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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.

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins | The Full Helping

Summer isn’t usually a time when I feel very driven to bake. Like many people, I get most excited about baking projects in the fall, as the weather turns cooler and pumpkins start to populate the farmers market. Yet these warm months provide us with berries and stone fruits that seem to cry out for pies and crumbles and crisps and slumps and galettes. Turning on the oven–even if it means turning up my apartment temperature by about fifteen degrees–is a small price to pay for a wonderful dessert or treat.

These vegan blueberry corn muffins are the first thing I’ve baked since July’s heat wave started, and they were a great choice, simple and versatile. They feature a light texture with plenty of crumb (thanks to the cornmeal), and they’re studded with sweet, juicy fresh blueberries.

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins | The Full Helping

The recipe was inspired by my no-fuss vegan cornbread recipe for Food52, which is about as simple a baking template as they come. At first I thought I’d increase the sugar for this variation, but in the end, I kept the same amount, and I actually love that the muffins aren’t overly sweet. A couple of them make for a perfect, light breakfast on-the-go, and, having enjoyed one with a little pat of Earth Balance and iced tea for the last few late afternoons, I can attest to the fact that they make for a great snack.

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins | The Full Helping

Baking these muffins was a process made all the easier by the fact that I used GreenLife ceramic bakeware to handle the job. The GreenLife brand emerged as a lightweight, affordable offspring of the GreenPan brand. GreenPan was one of the first major innovators of safe, nonstick ceramic cookware, and the brand remains committed to health, environmentally responsible practices, and quality.

GreenLife uses the same healthy technology as GreenPan, but the line is priced with an emphasis on accessibility. The cookware and bakeware sets are perfect for young cooks who are building their first collection of kitchenware, or for anyone who’s curious about investing in safe, nonstick cookware while also minding a budget. The nonstick technology is helpful for those who are trying to cook with less fat or oil (which is true of many of the folks I work with), and it also helps to prevent sticking, which can discourage even experienced home cooks.

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins | The Full Helping

As anyone who has read this blog for a while knows, I’m not a natural baker. I’ve improved over time, but only through burning and undercooking and creating a lot of things that should have risen but didn’t, or should have emerged clean from the pan but stuck to it like glue instead. Any bakeware that helps to make the process go more smoothly is a welcome boon for me, and the GreenLife muffin tin is by far my favorite that I’ve tried. The muffins slipped out of the pan easily, and the cleanup process was easy.

You can use either medium or fine grind cornmeal in these muffins, though I’m personally a fan of the texture of the medium grind option. Feel free to substitute a different type of berry for blueberries if you like; this is a very adaptable muffin recipe. Even finely chopped peaches or plums would work beautifully.

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins | The Full Helping

Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: breakfast, baking
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free optional, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 12 muffins

  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ¾ cups soy or almond milk
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (such as safflower, grapeseed, or canola)
  • 1 ½ cups spelt, all-purpose, whole wheat, or gluten free, all-purpose flour
  • 1 ¼ cups medium or finely ground cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons organic cane sugar, demerara sugar, or coconut sugar
  • 1 cup blueberries, tossed in a teaspoon or so of flour (coating the berries in flour will keep them from all settling to the bottom of the muffins!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 350F.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the apple cider vinegar and almond milk till frothy (about 20-30 seconds). Stir in the oil and set aside.
  3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until just combined. Fold in the blueberries.
  4. Divide the batter into a prepared muffin tin. Bake for 15-22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the muffins emerges clean, or the tops are lightly golden and firm. Allow the muffins to cool on a wire rack before enjoying.

Wrap leftover muffins individually and store in the fridge for up to 4 days. You can also freeze individually wrapped muffins for up to 2 weeks.


 Vegan Blueberry Corn Muffins | The Full Helping

Our apartment smelled divine after the muffins finished baking, and we’ve been enjoying them since (Steven had them for both breakfast and snacks today, which means I must have gotten something right). I look forward to trying different versions; perhaps a savory version with corn kernels folded in, or a version with stone fruit next month. I hope you’ll enjoy the muffins, and let me know if you come up with any creative tweaks of your own!

I’m so glad that the theme of slowing down spoke to some of you on Monday. I look forward to slowly and mindfully collecting some new recipe ideas and reading material this week—and to sharing it with you this weekend, as always. For now, stay cool and be well.


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

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Weekend Reading, 7.24.16


It is blazing hot here in New York City. Like everyone else, I’ve been trying to keep cool and stay indoors, and I’ve been bemoaning the humidity. Still, there’s a part of me that is enjoying the languor and the torpor of summer.

I have been slowing down this summer, a lot. Walking slowly, working slowly, writing slowly–even cooking more slowly and methodically than usual. It’s a choice. For the last year, my pace of life has been too frenzied. I’ve constructed a convenient narrative in which this is simply how things “have to be,” but it isn’t true; things don’t have to be frenetic and rushed and urgent all the time. My work is neither that plentiful nor that important. Only through slowing down have I realized that, in moving at an untenable pace, I’ve managed to hide out from a lot of things: people, memories, feelings. Myself, mostly. And it’s time to start pausing, so that I can listen to myself again, fully inhabit my body, and face whatever it is that I fear is lurking in the quiet.

It’s funny: when I made the choice to do less and feel more, I thought it would be excruciating. I’m very good at typecasting myself, and, having assumed the identity of “Type A person,” I’ve imagined that quiet and rest and stillness are simply not for me. And, as is so often is the case, I’m happily surprised at how wrong I was. Slowing down has felt wonderful, so necessary and so right. I’m noticing and observing, then taking the time to write about what I see. I’m listening to music again. I’m reading for pleasure.

And yes, I’m feeling all the feelings, too, which I guess is a mixed bag. A messy, unwieldy, disorganized bag. But if the cost of avoiding them is to slip into the automaton-like state in which I spent the better part of last year, then I’m happy with this tradeoff. If I can continue to feel small moments of joy and reverie along with some of the tougher stuff, then I’m happy to forgo whatever productive things and tasks I’m not doing when I’m being still.

And one of the nice upsides of slowing down is that I have more time to read and to gaze at recipe inspiration, including the following links.



