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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.

Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps

Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps | The Full Helping

One of my professors recently asked me if I had some good ideas for vegan party appetizers. I piped up immediately that she could make hummus, or white bean dip, or roasted cauliflower dip, or smoked eggplant dip. And then I realized that, to hear me tell it, the only appetizers vegans eat or serve is some sort of dip.

Of course, there are plenty of other crowd-pleasing vegan hors d’oeuvres; I just don’t seem to have written too much about them. And that’s what inspired today’s spicy peanut tempeh wraps, which are both a great option for serving as appetizers and also a healthy, tasty snack.

Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps | The Full Helping

These wraps are as simple as they come, and that’s really how they were intended to be. You can definitely enhance them or add to the wrap filling by throwing together a quick slaw, or by adding grated carrots or shredded red cabbage or what have you: there are so many possibilities for crispy vegetable fillings.

But keeping the filling simple makes these lettuce wraps easy (and not very messy) to eat, which isn’t always the case with finger food. And it also allows the flavor of spicy peanut sauce and earthy cubes of tempeh to stand out completely. Dress these up, or leave them as is: they’re flavorful, filling, and really delicious.

To prepare the tempeh cubes, I saute them lightly in sesame oil, then add my spicy peanut sauce to the skillet. This way, the cubes get crispy before being coated with the spicy sauce. It’s the first time I prepared tempeh this way (I usually marinate and bake it), and it definitely won’t be the last. It was quick and imparted so much flavor to the cubes.

Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps | The Full Helping

The process was made easier by using ceramic nonstick cookware from the GreenLife brand. I’ve been using and getting to know the whole GreenLife line of cookware and bakeware products this year, and I’m a huge fan. The company is pioneering safe, healthy cookware at an affordable price for home cooks everywhere. Using GreenLife products makes both cooking and cleaning easy, and it means being able to saute ingredients without too much added oil–and without the risk of sticking and burning. My tempeh cubes got perfectly crispy here with minimal sesame oil (just enough to add rich, toasted flavor) and cleanup, as always, was a snap.

Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps | The Full Helping

Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: small plate, side
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, tree nut free
Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  20 mins

Serves: Makes 10-12 Wraps

For the spicy peanut sauce:
  • ⅓ cup peanut butter
  • ¼ cup warm water
  • 1-2 cloves garlic, grated on a microplane or finely minced (adjust to taste)
  • 2 teaspoons finely minced ginger (or ½ teaspoon ginger powder)
  • 2 tablespoons tamari
  • 3 tablespoons unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup or agave
  • 1-2 tablespoons sriracha, to taste (substitute crushed red pepper flakes to taste)
For the wraps:
  • For the wraps:
  • 12 butter lettuce leaves (you can also use radicchio leaves, endives, cabbage leaves, or small collard leaves)
  • 1 8-ounce package tempeh, cut into about ¾-inch cubes
  • 1-2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil
  • Optional toppings: Sriracha sauce, chopped green onions, grated carrots, shredded red cabbage, toasted sesame seeds

  1. To prepare the sauce, whisk together the peanut butter and warm water. Add remaining ingredients and whisk till the sauce is smooth. Set aside half of it to serve with the wraps; you’ll use the rest for sautéing the tempeh.
  2. Heat the sesame oil, one teaspoon at a time, in a medium sized, nonstick skillet. Add the tempeh cubes and sauté until they’re browning and just crispy (a minute or two on each side).
  3. Add half of the peanut sauce to the pan and cook the tempeh cubes, stirring often, until the sauce is reduced and the cubes are nicely glazed. Pile about 3-4 cubes in each lettuce cup, then add toppings of choice. Dip the wraps in extra peanut sauce and enjoy.



Of course, you don’t have to serve this super flavorful tempeh in the lettuce wraps. It would also be great in a bowl (the way I often serve my favorite lemon pepper tempeh cubes), thrown into a stir fry, or stuffed into a whole grain wrap. But the next time you have friends over, these satisfying wraps can be your answer to hummus as usual. (Or, since hummus is a food group, they can be served with hummus as usual.) They also make a stellar, high-protein snack.

I hope you’ll enjoy them sometime this fall–with friends or family, or on your own.


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 Spicy Peanut Tempeh Lettuce Wraps appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Sweet Potato Millet Pancakes

Sweet Potato Millet Pancakes | The Full Helping

I was curious to see how long it would take me to break out the canned pumpkin this year–it’s a waiting game each autumn, a question of when, not if, and once I get started there’s no stopping me–but this year, sweet potato seems to have beat pumpkin to the finish line. I can’t think of a more wonderful use for it than these sweet potato millet pancakes, which combine the mild sweetness of millet flour with the bolder sweetness of sweet potato puree. They have a beautiful orange color, and they’ll make your entire home smell like fall as they heat up on the griddle.

One of my favorite parts of homemade baking is to experiment with different whole grain flours. Often my baked goods ends up being a combination of flours, since many of the whole and ancient grain varieties seem to work really well when they’re combined with spelt or gluten-free, all-purpose flour.


That’s precisely the case here: I use a ratio of one part millet flour to two parts spelt or gluten-free, all-purpose. I tested the recipes both ways; spelt flour gives the pancakes a slightly nutty flavor, while gluten-free all-purpose (or regular all-purpose) will allow the mild sweetness of the millet flour to shine through a little more. The pancakes have a lovely, pillowy rise, as you can see above, but the sweet potato gives them a slight heartiness, too. I used homemade sweet potato puree because I was eager to use up my sweet taters before traveling this past weekend, but of course, canned puree is just fine. And, if you just can’t wait for pumpkin, go for it–you can use the same amount in place of the sweet potato.

This recipe is part of a little celebration that some of my fellow bloggers and I are having for Lindsay Love, fellow NYC-lady and author of the wonderful blog Dolly and Oatmeal. I’ve been a fan of Lindsay’s creative, artful recipes for a long time, and this year I was introduced to her awesome book, Chickpea Flour Does it All.

While not entirely vegan, the book features a ton of vegan or mostly vegan recipes featuring chickpea flour. I’ve definitely known chickpea flour to be a versatile baking ingredient before–I’ve used it in quick breads, flatbreads, crepes, socca, and my favorite chickpea flour scramble–but Lindsay has opened my eyes to so many new uses, including dressings and sauces, desserts, and even a soy-free “tofu.” The book is well worth checking out, especially if you’re gluten free and eager to incorporate a higher protein flour into more of your home cooking.

Lindsay happens to be counting down the days until a new member of her family arrives, and so some of her blogging friends and admirers are gathering some recipes together as a baby shower offering for her. When I think about the recipes that might mean something special to me as I was going through a big life transition, I think about recipes that are comforting and cozy. I think about autumnal spices and the familiar smell of pancakes being flipped over the stovetop while coffee is brewing.

In other words, I think about something a lot like these pancakes. Lindsay, congratulations, and I hope that perhaps a friend or loved one will treat you to breakfast soon, as you settle into your new role as a mom!


Sweet Potato Millet Pancakes
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: breakfast
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free optional, tree nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins

Serves: About 10 pancakes

  • ½ cup millet flour
  • 1 cup spelt or gluten-free, all-purpose flour (I like Bob’s Red Mill One-to-One or King Arthur Gluten-Free Multi-purpose flour)
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2 tablespoons cane sugar or demarara sugar
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1¼ – 1½ cups almond or soy milk (start by using 1¼ cups)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower, grapeseed, or canola
  • ¾ cup sweet potato puree*

  1. Lightly oil a large skillet or griddle. Whisk together the flours, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and sugar.
  2. Whisk together the apple cider vinegar and 1¼ cups of the almond or soy milk. Stir in the vegetable oil and sweet potato puree.
  3. Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix until they’re well combined. If the batter is overly thick, add more almond or soy milk, two tablespoons at a time, until it has the right consistency for pancakes (not runny, but easy to scoop and pour into your skillet).
  4. Allow the batter to rest while you heat the skillet or griddle over medium heat. When the skillet is hot, add the batter in ¼-cup scoops. Allow the batter to cook until small bubbles are forming on the surface of each pancake and the bottom is firm. Flip the pancakes and allow them to cook on the other side for another 2 minutes, or until both sides are golden and the pancakes are fluffy. Transfer the pancakes to cooling rack or a plate while you finish up the batter.

*3/4 cup sweet potato puree is about 1 medium sweet potato, baked or steamed and flesh mashed. You can also use canned puree, or you can substitute pumpkin!

In place of spelt or gluten-free, all-purpose flour, you can use regular, all-purpose flour or whole wheat pastry flour.



These may just become Steven’s and my go-to pancakes this coming fall. It’s been a while since we varied our breakfast routine–most of the time, honestly, I whip up my tostadas or oats and he pours his cereal, and we call it a morning–but when we first started dating, we made pancakes almost every weekend. It was a nice tradition, and I’m thinking it’s worth re-creating.

And if you’re on the hunt for fall recipe inspiration, take some time to check out other contributions to Lindsay’s shower, all of which are dairy and gluten free and many of which are vegan!

