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Garcinia Cambogia, The New Super food Wave Hitting Singapore?

Green Garcinia cambogia

This new found fruit has seen a rise in consumption in Singapore. It is mostly ingested in a pill form and is said to have many different benefits, including weight loss.

What is it?

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical fruit native to South and South-east Asia that is very commonly used in Asian recipes. It is green, rather small (the size of an apple), and is pumpkin shaped. It is well known for its sour taste. In the late 1960s, an acid (hydroxycitric acid) has been discovered in the fruit’s rind, which has been found to provide many benefits, such as appetite reduction, improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increased weight loss, and mood enhancement.

How does hydroxycitric acid work?

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) was discovered over four decades ago, and since then studies have shown that it provides many benefits for humans. HCA seems to inhibit citrate lyase, an enzyme that is used by the body to produce fat out of carbohydrates. HCA blocks a portion of this enzyme, making it more difficult for the body to turn starches and sugars into fat. This means that rather than be accumulated as fat, carbohydrates are diverted into energy production.

What are the benefits of garcinia cambogia?

As discussed above, one of the benefits of garcinia cambogia is less energy being stored as fat, which means that it should (and does) aid weight loss. One recent study by Dr. Harry Preuss of Georgetown University Medical Center showed that participants HCAHCA lost significantly more weight than those using placebo. In another study, also by Dr. Preuss, those not supplementing HCA lost an average of 3.5 pounds, whereas those that did supplement HCA, lost an average of 10.5 pounds.

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

First, a sincere thank you for your responses to Tuesday’s post. Some follow up thoughts after today’s recipe.

At this time of year my counters are usually teeming with tomatoes. Plum tomatoes, heirloom tomatoes, beefsteak tomatoes, cherry tomatoes—I eat them all by the pound. It’s typically impossible for there to be such a thing as too many tomatoes in my home, but this week, upon bringing home three pints of cherry tomatoes (in addition to some heirlooms) and being reminded of the fact that Steven doesn’t care for fresh tomatoes, the thought did cross my mind that I might need to come up with a more clever use for them than salads or bowls.

I was reminded of a few things: first, a recent Food52 post featuring bell pepper jam, which got me thinking about savory jam and what all I might make it with (see also: this article). Second, the bright and beautiful cherry tomato jam from Ali’s new cookbook (which I reviewed last week); last, the fact that O Cafe (one of my favorite work-away-from-home spots) is now serving a tomato jam toast, and the veganized version I’ve been getting is absolutely delicious. Taken together, these signs seemed to suggest that it was time for my to experiment with my own homemade cherry tomato jam.

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

Honestly, I can’t believe I didn’t make this stuff sooner. It is a dream food for the sweet and savory lovers among us. It is delightfully tangy, just a little sticky, and it smells absolutely incredible as it simmers up on the stove. It’s also versatile in the same way that chutney is versatile, which is to say that you can serve it with grain pilafs, bowls, roasted tofu, or what have you. It will be very hard to find something for which this jam is not a really good accompaniment.

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

I started my tomato jam adventures, as you’ll see, with a simple recipe. What you’ll taste most is sweetness and acidity, followed by some garlic and a touch of thyme (which can be easily swapped for rosemary) and the slightest hint of heat from red pepper flakes. But I love the recipe enough that I’m already planning to make it again over the weekend, and I’m scheming up the different flavor profiles I want to try, starting with Indian spices (garam masala, cumin) and ending with Thai flavors (red curry paste, lime zest). I’ve listed the options I’m excited about with the recipe, and if you try some ideas yourself, I’d love to hear what you make.

Every recipe I’ve read for red pepper jam makes note of the fact that, after becoming very liquidy very quickly, tomato jam will reduce considerably as it cooks, and it scorches easily. Frequent stirring is a must. This was true when I made my batch, but I think that burning would have been more of a risk had I not been using cookware from the GreenLife brand.

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

A couple weeks ago, I mentioned that the folks at GreenLife—makers of safe, environmentally friendly ceramic non-stick cookware—have given me a chance to experience some of their products and team up with them to create vegan recipes. I’m loving these cookware pieces; they make it so easy to avoid sticking, scorching, and other kitchen mishaps. Meanwhile, they make it easy to cook nearly anything without having to rely on extra fat, and the products are priced reasonably, so that top of the line ceramic cookware can be accessible to any home cook.

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping
Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

Tomato jam was a perfect recipe for the cookware! Sure, I had to keep my eye on the pot and stir regularly, but there wasn’t any scorching, and cleanup—even considering how delightfully reduced and sticky the jam became—couldn’t have been easier. The 2 quart saucepan is definitely my new go to for thick sauces, chutneys and the like!

There are plenty of ways I’ll be serving this jam until tomato season is over, but I’m starting with the simplest: toast. Toast that’s also layered with my favorite, go-to cashew cheese. The jam is so flavorful that it would brighten up toast all on its own, but if cashew cheese isn’t your jam, you can try vegan cream cheese, smashed avocado, or hummus as a base instead.

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: side dish, sauce, spread
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free, no oil
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  45 mins
Total time:  55 mins

Serves: 1¼ cups

  • 1 ½ pounds (about 2 pints worth) cherry tomatoes, quartered
  • ¼ cup sugar (coconut, cane sugar, and demerara will all work)
  • ⅓ cup champagne vinegar (substitute 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar)
  • ¼ cup water
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 cloves garlic, peeled and left whole
  • Black pepper
  • 1-2 teaspoons dried thyme or crushed rosemary (to taste)
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • For serving: toast slices, cashew cheese or smashed avocado

  1. Place all ingredients except for the thyme and red pepper into a 2 or 2.5 quart saucepan. Bring them to a simmer. Cover and reduce heat to low. The mixture will be very liquidy for about 10-15 minutes, but stir it every now and then anyway.
  2. Continue simmering the jam, stirring every few minutes, for another 25-40 minutes, or until it has reduced down to a thick, slightly sticky, and sweet consistency (it should resemble jam, but be a bit looser and easier to stir). Remove the garlic and stir in the thyme and crushed red pepper. Allow the jam to cool a bit before storing it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.
  3. If desired, toast your favorite bread and top it with a few tablespoons each of cashew cheese (or smashed avocado) and a dollop of cherry tomato jam. Sprinkle with extra thyme and serve.

Feel free to vary the herbs and spices in this recipe! Some suggestions:

Indian Spiced Cherry Tomato Jam

Use apple cider vinegar and swap the thyme or rosemary for 1 teaspoon garam masala and 1 teaspoon curry powder.

Thai Spiced Cherry Tomato Jam

Use apple unseasoned rice vinegar in place of champagne. Swap the thyme or rosemary for 1 ½ tablespoons red curry paste, 2 teaspoons finely minced or grated ginger, and 2 finely minced Thai chilis. Add these ingredients at the start of preparing the jam (step 1).

Lemon Scented Cherry Tomato Jam

Use 2 tablespoons of champagne vinegar and 3 tablespoons lemon juice for acid. Stir in 2 teaspoons of lemon zest at the end of preparing the recipe. (You can also try adding chopped, preserved lemon!)

Sweet Ginger Cinnamon Cherry Tomato Jam

Use apple cider vinegar and omit the garlic. Swap the thyme or rosemary for 1 teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon ground ginger (or 2 teaspoons minced or grated fresh ginger) and ¼ teaspoon ground cloves.


Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam | The Full Helping

I’ll be happy to let this recipe carry me through the end of tomato season, though I’m hoping that time will be well into October this year (saying goodbye to fresh tomatoes for the year is always a sad culinary occasion for me). Perhaps you’ll rely on this recipe in the same way—and if you have a knack for homemade preserving and canning, I’m sure that you can stretch the jam even longer (though it’s hard to resist eating it all at once).

Before I go, again, I want to thank you for sharing your thoughts about recovery (and healing) as practices. The comments were so insightful, and nearly all of them found a way to capture the idea of surrender and acceptance. In processing my own thoughts, I feel compelled to share this quote, from Dani Shapiro:

Sometimes we may think that we’re in charge, or that we have things figured out. Life is usually right there, though, ready to knock us over when we get too sure of ourselves. Fortunately, if we have learned the lessons that years of practice have taught us, when this happens, we endure.

Have a wonderful end of the week.


