and was it now lodged in my throat? Beating my chest with one fist, I imagined my face turning a vivid violet.


mar-kindleThis excerpt is from Marionette. Paige is telling about her failed suicide attempt and the ramifications.

But when it comes to asking those questions about myself. Who am I? What am I? I can’t really answer them. They seem fairly obvious, right? I’m me. I’m a girl. And I’m not one who wants to be a boy, even if I’m in love with a girl. I think people who think that are idiots. Usually, though, they don’t see that. I wish idiots would recognize that they’re idiots. Life would be so much easier if others said, “Don’t bother with me, I’m an idiot.”

Let’s start again, at the beginning. I slit my wrists. My girlfriend came home. She went ape-shit. I got stitches in both arms. I felt a little like Frankenstein—the monster I mean, even if that’s not really correct. Everyone thinks the monster’s name is Frankenstein, so I’m not about to correct them and tell them it was the doctor’s name. My point is that I was patched back together and told to be normal, to be human. Victor Frankenstein, the scientist, didn’t try to teach the monster, but at least Jess is trying to teach me how to be normal. How to be human.

Your pets are an important part of your life. Tell me something cute each of your pets did recently.

atticus 20131113_124434Miles with Red Ball

We recently had houseguests and our cat, Atticus, was kicked out of the bedroom. He spends the majority of his time in there on the bed. When our guest left, Atticus made a beeline for the bed and didn’t leave for an entire day. I walked in there and saw him rolling around on his back, claiming his space.

Miles, our Boston Terrier, is one of the happiest dogs I know. And he loves to play. Yesterday while playing fetch he was so intent on chasing a ball he ran into a tree branch. Luckily he wasn’t hurt and he flashed me a smile that implied, “That was a close one.”

What are you working on?

I’m editing my third novel. I much prefer writing over editing, however, its part of the process and can’t be skipped. The next book is about a woman who had everything going for her. She graduated from Harvard, had a literary agent, and a deal to write her first book. However, everything has fallen apart and she’s working at Starbucks to make ends meet. She has a crazy but loving family and girlfriend. It’s about whether she can find her true path in life and get everything back on track.

Thank you, T.B. She has two websites, Making My Mark and 50 Year Project (“My challenge to visit 192 countries, read 1,001 books, and watch the top 100 movies”). Follow her on Facebook and Twitter @50YearProject.

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Monterey Gourmet Foods Organic Fresh Spinach & Cheese Ravioli

I love pasta, and this is one of the best tasting fresh pastas I’ve had in a long time. It’s organic, restaurant-quality, and delicious. The spinach and cheese filling is mild but flavorful. In addition to Parmesan and mozzarella, I also detected a hint of nutmeg.

Preparation is easy–boil the ravioli for three to four minutes. I prepared my plate with a topping of smoked Gouda and fresh mozzarella and added steamed vegetables (broccoli, cauliflower, and mushrooms). My partner also had the veggies but sprinkled smoked salmon on top of hers.

I found the pasta at Costco and decided to try it since it was discounted three dollars (until March 2, 2014). The final price at Costco was $8.39. The Costco package contains 38 ounces (enough for nine servings) and is separated into two containers. The pasta can be frozen or refrigerated.

I will definitely purchase this again.

Five out of five stars.

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Spotlight on David C. Tucker

davidprofileDavid C. Tucker has been my friend for many years. We share an interest in vintage TV and movies and laugh at the same things. He’s written five books, and his latest (Joan Davis: America’s Queen of Film, Radio, and Television Comedy) will be available in 2014. I admire David for his keen intellect and sense of humor. He’s also a damn good writer. I’m thrilled that David will be my first interview. He will definitely class up the joint.

Your book, Lost Laughs of 50s and 60s Television: Thirty Sitcoms That Faded Off Screen, was recently named one of the best books of 2013 by Classic Images. Which of those sitcoms were your personal favorites and why?

Most of them I had never seen before writing the book, because they’re difficult to obtain. I was surprised sometimes that I was wrong in predicting which ones would really appeal to me. A couple I especially liked were Mrs. G Goes to College, which made me want to write a book about Gertrude Berg someday, and Wendy and Me, which I had expected to shun because I thought no one should be trying to do Gracie Allen-type humor except Gracie Allen. For both of those, I watched all the episodes I could find, and then wished there were more.

Were there any that hurt to watch?

I tried not to be judgmental when I wrote that book – I wasn’t out to put the shows down – but the one that struck me as an almost complete misfire, creatively, was Mr. Terrific. But after the book came out, I received a letter from an annoyed reader who loved that show, so obviously it’s all in the eye of the beholder.

Let’s say you’re hosting a viewing party at your home. What food and beverages would you provide for your guests and which TV shows, movies, excerpts, etc. would you show?

Probably depends on what day you catch me, and who the captive audience is. I haven’t done it in a while, but I used to enjoy watching Mystery Science Theater 3000 with friends. I love that moment when you break up laughing at one of their pop culture references – like when they’re watching a woman at the wheel of a car, and one of the ‘bots croons, “How will you make it on your own…?” – and your friend is sitting there mystified. Then a minute or two later, the situation is reversed, and he has to explain a joke to you. As for food, if I’m going to prepare it, we’re probably better off meeting for dinner beforehand.

Do you listen to music when you’re writing?

Not usually. I’d rather face that cold, empty screen in dead silence. I probably should start, though – it scares the cat when things are going badly and I start growling.

I know you love Peggy Lee. Do you remember the first time you noticed her? What is it about her that made you a fan? Have you thought about writing a book about her?

