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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

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad | The Full Helping

As I was writing this post I got to thinking about how long it’s been since I posted a kale salad recipe on the blog. Turns out it’s been a while: the last was my tahini mint kale salad, which I shared last March! In other words, I’m overdue, and this maple mustard kale, quinoa & toasted pecan salad is a nice way to get back into the kale salad game.

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad | The Full Helping

This is a great kale salad for February. It’s packed with quinoa, golden beets, green beans, and toasted pecans, which together make for a lot of heartiness and nutrition and contrast in texture. What brings the salad together—underscoring the sweetness of the beets along the way—is the maple mustard vinaigrette, which is straight out of Power Plates (I shared the recipe with the harvest bowls, too).

The dressing began as a vinaigrette, and then one of my recipe testers tried it with tahini in place of oil and raved about it. I tried it that way, and I liked the two versions so much (in different ways) that I gave both options in the book. I think the vinaigrette version works better for massaging kale, and in this recipe overall, but you can definitely use the tahini version if you choose to avoid oils.

No matter what, the dressing lends a sweet, salty, and slightly savory (thanks to nutritional yeast!) flavor to the salad.

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad | The Full Helping

The salad also benefits from nutty, crunchy toasted pecans. I’ve been working with the American Pecan Council this year to explore and showcase all of the culinary versatility and health benefits of pecans, which are the only major tree nut indigenous to America. Pecans are packed with nutrients, which you can read more about here.

My favorite among pecan’s nutritional highlights are their beneficial, monounsaturated fats and protein, which can aid in satiety after meals. They’re also a good source of fiber and contain plant flavonoids, which are a type of phytonutrient. The food lover in me loves their slightly sweet flavor, which works nicely in all sorts of dishes.

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad | The Full Helping

This salad qualifies as a power plate, thanks to protein-packed and complex-carb-rich quinoa, plenty of good fats from the pecans, and lots of veggies. It’s nice for a light lunch, but it’s an even more filling and nutritious meal if you pair it with a cup of soup, a slice of hummus toast, or some baked tofu or tempeh. It’ll give you four generous servings, or—if you’d like to serve it as an appetizer—6 smaller ones.

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad | The Full Helping

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad

Recipe type: salad, side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 1 hour
Total time: 1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
For the salad
  • 4 golden beets (or however many you have from one small bunch)
  • ¾ cup (dry) quinoa, rinsed through a fine sieve (or 2 cups cooked quinoa, if you’d like to prepare the grain ahead of time)
  • 1½ cups water
  • 1 cup green beans, chopped
  • ⅔ cup pecan pieces
  • 1 small bunch curly kale, stems removed and chopped (about 5 ounces after preparation)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
For the maple mustard dressing:
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil or tahini
  • 1 tablespoon maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon tamari, Bragg Liquid Aminos, or coconut aminos
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
  • 11⁄2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons warm water, if needed
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Trim the beets and wrap each one in foil. Roast for 40-45 minutes, or until the beets are fork tender. Allow them to cool for ten minutes or so, then run them under cold water and slip the skins off (they should come off very easily; if you coat the beets with a little oil before roasting, the skin removal is even easier). Chop the beets and set them aside.
  2. While the beets roast, add the quinoa and water to a medium sized saucepan. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover the quinoa, and simmer for 8 minutes. Uncover the pot and throw in the green beans, then recover and continue simmering the quinoa for 5 more minutes. Remove the quinoa and beans from heat and allow them to stand for 5 minutes. Fluff the grain with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to sit until you need it.
  3. Place a small frying pan or skillet over low heat. Add the pecan pieces and toast, shaking the pan every 30 seconds or so, until they smell nutty and toasted, about 5 minutes. Transfer the pieces to a plate right away (they’ll keep cooking if you leave them in the pan).
  4. To make the dressing, combine the oil, maple syrup, mustard, tamari, apple cider vinegar, balsamic vinegar, and nutritional yeast in a small bowl or measuring cup. Whisk to combine. If the dressing is thicker than you’d like, whisk in the warm water as needed. (Stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator, the dressing will keep for 1 week; it makes ½ cup.)
  5. When all of the ingredients are ready, add the kale to a large mixing bowl, along with 3 tablespoons of the dressing. Massage the dressing into the kale, rubbing the pieces between your fingers, until the kale is softened and well coated with dressing (but not soaked; you’ll be adding more vinaigrette in a second!). Add the cooked quinoa and green beans, beets, and pecan pieces to the mixing bowl and mix everything together. Keep adding dressing until the salad is dressed to your liking. Taste and add salt if needed and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve.
The quinoa and beets can be prepared up to three days in advance of making the salad. The dressing keeps for a week in an airtight container in the fridge, and can be made 5-6 days ahead of time.

Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad | The Full Helping

I can definitely imagine making this salad for a potluck lunch with friends sometime before winter’s end here in the city. For now, I’m enjoying the leftovers all on my own. Like all kale salads, this one keeps pretty nicely: a full two days in the fridge after you make it. Quick weekday lunches for the win.

I’ll be swinging back around this weekend with the usual link love; for now, wishing you a good week ahead.


This post was sponsored by the American Pecan Council. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!


The post Maple Mustard Kale, Quinoa & Toasted Pecan Salad appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 2.18.18

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

The first time self-soothing was explained to me, it was by a friend who had her hands full taking care of a new baby. Self-soothing, she said, is when a baby develops the capacity to calm his or herself down. It’s seen as being key to uninterrupted nights of sleep for parents, since it allows babies to get back to rest if they should happen to wake up during the night.

A little while later, when I was exploring resources on coping with depression and anxiety, I learned that there’s such a thing as adult self-soothing, too. It may be an especially important skill to develop if you identify as a sensitive person or you feel the impact of emotions very strongly.

Self-soothing practices can take all sorts of shapes and forms; they may take one out of time and place, like going for a walk or practicing yoga in a special part of the home, or they might be as simple as listening to a particular song, sipping tea, breathing deeply, praying, singing, humming, reading poetry out loud, or smelling an essential oil. These, anyway, are my own favorite ways to self-soothe.

Two years ago at this time, my anxiety was so bad that I often didn’t want to leave the house. I did leave, going about my business and trying to perform as much competence as I could muster, but I felt as if I was falling apart. I was so on edge, so irritable, and so unable to hang onto a sense of safety or security. It really scared me, much more than my depression ever had.