 I don’t often use kohlrabi in my cooking, so I’m feeling inspired by Andrea’s hearty, flavorful kohlrabi and chickpea curry. Kohlrabi aside, I could make curry suppers pretty much any night, so this one is right up my alley. Substitute brown rice syrup or maple syrup for the honey here to make the recipe vegan (and in a couple of the recipes that follow, too).


My anti-inflammatory turmeric tahini dressing is one of my all-time favorites, and I’m always eager to explore other salad dressings that feature this nutritious spice!

In the salad you see above, Sneh pairs roasted broccoli and coconut with crunchy cabbage and a sweet/sour turmeric dressing. Beautiful and complex.


Most of us have seen avocado/tomato vegan caprese, but here’s a vegan caprese spin that’s so original and nutritious: Agnes’ zucchini and tofu caprese with grilled lemon. I love absolutely everything about this dish (not least the grilled lemon–yum!), which would be a perfect appetizer for summer entertaining.


The lovely Julia has created a summer breakfast that combines a creamy, smooth strawberry porridge with crunchy, cocoa buckwheat crumbles. It’s colorful, sweet, refreshing, and absolutely perfect for hot mornings, when regular porridge just isn’t in the cards.


And finally, a different kind of berry concoction: Tuulia’s mouth-watering gluten free and vegan blueberry pie. If you’re someone who fears pie-making, be not afraid, because this recipe features a short ingredient list and easy steps. Can’t wait to try it, or a version of it, soon.



To begin, I enjoyed this article about “the hummus wars” in the Middle East, a glimpse into how particular dishes and foods assume deep cultural meaning and significance over time (and yes, what you see above is actually a tub of hummus–weighing over two tons!).


This week, the New York Times called attention to a hunger crisis in the LGBT community. I hadn’t known about this issue, but as I was reading the article it made sense: employment discrimination, lack of quality health care, lack of family support and a strong personal network, and lack of access to the financial benefits of marriage can all contribute to food insecurity for L.G.B.T. people. A new survey suggests that about one in four L.G.B.T. adults have been food insecure within the last year, as compared to the one in six heterosexual adults who report similar circumstances.

According to the article, certain subgroups are particularly vulnerable, including women, younger people, teenagers, and those with children in the home. Minorities are also more susceptible:

When asked the question, “Have there been times in the past 12 months when you did not have enough money to buy food that you or your family needed?” the differences are striking.
Nearly half of L.G.B.T. African-Americans (42 percent) answered yes, compared with 28 percent of straight African-Americans. Among Hispanics, 33 percent of L.G.B.T. adults had been hungry, compared with 24 percent of those who are straight. Among whites, 21 percent of L.G.B.T. whites reported not having enough money for food in the past year, compared with 13 percent of those who are straight. Notably, among Native Americans and Alaskans, L.G.B.T. and straight adults were equally hungry, with about 30 percent each reporting that they had been too poor to buy food in the past year. The data is from the Gallup Daily Tracking of Adults, which surveyed 81,134 straight people and 2,964 people who identified as L.G.B.T.
Among L.G.B.T. people, women were more likely to be hungry than men; 31 percent of women and 22 percent of men reported not having enough money for food in the past year.

The article goes on to detail ways in which the L.G.B.T. experience may be glamorized or misrepresented in popular media, drawing attention away from these issues of access and marginalization. I think it’s important coverage of a topic that once again illustrates how food and health are so often intertwined with issues of justice and equity.


Along somewhat similar lines, a new article in Wired details some of the physical and health impact of racism, both overt and subtle. In fact, subtle racism is the focus of the article. While it’s difficult to parse the data, there is a distinct link between the experience of racism and episodes of depression and stress, and researchers increasingly believe that racism may have an impact on the risk for cardiovascular disease.

Screen Shot 2016-07-25 at 6.40.04 AM

Much is written about self-esteem these days, but I was intrigued to read Aeon‘s recent article on the power and value of self-compassion. The article takes care to draw a distinction between self-esteem, which has to do with the way in which one regards oneself, and self-compassion, which is really a matter of how one treats oneself.

It notes that the promise of the pro self-esteem movement has proven to be somewhat limited, while recent research suggests that the health impact of self-compassion–learning to navigate life’s vicissitudes without turning unnecessary anger or judgment on the self–is real and positive. I like the way the article describes what self-compassion is and how it works:

Just as compassion involves a desire to minimise the suffering of others, self-compassion reflects a desire to minimise one’s own suffering and, just as importantly, to avoid creating unnecessary unhappiness and distress for oneself. Self-compassionate people treat themselves in much the same caring, kind and supportive ways that compassionate people treat their friends and family when they are struggling. When they confront life’s problems, self-compassionate people respond with warmth and concern rather than judgment and self-criticism. Whether their problems are the result of their own incompetence, stupidity or lack of self-control, or occur through no fault of their own, self-compassionate people recognise that difficulties are a normal part of life. As a result, they approach their problems with equanimity, neither downplaying the seriousness of their challenges nor being overwhelmed by negative thoughts and feelings.

More and more I’m coming to believe that the meaning and value of lived experience resides in learning from pain and difficulty–as well as from mistakes, if we want to call them that. I contrast this with my longtime fixation on perfection, and I see how profoundly the idea of perfectionism negates the kind of fullness I want from my life, fullness that can only include mess and struggle. I think of something I recently read from Krista Tippett:

Life is fluid, evanescent, evolving in every cell, in every breath. Never perfect. To be alive is by definition messy, always leaning toward disorder and surprise. How we open or close to the reality that we never arrive at safe enduring stasis is the matter, the raw material of wisdom.

If cultivating a greater capacity for self-compassion might enhance our resilience in the face of mess and disorder, helping us to navigate them with grace, then I think it’s a very vital resource indeed.


Finally, a heartbreaking article about mourning among pods of whales. That animals mourn their dead is not news to us (I think of Barbara King’s incredible book, How Animals Grieve, or Jeffrey Moussaief Masson’s When Elephants Weep), but to read about the small details of their process and behavior is still so striking. The article touches on a few types of grief, from the loss of a newborn (pictured above) to the loss of a compatriot or podmate.

Reading this article, I wonder how it can ever be doubted that animals differ from us in degree and not in kind.

With that, it’s Monday morning, and apparently this “weekend” reading is now post-weekend reading. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the roundup, and I’ll be back this week with a summery baking recipe!