Mushroom and Kale Tacos | Brooklyn Supper
Butternut Squash French Toast | Edible Perspective
Chocolate Chip Ice Cream Sandwiches with Honey Olive Oil Ice Cream | Cake Over Steak
Roasted Green Tomato Soup with Herbed Oil | With Food + Love
Tart Cherry, Chocolate & Hempseed No-Bake Oat Bars | Kale & Caramel
Dark Chocolate Hummus | A Couple Cooks
Maitake Steaks with Cauliflower Purée | O&O Eats
Cucumber & Chamoe Melon Salad | Two Red Bowls
Strawberry Rhubarb Jam | The Sugar Hit
Miso Edamame Hummus with Baked Furikake Sweet Potato Chips | Fix Feast Flair
Mini Hazelnut Cakes | I am a Food Blog
The Magic of a Mandolin: Vegetable Carpaccio | Eat Boutique
Almond Chia Pudding with Roasted Grapes | Tending the Table
Peanut Butter and Dark Chocolate Puffed Millet Bars | Heart of a Baker

I hope you’ll love the pancakes, too. And I wish you a wonderful start to the week.


The post Sweet Potato Millet Pancakes appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 9.25.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, everyone. When this post goes up I’ll likely be at, or soon on my way to, the wedding of a good friend in Albuquerque, NM. It’s a really quick trip for us–there and back in two days–but I’m so glad that I can be there to help my friend celebrate her marriage.

There are some nerves, too. This summer I’ve indulged my introvert tendencies quite a bit more than usual. This is one of my responses to depression and anxiety, and in spite of the fact that it could be seen as a form of self-isolation, it really does feel more like self-care. Or simply doing what I have to do to cope with where I am. I’d hesitate to say that group socializing is always a challenge for me, but it’s always draining, and now more than ever. Knowing this, respecting this, and allowing myself to keep the tank full, as it were, feels important.

For a while even intimate socializing felt difficult. How to respond to the question of “how are you?” or “what’s new?” I’m still not sure what to say to this; I don’t have a quick answer that doesn’t feel dishonest. I suppose it’s all an exercise in having the courage to speak truthfully: I don’t always describe to people precisely what’s been going on, but I don’t give an automatic response of “I’m good!” either.

I’ve been surprised, at times, at how certain relationships feel like safe spaces to talk about depression and others don’t. In the last few months, a small number of friendships and correspondences have deepened immeasurably because I’ve been able to confide about my experience and be heard and acknowledged without judgment. Writing about depression has even compelled certain friends–some close by, others remote or “virtual” (a word that does not, I think, do justice to the friendships that form through online interaction) to confide in me about what they’ve gone through, and I feel so lucky to receive their stories and hear their insights.

I guess all this is to say that–having spent most of last year totally shut off–I’m opening up again. But I’m doing so carefully, with respect for my own boundaries, and with the sincere intention to be honest about where I am without feeling any pressure to overshare. It’s a balancing act.

Back to today. It’s been a while since I faced a large social gathering, and of course it’s bringing up some vulnerability. I’m having odd, jittery thoughts: will I seem different to people? I feel different than I did a year ago, so why wouldn’t I seem that way outwardly? Will I be less pleasing to old friends than I used to be–less entertaining, or less fun, or less lively? What will it be like to step outside the zone of safety that I’ve carefully created for myself in the last couple months?

Who knows. What I’m telling myself is that true friendships can withstand growth and change–even growth that’s taken the shape of sadness or struggle. And while groups can be daunting, they can be energizing, too–especially when they’ve convened for the sake of celebrating something loving and joyous.

If nothing else, I can delight in Steven’s dance moves 🙂

The last article I link to today has actually been very helpful. It’s a wonderfully vulnerable meditation on what it means to preserve and respect one’s own identity while also sharing and connecting with peers, and I hope you’ll love it as much as I do, along with all of the other recipes and reads I’m sharing this week.



It’s corn season in the northeast, and I just love Sarah’s vegan roasted poblano corn chowder. It looks so hearty, sweet, and creamy — can’t wait to try it with a slice of vegan cornbread.


Just in time for fall, Lisa has created a lovely vegan granola recipe featuring ancient grains. I love how she uses Earth Balance in the recipe–I’m giving that gives it a really intriguing hint of buttery flavor.


I really like the idea of pairing cauliflower rice with the hearty components of a black bean burrito bowl, and that’s exactly what Karen has done with these flavorful (and colorful!) bowls. The components of the bowl are each quite simple and easy to prepare, which is always a bonus.


I made white bean “kale-sadillas” earlier this year, and I really loved them, so I’m super excited to find a new recipe approach to try. Alissa’s white bean quesadillas include creamy avocado, which I’m sure is a wonderful way of re-creating the traditional cheesy element, and they look super comforting and flavorful.


Jackie’s vegan apple pie cinnamon cupcakes are fun, playful, and the perfect way to celebrate fall. It’s hard to say whether I’m more excited about the vegan buttercream frosting or the warm apple pie filling (which is really a topping in this recipe). And I like Jackie’s smart, honest thoughts on finding balance after a year of big change (speaking of that, her new cookbook is pretty awesome).


1. First, exceptional reporting on bad science and the courageous individuals who protested it. Writer Julie Rehmeyer describes how she and others who suffer from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (nowadays also called ME/CFS) first challenged, and are now working to rectify, the PACE Study, a 2011 study that suggests that exercise and psychotherapy can give ME/CFS patients a 60% change of improvement and a 20% chance of full recovery. The study was robust, controlled, and peer-reviewed–the hallmarks of good science. The problem with it was (and is) that so many individuals who actually suffer from ME/CFS felt intuitively that the advice was wrong.

Instead, they felt that increased physical exertion could markedly worsen their symptoms. Rehmeyer writes,

. . . patients like me were immediately skeptical, because the results contradicted the fundamental experience of our illness: The hallmark of ME/CFS is that even mild exertion can increase all the other symptoms of the disease, including not just profound fatigue but also cognitive deficits, difficulties with blood pressure regulation, unrestorative sleep, and neurological and immune dysfunction, among others.
Soon after I was diagnosed in 2006, I figured out that I had to rest the moment I thought, “I’m a little tired.” Otherwise, I would likely be semi-paralyzed and barely able to walk the next day.
The researchers argued that patients like me, who felt sicker after exercise, simply hadn’t built their activity up carefully enough. Start low, build slowly but steadily, and get professional guidance, they advised. But I’d seen how swimming for five minutes could sometimes leave me bedbound, even if I’d swum for 10 minutes without difficulty the day before. Instead of trying to continually increase my exercise, I’d learned to focus on staying within my ever-changing limits — an approach the researchers said was all wrong.

Rehmeyer chronicles the work of David Tuller, a public health lecturer at Berkeley who has worked to expose flaws in the study. Yet, as she makes clear, efforts toward revision cannot necessarily repair the discouragement and bad treatment that may have already befallen ME/CFS patients who took the study’s findings to heart. The likelihood of psychotherapy and exercise improving disease outcomes may be relatively small after all, which means that new research and new treatment options are urgently needed.

Rehmeyer concludes,
Watching the PACE trial saga has left me both more wary of science and more in love with it. Its misuse has inflicted damage on millions of ME/CFS patients around the world, by promoting ineffectual and possibly harmful treatments and by feeding the idea that the illness is largely psychological. At the same time, science has been the essential tool to repair the problem.
But we shouldn’t take solace in the comforting notion that science is self-correcting. Many people, including many very sick people, had to invest immense effort and withstand vitriol to use science to correct these mistakes. And even that might not have been enough without Tuller’s rather heroic investigation. We do not currently have a sustainable, reliable method of overturning flawed research.

As a nutrition student, I’m constantly reading studies. And as someone who didn’t play close enough attention to evidence when I first got into nutrition–to my own detriment–I tend to approach research findings with perhaps a little too much immediate credulity. It’s important for me (and all of us who study health sciences) to remember that science is not foolproof, and that we are always doing our best to reassess and better understand our own body of evidence.

This article also reminds me that, as a health practitioner and counselor, my first responsibility is always to respect my client’s own account of illness or struggle. I can bring research to bear on my work, use it to inform my guidance, and so on. But when a person insists that some part of their lived experience of an illness is true–regardless of whether or not research aligns–it’s my job to listen, and listen closely.

2. Another article that touches on the complications of health science research: Andy Bellatti’s smart response to the “wars” that pit sugar and meat against each other as monolithic causes of obesity and Type II Diabetes. As Bellatti notes, it’s tempting to try to isolate a single culprit for complex diseases:

Somewhere along the way, the nutrition field fell prey to the notion that, when it comes to the negative health effects of red meat and sugar, you can only hold one responsible for all our public health problems. It’s a seductive binary; both camps come with built-in fervent believers. Dietary tribalism is profitable; it’s how “diet gurus” are made. The general public is enamored with the idea that the road to health is obstructed by one big villain.

When it comes to nutrition, it’s usually the case that dietary patterns are more determinative than single nutrients or foods, and to whatever extent particular foods are detrimental, they’re probably acting in concert with other, problematic foods or food groups. It’s important to examine things macroscopically, to identify patterns and parallels–which is precisely what Bellatti proceeds to do, pointing out all of the ways that refined sugar and red meat are similar (low in fiber, low in phytonutrients, with a tendency to “crowd out” beneficial whole grains, legumes, and plant foods in peoples’ diets).