Many months of therapy later, and I’m in a different place. But this week in particular gave me new skills to be grateful for. A few situations came up that triggered my anxiety, and I reacted, but I was able to stay connected to a fundamental sense that things would be OK. I’m not exactly sure what to attribute this to: my meditation practice? Learning to pay attention to my breath? Slowing down? Learning to say “no”? Reconnecting?

The answer is that all of these things, coupled with time and patience, have helped. I’m also starting to understand that quelling anxiety creates muscle memory; if you do it often enough, you start to believe, consciously and unconsciously, that it’s possible, and then it starts to happen more readily.

I know that I may manage my anxiety for a long time and possibly live with it always, just as I know I’ll always have brushes with depression and may always periodically encounter certain ED-related urges. In writing these words today, though, I realize how surprisingly calm I feel about my anxiety, which is sweetly ironic.

For the first time in a long time, I’m not alarmed by the fact that I have anxiety, not scared of it. I’ve been given signs that I have some of the tools I need to manage it. Maybe I’ll need to expand or change up my toolkit at some point, but that’s OK: toolkits can grow along with us. For now, merely knowing that I can get centered even in the midst of anxious feelings or thoughts is a major shift, one that gives me hope and a sense of spaciousness.

As always, wishing everyone peace and grounding as we head out into a fresh week. Enjoy these tasty recipes and reading links.


There’s a mushroom miso barley soup recipe in Power Plates that I’ve become pretty attached to, but I can never get enough soup recipes, and I’m loving Natasha’s version, which is infused with Italian herbs and seasonings.

Wish someone had made these sweet buckwheat crepes for me on Valentine’s Day! Or that I’d gone ahead and made them for myself 🙂

This is my kind of potato salad: roasted potatoes, dill, vegan bacon, creamy garlic mayo. Perfect vegan comfort food.

Writing about Hannah’s book on Friday has me thinking about the art of creating really good food in very little time. It’s something I’m still figuring out. Lisa is one of the people I turn to for inspiration in this area, and her easy green curry noodles are a perfect example of a super speedy, flavorful, filling meal.

I tend to have lousy luck when I’m baking exclusively with grain free flours (I do OK when they’re part of a blend that has some wheat flour or gluten free grain flours in it). I’m always impressed with the way that Lindsay works wonders with grain-free baking that’s also vegan-friendly, and I’m dying to try her easy vegan white cake.


1. In spite of spending a fair amount of time around doctors—and anticipating a year of clinical work on the horizon—I had never really given much thought to what it must be like for doctors to return to full time work after being treated for an illness, especially the illness that they themselves specialize in.

That’s exactly the process that breast cancer surgeon Liz O’Riordon finds herself in now. I was touched by The Atlantic‘s profile of her, in which she admits to having new emotional challenges on the job, including sensitivities to hear certain diagnoses spoken of in dire terms and heightened awareness when delivering news to patients. The article says,

She [Liz] also takes more care with her language, and cringes at the memory of comments that were meant to be encouraging but now seem glib and unsympathetic. “I used to say: You’re lucky it hasn’t spread. No one is lucky to have cancer,” she says. “I used to ask people: Are you happy to sign this consent form? No one is happy to have cancer. As a doctor, you may give bad news 10 times a day. Until you’ve been on the other side, you don’t realize that when you get bad news, you remember every single detail of that conversation.”

There’s a lot of pressure for doctors and medical personnel to remain transparent, cool, and objective at all times, but my own limited experience in a helping profession is that personal struggle often gives way to empathy that can enhance one’s capacities as a practitioner. I hope that O’Riordan can indeed follow through on her hope to speak out more openly about her illness and encourage other doctors to do so with her.

2. Also on the topic of medicine and healthcare, a physician examines the concept of agape as it relates to healthcare. Agape is the ancient Greek term for selfless love of humanity; it’s seen as transcending difference or circumstance, which distinguishes it from filial or erotic love. Pooja Gidwani, a hospitalist, writes,

To me, agape means having the fortitude not only to empathize with patients or to provide compassionate care but to also habitually understand that each patient’s reactions may stem from their physical or mental suffering, past or current. To develop the ability to connect on a more spiritual level with the sufferer’s emotions despite their behaviors to truly be a healer. To put oneself in the shoes of each individual, remembering that everyone we meet is a product of what life has created for them.

I can’t think of a more beautiful summation of how agape can animate medical practice.

3. In the wake of the tragedy in Florida this past week, Vox sat down with Gerry Griffith, a crisis counselor with over 30 years of experience, to ask questions about what’s needed in the aftermath of shocking losses. She offers a lot of practical, detailed perspective on how crisis counselors respond to different stages of trauma among the people they’re helping, and she also has important things to say about the importance of addressing peoples’ sense of powerlessness after these kinds of events.

When asked how she continues to do this challenging work, she says,

I had a mentor, early, early on that said doing this work is learning how to keep your heart open in hell. I know what hell looks, tastes, like, and smells like.
I think, for me, there are people in my life that I can talk to about this. I have a husband, he’s proud of me and he supports me. When I’m out there in Oklahoma City or out in New York, I can call him and I can talk about how the dog, what she’s doing today. Because he’s not there.
Somebody asked me the other day: ”How would you know when you’re done?” I said, “When I stop crying.” When I stop feeling, when I don’t cry, my heart has closed and I have to quit.

I thought it was impressive that Griffith’s barometer of being fit for the task of counseling is having a strong capacity to feel. Something I want to keep in mind, in my own small way, for my future work with clients.

4. I really like Carrie Dennett’s reporting, and I was glad to see her in-depth consideration of orthorexia in the latest issue of Today’s Dietitian.

Orthorexia is a complex compulsion, often more difficult to address than other types of disordered eating because it is so often rooted in basically valuable efforts and intentions to eat healthfully and well. While anorexia put me in my most dire state of biological illness, I think overcoming orthorexia was in many ways a trickier challenge, because it was so hard to separate obsession and compulsion from the sincere value I place on mindful, conscious, health-supportive eating.

Dennett delves into all of the difficulties and complexities of addressing this syndrome, including the fact that, as of yet, there’s no consensus on a definition and no validated assessment tool. “Eating doesn’t become pathological until it becomes entangled with obsessive thinking, compulsive and ritualistic behavior, and self-punishment,” she notes, which echoed my own intuitive sense of what orthorexia is when I encounter it in my own work.

