The All-Natural Super-Food Smoothie (for Spring)

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Ingredients (in order of pictures and video):

Frozen Bananas– about 8 small chunks = 2 medium bananas. Peel before freezing! (I am not the only one who made this mistake the first time).

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Unsweetened Soy Milk– about 200 ml or so. Why soy? because it is cheapest here in Japan. Why unsweetened? Because sugar is EVIL!

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Avocado – 1/4 to 1/2 of a ripe avocado. This alone adds so much nutrition, and the healthy fat enhances body’s ability to extract more nutrients from other ingredients. Took me years to figure out secret when buying avocados. Buy a few when they are green and hard (or starting to soften if winter season). Place out at room temperature until soft, and THEN put in fridge until ready to eat. They are always perfect that way! Requires a little waiting, but get a good rotation going, and you will always have an ample stock ready to go.

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Peanuts – 1/2 cup or so… I add them for the taste, not to mention protein and Vitamin E, and they add some depth to fill up the tummy, as smoothies tend to leave one wanting for something extra- not this smoothie!

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Cocoa Powder– 100% pure, no sugar! This stuff makes a decent smoothie ridiculous. I add 2 spoonfuls, but the more the merrier!

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Chia Seeds – 1-2 tablespoons.  I am starting to really respect this food, not only for its high Omega 3 and Calcium levels, but also since it supplies amazing energy when exercising, and throughout day. I noticed it for the first time jogging two days ago, since I have been consuming this daily recently. When I was ready to cool down, I decided to do some win sprints, and I had an extra gear waiting for me. Try yourself, you will not be disappointed!

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Hemp Seeds – 1-2 tablespoons. Read the Nutritional Info for the reason, but the taste is a nice addition as well.

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Goji Berries– 3 tablespoons-ish. These are great for the eyes, as well as ridiculous in vitamins and mineral content. Oh yeah, and they add natural sweetness to a smoothie.

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Date– 1 medium sized date, pitted. Sweet, and natural with various amounts of 16 vitamins and minerals.

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Spinach (Raw- Uncooked) – If your body likes spinach as much as mine does, add this, otherwise find an alternative green that your body does like. I rinse, then soak spinach in large bowl of salt water (made by adding 2 tablespoons salt to tap water) for 10 minutes, then thoroughly rinsing off salty water from leaves and shoots. I can put as much as I can shove in the cup, and it does not affect the taste much. Another alternative is bok choy or napa cabbage, which do well in smoothies.

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Chilled and Settled Tap Water– The amount is  up to how thick or thin you like your smoothie. The more I put in, the easier it seems to be to drink, and too little will make the smoothie thicken after a few minutes. Why chilled? It removes need for ice- which will dilute all the taste from above ingredients. Why settled? According to Sadghuru, letting water sit overnight before consuming will give time for molecular structure to return to its natural state, as passing through pipes stirs it up, so to speak. Try for yourself, with coffee, and tea, and your daily drinking water- it really makes a difference.

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Blitz it, and enjoy.

Is that fresh chopped strawberry as a topping? You bet.

Other potential toppings: chopped peanuts, frozen blueberries, dried goji berries, etc.

In summer, blueberries become main stage for the smoothie, but for now, this smoothie will suffice.

Other optional ingredients one might consider: walnuts (really healthy, but expensive), flax seeds, flax oil, non-sweetened protein powder (but hard to find).

Ingredients in order of importance for taste: (items at top are essential, those at bottom are optional.

  1. Frozen bananas
  2. Non-dairy milk
  3. cocoa powder
  4. peanuts
  5. goji berries
  6. dates
  7. chia seeds
  8. hemp seeds
  9. avocado
  10. spinach
  11. chilled water

Order of importance for nutrition: (in my book)

  1. chia seeds
  2. avocado
  3. spinach
  4. goji berries
  5. cocoa powder
  6. peanuts
  7. non-dairy milk (if fortified)
  8. hemp seeds
  9. frozen bananas
  10. dates
  11. water


Time to prepare: 5-8 minutes

I have an idea for to speed things up: Make three bags: freezer-use, fridge-use, and dry item use. Put all ingredients in appropriate bag on weekends, and prep time could go down to 1 minute?

