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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.

Weekend Reading, 5.22.16


It’s a gray, chilly morning here in NYC. The weather keeps creeping upwards into the seventies, teasing us with a hint of summer, and then drops down to mid-fifties and fog. It looks as though we’ll have a burst of warmth later this week, but Steven and I will be traveling for a wedding at that point.

The upside of gray weather is that it always encourages me to turn inwards. I’ve tried to use my little pause before summer class to cultivate some quiet introspection and creative energy, and I’ve certainly been feeling both of these things, even if they come and go as they please. Class starts up again tomorrow (medical nutrition therapy, which I’m looking forward to), so this is my last Sunday to stay paused and focus on work before multitasking begins again.

For now, as I savor a quiet few hours, some reads and food images from friends.


Don’t Lindsay’s Mexican chocolate muffins look delicious? They’re vegan and gluten free, and Lindsay folds figs and chocolate into the batter before spooning it into the muffin tins, creating a decadent swirl of sweet, chocolate-y goodness. Can’t wait to try them.


Summer is peak time for entertaining and gathering with friends, and Jackie’s soyrizo stuffed mushrooms are a perfect offering for cookouts, parties, and al fresco lunches. Spicy, hearty, and super flavorful.


I love kimchi in and on just about everything, but I’d never have thought to pair it with noodles until I saw this post. What a cool idea. In place of the suggested parmesan topping, you can try my hempesan.


Nicole’s beautiful herb roasted cauliflower rice with coriander and grilled zucchini is making me so very excited for summer and all of the produce bounty that comes with it. She actually roasts the cauliflower after turning it into rice, which is a technique I haven’t tried with cauli rice yet, but I can imagine it makes the rice especially sweet and tender.


It’s not yet popsicle weather here, not by a long shot, but that doesn’t mean I can’t give myself something to look forward to. I’m a total sucker for chai flavors, which is why these vegan chai coconut popsicles immediately caught my eye! The chocolate drizzle makes them even more tempting.


To start, some cool interactive data on how the American diet has changed since the late seventies. You can see numbers rising and falling by year for different foods, from legumes to oats.

I was surprised at how sharply oil consumption has gone up. And I was less surprised, though very sad, to see how much chicken consumption has gone up. Because it takes more chickens to feed a single family home than it would take many other types of animal flesh, raising rates of chicken consumption might signal a higher number of overall animal deaths.


I really enjoyed Lauren’s post on how to stop fearing carbs, and I thought it was worth sharing. “I know I shouldn’t be eating carbs” or “I know I should try to cut back on carbs” is something I hear all the time from a new client. It’s one thing to decrease carb consumption if you know for a fact that there’s a medical reason for you to avoid them. But the assumption that carbs are bad, and that we should all eat less of them, doesn’t match the body of evidence we have that associates whole grains and legumes with reduced risk of chronic disease and leaner BMIs.

Complex carbs are an incredible source of energy in the diet–which may be why so many folks who try to adhere to “lean protein + vegetable” meals find themselves battling continual food cravings and hunger. In my work, I see countless clients who have tried to eliminate or reduce carbohydrates struggling with persistent peckishness and sugar cravings (which makes sense: the body always fights back against restriction). Oftentimes, the simple addition of more whole grains, starchy vegetables, and legumes helps to bring things into balance. And it can add a great deal of pleasure and freedom back into the diet, too.

Lauren has some good tips on how to destigmatize and embrace carbs, in spite of all of the pressure these days to flirt with low carb eating styles. And she also gently encourages an intuitive, body-conscious approach to eating overall. Worth reading–and if you’d like to explore the intuitive eating approach, I also recommend checking out Anne, Rachel, and Alex‘s very cool new Joyful Eating program, launching in late June, which encourages mindfulness and body respect through food.


I enjoyed reading this post on how the idea of a “career path” is changing for millennials and contemporary professionals.

I grew up aspiring to the idea of a single career that would expand and progress linearly as I got older–and when I worked in publishing, I suppose I was on that track, no matter how much transition the industry underwent while I worked in it.

It has been difficult for me to reconcile a somewhat risk-adverse personality–not to mention my tendency to take comfort in rituals and sameness–with being self-employed. But building my business and embracing the idea of myself as a free agent has also encouraged a great deal of personal growth. It’s both inspiring and comforting to be reminded that so many folks are opting out of traditional trajectories these days and embracing the idea of career shift as a means of continual self-reinvention.

I wouldn’t say that there’s “no such thing” as a career path anymore, but I do think it’s cool that we’re redefining what that path needs to look like.


From the New York Times‘ well section, some interesting research that links denser breast tissue to saturated fat consumption.

I happen to have very dense breast tissue, which I’m conscious of because it’s a risk factor for breast cancer (which has also impacted members of my family). The tissue was significantly denser in my teens and early twenties, and this article made me wonder if perhaps my vegan diet has contributed to some mitigation of the density. Breast density can also shift around with age, so it’s hard to say–but compelling information, nonetheless, and another good reason to celebrate plant-based diet!


Finally, a helpful and illuminating article on the many benefits of exercising self-compassion. The piece features tips and information from Kristen Neff, author of a book entitled Self Compassion (which I’m now curious to read). It underscores how self-compassion can foster resilience, positive body image, and non-judgmental inner dialog, and it’s worth reading if you sometimes struggle to be kind with yourself.

On that gentle note, everyone, I wish you a really super Sunday. See you this week with some new eats–including one of my all-time favorite vegan kitchen staples!


The post Weekend Reading, 5.22.16 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

Thank you all so much for the wonderful comments, both here and on Facebook, about my calcium post! I was really happy to hear that so many of you found it helpful, and I look forward to possibly tackling other nutrients (like iron) with a similar, food-based approach.

Since we’re focusing on calcium this week, I thought it would be an especially good time to share a calcium rich recipe. These simple stewed pinto beans and collard greens are smoky, savory, and oh-so delicious, and they also happen to deliver about 30% of your RDA of calcium in a single serving.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Collards are one of the most calcium rich leafy greens (1 cup of cooked collards provides about 270 milligrams calcium, which is 27% of the RDA of 1,000 milligrams), and pinto beans provide about 50 milligrams in a half cup. Together, these two ingredients offer bone-building calcium, along with tons of fiber, folate, potassium, magnesium, iron, and protein.

Not bad for one very simple, plant-based meal.

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

The secret of this recipe is to allow the onions to get nice and golden–almost caramelized–before adding the garlic and greens, and then to add smoked paprika (collards are often cooked with pork and bacon in traditional preparations, and the smoked paprika helps to evoke some of that flavor).

The result is a dish that’s simultaneously smoky, salty, and sweet. In spite of all of the flavor, it features a pretty short ingredient list, and it comes together quickly enough that I was recently able to whip it up for a low-stress weekend lunch. The tahini drizzle is totally optional, but it provides a touch of bright acidity from the lemon, extra garlicky flavor, and just a bit of extra bone-building power (sesame seeds are relatively high in calcium).

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt, plus a little extra for cooking the onions
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 pound washed and dried collard greens, sliced into ribbons (about 1 large bunch)
  • 3 cups cooked pinto beans (2 cans pinto beans, drained and rinsed)
  • Dash crushed red pepper
Tahini drizzle (optional):
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 1 small, crushed garlic cove
  • Black pepper to taste

  1. Heat the olive oil in a large saute pan or skillet (ideally something with a lid) over medium heat. Add the onion and give it a little pinch of salt. Cook for 7-8 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is soft, clear, and lightly golden. Add the garlic, paprika, and the ½ teaspoon salt. Cook for 2 more minutes.
  2. Add the collards and broth. Cover the pan and allow the collards to wilt down (you might have to do this in batches). Reduce the heat to medium low, uncover the pan, and cook the collards, stirring every so often, for about 10 minutes. Stir in the pinto beans and a dash of red pepper. Season to taste.
  3. If you’d like to make the tahini drizzle, whisk together all of the ingredients while the collards cook.
  4. To serve, divide the greens and beans into bowls and drizzle with the tahini (if using). You can also scoop them onto a bed of cooked whole grains (brown rice is especially nice), or toast. Enjoy!

Leftovers will keep for up to 3 days in the fridge.


Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

The greens and beans can be enjoyed just as they are, or you can choose to serve them over a cooked grain. Nutty brown rice is especially nice, as would be millet, bulgur, or quinoa. If you’re having a busy day and you’d like to put together a very simple lunch, scooping the stewed greens on to some toast is absolutely delicious–especially with the tahini.

This really is one of those recipes that proves the “simple is best” maxim when it comes to cooking. It’s so easy to make, but it gives you a batch of nutrient dense ingredients that you can use in different ways as the week goes on. I hope you’ll enjoy it, and that you’ll put some of your own touches on it.

Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens | The Full Helping

Have a lovely end of the week, everyone, and see you soon for weekend reading!


The post Simple Stewed Pinto Beans and Collard Greens appeared first on The Full Helping.

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15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Happy Tuesday, friends! As always, I enjoyed reading your insights into the weekend reading links.