She also interviews Emily Fossenbeck, who is doing really important work in speaking up about her own experience with orthorexia and raising awareness on social media. Emily’s struggle with orthorexia began with elimination diets (a phenomenon I’ve observed often). She’s quoted saying,

“I only felt worse and worse but kept chasing this magical unicorn of the ‘perfect diet.’ The anxiety I felt about food was suffocating and totally overwhelmed most other parts of my life. I was afraid to eat out or travel or—the worst of it—to eat a normal meal with my family. I had to have complete control of everything I was eating.”

I’ve often seen the question posed of what distinguishes orthorexia from healthful eating, and I’ve written about it myself. I think the answer might be that anxiety and feeling of suffocation that Fossenbeck mentions. A particular kind of health-conscious eating style might be either self-caring or destructive; the difference rests in the mentality and subjective emotional experience of the individual in question.

I suspect that the dietetic and mental health treatment communities are just at the start of understanding this complicated expression of disordered eating. For now, the best we can hope for is more awareness, more observation and research, and an ongoing effort to enlist more people who have struggled with orthorexia to honestly share their stories. I’ve been giving lots of thought to recovery with NEDA week on the horizon, and this is nice motivation for me to use my voice.

5. I mentioned last week that the heart chakra and heart-opening are on my mind this month. With loving-kindness in mind, a sweet list to wrap up with.

Happy Sunday morning, everyone. I look forward to checking in with a hearty, colorful new winter salad recipe in a couple days.



The post Weekend Reading, 2.18.18 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Falafel Fattoush from Real Food, Really Fast

Falafel Fattoush Salad | The Full Helping

I always know that I’m in good hands when I make one of Hannah Kaminsky’s recipes. This isn’t only because I own all of her cookbooks (and swear by Vegan Desserts), but also because I’m a very, very longtime reader of her blog, Bittersweet. It was one of the first vegan blogs in my reader, back in the day, and my admiration of Hannah’s work grew exponentially when we worked on my first cookbook together.

I count on Hannah for food that’s practical and thoughtfully instructed, but with a touch of whimsy. Her recipes have a wonderfully playful and nostalgic touch. It’s always made sense to me that this quality would shine through in her dessert recipes—after all, what’s a more perfect realm for channeling nostalgia than pie or ice cream—but now I’m happy to see it animating a savory cookbook collection, too.

Hannah Kaminsky's Real Food, Really Fast | The Full Helping

Real Food, Really Fast is Hannah’s latest. It’s a robust, vibrant, playful collection of vegan recipes that take 10 minutes or less to prepare and are made with real food ingredients. Hannah’s starting point is that a lot of convenience food is far from wholesome and lacking in the foods—vegetables, whole grains, legumes—that give such rich nutrition to plant-based diets. In place of the usual frozen and boxed fare, she offers up whole food dishes—breakfasts, snacks, soups, salads, sides, entrees, and desserts—that come together in mere minutes.

True to Hannah’s promise in the introduction, these are recipes that don’t allow flavor and nutrition to suffer in the name of speed. They’re also boldly flavored, because as Hannah notes, “What could be worse than going through the work of cooking from scratch after an already exhausting day of work only to sit down to a flavorless meal?”

There are some recipes in the book that I expected to be quick, like salads and snacks. Others came as a surprise: 10 minute chili, a black forest skillet crisp, mofongo bowls with plaintains and black beans (the cooking process is sped up by microwaving the plantains), a chickpea mulligatawny, and a smoky, chipotle creamed kale. These are dishes that I’d just assume needed at least 30 minutes to build flavor, but Hannah walks readers through a process that will deliver flavorful results in less time than you’d ever imagine.

I’ve sat down and already bookmarked about a dozen of the recipes, including the A+ Benedicts (made with tofu patties), Straight-up Chickpea Scramble, Three Pea Soup, Cruciferous Colcannon, Couscous Biryani, and Walnut Bolognese. I’m so excited to explore, and the book found me at just the right time, as work and school have been a little overwhelming lately. I started off with the recipe that’s pictured on the colorful cover of Real Food, Really Fast: Hannah’s Falafel Fattoush.

Falafel Fattoush Salad | The Full Helping

It’s a colorful, crunchy mixture of pita chips, chickpeas, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, parsley, and spices, and I think it embodies so much of what Hannah’s up to with this book. Folding minced garlic, crushed red pepper, cumin, and coriander directly into the salad ensures that flavor is built quickly. You can use pita chips if you wish, or bake yours; I did neither. I actually put pita halves into my toaster and let them get crispy, then tore them into pieces. It worked perfectly! And chickpeas stand in for traditional falafel her, making this a quickie dish that’s also focused on whole foods.

I made a couple of little additions to the recipe: roasted red pepper strips, because I had some that needed to be used, a handful of arugula, and I used za’atar in place of plain sesame seeds. Everything worked. One of the nice things about this book is that it’s pretty accommodating of small swaps and adjustments.

Falafel Fattoush from Real Food, Really Fast

Recipe type: salad, side
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Hannah Kaminsky
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
If you took falafel but skilled all the mashing, mixing, and deep frying, you’d get the gist of this herbaceous Middle Eastern panzanella, also known as bread salad. Deconstructed dishes get a bad rap in this postmodern culinary scene, but just this once, I wouldn’t take offense at the term. Everything you’d want from a good falafel sandwich can be found in this abundant bowl, simply chopped and tossed for a fresher, more flavorful experience with every forkful. The pita become soggy fairly quickly, so don’t delay after tossing it with the dressing. Dig right in immediately, or withhold the olive oil and lemon juice until you’re ready to serve.
  • 4 (2-ounce) pita breads
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes (halved if large)
  • 1 cup sliced Persian cucumber or diced English cucumber
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 cup fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced
  • ¼-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • ½-1 teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds, toasted
  1. Lightly toast the pita bread and chop it into bite-sized squares, about ½-inch each. Place the bread in a large bowl along with the tomatoes, cucumber, chickpeas, scallions, and parsley. Mix the vegetables around lightly to combine. Sprinkle in the minced garlic, red pepper flakes, cumin, coriander, ½ teaspoon salt, and pepper. Toss everything together until the vegetables are well distributed and evenly coated with the spices.
  2. Right before serving, drizzle in the lemon juice and olive oil, tossing once more to incorporate. Add more salt to taste, if needed, and finish with a sprinkle of sesame seeds over the top.

