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Your Guide to Ultherapy

As we age, the skin loses its natural elasticity and shine as the cells die out through a degenerative process. Though there are a lot of skin products that help in making the skin retain its smoothness and softness, most are still a temporary solution and in the long run become a hefty cost. Surgery can also be done but the pain and the costs often make people shy away from taking the option. Now here comes Ultherapy, a new alternative that gives you healthier and younger-looking skin.

What is Ultherapy?

Ultherapy is a skin treatment that doesn’t involve going under the knife or getting wheeled into a surgery room. This uses ultrasound waves to make the skin more loose and then lifting it without the need for surgery. Ultherapy stimulates the deep layers of the skin that are often addressed in skin surgery, but this therapy works without the need of injuring the tissues at all. Because of ultrasound, healthcare professionals are capable of visualizing the skin and just the right amount of energy is applied to the specific area of the skin to be treated.

How Does it Work?

Ultherapy makes use of ultrasound waves to stimulate the tissues beneath the skin, even reaching several layers up to the muscles. This makes the skin grow tighter, close pores, and make the skin look smoother. Regarded as safe by the medical community worldwide for over 50 years, Ultherapy eliminates the need for one to undergo surgery or other invasive procedures in order to make the skin look healthier and younger.

Contributed By:

Skin Tightening Clinic Singapore
Blk 125 Bt Merah Lane 1, #01-174, Singapore 150125

Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew

Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew | The Full Helping

Since the new year, I’ve made good on my intention to dive back into meal planning and batch cooking. I spent most of last year immersed in recipe testing that was by turns exciting and exhausting. In December we ate up what was in our freezer, along with a lot of dinner salads and some takeout. I hoped January would be a return to a more regular home cooking routine, and for the most part, it has been.

This isn’t to say that all of what I’ve made has been exciting or memorable. We’ve eaten a lot of simple pasta (and by that I mean pasta + marinara + a cup or can of beans, nothing fancier), a lot of soup, some dinner toast, and I’ve gotten a generous dinnertime helping hand from my favorite vegan products. Compared to last year’s rotation of exciting new dishes, it’s pretty humble.

The thing about cooking, though, is that no matter how humble or random the results, I’m always glad to have done it. Even if I rummage through the pantry and slap a couple of odd ingredients together, even if the results are just OK, I’m still happy to have cooked; I’d still prefer a slapdash, homemade meal to takeout. I can think of very few activities that feel this consistently worthwhile.

Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew | The Full Helping

This creamy chickpea miso vegetable stew is one of those random creations. It was born of necessity: I cooked a pound of chickpeas in my slow cooker over the weekend and found that they’d gotten a little too soft for salads or bowls. So, I set about making a week’s worth of hummus and this soup, both of which are ideal uses for ever-so-slightly mushy beans.

Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew | The Full Helping

It’s not the most intentional or deliberate batch of soup I’ve made, but it works. And in fact, I was happily surprised by its simplicity. I was running low on herbs and didn’t want to spend too much time mulling over which seasonings I’d use, so I decided to use miso for both flavor and umami. I don’t usually use miso in creamy soups, but I loved the richness and subtle saltiness that it added here.

I also love the combination of textures: half of the chickpeas get pureed until they’re silky smooth, which adds body to the stew, and the other half stay the way they are. After the creamy portion of the stew has been returned to the pot, you can add any vegetables you like. I had cauliflower, carrots, kale, and a lone rutabaga on hand, but there are plenty of other winter veggies that would work, including broccoli, parsnips, potato, or turnips. Golden beets would be delicious, too (and they’d compliment the soup’s slight sweetness).

Once the soup has simmered for a while, you can adjust the seasoning and serve it with some toast or a hunk of bread, and you’ve got a pretty satisfying meal on your hands. The recipe makes a lot–about 6-8 portions–but it’s freezer-friendly and easy to cut in half if you’d rather not have a lot leftover. I was thrilled to have as much as we did, and I’ve got a bunch frozen in single portions for easy lunches in the next few weeks.

Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew | The Full Helping

Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew

Recipe type: soup, stew
Cuisine: gluten free, soy free optional, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 large (or 6 small) stalks celery, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans, drained and rinsed)
  • 6 cups vegetable broth
  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika
  • ¼ cup white miso (you can substitute red or brown miso if that’s what you have; use chickpea miso or barley miso if you need the soup to be soy-free)
  • 4 carrots, peeled, halved lengthwise, and sliced into half-moons (about ½ lb)
  • 1 small (or ½ large) head cauliflower, cut into bite-sized pieces (about 1 lb, or 3-4 cups)
  • 1 medium sized rutabaga, turnip, or potato, peeled and diced (or 3-4 parsnips, peeled and diced)
  • 1 small bunch kale, stems removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • Salt and pepper as needed
  1. Add the olive oil to a stockpot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and celery. Cook for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is clear and tender. Add the garlic and cook for another minute, stirring constantly. Add the chickpeas and broth to the pot. Bring the broth to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Simmer for 10 minutes, then turn off the heat.
  2. Place the miso in a small bowl. Use a ladle to transfer a small amount (about ¾ cup) of broth to to the bowl. Whisk the miso with the broth to create a smooth slurry, then transfer the slurry back to the soup pot. Stir the soup. Place about half of the soup into a standing blender and blend till it’s totally smooth, then return it to the pot; alternately, you can use an immersion blender to puree half the soup. Stir again.
  3. Add the carrots, cauliflower, rutabaga, and kale to the pot. Bring the soup back to a low simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, or until all of the vegetables are tender. Taste the soup and add salt, pepper, and lemon juice as needed. Serve.
Leftover soup will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers can be frozen for up to 1 month.

 Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew | The Full Helping

Another advantage of the stew is that it comes together relatively quickly. The chickpeas don’t need to simmer long before the miso is added, since they’re pre-cooked, and after you add your miso slurry and puree half the soup, you only need to simmer it for as long as the vegetables take to become tender. It’s a good candidate for weeknight cooking as well as a cozy weekend meal.

The chickpea/miso combination now has me mulling over a miso hummus; I should probably slightly overcook another batch of chickpeas this coming weekend!

It’s rare that I cook at random these days; blogging and meal planning don’t give me much space to peer into my pantry or fridge and just come up with an idea on the fly. This stew was a happy reminder that really good things can happen in the absence of a plan, and I hope it’s the first of many casual kitchen experiments this year. When I started blogging, my recipes were often happy accidents (mixed up with lots of not-so-happy accidents). I’m glad to have become a little more deliberate and thoughtful with my food, but some spontaneity has been lost, and in the spirit of small adventures that I mentioned last weekend, I’m ready to welcome it back.


The post Creamy Chickpea Miso Vegetable Stew appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 2.19.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I got into a long conversation about adventures the other day. I was chatting with a friend–a friend who happens to fit my very definition of an “adventurous spirit.” She loves trying new things, taking calculated risks, traveling to new and interesting places. Her curiosity and thirst for new experience is clear in everything she does, whether it’s flying up into an inversion she’s never tried in yoga or tasting an exotic ingredient at a restaurant.

Me, I’m a different story. It took me years and years–not to mention many piles of props–to cautiously raise my feet into a headstand. I’m slow to warm up to new flavors and ingredients, which is something of a liability when recipe development is part of your job. I haven’t seen much of the world, and when I do travel, I tend to plan it all out carefully. Intrepid isn’t exactly a word I’d use to describe myself.

This isn’t a bad thing, of course: we all have our predispositions, and my attachment to home and hearth is as much a part of my character as my friend’s daring is a part of hers. But as my friend and I were speaking, it occurred to me that I’ve lately been even less intrepid than usual.

