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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

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping

I’m not sure why it took me so long to get the hang of galettes, but I suspect that overthinking had a lot to do with it. Sometime back in June, I finally made a galette that I was happy with, and since then I’ve been making it with different combinations of summer fruit and different ratios of whole grain and regular flour. This vegan spelt plum galette might just be my favorite so far.

For years I’ve read about how galette’s are “the lazy person’s pie,” especially lovable for their low-maintenance rolling and folding, etc. Except I just couldn’t get it right. The first time I tried making galette I filled the crust up before transferring it to a baking sheet, and I basically wrecked it when it came time to transfer. The next few times my proportion of filling to crust was always off (usually, there wasn’t enough crust to go around).

In fact, I seemed to do a lot better with pies, even complicated ones with lattice crusts. The best explanation I came up with is that I do well with rules and precision. Cooking processes that call upon intuition are usually the ones that take me the longest to figure out, which is why I’m still dawdling with sourdough bread-making: I know that instinct is a part of the process, and that it’ll challenge my weaknesses, or insecurities, as a cook.

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping

Still, I’ve spent a lot of time this year getting more comfortable with the happy accidents that result from kitchen improvisation, and—more importantly—coming to terms with the fact that you only grow as a cook if you allow yourself to mess up. That’s the spirit that guided me as I made one more attempt at galettes this summer: I told myself that it was all just an experiment and it didn’t matter if it was a dud. After all, it wouldn’t be my first.

Needless to say, that’s when things came together. Past experience suggested that I needed to make more crust than I’d seen some recipes call for, so I did. I remembered how hard it is to move the galette once it’s stuffed and folded, so I transferred my dough to a lined baking sheet after rolling and then filled it up. Instead of fretting about areas where the crust was too thin or didn’t reach as far over the filling as in other parts, I just folded and let the imperfections be. Then I baked the galette until it was a deep golden brown, the way I like it, even though it meant leaving it in the oven longer than many recipes seem to suggest.

And in the end, I had a galette that I was pretty thrilled with.

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping

I tend to follow a traditional recipe closely until I’ve got at least one or two finished products I’m happy with; after that, I know I can modify confidently. Because I’m often veganizing a non-vegan recipe to begin with, I find that this is the easiest way to make a recipe my own while also using it for solid guidance as I get my footing, so to speak. The first time I made the galette I used my own favorite vegan pie crust recipe, which is a modification of Martha Stewart’s pâte brisée recipe, and I halved it. I used all-purpose flour, but once I had a few good results, I started trading a third of the flour for whole wheat pastry flour.

Now I’m doing that with spelt flour instead, and I’m loving the slightly nutty flavor it adds. You can use all spelt, too, but if you do that I’d recommend using light spelt flour, or else your crust may be a bit dense and difficult to work with.

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping
Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping

If you try the galette, you can most definitely use any fruit you love, keeping in mind that really juicy fruits (like berries) may demand a touch more flour in the filling (I found this to be especially true of strawberries). You can add spices of choice to the filling if you like; when I make this with apples in the fall, I’m sure I’ll add cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. You can make the dough ahead of time and freeze it for an easy, impromptu galette, and if you double the dough recipe, you’ll have enough for pie.

If you’re new to galettes or have had a hard time with them, the way I did, maybe follow this recipe closely for your first attempt. After that, though, you’ll probably have more delicious finished products if you take the time to make this whole process your own.

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette

Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: vegan, soy free option, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 1 hour
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour 45 mins
Serves: 8 slices
For the crust:
  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • ½ cup spelt flour*
  • 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • ½ cup (1 stick/8 tablespoons) cold vegan butter, cut into small cubes**
  • ¼ cup ice water (have more on hand)
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
For the filling:
  • 6 large or 8 small Italian plums, pitted and cut into thin slices (about 1¼ lbs)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1 heaping tablespoon all-purpose flour
Glaze (optional):
  • 2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 2 teaspoons maple syrup or agave
  • Demerara sugar
  1. To make the crust, mix the flours, sugar, and salt in a large mixing bowl. Add the butter and use a pastry cutter or two knives to cut the butter into the flour, until the pieces of butter you have in the mix are about the size of peas (alternately, you can put the flours, salt, and sugar into a food processor, add the butter, and pulse until the ingredients are combined and the butter is the size of peas).
  2. Mix the ice water and vinegar. Add the water into the flour mixture in a thin stream, using a spatula to mix as you go. As soon as the dough holds together without being wet or sticky, and it sticks together when you squeeze a small amount in your hand, it’s ready. If your dough is too crumbly and isn’t holding together, add additional ice water by the teaspoon until it does. Transfer the dough to a floured work surface and shape it into a disk. Wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. At this point, you can keep the dough in the fridge for up to 2 days or freeze it for later use, if you like.
  3. When the dough has finished chilling, preheat your oven to 400F. Toss together the plums, sugar, salt, lemon, and flour. Flour a work surface and roll the dough into a circle that’s about 12-14 inches across and ¼ inch thick. Carefully transfer this circle to a parchment-lined baking sheet.
  4. Pile the plum mixture into the center of the galette, leaving about 1½ inches of dough free all around the sides of the circle (you’ll fold these over the filling). Don’t worry about making any pretty patterns with the fruit, unless you’d like to. A rustic look is the goal!
  5. Fold the edges of the galette over the filling. You can be as casual or as neat as you want to be here, so long as the fruit gets tucked into the dough. If you like, whisk together the non-dairy milk and syrup, then brush the folded sides of the galette with the mixture and sprinkle them liberally with demerara sugar.
  6. Bake the galette for 40-50 minutes, or until the crust is a deep, golden brown and it’s sturdy all the way around when you tap it (I recommend checking in on it at 35 minutes, just to see where you are). Allow the galette to set in a cool, dry place for at least a couple hours (3-4 is ideal) before slicing and serving. Top with vegan ice cream, whipped cream, or enjoy it the way it is!
*You can also use 1½ cups all-purpose flour, omitting the spelt, or you can substitute whole wheat or rye flour for the spelt.

**You can also use 8 tablespoons coconut oil and increase the salt to ½ teaspoon, but I think vegan butter gives better results.


The galette is lovely the way it is; a friend of mine pointed out that part of its charm is that you can pick a slice up as if it were pizza. (Pie feels like a bigger and messier commitment.) If you’d like to, you can serve the galette with vanilla ice cream, even piling a scoop or two into the center of the galette before you cut and share it.

Vegan Spelt Plum Galette | The Full Helping

The galette will call upon your intuition at many points along the way, but once you try it a couple times, I think you’ll find, as I did, that it really is easy–and fun, too. And it’s especially easy if you make and chill the crust in advance.

There’s plenty of summer fruit ahead of us, and while it’s all ripe and juicy I hope you’ll get a chance—if you’re so inclined—to make and share this tasty vegan dessert. Let me know if you have any questions!


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Weekend Reading, 8.13.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’ve been thinking a lot about change this week, how it creeps up unexpectedly and often without any help from us. For a while this past spring it was as if I was suspended in time, which at that moment didn’t feel like much of a good thing. The days were long and stifling, overpopulated by anxious thoughts.

It’s different now; I don’t feel as if I’m dragging myself through time. The quality of my day-to-day experience is richer and fuller. There’s more that I’m looking forward to and less I’m worried about. I feel more rooted in my relationships, more secure in my sense of self. I’ve been working on my ability to shift perspective, which I guess has something to do with these changes. But for the most part they seem to have come about on their own.

Sometimes I’m reminded that the changes that feel so evident to me aren’t necessarily visible to others. For example, people have started asking me if I’m dating again. They usually ask in a way that assumes I’ve been at it for a while already—”so, have you been dating?”—which makes me chuckle because the whole idea of dating still feels light years away.

