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Garcinia Cambogia, The New Super food Wave Hitting Singapore?

Green Garcinia cambogia

This new found fruit has seen a rise in consumption in Singapore. It is mostly ingested in a pill form and is said to have many different benefits, including weight loss.

What is it?

Garcinia cambogia is a tropical fruit native to South and South-east Asia that is very commonly used in Asian recipes. It is green, rather small (the size of an apple), and is pumpkin shaped. It is well known for its sour taste. In the late 1960s, an acid (hydroxycitric acid) has been discovered in the fruit’s rind, which has been found to provide many benefits, such as appetite reduction, improved cholesterol and triglyceride levels, increased weight loss, and mood enhancement.

How does hydroxycitric acid work?

Hydroxycitric acid (HCA) was discovered over four decades ago, and since then studies have shown that it provides many benefits for humans. HCA seems to inhibit citrate lyase, an enzyme that is used by the body to produce fat out of carbohydrates. HCA blocks a portion of this enzyme, making it more difficult for the body to turn starches and sugars into fat. This means that rather than be accumulated as fat, carbohydrates are diverted into energy production.

What are the benefits of garcinia cambogia?

As discussed above, one of the benefits of garcinia cambogia is less energy being stored as fat, which means that it should (and does) aid weight loss. One recent study by Dr. Harry Preuss of Georgetown University Medical Center showed that participants HCAHCA lost significantly more weight than those using placebo. In another study, also by Dr. Preuss, those not supplementing HCA lost an average of 3.5 pounds, whereas those that did supplement HCA, lost an average of 10.5 pounds.

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

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

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

Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

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

Serves: 4 servings

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

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


Fifteen Minute Tempeh Lunch Salad | The Full Helping

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

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


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Making an Informed Transition to Veganism

Making an Informed Transition to Veganism | The Full Helping

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

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

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

One Client’s Story

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

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

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

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

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

Why Vegan Nutrition Guidance Can Be Hard to Find

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Making Vegan Nutrition Resources More Accessible

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

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

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

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

My Favorite Vegan Nutrition Resources


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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Weekend Reading, 5.1.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

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

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


Screen Shot 2016-04-30 at 6.52.55 AM

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


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


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


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


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



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

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

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

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


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


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

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


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

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


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

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


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Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb

Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb | The Full Helping

We all have certain ingredients that we instinctively shy away from, whether for good or silly reasons. Rhubarb is one of those, for me. I think it’s because I’ve never known what to do with it aside from making a pie or a crumble (or my strawberry rhubarb crumble bars), and because balancing its naturally tart flavor with just the right amount of sweetness takes a little practice.

When I recently got my hands on some organic spring rhubarb (thanks to my friends at Frieda’s produce!), I decided not to incorporate it into a complicated baking project or dessert. Instead, I thought I’d try to do something easy with the stalks–stewing them quickly on the stovetop and then scooping them onto some hearty breakfast cereal. These vanilla chia overnight oats with easy stewed rhubarb are the result. In spite of the fact that they’re colorful, sweet, and feel like a treat, they’re simple to prepare and would be a really low-stress option for Mother’s Day or another special brunch occasion.

Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb | The Full Helping

It’s hard not to love the electric, pink/red color of the rhubarb stalks. And if you’re worried that making the stewed rhubarb will be time intensive, it’s really not. For me, it came together in no more than twenty minutes. What I didn’t use for the breakfasts, I used on toast later in the week, so even if the overnight oats in this recipe don’t appeal, the easy stewed rhubarb might!

Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb | The Full Helping

The overnight oat recipe I’m sharing here, by the way, has essentially become my go-to: in a single serving size, it’s half a cup of dry rolled oats, 2 teaspoons chia seeds, a scant cup (about 7/8 cup) almond milk, and a half teaspoon of vanilla extract. I’ve doubled it here, and if you like, you can quadruple the recipe to serve 4. There are plenty of fancy ways to prepare overnight oats, and of course you could add spices (like cinnamon or cardamom) or mix-ins (like dried fruit or seeds) to the recipe. But lately I’m appreciating this simple base, served alongside fresh or stewed fruit.