This gives me something to think about, because some of my most valuable life experiences came about when I was willing to set some cautiousness aside. My post-bacc is a good example: it was a professional risk, a leap of faith, and a true adventure, at least for someone like me. It involved exploring a new place–this after many years of being tethered to one zipcode–and taking a chance on a fledgling relationship. Nothing went as planned, but that wasn’t ultimately the point. So many friendships, lessons, and memories emerged from those years, and I’d never have met Steven had I not moved to D.C.

I can think of other examples, including the risk-taking that defined ED recovery, along with the culinary exploration that comes along with going vegan, or changing one’s diet in any substantive way.

It doesn’t surprise me that I’ve been particularly guarded in the last year or so. Venturing into unknowns doesn’t feel like much of a possibility when you’re struggling to keep equilibrium from day to day. But life is cyclical, and seasons change. Lately I’ve been thinking about how I’d like to start being just a little more adventurous again, even if that intention shows up in small ways.

It was a good time for me to read novelist Christina Kline’s lovely ode to her father’s endless curiosity and openness–what she calls “a kind of purposeful recklessness.” She shares several stories about her father’s willingness to talk to strangers, take detours, and venture into the unknown. “My childhood was rife with moments like this,” she says:

Dad was always going out on a limb, befriending people who didn’t necessarily seem to want new friends, trespassing on private property, pushing the boundaries of acceptable behavior in quest of adventure. His philosophy was that you don’t need money or plans, only a willingness to be present in the moment and to go where inspiration takes you. If you don’t, you’ll miss the entire point of being alive.

Kline makes clear that her father’s curiosity sometimes led him–and his family–to dead ends or dicey circumstances. She also notes that his garrulousness wasn’t universally appreciated:

Dad’s unorthodox and sometimes embarrassing friendliness got him, and us, into trouble now and then. Some people didn’t take kindly to probing questions. Others found his puppy-dog openness suspect or unsophisticated. But his innate, bottomless curiosity about the world also taught his four daughters to be open to new experiences and comfortable with improvisation. Even now, in his late 70s, he lives each day with a kind of purposeful recklessness, asking provocative questions and seeking new experiences in the belief that he can break through to something better, more meaningful, more satisfying.

We all have gifts or special qualities that can, at certain moments or when taken to extreme, serve as handicaps. I’m sure this is true of unquenchable curiosity, just as it’s true of being especially deliberate. But I was touched by Kline’s deep appreciation of her father’s way of being, and it’s clear that she and her siblings learned a lot from bearing witness to his explorations.

That’s one of this week’s reads, along with a few other memorable articles. But first, some of the recipes I’ve been pinning and pining after this week.


I’m feeling super inspired by cozy breakfast fare this week, starting with Sophie’s super simple blender buckwheat banana pancakes.

I can never get enough tofu scramble for breakfast, and Kimberly’s tofu scramble with garlicky kale will be my next batch.

I’ve really fallen in love with delicata squash this winter–it’s just so easy to prepare, and I love its tender sweetness–so I was really excited to see these lovely squash and butter bean tartines over at Honestly Yum. What a delicious idea for an easy lunch or appetizer.

I can never get enough ideas for roasted cauliflower–it’s one of the vegetables we eat most often in the winter here at home–and right now I’ve got my eye on Kristen’s turmeric roasted cauliflower. I love the idea of adding thinly sliced lemon to the sheet pan!

…and if you need an easy, healthy way to serve your roasted cauliflower, check out Lauren’s roasted cauliflower bowls with tahini sauce. Simple and beautiful.


1. A few new years ago, I meditated a bit on the idea that before we speak, it’s helpful to filter our words through three questions: is it kind, is it necessary, and is it true? These are still questions that I pose to myself, especially before I voice an opinion or an idea that might be hurtful or difficult to hear.

In this post, RD Emily Fonnesbeck applies the same questions to the words one speaks to oneself internally–what we’ve been calling “self-talk” in my counseling class. It’s a good exercise, because it brings to light the discrepancy that often exists between the way we treat others and the way we treat ourselves.

2. Also on the topic of compassionate self-talk, I like Jennifer Rollin’s ideas for supporting a loved one who is communicating body dissatisfaction.

3. This excerpt from Christine Hyung-Oak Lee’s new memoir on losing her short-term memory (after suffering a stroke at the age of 33) is pretty incredible. Lee’s vivid and evocative portrait of day-to-day life without the use of short-term memory taught me a lot about how memory functions and enables us to manage our everyday patterns and routines.

4. An interesting perspective on the idea of willpower. Psychiatrist Carl Erik Fisher offers a challenge to the idea that willpower is a discreet, limited resource that human beings either do or don’t possess. This notion, he suggests, has its origins in certain moralistic schools of thought about what governs human behavior, and it may have outlived its usefulness as a way of looking at issues like addiction.

It’s a complex topic, but the article resonated. I see often how discouraging the idea of innate willpower can be; “I guess I just don’t have enough willpower,” clients have often exclaimed to me with exasperation. The idea of willpower as something that one either does or doesn’t possess can create a sense of hopelessness or being broken, and it can prevent us from examining the forces in our lives that stand in the way of change. In this way, I can certainly see the value of a fresh perspective–one that’s less tainted with self-blame.

5. Finally, Christina Bake Kline’s sweet essay on her father and his adventurous spirit.

Sending everyone good thoughts on this Sunday.


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Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins

Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins | The Full Helping

Most of the recipes featured on Valentine’s day involve ribbons of chocolate, swirls of frosting, or heart-shaped cookie cutters. I love these recipes. I look forward to them every year. But if I’m being honest, they’re not the types of treats I make often in my home. When it comes to everyday sweet cravings, I’d almost always rather have something simple and versatile on hand, like a loaf of my classic vegan banana bread, or my snack-worthy oatcakes. I like to bake things that can serve as a light breakfast, a packable snack, or a sweet-but-not-too-sweet dessert.

So, as I was thinking about something to bake this year for Valentine’s Day, I decided to go with my gut, and whip up a batch of fragrant, chai spiced carrot almond muffins. In terms of wow factor, they’re no match for a dense chocolate torte, a towering layer cake, or a decadent batch of homemade truffles. But they’re just what I’ve been craving in the wintery weather, and that makes them the Valentine’s Day treat for me.

Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins | The Full Helping

I’m a little biased here, since muffins are my favorite type of baked good. I like muffins so much that a friend and I have an ongoing joke that we’re going to collaborate on an all-muffin cookbook. Back when I had an office job, I used to bake muffins every single week, freeze them, and take them to work as snacks.

I’ve fallen out of this excellent habit, but I do still relish baking a batch of muffins and enjoying them as the week goes by. These particular muffins are especially cozy and fragrant, thanks to the chai-inspired spices. I also added a touch of almond extract, which I keep around for baking projects, to the recipe. I love how its nutty sweetness compliments the spice mixture. If you don’t have almond extract, that’s totally OK, because the vanilla goes a long way. But it’s a nice touch if you do.

Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins | The Full Helping
Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins | The Full Helping

You can definitely play around with the muffin mix-ins here: I used slivered almonds because that’s what I had, but walnuts, pumpkin seeds, and sunflower seeds will all work well. I think chopped dates would be a great addition, personally, but so would currants or raisins. Even the amount of sweetener is variable–3/4 cup worked for me, but if you’d like to reduce it or you’re modifying the recipe for kids, 2/3 cup or even 1/2 is fine. So long as grated carrot meets ginger, cinnamon, and cardamom, the muffins will be right on track.

Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins

Recipe type: breakfast, snack, quickbread
Cuisine: gluten free optional, soy free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 10 muffins
  • 2 cups whole wheat pastry or light spelt flour (substitute all-purpose flour or a tried-and-true gluten free flour blend)
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
  • ¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon ground cloves
  • ¼ + ⅛ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider or white wine vinegar
  • 1 cup almond or soy milk
  • 1 flax egg*
  • ⅓ cup vegetable oil (grapeseed, avocado, and olive oil all work nicely)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon almond extract (optional)
  • ⅔-3/4 cup brown sugar (adjust to taste)
  • 1½ cups grated carrot
  • ⅓ cup sliced or slivered almonds, plus more for topping
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil or line a baking sheet with muffin liners. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, baking powder, ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, nutmeg, cloves, and salt.
  2. In another bowl, whisk together the vinegar and non-dairy milk. Add the prepared flax egg, vegetable oil, extracts, and sugar. Mix to combine. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and mix until just evenly combined. Fold in the carrot and almonds.
  3. Transfer the batter to the prepared muffin sheet. Bake muffins for 14-16 minutes, or until the tops are firm and just barely golden. Allow muffins to cool before enjoying.
*To prepare a flax egg, mix together 1 tablespoon ground flax meal and 3 tablespoons warm water. Allow the mixture to thicken, then proceed with recipe.

Muffins will keep in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 4 days. They can be wrapped and frozen for up to 1 month.


 Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins | The Full Helping

As far as sweets-for-my-sweet goes, these are actually a perfect choice. Steven loves muffins almost as much as I do, and he’s always happy when he can pack them up for a snack. (He’s also allergic to chocolate, which eliminates a lot of more traditional Valentine’s Day treats, anyway.) I’m excited to share this batch with him for breakfast with him this morning–and I wish you all very sweet day.


The post Chai Spiced Carrot Almond Muffins appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 2.12.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

There are so many new plant-based products and business these days that it’s difficult to keep track of what’s up-and-coming. It seems as though each week brings news of an innovative vegan product, from protein-infused plant milks to vegan eggs to plant meats that seem to get more authentic by the minute.

I recently came across this article in the New York Times. It profiles food startups that are holding their own in what remains a heavily corporate culinary landscape. A few days later, I read this article about the food landscape in Boulder–a city whose culinary and economic landscape seems to be uniquely suited to help food businesses grow.

The first article in particular describes the challenges that these small businesses have faced. So much of what we read about startups examines their stories only after success has been achieved, which makes it easy to overlook the fact that failure is part of the process. I had more admiration for these brands after reading about their regrets and learning experiences. And I’m glad that so many food companies keep moving forward in an effort to offer up something creative, original, and valuable.

Change can be difficult to measure, especially when the evidence is incremental. When I think about what was available to me as a vegan ten years ago versus today, it’s amazing to consider the sheer variety of new options. I still remember the one soy cheese brand that I could find at my local health food store; today, the same section of the same store has everything from melty vegan pizza cheese to vegan parm to Miyoko’s cultured nut cheeses. The fridge that used to house Tofurky as a lone plant meat option has about five or six different brands, and within that selection are options for folks with specific food considerations, like allergies or intolerances.

My hometown now has a dedicated vegan grocery shop: Orchard Grocer, which opened recently and features a bunch of small, local brands as well as nationwide labels. I had a chance to visit yesterday, and it was so cool to see creative vegan food options being celebrated. But it’s equally, if not more impactful that so many mainstream grocers carry vegan products at all different price points. It’ll be exciting to see what’s available in another five or ten years, as demand for plant-based options continues to grow.

Such are my thoughts on a cold, drizzly Sunday. Hope you’re all keeping well and warm, and here are some recipes and links to keep you company!


The next time you’ve got a little extra time for breakfast, try Sarah’s delightful Southwestern potato hash. I love the recipe because it comes together in a single roasting dish or sheet pan, and then all of the fresh garnishes make it sing. It would be perfect for a brunch with friends, or for serving as a dinner side.

A couple weeks ago, I had a chance to say a few words about Ashley Melillo’s lovely Blissful Basil cookbook. In spite of the book publication, Ashley has been busy crafting more colorful recipes for her blog, including this simple formula for vegan, gluten-free carrot gnocchi. Great option for a date night dinner.

Lily always has a way of making simple, wholesome food look like artwork, and her citrus avocado kale salad is no exception. It’s a perfect salad for making while citrus is still in season, and Lily offers up three pesto dressing options (including a basic fennel pesto and a creamy vegan version, made with hemp seeds).

Comfort food with s spicy twist! I’m loving Lindsay’s creamy bowl of vegan jalapeno mac n’ cheese, made with chickpea pasta. It’s another good dinner date option, and I had to laugh at Lindsay’s description of the first time she tried making gluten-free pasta for her now husband (we “‘kinda sorta’ ate it,” she writes).

I can definitely relate to failed pasta dinners, and in fact I think I’m still mastering the art of pasta-making, even without the wildcard factor of a non-traditional pasta variety.

Finally, if you’re looking for a super easy, chocolate treat for Valentine’s Day, Heidi Swanson has hit the mark with these awesome double chocolate cookies. They’re made with rolled oats and banana, and they couldn’t be more wholesome–equally good for dessert or a sweet snack.


1. First, a Mooshoes interview with Aubrey and Kale of the Herbivoracious Butcher. Love what these two are doing in the vegan community and beyond.

2. The New York Times profiles a couple of “little kitchens that could”–small, unconventional food companies that are working to enrich and diversify the food landscape.

3. A number of years ago, I was surprised to learn that exposure to artificial light in the evenings might have an impact on fertility in women, to say nothing of its effect on sleep habits. I remembered this when I read this NPR profile of a sleep researcher who sends the sleep-deprived on winter camping trips in order to reset their circadian rhythms.

Not surprisingly, rising and sleeping in tune with natural light helped to normalize participants’ release of melatonin, which regulates wakefulness and sleep. Winter camping isn’t likely to become a widespread sleep remedy, but studies like this one might encourage more people to experiment with trying to copy a natural light-dark cycle at home.

4. A very sobering look at what cancer treatment can cost, even if one has both resources and insurance to work with. The author, Kate Washington, makes clear that she and her husband, Brad, were in many ways blessed with a best case scenario for treatment. Still, they didn’t escape without financial sacrifice, and she worries for those who are more vulnerable:

Out-of-pocket costs gave my husband’s and my personal responsibility an expensive workout in 2016. We are extraordinarily fortunate that we could sort of afford it. We felt the pinch but kept our house, and — unlike some of our friends who have endured cancer treatment — we didn’t have to declare bankruptcy. Unlike many whom ACA repeal threatens, we can keep our insurance, and for that we are thankful. Brad is currently in remission, recovering slowly at home from his long ordeal, and our expenses so far this year are lighter. But if we’ve learned anything from my husband’s long illness, it is that cancer is unpredictable — and so are medical expenses.

5. Finally, an interesting new peek at food trends within the last several decades. The USA released trends in per capita food availability from 1970 to 2014. It’s a lot of information, but Marion Nestle does a good job of summing up some of the major points on her blog.

The report includes information on how average caloric intake from specific dietary food groups has changed; unsurprisingly, calories from all food groups increased. What has increased most of all are calories from fats, oils and meat; calories from dairy, fruits, and vegetables have increased least. Calories from added sugars and sweeteners are up, but the increase isn’t as dramatic as the caloric gains from meats and fats. Good reason for plant-based eaters to keep on keeping on, and to share strategies for enjoying more plant foods with those they love.

Alright, friends. I wish you a great Sunday. I’ll be back on Tuesday with a simple, Valentine’s Day breakfast treat.