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Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls | The Full Helping

Now matter how my eating patterns shift around to accommodate changes in schedule, the demands of recipe testing, or the pace of my life, my lunch bowls tend to remain the same. This isn’t to say that the ingredients are always the same, or that I always choose similar combinations of foods. I try to switch up my veggies, legumes, and grains as much as possible as the seasons change. But to enjoy a wholesome and comforting midday bowl of food has become as cherished a food ritual as I’ve ever had, and while I know that my schedule won’t always allow me to eat lunch at home, I’m relishing the habit while it lasts.

These easy lemon pepper tempeh and vegetable pasta bowls are my new favorite addition to the lunchtime (or anytime) routine. I’ve been doing a lot of easy pasta salads this summer, and these bowls are sort of a variation on that theme, though the extent to which you mix the ingredients up is totally up to you. You can layer or arrange them as in the photo above, or you can mix everything together before you even serve the dish. Either way, it’s all good.

One of the star ingredients in these easy bowls is my favorite lemon pepper tempeh cubes, which have become a staple weekly ingredient around here. I bake them up and throw them in bowls, salads, pop them into breakfast tostadas, or even pop a couple in my mouth when I’m in the mood for a hearty and protein-dense afternoon snack. They’re so easy to make and so satisfying, and they present me with an easy way to eat more tempeh, which is such an incredibly nutrient-dense plant food: each serving is rich in protein, fiber, and iron.

For the purposes of these bowls, I cut the tempeh into slightly smaller pieces than usual (easier for mixing) and seasoned the cooked pasta and roasted veggies with lemon and pepper, too. The result is a hearty, colorful, summery pasta bowl that can be served hot or cool. Feel free to mix up the vegetables you use for roasting: the eggplant, pepper, and zucchini trio is my summertime go-to, but tomatoes, radishes, onions, and beets would all be awesome, too.

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls | The Full Helping

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  50 mins

Serves: 4 servings

  • 1 medium or large zucchini, cubed (I like to quarter the zucchini lengthwise, then cut it crosswise into about ¾-inch pieces)
  • 1 small eggplant (about a pound), trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into a large dice
  • 2 tablespoons + 2-3 teaspoons (as needed) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
  • 8 ounces pasta of choice (whole wheat, spelt, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • 2 cups arugula or baby spinach
  • 1 recipe lemon pepper tempeh cubes (you can substitute baked tofu, either homemade or store-bought, smoked tofu, seasoned seitan pieces, or vegan sausage of choice!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon zest. Place them on 1 or 2 lined baking sheets (depending on oven size) and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes. Add the minced garlic and give the vegetables a good stir on the baking sheet. Continue roasting for another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are browning at the edges and tender.
  2. When the veggies are close to ready, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is ready, drain it and then toss it with the remaining olive oil (as much as you need to dress the pasta lightly), lemon juice, and thyme leaves. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. To serve your bowls, you can either divide the pasta, tempeh cubes, greens, and roasted veggies evenly in four bowls. Or you can stir everything together in a large mixing bowl before dividing onto plates or bowls and serving.

Leftover pasta, tempeh, and roasted veggies will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls | The Full Helping

There’s my bowl, all mixed up and looking mighty appetizing.

Adaptability is the key to a great bowl, so feel free to try these with orzo, rice, or another cooked grain in place of the pasta. Steamed kale or other greens would also be a nice change of pace from the spinach or the arugula, though I do love the crunch that the fresh greens add to the bowl! No matter what, I hope you enjoy the recipe.

I’m looking forward to the end of the week, and as always, to sharing some reads and recipe finds with you on Sunday. Take care.


The post Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls appeared first on The Full Helping.

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White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

Quesadillas aren’t necessarily a summertime food, but I do tend to make them more often than usual when the weather is warm. They’re low key and require very little cooking time, which is a boon on hot and humid days. Plus, they’re endlessly versatile, a perfect vehicle for all sorts of vegetables, spreads/sauces, beans and other proteins.

These white bean artichoke quesadillas–which I’m calling kale-sadillas, just to be cute–are my newest favorite! I love the contrast of creamy white beans, tangy marinated artichoke hearts, and the slight bite and bitterness of kale. It’s optional, but if you have time, adding roasted garlic to the white bean spread makes the flavors of this simple dish sing.

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the decided downsides of blogging is that pressure to create new recipes can sometimes prevent one from reusing and re-interpreting old ones. The green herb dressing from my first cookbook is one of my all-time favorite summer dressings–a lemony mixture of tahini, parsley, basil, dill, and green onion–yet it’s been ages since I made it. As I was preparing the kale-sadillas for lunch this past weekend, it occurred to me that a bright, herbaceous dressing or sauce would help to enhance all of the flavors.

I’m so glad that I brought the green herb dressing (which I’m calling “dipping sauce” here, but it’s all the same) has re-entered my life. It’s a keeper, and while it’s not necessary for this recipe, it certainly helps to add flavor and color. Plus, it’ll yield leftovers, which you can use in your salads and bowls throughout the week!

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  50 mins
Total time:  1 hour

Serves: 2-4 servings

For the white bean artichoke spread:
  • 1 head garlic, top sliced off crosswise (or 1-2 cloves minced raw garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups cooked white beans (1 can beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (about ¾ cup) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • Black pepper to taste
For the quesadillas:
  • 4 cups loosely packed chopped kale
  • 4 large or 6 small corn or whole grain tortillas
For the green herb dipping sauce:
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (leaves and stems)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 green onions, green parts only, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil

  1. To prepare the white bean artichoke spread, preheat oven to 375F. Drizzle a teaspoon oil over the head of garlic and rub the oil over the exposed cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the cloves are very tender and browning.*
  2. Place the white beans, lemon juice, salt, and remaining olive oil into a food processor fitted with the S blade. When the garlic is ready, squeeze all of the roasted cloves into the mixture. Process the mixture for about 2 minutes, or until it’s very smooth. Add the artichoke hearts and pulse to incorporate them; they should be chopped into small pieces and the dip should be a little chunky. Add black pepper to taste.
  3. If you’re using the green herb dipping sauce, blend all ingredients together in a blender or a food processor till smooth and set the sauce aside.
  4. Steam or sauté the kale until it’s wilted and bright green.
  5. Top each of 2 large or 3 small tortillas with a layer of white bean spread that’s about ¼-inch thick. Top the white bean spread with the steamed kale. Place another tortilla on top. Heat a small sauté pan or grill pan and gently toast each side of the quesadilla, until the two tortillas are each gently browned. Slice the quesadillas into quarters and serve with the green herb sauce.