Falafel Fattoush Salad | The Full Helping

I loved eating this salad, and in spite of Hannah’s warning that the pita would turn a little soggy, I actually really liked how it all worked together when the pita had sopped up some of the dressing and spices. I served it with some of my simple French lentil soup (this week’s batch cooking), and it was a perfect lunch. At this time of year I tend to start to crave green and crispy things, and the meal satisfied that craving while also giving me plenty of heft.

I’m such a fan of what Hannah does, and I’m happy to be sharing a copy of Real Food, Really Fast with one US reader today. You can enter below to win, and I’ll announce the winner in one week.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck! And I’ll be sticking with the salad theme (albeit hitting very different notes) with a recipe that I’m sharing next week. Before then, I’ll be checking in with weekend reads. Wishing you all a restful Friday night.


Recipe reprinted with permission from Real Food, Really Fast, copyright © 2018 by Hannah Kaminsky. Published by Skyhorse Publishing, New York.

The post Falafel Fattoush from Real Food, Really Fast appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake | The Full Helping

I really, really, really love this cake.

It started as a vanilla cake with pears and dark chocolate chunks, and sometimes I still make it that way. But the next few times I tried it—and I made it often during the holiday season—I went with a chocolate-on-chocolate version instead. This double vegan dark chocolate pear cake is now my go-to, the one I made for Chanukah and on Christmas Day. I’m happy to make it this year’s Valentine’s Day offering to myself.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake | The Full Helping

I had high hopes the first time I made the cake, but even so, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. Chocolate and fruit is a hit-or-miss combination for me: I love chocolate and raspberries together, but I’ve never really loved chocolate and orange. Most of the time, I like for chocolate cake to be simple and relatively unadorned: maybe a swirl of good frosting (this one is an all time favorite), but that’s about it.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake | The Full Helping
Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake | The Full Helping

This cake, though, was love at first bite. The pears give it moisture and delicate sweetness, somehow managing to stay in balance with the rich chocolate flavor. I fold half of the pear into the cake batter itself (if you fold all of them in, they tend to sink too much) and top the cake with the rest, along with a very generous layer of dark chocolate chunks and a dusting of sugar. The cake is refined-sugar-free without that dusting, so it’s optional if you’d prefer to skip it. But I have to admit that I love the crispy, slightly caramelized topping it creates, which you can probably spot in the photos.

I based the cake itself off of a Peter Berley recipe from The Modern Vegetarian Kitchen, one that has served me very well in the past. It makes for a runny batter, and it’s important to let the cake bake until the top is truly set before taking it out of the oven. If you take it out too early, it’ll collapse, especially with the weight of chocolate and fruit. I usually give it a full 45 minutes, though I’d recommend you start checking at the 40 minute mark. When the top feels set (gently tap it with your finger to see) and is rounded, the cake is ready. If you need to give it up to 50-55 minutes, that’s OK. Here’s the recipe.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake | The Full Helping

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake

Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 10-12 slices
  • 1½ cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour*
  • ⅓ cup cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • ¾ cup maple or agave syrup
  • ⅔ cup cold water
  • ⅓ cup neutral vegetable oil (such as grapeseed or refined avocado)
  • 1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
  • 1 ripe pear, peeled and finely chopped
  • 2 ounces dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon demerara or cane sugar (optional but really nice, for topping)
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil or line a 9 inch springform cake dish with parchment.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon.
  3. In another mixing bowl, whisk together the syrup, water, oil, and vinegar. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and whisk to combine thoroughly, but it’s OK if there are a few small clumps. Fold half of the pear into the cake, then pour the batter into the pan. Top with the remaining pear and the chocolate. If you like, sprinkle a tablespoon of sugar over the top of the cake.
  4. Transfer the cake to the oven and bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is rounded and set. Remove it from the oven. Allow it to cool for a whole hour, then you can release it from the springform pan. I recommend allowing it to cool for another couple hours before slicing: the dark chocolate will be very melty at first, and it’s better to give it some time! Enjoy.
*You can use the same amount of a trusted GF, all purpose flour blend.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Pear Cake | The Full Helping

The cake is such a wintertime treat: chocolatey but not overly rich, sweet but not cloying, and the dark chocolate chunks make it feel fancy and festive in spite of the fact that it’s really pretty easy to make. You can definitely try the cake with a gluten-free, all purpose flour blend; I haven’t tried that yet, but I strongly suspect it’ll work. Just opt for a brand or homemade blend that you really trust and have had good experience with making 1-to-1 substitutions in the past.

As I mentioned on Sunday, my work this month is to stay open, soft, and loving, which includes sending a lot of love to you all for February 14th, and in general. Have a happy Valentine’s Day, if you feel like celebrating it, and I’ll be back at the end of this week with an enthusiastic review of Hannah Kaminsky‘s latest vegan cookbook masterpiece.


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Weekend Reading, 2.11.18

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

In February, it’s not unusual for yoga classes and studios to place an emphasis on the 4th chakra, or anahata chakra. My studio is no exception, and even if Valentine’s Day weren’t around the corner, the heart chakra would be on my mind.

I’m going to try not to quote from Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart (which I mentioned last week) every single Sunday, since I don’t want to spoil its surprises for those who haven’t read it. But I was moved enough by a recent affirmation that I can’t help but share. The day is February 9th, and the entry is titled “Keep Your Heart Open”:

“Keep your heart open,” Beattie writes, “even when you can’t have what you want.”

She goes on to say:

It’s easy to keep our heart open to life’s magic and all of its possibilities when we have what we want. It’s more of a challenge, and more necessary than ever, to keep our hearts open when we can’t have what we want.
Even on the best journey, things happen. Plans change. Things shift and move around. This shifting and moving causes doors to close, relationships to end, blocks and frustrations to appear on our path…
Keep your heart open anyway. Consciously choose to do that. Yes, you can go away, you can leave, you can shut down, but you don’t need to. Now is a turning point. If you choose to open your heart, even when you can’t have what you want, miracles will unfold.

As I read these words, I was surprised to find them bringing tears to my eyes. I thought about how much more likely I am to give thanks, practice gratitude, stay open, and share my love when things are “going well,” or when I’m getting my way. My default when life doesn’t take the course I’d like it to is often—more often than I’d like to admit—gloom, sadness, frustration, or resentment. Sometimes a combination of them all.