He concludes with a plea that we try to resist binary thinking when it comes to nutrition research–not always an easy thing to do, but probably the way of thinking that can bring us closer to nuanced understanding of these issues:

Part of the complexity of nutrition involves the acceptance of multiple truths. A call for a reduction in red meat should not automatically be equated with a recommendation that Americans load up on fat-free cookies, white bread, and sugary cereal. Similarly, voicing concerns about added sugar does not mean someone is a ferocious advocate of low-carb living who thinks bacon is a health food and brown rice is no different than a Pop-Tart.

3. Nothing about this op-ed–an emergency physician’s thoughts on how to tell a mother that her child has died–is easy to read. But, having not been sure what to expect when I first read the title, I was was really moved by its compassion. It strikes me as an honest, humble attempt to articulate what must feel like an unbearable dialog for empathetic healthcare providers.

4. I’ve often heard it said that eating disorders are family diseases. I’m not sure how much this echoes my own experience, but I understand what the comment is suggesting, and I imagine it might feel truer in bigger families than mine.

Bee Wilson’s reminiscences on her sister’s anorexia are candid and truly heart-wrenching, a vivid reminder that, if nothing else, eating disorders are felt and experienced not only by the person who is suffering, but also by the people who love him or her. Wilson describes how her sister’s ED fractured the communion they’d always shared around food, and she goes on to chronicle how the anorexia actually contributed to her own struggles with overeating and chronic dieting:

When one person at the table radically changes the way they eat, the whole ecosystem of a family has to adjust. A meal is not the same thing when it is not shared. I wish I had understood better as a teenager how entangled eating behaviour between siblings was. My sister wasn’t to blame for my problems with eating; but it was only when she became ill that it was obvious how much my apparently robust appetite took its cue from her.

It is so true–at least in my experience–that meals are not the same when they are not shared, and I had a little shudder of sadness when I read that line. I’ve blocked out a lot of my memories of meals at home during my early bout of anorexia, but I do remember how they drove discomfort and silence between me and my mom (to some extent, between me and grandmother as well); what had previously been a rite of communion and sharing became fraught and tense.

During my later relapses, I often avoided partaking in shared meals at all. I knew on some level that to gather at a table and not share the experience of food was far lonelier than eating alone; at least when I was alone, I had my rituals to keep me company. There are not many things I “regret” about anorexia–I see pretty much all of it as part of an experience that shaped who I am today–but I do mourn the things I didn’t do because of it, the meals I didn’t partake in, the experiences I never had.

Fortunately, Bee Wilson has had her own recovery, and she describes what recovery means to her so succinctly and beautifully:

I never dreamed I would reach the point where I would be free of the nagging voice in my head telling me that I was disgusting because I had eaten pudding. Still less did I think I could choose what to eat based on my own desires, rather than what another female at the table was eating. At last, my appetite was my own.

5. Finally, some marvelous and unusual meditations on the idea of autonomy. Autonomy, I think, is often understood as self-sufficiency, and that’s one way of looking at it. Author Kaley Mamo examines autonomy through a different lens, describing it as a capacity to inhabit one’s own identity without being overly aware of how it compares to the identities and actions of others. She describes her struggles with this particular brand of autonomy so well:

It had been a struggle for my sophomore self, always feeling like I should be somewhere else or doing something else—something that never even crossed my mind. It wasn’t peer pressure, per se—I certainly enjoyed my fair share of the typical high school escapades—but something more. It was as if I was constantly checking over my shoulder to see everyone else’s lives, looking at their Instagram posts with a magnifying glass to see how mine compared.

I think that anyone who has survived adolescence knows exactly what Mamo means; it’s that sense of constant concern with one’s difference of similarity to others (I suspect, by they way, that being a young adult in a world with social media has heightened this feeling). But she’s able to articulate it with rare insight:

Sometimes it all lined up, and I could let out a relieved exhale. For the moment, I was in the in-crowd, my social and academic life up to par with that fake checklist of milestones I had made to mark my growth as a successful high school student. But other times, I was left in the dust. It was as if I had gone adrift, too focused on memorizing the film credits of my favorite directors to notice that everyone else had moved on. It was at those times when I realized how truly alone I was—not in the lonely way, but in the factual way—and that no matter how hard I tried to compartmentalize my peers’ lives, we were all just floating along, trying to make sense of ourselves in the context of others.

Recognition of our aloneness, I think, can ironically serve to help ease whatever dissonance we feel about being out-of-step with others. Acknowledgment that we’re all alone in a very real way– navigating our life as only we can–can actually help us to understand that we don’t have to feel or see what everyone else does. There are ways to connect that don’t need to hinge on comparison or the feeling that we ought to experience what others do, in the same way that they do.

This is a conclusion that Mamo seems to make in her own, very articulate way. The first step, she writes,

. . . is to learn to like myself for my current form and to shape myself to be someone I’ll respect in the future. That means cultivating my interests and hobbies: writing, watching movies, listening to indie folk, drinking three cups of coffee a day, taking mediocre pictures with my new camera, memorizing the film credits of my favorite directors—all without thinking about the perceived reactions of my peers. It means not worrying about events I’m not going to and simply looking forward to the ones that are on my calendar. It means using this summer to craft myself without the gaze of classmates in the hallway and, more importantly, without my own inner critic constantly comparing myself to others.

“To learn to like myself for my current form and to shape myself to be someone I’ll respect in the future.” It’s a goal that has value, I think, for everyone. And the fact that Mamo’s figuring this out at the tender age of 15 (yup, she’s a rising high school junior), and then putting it beautifully into words, is pretty cool.

With these inspiring thoughts, I wish you a wonderful Sunday.


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My List of Go-To Vegan Products

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

When I first started writing this blog, I was the queen of DIY. I made everything from scratch–well, everything I could, because I hadn’t been cooking for very long, and I was still figuring it out. I made my own nut milk. I sprouted my own sprouts. I made fruit leathers, snack bars, and yogurt. I fermented vegetables.

Times have changed. I still love the idea of doing it all from scratch, but the truth is that lately I’m far more excited to find a time-saving vegan product on the shelves of my grocery store than I am at the prospect of new kitchen project. Maybe this is just a function of where I’m at right now, or maybe it’s the new normal–I’m not really sure. What I know for certain is that I am seriously grateful for a number of smart, useful vegan products, and I thought it was worth writing about them today.

I almost titled this post “the ten vegan products I can’t live without,” but of course that’s not true–I’d do just fine without the products I’m about to share. Making certain items from scratch is all just a matter of how one wishes to invest one’s time: I could make refried beans and yogurt every week, but right now I’d rather that time go to recipe testing for the cookbook or to opening up more space for work and life–especially since I have product options that really appeal to me.

It’s also worth saying that we all have staples that we enjoy making, and some we don’t, and it can be worth figuring out the difference. I love making homemade salad dressing, hummus, cashew cheese, granola, and muffins. I don’t really enjoy making homemade snack bars, fermented foods, crackers, or veggie burgers. On the list of things that sound really fun to make, but which I haven’t yet taken the time to master, is homemade bread. These lists will probably shift around over time, but they fit my life right now. Distinguishing between the homemade projects that feel fun to me and those that don’t allows me to spend my kitchen time wisely.

My list of go-to vegan products isn’t meant to be definitive or comprehensive: it’s simply a roundup of the items I rely on most, a handful of ways that I use them, and some of my favorite brand recommendations. The list may or may not speak to you, but if it does, perhaps it’ll give you some new ideas for saving time in your own kitchen.

More than anything, I hope it might bring home the idea that it’s OK to outsource some of your culinary work. I’m not suggesting, of course, that you give up cooking or that you give up on the idea of homemade staples. There’s an art–and often a lot of economy–to making one’s own pantry items.

But cooking can feel overwhelming at times, and I’m of the mind that strategically relying on a few store-bought vegan items can actually help to make the whole process more accessible. If purchasing a can of refried beans helps you to whip up some tasty homemade tostadas for breakfast, for example–rather than grabbing something lackluster at the corner deli on the way to work–that’s pretty great. And if it makes a plant-based lifestyle feel more within your reach, even better.

So, here’s a list of the vegan items that get me through busy times. It’s always evolving, and one of the great things about being vegan these days is that I know that more and more innovative, time-saving products are soon to come.

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Vegan “Chik’n” Strips or Pieces

These are my favorite faux/plant meat product, and they always have been, but they’ve come a long way. The vegan chicken-free strips I’ve tried in the last few years are, I think, amazingly authentic in terms of flavor and texture, and they’re so versatile. I also tend to include seitan products in this category, since a lot of them taste (to me) like chicken.

Favorite Uses:

Throwing into salads or vegan lunch bowls, using in vegan enchiladas, adding to pasta dishes or casseroles, adding to tacos.

Favorite Brands:

Beyond Meat grilled strips, Quorn Vegan Chik’n Tenders, Gardein Teriyaki Chik’n Strips, Sweet Earth Foods Curry Satay

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Refried Beans

As mentioned, these are most definitely a go-to for me. I do a lot of tostada breakfasts–usually two corn tortillas with refried beans, leftover rice, avocado slices or guacamole if I have it, and other creative toppings (sometimes leftovers from the night before). Making refried beans from scratch is nice on a weekend, but having them at the ready makes weekday assembly so much faster.

Favorite Uses

Breakfast tostadas, enchilada casserole, nachos, tacos, dip/snack

Favorite Brands

Whole Foods’ 365 Refried Black Beans, Amy’s Light in Sodium Traditional Refried Beans, Pacific Organic Refried Black Beans with Chilis

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Whole Grain Crackers

I love to make a batch of hummus each weekend, but I leave crackers to the pros. I rely on a couple of wholesome brands–especially those that feature whole grains, like spelt, or nutritious nuts and seeds.