Last summer, I published a post called 15 Simple, Affordable, and Protein Rich Combinations of Plant Foods. The goal was to break down protein requirements and recommendations using real food examples. Many of us have read about the recommended daily allowances for major nutrients, but it can be tough to translate that information into real life advice that matches our daily eating patterns.

Today, as a follow up, I want to offer you 15 simple, affordable, and calcium rich vegan food combinations—and in the future, I’d love to continue the series with other nutrients as well.

Calcium is one of the more important nutrients for vegans to have on their radars, for reasons I’ll expand on in a moment. Most vegans have a general sense of what the best plant-based sources of calcium are (leafy greens and crucifers), but even so, it can helpful to parse through some of the details.

Why Bone Health Matters to Me

I was in my early twenties, recovering from my last anorexia relapse, when a bone scan indicated that I had osteopenia, or low bone density. Mine was so low, in fact, that the diagnosis had nearly been one of osteoporosis. My endocrinologist explained that, under an x-ray, that my bones looked like those of a woman at least twice my age.

There’s a moment like this, I think, in the life cycle of any eating disorder. It’s the moment when you realize that the experience hasn’t merely been a set of abstract rules or an elaborate game you were playing with yourself. There had been many telltale health warning signs along the way—seeing stars when I stood up too quickly, the absent periods, the constant cold. But this was my wakeup call.

Luckily for me, the body forgives. It can be a challenge to compensate for bone density that was lost in the teens and twenties, since these are the formative decades for bone building. Significant losses in these years can put a person at higher risk for osteopenia or osteoporosis later in life. Still, one can work to build or maintain bone strength at any point in the life cycle, and I’ve spent the decade since my osteopenia diagnosis paying close attention to calcium in my diet and bone health overall. It’s something I become more and more vigilant about as I get older, since I know that preserving bone density is an important part of healthy aging.

Women and Bone Health

While I have special reason to be vigilant about my bones because of personal history, bone health is a topic of concern for all women at every stage of the life cycle. Both men and women develop osteopenia and osteoporosis, but hormonal flux, longer life span, lower average calcium intakes, and having lower bone bone mass in the first place make women more susceptible.

As I said, the teens and twenties are the most critical years for forming strong bones (which is why eating disorders in young adults can have such serious consequences). About 40% of bone mass is built during adolescence, and by the late twenties and early thirties, peak bone mass is achieved [1]. Bone losses begin in the mid or late thirties and continue in the forties and fifties; for women, changes in estrogen levels after menopause can cause sharp declines, since estrogen helps to regulate bone turnover [2, 3]. A woman can work to maintain her bone density throughout the years by paying attention to calcium and vitamin D intake, staying active, eating a balanced diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables, avoiding smoking, and limiting alcohol [4].

Bone Building Nutrients and Vegan Diets

Calcium, along with Vitamin D, is the major nutrient associated with strong bone health. Vegan diets deliver calcium through dark leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, some legumes, and fortified foods. A well planned, nutritionally adequate, and varied vegan diet will meet a person’s calcium needs, and in fact, we absorb the calcium in greens better than we do the calcium in cow’s milk [5].

Still, it’s important for vegans to get clear and evidence-based information about calcium and how best to source it within a plant-based diet. Some research has suggested that vegans are at a higher risk of bone fracture than non-vegans [6, 7]. A close look at the studies, though, suggests that the higher fracture risk probably wasn’t due to veganism, per se (i.e., the absence of animal foods), but rather the fact that the individuals studied weren’t getting enough calcium their diets overall.

In other words, vegans don’t have to be at greater risk for bone thinning or fractures. But they may, for various reasons, skimp on calcium in their diets, which will make them as susceptible to low bone density as anyone consuming a low calcium diet would be. Vegan diets aren’t associated with a higher fracture risk if the amount of calcium consumed is adequate. [8]

Why Some Vegans Might Not Get Enough Calcium

Why would vegans get less calcium than omnivores? One factor might be the circulation of certain misconceptions about calcium and bone health within the vegan community. The most notable of these is the idea that vegans have special protection against bone loss because our diets are more alkaline than standard American diets. Some older studies suggested that more acid-forming diets could lead to bone resorption (loss of calcium from the bone matrix), but the latest research doesn’t draw the same conclusions. Instead, it suggests that the relative acidity or alkalinity of one’s diet has an insignificant impact on bone health [9]. Eating an alkaline diet is no guarantee of bone protection.

Meanwhile, many vegans believe that protein is acid-forming, and therefore bad for bone health, when in fact the opposite is true: protein seems to have a protective effect on the bone matrix [10, 11, 12, 13]. Ensuring adequate protein in the diet is an important part of eating for strong and healthy bones.

In my work, I see that some vegans don’t have a clear sense of what the best vegan sources of calcium are. For example, many new clients assure me that they’re getting enough calcium because they’re eating a lot of salad and baby spinach. But salad greens and spinach actually aren’t very good calcium sources, and spinach in particular is high in oxalates, which can block the absorption of calcium in food.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

The leafy greens that deliver the most calcium include collards, mustard and turnip greens, kale, and bok choy. These greens might sneak into salads, but they often don’t. In order to maximize calcium intake, it’s important for plant based eaters to get a wide array of leafy greens and crucifers in their diets.

Some vegans also seem to be a little squeamish about the idea of eating fortified foods, like fortified non-dairy milk, orange juice, tofu, or cereal. One reason might be that we spend so much time defending our diets against uninformed criticism that we don’t like the idea of having to rely on nutrient sources that aren’t a “natural” part of the plant kingdom.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

But vegans shouldn’t feel any special pressure to avoid fortified food. Fortification plays an important role in many peoples’ diets—vegans and omnivores alike. Most people get Vitamin D through fortification; cow’s milk is fortified with it, just the way plant milk is. Most whole grains and cereal foods are fortified with folate, which helps to protect against neural tube defects.

Fortified foods exist in order to offer us a little extra insurance when it comes to healthful eating. We don’t need them in order to be healthy, but there’s no reason to avoid them if they’ll help to make nutrient acquisition easier. (This is especially true for parents who are feeding picky eaters.) One or two servings of fortified foods daily can go a very long way in helping a person to meet his or her calcium needs, and these foods also typically include Vitamin D.

Speaking of that, Vitamin D goes hand-in-hand with calcium in helping to maintain bone mass. Recently, I wrote a blog post inspired by the story of a client who hadn’t had Vitamin D on her radar, and found out about its importance the hard way—by learning she was deficient. This is a really common scenario nowadays, and not only among vegans. Vitamin D is activated by sunlight exposure, which many of us lack due to lifestyle or climate. Vitamin D supplementation may be necessary for folks who can’t ensure adequate sunlight or who have lot absorption of the vitamin. But fortified foods can definitely serve as one source of Vitamin D in the diet.

How to Get Enough Calcium in a Vegan Diet

So, what’s the best way for vegans to ensure that their diets are working in favor of good bone health?

First, it’s good to be aware of the recommended daily allowance. The latest recommendation is 1,000 milligrams of calcium daily for women aged 19-50 and 1,200 milligrams daily for women over 50. The RDA for growing kids and teens (ages 9-18) is 1,300 milligrams daily. [14] This recommendation is offered under the assumption that we’ll absorb about 30% of the calcium we consume in food (about 300 milligrams daily).

That’s how much calcium you should be aiming for in your diet. But what’s the best way to source it? Whenever I share a recommended dietary allowance with a client, I’m sure to explain the recommendation through food, because the numbers in and of themselves can feel a little empty.

Best Vegan Sources of Calcium

Let’s start by looking at the best plant-based calcium sources. I’m listing them in descending order of calcium density, and I’m giving both the milligrams calcium per serving, and also how far each food takes you toward 100% of your RDA. Keep in mind that some estimates vary for these foods (especially for different brands of calcium fortified foods), so the actual calcium content might be a little higher or lower.

1. Fortified almond, soy, or rice milk, 8 ounces: 300-500mg (30-50%)
2. Fortified orange juice, 8 ounces: 350 mg (35%)
3. Collard greens, cooked, 1 cup: 270 mg (27%)
4. Fortified breakfast cereal, 1 cup dry: 250-1000 mg (25-100%)
5. Turnip greens, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 200 mg (20%)
6. Mustard greens, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 160 mg (16%)
7. Bok choy, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 150 mg (15%)
8. Tempeh, 4 ounces: 120 mg (12%)
9. Tahini, 2 tablespoons: 120 mg (12%)
10. Dried figs, 1/2 cup: 120 mg (12%)
11. Extra Firm Tofu, 3 ounces: 100 mg – 150 mg (10-15%)
12. Oats, instant, 1 serving: 100 mg (10%)
13. Kale, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 100 mg (10%)
14. Shelled edamame, steamed, 1 cup: 100 mg (10%)
15. Silken tofu, 3 ounces: 80 mg (8%)
16. Blackstrap molasses, 1 tablespoon: 80 mg (8%)
17. Almond butter, 2 tablespoons: 80 mg (8%)
18. Almonds, 1 ounce: 80 mg (8%)
19. Orange, 1 cup sections: 70 mg (7%)
20. Navy beans, cooked, ½ cup: 65 mg (6.5%)
21. Broccoli, steamed or boiled, 1 cup: 60 mg (6%)
22. Pinto beans, cooked, ½ cup: 50 mg (5%)

What about calcium supplements? For certain individuals, a low dose supplement might be necessary or helpful in meeting calcium requirements. Still, most dietitians agree that food sources are best for calcium, and recent research has called into question whether or not calcium supplementation might post risks to heart health. It’s best to meet the RDA through food if you can.