Another note about the overnight oats is that you don’t have to serve them cold. You can soak them overnight and warm them up them quickly in the morning if you’re craving a hot breakfast.

Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb | The Full Helping

Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: breakfast
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  8 hours
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  8 hours 20 mins

Serves: 2 servings

For the vanilla chia overnight oats:
  • 1¾ cup non-dairy milk of choice (almond, soy, rice, hemp, etc.)
  • 2 pitted medjool dates or 2 tablepsoons maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup rolled oats
  • 1½ tablespoons chia seeds
For the stewed rhubarb:
  • 3 cups chopped rhubarb
  • ⅓ cup water
  • ⅓ cup sugar (you can use organic cane sugar, brown sugar, coconut sugar, demerara sugar, or sucanat)

  1. To make the overnight oats, blend or whisk the non-dairy milk with the dates or syrup (use a blender if you’re using dates for sweetness) and the vanilla extract. Transfer the oats and chia seeds to a glasslock or other airtight storage container and pour the milk over them. Stir everything well. Cover and place in the fridge overnight. In the morning, add an extra splash of almond milk if the mixture is very thick.
  2. To prepare the stewed rhubarb, place the rhubarb, water, and sugar in a small saucepan. Brig it to a boil as you stir, to dissolve the sugar. Reduce the heat to a simmer and simmer, uncovered, for 15-20 minutes, or until it has thickened to resemble a loose/runny jam. Taste and add an extra pinch of sugar if it’s a little too tart for you.
  3. To serve, scoop the overnight oats into two bowls and top each with some spoonfuls of the stewed rhubarb. Leftover stewed rhubarb will keep for a week in an airtight container in the fridge, and it can be used on toast or stirred into traditional hot breakfast cereal.


This is such a perfect spring breakfast. I love the contrast of mellow, mildly sweet oats with the tart, bright flavor of the stewed rhubarb. When I made it, I doubled this recipe for four portions, and it made for a bunch of easy morning meals as the week went by. If you’d like to try the recipe with some berries or another fruit, simply add your chopped fruit to the saucepan and reduce the sugar a little.

Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb | The Full Helping

It’s another busy day here, but thinking about an easy, nourishing, sweet breakfast is getting me started on an upbeat note. I hope you’ll try this recipe, friends, and if you do, I hope you like it! As always, I’d love to hear how it turns out.

See you soon for weekend reading.


The post Vanilla Chia Overnight Oats with Easy Stewed Rhubarb appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas

Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas | The Full Helping

These easy vegan tortilla pizzas are proof of the old maxim that necessity is the mother of invention. I usually shop for groceries over the weekend, which means that by Friday, the fridge tends to be a little bare.

Last Friday, I found myself with the odds and ends of a few bunches of veggies (asparagus and broccolini included), some tortillas, a lunchtime appetite, and only a short window between nutrition clients. These pizzas were born. I whipped up a really tasty tomato base using white beans, sun-dried tomatoes, and tomato paste, and I added artichoke hearts for flavor and a seasonal touch (also to use up the jar I’d had in my pantry for a while). The result was a quick, flavorful homemade tortilla pizza that could be adapted in so many ways, for either a speedy lunch or a speedy dinner.

Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas | The Full Helping

Originally I was just going to slap some tomato paste on the tortilla as a base and call it a day, but when I saw a can of cannellini beans, I thought they presented me with a nice excuse to create a slightly more nutritious base–one with a little plant protein and the umami/saltiness of sun-dried tomatoes. I’m glad I did this. The base is great for these pizzas, but it would also be a tasty dip, spread, or appetizer. You can use either the oil-packed, sun-dried tomatoes, or you can quickly rehydrate some of the dried ones before you make the dip.

Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas | The Full Helping

Of course, the pizzas can and should be modified to use up whatever vegetable scraps or miscellaneous bunches of produce you have at home. Asparagus tips and pieces work really nicely, but I’d also love to try mushrooms, bell pepper strips or slices, zucchini rounds in the summer, or sliced eggplant. Cauliflower would be a nice addition, too. Here’s the super speedy, super simple recipe.

Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree, gluten free optional, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 4

5.0 from 2 reviews


For the pizzas:
  • 4 large (9 or 10 inch) brown rice or whole grain tortilla wraps
  • 3 heaping cups chopped vegetables (1 used 1 cup asparagus pieces, 1 cup halved artichoke hearts, and 1 cup chopped broccolini pieces)
For the White Bean and Sun-dried Tomato Spread:
  • 8 sun-dried tomato halves (you can dry or oil-packed; if using dry, follow instructions in step 1)
  • 1½ cups cooked cannellini, navy, or great northern beans (or 1 can white beans, drained and rinsed)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons water or olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon fresh rosemary (or ½ teaspoon dried rosemary)

  1. If using dry sun-dried tomato halves (the type that come in a bag, rather than the oil-packed ones in a jar), pour a cup of very hot water over the tomatoes. Allow them to soften for at least 30 minutes, drain them, and then chop them roughly. If using oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, you can skip the soaking and simply chop them up.
  2. Place the beans into a food processor fitted with the S blade. Add the tomato paste, garlic, salt, pepper, water or olive oil, and rosemary. Blend for about 30 seconds, or until mostly smooth. Add the sun-dried tomatoes. Pulse a few times to incorporate, then blend for about a minute, stopping if needed to scrape the bowl of the processor down. The mixture should have a few small tomato pieces in it, but it should be mostly smooth. Add an extra tablespoon of oil or water if desired to thin the spread.
  3. Preheat your oven to 400F.
  4. Spread each of 4 brown rice or whole wheat tortilla wraps with about ⅓ cup of the white bean spread. Top with vegetables of choice (I used broccolini pieces, asparagus pieces, and halved artichoke hearts). Place two tortillas on each of two baking sheets and transfer to the oven (if your oven is small, like mine, you may only be able to do one tortilla per sheet, and simply bake two at a time). Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until each tortilla is crispy. Cut each tortilla into four wedges and serve.

You can make all four pizzas at once and store one or two of them overnight.


Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas | The Full Helping

Serve the tortilla pizza wedges with a cup of soup, a green salad, or just pack them up for lunch on the go with some fruit. They’re neither the most authentic nor the fanciest homemade pizzas you’ll ever eat–simplicity and ease is what they’re all about–but they are adaptable, fun to prepare, and, most importantly, quite tasty.

Easy Vegan Tortilla Pizzas | The Full Helping

Maybe these will be a lunch or dinnertime hit in your own home soon. If you make them, I’d love to hear about what toppings you try!

It’s the start of another busy week, and I’m grateful to have this recipe as a lunchtime option, since I’ve still got some of the dip and tortillas in my fridge (which reminds me to mention that you can easily prepare the white bean spread for the pizzas and then assemble them individually, day by day, rather than baking them all at once).

I’ve also got a wonderful, springtime overnight oat recipe planned for Thursday, which I hope you’ll all stay tuned for. In the meantime, I’m gearing up for my finals next week, and doing my best to stay on top of easy meals for me and Steven as I go. I’m wishing you all a happy start to a new week. Till soon,


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Weekend Reading, 4.24.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, folks, and I hope that you all had a nice weekend. To those of you who have been celebrating Passover, a very happy Passover.

The month of April has been whizzing by, and I can’t help feeling that I’m just trying to keep up with things. I’ll be taking one summer class in May-early July, and then I’m hoping that I’ll have some time to focus on my business and on diving into recipe testing for the new cookbook in earnest!

For now, it’s one week and one assignment and one hurried meal at a time. But there’s always time to appreciate some weekend reading.


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This verdant, vegan spring soup couldn’t be prettier or easier to make. It’s hardly even a recipe, per se–just a simple formula for turning fresh peas, greens, fennel, and garlic into something truly special.

Cranberry Orange Bread (Vegan)

Traci’s gorgeous shaved asparagus arugula quinoa salad is another perfect way to celebrate spring, and the lemon dijon poppyseed dressing sounds like a winner to me! I can’t wait to try it.


More soup–this time a thick, creamy vegan carrot bisque that’s infused with garam masala. Bright, flavorful, and easy to prepare.