This post is sponsored by the GreenLife brand. All opinions are my own, and I love this nonstick cookware. You can learn more about GreenLife products, purchase online, or find GreenLife near you here. Thanks for your support!

The post Super Versatile, Homemade Cherry Tomato Jam appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Recovery as a Practice

Recovery as a Practice | The Full Helping

A few weeks ago, I said something in a weekend reading post that seemed to resonate. I mentioned that recovery “may not take the form of an earth-shattering solution or insight. Instead, it may take the form of small actions that we repeat consciously over time.”

I’ve spent some time thinking about this statement in the weeks since. Much of the work that I’m doing in therapy now brings to mind the work I did in therapy in my twenties, as I gradually found my way back from what may have been my worst anorexia relapse. This isn’t to say that the behaviors I’m working on now are the same as they were then, because they’re not: food is no longer the outlet. But the underlying causes are similar, if not the same. In fact, one of the things I’ve learned in returning to therapy is that, long after you’ve put the ED struggle behind you, it’s possible to discover that whatever wound gave birth to the disorder in the first place hasn’t entirely healed.

I’m a different person today than I was back then, and “the work” is different, too. But there are similarities between the healing journey I’m on now and the one I undertook a decade ago. In both instances it has been necessary for me to put aside my vision of what I want healing to look like, and to accept instead what it is. Both then and now, I’ve had to surrender my controlling grip and focus my attention not on orchestrating the experience in its entirety, but rather on cultivating small, daily practices that might ultimately give way to change.

When I was in ED recovery, I wanted nothing more than a grand realization that would suddenly put the whole process into perspective. I wanted an epiphany, an awakening, a come-to-God moment. I sat around waiting for this epiphany, and when it didn’t show up, I went hunting for it in books and memoirs and poems and songs. Surely someone had the answer, the motivation I needed. Surely someone would be wise enough to explain things to me in a way that would make me listen.

At the time, I didn’t want to be sick. But as anyone who has been through recovery can tell you, not wanting to be sick is not exactly the same thing as wanting to be well. I was over being fatigued and cold and anxious all the time, but I didn’t really want to do the things I needed to do in order to be healthy, and I didn’t want to give up my sick body, because it was a body I had become desperately attached to.

It was all a big mess, a set of conflicting impulses that I couldn’t make sense of. I was starting to suspect that the thing I wanted most was to be healthy. And I was also starting to realize that, in order to do that, I’d probably have to give up everything else: the restriction, the sense of control, the physical shape I clung to.

I hated this fact. That health and wholeness were incompatible with restriction and starvation was a reality that I resented enormously. It made me furious, and indeed, I’d spent years fighting it, convincing myself that it was somehow possible to starve myself and be healthy at the same time. In the end, I failed, and now I was faced with two options: become healthier, or stay ill. The choice was that simple after all.

No wonder I wanted an epiphany. No wonder I wanted a realization to sweep me off my feet and magically carry me over the messy terrain of ED recovery. Wouldn’t it be nice to be told something so paradigm-shifting that I wouldn’t mind giving up my habits and rituals? Wouldn’t it be great to be so moved or so inspired by something or someone that I’d effortlessly detach from the way of life that I’d spent nearly thirteen years within?

In the end, of course, there was no such realization to be had. True recovery meant letting go of the fantasy of finding a shortcut and of being saved. It meant coming to terms with the fact that, unfortunately, I had to save myself, and that process was going to be much less glamorous than I’d hoped.

For me, the process meant waking up every day and eating. Then eating again and again and again—meals, snacks, all of it. It meant feeling full—uncomfortably so, sometimes—and eating a little bit more, because I knew at that moment that my idea of fullness was faulty and not to be trusted. It meant feeling my digestive system wince and trusting that if I could only tolerate it for a little while, my body would grow strong again. It meant watching my clothes grow tighter and not taking desperate measures to stop it.

It meant, in other words, a whole lot of unpleasant and trying sensations. It meant allowing myself to feel uncomfortable and painful things every single day without taking one of my customary escape routes. It meant allowing myself to experience the very things that scared me most: fullness, heaviness, the sensation of taking up space in the world, of being seen and heard and noticed. And it meant pushing through every single one of those seemingly unbearable feelings, because there was buried somewhere a timid conviction that if I could just survive the discomfort, a better, fuller life waited for me on the other side.

I say “timid” because for a while my desire to get better was neither confident nor loud—a problem, because the voice of my ED was both bossy and assertive. To make matters even harder, there was no evidence at first that the whole business of recovery would be worth it. Indeed, one of the cruelest parts of ED recovery is that you feel growing pains and discomfort long before you feel any better. This seems counterintuitive: if EDs are so unhealthy and so bad, shouldn’t recovery, by extension, feel good? Shouldn’t being healthy be easier and more straightforward than being sick?

You’d think so, but for me, anyway, this wasn’t the case. I felt like crap, for a long, long time, in spite of how hard I tried to pretend that I was feeling better. I didn’t confide in friends back then, but when someone found a way to gently intimate that I “seemed better”—which of course made my stomach turn, because all I heard was “I’m relieved to see that you’ve gained weight”—I’d put on a placid smile and nod my head.

What I really wanted to tell people was that I felt downright dreadful, that I hated my body so much that I sometimes found it difficult simply to wake up and get out of bed and dress myself in the morning. I wanted to say that I missed my ED habits and routines more than I could bear, that I felt broken apart by heartache and homesickness. I wanted to scream out loud that I was scared and furious and above all very lonely, because it’s not a stretch to say that my ED had been my best friend on earth, and suddenly she was gone.

But somehow I did manage to survive each meal, each hour, each day. I went to sleep each night entirely unsure of whether or not I’d make it through the following day without reverting back to my old tricks, but I told myself it didn’t matter; I had gotten through this day, and I’d deal with the next one when I woke up.

And somehow, over time, simply through the act of my forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other, things actually did shift. First there came the day when I woke up and ate a meal without questioning the very act of doing so. Then there came the day when I simply got dressed—no mirror checks, no heavy thoughts of self-loathing, no mental chatter. Little by little, there came days when I’d eat out with friends, and the ambiance or conversation or sunny weather outside would be so nice that I actually didn’t pay too much attention to what I ordered and whether or not it was “correct.”

There even came the day–and then many days after–when I filled up on food, and for the first time in a long time it didn’t feel bad or shameful or triggering to have given myself what I wanted and needed. It felt, actually, very good. And it began to dawn on me that in spite of all the mess it had taken to get there, I was getting better.

Growth can be like this. I’m starting to wonder if maybe growth is always like this: not neat and linear, as we’d like it to be, and not circumscribed by deep insights or obvious wisdom, as we think it should be. Rather, it’s a cluttered and confusing process that we survive only by mustering up a mixture of faith and determination. Braced with the hope that function might follow form (a fancier iteration of “fake it till you make it”), we put our heads down and venture out into the fray, one step at a time. Oftentimes we master the steps long before we feel any different.

Don’t get me wrong: I learned many deep and important lessons along my path to recovery, and over time I did gain certain insights that put the process into perspective. But the insights aren’t what happened first, and I don’t think they’d have been possible without a certain amount of dogged persistence in the face of tedium and difficulty. There are always lessons to be learned from a major life experience, but it’s naïve to hope that we’ll learn these lessons before we pass through the fire of the experience itself. Wisdom finds us, but only after we spend some time dwelling in the messiness of being human.

I guess this is what I mean by calling ED recovery a “practice.” What I’m trying to say is that recovery is often something we show up and do every day before it becomes a part of who we are or how we feel. We sit down with food and we face our stuff—whatever stuff it is we need to face—long before we can call ourselves transformed.

At one time in my life, this realization struck me as disappointing. I’d wanted a grand recovery narrative, a story of courage and daring, a tale in which I suited up in armor and sallied forth to slay my personal ED dragon. It was hard to detect such grandeur in the day-to-day, humdrum realities of recovery: planning my meals, prepping my food, expanding my portions, trying new things. Carting clothes that I’d never had any business wearing to the consignment store.

Over time, though, I’ve come to understand that these small actions were amazingly courageous. That I woke up and attended to them every day is probably the bravest thing I’ve ever done, whether it meets the conventional definition of courage or not. In fact, the little, everyday practices were all the more courageous because they weren’t something that I could easily hitch my pride to or point to as an achievement (positive feedback and approval were my drugs, just as food control had been).