Favorite Uses

Easy snacks or snack plates, serving with soup

Favorite Brands:

Wasa Multigrain or Flax Seed Crispread, Engine 2 Triple Seed CrispbreadNatural Nectar Flatbread

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Vegan Meaty Grounds or Crumbles

Pictured above in a super quick soft taco, but also a mainstay for homemade chili, skillet rice dishes, casseroles, and pasta sauce. I love the texture and heft and protein that crumbles and grounds can add to everyday cooking and comfort food dishes alike. I tend to go for chipotle, chorizo or Italian flavor profiles, but the plain ones can be really useful, too.

Favorite Uses

Stirring into skillet rice or quinoa for a quick Mexican-themed dinner, folding into homemade marinara for hearty pasta, adding to my gluten-free mac n’ cheese for chili mac, adding to casserole dishes, throwing into burritos or tacos.

Favorite Brands

Sweet Earth Savory Grounds, Beyond Meat Beefy Crumble or Feisty Crumble, Tofurky Chorizo, Lightlife Smart Ground, Gardein Beefless Ground, Field Roast sausages (great for crumbling by hand into pasta and other dishes), Neat Mixes

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Pre-cooked Rice

I am, honestly, super embarrassed to admit this one. After years of writing ad nauseum about the value of batch cooking whole grains on the weekend to use during the week ahead, I have–more often than I’d care to admit–leaned on frozen, pre-cooked brown rice as a staple this year.

I’m not proud. And I still cook a lot of rice at home. It’s just that sometimes our dinner plan changes spontaneously, and we’re suddenly eating something that cries out to be scooped over a bowl of rice. Or we’ve got most of an entree ready, but it needs a whole grain in order to be substantial enough. And when this happens, using the pre-cooked stuff is really quick, and really easy.

I’m not suggesting this, exactly. Theoretically, I encourage everyone to batch cook, then freeze, rice. This is what I do, too–theoretically. But we all know that real life competes with our plans and good intentions sometimes, and when it does, pre-cooked grains may just come in handy.

Favorite Uses:

Stir fries, using as an accompaniment for curries, stirring into casseroles or bakes, using as a quick component for bowls

Favorite Brands:

Whole Foods’ 365 frozen brown rice, Seeds of Change Brown Basmati Rice or Quinoa & Brown Rice, TastyBite rices

Organic Soups and Chilis

Another one I sometimes feel guilty about–after all, soups and chili are two of my very favorite dishes to make from scratch. But life happens, and when a pot of homemade soup isn’t in the stars, having a box or can in the pantry can make for a very quick meal indeed. Sometimes I even stir in a box of canned beans for a little extra protein and nutrient density.

Favorite Uses

Serving with bread or rice for an easy meal, stirring (chili) into my gluten free mac n’ cheese for chili mac, using as the base for a rice or quinoa casserole (especially good with mushroom soups)

Favorite Brands

Fig Foods organic soups, Pacific Foods soups (especially the butternut and red lentil), Amy’s vegan soups and chilis (I try to get the “light in sodium” options)

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Smoked or Pre-Seasoned Tofu

This is one of those dishes that I would actually always prefer to make myself–I love marinating and baking tofu and tempeh–but I do rely on the pre-seasoned varieties when things are super busy, or if I need to add tofu to a dish quickly but know that it needs flavoring first.

Favorite Uses

Adding to stir-fries or soba/udon noodle dishes, adding to grain bowls, adding to wraps, chopping and adding to salads

Favorite Brands

Soyboy Smoked Tofu (I absolutely love this stuff, and I use it in a lot of dishes), Wildwood Organics baked tofuNasoya TofuBaked, Fresh Tofu Inc. Lemon Pepper Tofu, Westsoy Italian Garlic Herb Baked Tofu, Hodo Soy Five-Spice or Curry Thai Tofu Nuggets

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Almond and Soy Milk

I used to be big on homemade nut milk, and I still love it as an evening treat, or for adding to homemade muesli. But my enthusiasm for making it from scratch has dwindled, and beyond that, I like to use store-bought varieties to ensure that I’m getting the calcium from fortification.

Favorite Uses

Oatmeal, cereal, soups, baking

Favorite Brands

Silk Almond and Soy Milk, So Delicious Dairy-Free Almond MilkCalifia Farms Almond Milk, Westsoy Original Soy Milk

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Vegan Yogurt

Another one I’ve made in the past, but which I just prefer to invest in nowadays–especially soy yogurt, which is relatively inexpensive and my favorite option from a taste perspective. I love combining it with homemade granola (something I do relish making from scratch!), my crispy buckwheat cocoa clusters, or muesli. The unsweetened varieties (especially Nancy’s plain soy yogurt), are also great for topping curries or Middle Eastern dishes.

Favorite Uses

Muesli, with granola and fresh fruit for breakfast, adding to overnight oats, serving with Indian or Middle Eastern dishes

Favorite Brands

Nancy’s Cultured Soy Yogurt, Silk Dairy Free Yogurt, Amande Cultured Almond Milk YogurtKite Hill Yogurts

My List of Go-To Vegan Products | The Full Helping

Veggie Burgers

I have a love-hate relationship with veggie burgers. When I make them and they turn out well, I love them–and so does Steven, who could probably eat at least one veggie burger every day of his life. But I find that it actually takes a lot of work and tinkering to get a recipe just right, and sometimes, I don’t have the patience.

For this reason–and because we eat a lot of them–I tend to buy veggie burgers, unless I have a bunch in the freezer already from a recent, homemade batch.

Favorite Uses

Serving on buns or English muffins with hummus or avocado, crumbling into rice skillets, crumbling into bakes and casseroles, folding into soft tacos for breakfast, wraps

Favorite Brands

Sunshine Burgers, Hilary’s Eat Well “World’s Best” Veggie Burgers, Gardein Black Bean Burger, Sweet Earth Veggie Burgers, Field Roast FieldBurger, Amy’s California Veggie Burger, Dr. Praeger’s Veggie Burgers (lots of vegan options), Neat Mixes (can be shaped into burgers), Engine 2 Italian Fennel Plant Burger . . . can you tell we’ve done some taste testing? 🙂

Runner Ups: Vegan mayonnaise, vegan buttery spread, vegan cereals (for Steven, who eats cereal for breakfast almost every day)

Again, this isn’t a comprehensive list in the sense that the products we need most are always changing. Once cookbook testing is behind me, I’ll be able to settle into a more regular cooking routine that includes more batch cooking on weekends and a lot more everyday staple foods, and I suspect that I’ll be able to DIY a little more.

But for now, these foods help to make my vegan lifestyle just a little simpler and more accessible, and I so appreciate that I have them as options. It seems as though more and more companies are bringing vegan options to the table these days, and I hope the trend continues.

I’d love to hear more about your favorite vegan brands and products–and if you’d like me to share any of the semi-homemade recipes I mentioned in this post, let me know!


The post My List of Go-To Vegan Products appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa | The Full Helping

At this time of year, as we all hunker down and settle back into a slightly fuller routine, I tend to get very concerned with making recipes that offer the most return on the time it takes to make them. In other words, I’m all about simple, efficient dinners that will give me lots of leftovers. Still, I tend to forget that a really great dip or spread or vegetable topping–like this simple, roasted sweet potato salsa–can be every bit as useful when it comes to weekly meal planning.

A great condiment can go so far in livening up simple dishes throughout the week. One batch of hummus can contribute to a bunch of sandwiches or wraps, liven up a week’s worth of vegan lunch bowls, or even be stirred into savory oats for breakfast. A really awesome dressing can make or break a week’s worth of salads and bowls. And lately, I’m learning that savory granola is a perfect way to add flavor, spice, and a little extra density to any simple meal.

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa | The Full Helping

This roasted sweet potato is such a simple idea–I can’t believe I haven’t made it already, honestly. The most annoying part of making the recipe is cutting the sweet potatoes into a small dice (at least 1/2-inch cubes, smaller if you have the patience for it), so that you can toss them into the salsa and have them in very bite-sized pieces. But once that’s done, it’s all just a matter of throwing them into the oven, roasting them till they’re beautiful and browning at the edges, then tossing them with tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, and lime juice.

I used cherry tomatoes while I was preparing the dish, but chopped plum or beefsteak tomatoes would be fine, too. And once you’ve prepared the basic salsa, I highly recommend stirring in some cubed avocado (for creaminess–a guac/salsa hybrid!) or black beans for a little protein.

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa | The Full Helping

I love the way that the sweet, hearty texture of the roasted sweet potatoes contrasts with the crispy tomatoes and onion. I like salsa, but honestly, it’s never been more than a topping for me. When I have it as a snack, with chips or whatnot, it always feels just a little too light to be satisfying. Think of this recipe as salsa with staying power.

You can do just about anything with the salsa, but what I’ve been doing with it all week long is adding it to breakfast tostadas: two corn tortillas, toasted quickly over my burner, topped with refried beans, and then plenty of the roasted sweet potato salsa on top. It’s an easy, satisfying breakfast, and it seems like a perfect option for this time of year.