I guess that’s a type of change that would be visible and easy to appraise, but I can’t say I’ve given it any serious thought yet. I’ve thought about experiencing companionship again, but only in the abstract, and even that notion took a very long time to crystallize.

In the weeks after my breakup with Steven I really did feel certain that I’d never be intimate with anyone again; I was fully aware of how untrue it was, the fact that it was just a stage, but that didn’t change the reality of the feeling.

I’ve moved toward recognition that partnership will happen again. But dating requires conscious action, a certain series of decisions and steps, and I suspect it’ll be quite a while before I have the courage and confidence to “go there.” It hasn’t been this case with past breakups, but this time around I know that readiness for physical intimacy will take a long time, too.

In the meantime, of course, I wish people wouldn’t ask. I understand that it’s a natural question, one that’s proffered in the spirit of reminding me that there’s lots to look forward to. It’s just that the question seems to reduce the whole process of healing to one single variable—meeting new people, moving on—when my experience of this breakup so far suggests that it has a lot still to teach me and I’d be foolish not to pay close attention.

For reasons I still don’t really understand, I stumbled into an isolated and desolate place in the last couple years. I don’t blame my relationship for it, but I know that it played a role, and I want to understand it better so that I can avoid falling into a similar pattern again. Untangling what happened might take a while; in the meantime, I’m learning how to reengage meaningfully with my life and the world around me.

I’m pouring myself into friendship and human connection again, feeling lit up by my work and the ideas and causes that matter to me. I’ve always had the great blessing of loving what I do, but a year or two ago I was feeling a kind of anhedonia that drained the pleasure from work along with everything else. It was painful and alarming and a challenge to my sense of self. I’m finding my way back, and the reawakening is sweet and purposeful.

In my birthday post this year, I wrote about feeling humbled in my heart. I was searching for the words capture the poignancy of recognizing my own hunger for love and my sense of indebtedness to other people. I’m acting on that by softening my approach to all human interactions: I’m trying to be more open and curious, more loving, more compassionate, less irritable and defensive and set in my ways. Each moment of exercising generosity and softness feels new, and with all of the richness comes a sensation of vulnerability, too. I’m treading surely, but carefully.

That’s the work, at least for now. I have to imagine that if I continue doing it, it will lead me to places I can’t anticipate, and intimacy will probably be one of them. For the time being, I’m marveling at growth that is underway, no matter how invisible it may be from the outside. I’ve spent a lot of time feeling stuck in the last few years; to experience any change, whether internal or external, is a gift I don’t take for granted.

This week, I was touched by Sara B. Franklin’s tribute to Judith Jones on Food52‘s site. It reveals a side of the famous editor that I, for one, hadn’t seen. I hope you enjoy reading it, along with the other links.


Produce is so fresh and lovely at this time of year that it doesn’t need much fussing. This simple, colorful tomato and avocado bruschetta from the ladies at The Modern Proper looks like a perfect way to celebrate August.

I’ve been giving a lot of thought to investing in an Instant Pot this year, and Susan’s awesome, nutritious mega vegan chili is at least one good reason to go for it!

I love wheatberries, and Shelley’s Waldorf wheatberry salad looks so much heartier and more textured than a lot of vegan Waldorf salad recipes I’ve seen. I’d love to try this in the fall, when grapes are in season.

I’m drooling over Aimee’s beautiful vegan caprese panini! Wish I had this to eat for lunch right about now 🙂

The next time I’ve got a friend with a birthday, I’ll be making Abby’s awesome vegan mint chocolate chip layer cake.


1. Writer Sara Franklin reflects on the time she spent with Judith Jones, legendary editor of Julia Child, Edna Lewis, and Marcella Hazan, among other culinary greats (as well as a roster of novelists). One detail I love is that Jones, recalling her choice to fight for publication of Anne Frank’s diary, said, “I think part of growing up is that wonderful sense of freeing yourself and finding your own world.”

I’m not sure when that process ends, or if it ever does, but in many ways I feel as though my thirties so far have been all about trying to find a world of my own. The essay is sensitive, loving, and infused with a sense of female camaraderie.

2. I don’t even want to admit how far off I am from changing my kitchen sponge weekly.

3. I think it’s always good news when we can sort through enough evidence to glean preventive measures for a complex and multifaceted health disorder. Dementia is one of these, and Vox has done a nice job of rounding up the 9 behaviors that can help to reduce one’s risk by about 35%.

4. Naomi Tomky shares some lighthearted, yet thoughtful reflections on how being pregnant changed the way she thinks about food in unexpected ways.

5. Researcher Tiffany Watt Smith has written a new book exploring the idea of “emotional granularity” and language. In short, she’s examining words that exist across languages to describe incredible precise and seemingly subjective emotions. This article rounds up ten from her book, which I’m now eager to check out.

As the article predicts, no sooner did I learn about the words and their associated feelings than I found myself recognizing how often I’ve felt these very things, even if I didn’t have a name for them until now.

Enjoy the reads and the recipes. I’ll be back this week with the galette recipe I’ve been making all summer, starting with strawberries in June and culminating in stone fruits now. It’s become a favorite dessert, and I’m really excited to share it.


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Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts

Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts | The Full Helping

I tend to forget that eggplants don’t really arrive in season until late summer, at least where I live. When they first show up at the farmers market, in all of their shiny, deep purple glory, I celebrate. Two weeks ago there were none, and now, suddenly, they’re everywhere. I may have been a bit overly zealous last weekend when I picked up eight—yes, eight—of them. These bulgur stuffed eggplants with tamarind, currants & pine nuts have been a delicious way to use up my haul.

The first time I tried tamarind, it was mostly out of curiosity. I’d been inspired by a couple of Isa Chandra Moskowitz’s recipes—her tamarind lentils in Veganomicon and her tamarind BBQ tempeh and tamarind quinoa in Appetite for Reduction—as well as many of the vegan pad Thai recipes I’d come across. I loved the intensely sweet/tart flavor right away, and since then my savory spiced tamarind lentils have been a regular addition to bowls.

One of my pitfalls as a cook is that I tend to associate certain ingredients or seasonings with specific dishes—I guess we all do—and then I fall into a rut of using them only that way. I know that tamarind is a lot more versatile than I allow it to be in my kitchen, and I only have to look around the world for inspiration. Tamarind is used in dishes across the Middle East, in Indian cuisine (including chutney), and in a number of traditional Mexican recipes. Inspired to branch out, I grabbed some tamarind paste in my most recent Nuts.com pantry refill.

Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts | The Full Helping

Nuts.com is an incredible one-stop resource for legumes, grains, pastas, spices, nuts, seeds, dried fruit, and more. I’ve been a fan for a long time, and I’m always so impressed with the website’s ample selection, friendly customer service, speedy shipping, and freshness. I use the site for staples, like beans and grains, but I also appreciate its emphasis on global seasonings and ingredients, tamarind included. In addition to the paste, the site also carries tamarindo, or tamarind pods, for those who prefer to work directly with the tangy brown pulp in its natural state.

Tamarind paste pairs really well with cumin, coriander, and other signature Middle Eastern spices, and that’s what guided me as I pulled this eggplant dish together. I added currants, which complement the paste’s sweetness, along with pine nuts for a bit of crunch. Bulgur wheat is a great choice of grain here: the texture is perfect for a stuffing, and it cooks quickly, so you can boil it while the eggplant starts to bake. If you’re gluten or wheat free, you can use quinoa or millet in its place.

In the past, I’ve made stuffed eggplants by trying to cut out the flesh while the eggplants are raw, then par-baking the shells. It usually turns into a mess, because the flesh is tough to scoop out without damaging the eggplant skins. When I came across Alexandra‘s recipe for twice baked eggplant parmesan in Bread Toast Crumbs, I was inspired to try baking the eggplant first, then scooping out the cooked flesh, adding it to my filling, and returning it to the skins before another bake. It added a little cooking time, but it made the whole process easier. I also scored the eggplants before cooking, which helped me to set the flesh free when the time came.

Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts | The Full Helping

The eggplant flesh gets cooked up with onion, tomato, spices, currants, and pine nuts, as well as the tamarind and bulgur. I might use the same mixture in the future as a grain pilaf, adding chopped eggplant to it rather than going through the process of stuffing the vegetable. But it’s hard not to love the pretty presentation of the stuffed eggplants, especially after they’ve been smothered in chopped parsley and tahini, and they’re a great option for entertaining.

Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts | The Full Helping

The tahini dressing really isn’t optional here—or at least, I don’t recommend making the recipe without it, or another sauce. It adds moisture and a very welcome dose of extra lemon and garlic to the finished eggplants. You can use pretty much any garlicky/tahini blend that you love, or try my tahini drizzle, tahini green goddess dressing, or tahini mint dressing. You can definitely add a judicious drizzle of extra tamarind paste (it’s intense, so not too much), or a handful of extra toasted pine nuts, too.

Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 1 hour 10 mins
Serves: 3-4 servings
  • ½ cup bulgur wheat*
  • 3 small eggplants (about 8-9 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil, plus extra for brushing
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 tomato, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons tamarind paste**
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • ¼ cup currants
  • 3 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
  • Splash of red wine vinegar
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 cup chopped parsley leaves
  • 1 batch tahini dressing (such as my tahini drizzle, tahini green goddess dressing, or tahini mint dressing)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350F. Halve lengthwise, then lightly score your eggplants. Sprinkle them with plenty of coarse salt and allow them to sit for about 10 minutes. Pat them off, then transfer them to the oven. Bake for 40 minutes, or until they’re tender all the way through and the skin is just starting to wrinkle. Remove them from the oven and increase oven heat to 375F.
  2. While the eggplants bake, bring 1½ cups of water to a boil, then stir in the bulgur. Lower the heat, cover, and simmer for 10 minutes, until the bulgur is tender. Drain off any excess water, then fluff the bulgur with a fork. Cover and let sit for 10 minutes before using.
  3. Very gently scoop the eggplant flesh from the eggplants, being sure to leave about ¼-inch of flesh in the skins (you can use a spoon to do this and use a paring knife if you need a little backup). Roughly chop the eggplant flesh.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet. Add the onion. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is clear and soft. Add the tomato and garlic. Cook, stirring frequently, for another 2 minutes. Add the tamarind paste, cumin, coriander, and ½ teaspoon salt, then fold in the bulgur, currants, and pine nuts. Add a splash of the red wine vinegar and crushed red pepper flakes to taste, then taste and adjust the salt, pepper, and vinegar as needed.
  5. Stuff the eggplants with the bulgur mixture (about a heaping ½ cup per eggplant half). Return the eggplants to the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, or until the tops are just getting dry and the skins are completely soft. Transfer the eggplants to a serving platter and top with the parsley and lots of tahini dressing. Serve, with any leftover stuffing alongside.
*Substitute quinoa or millet for the bulgur.
**If you don’t have tamarind paste, pomegranate molasses is a good substitute. You can also use extra vinegar and a touch of liquid sweetener, like maple syrup, to help replace the sweet/tart flavor of the paste.

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


Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts | The Full Helping

This meal was a perfect way to welcome eggplants around this summer. My kitchen smelled incredible by the time the eggplants finished baking, and I loved all of the texture of the dish. The leftovers are keeping really nicely so far, and I have just enough extra stuffing to use up in simple lunch bowls.

It’s so worth investing in an ingredient or seasoning that’s still sort of new, finding new ways to make it shine. I’m excited to keep working through my tamarind paste and have big plans for some homemade chutney this coming weekend. For now, happy stuffing 🙂


This post is sponsored by Nuts.com. All opinions are my own, and I love this family-owned and operated business! Thanks for your support.

The post Bulgur Stuffed Eggplants with Tamarind, Currants & Pine Nuts appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 8.6.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’m just back from a short trip to D.C., where I was visiting family. I had just enough time to walk through my old neighborhood haunts, catch up with a couple friends, and simply enjoy being back in the District.

I expected the memories of my D.C. years to feel weighty. My time in Washington was eventful: it started with a breakup, was enriched by a lot of unexpected friendship and camaraderie, closed the door on my ambitions of being a doctor, and ended with my meeting Steven. I moved to D.C. with one purpose in mind—to get into medical school—and by the time I left I’d come to understand my years in the city as having very little to do with doctoring at all.

There were some little waves of emotion, to be sure, but for the most part the nostalgia I felt was warm and glad. I was reminded of how much I love the city, how many good times I had there, how many friendships I made. I spent a lot of time wandering, not exactly aimlessly but without an agenda, either, and at times the sights were so familiar that it was as if no time had passed at all.

Just as I couldn’t have predicted how my time in D.C. would turn out before I moved south, I would never have imagined, when I left the city with Steven, that our relationship would end the way it did, or that transitioning back to life in New York would be as complicated as it has been. But that’s life. It’s humbling to look back at one’s expectations and marvel at their distance from how things actually turn out. And I guess there’s plenty to learn from the miscalculations 🙂

New York City is undeniably my home, but it’s nice to be reminded that I have another home in the world, too—a city that totally defied my expectations and took me by surprise with its welcoming arms. After a year of lots of alienated sensations, it’s also comforting to be reminded that belonging can find us anywhere, even when we least expect it. Lately I’m starting to feel as though I’m coming home to myself in small ways, and somehow this little trip felt connected to that process, though I’m having a hard time articulating why.

Hope you’ve all enjoyed a happy, restful weekend, and that you’re ready to feast your eyes on some very tasty vegan recipes.


I don’t think I can ever get enough of quinoa salads, let alone those that are Mediterranean-inspired and bursting with color. I love this simple recipe from Lauren Caris.

Speaking of quinoa, the idea of a tofu quinoa taco meat is new to me, but I think it’s pretty genius. Here, Alexa combines her tofu quinoa taco meat with a simple tahini kale slaw, and the result is a recipe I’m dying to try.

…and if you happen to need something to top your tacos with, how about Lisa’s grilled corn salsa? Simple, juicy, and delicious, and you don’t need an outdoor or indoor grill to make it happen! Lisa uses the burner to get a nice char on her corn (it’s a technique similar to some recipes for charring eggplant), then tosses it with red onion, cilantro, and cherry tomatoes.

I’ve never loved silken tofu—usually I save it for dressings and use the meatier stuff in my cooking—but Elyse’s silken tofu bowl with spicy mushroom sauce has me excited to try it in a new way.

Aimee’s vegan peanut butter chunk pretzel cookies are finding me exactly at a time when I’ve been enjoying crumbled pretzels in homemade trail mix and thinking about the possibilities for baking. Can’t wait to make these.


1. A really cool article about how rogue planets—also labeled poetically as “solar exiles”—are roaming the Milky Way. The animation alone is sort of mesmerizing, and worth checking out.

2. A new smartwatch, which emits a high-frequency ultrasound wave that bounces off nearby objects, has been designed to help blind people navigate. The band is sensitive to the strength of proximity, and its vibrations are stronger or weaker depending on how close a body or an object is. Pretty cool.

3. Also on the topic of tech breakthroughs in medicine, a Florida resident named Johnny is getting the most advanced robotic arm in the world. This article shares all of the details, including some very cool images and video footage of the prosthesis in action.