*If you don’t have time to roast the garlic, simply add 1-2 raw cloves to the white bean spread at the same time you add the beans, lemon, oil, and salt. Leftover white bean artichoke spread will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

You can pair these nutritious kale-sadillas with a simple, summery soup (like my easy summer gazpacho or  Thai coconut carrot lemongrass soup) or a quick salad for a very easy, low-stress meal. You may find, as I did, that you love the white bean dip all on its own, in which case, no need to use it in this recipe specifically! I look forward to spreading it on toast or enjoying it with raw veggies as an afternoon snack.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. If you dig it, you might also want to check out my sweet potato and roasted red pepper quesadillas, which are also super summery (and very tasty).

I hope your week is off to a good start. Till soon,


The post White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 7.17.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday.

It has been a very hot, if beautiful and sunny weekend here in New York. I’ve gotten caught up on email and work, and now I’m back in the process of cooking, testing, and cooking some more. It’s not the most ideal time of the year to have the stove and/or the oven on, but the creative juices are flowing, and that’s what matters.

Lots of interesting articles this week, as well as a few beautiful standout recipes from blogger friends.



Tis the season for sweet and crumbly berry scones! I love Jodi’s wholesome raspberry oat scones, which look to have just the perfect texture/crumb and feature my favorite type of berries. Use maple syrup or brown rice syrup in place of honey to make these delightful breakfast treats vegan.


My friend Kristy always delivers vegan food that is colorful, hearty, and which offers a new and creative spin on comfort food classics. This morning, I’m particularly intrigued by her chipotle cauliflower carnitas tacos, which feature a tangy green apple slaw and a flavorful spice rub on the roasted cauli. So bright and summery!


As most of you know, I’m a sucker for any recipe that features cashews, and Haley’s creamy cashew veggie noodle bowl is the latest to catch my eye! Brown rice noodles and veggies are simmered with a super rich, flavorful, sweet and salty cashew sauce. YUM.


Sometimes the best recipes are the simplest, especially during these long, hot summer days. I’m just loving Anya’s beautifully colorful marinated summer vegetables and beans over freekeh. I can’t say I use freekeh often enough, but it’s a lovely, nutty, and easy-to-cook whole grain. In this dish, it’s coupled with crisp, smoky summer vegetables and a touch of sriracha for heat.


I’m a great fan–personally and professionally–of vegan chef Anita Shepherd, so I was delighted to see her vegan chocolate birthday cake featured in a recent Food52 genius column. Anita uses avocado to make the cake itself rich and moist, and I can’t wait to try her version of vegan chocolate buttercream.



Some good news for Americans: for reasons that are not entirely clear to scientists and researchers, a number of major diseases, including colon cancer, dementia, and heart disease, are waning in wealthy nations, reports the New York Times. Cancer and heart disease remain leading killers, but they are striking later.

It’s difficult to say whether screening, treatment, or lifestyle change is at the heart of this shift; quite likely it’s a combination of all three. Gina Kolata’s coverage explores the possible factors involved and asks broader questions about how and why disease mortality can change between generations.


In an effort to raise awareness about air pollution and climate change, more than 800,000 students, government officials, and volunteers gathered in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on Monday to plant trees. They planted 49.3 million trees in only 24 hours–a tree-planting Guinness world record, even if it fell slightly short of their goal of 50 million. It’s an incredible effort and a meaningful act of hope.


As usual, Marion Nestle cuts through nutrition hype and misleading headlines with a balanced perspective. This week, she offered some clarity on butter (which, according to Time, is “back”). I appreciate her cautionary hype alert: “any time you read that science got it wrong, be skeptical.  Maybe they did, but it’s more likely that the science is still incomplete.”

And indeed, the Time coverage has failed to put research in a meaningful and clear context. The reality is that butter (and other saturated fats), so far as we can determine, are still moderation foods. For more on this, you can also read reporting from The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Harvard’s School of Public Health.


The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been published for some time now, and some of the controversy surrounding the failure of recommendations to reduce red meat consumption to be included in the final guidelines has abated. Still, one researcher–Stanford professor of medicine Randall Stafford–continues to take a stand.

In a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association that was published on July 12, the preventive-medicine expert addressed the failure of the newest DGA to articulate the health and climate benefits of a low-meat diet. The Stanford Medicine News Center published a Q&A with Stafford, probing his mission in writing the letter and asking him some interesting questions about the benefits and urgency of a plant-based eating paradigm.


Finally, a smart and on-point article in Vox about the biggest challenges facing science today. Drawing on feedback from over 270 scientists, the article touches on such issues as industry funding, poorly designed studies, and failure to replicate study findings prior to publication. I think that point #6 — science is poorly communicated to the public — is especially important, especially within the nutrition world.

And that, friends, is that. I wish you a wonderful rest of your weekend, and I’ll have some new warm-weather vegan fare for you on the blog later this week!


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Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

When my interest with raw food was at its height, cool soups became one of my favorite types of recipes. It was cool to realize that blending a few simple ingredients could result in perfect gazpacho, a quick “tortilla” soup, or a chilled avocado cucumber soup to die for.

This hot or cold Thai carrot coconut lemongrass soup offers the best of both worlds: it’s simmered in order to release the flavors of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and curry, but it can be served either warm or chilled, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

I love the thick, creamy texture, which is almost reminiscent of a bisque, and all of the bold Thai flavors. Best of all, the cooking time is pretty quick, which means that you won’t have to spend too much time at the stove on a hot day.

This soup marks one of my first attempts to cook with lemongrass. It’s a flavor that I love, but I confess that I’ve been a little intimidated by the tall, tough stalks of fresh lemongrass I’ve seen at markets. I used this video to help cue me through the cooking and preparation process, and it worked like a charm. I peeled the stalks, removing the tough outer layers, then used a rolling pin to smash them a bit. I threw them into the soup, allowed them to simmer with the other ingredients, and fished them out right before blending.

I really dug the delicate, fragrant citrusy quality that the lemongrass seemed to contribute to the soup, but if you don’t have any or can’t find it, no big deal. I recommend adding just a touch of extra lime juice and a teaspoon or two of lime zest to the soup instead!