It feels so constricted to practice loving, giving, and receiving only from the safe environs of things being just so, the pieces falling into place exactly how we’d imagined. But it’s something I do, and Beattie’s short meditation made me aware of it.

For a long time I assumed that the word “anahata” must refer to physiology, and that it was probably translated as “heart” or “chest.” Not so; anahata is translated as “unstuck,” “unhurt,” or “unbeaten.” I love this. Rather than referring to the heart as a biological entity, it refers to the essence of what the heart can do: love and keep loving, boundlessly, no matter what hurts come its way. It’s an amazingly resilient organ that way.

In the last few days, when my impulse to shut down and lick my wounds and feel sore at the world around me was the strongest, I practiced staying open and loving instead. I won’t pretend it felt like instinct, but I was actually surprised at how good it did feel, once I’d made the choice to do it.

I think I’ve always feared a soft, open, and loving posture when I’m in pain; consciously or not, it’s easier for me to connect and share myself when I feel composed and strong. Now I wonder how much more readily healing and resilience might find me if I could practice lovingkindness when I’m broken open, whether giving love when I’m at my most vulnerable could be a source of strength, rather than a liability. My experience in the last few days suggests that it is.

With all of this in mind, I’m sending you all my most loving, warm, and grateful thoughts. Happy Valentine’s Day to you, but know that thoughts will extend well beyond February 14th. And in the meantime, here’s my roundup of recent recipe discoveries and reads.


First up, all the heart eyes for Lauren’s scrumptious looking hemp crusted tofu cobb. And I’m equally excited about her new cookbook, which is packed with creative, yet classic vegan comfort food dishes.

I can never get enough simple, wholesome vegan grain dishes, and so much the better if they’re also loaded with leafy greens. I’m bookmarking Alex’s easy, nutritious Swiss chard and ancient grains salad.

I’ve never tried my hand at a vegan tuna noodle casserole, but Ameera and Robin have inspired me with this recipe.

It’s only appropriate to share a heart-shaped dessert today, and what better pick than Kathy’s sweet and pretty vegan sugar cookies?

Double desserts today. I’m sharing a dark chocolate pear cake in a couple days, so I smiled to see that my friend Hetty is on a similar wavelength. Her sticky date olive oil cake with chai poached pears looks spectacular.


1. Karen, who wrote a lovely green recovery post some years ago, shares humble and loving thoughts on honoring the body, eating intuitively, and finding peace.

2. I’m a big fan of Danielle Ofri’s books, and I was interested to read her thoughtful (and practical) primer on how to make the most of a doctor’s office visit.

3. Also via the New York Times, new research implicating the role of gut microbiota in the pathogenesis of colon cancer.

4. Sasha Chapman probes deeply into rope entanglement, which is a leading cause of whale deaths, and the politics surrounding efforts to address the problem. I was glad to be made conscious of this, though my heart ached not only for the whales, but for all of the other ocean creatures who are targeted by fishing ropes in the first place.

5. Sham surgery is incredibly rare in the U.S., because incisions or invasive procedures without delivery of medical treatment are regarded as ethically problematic. This article looks at the potential benefit of sham surgery as a means of uncovering the futility of costly, risky, and often ineffective treatments. It’s an interesting controversy, especially for healthcare practitioners who take interest in the placebo effect.

Alright, friends. Happy Sunday. I’ll be back on Tuesday, with chocolate!


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Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew from Pretty Simple Cooking

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew | The Full Helping

The week is wrapping up, and I’m afraid that the stubborn cold I thought I’d shaken off a couple weeks ago might be returning. I’ve got work to do this weekend, but thanks to a stocked freezer and a giant batch of my friends’ Sonja and Alex’s Moroccan sweet potato stew, I don’t have to worry about cooking. The stew is fragrant, filling, and nutritious, and I’ll be eating it happily for days.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew | The Full Helping

This is a recipe from Sonja and Alex’s awesome new cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, which was published on Tuesday.

Those of you who read the couple’s blog, A Couple Cooks, know that Sonja and Alex are all about homemade food that’s as accessible as it is beautiful to look at and healthful to eat. The cookbook follows suit; it’s packed with everyday nibbles and satisfying main dishes that are easy to prepare. Sonja and Alex also have a lot of wisdom to share about building a healthful relationship with food; the Q&A I did with Sonja a couple years back is one of my favorite conversations I’ve had on this topic.

When I first flipped through the pages of the book, I could tell right away that this is the kind of cookbook I’ll use often—it’s not a coffee table book (even though it is beautifully designed!) or an ambitious primer that I’ll pull off the shelf when I’m in the mood for a weekend project. It’s packed with everyday favorites, like vegan chili and potato chowder, roasted cauliflower and black bean tacos, rainbow soba noodle bowls, and no-bake raw brownie truffles. These are staple foods, dishes I never get tired of.

Sonja and Alex cleverly organize the book around culinary lessons that just so happen to double as life lessons. They are:

  • Cook real food
  • Slow down
  • Love the (creative) process
  • Face your fear
  • Seek balance
  • Be mindful
  • Yes, you can
  • Gather and share
  • Respect the ingredients
  • Have fun

As you might guess, recipes are divided thematically among these themes. There are bread recipes to challenge those who are afraid of baking, minimalist recipes that foster an appreciation of quality ingredients, mighty mains that encourage slowing down and savoring something layered, and sweets that are indulgent, yet ialigned with mindful eating. Through it all runs Sonja’s friendly, personable form of culinary instruction, which I’m pretty sure could make any recipe feel doable.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew | The Full Helping

All of the recipes are vegetarian, if not vegan (and many are vegan), and I’ve got at least a dozen bookmarked. But I started with something comforting and wintery and great for fending off a burgeoning (or returning?) cold: the Moroccan sweet potato stew. It features warming spices, chickpeas for textures, chopped apricots for sweetness, and it’s meant to be served with quinoa, though I made a batch of millet for mine instead.