4. Emily Gould interviews Laura Shapiro, whose new book, What She Ate, tells the “food stories” of six women: poetry muse Dorothy Wordsworth, pioneering restaurateur Rosa Lewis, First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, consort Eva Braun, novelist Barbara Pym, and Cosmopolitan magazine editor Helen Gurley Brown. Shapiro “chose these particular wildly different women because they were all, in contemporary parlance, ‘influencers’ — of art, culture, politics, and women’s roles in society. The only thing they all have in common besides that is that they all ate food.”

I tend to feel that what we eat tells a powerful story about our inner lives—not to mention our culture, habits, and so on—and I love the idea of biography through food.

5. If you’ve thought about starting a journal for any reason—be it highly purposive or an exercise in self-expression—this article has some good tips.

It suggests picking a focus as a way of getting started, which I think is helpful, but it also notes that journaling can be an opportunity to let the mind wander, for seemingly disconnected ideas to dance on the page. This state of “flow” is often the most valuable part of the whole enterprise. I don’t journal consistently, but I do it cyclically, in phases, and creating a space for my untidy thoughts is part of what I like.

Happy Sunday to you, and I’m excited to arrive back here in a couple days with a tasty, Middle Eastern inspired recipe!


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Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup | The Full Helping

Soup has been the last thing on my mind this month, what with the heat and humidity. But we had a little burst of dry, breezy, and almost autumnal weather on Sunday, so I seized an opportunity to turn on the oven and let something simmer on the stovetop. Two loaves of my friend Alexandra’s peasant bread and a pot of this simple, sweet potato & roasted red pepper soup were the happy result.

This isn’t my first time making the soup: it’s one of those recipes I make often but have never thought to blog about, in part because it’s sort of a moving target. I tend to season the soup differently almost every time I cook it: sometimes I use curry paste, extra garlic, and lime for a Thai-inspired version; sometimes it’s curry powder and vegan yogurt; sometimes it’s five-spice powder and ginger; sometimes, as with this batch, it’s smoked paprika and chili.

Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup | The Full Helping

I guess the soup’s adaptability is really its superpower. It’s a simple base: just onion, garlic, sweet potato, and broth, which all goes into the blender (or gets pureed with an immersion blender). The special ingredient is roasted red bell peppers, which compliment the sweetness of the potato and add a touch of smoky flavor, too. I like roasting the peppers from scratch, because I think the smokiness is more prominent when I do. But I’ve definitely made the soup with jarred, roasted bell peppers in a pinch, and it works very nicely, too.

So, as I’ve been polishing off bowls of the soup all week for lunch—piled with rustic croutons and usually served with a tasty, simple side salad or pita or wrap—I’ve been thinking it’s time to finally share this much loved recipe, along with the flavor variations I like. Hope you’ll try it out and come up with your own different spice/seasoning blends to liven it up with.

Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup | The Full Helping

Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup

Recipe type: soup, side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free, no oil option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 45 mins
Cook time: 20 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 4 large or 6 small red bell peppers (substitute 1½ cups jarred, roasted red bell peppers, chopped roughly before measuring)
  • 1 tablespoon neutral cooking oil (such as refined avocado or grapeseed) or a few tablespoons water
  • 1 large or 2 small white or yellow onions, roughly chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 sweet potatoes, peeled and roughly chopped (1½ lbs after preparation)
  • 5 cups low sodium vegetable broth (or 4 cups broth + 1 cup water)
  • ¾ teaspoon fine salt
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • See note for optional flavor variations!
  1. Preheat the oven to 450F. Arrange the peppers on 1 or 2 parchment or foil-lined baking sheets. Roast for 40 minutes, or until the skins are wrinkled and charred. Remove the peppers from the oven and allow them to cool and collapse (about 20-30 minutes). Remove the stems, skins, and seeds from the peppers; chop the peppers roughly and set them aside until you’re ready to use. They can be transferred to an airtight container and stored in the fridge for up to a week.
  2. Heat the oil or water in a large pot over medium high heat. Add the onion. Cook, stirring frequently, for 5-7 minutes, or until the onion is soft and clear. Add the garlic and cook for another minute or so. Add the potato, broth, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes, or until the potatoes are soft.
  3. Add the roasted peppers to the pot. Use an immersion blender to blend the soup till it’s smooth and creamy, or transfer it to a blender in batches and blend till smooth. Transfer the soup back to the pot and heat gently. If the soup is thicker than you’d like, add some extra broth or water to achieve a desired consistency. Add the lemon juice and crushed red pepper to taste; taste and adjust the seasonings as desired. Serve. Leftover soup will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. It can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.
Flavor variations:

1. Thai-inspired: Add two extra cloves minced garlic; add 2 tablespoons red curry paste to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt).

2. Indian inspired: Add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds and 1 teaspoon cumin seeds to the hot oil before adding the onion. When the mustard seeds start popping, add the onion. Add a tablespoon of curry powder to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt). After the soup has finished cooking and blending, stir in 1 cup plain vegan yogurt of choice. Serve with fresh, chopped cilantro. You can also stir in some cooked basmati rice for extra heft.

3. Smoky: Add 1 teaspoon smoked paprika and 1 teaspoon chili powder to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt). Alternately, add 2 tablespoons chopped chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.

5. 5-Spice: Add 1 tablespoon minced ginger to the soup along with the garlic. Add 2 teaspoons Chinese five spice powder to the soup before simmering (along with the potatoes, broth, and salt).


For the croutons, I simply cut a couple slices of the peasant bread into cubes and transferred them to a parchment lined baking sheet. I sprayed the with olive oil spray and baked at 350F for 15-20 minutes, checking them a couple times to be sure they didn’t burn. Easy peasy. You could most any type of bread to make the croutons, or you could serve the soup with toast, tortilla chips, or even a scoop of cooked whole grains. Roasted chickpeas would be awesome, too!

Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup | The Full Helping

I polished off the last of the leftovers yesterday, when it happened to be especially muggy out. I had them cold, and while it was a totally different soup experience, I liked it.

Enjoy the soup, stay cool, and I’ll see you on Sunday with some fresh recipes and reads.


The post Simple Sweet Potato & Roasted Red Pepper Soup appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

I’ve always been a little intimidated of trifles: they seemed to require a lot of careful layering, along with a special serving vessel. Plus, I didn’t know the first thing about making either ladyfingers or custard. Then I read this article, and I realized that trifles, like so many other desserts, are actually far more flexible than I gave them credit for; the layering that I thought was supposed to be crisp and tidy, for example, is actually supposed to be gloriously drippy—messy, even.

These mason jar trifles with berry swirl ice cream and vegan lemon cake make things even easier: the single-serve sizing means that you don’t have to assemble more dessert than you need, and the custard layer is a cool, creamy ice cream whip that comes together in about a minute.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

The ice cream in question is the summer berry swirl ice cream from the folks at Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss. I first tasted this coconut milk ice cream at a Vida Vegan conference years ago, and I immediately thought to myself that anyone—vegan, dairy free, or curious omnivore—would fall in love with the ultra-creamy texture. I’ve shared it enthusiastically with friends ever since: without fail, they marvel at how good it is. Early this summer I gave the Vanilla Island flavor to my mom for a taste test, and she couldn’t believe it was vegan!

Coconut Bliss was founded in Oregon’s Willamette Valley in 2005 by Luna Marcus and Larry Kaplowitz. The two formulated their ice cream base using a hand-crank ice cream maker purchased from a thrift store, and they came up with an ice cream base that was magically rich and decadent. The company has been operating out of Eugene, Oregon, ever since, and it has expanded to offer fifteen pint flavors that include such deliciousness as Salted Caramel & Chocolate, Vanilla Island, and Chocolate Chip Cookie, as well as six ice cream bars.