And now, years later, I’m creating a different sort of practice, one that allows me to work through a different set of challenges. This time, the struggle is not with my ED, but with the depression and sadness that crept into my life last year and which I could not bear to name until I’d become practically unrecognizable to myself. Fortunately, ED recovery gives me a roadmap of sorts, a hard-won understanding of what it means to show up for a personal struggle with faith, patience, and a willingness to let the process unfold as it must.

This time, I’m not looking for big epiphanies or bursts of insight. Instead, I’m looking to create more space in my life, so that I can sit quietly with my feelings. Creating such space is my practice. It’s a process of moving more slowly (even when it doesn’t come naturally to me) and freeing up my days (when I’d rather be filling them up instead).

Once again, habit precedes growth: I don’t quite feel like myself—or even a transformed self—again, not yet. But I feel more human and more at peace than I did three months ago. And I’m sure I wouldn’t feel this way had I not stuck with the practice, which includes therapy, mindfulness, long pauses, and remaining open to human connection.

In some ways, it comforts me greatly that growth and change don’t have to reach us by way of epiphany or flashes of insight, because it means that there’s not really anything we have to do in order to access them. We are always changing and always growing, so transformation is inevitable. The trick is how we rise up to greet it: we can face the process with openness and a willingness to learn, or we can dig in, resist, and turn away from the pain that is an inevitable part of change.

We like to believe that growth and healing are experiences that we can consciously control, but our efforts to oversee them only slow them down. The best we can do is to identify everyday habits and observances that will make us more receptive to the process as it unfolds. And it’s the only thing we have to do.

If you’re on a healing journey that feels impossible to you right now—whatever that may be—understand that you do not have to muster up clarity and enlightenment before you’re ready. You do not have to feel reconciled with the process in order for it to happen, and you do not have to like it or pretend that you do. You simply have to respect and listen to that part of you that wants to be whole. That part has the strength, I promise, to carry you through.

In the meantime, try to identify a set of small actions and undertakings that you know in your heart will allow you to stay truer to yourself and to your healing. Carve out whatever space you can for these practices, and then show up for them every day. It might not feel like much at first, but one day will become two, then three, then many. Have faith that, one day, the growth that was inevitable from the very start will have found you.

It’ll happen. And until it does, I hope this post reminds you that you’re not stumbling through this alone.


Top image source.

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Weekend Reading, 8.21.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday! I’m keeping this weekend reading post short and sweet, so that I can spend some time with a dear college friend who’s visiting from the west coast today. Here’s what I’ve been reading and gazing at this week.


I love pretty much everything about Emily’s cocoa hazelnut overnight oats with sweet cherries, but I’m particularly intrigued by the homemade cocoa hazelnut milk itself. I’ve made hazelnut milk in the past and really enjoyed the results, and I feel sure I’d love it with chocolate!


I can always count on Heidi for the most nourishing, hearty, and healing soup/stew recipes. Her latest creation is this beautiful, golden bowl of coconut yellow split pea soup. I sort of fell in love with yellow split peas this past year–they’re so versatile, not to mention cheap and nutritious–and this may have to be the next recipe that I try them in.


Do you have a garden or a local farmer’s market that’s teeming with zucchini? Then I suggest trying Aysegul’s delicious vegan zucchini and walnut bread. Can’t wait to bake a loaf (and then enjoy it, slice by slice, with coffee.)


I love cooking with buckwheat, but I don’t tend to get very creative with it (usually, it ends up in granola or in a parfait).

So, I love the idea of Amanda’s savory green pea and buckwheat risotto. It’s a simple recipe, which I imagine allows the sweetness and verdant flavor of the peas to shine through.


For dessert, I’m totally smitten with Lindsay’s no bake salted caramel cups. I can’t resist the chocolate + sea salt combination, and I’m totally going to try them with a thicker version of my date caramel sauce.



First up, I found this profile of Merlin Sheldrake, a researcher in England who specializes in the relationship between trees and fungi, to be fascinating. Historically it has been thought that fungi pose a risk to trees, but Sheldrake is actually elucidating complex, symbiotic relationships in which fungi and trees aid each other. Taken together, networks of trees, plants, and the fungi that support their survival are being called the “Wood Wide Web.”

As I was reading the article, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the human microbiome! We often study biological organisms in isolation, but in so doing we fail to grasp the extent to which nature always creates, and resides in, webs of relationships.


Bon Appetit magazine recently dipped its toes into the world of vegan ice cream making, and it reported on its findings. Much of what’s said won’t come as a surprise to seasoned vegan ice cream makers, but it’s always cool to see coverage of a vegan cooking technique in mainstream culinary press!


An interesting profile of Daniel Kish, a blind man who uses echolocation (also employed by marine mammals) to see. Kish is advocating for wider use of the technique in the blind community, in spite of the fact that his methods are being greeted with ambivalence and controversy.


A physicist gives a raw, moving account of the challenges she’s faced not only as a woman in the sciences, but also as a Chinese immigrant who has pursued higher education in the US. Her brushes with sexism enraged me, and they may enrage you too, but her narrative is courageous and inspiring.

Woman looking through window in a train

A friend of mine sent me Jamie Varon’s smart, sensitive, and deeply wise meditation on the feeling of “falling behind,” and it resonated immediately.

Yes, the essay is about fear of falling behind, that insidious and nagging sensation that tells us to do more, produce more, move up, move faster. But it’s a deceptively complex piece of writing, I think, and there’s more here than the title suggests. What Varon is really getting at is the suggestion that life can only be lived in the present:

We act as if we can read enough articles and enough little Pinterest quotes and suddenly the little switch in our brain will put us into action. But, honestly, here’s the thing that nobody really talks about when it comes to success and motivation and willpower and goals and productivity and all those little buzzwords that have come into popularity: you are as you are until you’re not. You change when you want to change. You put your ideas into action in the timing that is best. That’s just how it happens…
You don’t get to game the system of your life. You just don’t. You don’t get to control every outcome and aspect as a way to never give in to the uncertainty and unpredictability of something that’s beyond what you understand. It’s the basis of presence: to show up as you are in this moment and let that be enough.

You are as you are until you’re not.

It is the truest of statements, and it’s one that I wrestle with every single day. I’ve hardly been liberated from my tendencies toward grasping and control, but in the past few months I’ve taken tiny, gradual steps toward what my friend called “giving myself permission to just be.” It has been a fascinating and difficult process, and there’s so much more to say about it, but I don’t have anything to say this evening that Varon’s article doesn’t say perfectly already.

On that note, friends, I wish you a great evening.


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Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything

Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything | The Full Helping

Happy Thursday, everyone! I’m back in town after a short, yet meaningful getaway with Steven. We’ve stayed close to home for various reasons this summer, but we’ve also been trying to break our routines when we can and find more time to connect. The past few days helped us to do that, and I’m feeling grateful for them today, as we settle back into the swing of things.

It can be tough to re-adjust after travel, no matter how brief, and I’ve always found that having some food in the freezer helps to make the return home easier. I love knowing that there’s something nourishing waiting for me, and it’s a relief not to have to fret about restocking groceries right away. At the moment, I’m savoring defrosted leftovers of these flavorful, slow-cooker spiced lentils and cauliflower, a recipe from Ali Mafucci‘s fun new book, Inspiralize Everything.

Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything | The Full Helping

I love spiralized vegetables, but I don’t always connect with the way they’re presented, often as a means of slashing calories or avoiding carbs. Since I’m not focused on either, I embrace zucchini and carrot pastas–along with the other spiralized veggies I’ve tried, like jicama or sweet potato–simply as a means of creating something fresh and playful with vegetables. Spiralizers can help to make vegetable-centric meals more appealing for folks who might not naturally be inclined toward eating a lot of produce, and it’s always delightful to discover how many veggies lend themselves easily to “noodles” or “rice”!

Inspiralize Everything copy

Ali’s new cookbook (a follow up to Inspiralized, which I reviewed last year) is all about finding new and exciting uses for the humble spiralizer. The book is a collection of over 100 recipes, each wrapped around a spiralized fruit or vegetable. Ali uses 20 different types of produce, organized alphabetically, and her culinary creativity is on full display. Some of my favorite recipes include zucchini noodle minestrone, cauliflower steaks over roasted garlic tomato turnip noodles, creamy spinach and artichoke sweet potato pasta, and rutabaga gratin. She even has an easy, quick-cooking spiralizer ratatouille.


