A Healthy Salad for a Labor Day Cookout

Late Summer Flowers

Late Summer Flowers

With Labor Day on the horizon the end of summer is near! For those of us in SW Florida the end of hot humid summer means it’s more likely that we will eat outside, go to the beach or have a cookout. Years ago I developed recipes that are at once heart healthy, tasty and outside friendly. The latter means no mayonnaise to go bad in the heat.

For those of us who either have had a stroke or heart attack, or don’t want them, this recipe works because it is low in fat and salt.

I’ll share this one which goes well with barbequed foods or as a standalone as a compliment with other salads.

Preparation time is 20 – 30 minutes maximum.



Bob’s Pasta Salad

2 lbs Barilla Rotelle – #75
½ good sized chopped red onion
½ each – good sized yellow and green pepper – chopped
12–14oz chopped sun dried tomatoes bottled in oil – get in Costco or most decent supermarkets
2 6 oz cans sliced black olives – drained
12 oz green olives with pimentos – chopped or whole as you like
1/3 cup juice from green olives jar


1 cup dark balsamic vinegar
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
6-8 tsp mild honey mustard
1-1½ tsp oregano
½ -1 tsp basil
¼ tsp celery seed
¼ tsp cayenne pepper – If you like spicy food then add more of this
2-3 tsp crushed bottled garlic
½ tsp garlic powder
Salt and pepper to taste – I use no salt. Fresh ground pepper is best.

Optional – Add some halved cherry tomatoes to recipe

Boil pasta to slightly al dente. Thoroughly drain and toss in large bowl with juice from olives to prevent pasta from sticking. Throw in all above solid ingredients.

For dressing, in glass mixing bowl, combine all dressing ingredients. Thoroughly wisk spices in juices and then let sit for a few minutes so that flavors combine. Re-wisk and then combine with pasta and vegetables. Mix and chill for a few hours.

Bring to room temperature and serve. Salad should be made at least 4-6 hours before serving, a day ahead is preferable. If you are hosting the party this cuts down your last minute panic.

If salad is made day or 2 ahead of time and it needs a bit more liquid before serving, use a bit of Wishbone Zesty Italian dressing, shaking vigorously before pouring.

Note: Spice amounts are approximations since I don’t measure. I may have used more oregano, basil etc. Also, you may like it more or less spicy. And remember, I add no salt although some of the ingredients do contain salt.

Leftovers will easily stay for several days in refrigerator.

If the group is smaller cut the ingredients in ½.


The Shoes on the Other Foot

scooter1Thinking back while writing my book, Stroke Victor I realized that Debbie was an excellent caregiver. That doesn’t mean that she did everything for me. Actually, in my view that is not a good caregiver. The survivor must strive for independence to be a Victor and that means that they must learn, or relearn to do things for themselves. This is true for stroke in men and stroke in woman. Find another way if the original approach is not doable after stroke. The caregiver can certainly give close support and perhaps finish a task if at a particular stage the survivor just can’t do the task. But only after a really good “college try”! And the survivor should understand that the next time they try that task they should try to extend their gains with the objective of ultimately finding a way. I can’t tell you how many times I did that while recovering from my stroke.

Last Friday Debbie had some fairly complicated foot surgery. In 1995 a surgeon in New York while removing a bunion had taken too much bone. Over the years and more recently her large toe had shifted significantly allowing the next two toes to likewise shift. She had gotten to the point that she could not wear any shoes without serious pain and had to rely on flip flops. To a large measure you can get away with flip flops in South Florida but that leaves everywhere else at risk and we do travel and also go out where flip flops would be inappropriate. So the surgery!

Coming home from the surgery she could not walk on the damaged foot. We had purchased a rolling scooter so she could get around. This type of equipment allows the injured party to place their injured leg on a seat taking the weight off of the foot. However our roles had suddenly changed with me providing many more services than at any time since the stroke. I am putting the scooter in the car boot and having to serve food etc. You know the drill.

I was making mistakes that I was saying were wrong for a successful caregiver. “Let me do it” has recently been the operative phrase. “I can do it faster” even in my disabled state. But Debbie is always trying to do things herself hopping around on one foot and actively using the scooter. Fortunately her superb fitness in this situation is a substantial advantage so; I am learning to let her do her thing as she let me in the past. Anyway, I have a whole new perspective

In the book, I said a “toast” to all the caregivers but now I see the role from a completely different perspective. I should have said, a double toast!