This spring, Luna & Larry’s also started making ice cream sandwiches. I sampled them as soon as I could, and I thought that the hemp seed chocolate chip cookies were every bit as delicious as the ice cream itself.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

All of the Coconut Bliss flavors are organic, dairy-free, gluten free, and soy free, and so are their mix-ins, which is great news for those with food allergies. The chocolate chip cookie flavor is one of my favorites—it features delicious pockets of soft, vegan chocolate chip cookies churned into a vanilla base—and I love that I can share it with friends who are gluten free. The brand also uses fair trade certified cocoa, chocolate, and coffee.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

My goal for these trifles was to feature the summer berry swirl—a vanilla base with ribbons of organic wild blueberries and blackberries—in all of its sweet, simple goodness, and to give it a slightly “whipped” texture for the recipe.

It wasn’t difficult to do; the ice creams are already so creamy that it’s easy to stir them into swirls. I let the ice cream sit at room temperature until it was softened, then transferred it to a mixing bowl, added a tablespoon or so of non-dairy milk, and used a spatula to stir it until it was pillowy and easy to layer. You could easily do this in a food processor, but it’s not necessary.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

For the cake layer, I wanted to create something that was both gluten free and vegan, to match the ice cream, and simple enough to add flavor to the recipe while also letting the berries shine.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

Vegan, gluten free lemon cake to the rescue! Now that I’ve got this recipe in my back pocket, I think it’ll be a go-to when I’m baking for GF friends and clients. It’s moist, tart, and so easy to make. I use a homemade GF flour blend here because I tend to find that they’re most reliable. If you’d like to substitute all purpose flour, that’s fine, and you can also use a gluten-free, all-purpose blend: just use one that you’ve tried and trusted in your baking.

I was really happy with a combination of chickpea flour, superfine brown rice flour, and starch: it made a cake that was light and fluffy, but also sturdy enough to cut into cubes for the trifles.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake

Recipe type: dessert
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free, no oil
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 35 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 6 trifles
For the gluten free, vegan lemon cake:
  • 2 large or 3 small lemons
  • ¾ cup brown rice flour (superfine brown rice flour is ideal)
  • ½ cup chickpea flour
  • ½ cup potato starch
  • ½ cup tapioca starch
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil or neutral vegetable oil (such as safflower or grapeseed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup + 2 tablespoons cold water
For the mason jar trifles:
  • 1 pint Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss Summer Berry Swirl ice cream, held at room temperature till it’s easy to scoop
  • 1-2 tablespoons non-dairy milk
  • 2 cups berries
  • ½ recipe gluten free, vegan lemon cake, above, cubed (save the rest for tea, dessert, or snacking!)
  • 6 mason jars, large enough to hold about 7-8 fluid ounces
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Lightly oil and flour an 8 x 8 or 9 x 9 square baking pan. Zest and then juice the lemons; you should have about ⅓ cup juice and a couple tablespoons zest.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the brown rice flour, chickpea flour, potato starch, tapioca starch, xanthan gum, baking soda, baking powder, salt, and sugar. In another bowl, whisk together the oil, vanilla, cold water, and lemon juice. Add these wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until the batter is well incorporated and smooth (don’t be afraid to mix well; without gluten in the batter, over-mixing isn’t a big deal).
  3. Pour the batter into your baking dish and bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the top and edges of the cake are golden and the center is solid. Allow the cake to cool completely. Cut the cake in half, then cut half of it into cubes. The remaining half can be wrapped or transferred to an airtight container and stored at room temperature for up to 3 days, or frozen for up to 6 weeks.
  4. To make the trifles, transfer the ice cream to a mixing bowl. Add a tablespoon or two of non-dairy milk and use a spatula to stir the ice cream until it has a swirled, soft, almost “whipped” texture. Place a small handful berries at the bottom of each mason jar, then top with a layer of cubed lemon cake and a layer (about ¼ cup) ice cream. Repeat, then repeat with all remaining mason jars, finishing with a generous scoop of ice cream on top. Serve quickly!
In place of the flour blend here, you can use 1¾ cups all-purpose or whole wheat pastry flour, or you can use 1¾ cups of a trusted gluten-free, all-purpose flour blend.

The ice cream will most definitely melt as the trifles sit, but when it does, it’ll just soak into the lemon cake, which definitely isn’t a bad thing. The combination of cold, creamy ice cream and tender cake is delightful, and the berries add pockets of tart, sweet, and fresh flavor.

Be sure to work quickly when you’re layering the trifles, so that the ice cream stays cold and firm enough; if you need to take a break, transfer the ice cream to the freezer until you’re ready to start layering again. And if you’d like to make a bigger trifle size, that’s totally cool: I just like the presentation and ease of the single-serve option.

Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake | The Full Helping

“I couldn’t live without ice cream” is something I hear almost as often as “I could never live without cheese.” For so many people who are considering the switch to a plant-based diet, the idea of life without dairy is daunting. I’m grateful that we have so many dairy free options nowadays—options that deliver on the richness and creaminess of dairy in a way that’s suited to please everyone. And I love that Luna and Larry’s keeps adding new flavors and treats to their roster, so that that the vegan ice cream family can continue to grow.

I’m thinking about trying the trifles with plums or peaches in August, and I’m guessing that roasted apples would be delicious in the fall. Hope you give the recipe a whirl with any fruit you love, and feel free to use a favorite cake recipe or another tasty base (blondies? brownies?). The more fun you have experimenting, the better!


This post is sponsored by Luna & Larry’s Coconut Bliss. All opinions are my own, and I loved creating this recipe with the brand’s crowd-pleasing, dairy free ice cream. Thanks for your support!

The post Mason Jar Trifles with Berry Swirl Ice Cream & Vegan Lemon Cake appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 7.30.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I’m shaking off the last aches and sniffles of a summer cold this morning, but my grumpiness about the cold is being offset by my delight in a beautiful, dry, and clear morning here in NYC. It’s been damp and gray for the last few days—good weather for staying home and sipping tea, but a little dreary overall. It’s nice to see the sun.

I’ve been reading some articles on loneliness in the last day or two, both published in The New Scientist. This one starts off gently, exploring why more people may be experiencing loneliness in our highly individualistic society, especially as we move farther and farther away from traditional social structures of extended family and tribe.

This one is more strongly worded and takes on the potential health consequences of loneliness and isolation; these are real, including increased susceptibility to stress, impaired immunity, and even an increased risk of mortality. Persistent loneliness can also enhance depression and anxiety, creating a self-reinforcing loop in which people are more likely to grapple with negative thoughts, social anxiety, and reluctance to reach out.

I suspect that I experienced that loop, at least in some degree, within the last couple of years, though I didn’t realize it at the time. I was living with another person, which meant that I didn’t identify as being isolated or alone. It’s only in looking back that I realize how lonely and isolated I felt within my relationship, and how much I started to withdraw from the activities and company that give me pleasure as a result.

I have a complex relationship with the idea of loneliness, in part because I’ve always believed in the value of spending time alone. Whether because I’m an only child or some other formative factor, I’ve always felt comfortable being on my own. I often need solitude and quiet to process things; I may have wonderful experiences in shared company, but it’s usually when I’m by myself that I can reflect on and come to understand their meaning, often using writing/journaling as a tool.

So, I’ve never felt comfortable problematizing aloneness too much, and I think I’ve sought it out more than many of my friends. I appreciate what being alone has taught me. But I’m aware of my own tendency to dwell in extremes, and in protecting my independence I think I’ve sometimes guarded against my hunger for connection—a hunger that revealed itself to me fiercely after my breakup this spring.

Sometime in those months I read Olivia Laing’s Lonely City. The subtitle—”adventures in the art of being alone”—had me hoping that the book would an ode to solitude, one that would inspire me to embrace and enjoy my singledom. In fact, the book is an incredibly honest, often painful examination of loneliness, written when the author herself was grappling with an unexpected and mystifying breakup. Laing captures how loneliness, when it’s given opportunity to fester, can distort our vision of the world, enhancing sensations like paranoia, hypersensitivity, and shame. “What does it feel like to be lonely?” she asks:

It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged. It hurts, in the way that feelings do, and it also has physical consequences that take place invisibly, inside the closed compartments of the body.