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa | The Full Helping

Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: dip, spread, topping
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free, no oil optional
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 4 cups

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes (about 2 medium), cut into a small dice (1/2-inch cubes or smaller)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as safflower, grapeseed, or avocado
  • Coarse salt
  • 1½ cups cherry tomatoes, halved or quartered
  • ⅓ cup finely diced red onion (or chopped green onion tops)
  • ½ cup chopped cilantro leaves
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil (you can omit if adding avocado)
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • Optional additions: 1 Hass avocado, diced, or 1½ cups cooked black beans (1 can, drained and rinsed)

  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Toss the sweet potatoes in the oil and transfer them to a parchment or foil lined baking sheet. Season the potatoes with salt. Roast for 20 minutes, or until the potatoes are tender and browning at the edges, stirring the potatoes gently halfway through roasting.
  2. Allow the potatoes to cool for 10-15 minutes before transferring them to a mixing bowl. Add the tomatoes, red onion, cilantro, lime juice, and oil, if using. Mix ingredients well and season to taste with additional salt and red pepper flakes. Fold in avocado or black beans, if using. Serve.

Leftover salsa will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 days.


 Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa | The Full Helping

This fall, I’d love to try the salsa with different root vegetables: I’m guessing carrots would be awesome, as would golden beets or even butternut squash. We’ll see, but for now, I’m really enjoying this hearty, sweet savory snack.

Hope you enjoy it, too. Later this week, I’ll be sharing some thoughts on the vegan product staples that help to carry me through busy weeks. See you soon.


The post Simple Roasted Sweet Potato Salsa appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 9.18.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Hello, hello, and happy Sunday. It’s been a week of highs and lows here: September’s customary temperature swings, some ups and downs in mood, and some recipe testing triumphs followed up by a couple of spectacular fails. It’s all keeping me on my toes.

On Monday evening, a friend invited me to check out a new play, called Aubergine. It’s the story of a chef, Ray, whose father has recently entered hospice care. In nursing his dying father, Ray is forced to confront his childhood, his Korean heritage, his recent breakup, and his sense of identity–as a professional, a lover, and a son–all at once. He navigates the experience under the watchful guidance of a hospice worker, his ex-girlfriend, and his uncle, the brother from whom his father was estranged.

I found the play incredibly touching. It’s hard for me not to appreciate any work of art that examines the human condition through food. The play is peppered with lots of food/life metaphors, and sure, I’ve heard some of them before. But they resonate, all the same.

Throughout the play, Ray’s concerned onlookers are continually urging him to eat; in being confronted with his father’s death and assuming the role of caretaker, Ray has quit being a chef, at least temporarily, and stopped cooking. He resorts to takeout or forgets to eat altogether, and he insists angrily that there’s no point in preparing food; his father is no longer able to eat. Of course, those around him counter that it’s not Ray’s father that needs nourishment. It’s Ray himself. He needs sustenance in order to survive the loss that’s coming.

In spite of his expressed skepticism, Ray harbors a hope that, by some miracle, he can create a dish so special that it might bring his father back to life, or bring him some comfort, or if not that, at least create a bridge of communication between the two men, who have never had an easy relationship. That Ray’s father has never respected his work–“it’s women’s work,” he says with disdain–only compounds Ray’s desperation to prove his worth through food.

In the end, this coveted moment of connection doesn’t really arrive. But healing happens, anyway, and Ray does begin to cook again. Ray’s father wasn’t able to receive and appreciate Ray’s talent, but many others will.

Reconciliation is something that many of us–maybe most of us–tend to seek and crave, either because it’s what we want or because it’s what we believe we should want. We may despair when amends can’t be made, which happens: sometimes there’s too much history between two people, and sometimes a person is gone. Aubergine‘s playwright, Julia Cho, seems to be suggesting something that I want to believe, which is that healing is possible even when the moment of communication or shared understanding that we’d hoped for proves impossible.

Underneath all of this runs the idea of food as part of the healing process. Communication can fail, timing can be bad, opportunities are missed. But we can take care of ourselves; we can nourish our bodies, bite by bite, and what this act communicates is that we want to keep going. It’s an idea that I’ve clung to in moments of confusion or grief or feeling stuck. I may not be able to make sense of things, but I can choose to make myself dinner; I can put something wholesome in my body and trust that if nothing else, there is value in that act.

I’m linking to something Julia Cho wrote about Aubergine as one of my reads this weekend; she has some lovely things to say about food and what it communicates, within families and within a culture. In the meantime, lots of wonderful recipes to share this week.



It’s fig season, which is something to celebrate each year while it lasts. I love and can’t wait to try this colorful and oh-so-simple fig, Israeli couscous, and walnut salad from my friends Amanda and Aaron over at Pickles & Honey.


I’ve experimented with dozens of different homemade nut and seed butters over the years, but this is the first time that I’d ever considered (or even heard of) coconut pistachio butter. Leave it to the playful, creative Adrianna to come up with this lovely idea, and then to top it with sprinkles.


The best and most wonderful kind of comfort food, courtesy of Amanda over at My Goodness Kitchen: oven roasted, garlicky tomatoes, being soaked up by heaps of day-old bread. I love everything about this, the end.


I’ve never really met a black bean chili I didn’t like. My black bean, butternut, and quinoa chili is the current favorite around here, but I’m always on the hunt for recipes. I love Andrea’s new recipe for black bean and corn chili, which features plenty of spices and beer for seasoning. (Easy to swap the regular yogurt for vegan yogurt, natch!)


I’m mighty impressed by Annett’s soft baked vegan pretzels with maple mustard dip, and even though I’m 95% sure that I could never replicate anything that pretty or authentic, I may just have to try. Crunchy pretzels have never really been my jam, but I do love the soft ones, and these look perfect.



I haven’t yet tried the Impossible Foods hamburger; one can get it here in New York (if you can snag a table at Momofuku Nishi), but I admit, I haven’t been tempted. There are many faux meats I love, but the extent to which I crave an authentic (i.e. bloody) hamburger is truly minimal.

That said, this fascinating profile of Patrick Brown, the founder of Impossible Foods, has at least piqued my curiosity about the burger, and it has me pretty excited about continuing disruptions in our food system.


Whitney McKnight profiles a new app that is designed to help individuals who may be experiencing the early signs of schizophrenia to safely connect with healthcare providers. It’s an interesting, provocative look at developments in the healthcare industry, and it asks important questions about how our regard for the dignity of mental illness patients might be growing. McKnight suggests that the app might be evidence of

…an evolution in how we see one another as human beings, and how we can learn to trust that humans are actually capable of figuring out how to get through the day, even if we are at times unstable. Because the secured app is designed to generate and collect data about a person’s state of mind, reflections about one’s experiences with psychosis, conversations with others, and records of how a person dealt with moments of instability, it captures “life with psychosis” in real time, and preserves it so that the people living with the illness can partner with their clinician to review the body of work they have created in response to their illness, rather than be seen as their illness.
The app demonstrates that we can develop coping strategies for our sometimes unpredictable minds, when given the freedom to do so.
This is wholly different from affected persons having to trundle themselves to a clinic, absorb (and possibly reject) the often silly exigeses of who they are as defined by bureaucracy, and be “examined”, which implies that they are a specimen, not a person.

Beautifully put. It’s well worth reading McKnight’s reporting and also her interview of Dr. Danielle Schlosser, principle investigator at the lab that is pioneering the app.


Good news: a few promising trials are underway to encourage food banks to help their clients who are suffering from Type II Diabetes.

Oftentimes the selection at banks and food pantries is limited to foods that may exacerbate, rather than remedy, symptoms of the disease. Now that physicians are being directed to ask about food insecurity during appointments, they’re also becoming invested in helping their patients to access healthful groceries. This has led to the early implementation of healthcare screenings and treatment guidance at banks, along with more pressure for banks and pantries to stock fresh produce. Hopefully, the model will catch on.


A wonderful, short profile of Marie Tharp, whose work as a geologist helped to prove the theory of plate techtonics and continental drift. It’s worth reading not only to get to know Tharp (I’d never heard of her before I stumbled on this), but also because her story depicts a pretty remarkable triumph over sexism in the sciences.


And finally, Julia Cho’s reflection. She remembers her father, who loved ramen, and she writes about the imprint that this dish has had on her life. I was touched by her closing works, which may resonate with any of you who have lost a loved one and choose to honor that person’s memory through food:

I bring up these two dishes because when someone dies, one of the harder aspects is that you no longer get to eat with them. There are some religions that construct altars for their dead and leave food for them to have in the afterlife. I know one friend who put a Pepsi and a donut on the altar for his grandmother because those were her favorite foods. For my father, I would put ramen and jjamppong. But being Christian, we have no altars. So instead, I eat ramen, now sharing it with my own children, who lap it up with an almost primal instinct as I have yet to find a child who doesn’t like noodles. And should I be so lucky to be in LA’s Koreatown, I go to Young King and order their jjamppong. I think of my father — this man who ate out so rarely, who gave himself so few material luxuries that when he died, he left almost nothing to inherit. He grew up in a time and place where there were no cameras; of his early life, or even his life as a young man, I know virtually nil. But I know what he ate; I know what foods he liked. And so it is a kind of communion: I eat these things in remembrance of him.

Enjoy the reads, enjoy the links. And I look forward to sharing a (very easy) new recipe with you in a couple days.