As always, Ali is an upbeat ambassador of spiralizing for everyone. And in this book, I think even more of her personality shines through, including a love of global cuisine, small glimpses into her everyday life at home with her husband (and recipe tester), Lu, and her personal passion for cooking with farm fresh ingredients.


If you’ve visited her site in the past, then you know that Ali features recipes that are appropriate for a huge variety of different dietary styles, including vegan, raw, paleo, and omnivore. Both of her books are totally vegan-friendly: this one features 22 dedicated vegan recipes, and I’d say that most of the vegetarian recipes and even some of the omni recipes can easily be veganized with the addition of vegan cheese or tofu/tempeh/legumes as an alternative protein option. The book even includes a handy chart in the back that will help you to find options for special diets, food allergies, etc. It’s a great collection to keep around if you share your kitchen or home with a group of mixed eaters; anyone who loves veggies will find plenty of options to appreciate!

I always appreciate a new slow cooker recipe, so I was thrilled to see this recipe for slow cooker spiced lentils and cauliflower, served over carrot rice, in the book. Inspired by a dish at one of Ali’s favorite Indian restaurants, it’s a thick, fragrant, and nutritious stew. I love how the rice is folded into the curry toward the end of cooking, so that it has a little time to soften and meld with the other ingredients without losing its texture.

I add whole grains to most of my meals, so in spite of the fact that actual rice isn’t called for in the recipe, I served my curry with a scoop of short-grain brown rice, anyway. Since she’s all about customizing, I know Ali would approve 😉 I also adjusted the tomato paste and broth, and while Ali’s recipe also calls for coconut cream, I used my cashew raita instead. It was a perfect compliment!

Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything | The Full Helping

Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree slow cooker
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free, no oil
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  4 hours
Total time:  4 hours 15 mins

Serves: 8-10 servings

  • 2 cups brown lentils
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1½ teaspoons minced fresh ginger
  • 2½-3 tablespoons red curry paste (to taste)
  • 1½ teaspoons garam masala
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon salt (plus more as needed; I used ¾ teaspoon)
  • ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (more to taste)
  • 1 14.5-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups chopped cauliflower florets
  • 8 large carrots, peeled, spiralized, and then roughly chopped or processed in a food processor to create “rice”
  • 1 batch creamy cashew raita
  • Cooked brown rice (optional, for serving)
  • Large handful fresh cilantro (optional, for garnish)

  1. Rinse lentils and place them in a 6-quart slow cooker. Add the onion, garlic, ginger, curry paste, garam masala, bay leaves, turmeric, cumin, salt, and cayenne. Stir to combine thoroughly.
  2. Add the canned tomatoes, tomato paste, broth, and cauliflower. Stir well to combine, making sure the lentils are mostly submerged. Cover and cook on high for 3½ hours.
  3. Stir in the carrot rice and cook together until the lentils and rice are soft but not mushy, about 30 minutes more.
  4. Remove the bay leaves. Serve the mixture over rice, if desired, and top with cashew raita and cilantro sprigs.

Leftover curry will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days and can be frozen for up to 4 weeks.


Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything | The Full Helping

As with many slow cooker recipes, this one yields quite a bit! Feel free to cut the recipe in half if you’re using a 4-quart slow cooker. I’m guessing that the recipe would also be great with different types of vegetables, including sweet potato, butternut squash or eggplant, in place of the cauliflower.

To create my noodles, I used Ali’s Inspiralizer, which is my spiralizer of choice–definitely the most versatile, sturdy, and easy-to-use that I’ve found. You can find the Inspiralizer on Ali’s website (currently 20% off) or on Amazon, among other sites. If you don’t have a spiralizer, you can use a food processor to create the rice for this recipe, and if you’d like to make rice noodles, you can always play around with a julienne peeler, too.

And if you’d like to explore Inspiralize Everything for yourself, you can enter today’s giveaway to win a copy of your own! I’ll announce the winner in two weeks (US and Canadian residents only, please).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

My days are about to get a little fuller soon, and so I’m delighted to have another slow cooker recipe that I can rely on for easy, hassle free batch cooking. Enjoy, and I look forward to checking in for weekend reading.


The post Slow Cooker Spiced Lentils and Cauliflower from Inspiralize Everything appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n’ Cheese

Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n' Cheese | The Full Helping

I don’t tend to equate comfort food with convenience or ease. A lot of my own favorite comfort foods–baked casseroles, enchiladas, lasagna, lentil loaf, veggie pot pie–involve a lot of prep work, and then usually some assembly and some baking. I don’t mind this. In some ways, part of the joy of a comfort food meal is knowing that love and care were poured into its preparation.

Still, it’s always a joy when something that’s quintessential comfort food–a dish that takes us right back to childhood, and to feeling cared for–also happens to be extremely easy. And that’s the deal with this quick and easy vegan roasted red pepper mac n’ cheese. In spite of being creamy and comforting, it’s also really fast–especially if you prepare your roasted peppers in advance or use the store-bought kind. From that point forward, the dish is as simple as blending a sauce, boiling some pasta, and mixing them up.

Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n' Cheese | The Full Helping

It’s so easy, actually, that I was recently able to whip it up at lunchtime on a workday. It’s not my usual instinct to make pasta midday–I sort of see it as being a dish for sharing, and for dinnertime–but this summer my easy lemon pepper tempeh vegetable bowls have been changing my mind, and now this vegan mac is, too.

My choice to add roasted peppers to this dish was driven by the fact that I tend to have them around a lot during the summer. I make big batches–6 or so roasted peppers at a time–and store them in the fridge for quick and easy use. I love their flavor (much more than I love the taste or texture of raw peppers), and I love how easily they can be blended into dressings, hummus, or my favorite homemade sunflower seed romesco. They also add a ton of concentrated pepper flavor to salads, grain dishes, and all sorts of pasta–this one included. Don’t have roasted peppers at home? Don’t worry. The store-bought variety will work perfectly here, too–and whatever you don’t use can stay in the jar and be used for other recipes throughout the week.

As you can see, I served my bowl with some hemp seeds for a touch of extra protein and texture, along with fresh thyme sprigs and some extra roasted bell pepper strips. You could also pile the pasta high with my hempesan, fold in some extra roasted veggies or chickpeas, or top the mac with some of your favorite vegan meaty crumbles, soy curls, or my lemon pepper tempeh cubes. There’s plenty of room to get creative here!

Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n' Cheese | The Full Helping

Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n’ Cheese
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  25 mins

Serves: 3-4 servings

  • ½ cup raw cashews, soaked for 2 hours in water and then drained
  • ¾ cup red, orange, or yellow roasted bell peppers (homemade or store-bought; about 2 large or 3 smaller roasted peppers)
  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 tablespoons white miso (substitute 1½ tablespoons brown or red miso)
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
  • ⅓ cup water
  • 8 ounces macaroni or shell pasta of choice (regular, whole grain, gluten-free, etc.)
  • Optional toppings: fresh thyme sprigs, chopped herbs of choice, extra nutritional yeast, extra roasted bell peppers, hemp seeds, hempesan, vegan meaty crumbles, lemon pepper tempeh cubes

  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add your pasta of choice and cook according to package instructions.
  2. While the pasta cooks, transfer your cashews, roasted peppers, garlic, onion powder, nutritional yeast, miso, lemon, salt, and pepper to a blender, along with ⅓ cup water. Blend till smooth, adding a tablespoon or two of extra water if the sauce is overly thick or difficult to blend (it should be about the texture of an alfredo sauce). Taste sauce and add salt and pepper as desired.
  3. When the pasta is ready, drain it and fold in your sauce (you may not use all of it; if you have some leftover, it can be thinned and used as a salad dressing!). Divide pasta onto plates and top as desired. Serve.

Leftover sauce will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


 Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n' Cheese | The Full Helping

Making this dish has me thinking about other ways to flavor the sauce; I’m guessing that roasted tomatoes would be a wonderful alternative to the roasted peppers. Also, it’s fine to serve the dish with spaghetti or linguine or penne instead of the macaroni, and call it creamy red pepper pasta instead.

There are some traditional comfort food dishes that I’ve veganized simply because I’m curious about how they’d turn out, or because I think that friends, family, or loved ones will enjoy them. Mac n’ cheese is a lot more personal for me–it’s more than an culinary idea, if that makes sense. It was one of my favorite meals growing up, and my Mom made it a lot, right out of that famous blue and and orange box.

