The Creativity Doctor Spills The Beans

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - January 13, 2010
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Neil Tepper’s bean dip

Sometimes there isn’t much creativity in our everyday lives. We start out strong in life, with hours spent on arts and crafts in school. But somehow the creative side of things drops by the wayside for many of us, and we learn to focus on more practical things.

Enter Hawaii’s own Neil Tepper, aka “The Creativity Doctor.” Tepper, who lives in Hawaii Kai, has been a strong advocate for applying more creativity in everyday life for many years. His “prescriptions” are easy to follow. Tepper shares his wisdom in his new book, Prescriptions for Living a Creative Life: Simple Remedies for Common Maladies in Our 24/7 World, coming out at the end of this month. In the book, Tepper teaches how to use our right-brain creativity to improve our lives. If you’ve felt drained by the holidays, there are great tips and tools in there to help you let go of negative thinking that blocks free-flowing creativity.

Tepper gained his experience as a creative executive at Coca-Cola, the 1996 Olympic Games and Universal Television, as well as being a songwriter (Keali’i Reichel recorded one of Tepper’s songs on his E O Mai album) and an award-winning photographer.


You also might run into Tepper at one of his many speaking engagements around town and on the Neighbor Islands. He shares his time with nonprofit organizations and works with businesses, too.

It’s a pleasure to dedicate this week’s column to Tepper, who is dedicated to sharing his recipe for a more-fulfilling life with the world.

Here he shares one of his favorite recipes with MidWeek readers.

Beans have been cultivated throughout the world for thousands of years. There is evidence that the people of Mexico and Peru have been cultivating them as far back as 7,000 B.C.

Beans are amazingly versatile, as they can be dried for years and brought back to life by soaking them in water or liquid. Beans contain no cholesterol, and studies have shown that they help to lower cholesterol. When combined with a diet of nuts, seeds and grains, they form a complete high-fiber vegetable protein. They provide essential B vitamins and iron and are high in carbohydrates, which provide energy.


* 1 can vegetarian refried beans
* 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
* 1/2 cup canned crushed tomatoes
* 1/2 cup chopped celery
* 1/2 cup chopped onion
* 1/4 cup chopped red bell pepper
* 6 medium-size black olives, chopped
* 2 large garlic cloves, minced

Combine all ingredients in large bowl in order of list; be careful not to mash. Then add dash each of oregano, basil, paprika, chili powder, cumin and sea salt (olives provide some salt, so pour easy). For extra heat, add Tabasco or minced fresh chili peppers.

Chill in fridge for 1 hour. Spoon into serving bowl.

Garnish with fresh basil leaves and strips of red bell pepper. Serve with side of corn or rice chips.

As side dish for main meal, you can add panko bread crumbs, form into patties and lightly sauté.

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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