Simple Recipes for Joy book review by Joshua Greene


If you’re like me, you have always regretted not really learning how to cook. We know food is important (my teacher Prabhupada called Bhakti Yoga “kitchen religion—we are eating our way back to Godhead”). But the notion of finding time, buying ingredients, following a recipe, only to have the whole thing not work for some mysterious reason—a bit daunting. Especially for New Yorkers, the question becomes why bother, when there are so many vegan/vegetarian restaurants?

Then conscience steps in and reminds us, “You really should learn to cook. It’s healthier, cheaper, a great way to entertain friends, and you have control over what happens in the kitchen.” Think about what goes on in commercial kitchens. Even the best are sometimes guilty of uncleanliness, expired ingredients and cheap produce. Worst of all, few commercial chefs have their clients’ spiritual wellbeing in mind. The Sanskrit texts caution not to eat food prepared by “non-devotees,” since the consciousness of the chef pervades the food.

All excellent reasons for taking charge of your own cooking. But then you visit a bookstore, open a few cookbooks, get discouraged by the amount of work involved and head for the nearest organic grill. Well, chin up, campers. Help has arrived.

Sharon Gannon, a spiritual polymath who does everything with purity of purpose and impeccable intent, deserves our collective gratitude. She has created an instant classic in the category of vegan cookbooks: idiot-proof in its easy-to-follow instructions, practical in its choice of ingredients, beautifully illustrated (big thumbs up to the photographers and stylists), and comprehensive. This is the only cook book I’ve ever seen that has an appendix offering guidelines for fasting and cleansing. Not least among its many virtues, this is a cookbook that advocates cruelty-free cuisine. Among her many credits, Sharon is a leading voice for non-violent living.

Those cultivating devotion to Krishna will want to add a prayer before serving. Sharon’s thought of everything and has included appropriate mantras from the Bhagavad Gita. From every angle, this is a perfect cookbook—and the one that may at last succeed in driving us all out of restaurants and back into the kitchen. Highly recommended.

                            Joshua M. Greene

The New York Times describes Joshua M. Greene as “a storyteller…who traces journeys to enlightenment.” In 1982, after living thirteen years in ashrams of India and Europe, he returned to his native New York City and produced a series of Emmy award-nominated children’s films for The Disney Channel and PBS. In 1995 he became Director of Programming for Cablevision, the nation’s fifth largest cable provider. From 1999 to 2002 he served as Senior Vice President at Ruder Finn, New York’s largest public relations firm, where he advised faith communities on their role in peacekeeping initiatives.

In 2000 Mr. Greene was appointed Director of Strategic Planning for the United Nations Peace Summit of Religious and Spiritual Leaders. That year his book Witness: Voices from the Holocaust was produced as a feature film for PBS. His next book, Justice at Dachau, revealed the story of the largest yet least known series of war crimes trials in history. His editorials on tribunals in Iraq and Guantanamo Bay appeared in the Los Angeles Times and the International Herald Tribune.

Joshua Greene in Lotus positionIn 2005 he returned to his roots in India’s yoga culture and began teaching Bhakti-Yoga at Jivamukti Yoga School and the Integral Yoga Institute. His books on paths to enlightenment include Here Comes the Sun: The Spiritual and Musical Journey of George Harrison and Gita Wisdom: An Introduction to India’s Essential Yoga Text. Mr. Greene is a frequent lecturer and has spoken at the Pentagon, the World Economic Forum, the New York Public Library Distinguished Author series, and numerous universities.

He serves on the boards of several non-profits and provides volunteer family mediation services. He is the father of two and lives with his wife on Long Island.

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