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Tess Masters’ Gentle Lentils with Basil-is-the-Bomb Sauce

Tess Masters' Gentle Lentils | The Full Helping

As I write, the wind is howling outside of my window, blowing flurries of snow off tree branches. I woke up to a winter wonderland this morning, which was a little hard to fathom since it had been 60 degrees yesterday afternoon. No complaints, though: it’s beautiful right now, and since it’s a snow day, I get to listen to excited peals of kids’ laughter as they play outside, throwing snowballs and stomping around in their little boots. The only thing that would make the moment more cozy would be a steaming bowl of soup or stew or something hearty, so I’m currently fantasizing about Tess Masters’ gentle lentils.

This is a recipe from Tess’ newest book, The Perfect Blend. Tess is known for whipping up delicious, healthful recipes with the blender, from her characteristic smoothies to sauces and soups. Her recipes are always beautiful to look at, flavorful, and creative.

Tess is a dynamo, a spokesperson, recipe developer, actress, and performer who brings energy to everything she does. I’ve known Tess for years, and I can vouch for her vivacity and warmth. It’s difficult to imagine that she struggled for years and years with health challenges that included Epstein Barr virus and subsequent chronic fatigue.

Tess’ health journey led her to dietary changes that included macrobiotics, eating plant-based, eliminating gluten from her diet, blending, and juicing. She’s “The Blender Girl” not only because she loves to blend, but also because she found her way to healing by “blending” different dietary approaches and philosophies. She says,

Combining different concepts, flavors, and philosophies plays a crucial part in my ideal balance of food, exercise, work, and fun. While my approach isn’t a system exactly, it does add up to a recipe for success and happiness, and one that I believe is worth sharing.

Not surprisingly, given this perspective, Tess’ work always feels inclusive and generous. She’s passionate about the connections between food and wellness, but she’s not dogmatic about any particular approach; instead, she celebrates a personalized healing experience. She’s also a food lover, and her recipes feel as vibrant and abundant as they are wholesome.

The Perfect Blend is a tribute to the ingredients that have shaped Tess’ well-being. The book is organized around different health goals, such as enhancing energy, boosting immunity, or reducing inflammation. Each section features superstar plant-based foods that can contribute to the goal (so, the immunity section features ginger and turmeric, while the energy chapter features complex carbs, like banana and brown rice). Of course, different ingredients end up overlapping in the recipes, because so many plant foods are ideal for serving different health goals at once.

As usual, Tess’ food is rich and varied. Breakfast options include the mojo magic smoothie (which features a touch of espresso as well as banana and almond butter–yum!) you see above, as well as a decadent vegan French toast with caramelized bananas.

In spite of the chilly climate outside, so many of Tess’ salads and slaws are calling my name, including her Thai slaw, which features a creamy, cashew-based sauce spiked with lime zest.

Tess has a knack, too, for making rich desserts with nuts, seeds, and other plant-based foods. Her raw chocolate orange torte is one of my all-time favorite recipes, and now I’m dying to try her classic cheesecake, just as soon as strawberries are back in season.

There are so many enticing recipes in the collection, but it’s these lentils that are calling my name. I love the combination of an earthy lentil soup and an herbaceous sauce–something to warm up with while also experiencing a bright punch of flavor. Like so many of Tess’ meals, it’s a blend: a blend of textures, tastes, qualities, and cooking techniques.

Tess Masters' Gentle Lentils | The Full Helping

Gentle Lentils with Basil-is-the-Bomb Sauce

Recipe type: main dish, soup
Cuisine: gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Tess Masters
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 2 tablespoons grapeseed oil or extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • 1 cup (150g) diced yellow onion
  • 1 cup (132g) diced celery
  • 1 cup (160g) peeled and diced carrot
  • 1 teaspoon natural salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 cups (370g) dry green lentils
  • 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh thyme, plus more to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 cups (2 l) vegetable broth
  • Fresh lemon juice
  • Optional: avocado, pea greens
  • 1 cup (240ml) Basil-Is-the-Bomb Sauce with the red pepper flakes booster
Basil-is-the-Bomb Sauce:
  • ½ cup (120ml) extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cups (50g) loosely packed basil leaves
  • ¼ cup (20g) finely chopped green onion (white and green parts)
  • 1½ tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic (about 2 cloves)
  • ¼ teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon natural salt, plus more to taste
  • Optional boosters: 2 teaspoons capers, drained, 1 teaspoon wheatgrass powder, ⅛ teaspoon red pepper flakes, plus more to taste
  1. To prepare the basil-is-the-bomb sauce, throw everything into your blender, including any boosters, and blast on high for 30 to 60 seconds, until smooth and emulsified. Tweak the salt and pepper flakes to taste. This is best served immediately, but will keep, sealed and chilled, for about 5 days. Makes 1 cup.
  2. Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-low heat and sauté the garlic, onion, celery, carrot, and ½ teaspoon of the salt for about 5 minutes, until the vegetables soften slightly. Stir in the lentils, thyme, pepper, and broth. Increase the heat to medium-high, bring the mixture to a lively simmer (not a full boil), and cook for about 5 minutes. Lower the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for about 20 minutes, until the lentils and vegetables are tender but not mushy. Add salt to taste.
  3. Ladle the soup into bowls and add about ¼ teaspoon lemon juice to each serving. Drizzle 1 tablespoon of the Basil-Is-the-Bomb sauce over the top of each bowl and serve with a few of the avocado slices, a dollop of sour cream, and some of the pea sprouts. Pass the remaining Basil-Is-the-Bomb sauce and more lemon juice at the table.
Reprinted with permission from The Perfect Blend, copyright 2016 Tess Masters. Published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.

In addition to the sumptuous recipes, The Perfect Blend features truly exquisite photography and sweet headnotes that include acknowledgment of all of the culinary inspiration that Tess’ friends have given her. It’s a generous and lovely collection, and I’m happy to have a chance to share it today.

Below is a giveaway for one copy of The Perfect Blend, which will run between now and next Friday. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents, and I’ll post the winner on the widget when the giveaway wraps up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wishing you all a cozy start to the weekend.


Photography copyright 2016 by Anson Smart.

The post Tess Masters’ Gentle Lentils with Basil-is-the-Bomb Sauce appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad

Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad | The Full Helping

I was flipping through some old photos the other day, and I caught a glimpse of some of the summery lunch bowls that had made it onto my Instagram feed. One of them was a colorful tabbouleh dish–full of juicy tomatoes and fresh green herbs–and it made me wistful for summer’s bounty of brightly colored produce.

Then I got to thinking about how winter produce can be equally vibrant, even if it’s a little more limited. After all, there’s a spectrum of pinks and purples available in the form of beets, red cabbage, and radicchio, not to mention many shades of green: dark leafy greens, brussels sprouts, broccoli, and so on. And winter farmers markets are bursting with orange, too, thanks to sweet potatoes, winter squash, and citrus fruits.

Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad | The Full Helping

This sweet potato bulgur citrus salad is my wintery spin on tabbouleh, or something like it. In place of tomatoes and cucumbers I use roasted sweet potatoes, so the texture and colors are certainly different. But the salad is still full of freshly chopped parsley and mint, a little red onion (optional, if that’s not for you), and a vinaigrette that’s infused with citrus. The salad is hearty and filling, as I like winter grain salads to be, but the orange zest and juice and all of the herbs help to keep it tasting sunny and bright.

Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad | The Full Helping

The salad is easy to modify: in place of sweet potatoes you could use butternut squash, roasted carrots, parsnips, or rutabaga. I’d love to try adding golden beet for another shade on the orange/yellow spectrum!