Mac n’ cheese still brings up childhood memories for me, which may be why I make it more regularly and happily than a lot of other nostalgic dishes. The fact that my favorite vegan mac n’ cheese recipes are almost as easy as preparing the store-bought stuff is a very nice added bonus. Hope you’ll enjoy this recipe, too, especially while peppers are still bright and in season!


The post Quick & Easy Vegan Roasted Red Pepper Mac n’ Cheese appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 8.14.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, friends. Thanks for all of your enthusiasm for Jackie’s book!

Another quiet and slow weekend here, punctuated by some housekeeping and some time catching up with friends. It has been, by and large, a solitary summer, and this is intentional. For me, self-study and growth have always seemed to necessitate quite a lot of solitude–more, even, than my introverted nature usually demands.

But with an introverted temperament always comes the danger of isolation or of hiding away, and I’m aware of this, even as I try to respect and maintain my boundaries. I caught up with two dear and close friends this week, and I was reminded in those moments of how profoundly human connection can serve as a form of nourishment.

I find it easy to nourish myself with food, yoga, solitude, and writing; it’s a lot harder for me to be “fed” by human engagement and interaction with the outside world. Yet I crave connection like everyone else, and like most people, I thrive off of listening and being heard. The past few days have been a great reminder of that.

Steven and I are getting ready to take a tiny trip together–a two night getaway in a summer that otherwise kept us close to home, immersed as we were in work and study. It will be quick, but I think it will be great. As I throw some things in my overnight bag and clear out the fridge, here are some of the recipes and articles that have been on my mind.



First up, breakfast. I love Jodi’s simple recipe for almond, cardamom, and vanilla French toast–a perfect weekend breakfast for summertime. But I’m even more taken in by her thoughts on baking (in this case, her budding experience with making sourdough) as a practice of patience and persistence and openness to the unknown, as well as her affirmation of food as a form of connection. Lovely.


Greek girl that I am, I can’t resist a vegan spin on tzatziki, and Brianne’s cashew based version is the latest to catch my eye! She uses it in a vibrant, colorful collard wrap that’s stuffed with olives, tomatoes, and quinoa. This is a light, yet flavorful summer lunch dish that I can’t wait to try.


It’s funny how the simplest foods are often the most appealing. This lentil salad, which I found on the Eat Grain site, couldn’t be more straightforward, and yet of all the recipes I pinned this week I may be most excited about it. Lentils, fresh summer tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a zesty, Greek-inspired vinaigrette–sounds pretty perfect to me.


Also in the realm of simple and summery is Alexandra’s bulgar and lentils with lemon tahini drizzle. It’s a fast, nutritious meal that’s brightened by a creamy ribbon of tahini. I’m no stranger to tahini drizzles–I love using them to brighten up simple grain+green dishes–and I’m sure that the toasted almonds in this recipe also help to liven up the bowl.


Craving comfort food? Then Sophie’s Cajun chickpea cauliflower burger is calling your name. I always have a tough time creating a really stellar veggie burger; texture seems to be a challenge for me, and I often feel as though the amount of effort that goes into the dish isn’t matched by the results. Lately I’m allowing myself to take my burger inspiration from others! This hearty, homestyle patty is definitely the next I’ll try.



This week, The Washington Post offered some promising coverage of the medical community’s efforts to meaningfully incorporate nutrition–and really, preventive care in general–into its work. The article touches on enhanced nutrition education for doctors (such as Tulane’s groundbreaking Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine) and a greater push for dietitians to work with physicians as part of an individualized care team for patients. As the title of the article suggest, some physicians are even “prescribing” farm-fresh fruits and vegetables as part of their patients’ regimens.

I love hearing this. There’s a preconception–which I know is based in patients’ experiences with their doctors–that most physicians are indifferent to the role that nutrition plays in health and wellness. But I believe that this is quickly changing. When I was pre-med, it was clear to me that my fellow hopeful med students and future physicians were hungry for a good understanding of nutrition. And I don’t only mean that they wanted to understand nutritional biochemistry, the ins and outs of the Kreb’s cycle. It also seemed to me that they truly wanted to understand food–everything from the politics of our country’s food system to the art of cooking. With any luck, growing awareness will create more resources and educational offerings for them, and for their patients.


Also on the topic of medicine, a sobering reflection on medical debt from writer Emily Maloney. Maloney examines debt both systemically, reporting on how many hospitals are in debt and therefore forced to carefully consider even the most routine parts of patient care (fresh scrubs, anesthesia), and also personally, as a young woman who herself was saddled with medical debt after a suicide attempt at age 19. The article is probing and well-written.


I was so impressed by Sophie McBain’s article in the New Statesman about human memory and its threats in the digital age. I’m always a little wary when an article seems to be bemoaning technology in some way, partly because I think the fears often don’t become fully realized and partly because I see so much good in the ways that technology can connect us to each other and to information.

Yet I understand that technology presents us with challenges, too, some of them profound. And McBain makes a very compelling case for technology’s interference with the process of memory building and retention. On the one hand, it’s possible for us to confuse information we’ve accessed online with information we’ve actually worked to retain and store:

…[W]hen we know that a computer can remember something for us we are less likely to remember it ourselves. For a study published by the journal Science in 1991, people were asked to type some trivia facts into a computer. Those who believed the facts would be saved at the end of the experiment remembered less than those who thought they would be deleted – even when they were explicitly asked to memorise them. In an era when technology is doing ever more remembering, it is unsurprising that we are more inclined to forget.

On the other hand, the internet can store and freeze the raw stuff of memories (images, emails, and other forms of “documentation”) in a way that interferes with our capacity to consciously craft our memories of significant events:

We are recording more about ourselves and our experiences than ever before, and though in the past this required deliberate effort, such as sitting down to write a diary, or filing away a letter, or posing for a portrait, today this process can be effortless, even unintentional. Never before have people had access to such comprehensive and accurate personal histories – and so little power to rewrite them…
…My digital archives will offer a very different narrative from the half-truths and lies I tell myself, but I am more at home with my fictions. The “me” at the centre of my own memories is constantly evolving, but my digital identity is frozen in time. I feel a different person now; my computer suggests otherwise. Practically, this can pose problems (many of us are in possession of teenage social media posts we hope will never be made public) and psychologically it matters, too. To a greater or lesser extent, we all want to shed our former selves – but digital memories keep us firmly connected to our past. Forgetting and misremembering is a source of freedom: the freedom to reinvent oneself, to move on, to rewrite our stories. It means that old wounds need not hurt for ever, that love can be allowed to fade, that people can change.

It’s an intelligent, thoughtful intelligent essay on a very complicated topic, and it challenges the influence of technology on memory without taking a reactionary stance.


We all know that nutrition research is notoriously conflicting and confusing. This week, Gina Kolata takes a look at why that is, and she offers up information on how researchers are working to make their findings less confounding.


Finally, I loved this story of one baker’s journey from incarceration and addiction to sobriety and a sense of profound professional purpose–dharma, if you will. It is the story, retold by Simran Sethi, of John, a Denver-based baker who found himself struggling with alcoholism and ended up in a county jail for ninety days following a DUI.

John’s experience after his detention was hardly linear–indeed, it involved fits and starts and lots of temptation to revert to old patterns, especially since the food industry is notorious for enabling substance abuse. Today, though, John has found himself at the helm of his own bakery, and he gives a moving account of how each choice he makes as a business owner is at least partially animated by a desire to give back:

Now I try, through my bakery, to create an environment that is an alternative to the ones I’ve worked in. I’m sober and I’m free. Having a bakery forces me to rely on others and ask for help, to be vulnerable. I want to create a safe, non-abusive workplace with good wages where people stay connected to who they are. I want to cultivate a community of bread and pastry people. I want to bring people in, let them use portions of the bakery, and help them manifest their visions while also working toward a common goal.
I want to prove there can be a different way to be in this industry. That’s the vision of this bakery. But what does that look like? How do you foster others’ dreams and build community and keep the lights on? I’m still figuring that out. We still have to make hamburger buns; we have to play the game to survive. But each time we get ahead, with a bit more money, we go for the local honey or the better sugar. And we all got Mother’s Day off.