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1¾ pounds trimmed, peeled, and chopped carrots (about 6-7 cups, or 8-9 large carrots)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers remove and pounded with a rolling pin or mallet to release essential oils (substitute 2 teaspoons lime zest)
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are clear and soft, adding a tablespoon or two of water to help prevent sticking if necessary. Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste, and tamari. Sauté for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is very fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, coconut milk, carrots, lemongrass, and red pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the lemongrass stalks from the pot. Transfer the soup to a blender in batches and blend till smooth, or use an immersion blender to blend the soup completely. Return the soup the pot, stir in the lime juice, and adjust seasonings to taste. You can also stir in some extra broth if the soup is too thick for your liking.
  4. Serve with chopped basil, finely chopped peppers, sprouts or microgreens, sliced avocado, or a swirl of coconut milk or cashew cream, if desired!

Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can be frozen for up to 1 month.


Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

I hope you’ll enjoy this bright and delightful soup! So far, I’ve had it both warm and cold, and it’s hard to say which I prefer. It’s a hot and humid week around here, so I have a feeling that the chilled leftovers will be a staple for me for the next few days. The soup thickens up nicely in the fridge, and the flavors will continue to marry as the leftovers sit.

True to my promise to myself, I’ve eased back into things slowly and mindfully this week, taking care to pace myself. It feels good so far. I hope you all have a wonderful start to the weekend, and as always, I’ll be back with some weekend reading links on Sunday.


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Weekend Reading, 7.11.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m back from Colorado, where I had a great time. It would have been difficult not to enjoy the trip, given that Ashley and I haven’t seen each other in a long time and had much catching up to do as friends. But my hope had been that the week would be professionally restorative, too–an anecdote to some of the creative frustration and general burnout I’ve been feeling.

And it was. I’ve promised myself that I’d ease back into the swing of things very slowly this week, so as not to create the same frantic work schedule that tends to drain me in the first place. But having a little time, space, and distance from my everyday life has certainly given me new energy and focus.

On a practical level, it was also a huge relief to retest some of the recipes and be assured that they work. My recipe testers have given awesome feedback so far, but it’s incredible how easy it can be to start revisiting and questioning. Making the recipes again–this time with the help of another cook–and watching them come to life through Ashley’s photos was a reminder of how and why the ideas had felt important to me in the first place.

And then there was Ashley’s calm presence, such a valuable antidote to my slightly nervous one. I have much to learn from her work ethic and attitude. I was so touched by her generosity and willingness to go far above and beyond her role as a photographer in making this book come to life.

golden rice bowl-3

There’s a song lyric that I used to think about all the time when I was living in DC. It’s from Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep it With Mine”:

Everybody will help you / Some people are very kind

Later in the song it becomes “everybody will help you / discover what you set out to find.” I thought of it so often during the post-bacc years, because in spite of how difficult they were, they were also marked by grace and generosity. A lot of people–some of whom were practically strangers–took the time to help and support me when I found myself struggling in a new city. It was a lesson in how gracious human beings can be.

And I learned that lesson all over again this past week, simply by being around Ashley. She is generous by nature, a great friend, and I’m grateful to her in many ways.


I wish I could say more about the images and the book itself, but publication is so far away that I don’t want to run the risk of exhausting you all with details before they’re actually timely! I guess what matters is that things are moving along!

wild rice salad
pesto pasta salad-2

And now, it’s time to settle back into real life–slowly. I’ll start by sharing some of the recipes and reads I found while I was traveling.


Cranberry Orange Bread (Vegan)

To being, I’m loving Traci’s colorful and simple recipe for broccoli slaw with golden raisins and walnuts. Golden raisins are one of my favorite dried fruits (especially for salads), and I love the use of vegan mayo to make this recipe authentic and creamy.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.08.07 PM

It’s just about time for eggplant in anything and everything, and one recipe I’ve bookmarked is Kankana’s baby eggplant in coconut cashew gravy. I’d probably eat anything with cashew gravy, but the eggplants look especially tender and delightful.


Quinoa salads are basically my lunchtime staple during the summer (see: here and here and here), so I’m all over Heidi’s Latin chipotle quinoa salad with avocado. Fresh, colorful, and fast!


Snacktime just became a lot more wonderful, thanks to Dolly’s inspired raw “nutella” bars. I’ve seen many raw food renditions of Nutella itself, but not too many themed snacks or desserts. These look like just the right balance of decadent and healthful, and I can’t wait to try them.


Another beautiful raw food dessert: McKel’s raw strawberry summer tarts. So adorable, and I love that these take only 20 minutes to prepare!



I was disappointed to read this article in the New York Times about continuing pay discrepancies between male and female physicians. In spite of the fact that more women are represented in medicine than ever, the wage gap at a number of prominent medical schools seems to persist (according to the study, it’s $20,000 per year on average, after accounting for exogenous factors that could influence income).


An interesting article about the neurochemistry of anxiety, via Psychology Today. In some ways I felt that the article minimized external stressors and perhaps drew too many assumptions about the extent to which an anxiety sufferer can be “in control” of the phenomenon. But I do appreciate the article’s proactive and positive emphasis, and I thought the information about creating “self-soothing” pathways was pretty cool.


A powerful article about the ways in which human beings are coming to terms with the atrocities of factory farming and the overall brutality with which we treat farm animals. There seems to be a growing body of journalistic work that acknowledges and details how human recognition of animal sentience is shifting, and it makes me really excited.

credit JacobRushing

On a similar note, I absolutely loved The Vegan Society’s profile of author Ruby Roth, who has created remarkable children’s books that address animal rights and vegetarianism. I especially loved this explanation of Roth’s imagery and style:

Ruby’s works are filled with colourful, dynamic images of animals. These stylized figures are far removed from the Disnified characters often found in children’s cartoons – is this a conscious decision? “Absolutely! Anthropomorphisation takes away from the real rich emotional lives of animals as well as the intelligence of children. I don’t paint my animals smiling huge grins or with giant dewy eyes, and in general I steer clear of making them talk. We don’t need to make animals ‘serve’ kids in pretend, make-believe ways in order to get them to pay attention.”