I smiled as I was preparing the recipe, because Sonja recently chose to make and share the Moroccan sweet potatoes and lentils from Power Plates on her blog! Seems as though she and I are craving similar eats right now. Here’s her hearty and stress-free recipe.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew from Pretty Simple Cooking

Recipe type: main dish, quick & easy
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free option
Author: Sonja and Alex Overhiser
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 2 cups uncooked quinoa, millet, rice, or couscous (or another grain of choice)
  • 1 large yellow onion
  • 3 medium garlic cloves
  • 1½ pounds sweet potatoes (about 2 medium size)
  • ⅓ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon dried ground ginger
  • ¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1¼ teaspoons kosher salt, divided
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 1 quart (4 cups) vegetable broth
  • 6 cups baby spinach leaves, loosely packed (chopped if leaves are large)
  • 3–4 tablespoons lemon juice (1 large lemon)
  • 1 handful cilantro, for garnish
  • Vegan yogurt or cashew cream, for serving
  1. Make the whole grain according to package instructions or your own favorite method. Peel and dice the onion. Peel and mince the garlic. Chop the sweet potatoes into ½-inch pieces, leaving the skin on. Roughly chop the apricots. Drain and rinse the chickpeas. Combine the cumin, coriander, turmeric, cinnamon, ginger, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl.
  2. In a large pot or Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion for about 5 minutes, until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the spices, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and several grinds of black pepper. Stir about 30 seconds, then add the sweet potatoes, apricots, chickpeas, tomatoes, and vegetable broth.
  3. Bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until the potatoes are tender and beginning to break down and the liquid is reduced. Stir in the spinach and simmer until wilted, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.
  4. Immediately prior to serving, stir in the lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon kosher salt. Serve with your whole grain of choice, garnished with torn cilantro leaves and a dollop of yogurt or cream.

Moroccan Sweet Potato Stew | The Full Helping

I made a couple of very tiny tweaks to the recipe: the millet instead of quinoa (I was out of quinoa), and I used my cashew cream in place of Greek yogurt. Sonja also has a killer recipe for creamy cashew sauce, which she suggests to make the recipe vegan. Pretty Simple Cooking has a bunch of easy tips like that—suggestions that will turn a recipe from vegetarian to vegan without any losses in translation.

I’m so enjoying the practicality and warmth that this book has to offer, and I can feel all of the love that Sonja and Alex poured into it. And I’m happy to be sharing a giveaway copy with one US or Canadian reader, below. I’ll announce the winner one week from today.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

And if you live in NYC and would like to hang out with me and Sonja in person, we’ll be doing an event together at Essex Market on 2/22. You can get the details here: we’ll be making recipes from our books, chatting about making weeknight cooking a reality, and sharing some of the lessons we’ve learned about home cooking along the way. We’d love to see you there.

Huge congrats to Sonja and Alex on their publication, and loving wishes to everyone as we move into the weekend. See you for the reading roundup.


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Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars | The Full Helping

Valentine’s Day is a week away. For me, this means pretty much one thing: seven days in which to use my heart-shaped cookie cutter in as many ways possible. So far, my treats of choice are these sweet cherry oat crumble bars, which I’m wrapping up and carrying around with me as I continue to ride a busy wave. They’re energizing, filling, and just the right amount of sweet.

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars | The Full Helping

I modeled the bars after these blueberry breakfast bars, an old recipe, but one that I remember loving for portable breakfasts when I was in the thick of my post-bacc. I made a couple of tweaks to the formula, and instead of using fruit preserves, I used a layer of chopped, frozen sweet Northwest cherries. I love what using whole fruit adds to the bars in terms of moisture and texture.

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars | The Full Helping

And I love the healthfulness that sweet cherries add to the recipe. Sweet cherries have so much to offer nutritionally: not only ample fiber, but also the anthocyanins that give the fruits their deep color and anti-inflammatory properties. They also contain ellagic acid, a powerful antioxidant, and they’re a natural source of melatonin, which might aid in healthful sleep cycles. All of that, plus a low glycemic index, which means that the fruits’ naturally occurring sugars may be released and absorbed steadily.

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars | The Full Helping

As for the recipe, it’s a wholesome counterpart to standard issue crumble bars. Instead of a buttery, shortbread base, they’ve got a base of rolled oats, whole grain flour, and maple syrup as sweetener. It’s dense and chewy, rather than crispy, which I personally love (not that I don’t love a regular crumble bar).

The topping is a mixture of rolled oats, brown sugar, a little extra flour, and sliced almonds, which give the bars just enough crunch and a slightly nutty flavor. Sweet cherries and almonds are a much loved pairing, and I’m one of those who really loves it, so I wanted to channel that in the recipe. Here it is.

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars | The Full Helping

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars

Recipe type: snack, dessert
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 9 bars
For the base:
  • 1½ cups rolled oats
  • 1½ cups oat, light spelt, or whole wheat pastry flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or refined avocado
  • 1 cup applesauce
  • 6 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ¼ cup non-dairy milk
  • For the topping:
  • ⅓ cup rolled oats
  • ¼ cup oat, light spelt, or whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¼ cup sliced or slivered almonds
  • ¼ cup coconut sugar or brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 tablespoons coconut oil or butter
  • 1½ cups fresh or frozen and thawed, pitted dark sweet cherries, roughly chopped
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F and lightly oil an 8 or 9-inch square baking pan.
  2. To make the base, mix the oats, flour, baking powder, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk together the oil, applesauce, syrup, and non-dairy milk, then add it to the dry ingredients. Mix till well combined, the add the base batter to the square pan and spread it evenly.
  3. To make the topping, place the oats, flour, almonds, sugar, salt, and cinnamon in a mixing bowl. Add the butter or oil and use your fingers to mix it together, until it’s crumbly. Alternately, add the ingredients to a food processor and pulse till it’s crumbly; if it’s too dry in either case, add a tablespoon or two of water to achieve a crumbly texture.
  4. Spread the cherries over the base layer, then distribute the crumble topping over them. Transfer the baking pan to the oven. Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the top and edges are golden brown. Allow it to cool for at least an hour before cutting into squares (or hearts!) and enjoying.
To store, wrap the bars individually. They’ll keep for up to 3 days or up to 5 days in the fridge. They can also be frozen for up to 4 weeks.

Sweet Cherry Oat Crumble Bars | The Full Helping

I’ve got another sweet treat on the blog menu for next week, and that one’ll be unambiguously dessert (i.e., richer and more decadent than this one). But if you’re looking for something festive to make that’s equal parts wholesome and whimsical, this recipe is a good pick. It’s been making me smile, and I hope it makes you smile, too.

I’ll be swinging back on Friday with a recipe from my friends’ Sonja and Alex’s lovely new cookbook. Till then, stay warm, and happy baking.


This post is sponsored by the Northwest Cherry Growers. All opinions are my own, and I love infusing my snacks with the goodness of sweet cherries! Thanks for your support.