A Common Sense Approach – Functional Medicine

Practicing after stroke therapy

Practicing after stroke therapy

Functional Medicine (FM) – a new term to me and perhaps to you! It was highlighted in a recent article in Florida Weekly (July 8, 2015). It turns out that I, admittedly unwittingly, have been practicing the elements of FM for years. This approach seeks to combine the best of integrative medicine with the best of traditional approaches. In my book Stroke Victor, How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor I described my approach to “pushing the pencil” of my stroke recovery by utilizing integrative techniques as one thing to beat the many plateau’s I endured.

Additionally, I took several additional steps beyond as do many others. These steps include getting “real” about a healthful diet and physical fitness. Many adherents of this approach subscribe to the idea that diet and fitness are a natural extension of this approach. I got my weight down to what I had weighed when I graduated from Ft. Polk, LA basic training many moons ago. I have to say that when I tell people that fact they find it quite remarkable. To me, it was common sense – if you are disabled isn’t it easier to move around if you have less to move?

Similarly with lifestyle considerations, being more fit is better than less fit. Again to my way of thinking it makes you more mobile. I try to work out daily, even when traveling, but usually go to the gym five or six times a week as life sometimes gets in the way.

With all of this good old fashioned common sense, what prevents people from adapting this lifestyle? First money – most integrative medicine is done on a self-pay basis since most insurances including Medicare are quite stingy in their coverage’s of integrative techniques. While slowly changing as some well-known hospitals like Johns Hopkins and the Cleveland Clinic get behind the FM movement, change is slow. Dr. Mark Hyman, Director of the Cleveland Clinic Center for Functional Medicine, believes that FM will be “more mainstream in another ten years” according to the Florida Weekly article.

Then there is personal disciple – changing our eating and fitness habits do take some effort and sacrifice. Most of us enjoy rich food which is tasty but which put the pounds on and fast food which, likewise, tends to be highly caloric and full of fat. So there is sacrifice! And truthfully, how many people truly like to work out? Some like my wife, Debbie do, but not many!

Still doesn’t it make long term sense to treat our bodies with more respect and love? For those of us who are disabled after stroke, for example – we each know that we have taken a big hit –is it prudent to risk any more hits?

Going to Holiday Parties After Stroke

4th July 34th of July and the summer hold the prospect of an invitation to a sharing party. You typically will be asked to bring a food item, dessert, salad or appetizer depending on the menu and group. That’s always great fun! In Naples we have good friends who have their 4th of July party at their condo overlooking the Gulf where one can then see several firework displays after dark.

For those of us who have a disability, the invitation can present a special problem. Don’t let it! Of course you can go to your local supermarket and purchase something – a salad or a pie or cake, but that is not my style.

As I mentioned in my book, Stroke Victor, one of the reasons that my wife, Debbie answered my personal dating advertisement 22 years ago in the Greenwich Time was that I said I could cook. I have always specialized in quick cooking and generally have created my own recipes or modified others’ to make them easier to execute, more healthful or tasty.

If you are still doing stroke rehabilitation you might want to ask the occupational therapist to assist you in cooking skills, if they haven’t done so already. If you acquire these skills after stroke you are more independent, something very important to me and most likely to you.

After stroke I purchased a pair of titanium scissors which I find easily cut thru the plastic bags that contain the vegetable part of the recipe.

I have several recipes for 4th of July barbeques or parties which are handicap friendly, therefore super easy and have without exception proven very popular. I thought that I would share my coleslaw recipe – every holiday barbeque needs a slaw!

Stroke Victor Slaw – for 6-8 people

16 oz bag of bought coleslaw mix
5-7 oz stick cut or grated carrots which can be purchased in a bag in the produce aisle
½ cup of brown raisins
½ cup golden raisins
1/2 cup Marie’s Coleslaw Dressing

Mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and then transfer the salad to a clean serving bowl. Don’t forget to use a non-breakable bowl with a cover if it has to be transported. Rubbermaid brand bowls are sold in the supermarket.

Bingo – That’s it! (I have to admit that the salad dressing has a few more calories than I sometimes mention. It’s a holiday – Go For It! Want to make it extra fancy for the holiday – cover the mixed slaw with Craisins to get a festive red look. If you add the Craisins you can reduce the raisins in the recipe by a little but that’s to taste. If you like the slaw to be juicier, add a bit of the extra salad dressing.