And I was also interested to read that she finds children generally easier to communicate with regarding veganism than adults:

“Kids react to veganism with much more diplomacy than adults do. They get quiet, they think, they ask questions and offer insights. You can really have great philosophical discussions with kids because their imaginations and their love for nature and animals makes them so open to thinking about the world as it is and asking, ‘Why?’”

The whole piece is well worth reading. And if there is a young person in your life with whom you’d like to discuss the choice to not eat animals, Roth’s books are a wonderful point of departure.


Finally, a controversial new article in Today’s Dietitian about whether or not it is the responsibility of dietitians to adhere to certain body shapes in order to “set an example” for patients. My personal feeling, which is echoed by many of the dietitians interviewed, is that there’s some truth to the idea that patients would prefer to work with dietitians who actively model the healthful eating habits that they prescribe professionally. However, this is a separate issue from what dietitians weigh. Body shape is highly variable, often genetically determined, and appearances don’t bespeak a person’s healthfulness.

Beyond this, I think that there are limits to how strictly we ought to expect health care professionals to model the advice they are tasked with prescribing. I certainly understand this expectation, but at the same time, I believe that patients need to exercise compassion and real-world understanding. Health care professionals are human beings, and like all of us, they sometimes cannot or do not behave in a way that fits neatly with evidence-based lifestyle guidelines. That makes them no less capable of offering sound, informed, and intelligent advice to their patients, and we should grant them a little space between their professional duties and their personal choices.

On that note, friends, I’m signing off for today. I hope you all had a nice weekend, and I look forward to offering you a new recipe soon.


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Weekend Reading, 7.4.16


Happy July 4th, everyone! I hope you have a celebratory day, filled with good company and good food.

Steven and I are having a low key holiday at home this year. The avenues are quiet, the cars have all been driven away, and the city feels uncharacteristically spacious. Part of what I love about New York is its grittiness and bustle and noise, but when the city is empty over these long summer weekends I can admire it in a different way, peeking at what lies beneath the hectic daily tapestry.

My summer travels this year will begin after July 4th. This coming week, I’ll be flying to Denver to spend some time with my friend and fellow blogger Ashley. Why? Because Ashley has graciously agreed to be the photographer for my next cookbook, and we’re going to be working on the first photo shoot together. I’m a huge admirer of Ashley’s work, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to partner with her for this project. She’s already proving to be an invaluable source of ideas and inspiration, and I suspect that by the time the book is finished I’ll have her to thank for making it possible.

I’m going to take a week or so off from blogging while I’m gone, so that I can focus on the trip and the work at hand. I had every intention of making June a fruitful and productive month in terms of recipe development and testing, but I can’t say that things went according to schedule. I was bogged down by summer class, and if there’s a culinary correlate to writer’s block, I was all up in it.

My recipe testing process for the last two books was overwhelming at times, but it didn’t feel creatively challenging. Perhaps it was the quick turnaround time (short deadlines on both manuscripts) or the fact that I completed the first book as I was studying for the MCAT, and in comparison to test preparation any other task was bound to feel like a reprieve.

This time around, for whatever reason, the cookbook testing process has not felt easy or organic at all. A lot of it is sheer nerves: I’m amazed by how much time I spend second guessing myself, scrapping recipes, going back to the drawing board. I hope that this is all in the service of creating something that will feel authentic and valuable, but at the moment it’s hard not to be frustrated. My voice of culinary intuition is so tiny, and so quiet.

In the face of this little spell of creative blockage, I’ve turned to some of my favorite books about writing for comfort. I’ve always felt that there are some parallels between writing and cooking (maybe because the processes go hand-in-hand for me: I cook, and then I write about what I cook). In the past two weeks I’ve revisited passages from Bird by Bird, Still Writing, The Writing Life, The Situation and the Story–books that have given me insight into what the creative process feels like.

I don’t flatter myself that my recipe development is nearly as vital or as ambitious as the kind of artistic endeavors that the authors are trying to describe, but what makes these books appealing is that each one portrays the insecurities and ego-shakedowns that accompany creative work with honesty and humor. They’ve reminded me that creativity ebbs and flows for everyone, and we’re bound to feel shocked and abandoned when we find ourselves in the middle of an ebb. Sometimes we simply need space, distance, slowing down, and a little perspective in order to feel inspired again.

So, this week is a mini-break for me, a chance to step back and share the process with someone else (someone who is admirably patient, calm, and full of ideas–Ashley never ceases to impress me). When I come home, I’ll have the remainder of the summer to cultivate my own patience and (hopefully) have some fun with the process, too.

Also crucial for the creative process: inspiration from friends. Here are the beautiful recipes that caught my eye this week.



I’m licking my lips over Meg’s colorful best ever cauliflower roast. Cauliflower florets are tossed in a dreamy-sounding basil sauce, roasted, then piled over black rice and crispy chickpeas. What a fantastic mix of flavors and textures.


I should have posted Sheri’s scrumptious vegan eggplant sliders with oregano tomato slaw and peppercorn aioli before the long weekend, as they’re ideal for 4th of July gatherings. But summer is long, and this creative recipe will be seasonal for many weeks to come.


I’m so into Jessie’s zucchini asparagus corn summer pasta with creamy hemp sauce, which was apparently a casual lunch in her home (Jessie, I’m tipping my hat to you, because casual lunches around here are a lot less inspiring). When I was into raw food, I did a lot of zucchini noodle pasta meals with some sort of hemp-based sauce, and that’s what this dish reminds me of–but I love how the roasted vegetables add flavor and depth.


Speaking of lunches, Erin’s BBQ chickpea sandwich with tahini slaw is just about the perfect summer lunch, and I’m particularly intrigued by the peach barbecue sauce. This recipe is crying out to my love of sweet/savory things, and I can’t wait to make it.


Finally, another stone fruit recipe to savor this summer: Ana’s creamy peach and walnut ice cream. I love that Ana uses banana soft serve as a base for the dish (two types of fruit on one plate!) and the grilled peaces are an inspired accompaniment. Yum.



The last topic we covered in my summer MNT class was diabetes, and we spent much time discussing the dangers of hypoglycemic episodes, especially for those with T1DM. I was interested to read this article on companion dogs who can detect and respond to hypoglycemic episodes, often with far more efficacy than the various alarm systems that exist to alert diabetes sufferers of a dip in blood sugar.