I love female vocalists, and she was one I hadn’t really experienced until I checked out a “Best of” CD from the library. Before the end of the first song, I knew she was great. I don’t think anyone cared more about getting things right than she did, and she has such a gift for conveying a persona, and a mood, for every song she chooses. As for writing a book, I don’t have nearly enough technical knowledge to write well about a singer, but Robert Strom published a terrific chronology of her career a few years ago.

For the most part, your books have focused on female actors. You’ve written books on Shirley Booth, Eve Arden, and now Joan Davis. You also wrote The Women Who Made Television Funny: Ten Stars of 1950s Sitcoms. Why do you think you focus on women performers? Are there any male performers you’d like to write about?

It sounds odd, but I think most writers would agree with me that there are themes coming out of your work over time – even ones that seem obvious in retrospect – that you didn’t necessarily anticipate. But so many of these women were fascinating, complicated, hugely talented individuals, and so much more captivating to me than the typical leading man, or leading lady. I do appreciate some of the male comic geniuses as well – Groucho Marx, Jack Benny – but I try to write about people who haven’t already been done to death. Do we really need any more books about Marilyn Monroe?

Name some stars, living or dead, who you don’t understand why they’re stars. You simply don’t get their appeal.

Gee, thanks, Lynn, just what I need – a year’s worth of hate mail. Okay, if I’m under oath, I really can’t abide Jimmy Stewart. Every time I see one of the movies he made for Hitchcock, I can’t help thinking how much better it would be with someone else in the lead. Beyond the Golden Age, I don’t see a lot of current movies, but no one has ever sold me a ticket by putting the name William H. Macy in the credits.

You’ve done a number of interviews for your research. Who and/or what surprised you the most?

I loved talking to Joyce Van Patten for the Shirley Booth book – she not only gave me great answers, but as we were winding up, she said, “Oh, you should talk to my brother Dickie,” and gave me his phone number then and there. Talking to Betty White was a privilege, and I’ll bet I was the first person in quite awhile to ask her about Date with the Angels. But I’m not sure anyone could top Gale Storm, whom I interviewed only a few years before she died. She was in her eighties, not in the best of health, and still so funny and such a charmer that you knew why people fell in love with her.

Name some lost gems (TV shows, movies, actors, etc.) that you’ve discovered that you think everyone should know about.

Well, since I’ve just spent a couple of intense years with Joan Davis, naturally she’s at the top of my list. She’s brilliant, and it’s sad that so much of her work is hard to see. I’m pleased that one of her biggest fans has been posting restored episodes of I Married Joan on YouTube, so that people can see that she’s not just a second-rate Lucy. Very little of her work has been properly released on DVD, but I hope the book might give a little overdue attention to some of her best movies, like She Gets Her Man. 

You’re a funny guy and a terrific writer. Have you ever thought about writing fiction?

Thank you! When I was in my twenties, and had a fresh degree in English literature, I thought I should try to write a serious, literary novel. If I were to write fiction now, it would probably be something fun like a murder mystery. I’m a big believer in the power of escapist entertainment.

Let’s assume you have unlimited resources and research assistants, what book would you write?

Oh, let’s do assume that. That’s a fantasy I hadn’t even gotten around to having yet! Actually, if I had unlimited resources, I would use them to have the luxury of doing all the research myself. I had a couple of research assistants in Los Angeles who did a great job digging out new information for the Joan Davis book, but I was a little envious that I couldn’t be there to go through every page of the material myself. I definitely want to mine the incredible resources of places like the Margaret Herrick Library, UCLA, and the radio collection at the Thousand Oaks Library, for any future books I write.

What contemporary TV shows and/or movies do you enjoy? I do like The Big Bang Theory, and I watched Desperate Housewives from beginning to end on DVD. I haven’t seen it yet, but I’m curious about Devious Maids.  

You now have a blog. What’s going on at

Notwithstanding my last answer, I do often say that all the good movies and TV shows were made before 1970, so I use the blog to talk about the shows and stars that I love, and hopefully to connect with other people who share those interests. I’m also reviewing some of the best books being published on Golden Age movies, radio, and TV. Years ago, I was a regular reviewer for Library Journal, and it’s been fun to take that up again.

Thank you, David. I’d like to end with an excerpt from David’s excellent book, Eve Arden: A Chronicle of All Film, Television, Radio and Stage Performances:

“…Eve confessed that she had yet to see her own performance in Mildred Pierce: ‘I never went to see the picture. I couldn’t stand seeing myself on the screen. In the theater I could envision myself as wonderful because of the audience response to my lines. But I was always disappointed with myself on the screen.’”


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Black-Hearted Bitch Named Runner-Up in 2013 Rainbow Awards

RunnerUpCongratulations to my friend Lori L. Lake for winning two awards in the Best Lesbian Mystery / Thriller category in this year’s Rainbow Awards. Her book, A Very Public Eye, won the top award, and Jumping the Gun was a runner-up.

My book Black-Hearted Bitch was also a runner-up, along with  Desolation Point (Cari Hunter) and The Rainey Season (R.E. Bradshaw).

Curve Magazine has a list of all winners:

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Want A Character Named After You In My Next Novel?

I am participating in a Character Auction to benefit the Golden Crown Literary Society. If you are the winning bidder, a character with your name will appear in my next Kell Digby crime novel. My plan is to have the novel out in early 2014.

The opening bid starts at $25, and the auction ends December 31, 2013. View the rules and place a bid at



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