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Weekend Reading, 2.5.18

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

It’s been an unusually hectic week around here, the first in a long time that had me running around without a pause. That kind of pace was much more of a norm for me a few years ago, right before and during my post-bacc, and it’s something I took conscious steps to disentangle myself from when my anxiety got really bad.

I’m glad I’ve distanced myself from that particular craziness, but life is life, and chaotic spells are inevitable. I do my best to avoid overwhelm, but I’m still looking for a toolkit to help me stay grounded when things become unusually . . . lively.

On January 1st, I started reading Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart. I’m loving it so far; it’s not a book that’s designed to be read continuously (though you could if you wanted to). Instead, it offers a short meditation for each of the 365 days of the year. They hit a sweet spot between challenging the reader to let go of self-imprisoning habits while also offering up tremendous empathy for how and why we all sometimes choose to be—or can’t imagine not being—stuck.

On January 29th, just at the start of this demanding week, Beattie’s entry was titled “Seek Peace.” She writes,

Cultivate peace. Commit to peace. Insist on it. Don’t settle for peace based on outward circumstances or a particular arrangement in your life . . . [f]ind the peace that prevails even when the turbulent waters of the river roar through your life.

I love the idea of “insisting on” peace. Sometimes when I read about making or finding peace the suggestion seems to be that peacefulness is just beneath our feet, something that we’d unearth if only we scraped the surface a little. My experience has been that it’s a lot harder than this. Peace is something I need to fight for, something that don’t come easily unless I insist on it, as Beattie suggests.

The insistence often means making uncomfortable choices. These include saying no to some things and postponing others, even though it’s my first impulse to be a timely and efficient taskmaster. They also include learning to recognize my body’s signals of overwhelm (insomnia, dramatic highs and lows in energy, listlessness, tension headaches, irritable digestion) and bringing things to a full stop if I sense that I’m getting close to shutting down.

Sometimes committing to peace involves even more radical steps, like reexamining toxic relationships or detrimental, long-entrenched habits. Just as important, for me, is to identify and cherish the friendships and habits that evoke a sense of truth, calm, and well-being within me. I’m working really hard lately to give these the love and attention they deserve.

The most important thing, I think, is to watch for the trap Beattie points out, which is making peace contingent upon a “particular arrangement in your life.” For so long I accepted the idea that I had to passively endure frenzy and hope for pockets of peace to show up, as if by magic.

Nowadays I recognize that I can’t control what life puts in my path, but I can avoid making things more complicated than they need to be, and I can actively seek and cultivate the mindfulness that brings me peace. It’s not always a perfectly choreographed dance, but it’s in progress.

Wishing you all peace as you move into the first full week of February. Here are some tasty vegan recipe picks and reads from around the web.


Need a last-minute bite to serve during the Super Bowl? Sophie’s BBQ cauli wings look incredible.

Another delicious vegan side dish: Elizabeth of Brooklyn Supper roasts romanesco to crispy perfection with chili powder and meyer lemon zest, then tops it in a creamy vegan sunflower seed dressing. Yum.

I love the contrast in this dish: tofu gets dredged in chickpea flour and pan-fried to crispy perfection, then served in a delicate miso broth.

I think I’ve got my next dinner-in-a-hurry bookmarked: Gina’s 30-minute stir fry with maple peanut tamari sauce.

I’m still looking for my vegan forever brownie recipe, and I think Eva’s rocky road brownies might be it. If I stare at the photo long enough, will they come to life? 😉


1. Beyond inspiring: Dani’s reflections on how she reclaimed her life after a devastating injury and overcame the stigma of being in a wheelchair.

2. A fascinating look at how cancer cells and placental cells may regulate the immune system in similar ways.

3. Jane Brody reports on confusion and misleading headlines surrounding the healthfulness of saturated fat. It’s a story worth reading in our day and age of frequently conflicting nutrition headlines and a good reminder that weak study designs can significantly impact research findings.

In the case of saturated fat (and many nutrition studies), one of the big confounders is that researchers can’t always anticipate or adequately control for which foods study participants will ultimately eat more of when they eliminate another food or nutrient. Many studies on reduced fat consumption seem to have been complicated by participants eating more refined carbohydrates and/or trans fats in the wake of reducing animal fats, which means that study results may not reliably indicate the benefits of saturated fat reduction alone (minus other dietary changes).

4. A harrowing account of medical emergency, which becomes a powerful statement about healthcare as a basic human right.

5. So cool: MRI scans show that memorizing ancient mantras increases the size of brain regions associated with cognitive function.

Another way I insisted on peace this week: getting this post up today because I needed to turn inward yesterday. Happy Monday morning to you all.


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Sweet Potato Nacho Fries from Power Plates

Sweet Potato Nacho Fries from Power Plates | The Full Helping

Photograph by Ashley McLaughlin

With Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, I wanted to pop in quickly to share a recipe from Power Plates that’s perfect for game day entertaining—and a tasty party dish for any time of year! It’s the sweet potato nacho fries, which are (you guessed it) a hybrid of baked sweet potato fries and fully loaded nachos, with the sweet potatoes standing in for chips.

I love sweet potato fries as a side dish, but this recipe elevates them to a more meal-worthy status, thanks to layers of black beans, avocado, and creamy cashew queso sauce. If you make the queso in advance, it’s a pretty quick and easy recipe to serve to friends, and it’s a more nutrient-dense alternative to most nacho recipes. You can adjust the spices on the sweet potatoes to be more or less hot, and you can also play around with the fixings: hot sauce, salsa, and pickled jalapenos would all be nice additions. Here’s the recipe.