Usually when I roast sweet potatoes I like to cut them into about 1-inch cubes, and I generally just toss them with a bit of vegetable oil, salt, and pepper before they go into the oven. Here I cubed them smaller and more evenly than usual (closer to half an inch), and I added a little maple syrup to the glaze. I personally love the sweetness and slightly caramelized coating this helped to create, but you can definitely skip the maple if you’d prefer to.

Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad | The Full Helping

Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad

Recipe type: salad, side dish
Cuisine: soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled or scrubbed and diced (about 1½ lbs after preparation)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as avocado or grapeseed
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup (optional)
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1¼ cups bulgur wheat*
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 small clove garlic, finely minced or grated on a microplane (optional)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1 cup finely chopped parsley
  • ½ cup finely chopped mint
  • ¼ cup finely chopped red onion (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons orange zest
  1. Preheat the oven to 425F. Toss the sweet potatoes with the vegetable oil, syrup, a generous pinch of coarse salt, and a few turns of pepper. Place the potatoes on a lined baking sheet and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until very tender and gently caramelized, stirring them once halfway through cooking.
  2. While the potatoes roast, bring 3½ cups water to boil. Add the bulgur and lower the heat to a simmer. Simmer for 8 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the bulgur from heat, cover, and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain any excess water from the bulgur and fluff the grain with a fork.
  3. Whisk together the olive oil, orange juice, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, garlic (if using), salt, and pepper.
  4. When the potatoes are ready, transfer them, along with the cooked bulgur, parsley, mint, red onion, and orange zest, to a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing. Toss everything well to combine, then taste the salad and adjust seasonings as needed. Serve.
*Quinoa can be used in place of bulgur for a gluten-free variation.

Different types of bulgur can have different cooking times and grain to liquid ratios. This is how I usually cook bulgur, but if your preferred brand has different cooking instructions, feel free to follow them for best results.


Sweet Potato Bulgur Citrus Salad | The Full Helping

The salad makes a generous amount, so it’s great for sharing. It also keeps nicely (and in fact, I found that it was more flavorful after it had sat in the fridge for a little while), so it’s a good option for preparing in advance and bringing to a gathering. If you’d like to make it gluten-free, you can definitely substitute either quinoa or millet for the bulgur.

It’s unseasonably warm here in New York today, but we’ve got a winter storm alert for first thing tomorrow morning. I have a feeling that this sunny salad will be keeping me good company–and I’m so glad I’ve got plenty of leftovers!


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Weekend Reading, 2.5.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I heard a saying the other day: “worrying is like praying for bad things to happen.”

I can’t figure out how I feel about it. My immediate reaction was to think that the saying ascribes too much intention to worrying. If nothing else, to frame worrying as a manifestation of negative outcomes is exactly the sort of formulation that would make a worrier worry more. Many worriers can’t control their “bad thoughts,” no matter how hard they try. The thoughts feel nothing at all like prayers; they feel like intrusions.

Still, the remark stuck with me, and when words linger like that there’s usually a reason. While some of my worries do feel stuck to me, I know that there are others I could put down. I know that I spend a lot of time feeling fearful and anxious about things that haven’t happened, and this sometimes keeps me from appreciating the goodness of what is.

I come by worrying honestly. My mom is a worrier, and her father was a worrier. He passed away before I was born, but my mother has often recounted the image of him sitting in his armchair, clutching his Greek worry beads. (I sometimes think of him when I’m counting my mala beads, which I do when I’m worried as well as when I’m meditative.) Digestive ailments, made worse by stress and tension, run in the family.

It’s impossible to say whether these traits are learned or embedded in our genes, and I’m sure it’s a mixture of both. Sometimes it troubles me to think that I’m carrying on a legacy that we’d all leave behind us if we could.

What I know is that I’m a little more conscious about my worrying because it’s a family affair. Growing up around worriers and observing the toll that worry takes on their lives has made me more equipped to examine my own worrying critically. When I’m lucky, I can catch certain patterns as they emerge and do something to lessen their impact. And it helps to have mom who is a worrier, too, because we can comfort each other, bring each other back to reality, and have a good laugh about our worries from time to time.

This week, I’m sharing novelist Kevin Wilson’s essay about his own family lineage of worry. Wilson is a longtime anxiety sufferer. His young son, Griff, is now struggling with anxiety, too. Wilson struggles to release the guilt he feels about having passed his anxiety on to Griff while also recognizing his son’s fundamental separateness. He writes,

I wanted to know what he was thinking, wanted to know exactly what it was, so that I could say, “I’m thinking that too, the very same thing, sweetie.” And he would not feel alone. And he would see that I had made it this far, had made a good life, and that whatever was in his head would not keep him from the things that he desired.
But I don’t know what is in his head. No matter how much I want it to be true, we are not the same person. I love him and his brother more than anything in the world, but there are limits to what I can do to make their life happy. I have bad thoughts. Griff does too.

It’s a tender recognition that Griff’s anxiety–like every other part of him–is unique.

When I was young, I was often told that I came by my stomach aches and worries honestly. That may be true, but how I choose to manage them is another story. I approach my worry differently than do other members of my family, which is how it should be, since we’re different people with different needs. What matters is that we can recognize the tendencies in each other and rise up to greet them with empathy and love.

This seems to be what’s on Wilson’s mind at the conclusion of his essay:

After we finished reading, I walked with Griff into his own room, tucked him in, and turned out the light. I went back to my own room, my wife singing to our younger son, Patch, and I waited for Griff to call me, a bad thought in his head, and I would always, always come to him, to stand over him, for however long he needed me.

Speaking of empathy, I’m also linking to an interesting article about how empathic listening can help to mitigate stress. The article describes many of the listening techniques I’m learning about in my counseling course, from the use of reflections to the importance of “feeling words.” But it presents them not only as communication skills, but also as a means of fostering mutual understanding that can help to allay stress. It’s definitely my experience that meaningful connection can be an antidote to the isolation of anxiety, so the article resonated.

I hope you enjoy the reads. First, some tasty recipes to get things started!


I love shepherd’s pie, and it’s been a while since I tried a new recipe. I’m really excited about Malin’s shepherd’s pie in-a-skillet, which features a hearty lentil filling and a creamy potato/cauliflower topping.

A bright, beautiful, colorful squash and farro salad from the folks at Bon Appetit. I don’t often run into honeycut squash, but I’ll grab some the next time I find them at the farmer’s market. And I’m guessing delicata squash would be a perfect substitute, too.

There’s nothing like a good slice of (vegan) pizza, and I’m always on the hunt for recipes that are easy to make. I love Haley’s cheeseless pizza, above–she roasts the veggies with balsamic before piling them on the crust, which gives them extra flavor and a touch of sweetness.

It’s chili season. For me, part of the fun of making vegan chili is experimenting with different legumes as a base. I’ve never thought to make a split pea chili, but Jodi is inspiring me with her chunky, nutritious split pea and white bean chili. Can’t wait to try it with a dollop of vegan yogurt on top.

Dessert! As usual, Ashlae knocks it out of the park with her vegan chocolate caramel shortbread tarts. Even the toppings (sea salt and maple ganache) have me drooling.


1. Last week, I shared Atul Gawande’s thoughts on the value of incremental health care. Gawande is a strong advocate of the power of open communication between doctors and their patients, not only because it allows information to be exchanged, but also because it can hasten healing.

Danielle Ofri’s article on “the conversation placebo” follows the same thread. Ofri details a study in which a group of patients with chronic pain was divided in two; half received sham physical therapy, while the other received real PT. Real PT led to greater pain reduction, but the discrepancy was less than might be imagined (46% through real PT as opposed to 25% reduction through placebo medicine).