The post Weekend Reading, 9.18.16 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto Potatoes from Oh She Glows Everyday


Summer may be drawing to a close (it’s barely 70 here in New York today), but I’m nowhere near ready to surrender my delight in freshly made batches of pesto. These bright and beautiful roasted garlic pesto potatoes with arugula from the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook, which was published last week, are a perfect way to celebrate my last few jars of pesto for the season!


If you’re not a fan of the Oh She Glows blog already, then I hope this post will encourage you to check out Angela’s gorgeous, carefully crafted plant-based recipes. Angela is a master at creating vegan fare that is crowd-pleasing, family friendly, and always a pleasure to eat.

Her smash-hit, first cookbook was a collection of vegan recipes that ranged from occasion-worthy to easy. Her new collection, Oh She Glows Everyday, is a compilation of the everyday favorite recipes that Angela and her family love and rely upon.


I love the theme of this book. I’m a big believer in the idea that there’s a time and a place for every type of recipe, ranging from the “projects” that are all the more rewarding because we’ve taken our time with them to simple staples. But most home cooks these days are busy people with lots of obligations, and simple recipes are often the ones that give back most generously.


The book contains glimpses into Angela’s life at home with her husband and business partner, Eric, and her daughter, Adriana. Clearly, the experience of becoming a mother and juggling the demands of raising a toddler, running a business, and publishing a cookbook helped to shape the new book’s emphasis on simple fare. But, whether simple food is what you’re looking for or not, you’ll find so much to love in these vibrant, flavorful meals, which range from snacks and basics (like homemade nut butters and nut milks) to hearty entrees.


Highlights of the book include such everyday, nourishing meals as Angela’s golden French lentil stew and family friendly recipes, like her Oh Em Gee burgers.


And of course, no collection from Angela would be complete without a sampling of her beloved desserts, including chocolate dipped macaroons and strawberry oat crumble bars.


As you can see, the book has been brought to life with vibrant, beautiful images from Ashley McLaughlin, and there’s an image for each recipe, which means that the whole collection is a feast for the eyes as well as your culinary imagination. As always, Angela’s recipes are clear, well-written, and foolproof.

There are so many recipes I might have shared today, but I can’t help having fallen in love with the flavors of this potato and arugula dish, and I think it perfectly captures Angela’s goal with the collection, which is to transform simple combinations of ingredients into memorable household favorites.


Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto Potatoes with Arugula from Oh She Glows Everyday
Author: Angela Liddon
Recipe type: side dish, small plate, salad
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, tree nut free, soy free
Prep time:  15 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  55 mins

Serves: 4

For the potatoes:
  • 2 pounds (900 g) Yukon Gold or red potatoes, unpeeled, chopped into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes (about 6 cups/ 1.5 L)
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1½ teaspoons (22 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • Fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
For the roasted garlic:
  • 1 large garlic head
  • ½ teaspoon (2 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
For the pesto:
  • 1 cup (250 mL/3/4 ounce/20 g) lightly packed fresh basil leaves
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons (45 to 60 mL) hemp hearts
  • ¼ cup (60 mL) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons (30 mL) fresh lemon juice, or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon (1 mL) fine sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
For the salad:
  • 3 cups (750 mL) baby arugula, chopped
  • Fresh lemon juice, for serving (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon (15 mL) hemp hearts, for garnish

  1. Preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C). Line an extra-large baking sheet (15 by 21 inches/38 by 53 cm) with parchment paper.
  2. Make the potatoes Place the potatoes on the baking sheet and toss with the olive oil until thoroughly coated. Spread the potatoes into an even layer. Season with a couple of pinches of salt and pepper.
  3. Make the roasted garlic Slice the top off the garlic bulb so all the individual garlic cloves are trimmed. Place garlic bulb on a square of aluminum foil (about 8 inches/20 cm square) and drizzle the top of the cloves with the olive oil. Wrap the garlic bulb entirely in the foil and place it on the baking sheet with the potatoes.
  4. Roast the potatoes and garlic for 20 minutes, then remove pan from the oven and flip the potatoes with a spatula. Return the potatoes and garlic to the oven and continue roasting for 15 to 20 minutes more, until the potatoes are golden and fork-tender.
  5. Make the pesto In a food processor, combine the pesto ingredients and process until mostly smooth, stopping to scrape down the bowl as necessary. Keep the pesto in the processor because we will add the roasted garlic as the final step.
  6. Remove the potatoes and garlic from the oven. Carefully unwrap the garlic bulb and let cool for 5 to 10 minutes, until it’s cool enough to handle.
  7. Turn off the oven and return the potatoes to the oven with the door ajar so they stay warm. (You can also put the potatoes into an oven-safe casserole dish so the dish stays warm when serving.) Squeeze the roasted garlic cloves out of the bulb. You should have about 2 packed tablespoons (30 mL) of roasted garlic. Add it into the food processor with the pesto. Process until mostly smooth—you can add a touch more oil if necessary to get it going.
  8. Assemble the salad This is the important part where you need to act fast; I like to assemble the salad very quickly so that it’s warm when I serve it. Grab a large serving bowl and place the arugula in the bottom of the bowl. You can break it up into smaller pieces with your hands a bit. Then, remove the potatoes from the oven and quickly place them into the serving bowl on top of the arugula. Toss the potatoes and arugula with the pesto until thoroughly combined. Taste and season with salt and pepper. Sometimes I add another drizzle of lemon juice if I feel like the dish needs more acidity. Sprinkle on the hemp hearts and serve immediately.

On the rare chance that you have any leftovers, I’ve discovered that this side works great as a cold potato salad. Just serve it straight from the fridge!

Reprinted from Oh She Glows Every Day by arrangement with Avery, a member of Penguin Group (USA) LLC, A Penguin Random House Company. Copyright © 2016, Glo Bakery Corporation



If you’d like to experience more of Angela’s recipes for yourself, you’re in luck: Angela and her publisher have generously offered a free copy of the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook to a Full Helping reader. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents only, and it’ll run for one week. Enter below to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, everyone!

It has been a quiet week here, but I’ve been feeling a little under the weather for the last day or two, so I’m looking forward to the weekend getting underway. Maybe some roasted garlic basil pesto potatoes will be in my future (and yours).

See you for weekend reading!


Food photography from the Oh She Glows Everyday cookbook, including those reprinted in this post, are by Ashley McLaughlin.

The post Roasted Garlic Basil Pesto Potatoes from Oh She Glows Everyday appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

Some recipes are just more than the sum of their parts. They look and sound simple, but for whatever reason, there’s more to them than meets the eye. Maybe this is because they happen to be exceptionally delicious in spite of a short ingredient list, or because they’re the kind of meals that serve as great social equalizers–everyone you know will enjoy them, regardless of dietary preference. Maybe they’re incredibly budget friendly, or they happen to yield something complex and flavorful in spite of being fast to cook.

I’ve come to see vegan cakes, balls, and burgers this way. On first inspection, they’re all just different forms of a vegetable patty. But they’re actually far more generous than that. A great vegan patty/ball/burger/falafel can be used to add protein and heft to salads. It can be quickly added to a grain bowl, folded into a sandwich or a wrap, turned into sliders, stuffed into lettuce cups. It can even be piled on top of pasta (one of my favorite ways to enjoy my savory chickpea oat oat balls).

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping
Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

These vegan, gluten free curried lentil vegetable cakes are my latest riff on the theme. They’re super flavorful, thanks to a mix of cumin, curry, turmeric, and plenty of garlic. They’re packed with plant-protein, thanks to red lentils and quinoa. They’re simple to make, in part because the lentils and quinoa each take only 15-20 minutes and can be simmered in the same pot. And they can serve as a vegan protein source with or in so many types of meals, from Indian-themed buffets to simple lunchtime pitas. With a dollop of chutney or some of my creamy cashew raita, they make for a terrific meal.

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

You can crumble up a couple of these cakes and throw them into a salad, pile them into your favorite vegan lunch bowl, or eat them as a nutrient dense snack. You can serve them with naan, pita, or rice. You can make a batch (you’ll get twelve or so), freeze half, and keep them handy as a vegan protein source that can be defrosted at a moment’s notice.

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

The cakes were made with plant-based staples from the folks at Nuts.com, who make it easy to stock a comprehensive, healthful vegan pantry.

Nuts.com is a family-owned, online storefront that’s much beloved for high quality nuts, seeds, dried fruits, legumes, grains, spices, and more. The company was started in 1929 by Poppy Sol, and his son and grandson continue to manage the business. Nuts.com roasts its nuts on the day of shipping them out to ensure freshness, and all of its products arrive in brightly colored, biodegradable packaging.

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

I’ve been ordering nuts, fruit, legumes, grains and flours from Nuts.com since 2012, when a neighbor in DC introduced me to the site, and virtually every shipment I’ve ever gotten has been fresh and high quality–no shrunken legumes, no stale nuts or seeds. I love that the store offers such a huge variety of whole grains and grain products, vegan snacks, and pulses. And I love the fast shipping, the friendly customer service, and the occasional free sample that the company throws into its shipments!

This recipe features ingredients that are easy to find on the Nuts.com site, including quinoa, red lentils, chickpea flour, and spices. You can even find chutney to accompany the lentil vegetable cakes in the company’s condiment section. If you’re looking for other traditional Indian ingredients, like urud dal or toor dal, or if you’d like to pick up legumes that can be difficult to find (like pardina lentils, which are my favorite), the site offers a big selection of those as well.