Ideas for prep bags:

Freezer bag– frozen bananas

Fridge bag: appropriate portions of each of following in one-use bag: chia seeds, hemp seeds, 1 date, goji berries, cocoa powder, peanuts, spinach

Then, at time of creation, add avocado, soy milk, chilled water, and bananas and presto!

Here is nutritional content of one of these bad boys, courtesy of


Screenshot_2020-04-17 Cronometer Track nutrition count calories

All that from just a start to the morning! By the way, these are even more amazing, as you might expect, after an active morning working in yard/farm, or after a long run.

Enjoy your morning, enjoy your life!


My Vipassana Experience, Part I (The Pre-Retreat)

It is time to share.

I have waited 16 months to write this series of posts, as I wanted to be sure of the aftermath of my experience before recommending/reporting on it to the world.

For those who might be interested, my Journey of Troy adventure story is based on epiphanies that have come to light during and since this experience.

Let me take you back, for all those who are interested in this thing called a Vipassana Meditation Retreat.

There are spoilers below, so for those of you, like myself, who prefer to be surprised, go get your own experience first before reading this or anyone else’s account. I hope that for some who have also had this experience, this post will be a reminder, or a chance to compare, digest, or discuss (through comments) your own experience and how it differed from mine.

Summer and Fall 2018– I thought I was pretty happy-most of the time. Like most of my life, I was easily frustrated by events in my surrounding inner and outer spheres of influence and concern. I knew there was nothing I could do about some things that upset me, but that did not prevent myself from making myself, and others miserable- due to my reactions to various injustices that I perceived.

I had quit smoking 3 years prior, and ramped up my jogging to make up for the increase in stress that my body seemed to collect.

I drank occasionally, much less than in the past, mostly to calm my nerves in evenings, and to enjoy a momentary bit of pleasure in my evenings or on my weekends.

I was a freshly-turned vegan, but having a hard time giving up cheese. I ate lots of unhealthy salty and sugary snacks, pretty much anything that I wanted that still counted as vegan. That included potato chips, dried fruit with added sugar, Ritz and Saltine crackers, etc. etc.

I had taken an online MBSR (Mindfulness-based Stress Reduction) course through Sounds True, from the creators of the program. I tried to meditate regularly, but due to lack of will power and perhaps proper motivation, I was lucky to get 20 minutes of meditating once a day. There were many days I did not meditate at all, and I relied on exercise (weekly jogging) mostly for my stress relief.

I felt as the summer was ending that year, that something dark and deep down was growing, or perhaps coming to the surface. I was worried for my own peace of mind, my own sanity; worried for my ability to be a positive influence on my sons and wife. I was not sure what to do about it, but something made me consider a Vipassana experience, as I was considering studying to become a mindfulness instructor in the future- as mindfulness had helped me so much with my anxiety and inner troubles. A multiple-day meditation retreat is a prerequisite for entering a Mindfulness program, and a Vipassana course was applicable for this requirement.  It was also the only available program here in Japan that I could find. It had English instruction (and Japanese), which was helpful to know.

I applied, and was accepted in the Christmas-New Year’s 10-day time slot, which was reserved for more foreigners living in Japan than the average time slot- which usually is reserved mostly for Japanese nationals, the center being based in Japan.

As the 10-day course grew nearer, I decided to give up alcohol for the time being, ( I had done this several times in the past) mostly to see if not consuming would give me a sharper, clearer mind with which to meditate and gain some much-needed clarity and relief.

I also noticed a sense of comfort and safety as the days grew nearer, as I could feel a respite from my own mind was coming. I had no idea what was coming though that would challenge this expectation.