Erin’s spicy tofu enchiladas look over-the-top delicious, and as far as enchiladas go, they’re really easy to make. I’m positive that Steven and I will be enjoying these for a Sunday supper soon.


I love the flavor of caramel, and caramel flavored desserts always catch my eye. Sylvie’s coconut caramel pecan bars are a delicious, wholesome way to get your caramel fix on, and I think they look delicious.



To begin, I was really impressed with this Eating Well expose of the politics and forces that shaped this year’s Dietary Guidelines for Americans. I’m also glad that the article tackles so directly the failure of the guidelines to include sustainability.


It’s commonly known that ICU stays can result in long-lasting trauma for patients, the result of intubation, being tethered to machines, lack of mobility, medication, and the fear and distrust that often emerges about one’s caretakers. ICU delirium, as the combination of confusion, PTSD, and impaired cognitive ability is sometimes known, is distressingly common, especially since more and more individuals are experiencing ICU visits in old age, when such delirium is more likely.

A new opinion piece in Aeon addresses this phenomenon and stresses the importance of human connection–embodied in attentive, individualized care from nurses and physicians–in helping to lessen its effects.


Since news came out that trace amounts of arsenic have been found in rice and rice cereals, there’s been a lot of concern about the safety of rice in our food supply. Veteran science journalism Deborah Blum addresses the issue head-on in this new article, which features ten commonly asked questions.

I agree with Blum’s conclusion, which is that there’s no reason to panic; so far, the amounts detected are generally trace amounts that will cycle out of the body so long as one takes care to eat a variety of whole grains (and variety is always important–we don’t want to be overly reliant on a single grain source because different whole grains offer different minerals and vitamins). But I also agree with her note that more research and stronger FDA regulation are called for.


In this powerful essay, science journalist Alison Motluk describes her daughter’s experience with PANDAS, an autoimmune condition that can affect children who have been exposed to streptoccocal infections. PANDAS manifests primarily with psychiatric symptoms such as OCD, anxiety, tics, personality changes, restrictive eating, and paranoia, so it’s often incredibly difficult to recognize.

The article describes Motluk’s harrowing search for a diagnosis and her subsequent search for a course of action. I’d imagine that any parent whose child has been afflicted by an obscure or complex illness will find much to empathize with in this story.


Finally, a super uplifting and beautiful profile of Sloth Institute Costa Rica, a small nonprofit organization that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases orphaned sloths into the wild. I learned so much about this fascinating animal species while reading it, and the images are incredible.

OK, that’s it for today! Between now and mid-May, I’ll be taking a break from Menu Plan Monday posts so that I can focus on work and studies, but I expect to be back in a more regular posting (and planning!) schedule by summertime. On Tuesday, I’ll be sharing a quick, easy anytime lunch or dinner recipe. I wish you a lovely, restful Sunday.


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Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth

Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth | The Full Helping

When I hear the words “healing foods,” this recipe for mung bean & quinoa bowls with spicy ginger turmeric broth is pretty much exactly what springs to mind. It’s a simple, warming, nourishing meal that demands little effort, but offers up plant protein, the anti-inflammatory powers of turmeric, and a bevy of freshly steamed spring vegetables. It’s neither flashy nor fancy, but it’s food for body and soul.

I—and probably you, too—have been cooking with ancient grains for such a long time that I don’t even really think of them as being especially exotic. “Ancient grains” is the label usually given to grains that have remained unchanged for the last several hundred years (as opposed to modern wheat, for example, which is constantly being bred and changed). Ancient grains include quinoa, amaranth, millet, sorghum, and teff, as well as certain wheat varieties, such as spelt, emmer, kamut, and Einkorn.

I love most of the ancient grains, but quinoa is probably my favorite, thanks to its quick cooking time, it’s nutty flavor, and its light, fluffy texture. As popular as quinoa has become, it’s still a pretty foreign ingredient to a lot of people; clients often tell me that they’ve seen or heard of it, but they don’t know what to do with it. And I so I appreciate the work of brands that are trying to make quinoa more approachable and easy to prepare. truRoots ® is one of them.

Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth | The Full Helping
Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth | The Full Helping

truRoots produces organic whole grains and legumes, as well as pastas and pilafs made with ancient grain ingredients. All of the brands products are organic, GMO free, and gluten-free. The brand works to support sustainable farming practices and transparency at every step of the way. You can read more about its ingredients, sourcing, supply, and the farmers it works with here.

What makes truRoots products particularly cool is that many of them are sprouted. This works not only to decrease some of the naturally occurring antinutrients in the grains and legumes, but also to ensure that they cook up quickly! The sprouted mung beans and lentils cook in about 5 minutes—yup, five—and all you need to do is submerge them in boiling water (sort of like making couscous).

Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth | The Full Helping

The folks at truRoots are passionate about making ancient grains and healthful legumes feel accessible to any home cook, and I’m proud to be teaming up with them for today’s recipe and a few others in the coming year. I love working with their products—I’ve been enjoying the signature originals and the “accents” blends for years now—and I’m so excited to try the pastas, too!

This bowl meal is a perfect example of how quickly ancient grains and protein-rich legumes can come together for a wholesome meal. In essence, making the recipe is as easy as making the fragrant, golden turmeric broth. You can adjust the ginger in the broth to suit your taste, but I used quite a bit of it, and I loved the spicy results (you can increase or decrease the garlic, too, to suit your tastes).

I can’t wait to experiment with using the broth as a base for soups and pilafs, and I plan to make it my first line of comfort the next time I feel a cold coming on.

Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth | The Full Helping

Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree, bowls
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  20 mins
Total time:  30 mins

Serves: 4-6

5.0 from 1 reviews


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1½-2 tablespoons grated ginger (adjust to taste)
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 teaspoons ground turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 6 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 cup truRoots organic, sprouted quinoa (or regular quinoa)
  • 1 cup truRoots organic, sprouted mung beans (or regular mung beans)
  • 4-6 cups chopped vegetables of choice (broccoli, snap peas, carrots, cabbage, asparagus, bell pepper, shiitake mushrooms, etc.—whatever you have and love)
  • 1 heaping cup sprouts (optional)

  1. Heat the olive oil in a medium sized pot over medium low heat. Add the ginger and garlic. Cook, stirring constantly, for two minutes, or until the garlic and ginger are very fragrant. Add a few tablespoons of water and then stir in the turmeric and coriander. Whisk everything together in the pot as the spices heat up (almost as if you were making a roux). Then add the water, salt, pepper, quinoa, and mung beans. Bring the mixture to a boil, and reduce to a simmer. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes if using truRoots sprouted quinoa and mung beans, or 20 minutes if you’re using regular quinoa and mung beans. Uncover and simmer for 5 more minutes. The mixture should be thick, but there should be turmeric broth visible (in other words, you don’t want the grains and beans to absorb all of the liquid).
  2. While the broth cooks, bring a medium sized saucepan of water to boil, or set up a pot of boiling water with a steamer attachment. Blanch the vegetables for 1-2 minutes, or until crisp tender, or steam them until crisp tender.
  3. When the mung beans and quinoa are ready, divide them into bowls for serving. Add about a heaping cup of veggies to each bowl, and then add a small handful of sprouts, if desired. Serve.

Leftover mung bean and quinoa mixture will keep for up to four days in an airtight container in the fridge.


In some ways, this dish is reminiscent of kitchari, albeit with quinoa in place of rice and a shortcut cooking method. It has an earthiness that I love, which is complemented by the nutty flavor of quinoa. There’s something pleasantly grounding about it, even as a springtime recipe. I used asparagus and snap peas in the bowl, but I can imagine using all different sorts of seasonal greens and vegetables throughout the year.

And I have no doubt that this is the sort of recipe I’ll enjoy often—one of those templates that doesn’t get old.

Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth | The Full Helping

I hope you’ll take the time to get to know truRoots grains, legumes, and grain blends. And I hope you’ll be inspired to play around with the spicy broth. I’ll see you this weekend for weekend reading!