15 Simple, Affordable, and Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations

Now you know what some of the best individual food sources are. But we meet our requirements for a certain nutrient by eating real meals—which is to say, mixing and matching different foods throughout the course of each day.

So, here are 15 simple, affordable, calcium-rich combinations of plant food—and for each, a couple suggestions on how you could prepare them in your kitchen!

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Pinto beans (5%) + collard greens (27%) = 32% RDA

Simmer the beans and greens in a simple soup or stew. Or, try combining these ingredients into an easy skillet dinner.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Dried figs (12%) + almonds (8%) = 20% RDA

You can enjoy these two as a snack, paired together on top of oatmeal or porridge, or processed into a homemade raw snack bar!

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Tempeh (12%) + mustard greens (16%) = 28%

Combine these two in an easy skillet dinner and serve it over some brown rice. Or, make an open faced tempeh sandwich, top it with mustard greens, and smother it with some sort of delicious sauce.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Navy beans (6.5%) + turnip greens (20%) = 26.5%

Create a soup with navy beans, greens, and garlicky broth. Or, try making a navy bean hummus, then using it to top a delicious green and grain bowl.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Tofu (15%) + broccoli (6%) = 21%

Make an easy dinner stir fry, create a bowl meal (sort of like this one), or create a tofu scramble with broccoli florets for breakfast.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Edamame (10%) + bok choy (15%) = 25%

Make a nutritious soba noodle salad, featuring shelled edamame and chopped bok choy. Or, make amiso broth and load it up with greens and edamame.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Fortified non-dairy milk (45%) + almond butter (8%) = 53%

Pair these together in a smoothie, or combine them in a bowl of creamy overnight oats.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Fortified cereal (25%) + fortified non-dairy milk (45%) = 70%

A quick and easy breakfast!

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Tofu (15%) + fortified orange juice (35%) = 50%

Combine silken tofu and fortified orange juice in a smoothie or dressing. Or, try having a glass or half glass of fortified orange juice with a tofu scramble breakfast. (NB: whole fruits are a healthier choice than fruit juices, but if calcium acquisition in diet is proving to be a major challenge, the benefits of a glass of OJ might compensate for the fact that it’s less ideal than fresh fruit.)

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Greens (20%) + tahini (8%) = 28%

Make a big kale salad and smother it in tahini dressing. Or, try making a green and grain skillet dish, then topping it with homemade tahini sauce. Not inspired yet? Then simply combine these two in bowls, bowls, and more bowls.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Tempeh (12%) + tahini (12%) = 24%

To start, you can make a super tasty lunch sandwich with tempeh bacon and tahini sauce. Or you can whip up a tempeh breakfast scramble with tahini drizzle. If all else fails, try a batch of tempeh lunch salad with tahini in the sauce.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Almond butter (8%) + edamame (10%) + broccoli (6%) = 24%

Create an edamame and broccoli stir fry, then top it all with a rich almond butter sauce. Or, try throwing together a fresh broccoli and edamame salad, then savor it along with some almond butter and toast.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Tofu (15%) + almond butter (8%) + orange slices (7%) = 30%

Enjoy a tofu scramble with a creamy almond butter sauce, and serve it for breakfast with a cup of orange slices. Or, make an almond butter and orange dressing, then serve it over a tofu salad or stir fry. If all else fails, make a simple morning smoothie with silken tofu, almond butter, fresh orange slices, and fortified non-dairy milk.

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Dried Figs (12%) + Tahini (12%) = 24%

Figs and tahini can be combined in a super creamy and delicious smoothie (perhaps with some banana and non-dairy milk).

15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping
15 Calcium Rich Vegan Food Combinations | The Full Helping

Kale (10%) + Almonds (8%) + Edamame (10%) = 28%

You can make a batch of kale and almond pesto, then serve it over pasta, rice, or another grain dish studded with edamame (or stick some edamame in the pesto itself!). You can also make a grilled or raw kale salad and top it with edamame and crushed almonds. Or, try making a kale and edamame stir fry with rice or soba noodles, and then sprinkling it with chopped tamari almonds.

Of course, there are many other ways to enjoy calcium rich plant foods—these are just a few of my favorite suggestions. On Thursday, I’ll be sharing a very simple green and legume dish that provides over 30% of your RDA of calcium in one single serving.

Putting it All Together

Even if you know have a strong sense of vegan calcium sources and how to cook with them, it can be helpful to keep a couple of general tips and considerations—including factors that influence absorption—in mind. Here are a few general guidelines to help you protect your bones through diet and lifestyle.

Eat a wide array of dark, leafy greens and cruciferous vegetables.

This one doesn’t need much explanation!

Consider fortified, non-dairy milk as a regular calcium source.

I love making homemade almond milk (and other nut milks). But these creamy blends don’t deliver a calcium content that’s in any way comparable to what one gets from a cup of fortified, non-dairy milk. I recommend saving homemade nut milk as a treat (something to warm up and sip after dinner or with tea), and using fortified milks for everyday use, such as morning cereal or porridge, smoothies, and so on.

It’s also worth noting that not all non-dairy milk is fortified with a significant amount of calcium; some brands contain only about 10%. It’s ideal to aim for a brand that contains 35-45% of the RDA. My current favorites are Califia Farms and Silk Almond for almond milk, and Silk and Westsoy Organic Plus for soy milk. The same goes for tofu: if you can find a brand that’s calcium-set, it’s probably a better nutritional investment than one that isn’t.

Think about absorption.

Various factors can influence how much calcium we actually absorb from the foods we eat. Spinach and Swiss chard contain some calcium, but they’re also high in oxalates, which means that the calcium won’t be readily absorbed. Caffeine may have a small impact on calcium absorption, but research suggests that, if a person is consuming enough calcium overall, the effects are likely to be negligible [15].

Vitamin K, which can be obtained through leafy greens like spinach, parsley, kale, and broccoli, also plays a role in maintaining healthy bones [16], though research doesn’t suggest that supplementation isn’t necessary (at least not for bone health).

Eat a varied, balanced diet.

As important as calcium and Vitamin D are, they’re not the whole story when it comes to bone health. Evidence suggests that antioxidant-rich foods can help to protect the bone matrix, which is great news for vegans, since varied plant-based diets tend to be very rich in phytonutrients. Protein also has a protective effect, so it’s a wise idea to make sure that your diet contains plenty of legumes and protein-rich foods. One study of plant-based eaters suggested that merely one serving of meat replacements daily, as well as higher consumption of legumes, offered significant protection for bones [17]. If you’d like some tips on protein-rich food combos, you can revisit this post.

Bone protection goes beyond diet alone.

Weight bearing exercise and activities that strengthen balance are an important part of keeping bones strong and protecting us against falls and accidents as we age. Stay active, and try to vary your physical movement in a way that allows you to focus both on strength and on balance through high- and low-impact exercise.

Learning More

If you’d like to read more about veganism and bone health, there are a ton of great resources from RDs right here on the web.

Start by reading Ginny Messina’s vegan calcium primer, then check out her posts on vegan diets for healthy bones (which includes good information on absorption) and her post on protein and bone health, which helps to clarify the acid/alkaline hypothesis and its resulting confusion.

Jack Norris has a very comprehensive post on calcium and Vitamin D in vegan diets on his website.

Reed Mangels has a great article on calcium in the vegan diet available at the Vegetarian Resource Group’s website.

Sharon Palmer recently wrote a comprehensive post about vegans and bone health. It features links to research as well as quotations from Ginny, Reed, Ginger Hultin, and Matt Ruscigno.

These links all feature citations that will allow you to do further research on your own, if you wish to.

Nutrient acquisition can feel complicated when you start to consider all of the nuts and bolts. But hopefully this post can help to make the sourcing of calcium in your plant-based diet feel simple and realistic.