“Shameful and alarming” is exactly how I felt about my loneliness at the time: embarrassed of how hungry I was, of how empty and thin my world suddenly felt, and frightened by how quickly it had all happened.

Lonely City isn’t one-sided, though. In fact, it’s a beautiful testament to how feelings of separateness and difference have inspired works of art from the likes of Edward Hopper, Andy Warhol, and David Wojnarowicz—works that have the power to bring us together and underscore our humanity. “Many marvelous things have emerged from the lonely city,” Laing writes, “things forged in loneliness, but also things that function to redeem it.” And she has little patience for an overly simplistic veneration of being coupled or in groups: she notes that it’s perfectly possible (and sometimes most painful of all) to be lonely with other people, and also to feel completely whole on one’s own.

Laing makes the point that one of the most powerful antidotes to loneliness is resisting the shame and stigma we attach to it:

So much of the pain of loneliness is to do with concealment, with feeling compelled to hide vulnerability, to tuck ugliness away, to cover up scars as if they are literally repulsive. But why hide? What’s so shameful about wanting, about desire, about having failed to achieve satisfaction, about experiencing unhappiness? Why this need to constantly inhabit peak states, or to be comfortably sealed inside a unit of two, turned inward from the world at large?
…I don’t believe the cure for loneliness is meeting someone, not necessarily. I think it’s about two things: learning how to befriend yourself and understanding that many of the things that seem to afflict us as individuals are in fact a result of larger forces of stigma and exclusion, which can and should be resisted.

This resonated, too. I like Laing’s point about “peak states,” the social pressure so many of us feel to be at the top of our game, full and satisfied and strong, all the time. Of course this creates unnecessary feelings of “wrongness” and shame when we happen to experience life’s inevitable cycles of isolation and sadness.

It also made me realize that part of my alarm in feeling lonely and adrift this spring was because I hadn’t given myself enough permission to acknowledge my capacity for loneliness in the first place. I see, too, that I fell into the trap of believing that romantic companionship alone could meet my need for connection. I stopped giving my writing and friendships the attention I’ve always given them, which meant that my experience of connection became diminished, always colored by what was going on at home and so much less rich than it could have been.

I’ll never be comfortable with a way of looking at aloneness that makes it seem alien or unnatural: this doesn’t align with my experience at all. What matters, I think, is acknowledging the hunger for connection while also resisting generalizations about how each of us should choose to meet it. I’m grateful that there’s an active dialog happening in the health care world about loneliness, and I hope that dialog can resist the “forces of stigma and exclusion” that Laing mentions, because we all experience connection differently.

I’ve linked to The New Scientist article this week, along with a bunch of other reads, including some unusual thoughts about how how best to express sympathy. And I’m excited about today’s recipe shares, which include a stellar vegan sloppy Joe recipe and maybe the prettiest vegan cinnamon buns I’ve ever seen. Enjoy.


Amanda notes that no cows were harmed in the making of her delicious vegan sloppy Joes, but some meat lovers may have been confused by their authenticity. I love the “battalion” of spices she uses in the recipe, and also her description of letting her dog run wild on a nearby abandoned golf course-turned doggy playground.

A quick, light, and refreshing idea for summer lunch: simple collard green wraps with a creamy avocado, chickpea, cucumber, and peach filling.

Speaking of wraps, sushi burritos seem to be all the rage these days! I’m so into Alanna’s version, which features pickled carrots and spicy sriracha tofu, in addition to other goodies.

I’ve been on a green goddess kick ever since I made these green goddess club sandwiches, so I was happy to find Heather’s scrumptious, veggie-laden, farmers market green goddess tacos.

Thanks to Lara, I’ve learned that the name for Swedish cardamom buns is kardemummabullar. And now I have a vegan recipe for them.


1. The New Scientist on the need for acknowledgement of loneliness as a public health concern.

2. Along similar lines, I really like Mellissa Withers’ argument for “trauma-informed” care and why it matters.

3. A fascinating look at the life of Anna Morandi, an 18th century anatomist who was ahead of her time.

4. Joanna Goddard shares some excerpted words and insights from Patrick O’Malley’s book, Getting Grief Right. O’Malley emphasizes that grief looks different for everyone and shares some advice on what to say and what not to say.

I’ve definitely said both “my thoughts are with you” and “let me know if there is anything I can do,” to friends and family in distress or mourning. O’Malley notes that these are said so often that they tend to lose their meaning, and he offers some expressions of sympathy that might be more sensitively attuned to the unique experience of the bereaved person. My favorites:

– Simply say, “I’m very sorry.”
– Bring a meal on the two-month anniversary of a death.
– Send an email to say you were thinking about the grieving person or the one they lost.
– Be curious about the grieving person’s relationship to the one they lost. Try one of the following:
“I don’t know how you and Suzy met. Can you tell me?”
“I know the two of you loved to travel. What was your favorite trip?”
“What do you miss most about him?”
“How are you doing today?”
“We’ve never really talked about the day it happened. I’d like to hear about it, if you’re able.”
“I am sorry I did not get to meet your dad. I would love for you to tell me something about him.” 

– Bring up your own memories.
– Offer to listen to a grieving person’s story. A bereaved person might be looking for a safe set of ears, a place for the story to land.

I love the idea of friends offering each other “a place for the story to land.”

5. Finally, The Washington Post has a lovely article about the benefits of gardening for kids. I like how the article frames gardening as “a doorway into a larger universe,” and it makes good points about how gardening and the stimulation of being outside can “replenish minds exhausted from practicing self-discipline.”

I’ve got a tasty, summery dessert treat coming to the blog tomorrow, which I’m excited to share. For now, happiest Sunday.


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Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce | The Full Helping

I’ve been all about simple pasta dishes this summer. I still do plenty of batch cooking—stews, soups, hefty grain dishes, etc.—but now that I’m cooking for one again, pasta is often the easiest choice. I think it lends itself to single portions a little more easily than most grains, and the speedy cooking time makes it easy to come up with meal ideas on the fly. This chickpea orzo with homemade roasted tomato sauce is my new favorite, a truly scrumptious meal that comes together with very little active work. And while I love the orzo here, you can make the dish with any pasta shape you like.

Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce | The Full Helping

Solo cooking aside, I did end up sharing this dish. I’m still helping my mom out with her knee replacement recovery process, and I’ve been trying to help keep her fridge stocked with tasty, nutritious meals that she can heat up easily.

The dish is a nod to the Mediterranean flavors that mom and I both love, and it also marries some of our favorite ingredients. Chickpeas are my number one legume, and orzo is mom’s favorite pasta, so it made sense to combine them. The choice ended up being more than a concession to our tastes, though: it’s actually a great pairing, because the chewy texture and plump shape of the chickpeas is a nice contrast to all of the uniformity of a small pasta shape.

Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce | The Full Helping

In the end, though, it’s the tomato sauce that makes this meal, and even if you don’t care for either chickpeas or orzo, you can make the sauce and use it with any pasta or grain you like. Thanks to a long roasting time at moderate heat, the tomatoes become ultra-concentrated in flavor and irresistibly sweet. I roast them with big, unpeeled garlic cloves, left whole, then squeeze the garlic into the sauce before blending: I think it gives the sauce more sweet and savory, roasted garlic flavor than grating the garlic and tossing it with the tomatoes before roasting. I also throw a sliced onion on the pan, though you can definitely leave the onion out if you like.