This post is sponsored by truRoots. All opinions expressed are my own, and I truly love this brand and its high quality, plant-based products. Thank you for supporting The Full Helping’s sponsors!

The post Mung Bean & Quinoa Bowls with Spicy Ginger Turmeric Broth appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce

Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce | The Full Helping

Back when I was doing the SNAP challenge earlier this semester, one of my readers expressed surprise that a jar of peanut butter hadn’t made it onto my list of allotted purchases for the week. I simply hadn’t thought about it–you do a lot of picking and choosing on the challenge–because I’d been too focused on incorporating other foods into the budget. When my reader mentioned that one of her favorite, inexpensive dinners was a rice and lentil stir fry with peanut butter sauce, though, I made a mental note. It sounded tasty, healthy and fast in addition to being budget-friendly.

Nearly a month and a half later, I’ve made my own version of a quick, easy brown rice lentil stir fry with peanut butter sauce. I can already tell that this dish is going to make it onto the shortlist of recipes–which at the moment includes savory oats, curried chickpeas, and various bowl meals–of super fast recipes that I rely on during busy times.

Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce | The Full Helping

In truth, the stir-fry is a humble one–just veggies, legumes, a grain, and a splash of tamari, vinegar, and ginger for flavor–but the salty, sweet peanut butter sauce is what makes it shine. You can stir the sauce into the dish as it warms in the skillet, or you can serve it alongside the stir fry and spoon it on top of the veggies and rice to your heart’s content.

Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce | The Full Helping

Now that I’ve made the sauce, there’s a good chance I’ll be serving it in and on just about everything, from chopped salads to simple grain bowls. If I had the time or inclination to make spring rolls right now–which I don’t, but let’s pretend–the sauce would be ideal for dipping. You can fold it into any stir fry dish or use it as a marinade for tofu or tempeh. And I’m also imagining that it would be a killer dipping sauce for baked sweet potato wedges. Yum!

But to start with, try using it as a flavor base for this easy vegan supper.

Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: entree, main
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  15 mins
Total time:  25 mins

Serves: 4 servings

For the sauce:
  • ¼ cup peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon toasted sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons hot water
For the stir fry:
  • 1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced or grated ginger
  • 3 green onions or scallions, white parts and tops, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup broccoli florets (or stems and florets, chopped)
  • 2 heaping cups shredded cabbage (green, purple, napa, savoy, or a mix)
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 tablespoon tamari or soy sauce
  • Splash of unseasoned rice vinegar
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (to make this recipe extra quick and easy, batch cook the rice over the weekend so that it’s ready to go, or you can even pick up cooked and frozen brown rice at some health food stores)
  • 1½ cups cooked black, brown, or green lentils (1 can lentils, drained and rinsed)

  1. Whisk together the sauce ingredients. If the sauce is too thick for your liking, add 1 extra tablespoon warm water.
  2. To prepare the stir fry, heat the sesame oil in a large skillet (or wok). Add the ginger and the white parts of the green onions/scallions. Cook, stirring constantly, for 2 minutes, or until the onions are softened. Add the garlic and cook, continuing to stir, for about 30 seconds. Add the broccoli, cabbage, and carrot. Cook the vegetables, stirring frequently, for 5-8 minutes, or until they’re softened but still a little crispy. Stir in the tamari and the splash of vinegar.
  3. Add the cooked rice and lentils to the skillet. Mix everything well and heat for a minute or two, or until the rice and lentils are warm. Give the mixture a quick taste and add a little vinegar or tamari as desired, keeping in mind that you’ll be adding more flavor to the dish with the peanut sauce.
  4. To serve, you can stir in the peanut sauce while the stir fry is still in the skillet, heating through, or you can divide the stir fry onto plates and have everyone top his or her stir-fry with a few spoonfuls of the sauce. Top the plates with some chopped green onion tops and enjoy.

Stir fry leftovers will keep for up to two days. Leftover peanut sauce can be stored separately and will keep for up to a week.


 Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce | The Full Helping

This is one of those dishes that’s more than the sum of its parts. Taken individually, all of the components are so simple, but somehow when they come together the result is really great. Even Steven, who has expressed a strong dislike of stir fry in the past, admitted that if it always tasted like this dish, he’d never mind eating it.