If you enjoyed this post and you’d like to see more like it, please let me know! I’d love to hear what nutrition topics or nutrient considerations are on your minds. And I can’t wait to circle back on Thursday with an easy, delicious, and calcium-rich recipe 🙂


1. Reinagel, M. Osteoporosis prevention through the lifespan: challenges and opportunities to build or maintain strong bones. Food & Nutrition Magazine. 2016, May/June: 16-17.
2. Väänänen, HK, and Härkönen, PL. Estrogen and bone metabolism. Maturitas 1996 May; 23 Suppl: S65-9.
3. Riggs, BL. The mechanisms of estrogen regulation of bone resorption. J Clin Invest 2000 Nov 15; 106 (10): 1203–1204.
4. Weaver, CM, Gordon, CM, Janz, KF, Kalkwarf, HJ, Lappe, JM, Lewis, R, O’Karma, M, Wallace, TC, Zemel, BS.The National Osteoporosis Foundation’s position statement on peak bone mass development and lifestyle factors: a systematic review and implementation recommendations. Osteoporos Int 2016 Apr;27(4):1281-386.
5. Weaver CM, Plawecki KL. Dietary calcium: adequacy of a vegetarian diet. Am J Clin Nutr 1994; 59:1238S-1241S.
6. Appleby P1, Roddam A, Allen N, Key T. Comparative fracture risk in vegetarians and nonvegetarians in EPIC-Oxford. Eur J Clin Nutr 2007 Dec;61(12):1400-6.
7. Thorpe, DL, Knutsen, SF, Beeson, WL, Rajaram, S, Fraser, GE. Effects of meat consumption and vegetarian diet on risk of wrist fracture over 25 years in a cohort of peri- and postmenopausal women. Public Health Nutr 2008;11:564–72.
8. Mangels, R. Bone nutrients for vegetarians. Am J Clin Nutr 2014 100: 469S-475S
9. Fenton, TR, Lyon, AW, Eliasziw, M, Tough, SC, Hanley, DA. Meta-analysis of the effect of the acid-ash hypothesis of osteoporosis on calcium balance. J Bone Miner Res 2009;24:1835–40.
10. Munger RG, Cerhan JR, Chiu BC. Prospective study of dietary protein intake and risk of hip fracture in postmenopausal women. Am J Clin Nutr 1999;69:147-52.
11. Promislow JH, Goodman-Gruen D, Slymen DJ, Barrett-Connor E. Protein consumption and bone mineral density in the elderly : the Rancho Bernardo Study. Am J Epidemiol 2002;155:636-44.
12. Devine A, Dick IM, Islam AF, Dhaliwal SS, Prince RL. Protein consumption is an important predictor of lower limb bone mass in elderly women. Am J Clin Nutr 2005; 81:1423-8.
13. Hannan MT, Tucker, KL, Dawson-Hughes B, Cupples LA, Felson DT, Kiel DP. Effect of Dietary Protein on Bone Loss in Elderly Men and Women: The Framingham Osteoporosis Study. Journal of Bone and Mineral Research. 2000; (15)12:2504-2512.
14. Institute of Medicine. Dietary Reference Intakes for Calcium and Vitamin D. 2011. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.
15. Rafferty, K, Heaney, RP. Nutrient effects on the calcium economy: emphasizing the potassium controversy. J Nutr. 2008 Jan;138(1):166S-171S.
16. Weber, P. Vitamin K and bone health. Nutrition. 2001 Oct;17(10):880-7.
17. Lousuebsakul-Matthews V, Thorpe DL, Knutsen R, Beeson WL, Fraser GE, Knutsen SF. Legumes and meat analogues consumption are associated with hip fracture risk independently of meat intake among Caucasian men and women: the Adventist Health Study-2. Public Health Nutr. 2013 Oct 8:1-11.

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Weekend Reading, 5.15.16


Good morning, everyone! I hope that you’ve all been enjoying a restful and sunny weekend.

It has been a very domestic week here. Without class to rush off to, I’ve had the pleasure of interrupted time for work, and I’m savoring the opportunity to feel creative and immersed. It’s easy to disregard how important continuous stretches of time are for the creative process (whatever that may be–for me, it’s writing and recipe creation), but the past few days have reminded me that the quality of my work is a lot better when I’m not multitasking.

This week has also presented me with an opportunity to dive back into cooking. In spite of how much I was looking forward to this, it wasn’t immediately appealing. Cooking is a funny thing: it has been a central part of my life for over a decade now, and yet each time I stray too far away from it I find myself fighting off some resistance as I journey back.

Over the course of this past month I was well aware that not cooking was making me feel somewhat creatively stifled and disconnected from food. And yet there’s something undeniably freeing about not having to chop onions, smash garlic, wait for things to boil. When the time came to get cooking again last Sunday, I found myself coming up with all sorts of crafty reasons as to why I should defrost something or call in takeout instead.

But I picked up my chef’s knife anyway, and I got chopping, and as I put together that meal (the first complete, homemade dinner I’d had in at least a week), I was reminded of how soothing and pleasurable the cooking process can be when you fight through the initial resistance. It’s sort of like what people say about exercise: the tough part is always getting out the door.

I was also reminded of the fact that cooking is not simply about taking pleasure in a finished product (though enjoying a homemade meal is always a pleasure): it’s also about the ritual and experience. Usually Steven and I chat while I make dinner; even if he’s working or studying and I’m chopping furiously, we’ll periodically peek up to comment on something or share a thought. It’s a ritual, a part of our life together that we both miss when it’s not around, even if we’re not really aware that we miss it.

For me, there’s something sacred about the rhythms of putting together a meal. I spend most of my time in words and (because of school) formulas, facts, and figures. And I tend to live inside my head anyway. The physical nature of cooking–the fact that it’s a manual experience, even if plenty of thought and creative energy goes into it–is an important counterpart to the rest of what I do. And the fact that it forces me into my senses–touch, smell, observation, and taste–matters. I’m sure I’ll always experience some tug of war (as I’m sure all home cooks do) with cooking and the time/energy it demands, especially when I’m busy. But picking up the habit again always feels a little like coming home.

Alright. Enough meditation: speaking of cooking, here are the recipes (and reads) that caught my attention this week.



It has been a good long time since I craved a smoothie, but I’m sure that summer weather will change that, and the first blend I’ll be making is Sneh’s rich and delicious nutty cacao smoothie. Perfect for berry season!


I’ve tried cilantro pesto, avocado pesto, hemp seed pesto, arugula pesto, walnut pesto, and a lot of other pesto varieties, but asparagus pesto is a new concept to me. I love Chickpea Magazine‘s vegan asparagus pesto recipe, which is heavy on the nooch (just the way I like it).


Also in the category of fresh and beautiful springtime food, Ana’s spring gratitude salad is bursting with seasonal produce, and I love the addition of wild rice for some extra texture and heft.


I am a bowl addict, and I’m always on the lookout for new ideas and combinations. Sophie’s quinoa buddha bowl with miso gravy looks so satisfying and nutritious. The gravy alone is worth bookmarking, and I’m excited to try it as a change of pace from all of my usual tahini and nut based dressings.


Finally, it’s hard to believe that cupcakes this pretty, this easy to make, and this decadent could be both vegan and gluten free! A fabulous recipe for vegan cupcakes with chocolate frosting from Kelly of The Pretty Bee.


Screen Shot 2016-05-15 at 7.10.18 AM

There’s been a lot of discussion in the media this past week or two about weight regain and why it happens–prompted, in part, by the New York Times article about Biggest Loser contestants and the struggles they face after the extreme measures and pressures of that show are over.

Here’s a smart, succinct, and on point article from dietitian Carrie Dennett about why weight regain is so common. I think she singles out the most important reasons, including the fact that many popular weight loss methods are far too extreme to result in lasting change (and indeed, their extremity heightens the chance that weight will be regained). She also addresses the fact that many people have unrealistic expectations of the weight loss process or (more significantly) the likelihood of maintaining certain weights over time.

I often find myself gently telling a client that if a certain weight has never been possible without a great deal of effort (dieting, unsustainable levels of exercise, etc.), then it probably never will be. It’s a tough thing to say, and I know it’s a tough thing to hear. But it’s often true, and I believe that realistic expectations and weight loss goals are an important part of finding balance with food. There’s a lot more to say about this, but in the meantime, these articles put the issue into relief.


Like many people, I tend to see procrastination as being at odds with productivity. I spend most of my work day trying to accomplish as much as possible, packing in tasks and avoiding breaks (with the exception of the necessary ones, like eating).

But this Quartz article is making my rethink the sometimes frenetic quality of my approach to work. It presents good evidence that procrastination–or really, meaningful pauses in the work day–can enhance creativity, insight, and innovative thinking. It’s a good reminder that there is real value in slowing down (something I’m trying to do more often lately).


There seem to be more and more studies lately that point to the benefits of a plant-based diet, but I thought this one was compelling enough to share. It’s a review study that once again underscores the link between red meat consumption and mortality, as well as the correlation between plant-based diet and decreased mortality from ischemic heart disease. Worth reading and sharing if you enjoy this research!


A touching, candid essay from an anonymous author about her lifelong struggle with having her weight commented upon and used as a foundation for false assumptions. She begins with a childhood story:

I was in fourth grade, sitting in a doctor’s office, the first time my face flushed with shame. I was, I had just learned, overweight.
“It’s probably from eating all that pizza and ice cream. It tastes good, doesn’t it? But it makes your body big and fat.”
I was confused. Dinners at home were usually fish or chicken, rice, and steamed vegetables; breakfasts were cottage cheese and cantaloupe. After all, I was the child of a 1980’s Weight Watchers mother.
“Just imagine that your body is made out of clay. If you can just stay the same weight, as you grow, you’ll stretch out. And once you grow up, you’ll be thin and beautiful. Won’t that be great?”
I felt my face sear with shame. My skin was neon, hot and bright, noisy and garish. I had learned so much in that one moment: You’re eating too much junk food. You’re not beautiful. You’re indulging too much. Your body is wrong. You must have done it.
Something was wrong with my body. I’d failed a test I didn’t even know I’d taken.