I was struck by John’s closing statement:

They say that when you get off alcohol, you only have to change one thing: everything. The only things I brought with me into this new life were the pies. They were the starting-over point and the beginning of where I am today. For me, being sober is less about not drinking and more about being a productive member of society. Ingredient by ingredient, day by day.

Putting aside the noble urge to do good, I like the way John frames the process of personal growth and healing: “ingredient by ingredient, day by day.” I think that anyone who has found some sort of redemption through the making of food–whatever his or her struggles have been–can relate to that simple idea.

Ingredient by ingredient, day by day. What more can we do?

I wish you a wonderful rest of the weekend.


The post Weekend Reading, 8.14.16 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Vegan Fish Taco Bowl from Vegan Bowls Attack!


In both my day-to-day life and here on the blog, 2016 was the year of bowls. Lunch bowls became an everyday thing for me, and then they started to take over my Instagram account. In March, I wrote a post detailing how I assemble my lunch bowls, with details about my favorite fixings and the nutritional guidelines I use to help guide me.

How to Create a Perfect Vegan Lunch Bowl | The Full Helping

Not long after, I started sharing breakfast bowl ideas, including my cocoa strawberry quinoa bowls and, more recently, my sweet potato breakfast bowls with savory granola.

Why all the love for bowls? Well, for one thing, they’re easy. Throw a few staples into a bowl, drizzle it with dressing, and call it a day–a good bowl meal is no more complicated than that! Bowls let us get plenty of variety in a single meal without making our lives complicated or demanding too much cooking effort. And, lets face it, there’s just something undeniably cozy-feeling about eating a meal from a bowl.

I’m not the only person who loves bowls. My friend Jackie Sobon–the creative and talented force behind the blog Vegan Yack Attack–has even more persuasive things to say about the power of a great bowl:

You may ask yourself, “What makes a bowl any better than other ways to eat food?” Well, for one thing, bowls are fairly well contained from a logistical perspective. Have you ever tried eating a salad off a plate? It may be one of the messiest ways to eat something; you have to chase food around with your fork, and the last few bites are always the hardest to get. Second, some of the best foods are served in bowls! Imagine trying to chow down on some pho, or maybe creme brûlée, using a plate or saucer. Both of those situations sound like they could be a form of punishment. Last, bowls are a fun way to take a few foods or ingredients that you love–and that may not hold their own on a plate–and put them together in an incredibly tasty and colorful fashion.


Those wise words are from the introduction of Jackie’s awesome new cookbook, Vegan Bowls Attack! The book is a love letter to the bowl meals Jackie loves so much, and it’s a gift to any vegan–or anyone, really–who wants to take her bowl game to the next level. Divided into breakfast bowls, snack bowls, soup and salad bowls, and entree bowls, the book features 100 smart, colorful, and diverse bowl recipes.


The book also features useful tips on how to prep and assemble bowls, how to batch cook ingredients, and it even contains a chapter full of bowl essentials (like smoky tahini sauce and–for the dessert bowls–date caramel sauce). Some of the recipes I’ve been eyeing include the kimchi bowl with red curry almond sauce:


The spicy sushi bowl:


And the amaretto cherry ice cream (yum!):


Jackie’s vibrant, appetizing photographs make the whole book come to life, and her down-to-earth tone makes creating the perfect bowl feel easy and attainable for any home cook. If you read Jackie’s blog, then you already know that she has a special talent for making vegan living feel welcoming and accessible. That same attitude and approach is on full display in this warm, playful collection of recipes.

There are so many bowls from Vegan Yack Attack that I’m eager to incorporate into my routine, but the one that caught my eye first is Jackie’s vegan fish taco bowl. I’ve definitely tried my hand at creating homemade version of poultry and meat dishes, but I have yet to really experiment with plant-based interpretations of seafood.

I love that Jackie uses something super simple–hearts of palm–for the “fish” in this recipe, and her simple cabbage slaw and pico de gallo sweeten the deal. This is a perfectly refreshing, light, and balanced bowl meal for summer!

Vegan Fish Taco Bowl
Author: Jackie Sobon
Recipe type: Gluten-free, Soy-free option, nut-free
Prep time:  20 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 4 servings

For the cabbage slaw:
  • 1 cup (70 g) shredded red cabbage
  • 1 cup (70 g) shredded green cabbage
  • 1 cup (110 g) grated carrot. cup (60 g) vegan mayonnaise (soy-free, if necessary)
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
For the pico de gallo:
  • ½ cup (90 g) diced tomato
  • ⅓ cup (55 g) diced red onion
  • 1 tablespoon (1 g) minced fresh cilantro
  • 1 tablespoon (6 g) minced fresh jalapeno (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon lime juice Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the “Fish”:
  • 2 cans (14 ounces, or 400 g each) hearts of palm, drained
  • 2 teaspoons lime juice
  • ½ teaspoon dulse seaweed flakes
  • Pinch of salt
For the assembly:
  • 4 small corn tortillas cut into strips
  • ¼ cup (4 g) loosely packed fresh cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons (11 g) sliced fresh jalapeno
  • 8 lime wedges

  1. To make the cabbage slaw: Place all of the ingredients in a bowl, stir together until combined, and then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  2. To make the pico de gallo: Place all of the ingredients in a bowl, stir together until combined, and then refrigerate for 20 minutes.
  3. To make the “fish”: Preheat the oven to 350°F (176°C, or gas mark 4) and coat a baking sheet with a thin layer of oil or nonstick cooking spray. In a mixing bowl, using two forks or your hands, pull apart the hearts of palm until they appear shredded. Stir in the lime juice, dulse flakes (see note on page 104), and salt until combined and then spread the mixture out on the baking sheet in a single layer. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes until the edges start to turn golden brown.
  4. To assemble: While the “fish” is baking, place the tortilla strips on a baking sheet, brush with a thin layer of oil, and sprinkle with salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until crispy. Divide the slaw, pico de gallo, “fish,” and tortillas among 4 shallow bowls, arranging the components in quadrants. Nestle the cilantro, jalapeño, and lime wedges in with the tortilla strips. Serve immediately.



If you’re interested in exploring Vegan Bowls Attack! for yourself, you’re in luck. Jackie and her publisher have generously agreed to offer one US or Canadian reader of this blog a free copy! Enter below to win; I’ll announce the winner on the widget in two weeks.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I know it’s been a while since I shared a cookbook review, but I have a few others coming up this month and next, so stay tuned for more news about great new recipe collections!

And for now, I wish you all a wonderful start to the weekend. See you soon, for weekend reading.


The post Vegan Fish Taco Bowl from Vegan Bowls Attack! appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies

Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping

I’m not quite sure that I’m ready to make the statement that I prefer blondies to brownies, but it’s within the realm of possibility. I’ve always loved blondies–it’s that contrast of a soft, almost caramel-like center with the bold and slightly bitter taste of chocolate. With brownies, chocolate is all you taste (well, maybe there’s a hint of espresso, too). The chocolate chunks in a blondie stand out precisely because they don’t predominate.

Listening to me wax poetic here, it’s hard to believe that this is the first blondie recipe I’ve posted on the blog! These vegan, gluten free banana bread blondies combine two of my favorite things–banana bread and blondies–into one rich, gooey, and absolutely delicious little treat.

Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping

I’ve been patting myself on the back this week for having gotten through a big chunk of recipe testing for the next cookbook, with results that feel genuine and exciting. After some culinary writer’s block earlier this summer, finding a “flow” feels great.

But there’s a downside to all of the cookbook testing, which is that everything I’ve been cooking has been in service of that project. I can’t remember the last time I made a meal that wasn’t either for the blog or for the book. Part of what I love about cooking is that it encourages me to be spontaneous and listen to my intuition–a way of being that does not come easily to me–and when spontaneity is drained from the process, I start to miss it.

Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping
Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping

Baking isn’t the most spontaneous form of kitchen activity, but my recent blueberry corn muffins have me excited about summer baking possibilities. Plus, one of the things I love about baking is that the things it produces aren’t always functional. They’re treats, which means that they feel both special and out of the ordinary. I’ve had my nose to the culinary grindstone, so to speak, and this week, it felt lovely to make something that was just for fun. And then it was so tasty that I couldn’t help but share.

Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping

I’ve been enjoying these all week, often with a cup of coffee, and always with gratitude for cooking as a form of self-care. When I talk about “self-care” through food, I’m usually talking about nutrition, about selecting foods that nourish our bodies with particular vitamins and minerals and macronutrients. But the self-care is so much bigger than that. It involves tuning into what we need–not only physically, but humanly, too–and allowing our kitchen endeavors to satisfy those needs.

This week, I needed a little break from cooking that has been largely purposeful. These blondies were the answer. Maybe they’ll be a welcome treat, indulgence, or source of culinary play for you, too.

Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping

Vegan + Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: dessert, snack
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  25 mins
Total time:  35 mins

Serves: 12 blondies

Dry ingredients:
  • 1½ cups (180 grams) oat flour
  • ¾ teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ⅔ cup dark chocolate chunks (I use Enjoy Life mega chunks; you can also chop up a bar of your favorite dark chocolate)
Wet ingredients:
  • 1 tablespoon flax meal mixed together with 3 tablespoons warm water (a flax “egg”)
  • 1 heaping cup mashed, ripe banana (2 large or 3 small bananas)
  • ½ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • ⅓ cup almond milk
  • ½ cup smooth almond butter (substitute peanut, cashew, or sunflower seed butter)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil an 8×8 square baking dish.
  2. Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl.
  3. Whisk together the banana, sugar, vanilla extract, almond milk, and almond butter. Stir in the flax egg. Add this wet mixture to the dry ingredients and use a spoon or spatula to combine evenly. Fold in ½ cup of the chocolate chunks. Transfer the batter to the prepared baking dish and sprinkle the remaining chocolate chunks on top.
  4. Transfer the baking dish to the oven and bake for 25-30 minutes, or until the top is glossy and the edges of the blondies are just turning golden (I recommend checking them after 22 minutes, just to be sure they’re not baking more quickly than you expected). Allow the blondies to cool on a cooling wrack completely before cutting into 12 rectangles and serving.

In place of the oat flour, you can use light spelt, whole wheat pastry, or all purpose flour instead.

Wrap leftover blondies individually in saran wrap and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze individually wrapped blondies for up to 3 weeks.


 Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies | The Full Helping

This is a simple recipe, and you can adjust it a little to suit your tastes (for example, you can use a little more or less sugar, or play around with different banana to sugar ratios). If you don’t have almond butter on hand, peanut butter will work perfectly, as will cashew butter. For those with tree nut allergies, sunflower seed butter is a great substitute.

And what if you don’t share my love of banana bread–or you don’t want to combine that love with your love of blondies? I suspect that applesauce, pumpkin puree, and prune puree might all work well here in place of mashed banana. I haven’t tried them, so I can’t officially vouch for the results, but I may have to try the pumpkin version as soon as September/October roll around. If you happen to experiment with them first, let me know!

On that note, friends, I’m powering down for the evening. I hope you’ll get as much pleasure and satisfaction from this recipe as I have.


The post Vegan, Gluten Free Banana Bread Blondies appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 8.7.16


Good morning, friends, and happy Sunday.

It’s hard to believe that August is already here. I’m fighting the urge to start fretting–as I do nearly every summer–about all of the summery things I haven’t yet done: the outdoor concerts I haven’t seen, the picnic lunches I haven’t eaten, the languid hours of reading on sunny benches that haven’t happened.

It’s so easy to idealize summertime, to envision it as a series of postcard-perfect snapshots. Of course, the truth is that summer holds no special monopoly on leisure or on being outdoors, even if it makes those things a little easier and more accessible. I have to remind myself that, as important as this summer has been in terms of learning to slow down and live more consciously, that process can and hopefully will continue long after August is behind me.

For now, while August is still fresh and alive, here’s to long days and sunny afternoons. Here’s to getting outside. Here’s to a sense of time being suspended, if only for a few moments. Here’s to stone fruits, ripe heirloom tomatoes, zucchini by the bushel, sweet corn, and all the pie/crisp/crumble we can handle.

And here’s to this roundup of recipes, some summery, some not, that have inspired me this past week.



I must be itching to make babaganoush lately, because I keep bookmarking different eggplant dip recipes. My latest favorite is Natasha’s lovely roasted eggplant dip–so very simple, yet so appealing.


I have yet to get into gochujang–I’m admittedly a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat–but Erin’s double-dredged tofu with gochujang glaze might just turn me around. These little nuggets look incredible, so spicy and flavorful, and I’m imagining them in all sorts of bowls and stir fry meals!


Speaking of a gochujang, I’m so intrigued by Rika’s recipe for sauteed chili cucumbers! Cucumber is not a vegetable I ever think to enjoy warm (unless I happen to be mixing it up with another vegetable that’s just been cooked), but her recipe is so simple and intriguing that I may be about to change my tune. I love the idea of serving spicy, seared cukes with noodles or rice.


I haven’t had too much luck making vegan vegetable patties hold their shape just right–there have been numerous failed attempts at zucchini and rice cakes, for example–so I’m super impressed with Belen’s cauliflower & lemon patties. They’re beautiful to look at, specked with red quinoa, and ground flax and brown rice flour seem to hold them together nicely. Can’t wait to try them with some tahini sauce.


Finally, it’s not quite fig season here in New York, but it will be very soon. And when it is, I can’t wait to make Bakerita’s gorgeous, vegan and gluten free oatmeal fig bars. They look perfect!



First, a troubling look at trends in body dysmorphia and body manipulation among teens, with a specific focus on how conventional gender identification lines up with behavioral patterns. The article calls upon data from an ongoing study of more than 13,000 American children, the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS). It reveals that,

By age 23 to 25, 10.5 percent of the women in this large sample reported using laxatives in the past year to lose weight; the practice increased over adolescence in the girls, but was virtually absent among the boys. Conversely, by young adulthood, about 12 percent of the men reported use of a muscle-building product in the past year, and again, this increased during adolescence.

The researchers on the study were curious about whether or not such practices–using supplements or OTC drugs to slim down for girls, versus using them to bulk up among boys–aligned with traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity. And they did: regardless of sexual orientation, kids who described themselves as more gender conforming were more likely to use laxatives (the girls) or muscle-building products (the boys).

The article goes on to tackle how unrealistic portrayals of body shape in social media and popular media might continue to influence young people and harm their sense of self-esteem. It emphasizes the important role that caretakers can play in modeling healthful eating patterns and always refraining from making negative comments about body shape. It also makes the interesting point that, while kids and teens who are nonconformist in their sensibilities are sometimes considered more vulnerable to conditions like depression and social ostracism, kids who feel an inherent pressure to conform neatly to prevailing social norms and imagery might face their own set of struggles.

I’m glad that dialog continues to exist around the oh-so-problematic role that unrealistic body imagery plays in our society, and I’m also glad to see some attention brought to laxative abuse–a form of disordered eating that I’ve certainly struggled with, and which is often under-discussed or treated as taboo in the larger recovery/ED dialog.


Work with cadavers is a seminal part of medical training, and it tends to evoke no shortage of complex feelings and fears among medical students. I had only one glimpse into the experience during my own experience as a pre-med, and even that short encounter (being shown cadaver lab during a medical school tour) stayed with me.

So, I found Matt McCall’s article about cadavers in Nat Geo to be fascinating. It’s a broad look at the role that cadavers play and have always played in medical education, but it also examines a recent downward trend in body donation rates. Body donation remains an unconventional choice, and the article peers into the consequences of that choice for family members, specifically children of parents who have chosen to donate their bodies.

I liked this quotation, uttered by the son of a donor: “Anything that can contribute to life, whether it’s for science or pure love, usher along mankind. That may sound lofty, but it’s how I feel.”


I’ve always been fascinated by how sensory experience for humans and other animals changes over the generations. I remember vividly reading a proposal, back when I was an editor, about how much noisier the world has become, how true silence–or at least, silence from man-made sound–has become a rarity. What are the consequences for our health, the quality of our lives, and our experience of the physical space in which we live?

This article looks at a different, yet linked phenomenon–the relative disappearance of darkness from our world. The author begins by sharing a childhood experience that may be rarer and rarer these days:

I grew up in a small town in the Hudson River valley, about an hour north of New York City. Like most children, I regarded the night sky (or what I could see of it) with extraordinary wonder. I understood that nobody could say for sure what was out there. Little kids are often frustrated by the smallness of their lives, in part because the imagination-to-agency ratio of the average toddler is roughly infinity to one. As a child, you can conjure complex, unbound, spooling worlds, but in your own life, you are largely powerless to make significant moves. Looking up, the tininess I felt was validated, confirmed, but it no longer felt like a liability. If the night sky offers us one thing, continuously, it is a deeply liberating sense of ourselves in perspective, and of the many things we can neither comprehend nor control.