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree, side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  1 hour
Total time:  1 hour 10 mins

Serves: 12 patties

5.0 from 1 reviews


  • ¾ cup dry quinoa, rinsed through a fine sieve
  • ½ cup red lentils (substitute urud dal or moong dal)
  • 1 tablespoon ground flax or chia meal
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • 3 tablespoons chickpea flour
  • For serving: chutney, vegan yogurt, creamy cashew raita, naan, cooked whole grains, pita, etc.

  1. Place the quinoa and lentils in a medium sized pot and add 2¾ cups water. Bring the mixture to a boil, the reduce heat to low. Cover and simmer for 15-20 minutes, or until the quinoa and lentils have absorbed all of the water.
  2. Preheat your oven to 350F. Mix the flax or chia meal with 3 tablespoons warm water and set it aside.
  3. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Cook, stirring now and then, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is clear and the carrots are tender. Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes.
  4. Add the cooked quinoa and lentils to the skillet along with the curry, cumin, turmeric, salt, and red pepper flakes. Taste the mixture and add salt and pepper as needed. Stir in the flax “egg” (from step 2) and the chickpea flour and mix everything well. Set the mixture aside to cool for 20-35 minutes (you can transfer it to the fridge or cover it and leave it out), until it has thickened somewhat and is cool enough to shape into cakes with your hands.
  5. Brush a baking sheet lightly with oil. Shape the lentil and quinoa mixture into 12 cakes (about a half cup each; they’ll be pretty soft as you shape them, but will firm up while baking) and place them on the baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes and gently flip the cakes over. Continue baking for another 20 minutes, or until the cakes are gently browned on both sides. Serve with chutney of choice or my creamy cashew raita, as well as any other accompaniments you like.

Leftover cakes will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. They can be individually wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.


Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

As you can see, I served these along with my golden butternut squash and chickpea curry for a curry-themed feast, but you can keep things much simpler; some naan and cashew raita or chutney will turn this into a perfect meal. You can also serve the patties over a bed of fresh or sautéed greens and smother them in raita. I imagine that quicker cooking dal varieties, like urud or moong dal, would be a perfect substitute for the red lentils. If you happen to try one or both, let me know!

And if you’d like to try some pantry staples from Nuts.com for yourself, the company is offering all Full Helping readers a chance to explore a bit–and to grab some free goods while you shop. With this special offer, you can add four free gifts to your Nuts.com cart when you spend $25 or more. There are truly so many wonderful grains, legumes, and specialty foods to savor on the site, and if you’re interested, I hope you’ll find some items that you love.

I’ll be back later this week with a new vegan cookbook review and giveaway. Can’t wait to share!


This post is sponsored by Nuts.com. All opinions are my own. Thank you for your continued support!

V & GF Curried Lentil Vegetable Cakes | The Full Helping

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Weekend Reading, 9.11.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday to all of you. And thank you, truly, for letting me ramble a little bit about authenticity last weekend! The topic has stayed on my mind this week, but I’ve been thinking less about spoken communication and more about self-acknowledgment.

One tendency that seems to get me into trouble, no matter how much I believe that I’m working against it, is that of disavowing feelings. This is something I didn’t used to think I did, because I was very much “in touch” with sensations like sadness and sorrow. In my mind, these were the feelings that people usually tried to ignore, so my embracing them had to be evidence that I was fully inhabiting my emotions, right?

Not really. I was in touch with these feelings, but what I didn’t understand was that there is no predetermined set of emotions that constitute the full scope of what can be ignored or pushed away. Some people have trouble acknowledging sadness. And then there are people like me, who have no trouble acknowledging (or even embracing) melancholy, but have a harder time owning other emotions, like anger or resistance.

I’m naming these two because I think they’re the tough ones, for me, the ones that I don’t like to identify with. Again, it’s the good girl thing, the need to embrace any task, any assignment, and even any relationship with an aura of enthusiasm, determination, and competence. It’s difficult for me to feel, and then to acknowledge, anger, and it’s especially hard for me to assert my feelings when their validity is called into question.

The upshot is that it can take me a long time to recognize when I’ve become uncomfortable with a situation or a dynamic. And it’s often the case that I become painfully anxious long before I can bring myself to name or identify what’s really wrong.

I’m learning that there’s tremendous power in remaining open to the possibility of all emotional experiences, rather than pushing away the ones that freak me out or challenge the parts of my identity that I’ve become attached to. It’s certainly not a “solution” to anxiety, which can take many forms and have many causes, but for me, it’s one shift in perspective that seems to help.

This week, I was flipping through the portfolio of my friend Jay, who is a remarkable illustrator (and a pretty awesome human being, too). I was struck by how much understanding and humor he brings to this complicated topic of self-acceptance and self-care. Two illustrations in particular stood out to me. The first is this:


Jay’s caption, when he shared it on Instagram, was this:

A few years back, I sketched myself sitting with my anxiety, which turned out to be a wiry mess of a monster with googly eyes and scissor hands. Today, when sitting with my dear Anxiety Monster wasn’t enough to appease it, I tried taking care of it, by which I suppose I mean, I tried taking care of myself. It’s a quiet, slow process, but I think it’s worth doing.

When I was a kid, I was often beset by mysterious nausea or stomach pain. To what extent it was a precursor to my hypersensitive digestion versus an expression of anxiety I’m not sure–both, probably–but my mother and I personified the feelings in order to make them feel less scary. My nausea became “Billy Barf,” the clenched feeling in my throat “Louis Lump.” It sounds silly now, but I see that my mom was helping me to do something that can be valuable at any point in life, which is to become more familiar with–to befriend, even–a personal bugaboo. Jay’s illustration brings this process to life so compassionately.

I also was also struck by this drawing:


I’m working each and every day to sit with uncomfortable and unresolved feelings, rather than fleeing and submerging myself in work or productivity (my favorite hiding places). I love Jay’s gentle reminder that, when we feel lost in a tangle, it’s OK to be lost for a little while. This isn’t to say that it’s not important to examine one’s own perspective on the mess, or to look for solutions. Sometimes, though, tugging too aggressively or hastily at a tangle only makes it more gnarled. Everything changes, both within and without, and there can be comfort in knowing that resolution will come sooner or later.

You can find more of Jay’s illustrations, which address not only anxiety but also sexuality, self-expression, joy, sorrow, growth, perspective, and even food over at his website, or you can check out his work as it emerges on Instagram. Perhaps you’ll find wisdom in it, as I have.

And on that note, here are the recipes and articles I’ve been tangled up in this week.



Let’s begin with breakfast! A sweet, seasonal, freshly baked breakfast, that is, from Hana of Nirvana Cakery. Her vegan, gluten free plum muffins are wholesome and packed with fresh, juicy plums–what a lovely morning treat.


I’ve always felt that this is a really special time of year for produce: sweet potatoes and autumn squash begin to pop up at the same time as tomatoes and sweet corn are still in season. Monique’s vegan sweet potato corn chowder is a perfect tribute to late summer/early fall, and I love the addition of curry and coconut milk.


I’m always on the lookout for super fast, super convenient recipes that also happen to be packed with flavor. Lisa’s pan fried polenta with roasted kale and chickpeas is so easy to prepare, but it looks very satisfying in spite of the simplicity. Lisa includes parmesan in her recipe, which can easily be replaced with vegan parm, my hemp parmesan, or some dollops of homemade cashew cheese.


Another easy, hearty recipe idea: Lauren’s loaded sweet potatoes with quinoa tabbouleh–a tasty, complete, and nutritious vegan supper.


For dessert, I can’t stop staring at Belen’s beautiful beet and chocolate muffins, which are infused with just a hint of rosemary. I’m having a hard time imagining rosemary and chocolate together, but I’m definitely intrigued, and I trust Belen to put together stellar combinations of flavor. (I love the color of these, too.)



Most basically, this is an essay about one young person’s experience working in an ER. I took interest because I myself spent some time volunteering in hospitals when I was a post-bacc, and it’s an environment to which I’ll probably return again at some point, assuming I wrap up training for my RD. To say I had a mixed experience would be an understatement, but I remember each and every name and face of every child I spent time with. I usually take interest in hospital memoirs, curious to discover how others have navigated their time in an environment that’s at the crossroads of so many phases of living and dying.

There’s more than meets the eye in this essay, though: in spite of being very brief, it’s also a meditation on the desire to prove oneself and the funny routes by which we stumble into our vocations. And I like the #firstsevenjobs meme a lot.


Also on the topic of healthcare in America, a persuasive article that gives true force and meaning to the expression “social determinants of health.” If you’re not familiar with this phrase, it’s used to describe non-biological, non-genetic factors that have an impact on how injuries and illnesses develop and progress: it includes income, geography, housing, food access and quality, social supports, and more.

On some level we understand that income, access, stress, and culture have a profound impact on health, and those of us who take a strong interest in food might have a particular sensitivity to this issue. This article, though, is a vivid illustration of how one’s circumstances will shape the progression of a medical crisis, how two individuals with nearly identical physiology might experience the same injury in drastically different ways. Powerful and worth reading.