Sweet Potato Nacho Fries from Power Plates | The Full Helping

Photograph by Ashley McLaughlin


Sweet Potato Nacho Fries from Power Plates

Recipe type: snack, main dish, side
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
For the sweet potatoes:
  • 4 medium sweet potatoes, scrubbed and cut into spears
  • 2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1⁄8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
For the cashew queso sauce:
  • 1⁄2 cup (65 g) raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 3 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 1⁄2 cup (120 ml) water
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 cup (150 g) cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1⁄2 small red onion, finely diced
  • 1 Hass avocado, peeled, pitted, and cubed
  • 1⁄4 cup (10 g) chopped fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon agave nectar or maple syrup
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon salt
  • 11⁄2 cups (270 g) cooked black beans, or 1 (15-oz, or 425-g) can, drained and rinsed
  1. To prepare the sweet potatoes, preheat the oven to 400°F (200°C) and line two rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Put the sweet potatoes in a large bowl, drizzle with the oil, and toss until evenly coated. In a small bowl, stir together the salt, paprika, chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, pepper, and cayenne, adding a bit more cayenne if you like things spicy. Scatter the spice mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss again. Spread the sweet potatoes on the baking sheets in an even layer. Bake, stirring occasionally, for about 35 minutes, until quite crispy.
  2. Meanwhile, make the queso sauce. Combine all the ingredients in a blender (preferably a high-speed blender) and process until totally smooth. If the sauce is thicker than you’d like, add another tablespoonful of water.
  3. To prepare the fixings, put the tomatoes, onion, avocado, cilantro, lime juice, agave nectar, and salt in a medium bowl and toss to combine.
  4. Put the sweet potatoes in a large serving dish. Top with the tomato mixture, then the black beans. Finally, drizzle the queso sauce evenly over the top. Serve right away, with any other desired toppings.

It’s been a busy week here, and the last couple days have me thinking about the importance not only of self-care routines, but also of cultivating inner peace. Something I’m working on, and I’ll probably have more coherent thoughts to share in the weekly roundup post on Sunday. Till then, I wish you all a happy Friday and a sweet start to the weekend.


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Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives

Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives | The Full Helping

I’m gearing up to cook my way back through some of the recipes in Power Plates, having been apart from them for over a year now. This means that one-bowl/one-skillet/one-pot/one-plate meals are very much on my mind. I experimented with this skillet seitan and bulgur with fennel & olives on Monday night, hoping that it would be a quick, protein-rich, flavorful meal for weeknights, and I think it came through!

Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives | The Full Helping

A shortlist of foods & flavors I didn’t grow up with:

  • Onions and garlic
  • Hot spices (most spices, really)
  • Most legumes
  • Dark leafy greens (aside from spinach)
  • Olives

Funnily enough, I cook with all of these things routinely now, and some of them—greens and legumes especially—are among my favorite foods. Spicy things and alliums took longer, and so did olives, which for a long time were super foreign to me in their all of their wonderful, briny saltiness.

I use olives often now, not just for snacking or finger food, but also as a way to add flavor punch to pasta dishes and grain salads. This shift has really only happened in the last year or two, but it’s giving me access to lots of new recipe options and ideas.

Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives | The Full Helping

I’m just branching out into using olives regularly in my cooking (as opposed to folding them into cold dishes), and this single skillet meal of seitan and bulgur was a nice contribution to my small, but growing repertoire.

I’ve been finding blackbird seitan locally lately, and I’m in love with it, so it was the plant protein I wanted to shape this meal around. I picked bulgur as a grain because it cooks so quickly (and is itself a good source of protein and fiber), and I was set on using fennel in the meal because I suspected its sweet flavor would be a nice compliment to the salty olives.

The recipe comes together in about 25 minutes once everything is prepped and started, and it’s easy to modify. As written, it’s a wheat-y meal, but you could make it gluten free by subbing the seitan for my chick’n style soy curls or another, gluten-free vegan chick’n of choice, then using quinoa in place of bulgur. If you’re not gluten free but don’t have bulgur at home, you could use couscous in its place, in which case dinner will be ready even faster.

Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives | The Full Helping

In the end, you’ll have a textured, nutritious meal that’s packed with the taste of olives, a bit of white wine, plenty of garlic, and some sherry vinegar. The flavors give a nod to Spanish cooking, since I used chamomile, or manzanilla, olives from Spain.

These green olives have a firm texture, which makes them perfect for cooking with, plus a smoky flavor that I love. I’ve gotten to know them through collaborating with the folks behind the “Have an Olive Day” campaign, which is dedicated to spreading awareness of the culinary versatility of all different olive varieties, as well as their history within Mediterranean diet and culture. If you’re still learning about the many types of olives, like I am, their website has a guide different varieties, as well as tons of recipes to use as inspiration. You can also get more inspiration via their Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram pages.

In the meantime, here’s a vegan meal that’s packed with olives and other plant-based goodness!

Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 yellow or Spanish onion, chopped
  • 1 bulb fennel, thinly sliced
  • 4 cloves garlic, very thinly sliced
  • 8 ounces seitan, cut into bite sized pieces (you can substitute 8 ounces chick’n style soy curls or another vegan chick’n of choice)
  • ¾ cup white wine
  • ½ cup dry bulgur wheat (substitute quinoa)
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ cup chamomile, or manzanilla, olives, chopped (substitute another green olive of choice)
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (more as needed; adjust based on how salty your seitan and olives are)
  • ½ teaspoon sweet paprika
  • 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped rosemary
  • 2 cups water
  • ½ cup chopped parsley leaves
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Sherry vinegar, to taste
  1. Heat the oil in a large, deep skillet (one with a lid) over medium heat. Add the onion and fennel. Cook for five minutes, stirring now and then, or until the vegetables are soft. Add the garlic and cook for one more minute, stirring constantly. Add the seitan to the skillet, then add the white wine. Raise the heat to medium high and cook everything, stirring frequently, for another 4-5 minutes, or until the wine has mostly evaporated.
  2. Add the bulgur, green beans, olives, salt, paprika, rosemary, and water to the skillet. Bring the water to a boil, then reduce the heat to low. Cover the skillet and simmer for 15 minutes.
  3. Check to be sure the bulgur is tender. If it’s still a little firm, give it another 3-5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, pepper, and a nice splash of sherry vinegar. Adjust salt as needed, then serve.

Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives | The Full Helping

I love how hearty this meal is—a good option for these chilly days when I’ve had more than my fill of soup and stew. The bulgur and seitan give it a lot of texture, and the green beans and herbs are a necessary counterpart to all of the earthy flavors in the rest of the dish.

I’m pretty sure that this recipe fits the brown food rule: doesn’t photograph prettily, but always seems to taste the best. Anyway, it’s nutritious and filling and makes great leftovers, and I’m happy to have it near me this week as I continue to chug my way into a busy semester.

Wishing you all warmth and nourishment. I’ll be back on Friday with a recipe from Power Plates that’s perfect for Superbowl entertaining (or just a comfort food fix). Till soon!


This post is sponsored by the Have an Olive Day campaign. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!

The post Skillet Seitan and Bulgur with Fennel & Olives appeared first on The Full Helping.

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