I attempted to be more consistent with meditating leading up to the retreat, but in the end, I was not much more successful than normal. I did notice in the week before, almost like my body and mind were preparing for the retreat, by somehow calming myself, and getting ready to shut down  part of myself somehow.

I remember the days before, calling my Mom and Dad, and talking to each of them about what I was going to do, and how I was feeling about it. A bit of nervousness, but as I mentioned- also a sense of inevitability that relief was coming. They were supportive, and positive, and perhaps a bit uncertain- as to its effectiveness and perhaps afraid that I would come back from it brainwashed. Uncertainty would dominate my own experience for the first 8 days of the experience, little did I know at the time.

My family drove me to the port, where I was to take an overnight ferry to Kobe, Japan from near my home in Miyazaki. When entering Miyazaki city, the sky was just starting to darken, and I recall a distinct sense of fear, not being used to the night in the city- despite being surrounded by family.

Saying goodbye to my sons was the hardest part of the trip, as my younger son, then 3, was quite upset and perhaps didn’t understand what was happening. He did not want to let go of me, and I had to force his arms off me to leave. I also made my older son cry and he sat visibly distraught in the car as I walked away, hearing the screams of my younger one as well. From the ferry, I looked out to them, still visible in the car. I had an instinct to run back to them, to soothe the nerves of my young sons, to make them feel good. But I knew that weakness would win if I did that. I knew that sometimes strength is needed to do what is needed, despite what feels right at any given moment-particularly when one is emotional. I knew that I had work to do on myself- work that would pay dividends for years to come, and that this was my chance to get it started.

The ferry was very clean, similar to the inside of an airplane, and I slept like a baby. The gentle rocking of the giant boat was perhaps like being in the womb, as I felt completely at ease, despite sleeping next to strangers.

The next day on the way to the site, Dhamma Bhanu, I had to find some food for lunch, as I arrived too early. I went to the supermarket, and as any fresh vegan would know- it is hard to find things to eat when you eliminate meat, fish, and dairy from your diet. So I ended up with some crackers, bananas, dried fruit, potato chips, etc.

As we arrived, I was the only “new” student there. As all the “old” students were helping get things set up, I was told to stay in the lunch room, eat, and wait. I waited for 3-4 hours. After one hour, I was joined by a fellow new student- who happened to be Japanese. He eventually started talking to me, in English, which was one of my pet peeves at the time. (I hated that everyone assumed that I could not speak Japanese, or tried to use me as a punching bag for their broken or unrefined English. Those who could speak English well or naturally usually did not feel the need to try and “use” me to improve their English skill.) The fellow new student was nice, but I felt such resentment and angst at the whole of society, that I could not return much more than surface kindness. Below that lay a deep desire to be left aloneto be free from the misery that others caused through unwanted socialization. Of course, now I know that misery was self-induced, and I learned a lot about myself thanks to that fellow student over the 10 days, as you will see.

Luckily, we had some paperwork to focus on, so I used that as a means of getting some personal space, and answered the questions in the survey. One particular question was interesting- “What are some important events in your life?”

I replied some personal events that all had essentially happened to me. Divorce, death, personal losses of one sort or other. What I would come to see on the 10th day was that there was a whole other category of events that I had not considered then as important enough to be included- yet they were as important, if not more so, to my current state. The missing category…. well, it is events of which I had been the main instigator.

More on that later.

So we got our stuff ready, I had to put all my edibles and personal items in a large sack (as they would be given back at the end of the 10 days), and we proceeded to our bedrooms, and then some free time, which most people used to get to know the others in the program. I, of course, felt no need to do that, but that fellow student from before kept trying to strike up a conversation, to be friendly, to get to know me, to practice his English perhaps…I noticed that he was only talking to the foreigners, which made up about 1/3 to 1/2 of the whole group.