So, it’s worth a try. Especially if you find yourself struggling to get something on the table quickly these days. I hope you’ll find it as easy and satisfying as we did.

I had every intention of getting a menu plan Monday post up yesterday, but it just wasn’t in the cards. I’m hoping to settle back into a clearer plan next week, but for the rest of this week, I’m just winging it (and looking forward to celebrating Passover with friends and family this coming weekend). In the meantime, I have another super simple recipe planned for Thursday–another bowl!–and I hope to see you then 🙂


The post Quick & Easy Brown Rice Lentil Stir Fry with Peanut Butter Sauce appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 4.17.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, everyone! It was a sparse blogging week, and it feels nice to be checking in. I hope you’ve all had an enjoyable weekend so far.

I’m now only one exam away from the end of my Advanced Nutrition II class, nearing the end of fieldwork for my community nutrition class, and in the final two weeks of a hefty freelance project. Things are busy, but the end of this stretch is most definitely in sight. As I make my way through it, I’m staying inspired with recipes and thought-provoking articles.


First up, I couldn’t be more impressed by Emmylou’s homemade spelt babka! It’s gorgeous, and Emmylou offers not one, but two flavorful filling options. I don’t know that my baking skills are up to snuff, but I’m tempted to try it when finals are behind me.


Maya’s baked veggie balls aren’t falafel, and they aren’t veggie burgers. They’re simple, versatile veggie and bean balls that you can serve with pita, pasta, a grain bowl, or a salad. I love this recipe, and I look forward to making it soon.


This chickpea alfredo with watercress and chives is a gorgeous springtime meal: hearty and creamy enough to feel like a treat, but still infused with fresh herbs and pungent watercress. It’s from Lindsey‘s inspiring new cookbook, Chickpea Flour Does It All, which I’ll be reviewing before too long, and right now the recipe is featured (along with exquisite photos) on Two Red Bowls.


I’m just drooling over these bold, flavorful tempeh tacos from Real Food by Dad. An easy recipe, and this is exactly the sort of meal I love to eat for a weekend breakfast!


Finally: I love chocolate, and I love tahini, so I’m pretty smitten with Tess’s chewy chocolate tahini cookies. What a great evening treat or snack!


I’m so happy that the role of narrative and storytelling is getting more and more attention in the medical world. Self-expression can play a critical role in the healing process, and no matter, what, clear communication between patients and their physicians is an important part of effective care.

We don’t usually think about narrative in the context of emergency medicine; it’s spoken of more frequently in cases of complex or chronic illness. But Dhruv Khullar has very compelling things to say about why even a few moments of conversation–what he calls “some moment of grace and meaning we can help patients find in the time they have left”–can help to make the ER a more humane space.

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A great expose of how a recent study about genetics and vegetarian diets was manipulated and publicized misleadingly by a number of respectable media outlets. As I understand it, the study showed that some human beings living in primarily vegetarian cultures possess an allele that allows them to produce synthetic versions of omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. Such fatty acids may be lower in plant-based diets than in omnivorous ones, so this gene is a neat adaptive trick, evidence that human bodies can evolve to thrive nutritionally under different geographical and cultural circumstances.

The study authors suggested, however, that too many fatty acids in the body can be maladaptive and lead to inflammation, so people in vegetarian cultures who possess the allele may be best off avoiding excess meat or fatty foods in the diet (because in their case, the body is already predisposed to generate a sufficient amount of fatty acids without getting additional food sources).

Media spun this quite differently, making such claims as “long term vegetarian diet changes human DNA raising risk of cancer and heart disease,” “being a long term vegetarian changes your DNA and increases your risk of cancer” or even “being a vegetarian could kill you, science warns” (thanks, New York Post).

Kaleigh Rogers’ article points to the difficulties of credible science journalism. Most scientific studies are complex, and the findings are often significant only within a certain context. It’s the job of science writers to make the studies clear, but accessibility should never come at the expense of nuance. Oftentimes–as was the case with this study–the devil is in the details.