I’m talking easy – enjoy! For more guests, just proportion the recipe up 50% or double it and then use the entire bottle of salad dressing. You can add a few spoons of water to keep the salad liquid, if desired.

This easy and delicious homemade recipe for a stroke survivor and their caregiver will make you a party hero! I will be posting other easy to make recipes in this blog in the future.

PROBLEM – With a disease where “time loss is brain loss” – do you have a Stroke Readiness Plan?


Develop a Stroke Readiness Plan which includes at a minimum understanding the signs of stroke – F.A.S.T. and if it appears that there are stroke symptoms, then know where to go, in detail. WHY? “All hospitals are not created the same”.

Mandell ExcersisewebYou, your spouse, partner or other community member has a Stroke. You want to go to a hospital with a certified Stroke Unit “with as many of the bells and whistles as possible”. But just what does that mean? And where are they in your geography?

It means the stroke team has neurosurgeons, neuro-interventional radiologists, board certified neurologists and emergency physicians, and stroke certified registered nurses as leaders in stroke diagnosis, management, treatment and rehabilitation. You have to know that. In Florida for example, this is a Comprehensive Stroke Center, or whatever they call it in your geography. And as a Plan “B” you want to know where the nearest Primary Stroke Center is located.

This can be quite complicated and you may not want to solely rely on EMS to make the location decision.

The difference between the two types of centers is the amount and type of interventions that the hospital can provide. The Comprehensive Center, of which there are only about thirty in Florida, can provide the fullest range of interventions. The Primary Center, of which there are more, can provide some, but not all interventions. At larger hospital systems one location may be certified as a Comprehensive Center, while other locations are certified as Primary Centers, and then other locations may have no certification at all. Beyond a shadow of doubt, some is very much better than none.

Then there are different certifications. There are State Certifications and there are Joint Commission (JCAHO) certifications. The JCAHO certifications are voluntary so many of the State Certified Stroke Centers have not chosen to participate. In Connecticut there were 22 Primary Stroke Centers certified by the Connecticut Health Department but only 9 of them were JCAHO certified. Their website states,

“The Joint Commission accredits and certifies more than 20,500 health care organizations and programs in the United States. Joint Commission accreditation and certification is recognized nationwide as a symbol of quality that reflects an organization’s commitment to meeting certain performance standards.”

As Part of the Plan you might want to consult your Family Physician or Internist knowing these designations. An informed patient is always appreciated and likely to be more successful!

For more details and other aspects of a Readiness Plan please consult my forthcoming book, Stroke Victor, How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor.

PROBLEM – Overwhelmed by a stroke to yourself or a loved one!

STROKE VICTOR SOLUTION –Coaching for Stroke Recovery. One to One personal, customized, sensitive and empathetic assistance from someone who has “walked the walk”!

Caryn McAllisterwebYou, your spouse or partner parent or family member has had a stroke! Now what? You are overwhelmed with things you no little or nothing about.

A place to turn

Enter the Stroke Victor Coach – a service to help in finding the path to recovery! Coaching the patient, coaching the caregiver!

We were in your shoes – “We walked the walk, learned some things, now we are talking the talk.”

Writing my book and interviewing many good folks I realized that so many are overwhelmed by the sudden new situation – a Stroke in their mist. Where to turn and what to do – suggests the need for an experienced, knowledgeable friend and coach to help guide you or your loved one through the process towards recovery.

We can talk about your situation and needs and then fashion a plan, understanding that flexibility is required and we are dealing with “a work in process”.

Please call 239-249-9575 or email me bob@strokevictor.com for a quick response.

PROBLEM – Lack of knowledge regarding what really can be achieved! – Embrace little understood innovative recovery options to supplement traditional approaches.

STROKE VICTOR SOLUTION – Forthcoming book, Stroke Victor, How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor explores innovative and holistic approaches to maximizing patient recovery. What are the opportunities? How to gain Victor status and how a survivor can be helped!

Caren Computer RehabwebThe ultimate “how to” book – How to Go from Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor. Learn practical game changing lessons, techniques and VITAL NEW INFORMATION – what really can be done!

Utilizing little known innovative therapies, strategies, and a mind/body mentality the “Stroke Victor” pushed his recovery well beyond what was expected. Learn the tricks, techniques, devices, mental games and philosophies that will help every stroke victim have a stronger recovery and ultimate healing.