The author’s negative experience with health care providers, sadly, does not end there. She goes on to detail how routine doctor’s office visits (for an ear infection, for example) have been turned into weight loss lectures, and she even recounts how nutrient deficiencies were at one point missed by health care providers, presumably because it was assumed she could not possibly be undernourishing herself (which she was, in an attempt to punish the body she’d been encouraged to see as shameful).

She shares thoughts on how body shape is used as a (false) proxy for health and healthful behavior, when in fact the issue of weight and how it relates to food and exercise is far more complex than this. Assumptions based on weight, and especially the culture of weight shaming, exerts real and harmful consequences, many of which can never be shaken. As a society, we can find more holistic and meaningful ways to talk about healthy living.

The author sums it up beautifully, I think:

At its core, weight loss is aesthetic. My weight doesn’t tell you what I eat, how much I exercise, how strong I am…It doesn’t tell you how I feel about myself, or what I’ve learned, or how I’ve changed. Judging someone by the size of their body is strictly visual, and it flattens a whole, beautiful, complex body and an unknown, extraordinary person.
There is more than enough at work to reduce us, to make us feel hurt and hardened. Instead, let us do the hard, vulnerable work of unburdening one another, and release our cumbersome shame. Let us abandon the manifest destiny of weight loss, abandon the quest to conquer bodies and the people in them.
Let us soften. Love is tough enough without tough love.


Finally, I loved this Eater profile and conversation with legendary cookbook (and literary book) editor Judith Jones, who is largely credited with helping to bring the work of Julia Child, Madhur Jaffrey, Edna Lewis, and Lidia Bastianich to American readers, in addition to several notable poets and novelists.

The interview, such as it is, allows Jones’ own words and perspective to shine through. As a former book editor–a part of my life that I still cherish and often miss–I loved what she had to say about both the writing life and the editorial process. And her musings on cooking and its value are pretty great, too. Some tidbits:

…For a long time, the women — and they were usually women — who wrote about food were treated as second-class citizens. All because they cook! I think that’s opened up. A good writer gets some good assignments, and they’re treated better somehow. It just takes time.
…If you want to write, write. It has to be a passion. When you edit, you’re willing to stay up all night and then be slapped in the face.
…To me, cooking is an art form, and like any art form, you first have to learn the fundamentals. And then, once they’re there, once they’re just part of you, and you get up and do a little dance or something, you don’t follow somebody else’s formula. You can take off on your own, and you learn through doing. Then you can let go of some of these strict rules, and make your own rules. I don’t even think level measurements are such a big deal these days.
…I think what’s going to be in for the next decade is emphasis on food as medicine, until we go crazy and don’t even want to eat food. I hate it! And the shakes! I mean, I like to use my teeth, and chewing is very good exercise.
…You don’t want to get to a point where people think every­thing’s access­ible, because it isn’t. Coco­nuts are damned hard to whack open.

That’s only a sampling. The whole piece is charming, and I definitely recommend reading it in full.

And on that note, I’m off to do my weekend grocery haul and get down to some home cooking of my own. I’ll be sharing a post on calcium fundamentals on Tuesday–a topic I’m asked about all the time, and I’ve finally put some culinary tips and food suggestions on paper. And on Thursday, I have an easy and very wholesome, calcium-rich recipe to share. Till then, enjoy your Sunday!


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Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos

Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos | The Full Helping

I’ve been eating a lot of soft taco/tostada meals recently. They’re such an easy vehicle for veggies and plant proteins, and it’s fun to come up with creative toppings (even if my usual default is simply to smother them with truly amazing cashew queso sauce).

These cumin roasted carrot and lentil tacos are a departure from the usual set of toppings (refried beans, green chilis) in that they feature a more Middle Eastern spice profile—cumin, smoked paprika, coriander, cinnamon, and even a touch of (optional) harissa. They’re wonderfully savory, and the spice blend here gives them an unusual touch.

Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos | The Full Helping

There are many different ways to create a hearty—or meaty, if you’ll forgive the idiom—filling for vegan tacos. One is to use tofu, tempeh, or seitan, which are the obvious choice for vegan meat replacement. Another is to use veggies that deliver a lot of texture and chew, like crispy cauliflower or mushrooms.

Pulses are also an obvious choice for protein and heft. My heat free lentil and walnut tacos are a standby recipe for me, whether I serve them with romaine leaves, collard leaves, or regular taco shells; I love the savory, umami packed combination of lentils, walnuts, and sun-dried tomatoes.

Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos | The Full Helping

These tacos rely on lentils as a cheap, nutritious plant protein source. But they also incorporate crispy, cumin-dusted roasted carrots. Carrots may not come to mind as a traditional taco ingredient, but I’m really impressed with the heartiness they add to this dish. They pair perfectly with the Middle Eastern spices and the lentil/red onion combination. Slivers of creamy avocado complete the dish, adding healthful fats and a flash of beautiful, bright color.

Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos | The Full Helping

This post is a part of my year-long celebration of the International Year of Pulses. The UN has named 2016 the year of pulses in recognition of beans, lentils, and dry peas as a sustainable, affordable protein source. I welcome all of you to take the Pulse Pledge with me—a low-key commitment to eating pulses once a week for at least ten weeks this calendar year. I know it’s not usually hard for plant-based eaters to squeeze in plenty of pulses, but this challenge can still serve as a fun and friendly reminder.

And if you’re looking for a bold, flavorful recipe to start your pledge with, I highly recommend these tacos.

Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos | The Full Helping

Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 4 servings (2 tacos each)

  • 1 pound peeled and trimmed carrots (about 4 large or 8 regular sized carrots)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons ground cumin, divided
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon harissa seasoning (optional; I like the one from Frontier Co-op)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 small, chopped red onion
  • 1½ cups cooked brown, black, or green lentils (or 1 can lentils, rinsed and drained)
  • ½ teaspoon ground chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, plus extra for serving.
  • ½ teaspoon sea salt (or to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 8 corn or whole wheat soft tacos
  • 2 large Hass avocados

  1. Preheat the oven to 400F. Half or quarter the carrots (depending on how wide they are), then cut them into 1-inch long pieces. Place them in a large mixing bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin, the coriander, cinnamon, smoked paprika, and the harissa, if using. Toss well to combine. Transfer the carrots to a foil or parchment lined baking sheet and sprinkle with coarse salt. Roast for 30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes, or until the carrots are very tender and a little crispy.
  2. While the carrots roast, heat the remaining tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet. Add the red onion. Saute for 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the lentils, the remaining ½ teaspoon cumin, the chili powder, lime juice, and salt. Stir to combine everything and heat the lentils up (about 1-2 minutes). Turn off the heat.
  3. Toast the tortillas gently over an open oven burner (about 1 minute per side). Alternately, you can wrap them in foil and place them in a 350F degree oven for about 5 minutes prior to taco assembly.
  4. To assemble tacos, place ¼ cup lentil mixture, a handful of roasted carrots, and a few avocado slices in each taco. Top with an extra squeeze of lime juice, if desired. Fresh, chopped parsley makes a nice accompaniment, too. Enjoy.


Cumin Roasted Carrot and Lentil Tacos | The Full Helping

If lentils aren’t your pulse of choice, feel free to try roasted chickpeas, kidney beans, or pinto beans in the recipe instead. You can also add some additional vegetables to your tray of carrots before roasting (I’d love to add mushrooms to the recipe myself!).

I hope you give these wholesome tacos a try soon. If you make them, I’d love to hear how the recipe turns out!


This post was created in partnership with the USA Dry Pea & Lentil Council. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your continued support! To learn more about the Pulse Pledge and find more bean, lentil, and dry pea recipes, visit www.pulsepledge.com.

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Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls

Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

Until this past Sunday, when I made these cocoa strawberry quinoa breakfast bowls, my breakfasts had gotten pretty routine. Most days it’s either tostadas (loosely based off of the recipe from Food52 Vegan, though I usually use Pacific or Amy’s refried beans instead of homemade these days), overnight oats, or savory oats. All wonderful options, but even the most cherished breakfast can lose some of its appeal when you eat it almost.every.day.

Now that I have a tiny breather from school, I’ve been making more creative breakfasts, and this sweet, creamy quinoa breakfast bowl is a wonderful place to start. It’s undeniably chocolatey without being overly sweet or cloying first thing in the morning, and it’s packed with tasty ingredients, including fresh strawberries and toasted coconut. It may look fancy, but making it is nearly as simple as making a pot of quinoa–and it’s a little more fun, at that.

Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

To make the bowls, you simply cook up quinoa in a mixture of water and non-dairy milk (this is how I always prepare breakfast quinoa, whether I end up making it chocolatey or not). When the quinoa is fully cooked, you stir in extra milk and cocoa powder. If you have raw cacao powder, that will work perfectly, too, though you may want to decrease the amount to 2 or 2 1/2 tablespoons, as I find raw cacao to be a little bolder and more bitter than regular cocoa.

Next, you pile the bowls high with toppings of choice. I chose strawberries because they’re perfectly in season and so appealing right now, as well as some tasty toasted coconut flakes/chips (I prefer these to regular shredded coconut, and I usually get this brand). Cocao nibs and mini chocolate chips also take the bowls to the next level!

Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

You can easily double the recipe and freeze portions for future breakfasts, topping the bowls when you’re ready, or you can choose different garnishes and fresh fruit to serve with it. It’s a delicious meal, one that feels like a special treat but isn’t quite as labor intensive as a baking project.

While I didn’t serve these to my mom on Mother’s Day–I was busy making her a batch of her very favorite muffins instead–I think these bowls would be a really nice choice for a special occasion or a brunch with friends.

Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: breakfast
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free optional, nut free optional
Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  25 mins

Serves: 4 servings

  • 1 cup dry quinoa
  • 1⅔ cups (divided) non dairy-milk of choice (almond, soy, rice, hemp, etc.)
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons agave or maple syrup
  • 3 heaping tablespoons cocoa powder
  • 2 cups strawberries, quartered
  • 1 cup toasted or regular coconut flakes/chips or unsweetened, shredded coconut (substitute chopped toasted, sliced or slivered almonds or chopped walnuts)
  • ¼ cup mini vegan chocolate chips (I like the Enjoy Life brand) or cacao nibs (optional)

  1. Rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve. Add it, along with 1 cup water and 1 cup non-dairy milk, the vanilla extract, the salt, and the syrup, to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer, and cover. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa is creamy and has absorbed all of the liquid.
  2. Stir in the cocoa powder and remaining ⅔ cups non-dairy milk, along with a touch of extra sweetener if desired. Divide the quinoa between four serving bowls. Top each with the berries, coconut flakes, and cacao nibs or chocolate chips, if desired. Serve.


Cocoa Strawberry Quinoa Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

If chocolate isn’t your thing, you can omit it and add a teaspoon of cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice instead. Carob powder is also totally fine in place of the cocoa/cacao.

I think that having food routines is basically a really good thing. It can keep us anchored in times of stress and busyness, and routines give special meaning to certain foods and meals. Still, variety is important, not only from a nutritional standpoint, but also because it helps to keep our relationship with food fresh, creative, and rewarding. I’m glad that I’m branching out with my breakfasts a bit this week.

Who knows–I might even get crazy and make some pancakes.

I wish you all a wonderful Tuesday, and I’ll be back later this week with a soft taco recipe I’ve been dying to share with you all!


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Weekend Reading, 5.8.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, friends, and a very happy Mother’s Day to you! My mom and I have a museum trip planned later this afternoon, followed by dinner together, which will be a celebration not only of Mother’s Day, but also of her birthday, which is tomorrow. I’m excited to shower her in love and in chocolate, namely in the form of my vegan, gluten free double chocolate cupcakes. I whipped a batch of them up yesterday, and it took quite a bit of restraint not to steal a couple.


As of the end of this week, my semester is officially over. It feels both like a huge relief and also a little strange. My Advanced Nutrition II final was really difficult, and I certainly didn’t leave the room with the kind of confidence and sense of completion I’d hoped for. As is often the case, my fantasies of “perfect” endings and culminations to things leave me with disappointment, which is I think more than anything a sign that I need to expand my expectations to include loose ends, messes, and curveballs.

But, along with the sense of letdown and disappointment in myself, as well as the very peculiar sensation of having free time on my hands this weekend, there is a real happiness in being able to return to the creative part of my life, the one that tends to languish when I’m wrapped up in work and in academics. This includes cooking for myself and for Steven, scheming up ideas for the third cookbook, writing, and, of course this blog, which I love so much and miss so much whenever I feel as though my posts have had to be surfacey or rushed (which is always the case during exam time).

So, this morning, as I sip coffee and reflect on the last couple of months, I feel a huge sense of gratitude to be communicating with all of you. And now it’s time to share some recipes and reads from the past week.



First up, my friend Ali’s vegetable chow mein-ish with asparagus, shiitakes, and edamame is precisely the sort of thing I want to make on a busy night: fast, flavorful, filling, and with plenty of nutrition. What a great, easy recipe!


OK, I admit that I want to make this Mexican burrito bowl with cashew chipotle cream sauce primarily because I want to eat the cashew chipotle cream sauce with a spoon. But the whole dish looks really, really good.


Comfort food doesn’t really get more comforting than Swedish meatballs, and this vegan rendition of the classic dish looks absolutely fabulous. There’s so much umami packed into the meatless balls and the sauce, and I love how the recipe proves that plant-based eating needn’t mean sacrificing traditional favorites.


At some point in the near future New York City will stop being 55 degrees and rainy every day. When that happens, I will be very excited for more warm-weather fare, including this cooling cucumber noodle salad with basil, green beans, and peanuts.


Finally, if you haven’t quite picked out a Mother’s Day brunch dish, try Ashley’s wonderfully decadent blueberry bread pudding breakfast cake with vanilla hemp creme Anglaise. It’s gorgeous, rich, and it even has a dose of healthy plant protein in the form of hemp seeds. Yum!



Has anyone else noticed that there’s a particular kind of protectiveness that people feel about eating fish? I can’t tell you how often peoples’ reaction to hearing that I’m vegan includes the bewildered query, “so you don’t even eat fish?” Somehow the idea of abstaining from meat, dairy, eggs, and even honey is digestible, but my excluding fish from my diet seems to trigger total incredulity.

I think part of this is that there are some well known and socially accepted health detriments to meat eating, whereas fish eating has been widely embraced as a healthful habit. There are other reasons, though, and these have to do with the way we perceive fish and our understanding of their consciousness/sentience.

This article from Saryta Rodriguez presents more data to a growing body of research that suggests that fish can indeed feel pain, and it’s a good argument in general for why we should extend aquatic animals more care and respect.


There is a huge amount of misunderstanding and confusion surrounding the health benefits of soy foods. I think that many of these are actually rooted in anti-vegan sentiment, but many of them involve genuine misunderstandings surrounding research and information that can be difficult to parse.

Fortunately, vegan health professionals have balanced and evidence-based responses. The latest article to catch my eye is Ginny Messina and Julieanna Hever’s to-the-point, informative explanation of phytoestrogens and how they work. It’s definitely worth reading or sharing if you (or someone you know) is trying to understand soy foods better.

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I celebrate the rapid and widespread switch to cage free eggs as an industry standard because I believe that it indicates a strong, growing concern for animal welfare. Still, the “cage free” label can create a false sense of moral security, and it is certainly no indication that there has been no cruelty to, or mistreatment of, animals.

This week, Bruce Friedrich chats with Ezra Klein about the disappointing realities of humane egg certifications. In my mind, this is all the more reason to continue being glad that people care about how animals are treated, but to push more and more for vegan alternatives to eggs and egg-based foods, so that we can truly protect and shelter animals from captivity and mistreatment. (Speaking of, has anyone tried the Follow Your Heart vegan egg yet? I’m dying to!)


I was glad that you all enjoyed last week’s awesome article on the dangers and empty promises of “cleanses” and “detoxes.” Along the same line, I enjoyed this New York Times breakdown of the popular claim that drinking vegetable and fruit juices can rid the body of “toxins”–and I also like that it problematizes, as Christy Harrison’s article did, the idea that our digestive systems need to be “rested” in order to function.


Finally, an interesting story about our individual perceptions of art. Celeste Roberge‘s remarkable sculpture, Rising Cairn, was perceived by the artist herself as depicting an individual in the process of ascension. “I imagine her in the process of rising up from her crouching position…when she is ready,” Roberge has said.

Recently, though, a psychotherapist came across the sculpture and shared it on her Facebook page as being a depiction of the “weight of grief.” The idea spoke to a great many people, and the image–as well as therapist Janette Murphy’s poignant statement that it conveys the “physical feeling of grief”–went totally viral.

Celeste Roberge doesn’t mind that the sculpture has been greeted this way, even if grief wasn’t necessarily what she had in mind as she created it. She has very gracefully said that “I am not disturbed by individual interpretations of the sculpture because I think it is really wonderful for people to connect with works of art in whatever way is meaningful to them…If the image has helped some people to find a way of expressing their unspoken feelings, then I think that is beneficial. At the same time, I think viewers should give some thought to the artist’s intentions because the meaning of a work of art can be very complex and multi-layered.”

I think this whole story, which was written about recently in Quartz, is wonderful, both because the work of art in question is profoundly moving, and also because it illustrates how the meaning of a work of art is multifarious. It includes the artist’s intentions, the subjective responses of individuals who encounter the work, and the social and cultural significance that the work might take on over time.

And on that note, I’m off to brave the rain today. I wish you all a lovely Sunday, and I’m excited to return with some tasty fare this week!


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Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

I was recently asked whether or not I ever run out of recipe ideas for the blog and books. My immediate answer was no. Of all the things that can be challenging about blogging–food photography, staying on top of the latest and greatest social media trends, sticking to a regular publishing schedule–recipe ideas are the easy part. They come to me at unexpected moments: while I’m commuting to meet a client, say, or while my attention wanders in class, or even as I’m dozing off to sleep.

What can I say? I love food, and I don’t seem to exhaust my own excitement about finding new ways to experience it. The effort it takes to make that food, though–to execute a recipe idea once it has come to me–well, that’s a different story.