The groups were divided once again, with half of the group getting focused, attentive communication from their caretakers, the other half none. Here’s where it gets interesting: the patients who got sham PT with focused, attentive communication and dialog reported a 55% decrease in pain. This means that communication and placebo medicine provided more palliative therapy than physical therapy. (Those who got real PT with communication reported 77% decrease in pain, which is the best outcome of the group.) 

It’s more evidence that peoples’ need to be witnessed, heard, and taken care of is a profound force in the healing process. Drugs and treatments matter, but so too does simple human attention.

2. Also on the topic of attention–this time, attentive listening–Dr. Arthur Ciaramicoli’s thoughts on the power of empathic listening as a means of releasing stress.

3. A fascinating look at the work of Maria Sibylla Merian. Merian was a 17th century Dutch woman who juggled motherhood and managing a household with a pioneering career as a botanist, naturalist, artist, and entomologist. In 1699, she said with her daughter from the Netherlands to present-day Suriname–a 5,000 mile journey–and created a remarkable artistic and descriptive treatise on the flora and fauna she observed.

Her great masterwork, the “Metamorphosis Insectorum Surinamensium” has just been republished. It’s well worth checking out the book’s website and the New York Times article in order to look at Merian’s remarkable illustrations and engravings.

4. Potatoes are often regarded as an unhealthy food, in spite of their offerings of fiber, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, among other nutrients. Tamar Haspel has smart things to say about why potatoes get unfairly maligned and deserve some reconsideration. I love potatoes and other starchy plant foods, so I don’t need much encouragement to eat them. But I’ll hang on to the article for sharing with those who might be curious about welcoming more spuds into their diets.

5. Finally, Kevin Wilson’s honest and touching article about his anxiety, his son’s anxiety, and the ties that bind their stories together.

Enjoy the reads, and I’ll be back soon with a new favorite, wintery grain salad. Happy Sunday.


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Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping

I’ve never been a big football person, but I’ve always been close to or lived with someone who was. I was a reluctant spectator for a while, but I’ve come to look forward to Superbowl Sunday each year, even if I don’t have a stake in the game. If nothing else, it’s an opportunity to gather and whip up food that’s snack-worthy and crowd-pleasing. This year, I’m planning to share a tray of hearty vegan butternut black bean nachos.

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping

I’ve seen a lot of nacho recipes that use sweet potatoes or another vegetable as the base–in other words, as a replacement for the chips. I love the idea of adding lots of veggies to traditional nachos, but I have to admit that I’d be sad to lose the chips. For me, their crunch is part of what makes the dish so great. A while ago I thought that it might be a nice compromise to create nachos that featured a vegetable prominently, but alongside the chips, rather than in their stead.

Butternut squash was a perfect choice. It’s substantial enough to hold its own in the dish, in spite of lots of competing textures and toppings. Its sweetness is a nice contrast to tart, spicy salsa and earthy refried black beans. And its a great vehicle for a spice rub prior to roasting. Best of all, if you set some squash aside before you roast the rest, you can use it to make a velvety butternut cashew queso sauce.

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping
Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping

The queso is based on my truly amazing cashew queso sauce, but I think that the addition of squash makes it both richer and a little sweeter. It’s less traditional than the other version, but for this dish, it really works, and I think it would be an incredible dip or topping for roasted broccoli, a Tex Mex grain bowl, or twice baked potatoes.

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping

These nachos, like most nachos, are super flexible. I added the toppings that Steven and I like best: avocado, vegan queso, salsa, and plenty of cilantro at the end, for freshness. This time I also tried adding both refried black beans, which are my standby in nacho dishes, as well as cooked black beans, mostly because I had some in the fridge. I liked the contrast of textures and was happy to pack more legumes into the dish. If you make them, feel free to play with the toppings. You can also sub sweet potato for butternut squash (in both the dish and the sauce), or kidney/pinto beans for black beans.

To make the recipe, I used what seemed like an average, medium-sized butternut squash. It was about 2 lbs before peeling and seeding, and about 1 3/4 lbs after. That gave me about 1 1/2 lbs for roasting, another 4 ounces for the sauce. If you have a heaping cup of squash for the sauce and 4-6 cups for roasting, you’ll be in good shape — and if you have a little less because your squash was on the smaller side, that’s fine, too. You can add more of the other toppings instead.

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 6 servings
For the nachos:
  • 1½ lbs peeled and cubed butternut squash (about 5-6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as avocado or grapeseed
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Dash cayenne pepper
  • 4-6 ounces tortilla chips (enough to pile on a big platter; be sure your chips are certified GF for a gluten-free version)
  • 1 cup vegan refried black beans (for a homemade option, check out this recipe; you can also use a store-bought vegan option, such as Amy’s Organic or the 365 brand from Whole Foods)
  • ⅔ cooked black beans (1/2 can, drained and rinsed)
  • 1 large Hass avocado, pitted and chopped
  • 1 cup chunky salsa of choice
  • 1 batch vegan butternut queso, below (you can also substitute your favorite vegan melty cheese)
  • Optional additions: Chopped cilantro, chopped onion, lime wedges, pickled jalapeno peppers, guacamole, lime wedges
For the butternut queso:
  • 1 heaping cup peeled and cubed butternut squash
  • ½ cup (about 2.5 ounces) raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½ cup water
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • Black pepper to taste
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss the 1½ lbs squash with the oil, chili powder, cumin, smoked paprika, and a dash of cayenne pepper (a generous dash, if you love heat). Place the squash on a lined baking sheet. Roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the squash is gently caramelized.
  2. While the squash roasts, make the butternut queso. Steam the reserved heaping cup of squash till tender (10-15 minutes). Place the squash, cashews, lemon, water, nutritional yeast, chili, turmeric, smoked paprika, salt, and pepper in a blender or a food process and blend till smooth. Taste the queso and adjust salt as needed, and/or add a tablespoon or two of water if it’s too thick for your liking.
  3. To prepare the nachos, spread half of your tortilla chips onto a big platter. Top with about half of the refried beans, black beans, roasted butternut squash, avocado, salsa, and queso sauce. Pile the remaining tortilla chips on top and repeat with the remaining toppings and as much additional queso as you like. Top the dish with chopped cilantro and/or any other additions you love. Serve!
The squash can be roasted up to two days in advance of making the nachos. The butternut queso can be prepared up to three days in advance. It makes about 2 cups and will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Vegan Butternut Black Bean Nachos | The Full Helping

There are plenty of ways to prep the dish in advance or make it easier if you’re short on time. You can roast the squash and make the sauce a few days before you assemble the nachos, so that all you have to do when friends come over is pile and layer. If you don’t feel like whipping out the blender, you can also roast all of the squash and use your favorite vegan shredded cheese in place of the queso. Even peeling and cubing the squash ahead of time is a good way to cut down on the prep work.

Whether you create this dish for Superbowl viewing this weekend or simply to share with friends and family sometime soon, I hope you’ll enjoy all the layers of texture and taste. And maybe the queso will become a new staple sauce. I’m happy to have a nacho recipe in the rotation that features so many nutrient-dense ingredients in one place!

I’ll see you on Sunday for the weekend reading roundup. Till then, be well.


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Weekend Reading, 1.29.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Last weekend, I mentioned that I have a tendency to try to fix or manage difficulties as soon as they arise. This can be a good thing, at least when it comes to concrete problems that demand ready solutions. It can also be a handicap, especially when the issue at hand defies easy troubleshooting. In trying to “fix” something that’s inherently complex, I sometimes create difficulty, rather than alleviating it.