Sex, travel and post-stroke fitness, just three of life’s simple pleasures, are some of the many “real-life” subjects and lifestyle issues treated in “Stroke Victor, How to Go From Stroke Victim to Stroke Victor “the dramatic, poignant, sometimes funny, and no-holds-barred new book that for the first time tells, in straight-forward language, what a stroke feels like and how to “beat it.”

Bob and his caregivers experienced frustration, “dead-end” paths, recovery plateaus and bad advice after his near-death stroke. Come to understand the one-at-a-time, day-at-a-time small, sometimes tiny victories a stroke victim needs to slay depression, and then move forward. Follow this fact filled, informative and realistically holistic approach to beating the odds after stroke!

Join The Stroke Victor from his days as a paralyzed, hiccupping, barely speaking massive stroke survivor living in a Connecticut nursing home to journeys to Australian and New Zealand vineyards where he and his caregiver wife enjoyed wine tastings and tours, jet boating in Tasmania, Americas Cup practice sailing and music at the Sydney Opera House. And what’s really important – you can make strides also! I’m not saying it’s easy, but you can do it!

“Look, I know all too well that having a Stroke is “no walk in the park” – far from it!


There can be a rich life after stroke. It may be different – Embrace the New Us!


Problem – Stroke is the number one long-term disabler disease

STROKE VICTOR SOLUTION – Create a foundation to support a significant increase in privately funded research to conquer the after-effects of stroke.

Canadian PartnershipwebThe Stroke Research Foundation is dedicated to raising money to support Stoke Research for the purpose of improving stroke recovery outcomes. Having been there, I am particularly focused on the quality of the Stroke recovery from the perspective of after stroke lifestyle and the speed of the recovery. Past efforts have only scratched the surface.

The Foundation’s work will profoundly help many people, not only the survivors but their caregivers and those in their extended communities. Take it from me, when stroke hits, there is considerable “people collateral damage”.

Here are some uncomfortable Stroke facts for background!

Currently there are nearly 800,000 strokes occurring annually in the US with millions more people, who, like me, are living with the after-effects of earlier strokes. That makes stroke the fourth most common serious diagnosis after the likes of cancer and heart disease, and unfortunately the number one long term disabler.

Looking forward, as the projected baby-boomer demographics become a reality, our nation will be populated with a larger number of individuals 65 and older. It is not unreasonable to expect those incident numbers to climb to over one million new diagnoses annually. Likewise, the survivor figures will grow to eight to ten million. And these numbers are only for the United States.

Stroke’s perception as an elder disease, while partly true, does not tell the entire story, nor incidentally, should it matter. More than one fourth of new diagnoses are in people under 65, as I was. And today, as many of us know, 65 is the new 50! Many survivors are in their forties and fifties or younger. Surprising to many, children can also have strokes. I recently met a lovely woman whose baby had a stroke and ultimately passed away. An article “Coming Home” about a young adult stroke survivor and her parent’s caregiver issues was recently a cover story in the fall 2014 issue of Stroke Connection, the American Stroke Association magazine. And these are just a few!

The disease is highly complex in that there are many types of strokes. Furthermore, no two

strokes are alike and no two outcomes are the same, all of which has serious implications for stroke rehabilitation and recovery. It is a “bespoke” disease—interesting in that something “bespoke,” is differentiated, unique or custom-made and is typically associated with excellence–a custom-built car, a custom-fitted English suit. With stroke, it’s quite the opposite—“custom” means it is difficult, time consuming and often expensive to treat.

While there are many cardiologists and neurologists, many of whom treat other significant diseases of the brain and heart of which stroke is just one, there’s no such thing as a “stokeologist.” Actually, that’s my word for a medical or research professional whose sole focus is stroke. Considering that Stroke is among the top four killers, one might think that there would be a greater emphasis placed on better understanding and treating the disease.

What is missing then is a substantial body of healthcare clinicians and researchers, appropriate to the size of the problem and the number of new diagnoses, who are unwavering in their commitment to understand and cure the disease called stroke. This will take time, serious advocacy and increased funding of research. And it will take a shift in perception—from stroke victim to stroke victor!

For anyone who addresses and beats stroke, and anyone involved in helping others to beat stroke truly is a “Stroke Victor.” Let’s join together and conquer stroke once and for all.

The Stroke Research Foundation will play a leading and critical role in addressing this gaping need. Stroke survivors, their caregivers and communities need your help.

The Foundation needs YOUR help to serve the broad Stroke Community!


To help, please contact me at 239-249-9575 or bob@strokevictor.com.