The last few weeks have not been red letter weeks as far as my culinary life goes. The semester caught up to me, and it caught up hard, and with the pressures of work and finals, I just haven’t had much energy to give to cooking. This isn’t helped by the fact that I’ve been fighting off what seems like yet another in an interminable string of colds that I’ve gotten since the start of the year–probably a sign that I should slow down a little.

So, we’ve been eating a lot of frozen stuff (thank god for Sunshine Burgers), a lot of dinner salads, a lot of soup, and more takeout than I’d like to admit. Last week I ate some form of toast for lunch four days in a row. I probably drink more coffee than I do water at the moment. It isn’t pretty, and it isn’t the stuff that beautiful Instagram tapestries are made of. But it’s real life, and this blog is about sharing that–not just the recipe ideas that come to successful fruition.

What often comes to mind when we hear the words “comfort food” is the sort of dish we’d make on a Sunday, a casserole or a pasta bake or something else that involves breadcrumbs and creaminess. I love that sort of comfort food, but to me, comfort has a wider and slightly more capacious meaning. Oftentimes the things I find most comforting are simple and evocative of memory. They include toast, baked sweet potatoes, split pea soup, oatmeal, and massaged kale.

They also include a lot of the dishes I ate early in my transition to veganism, dishes that are now marked with a special kind of nostalgia, because I relied on them so heavily back then: hummus and avocado sandwiches. Tofu scramble. Sunshine burgers with baked sweet potato fries. Tofutti cream cheese and cucumber toast. Smashed chickpeas. The list goes on.

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

One of the first vegan lunches I made at home was a tempeh version of conventional chicken salad, a simple mixture of steamed tempeh cubes, a mustardy dressing, carrots, and celery. In retrospect it was so simple that I’m sort of hesitant to call it a recipe, but let’s remember that I could barely boil pasta when I first went vegan, so anything that came together without a hitch and tasted pretty good was a win. I used to scoop the tempeh onto lunch salads, eat it with toast, stuff it into wraps, or even have it plain, with a baked sweet potato or a bunch of cooked rice. It was tasty, nutritious, and easy, which at the time was what I cared about most. And I guess it’s still what I care about most.

This past weekend, yearning for a little comfort food, I made the salad again. It’s as simple as it ever was, and I’m not sure how blog-worthy it really is. But right now, it’s what I’ve got, and it’s not bad company to keep.

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: side dish, salad
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, nut free
Prep time:  5 mins
Cook time:  10 mins
Total time:  15 mins

Serves: 4 servings

  • 8 ounces soy tempeh
  • ½ cup chopped celery
  • ½ cup peeled and chopped carrot
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion (optional)
  • 2½ tablespoons vegan mayonnaise (I like Vegenaise or Just Mayo) or tahini
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tamari
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • Optional: ½ teaspoon curry powder

  1. Bring a pot of water to boil. Use a steamer attachment to steam the tempeh for 5 minutes, or until it has gotten a little plumper. Mix the tempeh with the carrot, celery and green onions (if using) in a medium sized mixing bowl.
  2. Whisk together the mayonnaise or tahini, mustard, tamari, vinegar, and curry if desired. Pour over the tempeh and veggies. Mix well. Serve over toast, salad, grains, in a pita, or in a wrap. Leftover tempeh salad will keep for up to three days in an airtight container in the fridge.


Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

After 7pm tonight, this very long semester of grad school will officially be over. My finals will be done, and though I have a summer class ahead of me, I’ll also have two weeks off from school this month. I plan to focus on my business, on this blog, on tidying my currently disastrously messy apartment (who knows, maybe I’ll even get ambitious and do some spring cleaning), and, oh yeah–being a person again. A person who loves to cook. I’m so ready to get back in the kitchen and whip up some new dishes, to feel the joy and the fun of cooking again.

For today, this tempeh salad is getting packed up in a sandwich as a portable, pre-exam lunch. I know it’ll give me the energy I need, and that it will taste very comforting indeed. Hope it gives you an easy nutrition boost sometime soon, too.


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Making an Informed Transition to Veganism

Making an Informed Transition to Veganism | The Full Helping

Image courtesy of Virginia Messina, MPH, RD: www.theveganrd.com

A 2011 Harris survey, conducted by the Vegetarian Resource Group, indicated that about 5 percent of the US population–nearly 16 million people–identified as vegetarian (about half of them identified as vegan). A third of the respondents said that they make an effort to eat vegetarian meals a significant amount of the time, which suggests that over 30% of Americans eat meatless meals regularly–on top of the folks who already identify as vegetarian or vegan.

My guess is that, in the time since this study was published, a lot more people have chosen to explore plant-based diets. Rising concerns about the environmental cost of meat, coupled with widespread interest in the health benefits of meatless diets and more awareness about the cruelties of animal farming, have made this possible, and it’s a really exciting trend. As the number of flexitarian, vegetarian, and vegan eaters rises, so too does the need for solid information about plant-based diets and how to healthfully transition toward them.

One Client’s Story

I recently began working with a new client who has been vegan for nearly a decade. She’s young, strong, and in good health, but recently she started to experience some strange numbness and tingling in her big toes, as well as occasional loss of sensation in her right hand. She also started to feel lightheaded when she stood up quickly, which at first she attributed to her naturally low blood pressure. As other symptoms emerged, though, it started to concern her.

My client wasn’t sure of the cause of these symptoms, but she wanted to rule out any potential dietary issues, so she talked to her doctor. Her doctor suggested more protein, but my client’s intuition was that low protein wasn’t the source of her strange numbness and tingling. She requested a blood panel with that included some key vitamins, minerals, and hormones.

We began speaking before her blood work came back, but I immediately asked about B12 and Vitamin D supplementation–had she been taking both regularly? (I ask all of my vegan clients this question as we get started.) As it turns out, my client had been taking neither. When I asked why, she said she simply didn’t know that they were necessary. She admitted that her eating habits had been a little erratic and imbalanced lately, as she recovered from a death in her family and an otherwise stressful year. But until the numbness started, she had thought that her diet supplied everything she needed. It came as a shock to her to hear that B12 supplementation is an important part of the vegan lifestyle.

As it turns out, my client’s B12 levels were normal when the blood work came back. Her vitamin D, though, was critically low: her doctor said it was the lowest she’d seen in 35 years of clinical practice. Everything else was normal. My client is now supplementing with Vitamin D under her physician’s care, and she’s working with me to create a more balanced and well-planned diet. Because she’s busy and under a lot of stress, we’re focusing on easy meal planning, batch cooking, and simple strategies for balancing macronutrients within each meal.

A few things became clear as my client and I chatted about her story. The first is how earnestly she cares about her health and about being vegan. She hadn’t skipped the B12 supplement out of negligence or carelessness; she really didn’t have it on her radar as a point of concern. It was also clear that the experience had left her feeling shaken, bewildered, and more than a little ashamed. “I’ve read vegan cookbooks, taken cooking classes and workshops, and worked in vegan restaurants, constantly chatting with customers and employees,” she told me. “How did this slip through the cracks?”

Why Vegan Nutrition Guidance Can Be Hard to Find

I can understand my client’s shock; any brush with a health scare can leave us feeling deeply vulnerable and shaken. But I’m doing my best to help her dispel the guilt and the shame she’s feeling, because her experience isn’t uncommon, and it’s not her fault. A lot of people transition to veganism without having a clear sense of what supplements and nutrients should be on their radar.

The sheer number of people I’ve spoken to who express confusion about vegan nutrition suggests to me that this isn’t an issue of personal responsibility or failure. Rather, it reflects the scarcity of credible nutrition information in the media, particularly with regard to plant-based diets. Many blogs, books, and online resources have inspiring things to say about going vegan, but they don’t necessarily mention key nutrients and considerations. Meanwhile, myths and misconceptions surrounding the safety of vegan diets persist, so prospective vegans are often trapped in between alarmist naysaying on the one hand, and a lack of guidance on the other.

Because there’s an overwhelming perception that vegan diets are difficult and unsustainable, vegan advocates spend a lot of time assuring people that the diet is easy to adopt and maintain. I don’t know about you, but I hate hearing comments like “I could never be vegan–it’s just too hard.” I want to point out how easy it is to make a pot of rice and beans, or extol the virtues of today’s most awesome store-bought vegan products, from yogurt to milk to plant meat. I want to emphasize that, after a little learning curve, the diet can feel abundant, satisfying, and–believe it or not–simple.

Most of all, I want to make clear that veganism doesn’t have to be weird or fringe or costly. It can feature simple, easily accessible ingredients and familiar flavor profiles. In the intro to Food52 Vegan, I wrote that “at its heart, vegan food is just food,” and I meant it.

But is it just food? Is going vegan as easy as eating plants, or is there a little more consideration involved?