I’m continually amazed by what canine creatures can do, and touched by the ways in which our lives can be symbiotically intertwined with theirs.


Since I mentioned writing advice this weekend, I thought I’d share Leo Babuta’s post on training to be a good writer. I offer it with the disclaimer that some bits will probably resonate with you and others won’t. Take what you find useful, and leave the rest behind. I was especially struck by his words about overcoming resistance and greeting writing as a form of mindfulness practice.


Some good news: the National Aquarium in Baltimore will soon be moving eight dolphins who were raised in captivity to a protected, oceanside sanctuary, where they will live out the remainder of their natural lives in peace and without public scrutiny.

My hope is that this act and others like it will encourage places like Sea World to stop treating aquatic animals as a form of amusement, and to publicly recognize these creatures are here with us, not for us.


Another major victory for animals this week: all medical schools in the US and Canada are now completely free of the use of animals (like dogs and pigs) in medical training. This effort is thanks to decades of persistent and courageous activism from PCRM, and it is huge. I’m so grateful to the advocates who have made this possible, and I hope that it comes as happy news to the many pre-med and medical students who have spoken out against dissection and animal laboratories throughout the years.


Since I came clean about anxiety and depression in my birthday post this year, small glimmers of relief have started to shine through the bewildering feelings. Because I find it very hard to confide in people directly right now, writing has become a means of remaining honest and open. And since I named the struggles out loud, I’ve actually started to actively seek comfort–or at least a sense of solace through the recognition of shared experience.

So, I was interested to read Maria Popova’s review of Catherine Lepage’s Thin Slices of Anxiety, a sensitively illustrated book that matches imagery with some of the confounding and unspeakable feelings that anxiety sufferers face. It’s worth reading the review, which shares illustrations and captions from the book along with deeper reflections on its purpose:

Laced with the meta-stressors familiar to anyone afflicted with anxiety — shame for being gripped by anxiety in the first place, self-blame for putting oneself in situations known to trigger it, exasperation upon realizing that its predictable trajectory of anguish is underway yet being unable to stop it — the book radiates a wistful yet warm assurance that these overwhelming emotional states, as all-consuming and singular as they seem, mark our membership in a larger fellowship of tribulation in which we are never as alone as we may feel.

I nodded and smiled as I read Popova’s review, and perhaps you or someone you love will, too.


I’ll be back in a week with another roundup of reads, and with some new recipes before too long.

For now, happy 4th of July, again. May the day remind us of the value of freedom and independence for all living beings on earth.


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Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

It can be daunting to ponder vegan options for a July 4th get together. Should one go with something traditional and suitable for grilling, like veggie burgers, tempeh skewers, or seitan? Perhaps it’s better to create a crowd-pleasing side dish, like potato salad or pasta salad. Then again, maybe something sweet, like a batch of cornbread or a vegan crisp or cobbler, is best.

This year, keeping with my recent theme of time-saving food, I decided to share a summery July 4th (or anytime) salad that’s substantial enough to be meal-worthy, but also light enough to serve as a side. This protein-packed black and kidney bean quinoa salad was inspired by the idea of a traditional three bean salad, but it became pretty untraditional along the way.

My recollection of three bean salads is that most mix green beans with two types of legumes. They’re plenty nutritious, but I’ve always felt that they could use a little extra substance. Since I’ve been adding quinoa to most of my salads lately (Caesar salad, BLT salad, etc.), I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to keep the theme going and add some quinoa to a three bean salad, too. A bit of fresh arugula adds bright, peppery flavor, as well as healthful phytonutrients.

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

This salad features black and kidney beans, along with shelled edamame. I’ve never paired these three ingredients before—usually when I make a salad, it’s one type of legume or another—but I really like the way that the size and textures of the different beans work together. And since there are also steamed green beans in here, the salad is really a four bean salad.

To make all of the flavors come alive, I added a roasted garlic vinaigrette that I feel certain I’ll be making again and again this summer. I tend to eat a lot of roasted garlic during these months because I’m often roasting one or another pan of tomatoes or peppers, and it’s easy to wrap a head of garlic and add it to the tray. I love how roasted garlic is super flavorful without being overly sharp or spicy. If you have a favorite vinaigrette that you use for summer salads, you can definitely substitute it, and save yourself the roasting step.

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  45 mins
Total time:  55 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

5.0 from 1 reviews


For the salad:
  • ¾ cups uncooked quinoa (or 2 ½ cups pre-cooked quinoa)
  • 1⅓ cups shelled edamame (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces and steamed or blanched till crisp tender
  • 1 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers (about 4 roasted bell peppers–you can roast them yourself, or purchase them in the jar) or 1 ½ cups chopped, fresh red pepper
  • 1½ cups cooked kidney beans (1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or ½ cup beans if you’re preparing from scratch)
  • 1½ cups cooked black beans (1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, or ½ cup beans if you’re preparing from scratch)
  • 3-4 loosely packed cups baby arugula
  • Optional: ¼ cup loosely packed, snipped chives or chopped green onion tops
For the Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
  • 1 whole head garlic, top sliced off crosswise
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for roasting the garlic
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Drizzle a little olive oil over the head of the garlic and rub it over the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil, place it on a baking sheet, and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and fragrant.
  2. While the garlic roasts, rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve. Transfer the quinoa and 1 ½ cups water to a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. When the garlic is ready, squeeze all of the cloves out of the garlic head into a blender or a food processor. Add all remaining dressing ingredients. Blend the dressing till smooth.
  4. To prepare the salad, pile the edamame, green beans, bell pepper, kidney beans, black beans, and arugula into an extra large mixing bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, the chives or green onions if using, and then the vinaigrette. Toss the salad well to combine, then adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.


Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

As you can see, I recommend roasted red peppers for the recipe, but it’s fine to use raw ones instead. And of course, you should feel free to add your own veggies of choice; grated carrots, fresh corn, and roasted zucchini would all make a great addition to the salad.

This dish is part of my year long celebration of the International Year of Pulses! In honor of the UN’s recognition of pulses as a sustainable, economical, and nutritious protein source, I’m inviting everyone to take the Pulse Pledge with me. It’s a commitment to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks (or as long as you like). For plant-based eaters, this amount is no big deal, but if you’re hoping to incorporate more pulse recipes into your diet, the pledge is one stress-free way to do it.

