A Healthy State of Mind

How to maintain your mental health during a time of chaos


By Liz Gastiger and Kevin


There are stories that make you smile and some that make you sad. This is one that does both. The world is chaotic these days with protests and violence in the streets in the U.S. and around the world. I think a lot about the inner mental state of people. The larger struggle of the world is maintaining our mental health as we attempt to cope with what life and the world give us or is doing around us. You may want someone to save you. You may want someone to do something to make you happy. These are not foolish wishes, but usually help is not all that is needed. Remember, as the saying goes, one must always first help themselves before they can help others.

One of my closest friends, Lisa, whom I met while attending the California Culinary Academy (CCA), in San Francisco, CA, is a friend you can always call after a long stretch of life and it feels like no time has passed. A small, blonde surfer girl, she is always cheerful and outwardly wonderful. If you knew her as I do, you would wonder why she has had numerous bouts with cancer with likely more to come. As she charges forward through each medical session to get clear of cancer again, she keeps her life perspective intact and looks forward to many more sunny days in beautiful Venice Beach, CA, where she lives. She must be coping with serious inner thoughts, but keeps everyone smiling. As Lisa copes well with her inner mental health state and with what life has given her, she humbly jokes, “I guess I’m just a lemon.” 

Lisa has gone through many medical treatments, good and bad, while working as a private chef, as I do. During these medical bouts, she cooks and takes care of a famous film director with a reputation of being a ruthless, unsympathetic Hollywood mogul. While she deals well with what life has handed her, her tough, single-minded, so-called callous boss has taken great care of every single one of her health needs with great sensitivity.  He is much kinder and more aware than many know. The two of them both deal very well with their rough inner and outer worlds with a healthy mental state. This relationship between a private chef and a prominent boss can be a special one, as I can tell you. It was Lisa who talked me into working as a private chef, for which I am thankful for every day.

I think healthy people need the freedom and ability to take pride in creating something and helping themselves and others obtain what we all really need, both in our inner and outer world. I think the Rolling Stones may have had it wrong, saying, “You can’t always get what you want, but you get what you need.”  In America and most wealthy countries, you can usually, at some cost, get what you want. However, in some cases, it’s not what you need; like kindness, values, morals and honesty to name a few. In the end, most of us will deal with only our final thoughts and inner mental health state. It may be important to start thinking of this now, to avoid regrets, if you’re experiencing or creating an unhealthy mental state during these challenging times.

Here is a recipe that can help fight cancer, is rich in nutrients and aids in maintaining a healthy mental state.

Miso Glazed Salmon


¼ cup sake

¼ cup mirin

3 tablespoons raw sugar

4 tablespoons miso

4-6 oz salmon filets

Combine the first four ingredients and mix until a smooth paste forms. Place salmon in a container that fits the filets in a single layer and pour the marinade over completely on both sides. Leave in marinade for a couple of hours.

Remove filets from the marinade and place on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper or non-stick foil.

Heat oven to 425 degrees and cook for 6-10 minutes depending on how well done you prefer the salmon cooked.

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