The article goes on to explore how changes in the night sky–or rather, the way in which we perceive it–might change the experience of being human. One park ranger is quoted saying “Most children, right now, growing up in the US, will never see the Milky Way.”

From there, the article takes some fascinating turns, exploring the history of our relationship with illumination (darkness, the author notes, has long been associated with fear and unknown; what does it mean for the unknown to become increasingly scarce?), debates over LED streetlights, and the health consequences of sleeping in overly illuminated settings. I can’t really do justice to Amanda Petrusich’s marvelous scope and insight, but I can share the final few grafs, and then tell you that the the article is well worth reading in its entirety:

An optimist might presume that, in its absence, we’ll find new reasons to ask questions of the natural world and of ourselves, and to continually enlarge and revise our understanding of the universe. That we will not, instead, drift further toward a detached, solipsistic worldview that wants for little beyond itself. Still, it’s hard not to do the mental arithmetic—to worry that our disinterest in preserving darkness and our present detachment from it might suggest something troubling about the insularity of the modern condition. What other romantic fascinations will we lock ourselves out of, and at what cost?
“The experience of looking up at the sky—that’s what Kant uses to explain the sublime,” Stanley said. “In 1788, he said, ‘There are two things that fill my heart with wonder. One is the moral sense within me, and the other is the order in the heavens above me.’ That’s an extraordinary feeling, and ineffable. You can’t describe it, but once you’ve experienced it, you never forget it.”
It almost sounded, to me, like Stanley was talking about love. The experience of oneself in relation to an other—the miracle of it, the magnificence.

Screen Shot 2016-08-07 at 9.17.59 AM

If you could erase painful memories, would you? It’s an idea that has been explored in the context of romantic love and loss (I’m thinking of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but this article approaches the idea with a more psychiatric focus. We are close, apparently, to having pharmaceuticals that might actually be able to remove unbearable memories from our consciousness.

What would that mean for us? It’s widely thought that re-engaging with painful memories in a safe way is crucial for contextualizing, learning to bear, and then reintegrating past experience. How would erasure of memory change this process?

I’m inclined to agree with the author of the article, who insists that he would not take back painful memories–even one so painful as his father’s struggle with MS–if he could. Such memories, he suspects, have become a crucial part of his sense of self. I feel the same way about my own painful memories; indeed, I’ve lately been trying to spend more time with them as a means of moving forward with more wholeness and self-understanding. Then again, I’ve never lived through PTSD, nor do traumatic memories ever intrude on my everyday, waking life. If they did, I might feel very differently about this.

I was also interested to read the author’s statement that he would not wish to replace or repopulate memories that he has erased–a dimension of this dialog that’s addressed more rarely than the notion of wiping out memories that hurt. Having lost many memories of his father before MS, the author is still able to write,

…knowing someone could one day tell me that they had found a way to grant me access to my memories of my father, I’m no longer certain I would try.
I spent years trying to find those memories. I asked relatives and friends for stories. I stared at faded family pictures trying to infuse them with the personality and warmth that comes only from the act of reminiscing. But perhaps all this time I’ve been looking for the wrong thing. Perhaps it’s okay to let the memories go. Over time, my sliced-up memories have defined my personal understanding of self and have, ever so gradually, become part of a narrative I’m no longer sure I want to change.
Yes, my over-pruned tree is missing some branches and appears rather lopsided. Its flowers don’t always open the way they should. But it’s also sprouting new leaves in places I never expected, and its crooked visage is simply part of who I am. Rather than trying to fill those empty holes, I can now look at the negative space and see it – all of it – as a part of me.

It’s an honest, insightful, and very worthy essay.


Finally, I was sorry to hear that the decline of cardiovascular mortality is slowing down after years of progress. But I did like that this article emphasized not only the importance of some well-validated dietary approaches (like the DASH diet), but also the profound value of cooking and getting into the kitchen as a means of prevention and management.

So, here’s to cooking–both for our pleasure, and for our health!

On that note, I’m off. I hope you savor the last bit of the weekend, and I’ll see you this week with a new recipe and a fun new cookbook review (been a while since I shared one of those!).


The post Weekend Reading, 8.7.16 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola | The Full Helping

On Tuesday, I shared my new favorite snack, savory granola. As I suggested in that post, it has been turning up everywhere, finding its way onto my salads, spreading out generously over trays of roasted zucchini or cauliflower, and even sneaking into a yogurt parfait or two. It’s so good, and I’m having a lot of fun finding different uses for it. This sweet potato breakfast bowl may be my favorite yet.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola | The Full Helping

It’s no big secret that I’m a big savory breakfast person. I think Steven is finally getting used to the smell of leftovers in the morning, even if he still occasionally stares at me incredulously as I heat up a bowl of curry or pilaf. Especially now that I’m in the thick of frenzied recipe testing for the cookbook, I’ve got a lot of leftovers to contend with at home, and savory breakfasts make it easy for me to use them up. But even without the surplus of food to motivate me, I’m partial to savory breakfasts: I often find them to be more varied and filling than sweeter options.

For a while, savory oats–either my steel cut version, or my favorite turmeric chickpea oats–were my go-to. I still love them, but now that summer is here and a piping hot breakfast doesn’t always call to me, I’m expanding my options. Since lunch bowls are a mainstay for me, I’m exploring some breakfast bowl options, too.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola | The Full Helping

What I love most about this particular bowl is the contrast of texture: tender sweet potato, chewy steamed kale, crispy granola. I also love the color, the vibrance of the bowl, and the fact that it’s so adaptable. If you don’t have zucchini (or it’s not in season), play around with cauliflower, broccoli, or eggplant instead. And if you’d like to switch up your greens, try collards, chard, bok choy, or mustard greens. The bowl is also good with raw greens; this morning, I tried it with baby spinach. It saved me the step of steaming, and it added a different texture to the meal.

In order to pick up the turmeric and curry in the granola, I chose to drizzle my anti-inflammatory turmeric tahini dressing (a favorite) over the bowls. You can definitely make bowl assembly faster by preparing the dressing and granola in advance! If you don’t have the dressing handy, you can swap another dressing of choice, or you can simply add a hunk of avocado to the bowl.

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola | The Full Helping

Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: breakfast
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free optional, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  45 mins
Total time:  55 mins

Serves: 2 bowls

  • 2 small sweet potatoes, scrubbed clean
  • 2 small or medium sized zucchini, quartered lengthwise and then cut crosswise into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Coarse salt and pepper
  • 6 cups tightly packed, raw kale (or another leafy green of choice), stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • ⅔ cup savory turmeric spice granola
  • Turmeric tahini dressing

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F and line two baking sheets with parchment. Prick the sweet potatoes a few times each with a fork. Toss the zucchini with the olive oil. Transfer the sweet potatoes to one sheet and the zucchini pieces to the other. Sprinkle the zucchini with salt and pepper, then transfer both baking sheets to the oven.
  2. Bake the zucchini for 25-30 minutes, or until the pieces are turning golden, stirring once halfway through cooking. When the zucchini are ready, remove them from the oven and allow the potatoes to bake for another 10-25 minutes (40-45 minutes total), or until they’re totally tender when pierced with a fork. Remove the potatoes from the oven, and when they’re cool enough to handle, cut them into pieces or rounds.
  3. While the vegetables are baking, bring a pot of water to boil and attach a steamer insert. Steam the kale till bright green and tender.
  4. To assemble the bowls, divide the kale, zucchini, and sweet potato into two bowls. Top each with ⅓ cup granola and a generous drizzle of the turmeric tahini dressing. Serve.


 Sweet Potato Breakfast Bowls with Savory Granola | The Full Helping

These bowls are an altogether wonderful way to start the day. You can prepare the components in advance, the simply steam the kale and put them together when you’re ready to eat. If you’re having company over for brunch, you can easily double the recipe, too! I’m eager to make it more often as we transition into fall, perhaps using some different, roasted winter squash (especially kabocha) in place of the sweet potato.

Hope this green and golden bowl of goodness strikes your fancy. And happy early weekend to you all–see you for a link roundup on Sunday!


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