Truthfully, I think it’s the latter. Veganism certainly doesn’t have to be difficult, and going vegan doesn’t have to be a big deal. But it’s not an insignificant choice, either. Any major dietary change demands some consideration and planning, and veganism is no exception. When you take all animal products out of your diet, it’s important to think carefully about how you’ll source some of the nutrients–like B12, iron, and calcium–that you might be losing along with them. If you eliminate a bunch of foods without expanding your diet to include new ones, you may find yourself with a diminished version the same diet you were eating before. I think this is often what’s going on with so-called “carbitarians”: meat, poultry, and fish have been eliminated, but their place hasn’t yet been filled with new ingredients, like beans, whole grains, and soy foods. Instead, the space gets filled with what’s familiar, like pasta and bread.

The enthusiastic first-person accounts of plant-based that are filtered through social media don’t always address these issues or realities. Instead, they focus on the glowing skin, the abundant energy, and the improved digestion. And you know what? I don’t blame them. A lot of people feel so darn great in the first few months or even years of eating vegan that it’s difficult to imagine how the diet could be anything other than a panacea. When I first went vegan, my energy skyrocketed and my digestion improved considerably. I didn’t exactly conclude that the diet was a cure-all, but I wasn’t far off. It wasn’t until I spent considerable time reading cookbooks and websites that key nutrients (like B12) popped up on my radar. This didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for being vegan, but it did make me think harder about how I’d source my nutrients and sustain the lifestyle long-term.

Another problem is that many vegan resources emphasize what’s being eliminated, rather than focusing on what needs to be included. They stress the negative health consequences of meat and dairy, and they point out the superiority of plant foods. Be that as it may, meat and dairy–no matter how undesirable or cruelly produced–contain key nutrients, like calcium, protein, iron, and zinc. When we remove them from our diets, we need to find new ways of sourcing those nutrients. Plant foods can certainly offer us what we need–along with a wealth of healthful phytonutrients and the assurance that our food choices haven’t directly contributed to animal death or suffering. Still, we may need a little guidance as we figure out how to mix and match plant ingredients in service of a well-rounded, nutritionally complete diet.

Finally, it’s important to remember that a lot of what’s written about plant-based eating isn’t actually written by vegans, let alone vegan health professionals, and it isn’t always written for prospective vegans so much as people who are trying to reduce meat consumption or eat more plants. Flexitarians and part time vegans don’t necessarily need to give this kind of careful consideration to how their diets are changing, because reduction is a less significant shift than elimination. Folks who intend to abstain from animal products for life, though, may need some specialized guidance.

Making Vegan Nutrition Resources More Accessible

Ironically, my client’s recent experience wasn’t necessarily related to her veganism. Vitamin D deficiency is incredibly commonplace in the general US population, vegans and omnivores included. Even people who eat animal products typically get most of their vitamin D through fortified foods, and sunlight exposure is also a critical factor.

Had she not found out about the vitamin D deficiency, though, my client might have gone another several years before learning the importance of B12, or being asked to consider whether she was carefully sourcing nutrients like iron or calcium. For her, this experience was a wake up call, an opportunity to think harder about the vegan lifestyle she had taken for granted because she felt so good and enjoyed the food so much. Her story illustrates that even committed, well-informed vegans can miss out on important health information as they make the transition.

This shouldn’t be the case. Vegans need to work together to make sure that credible nutrition resources make it to the front and center of our outreach and messaging. Of course we should continue to destigmatize and normalize the lifestyle, making clear that veganism is a sustainable, accessible, healthful, and delicious choice. But we should also be honest about the fact that it’s a significant dietary change, and it demands a little research and planning. Most of us grew up eating omnivorous diets, which means that we’re familiar with that nutritional framework. Veganism is a different framework–a wonderful and healthful framework, if you ask me, but as with any paradigm shift, there’s some adjustment involved.

Fortunately, we already have a ton of wonderful vegan nutrition information at our fingertips. Here’s a list of my favorite sources of evidence-based, reliable vegan health information:

My Favorite Vegan Nutrition Resources


The Vegan RD
Vegan Health
Jack Norris, RD
Vegetarian Resource Group (VGR, an incredible site)
Vegetarian Nutrition Dietetic Practice Group
Vegan Society Nutrition and Health


Becoming Vegan
Becoming Vegan: Express Edition
The Plant Powered Diet
Vegan for Life
Vegan for Her

If you, a friend, or a family member is shifting to a plant-based diet, I can’t recommend these websites and books highly enough. They’ll give you a clear, honest picture of what you need to be aware of–and many of them also include links to recipes or other lifestyle resources.

My friend Ginny Messina also features some great resources on her website, including vegan nutrition primers, a food guide for vegans (pictured at the top of this post), and an extremely useful powerpoint entitled the 7 Habits of Happy, Healthy Vegans.

If you’re curious about particular nutrients to be mindful of during your vegan transition, I recommend reading up on the following:

●Vitamin B12
●Vitamin D
●DHA (a type of essential fatty acid)

All of the resources I’ve mentioned can help to guide you. And of course, if you’re considering any major dietary shift, it’s helpful to chat with your primary care physician. If you don’t feel that your physician is supportive or knowledgeable enough to address your questions, try reaching out to a vegan dietitian or healthcare practitioner who can offer you additional support.

Going vegan doesn’t have to be hard. But it can feel very hard indeed–not to mention isolating–if you happen to find yourself with unanswered questions. I hope this post and the resources I’m highlighting can help you to feel more confident and empowered as you explore and deepen your plant-based diet. Most of all, I hope that they’ll help you to nourish yourself mindfully, so that you can spend your time enjoying the healthfulness and compassionate perspective that veganism has to offer.


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Weekend Reading, 5.1.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, friends–and happy first of May! It’s Greek Easter this weekend, which I don’t observe in a formal way, but the holiday does evoke a lot of memories. And, though I don’t have much time for cooking in the next few days, at some point I’ll have to cook up a commemorative bowl of my vegan avgolemono soup, which is my own, private way of keeping tradition.

In the meantime, here are some other recipes that are on my mind.


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Laura’s vegan grilled asparagus and French lentil Nicoise features a ton of spring vegetables, tender baby potatoes, and protein packed legumes. It looks fabulous, and it’s on my list of recipes to try when finals are over!


I haven’t jumped on the homemade dukkah train yet, but this recipe is certainly tempting me. It’s a slow roasted cauliflower salad with sweet potato hummus and homemade nut dukkah–in other words, a whole lot of things that I’d like in my belly right now.


Speaking of hummus, I’m drooling over Shira’s creamy chipotle hummus platter with cashews and greens. I love the idea of using a chipotle sauce in place of tahini!


The next time I’m hankering for a hearty, flavorful bowl meal, I’m going to make Haley’s pickled Mediterranean eggplant bowl with faux-lafel. I’ve never had pickled eggplant before, but it sounds terrific, as does the Israeli couscous tabouli.


Finally, I can’t think of a more beautiful, light spring dessert than Kayley’s white chocolate vanilla panna cotta with rhubarb.



First up in reads, a look at the unexpected health benefits of body acceptance. First and foremost, I like Sunny Sea Gold’s realistic take on being “OK with” your body, as opposed to the sometimes overreaching and unrealistic injunction we see all over social media and print media to “love” our bodies:

Notice I’m not saying ‘loving’ your body. Because honestly, I believe it’s unrealistic to love everything about ourselves, all the time…for many of us, learning to feel positive or even neutral about our physical form may take some work—but I’ve dug up three very concrete reasons why it’s worth it.”

Those reasons include good evidence that body acceptance can improve health, encourage resilience, and help people to maintain an appropriate weight.

I’m certainly not opposed to the aspiration of body love–especially if we take “love” to mean something nuanced and complex, a feeling that allows for hardship and conflict, just like real love between people (for more thoughts on this, check out this post). But I agree that acceptance and respect are also worthy, significant goals, even if they’re not the same thing as love.


I don’t have much to add to Chrissy Harrison’s fabulous article, “Why Detox Diets and Cleanses Always Fail” except a wholehearted “hell yes.” Awesome and totally spot-on.


I was interested to read this mental health article on what are called “trans-diagnostic dimensions”–traits or tendencies that exists on a spectrum and are not specific to one mental health disorder, but rather involved in numerous different mental health conditions.

A new study has examined three trans-diagnostic dimensions — compulsive behavior and intrusive thought, anxious-depression, and social withdrawal –in an effort to see whether or not they map more closely with the disorders they can characterize than other, more disease-specific symptoms. The essence of this research, it seems, is to create a way of characterizing mental illnesses that gives as much consideration to underlying and overlapping tendencies as it does to the symptoms that are currently used for DSM diagnostic criteria.


I was interested to read about the notion of “social self-care,” as opposed to the quiet, meditative acts of self-care that we might observe in privacy.

My tendency during times of stress is admittedly to turn inward and look to solitary acts–deep breathing, journaling, meditation–for relief. It can be both helpful and isolating. There are moments when calling a friend or even striking up a conversation with a stranger can feel equally restorative, if different, and it’s cool to see these small acts of connection getting attention as part of a larger self-care toolkit.


Finally, some hopeful new research into the potential of genetic engineering to help treat sickle-cell anemia.

Alright, friends. I wish you a lovely Sunday. Later this week, a post on making an informed transition to plant-based diet–really great for those of you who are considering veganism for the first time, or looking to extend your experience with plant-based food–and on Thursday, a recipe for soft tacos that I think you’ll love. Till soon,


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