There was a beautiful full moon that evening, I will never forget, and the air was clean and crisp.

There was an introductory meeting and video, that explained what we were going to be doing for the next 10 days, and then it was off to bed. From the time of the video, we were instructed to not speak or look at another student for the next 9 days. My mind was relieved at the prospect of not having to talk or socialize anymore, so my body felt like it could start to relax at a deeper level. We went to bed, 6 to a room on futons, my mind spinning with uncertainty- yet optimistic that I had come to the right place.

Part II to come soon.

The Journey of Troy, Chapter Four (Now on YouTube and Free Colorsheet)


Chapter Four has been released to the world.

Read here:

Download here:

Listen here on YouTube : Chapter One, Chapter Two, Chapter Three, Chapter Four

Support here:

Download Free Colorsheet below. journey4bandwfinal.jpg

A four-year-old’s version

Mid-Oct. ’19 Update: New Job, New Momentum, Plus a Rant on Why Sugar is Harmful and Unethical.

A lot is moving, momentum is building, and yet I suspect the potential for stagnation is always there lurking, like a bad habit you can’t kick.

This new momentum is from the following areas of activity:

  • I have started a new “part-time” job (8-3 at a strawberry farm). It is physically taxing, but I am getting valuable hands-on experience in farming. It is doubly taxing (energy and time) as I have two bike rides and a train ride to commute to and from work. Working with plants primarily, as opposed to people, has proven to be a positive move for me. Financially, it will take some time, energy, effort, and studying before I am at the financial and professional level where I was with teaching English, as I am essentially starting over career-wise. However, now that I am in a  field that is more suited to my interests and motivations, I feel that I will pass that level rather quickly, and reach much higher levels eventually building this new berry farm/eatery/park business than I ever could have in education. If you are not familiar with my venture, think Knott’s Berry Farm toned down, humanized, improvement-minded, and socially beneficial.
  • Concurrently with my agriculture experience, I am planning to pursue a distance learning course in berry farming, through an Australian University. It is reasonably priced, and likely will compound and solidify what I am learning every day at work. I will continue my more focused, independent study of blueberries and strawberries through books. I have been limited to Japanese books that I could find at the library up till now (first pay day!). Being forced to read books of intense interest, has made my Japanese reading much more palatable, and I find that I am progressing at a rate never before realized. Thanks to the kanji (Chinese characters that often have a pictorial reference), I can understand much of the content despite at times not knowing the correct reading. Comparatively in English, it is like understanding the Greek or Latin roots of words to help understand unknown vocabulary. My Japanese reading and vocabulary have improved due to the limited resources available. Perhaps I should continue to develop this reading skill of Japanese books through the berry farming education domain.
  • I am beginning to share my writing (The Journey of Troy). This will be released chapter by chapter as it is finalized. It may take a long time, due to time restraints, but it will be written and shared. I have decided to release the audio (on Jamendo – a free audio sharing site) simultaneously, as many people (like me) prefer to listen rather than read. Eventually I will add a YouTube channel for this. The feedback (from likes and new followers) thus far on this blog has been very motivating. Thank you for all who take the time to read, listen, and give feedback or share with others. I did not know what the reaction would be from sharing my creations, but I am grateful for any and all feedback. Eventually, I will record and share my music creations as well here on this blog. I have 6 songs that I have been crafting for the last 2-3 years that are finally starting to take shape.
  • I have decided to decouple the pursuit of survival income from my creations (writing, music, and volunteer-oriented business). This has freed me from a lifetime quandary of how to square my love of creating and volunteering with the realities of the current monetary and profit-motivated incentive system of modern society. I will continue to pursue some kind of financial support for my creations and volunteer-based business (on the horizon). I have decided to use Patreon, and direct donations eventually, to support my creations, if the public deems them worthy of support. This will be how I move forward with my pure motivation of wanting to improve my surroundings, without the unwanted influence of money. I can continue to write, play music, clean playgrounds, etc. as my budget, family commitments, energy, time, and level of financial support permit. Even in an ideal scenario, I would not want to live off my creations. Somehow, that would lessen their value to me, and would inevitably lessen their quality in the long run, as I would tailor my content to what the consumer “wants”, rather than what I feel the need to create and do with my life.
  • I have cemented my 4 am wake-up! I did not think I could do this one, but it has proven invaluable now that I leave for work at 6, and have a a solid hour to meditate every morning. Can’t relate how much this helps in words, but this habit alone compounds quality to my day at an immeasurable degree.
  • Further cleaning up my diet. I have eliminated saltine crackers (one of my last craving-inducing foods), and now only eat flour (homemade pizza, tortillas) a couple times a week. Next step is to find a healthier replacement for white flour. Thanks to a YouTube video, I have learned about pranic foods, and am currently in the process of eliminating onions, garlic, chili peppers, and eggplant from my diet. I also have cut my morning coffee intake in half (2+ cups down to 1), and cut out all post-morning coffee/tea. Eventually, I hope to drink coffee sparingly, 1-2 times a month, but this habit will take a while to accomplish. Why all this effort to clean up my diet? I get asked this more than anything. The answer is simple- peace of mind. First to go was tobacco 5 years ago, then came meat and dairy (cheese was hardest!), eggs, alcohol, coke (all sugary sodas), sugar, and now negative pranic foods/drinks. Eliminating all of these add a level of internal peace I have never felt. The simple lack of cravings that accompany these things makes up for all the temporary pleasure that they provided. If you have every smoked a cigarette, then you understand the concept.