When this happens it’s often because I appeased my aversion to discomfort–I wanted the problem to go away quickly, so that I wouldn’t have to sit with it. Had I exercised a little patience, I might have found my way to a solution that was more fitting than the hasty fix I manufactured instead.

The idea of patient problem solving has been on my mind ever since. Now I’m considering it within a new context–medicine–thanks to two articles I read this week.

First, I came across this blog post on Kevin MD, written by pediatrician Chad Hayes. Hayes addresses the frequent over-treatment of childhood illnesses, which typically results in unnecessary prescription of antibiotics. He notes that, far from being negligent or careless, choosing not to treat a child often demands a high level of expertise:

In reality, doing “nothing” involves quite a bit of work. Choosing to do “nothing” presumably involves the doctor listening to the patient’s symptoms, gathering relevant details, performing a physical exam and reaching the conclusion that no further testing or treatment is warranted. In many cases, doing “nothing” is the most appropriate course of action. And in these cases, doing more would place the patient at risk for harm from unnecessary tests or treatments . . .

Hayes acknowledges the difficulty of refraining from medical treatment: after all, parents bring their children to his practice because they believe that action is warranted. It’s often easier for a pediatrician to prescribe medicine or order tests than take a watchful waiting approach (and defend it to concerned family members).

But precipitous action carries its own risks, too, especially given the growing threat of antibiotic resistance. Hayes also notes that doing nothing compels doctors to practice their communication skills with families and patients, which can benefit everyone:

“Doing no harm” frequently means doing nothing at all. But doing “nothing” well is more than saying “it’s just a virus.” It requires expertise, confidence, and communication — and it’s much easier if the doctor has already developed a relationship of trust with the patient or family. The doctor must know enough to make an accurate diagnosis (or at least rule out the scary ones) . . . [T]he diagnosis should be explained to the family in a way that they can understand. The family should . . . leave the visit understanding why “nothing” was done — and ideally, being grateful for a doctor that cares enough to do nothing.

Yesterday, I read Atul Gawande’s article called “The Heroism of Incremental Care.” Gawande, like Hayes, is interested in scenarios in which doing less, rather than more, is the most caring act. He focuses not on pediatrics but on chronic illness. For those patients whose afflictions are difficult to diagnose or treat, it’s often the case that the best doctors can do is to be honest, communicative, and consistently supportive.

Gawande notes that slow care often challenges doctors’ sense of their own competence as problem-solvers:

I was drawn to medicine by the aura of heroism—by the chance to charge in and solve a dangerous problem . . . I knew there was a place for prevention and maintenance and incremental progress against difficult problems. But this seemed like the real work of saving lives. Surgery was a definitive intervention at a critical moment in a person’s life, with a clear, calculable, frequently transformative outcome.

The quote got me thinking about what I’ve been learning in my counseling class. Our professor urges us to carefully examine our “righting impulse,” that part of us that would like to “fix” a client. She makes us aware that our role as counselors is not to be “experts” or to dole out advice, but rather to support clients as they come to their own conclusions about their health. There’s a time and a place to offer practical resources, but it’s the client who determines when that should happen and what the guidance should look like.

It reminds me of a conversation I had with a health practitioner who said that, in her experience, patients take in as much information as they are ready to digest at a given time. Tempting though it may be to glut a patient with knowledge and recommendations–after all, it can satisfy one’s own sense of expertise or efficiency–the sharing of information should be sensitively tailored to the patient and his or her needs. Urgent professional opinions should always be voiced, but with a sense of respect for the patient’s circumstances and state of mind.

It can’t be easy for health care providers to balance their righting impulses with their regard for patients’ autonomy. Gawande points out that medical culture and training make it especially difficult. The medical specialties that are focused on longterm, incremental care, like primary care and gerontology, are often less lucrative than others. They offer less reinforcement of practitioners’ skill in the form successful procedures or a heroic interventions. They demand patience and open, skilled communication. But they are, according to Gawande, heroic nonetheless, if only because they demand that doctors be finely attuned to patients’ needs.

As someone who admires proficiency and expertise, it’s taken me a while to recognize the value of patience and restraint. I’m still learning valuable lessons about when to act, when to pause, and how to judge the difference. I hope I’ll get better with practice, especially when it comes to serving others.

Hope you enjoy the reads. But first, the recipes.


With Superbowl Sunday on the way, you might be on the hunt for finger food or appetizers to feed a crowd. I’ve got my eye on Hannah’s beautiful chanterelle flatbread pizza, which would be perfect for sharing (or not sharing). Love the addition of roasted garlic.

Elise’s roasted root vegetables with tomatoes and kale is one of those not-recipe recipes, a dish so simple and easy to adapt that it becomes your own over time. Elise notes that you can make it with any combination of parsnips, rutabagas, carrots, potatoes, golden beets, turnips, or celery root. As a lover of all root veggies, I can’t wait to try some different combinations.

I’m always looking for ways to vary my homemade hummus routine, and right now I’m intrigued by Natascha Boudewijn’s recipe for lentil hummus, which I found through The All Day Kitchen. Maybe it’ll be my excuse to try nigella seeds!

If you’re looking to make more homemade snacks, check out Nicole’s tasty whole food energy bars. They’re packed with almonds, hemp seeds, chia, oat flour, and lots of other nutrient-dense ingredients, and dried cherries give them a sweet and sour kick.

In my effort to finish and use what’s in my pantry, I’ve been doing a little inventory, and I have some black rice waiting to be turned into something tasty. I love Meredith’s colorful black rice rainbow salad, which features vegetable ribbons and a minty almond dressing.


1. First, Atul Gawande’s essay on the critical importance of incremental care and the forces that threaten to make it less accessible to those who need it most.

2. Chat Hayes on the judgment and discrimination it takes to “do nothing” when treatment isn’t called for.

3. Mortality rates in the country are sliding backwards for a number of reasons, including opioid use. A new study indicates that the impact of diabetes on mortality has been underestimated because comorbidities like heart disease or kidney failure are often listed as official causes of death. Rather than being the seventh leading cause of death, the study suggests, it may be closer to the third.

4. The risks of childbirth are much lower today than they were even half a century ago, but childbirth injuries to the mother, including pelvic floor trauma, tearing, and prolapsed uterus, may be rising once again. Kiera Butler’s article for Mother Jones examines why this is: one reason is that women are having children later in life, which increases a risk of complications.

Butler notes that women are often prepared for the risks of Caesarean delivery and given genetic counseling to help prepare them for the diseases that their children might inherit or develop in utero. But they’re not always adequately prepared for the injuries that could result from vaginal delivery, and if they sustain such injuries, they’re not always given adequate support with chronic pain or long-term consequences. I was really surprised by some of the statistics Butler shared and the prevalence of the complications she’s discussing. I’m glad she’s bringing more attention to the topic.

5. Finally, an interesting public health story on how Iceland managed to dramatically curtail drug and alcohol abuse among teens.

Rather than focusing the bulk of their efforts on addiction treatment, researchers wondered if they could offer prevention in the form of an alternative to the “highs” offered by drugs or drinking. Harvey Milkman, one of the architects of the experiment, reports that he and his colleagues were driven by the question of how they could “orchestrate a social movement around natural highs: around people getting high on their own brain chemistry—because it seems obvious to me that people want to change their consciousness—without the deleterious effects of drugs?”

Milkman conducted early research in Denver, with the formation of Project Self-Discovery. The organization offered teenagers natural-high alternatives (like sports or dance) to drugs and crime. Teens also got life-skills training, which focused on improving their sense of self-worth. Researchers in Iceland got wind of the project and asked Milkman to help them implement something similar on a national level.