The cooking time here is a little variable: I recommend 2-3 hours, or until the tomatoes are browning or even blackening at the edges (I usually take mine out of the oven around the 2 hour and 15 minute mark, but sometimes I give them extra time if they’re especially juicy and caramelizing slowly). After you roast them, you just add them to a blender or food processor, along with the onion. You squeeze the tender roasted garlic out of cloves and into the mix, then get to blending. If you season the tomatoes well before roasting, you don’t need to add any additional salt or pepper. I usually keep mine simple, but you could certainly add herbs to the roasting pan if you like.

That’s it. The roasting takes time, but it’s totally inactive work, and you don’t have to simmer or stir anything. I make tomato sauce in lots of ways: in the pan, with burst cherry tomatoes, with canned tomatoes in the winter, and also with Marcella Hazan’s genius recipe, using vegan butter. But this is probably my favorite tomato sauce recipe. The sauce freezes easily, and I’m trying to make as many batches as I can while tomatoes are ripe and beautiful.

Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce | The Full Helping

Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 2 hours 30 mins
Total time: 2 hours 40 mins
Serves: 4 servings pasta and 2 heaping cups sauce
  • 3 pounds roma tomatoes, halved or quartered, depending on size
  • 6 large cloves garlic, unpeeled
  • 1 white or yellow onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • Crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 8 ounces orzo pasta (you can substitute another small pasta shape, or you can use a toothsome whole grain, such as farro or barley)
  • 2 cups cooked chickpeas (or 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • ½ cup chopped basil leaves
  • Vegan parmesan or hempesan (optional)
  1. Preheat your oven to 325F. Line two baking pans with parchment or foil. Place the tomatoes, cut side up, on the pans. Nestle the onion and garlic on the pans. Drizzle the tomatoes with the oil, then use your hands to lightly mix and coat them. Sprinkle the tomatoes generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Transfer the baking pans to the oven and roast for 2-3 hours, or until most of the tomato juices have evaporated and the tomatoes are browning at the edges. For a looser and saucier sauce, you can stop before the tomatoes are browning, while they’re still releasing their juices.
  2. When the tomatoes are ready, allow them to cool for about 10-15 minutes. Transfer the tomatoes and onion to a blender or food processor. Carefully (the cloves will still be hot), squeeze the roasted garlic flesh out of the cloves and into the blender. Blend the sauce until it has a texture you like; I like to leave my sauce a little chunkier, but you can also blend it to a smooth purée if you prefer. Taste and add salt and pepper as needed, or add a pinch of crushed red pepper flakes if desired.
  3. Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the orzo and cook according to package instructions. Drain, reserving a little (about ½ cup) of the pasta water. Add the cooked orzo and chickpeas to a large bowl, then add the pasta sauce. Fold the ingredients together, then add the basil and mix everything well. If you’d like it to be creamier or looser, add a bit of the pasta cooking water and mix again. Serve, with some vegan parmesan or hempesan if you like.
If you like, make a double batch of sauce and freeze some for future easy dinners! The sauce can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.

Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce | The Full Helping

As you can see, this is a pretty intuitive recipe. You might like to let the tomatoes roast for a little less time, which will give you a looser, less concentrated sauce. You might like to use a high-speed blender to purée the sauce until it’s really smooth, or you might prefer it on the chunkier side (which is how I like it). The seasoning is really up to you, too. This is the sort of sauce that I hope you’ll make your own over time, tweaking and adjusting it according to what works for you.

One thing I should mention is that I’ve not only been enjoying the sauce with pasta: I’ve also been using it with farro, barley, or short-grain brown rice, along with the chickpeas. It’s denser than the orzo, but it has an earthy quality and nutty flavor that’s great, too—not to mention a ton of nutrition.

No matter how you customize this meal, I hope you’ll love it as much as mom and I have been. And on that note, I’m wishing you an awesome start to the weekend. I’ll be swinging back for the weekly roundup.


The post Chickpea Orzo with Homemade Roasted Tomato Sauce appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

Lending a hand at my mom’s last week got me thinking about quick, easy lunches. Lunch bowls are my go-to at home, but they’re not an option unless you’ve batch cooked some toppings or components. Hummus sandwiches are a staple for me, but I was hoping to make something a little more memorable. My mom and I have different food tastes in many ways, but we share a love of Mediterranean flavors, and I had the thought to make her some sort of tasty, fully loaded pita pocket.

The thing was, we were both short on cooking energy: me because I was juggling being a helper with staying on top of work and school, mom because she was healing and resting. Fortunately, I had some tricks up my sleeve to help me create these fast, filling and flavorful Mediterranean pita pockets with kale burgers and roasted red pepper hummus.

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping
Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

Veggie burgers were a mainstay for me when I first went vegan. I was still figuring out the whole business of cooking, so I relied on a couple of ready-made staples to keep me fed. Prepared burgers—not just on buns, but also crumbled into salads or pastas—were lifesavers. Dr. Praegers was one of the first brands I found, and today, over ten years later, it’s still a favorite.

Vegetables get star billing in Dr. Praeger’s foods: lots of commercial veggie burgers and cakes include vegetables as an ingredient, but it’s not always the case that the vegetable flavor shines through. Dr. Praeger’s burgers, hashbrowns, and puffs all feature a standout veggie, like kale, mushrooms, carrots, or corn, which you can see and taste in the product.

 Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

I love the brand’s abundant vegan offerings, simple ingredient lists, and its emphasis on family-friendly flavors: this makes it easy for plant-based eaters to share their diets with loved ones. Dr. Praeger’s was founded by two cardiothoracic surgeons who were committed to the idea of providing consumers with convenient frozen foods that were also healthful and nutritious; years later, it’s still family-owned and operated.

I’ll be teaming up with Dr. Praeger’s in the coming months to showcase easy ideas for folding their plant-based products into everyday meals. Nothing makes me happier than home cooking, but I’m super appreciative of ready-made vegan fare, too, and I enjoy serving it in a way that feels personalized to my tastes.

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

Those tastes include a love of roasted garlic and fresh herbs, both of which are on display in the Dr. Praeger’s kale burgers. The burgers are packed with leafy greens (kale is the first ingredient, and they also feature broccoli and zucchini), sweet potato, brown rice, roasted garlic, and parsley. They’re a great option for committed vegetable lovers, but also a good, sneaky vehicle for those who are struggling to warm up to kale and other leafy greens.

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

The red pepper hummus gives the pita pockets some brightness, and it also helps to keep the burgers in place. It’s one of my favorite hummus recipes to make in the summer, when I’m roasting up red peppers furiously each week. I love its gentle sweetness, along with the savory flavors of cumin and garlic. You can roast your own peppers for the recipe, or you can save some time by purchasing them in the jar. You can also substitute your favorite hummus recipe or brand.

As for the herbed tofu feta (which I shared recently in my vegan barley Greek salad), it’s also optional. I really like the tartness it adds to the pitas, but you could skip it, replace it with a few spoonfuls of my tahini mint dressing or tahini green goddess dressing, or you could use another crumbly vegan cheese of your choosing. The more layers in these pitas, the better!