Why processed sugar is harmful and unethical

I had an epiphany regarding why sugar instigates so much craving. There was a study which compared sugar soda vs. diet soda with people who were tying to lose weight. The subjects who consumed diet soda gained more weight than their sugary drink counterparts. Why? The answer is revealing- the sweetness in both drinks preps the body for some incoming energy, by way of stimulating the tongue’s sweetness receptors (aspartame). When the body receives 0 calories (in the case of diet soda) after all that foreplay, the body revs up its appetite to go after that promised punch of calories that it was robbed. That in turn causes the subject to overeat, to satisfy the diet soda’s unmet promise of a pay-off. The diet soda was stripped of its energy, causing the body to search for more. Now take a step back, and look at sugar’s effect in candy, crackers, drinks, cereal, chips, bread, sauces, etc. It is in everything. When food is processed, a lot of the nutrition gets stripped away (much like the calories in diet soda), and sugar is added as a preservative, but also for flavor, likely to make up for the immense flavor that natural, fresh foods contain. Those who consume sugar daily are immune from the subtleties of such flavor due to sugar’s potent overbearing sweetness- sugar overstimulates the taste buds, just like drugs, porn, violent movies, and cartoons overstimulate the pleasure center of the brain. The good news is the taste buds can recover in a matter of weeks. So when the body tastes something sweet that has been stripped of nutrition, (as calories are stripped from diet soda), the body revs up in a similar way to the soda, causing craving to commence. If the food producers are aware of this, and likely they are, then they are consciously causing personal misery and discomfort in the same way that tobacco companies did when they engineered the plants and added all kinds of chemicals to make cigarettes more addictive. This is unethical, and downright wrong. We should expect more. Until we can create more humane, and respectful products for our fellow humans, I urge any and all of you to cease consuming sugar for this reason alone- it is the source of immense personal suffering. Any steps you can make to free yourself and those around you (kids!) from the intoxicating and craving-inducing effects of sugar, the more quickly we can correct our course.

With that I leave you, hopefully in peace, happiness, and more inspired than you were before reading this update of my consistent mission of improving our collective situation.

A  group of paintings to consider: Thomas Cole’s The Consummation, part 4 of a 5-part series, The Course of Empire, of the  stages on civilization. Check it out here.