Perhaps some of you stumbled on these reflections, written by a former animal researcher, about his experience in an animal lab. It is forceful and honest, and what struck me most about it–from a narrative perspective, anyway–is the author’s description of his continual attempts to rationalize his work in spite of a relentless sense of moral dissonance. He remembers:

…it was impossible to fully quell my repugnance at all that I continued to witness and to inflict. At the same time, in the classroom, I began to face questions from students who had become increasingly concerned about the predicament of lab animals. When one of my graduate students wanted to dedicate his doctoral dissertation to G44, a female rhesus monkey who had unexpectedly died during his research, I thought he was joking; then I realized that to him G44 was an individual with a unique personality, not just an animated object that produced data points. It became harder and harder for me to argue that the importance of my work always outweighed the pain I caused in doing it.

The op-ed will speak to anyone who takes an interest in animal rights and the ethics of medical research. Animal research is defended on the grounds that the possibility of a scientific gain justifies the suffering it creates. As the author notes, however, “we already accept that ethical limits on experiments involving humans are important enough that we are willing to forgo possible breakthroughs.”

On a personal level, this was a timely and important read. I spend a lot of time reading about clinical trials and laboratory findings, and in spite of my opposition to animal research, I’ve come to a point where I peruse scientific literature without experiencing any palpable tension or discomfort when I encounter frequent mentions of animal experiments.

That I’ve become so numbed to this issue disturbs me. It may be professionally important for me to expose myself to research findings, but it’s even more important to do so while holding onto my outrage and sorrow for the animals who are tormented to make such research possible.

Dr. Zhuo Hua Pan, a professor at Wayne State University, poses for a portrait on Friday, Aug. 12, 2016, in his lab at Scott Hall in Detroit, Mich. Pan holds the patent for the version of optogenetics — a neurological technology that could potentially cure blindness — that is currently in clinical trials. Sean Proctor for STAT

Also on the topic of medical research, a well-reported article on who gets credit for scientific findings and why. While it’s certainly sometimes the case that one pioneering individual is responsible for a pathbreaking line of research, it’s also sometimes the case that numerous individuals make breakthroughs within a similar field at the same time. Who gets published, who gets awarded with grants, and who is ultimately awarded credit and notoriety?

As the article makes clear, this territory can be distressingly fuzzy, more influenced by politics or personality than we might like to imagine.


Finally, I want to share this brave article, which tackles the seldom discussed issue of how chronic illness can impact body image. The title of the article is “Please Don’t Call Me Pretty–I’m Just Sick and Skinny,” and as you can probably guess, the author expresses outrage over our tendency to casually comment upon each other’s bodies.

Most of us, at one time or another, have lost weight because of an illness. For many of us, it’s all part and parcel of having had whatever flu or gastroenteritis or infection we had. We expect not to have an appetite while we’re burning up with fever or struggling to keep food down, and we greet the return of our appetite with relief. If we’re lucky, we don’t give too much thought to the few pounds we may or may not have lost while we were sick.

If you happen to have a very complicated relationship with food, though, or if you are grappling with a chronic or a serious illness, this whole issue can take on much bigger dimensions. And it is certainly not made easier by the fact that our society does nothing to censure public discourse about body shape. Being told that you “look great” or asked whether or not you’ve lost weight during or after an illness is a bizarre experience, infuriating and rewarding and triggering all at once.

Author Jacqueline Raposo speaks to all of these complications and more. Her post is both a furious indictment of how illness and body shape intersect in our society, and also a brutally honest confession of how illness compounded her own fixation on weight. She remembers:

when a girlfriend saw me stepping into the pool at my parents’ home, shivering in the hot August sun, with opioid patches on my chest and braces on my wrists, she looked at my bikini-clad body and said, “Oh my God, I am so jealous of how skinny you are.”
Eight years later, I’m jealous of me, too. Considering how sick I was then, and how much healthier I am now, the fact that I can actually think wistfully back on my incapacitated bikini body is a sad commentary on how prized thinness is in our culture. Not only by well-meaning friends and family whose knee-jerk reaction to a reduced body size is usually a compliment (even if that weight loss came at a terrible price). But also by women like me, who’ve actually suffered terrible illnesses and lived to gain back both weight and health. Deep down, I think we all know that the old axiom, “When you have your health, you have everything,” is true. But that reality is easy to forget when the tidal wave of positive reinforcement around weight loss subsides, and one is left with just a regular, normal, healthy body instead of a super-skinny sick one.

I share a lot of “trigger warning,” ED-related content on this blog, but given how many of my readers have sailed through the waters of both chronic illness and disordered eating, I feel the need to disclaim that the article may be very triggering for many of you. It triggered me.

What it triggered most of all was guilt over my own experience of chronic illness in the summer of 2013, when I was still living in DC. The whole messy post-bacc experience, coupled with taking the MCAT and struggling to finish my first book, had caught up to me. I was worn down and burnt out, and slowly, in a process I barely noticed at first, I became sick. It was easy to deny for a while because it was GI illness, and digestive distress has always been my Achilles’ heel. A few months later, though, it was hard not to see that something was truly wrong.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with a nasty bacterial infection and treated with antibiotics. Feeling better took a very long time–much longer than my doctor’s prognosis and the duration of my meds had led me to expect–but I got there. What I will never forget, though, is the incredulity and shame I felt upon recognizing that I’d spent most of the illness eagerly hoping that I’d lose weight.

Yes: in spite of being so sick to my stomach that I had to spend hours in the bathroom every morning, in spite of hobbling around DC with an anal fissure, in spite of being fatigued and frightened and often in pain, a not insignificant part of me was still fixated enough with weight that I was actually disappointed not to have lost any throughout the course of my illness. And the disappointment vied with an equally strong sense of bewilderment that, so long after my recovery process, I could still feel this way. I can only wonder how much more complex and poignant these feelings would have been if I’d had a more serious or protracted illness.

Reading Raposo’s piece and the quotations of women she interviewed for it comforts me; it makes me realize that what I felt was forgivable and human and probably very common among women who have gotten sick at some point or another. If any of this speaks to you, I hope you’ll take some time to read her words, and I hope that you’ll be comforted, too.

And now it’s time for me to get back to our houseguest and the final hours of this Sunday. Have a good one, all.


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Moroccan Chickpea Tomato Stew

Moroccan Chickpea Tomato Stew | The Full Helping

No matter what else I make over the course of a given week, I almost always prepare one meal that takes the form of a stew, or a thick soup, or something that can easily be scooped over grains, enjoyed with pita slices, or sopped up with toast. These meals are generally easy, they give me leftovers, and I love the contrast of something spicy and flavorful with a starchy grain or bread accompaniment. This Moroccan chickpea tomato stew is my latest favorite, a simple and summery dish that Steven and I have now tried with whole wheat couscous, rice, and over toast–and we’ve loved it every single time.

Moroccan Chickpea Tomato Stew | The Full Helping

I’ve been joking in my Instagram posts lately that I’m about to turn into a tomato, thanks to the pints and pints of cherry tomatoes that I’ve been gorging on (not to mention sliced heirlooms, roasted plum tomatoes with everything, tomato jam, and so on). Tomatoes happen to have been my favorite food as a child–maybe it’s a Mediterranean family thing–and they remain my favorite produce highlight of the summer and early fall months.

As a tribute to the fruits I love so much, I used fresh tomatoes in this recipe, though it’s a year-round stew in the sense that canned tomatoes will work very well in the winter. I love the combination of tart tomatoes with the earthy, sweet tones of cumin, cinnamon, and cloves, and chickpeas give this dish both texture and a little plant protein power. Serve it with whatever grain you’d like–I give some suggestions in the recipe.


Moroccan Chickpea Tomato Stew
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion, diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes, chopped (or 1 28-ounce can crushed or diced tomatoes)
  • 1-2 tablespoons sugar (to taste, will vary based on level of acidity and whether you use fresh or canned tomatoes)
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 cups low sodium vegetable broth or water
  • 1 tablespoon tahini
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • Cooked couscous, bulgur wheat, quinoa, brown rice, whole wheat pita triangles, or toast, for serving

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion. Cook onion for five minutes, stirring now and then, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring frequently and adding a tablespoon or two of water if the garlic starts to stick.
  2. Add the tomatoes, sugar (starting with 1 tablespoon — you can add more if you need to), coriander, cumin, red pepper flakes, cloves, and cinnamon. Cook tomatoes, stirring frequently, for 10 minutes, or until they’re thickening up and very bubbly. Add the broth or water, lower the heat to a simmer, and cook, uncovered, for another 10 minutes
  3. Stir in the tahini and use an immersion blender to blend the soup partially, so that some pieces of tomato are still visible but the mixture is thick and resembles a chunky soup (you can also transfer half of the mixture to a standing blender and blend till smooth, then return it to the pot). Stir in the chickpeas and vinegar. Cook for another 5 minutes, taste the stew, and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve the stew with a grain of choice and a sprinkle of parsley or cashew cream, if you like.

Leftover stew will keep for up to five days in an airtight container in the fridge, and it can be frozen for up to 1 month.


 Moroccan Chickpea Tomato Stew | The Full Helping

Sometimes there’s not too much to say about a recipe that’s flavorful, nutritious, versatile, and easy. Except maybe: try it. I hope you enjoy it as much as I have, and I hope you find ways to make it your own.

This has been a long week, and I’m very ready for the weekend. Steven and I will be hosting a good friend who’s in town, and I’ll be catching up with another friend who was traveling all summer. After a few days of feeling pretty disconnected, I’m so looking forward to these these visits. See you on Sunday for weekend reading.


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