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers, Roasted Red Pepper Hummus, & Crumbled Tofu Feta

Recipe type: main dish, quick & easy
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 2 servings (can be doubled)
  • 2 large whole grain pita pockets, cut in half*
  • ½ cup roasted red pepper hummus (recipe below) or hummus of choice
  • 4 Dr. Praeger’s kale burgers
  • 1 cup thinly sliced cucumber rounds
  • 2 roasted red bell peppers (homemade or store-bought)
  • 2 cups loosely packed, baby arugula
  • 1 batch herbed tofu feta (optional)
  • Tahini mint dressing or tahini green goddess dressing (optional, for drizzling)
For the roasted red pepper hummus:
  • 1¾ cups cooked chickpeas (1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • ½ cup (about 4 ounces) tightly packed, roasted red bell pepper (homemade or store-bought)
  • 5 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 large clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
  • ¼ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ½ teaspoon salt (you may wish to reduce this to ¼ teaspoon if you use store-bought peppers, as they’re often salty on their own)
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • Juice of 1 large lemon (about 3 tablespoons, freshly squeezed)
  • 3-4 tablespoons water
  1. To make the roasted red pepper hummus, place the chickpeas, roasted pepper, tahini, garlic, cumin, smoked paprika, salt, pepper, and lemon juice into a food processor fitted with the S blade. Process the mixture for about a minute. Stop, scrape down the bowl, and continue to process while you drizzle in 3 tablespoons water. Continue processing until the hummus is smooth, adding more water if needed to get a smooth, creamy texture that’s a consistency you like (some people prefer thicker hummus, some people like it to be more loose).
  2. Cook the Dr. Praeger’s kale burgers as directed. Cut the burgers in half (into 2 half-moon shapes).
  3. Spread 2 tablespoons of hummus into the bottom of each pita half. Top with the burger halves, a few cucumber slices, half of a roasted red bell pepper, and a handful (loose half cup) arugula. Add a few tablespoons of crumbled, herbed tofu feta to each pita half if you like, along with a drizzle of tahini dressing if desired. Serve.
For a gluten free option, you can substitute a gluten free bread, wrap, or flatbread of choice.

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

I’ve always felt strongly that eating flavorful, satisfying, varied meals is possible even within a busy schedule. Meals like this, which pair a few homemade touches with a few smart, ready-made foods, a step in that direction, and I know that I’ll rely on them a lot in the coming year, as I wrap up my masters. For now, I’m happy to have a new favorite summer lunch, and to have shared it with my mom, who loved it, too.

Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus | The Full Helping

Enjoy the recipe, friends. I’ve got more summery fare coming later this week—a recipe I’ve been making often, with little tweaks each time. Excited to share.


This post is sponsored by Dr. Praeger’s Purely Sensible Foods. All opinions are my own, and I’m a huge fan of this brand’s easy vegan offerings. Thanks for your support!

The post Mediterranean Pita Pockets with Kale Burgers & Roasted Red Pepper Hummus appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 7.23.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I had every intention of sharing some food this week, but blogging (and a bunch of other things) got put on the back burner. My mom had a total knee replacement, so I’ve been pitching in at her place, keeping her fridge stocked and doing my best to be helpful in other, small ways. She’s healing well, giving PT all of her effort and attention, and I know she’ll be up and about in no time.

Being by her side brought up a lot of feelings: love and concern, pride in how she’s facing the recovery process, but also some loneliness. When I was in the waiting room during her surgery, all of the families and friends of hospital patients seemed to be there in big, cheerful teams. I was by myself with my laptop. I was aware of certain absences: the absence of siblings, of extended family, of partners. I felt a pang of missing my relationship, or a relationship, and felt closer to the breakup and its reverberations than I have in a while.

It was important to let myself feel those things, but also to remind myself that I don’t have to buy into a narrative of isolation. In the days following Mom’s surgery I did my best to reach out to my people, in ways big and small. I texted with my cousin; she’s one of those people who remembers every birthday, sends good tidings on every holiday, and always makes her love known in a crisis. I set up overdue phone dates with friends. I hung out in my yoga community. I said “goodbye for now” to a friend who’s about to travel for a while. And I watched with gratitude as my mom’s friends—some of whom she’s known for over sixty years now—checked in on her with love and tenderness.

It was all an important reminder of something I know already, which is that we don’t choose the families we’re born into, but we do choose the families that we build over the course of our lives. Sometimes our “teams” are bigger and more within reach than we allow ourselves to realize.

It was only after Steven’s and my breakup that I realized how isolated and alienated I’d become in the last year. It’s something I still don’t really understand, but I know that depression had a lot to do with it, as did my premonition and fear of loss.

I’m working to get back to myself. “Self” is a fluid term, and we’re always changing, but at the least I’m trying to flex again the muscles that help me to stay connected to and engaged with the world around me. My mom’s surgery was a good teacher; it prodded me to reach out, ask for help, and resist the part of me that gets stuck in lonely thought patterns. And it gave me an opportunity to take care of someone else, to feel useful in a way I haven’t in a long time.

Blogging is part of how I stay connected, and I’m grateful to those of you who check in on Sunday mornings for words and food. On the lineup today is a poignant article about the suitcase belongings of past inhabitants of an American asylum and what they reveal, an interesting article about eating disorders among endurance athletes, and of course, some awesome vegan food.



One of the cookbooks I’m most excited to explore this summer is Shelly Westerhausen’s Vegetarian Heartland. Shelly’s so talented, and the book looks to be rich and full of heart. In the meantime, I’m loving these vegan crostini with macadamia ricotta and succotash from Shelly’s blog.

A creamy lemon dill pasta from Miryam of Eat Good 4 Life. Summery and brimming with fresh veggies! The recipe looks like it can be easily veganized with cashew cream or non-dairy milk or unsweetened creamer (my apologies to those who got this post over email, as I originally thought the recipe was vegan as written).

What’s better than a super flavorful vegan pizza hummus? Pizza hummus with vegan pepperoni as a dipper. Genius—thanks, Cadry.

It was hot and swampy in New York this week, which got me thinking that it’s a great time of year for pickling and fermenting. I’m loving Jennifer’s raw cucumber kimchi.

Speaking of no-cook/no-bake things, check out Ashleigh’s scrumptious almost raw cherry almond butter caramel bars. I’d make these for the caramel layer alone, but it’s all calling my name.


1. A reader sent this article to me. It’s an interview with Jon Crispin, a photographer who has photo-documented the suitcases and belongings that patients at the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane left behind after they passed away between the years of 1910-1960.

Objects and belongings can carry so much meaning (it’s something I’ve marveled at every time I move, how much feeling “stuff” can evoke), and the images of peoples’ everyday items are really moving. It’s clear that Willard has spent a lot of time with the patients and their stories, and he speaks about them and their caretakers with respect and humanity.

2. This article was also shared by a reader. It’s about the links between disordered eating and endurance sports. I realize I’ve shared a lot on this topic lately, but I think the conversation is important; as the article makes clear, many coaches tend to normalize phenomena like amenorrhea, in spite of its risks, and there can be a tendency among athletes to dismiss obsessive eating habits as a means of getting an “edge” at the sport in question.

I appreciate that the article isn’t just about eating disorders, though: it also touches on life after recovery and different ways that people can get back into their bodies after so many years of attempted control. Recovery is described both as “seeking equilibrium” and finding “a kind of soft focus that allows her body’s natural intelligence to take over”—both formulations I like.

3. Meditations on sobriety from Laura McKowen, who’s now been sober for over 1,000 days. I appreciate a lot of her thoughts, especially her coming to terms with the inevitability of change:

…you will change — it’s the nature of things. You’re different than you were yesterday. Or even two minutes ago. You’ve got new cells and new processes happening in your body every moment. While you’re reading this sentence, another leaf just sprouted on the tree outside and a billion new creatures just burst forth inside the ocean. So you’re changing; everything is changing. You’re allowed to do that because you already do it.

I used to go around saying that I hated change, feared change, was resistant to change. Maybe I was, but these days, all I can say is thank goodness for change. Thank goodness things don’t stay the same. Thank goodness we all have permission—because it’s the nature of things—to keep moving, growing, and shifting around.

4. An interesting look at the conflicting scientific findings on how motherhood affects the body, specifically with regard to aging.

5. As someone who has anxiety, I’m not at all interested in glamorizing it or minimizing its costs. But I’m always interested in looking at things from different angles, and I was curious to read this article about some of the potential upsides of anxiety, or more accurately, different ways of framing anxiety (including perception of anxiety across cultures).

This week, I really do intend to return with some food. For now, I wish you a restful Sunday.


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