In addition to being crowd-pleasing, this salad lives up to its name: once serving packs about 17 grams of pulse-powered protein. Which means that it’s both a tasty and a nutritious contribution to any holiday weekend gatherings you might be joining.

I hope you’ll enjoy it. And I look forward to seeing you back here this weekend, as always, for my weekly roundup of recipes and reads.


This post was created in partnership with the USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to share more pulse recipes with you this year! To learn more about the Pulse Pledge, visit www.pulsepledge.com.

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Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

I’ve heard it said that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are the “holy trinity” of vegan proteins. I’ve been an ardent and tofu and tempeh lover most of my vegan years, but seitan has always been a tough sell for me, which is why I’m particularly excited to share this recipe for spicy seitan sofrito bowls today.

My first reaction upon eating seitan was that it tasted a little too much like meat; whereas tofu and tempeh seemed to have flavors and textures that were undeniably unique, seitan really did taste (to me) like chicken. As someone who had given meat up happily and without too many residual cravings, I didn’t feel a strong need to replace it in my vegan diet.

Over time, though, and especially since I’ve started dating Steven, I’ve come to value meat replacements a lot more highly. Steven has adopted a mostly vegan diet as part of our life together. It was a big change for him, and I see how much easier and more enjoyable his journey has been because really wonderful veggie burgers, burger crumbles, chicken strips, deli slices, and other faux meats exist. These products give him a sense of connection to familiar, favorite foods, and using more of them in my cooking has given me a fun opportunity to experiment, to expand my options, and to try new ingredients.

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

Seitan is easy to make, but since it’s still a relatively new-to-me ingredient, I’m focused on figuring out how to use and season it–creating a homemade version will come next! For now, I’ve been appreciating the convenience and flavor of Sweet Earth seitan strips.

The Sweet Earth Natural Foods company focuses on making affordable, plant-based vegetarian and vegan foods that are packed with protein and flavor. The products are easy to prepare, and they can be found at a wide range of retailers, from local health food stores to Target. The company is passionate about making a plant-based diet “accessible to anyone who wants to try it.”

Sweet Earth Foods | The Full Helping
Sweet Earth Foods | The Full Helping

SweetEarth products range from seitan strips and grounds (in traditional flavor, chipotle, or curry satay) to a variety of vegan and vegetarian burritos, frozen meals, and even a “benevolent bacon.” The products honor seitan as part of a long tradition of vegetarian cooking, which dates back to the kitchens of Buddhist zen monks (seitan is still sometimes referred to as “monk meat”). Sweet Earth foods also feature a wide array of nutrient dense vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds.

The veggie burgers–which feature millet, black beans, and chickpeas–are among my favorites, especially the za’atar flavor.

Seitan Sofrito Bowls 4

Sweet Earth products pay homage to global flavors and bold, savory seasonings. So, as I was thinking about today’s recipe, the idea of a bold sofrito bowl immediately came to mind.

Sofrito is a sauce–usually consisting of consists of garlic, onion, paprika, peppers, and tomatoes–used to flavor vegetables and meat in Spanish, Portugese, and South American cooking. It’s simple to prepare, especially if you allow a food processor to do the chopping.

Here, a simple sofrito mix is used to simmer hearty seitan strips, and it’s all paired with an easy, flavorful spin on Spanish rice (the rice recipe may become a staple for me; it’s a great way to turn ordinary rice into a more filling side dish). Massaged kale and avocado complete the dish and add color. You can use your favorite steamed or roasted vegetable in place of the kale, and if you’re allergic to wheat or gluten, you can use tofu or tempeh (or even spiced lentils) in place of the seitan.

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  50 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

5.0 from 1 reviews


For the Spanish rice:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large white or yellow onion, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped into small florets and pieces
  • 1 cup uncooked brown basmati rice, rinsed
  • ¾ cup crushed tomatoes (half of a 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes; you’ll use the other half in the sofrito, below)
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Generous dash crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups water or low sodium vegetable broth
For the seitan sofrito:
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces seitan strips (substitute 16 ounces cubed tofu or tempeh if you’re allergic to wheat or gluten)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ large white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • ¾ cup crushed tomatoes (1/2 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper (optional)
For the massaged kale:
  • 6 cups finely chopped kale leaves
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Pinch salt and dash pepper
  • ½ Hass avocado

  1. First, make the rice. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions for 5 minutes, or until they’re soft and clear, stirring frequently. Add the peppers, carrot, cauliflower, and green beans. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for another 4-5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender. Add the rice, tomatoes, smoked paprika, salt, crushed red pepper, and water or broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the rice. Simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid. Remove the rice from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. While the rice cooks, make the seitan sofrito. Place the garlic, onion, and peppers into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade and pulse until everything is finely chopped. (Alternately, finely chop by hand.)
  3. Heat two teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the seitan strips and cook, stirring, until they’re lightly browned. Remove the seitan strips from the skillet.
  4. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the chopped garlic, onion, and pepper mixture, along with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and cayenne. Wait until the mixture is bubbly, then simmer it for 10 minutes, covered, or until it has thickened up (it should be the texture of a chunky tomato sauce). Stir in the seitan strips.
  5. To make the kale, place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Massage the kale with our hands until it’s tender, then season to taste.
  6. To assemble the bowls, divide the rice, seitan, and kale evenly into four bowls. Serve with any toppings you like: hot sauce, chopped cilantro or parsley, or chopped green onions are all great!

Leftover rice and seitan will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

Even if you’ve been eating a vegan diet for a long time, it’s fun to branch out and experiment with new foods. I’m glad that products like these exist to widen options and increase convenience for both longtime vegans and those who are curious about trying the diet. I hope you enjoy the bowls, too.

For those of you who are curious about trying some of the Sweet Earth products at home, a little giveaway. Enter below to win a Sweet Earth Swag Kit (including a T-shirt, tote bag, and stickers) and 5 free product coupons–which you can use at any retailer to explore Sweet Earth products of your choice. The giveaway will run for one week, and it’s open to US readers only.

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I’ll be back at the end of this week with an easy, flavorful, protein packed salad that’s perfect for toting along to July 4th cookouts and gatherings. Till soon!


This post is sponsored by Sweet Earth Natural Foods. All opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for your support!

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