Sports were encouraged, curfews instituted, and major drops in addiction, as well as crime and gang membership, followed. The article examines how the changes came to be and speculates about whether or not something similar could ever be instituted in the US. Some of the measures implemented, including curfews, are rightly controversial, an impingement on young peoples’ freedom. But the attention to brain chemistry, working with the impulse to experience a high rather than trying to fight it, is if nothing else an interesting approach.

Hope you enjoy–and I’ll see you back here this week with a recipe that’s great for sharing.


The post Weekend Reading, 1.29.17 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Ashley Melillo’s Easy Does It Sunday Evening Chili

Ashley Melillo's Easy Does It Sunday Evening Chili | The Full Helping

I started reading Blissful Basil, Ashley Melillo’s vibrant food blog, a couple years ago. I was struck by Ashley’s creativity and attention to detail: every recipe felt consciously crafted, with no ingredient or instruction out of place. I loved how colorful and bright Ashley’s food was. And I admired her knack for turning whole, plant-based ingredients into dishes with major mainstream appeal. Now that I’ve read Ashley’s new cookbook, titled in honor of the blog, I have a deeper appreciation of her story and what led her to cooking in the first place.

Blissful Basil begins with an account of Ashley’s struggle with anxiety throughout her twenties. Ashley describes how she’d spent most of her teens “tending her facade,” worrying about externals and appearances, while her foundation, her inner self, went uncared for. By her early and mid-twenties Ashley was plagued with mysterious health ailments and maladies, which she tried to resolve with frantic Googling and a whole lot of worrying. Health fears piled up inside while Ashley tried to maintain a calm and collected front. It was a breeding ground for anxiety.

Ashley’s description of anxiety will resonate with anyone who’s dealt with it firsthand:

Once I could no longer ignore my anxiety, I made the mistake of indulging it by believing its every word, giving it far more power than it should ever be given. If you’ve experienced debilitating anxiety, then you know that the moment you stop questioning its sanity, it runs frantically through your memories and current experiences posing “what if” questions and hypothetical catastrophes. Innocent moments become stomach-dropping roller coasters and heart-pounding nightmares.

Ashley details the events that compelled her to begin accumulating a new self-care toolkit. For her, this meant getting back into therapy, regular exercise, and adopting a vegan diet. Over time, the anxiety receded, and she was able to fully inhabit her life again. It’s an inspiring story, but not a fairytale, and Ashley doesn’t credit her process to any single change. Rather, she’s grateful to an accumulation of choices that have helped her to feel better longterm:

There wasn’t one surefire “cure” to make me happier or less anxious. Rather, the solution has been an ongoing, ever-evolving process. Each of the shifts I’ve made within my everyday choices and habits–facing my fears; regularly moving my body; swapping meat, dairy, and process foods for a vibrant rainbow of whole foods–has played an equally important role in fostering my well-being. And it’s been the consistency of choosing those things over and over again (even when it’s difficult) that’s allowed me to maintain it.

I really like Ashley’s well-rounded vision of health and wellness, her understanding that healing is a process that unfolds gradually and changes all the time. It’s no surprise to me that her background is in psychology–she’s currently a school psychologist by day and blogger by night, which is a pretty impressive juggling act, if you ask me!

Ashley goes on to share the recipes that have helped her to thrive. Blissful Basil feels like more than a cookbook; it’s a tribute to the dishes that Ashley found along her healing journey. These recipes are as bold and flavorful as the ones on her blog, but they’re invested with a little extra heart and soul.

Nearly all of the recipes in the collection are gluten-free, all of them are vegan, and many others are appropriate for those with soy or nut allergies. I love Ashley’s creative flavor combinations–for example, her lovely buckwheat, green apple, cranberry and avocado salad, below.

There are plenty of tasty nibbles and small plate recipes for entertaining, including an herbed cashew cheese plate with roasted tomato jam:

And Ashley has a real knack for sweets and treats that have a wholesome spin. My favorite dessert is her seasonal fruit crisp (there are two options, apple almond and blackberry sunflower). But I’ve also got my eye on her cacao-tahini brownies and raw cannoli bars!

It’s hard to pick a standout recipe from a collection that’s so rich and playful: I’m really exited to try Ashley’s cauliflower tacos and creamy garlic mushroom risotto, among others. But right now, the recipe that’s calling to me most is Ashley’s easy does it Sunday evening chili. It’s a hearty mixture of legumes, walnuts, and tomatoes that can be simmered as you ease out of the weekend and prepare yourself for the week ahead. It’s perfect for winter, perfect for feeding a crowd, and perfect for freezing, too. (Ashley notes that it’s also perfect for a House of Cards binge.)

Ashley Melillo's Easy Does It Sunday Evening Chili | The Full Helping

Easy Does It Sunday Evening Chili

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: gluten free
Author: Ashley Melillo
Prep time: 20 mins
Cook time: 1 hour 45 mins
Total time: 2 hours 5 mins
Serves: 6
For the chili:
  • 2 tablespoons cold-pressed olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 2 red bell peppers, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 medium poblano pepper, cored, seeded, and diced
  • 1 cup raw walnut pieces
  • 3 ounces no-salt-added, dry-packed sun-dried tomatoes
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt or to taste
  • ½ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans unsalted whole peeled tomatoes in juice
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • 1-2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons reduced-sodium tamari
  • 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup or coconut sugar
Recommended toppings:
  • Sliced avocado
  • Halved grape tomatoes
  • Thinly sliced scallions
  • Fresh cilantro, stemmed and chopped
  • Crushed tortilla chips
  1. Heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium heat. Add the onion, red peppers, and poblano pepper, and saute for 6 minutes, or until the peppers are just beginning to soften and the onions are generously flecked with golden-brown edges, stirring occasionally.
  2. Meanwhile, add the walnuts and sun-dried tomatoes to a food processor and pulse 30 times, or until roughly minced and crumbly. Transfer to the stockpot along with the garlic, chili powder, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, sea salt, and coriander. Decrease the heat to medium-low and saute for 4 minutes, or until the spices are wafting a rich, toasted scent, stirring frequently.
  3. Add the whole peeled tomatoes with juice and bring to a simmer, using a spoon to thoroughly crush them to the desired size as they heat. Add the kidney beans, black beans, and water, and continue to simmer for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  4. Then, stir in the balsamic vinegar, tamari, and maple syrup, and decrease the heat to medium-low. Partially cover, leaving the lid askew, and simmer for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally to prevent burning.
  5. Cover completely and continue to simmer at least another 45 minutes, but preferably 1 hour or longer, stirring occasionally to prevent burning. Taste and season with more sea salt, if desired.
  6. Ladle into bowls, layer on the toppings, and get cozy. Refrigerate leftovers up to 4 days or freeze for up to 1 month.
You can water saute vegetables to make oil free, replace walnuts with sunflower seeds to make tree nut free, or replace the tamari with coconut aminos to make recipe soy free.

The chili embodies what Ashley does so well: she makes food that everyone wants to eat, and she does it using ingredients that are wholesome and nutrient-dense.

If you’d like to experience the cookbook for yourself, I’m happy to say that Ashley and her publisher are generously sharing a copy here today. Enter below to win — I’ll post the winner a week from today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Big thanks to Ashley for sharing with us–and also for putting so much of herself into this book. It’s not easy to open up about anxiety or other struggles, but Ashley does it with a lot of humor and perspective. I’ve so enjoyed hearing her story–and I hope it’ll strike a chord with you, too.

See you on Sunday for the weekly roundup!


The post Ashley Melillo’s Easy Does It Sunday Evening Chili appeared first on The Full Helping.

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