Rogers also interviews Nathaniel Comfort, a professor of astrobiology at the Library of Congress and NASA who blogs about hype and misconceptions in genetic research. He says,

‘Vegetarians make us feel guilty, right? They’re so virtuous and ascetic, and yet bacon is so good, you know?Interpreting this study like this is a way for someone to rationalize their not following a vegetarian diet.’”

I think this rationalization drives a lot of misconceptions and misleading information about veganism and vegetarianism in the media and popular science reporting, and it’s refreshing to see it called out.

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A moving, beautiful essay about mating among pigeons and what it might suggest about the capacity of winged birds to experience the feeling we call love. Romantic love as we understand it is often thought to be a uniquely human emotion, and some dimensions of it may be, but as the author notes, many species demonstrate behaviors that are indicative of deep attachment and commitment to each other:

Perhaps human love is unusually complex, invoking not just physiology but our unique cognitive sophistication. Still, many species display a cognitive complexity—awareness of self and others, long-term memory, a capacity for abstract concepts—comparable to primates. The gentle social courtship of “allopreening,” in which birds groom one another’s feathers, is especially sophisticated. Just as I can think fondly of my lover while she’s away, so might a pigeon think fondly of its absent mate.”

The article is wrapped around the author’s experience observing two pigeons in his Brooklyn neighborhood. One of the details I love most is that the research he conducted in response to the pigeon couple did not only change the way he thought about love in the animal kingdom; it also prompted him to think differently about pigeons as a species:

Ubiquitous and unappreciated, typically ignored or regarded as dirty, annoying pests, pigeons mean something else to me now. Perched on building ledges, chasing scraps of food, taking to the skies at sunset: Each one is a reminder that love is all around us.”

I love reading about any breakthrough in how we regard and understand our animal neighbors, and this is such a beautiful articulation of admiration between species.


A really cool article about the placebo effect and its impact on autoimmune disease, via Mosaic. Essentially, the article addresses an intersection between conditioning, autoimmune modulation, and the placebo effect. Certain studies demonstrate that, if a body is given effective treatment in the form of medication in concert with a placebo, future administration of the placebo with a lower dose of medication may still induce healing.

It’s a nascent area of research (thanks to a combination of understandable skepticism and some amount of bias in the medical profession), but it offers the hope of decreasing medication costs and side effects.

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Finally, a really smart Vox article on what is often overlooked or glossed over in flashy headlines about the promise of fasting diets.

When it comes to fasting, I’m admittedly a bit biased. My own experiences with fasting were all extensions of my eating disorder (whether I was in touch with my real motivations at the time or not), and because of my history I take a firm stance on the importance of regular, filling, sufficient meals.

I extend that stance to work with clients because I’ve yet to see any regular amount of meal-skipping or fasting that didn’t lead to binges, uncontrollable cravings, or overeating. In other words, I’d be a lot more openminded about the practice if I’d seen a track record of good results! Instead, I’ve seen it drive cycles of restriction and excess–a sentiment that is echoed by an ED specialist interviewed for the article:

The research evidence generally shows that patients with eating disorders do best when they eat regular meals and snacks…Intermittent restriction of intake is often one of the behaviors that people with eating disorders engage in as part of their eating disorder — and it often sets them up to binge and/or purge.”

There is a body of scientific literature that links fasting to a slowing of the aging process, and there’s at least one plausible mechanism (increased activation of sirtuins) behind the findings. But what I love about the Vox article is that it makes clear that what works in a laboratory, or in the scientific abstract, doesn’t always work for human beings living in the real world, who are subject to complex psychology surrounding food.

The article actually made me realize that one symptom of my orthorexia was a tendency to treat my body as if it were a scientific experiment, subjecting it to food regimes that were impractical and devoid of pleasure for the sake of longevity or health. The desire to be healthful was good, but it became so obsessive that it started to override my sense of reason–and my capacity to recognize that eating is an act of pleasure and socialization and self-care in addition to being a part of healthy living.

I’m not saying that everyone who flirts with intermittent fasting is subject to the same motives or potentially destructive tendencies that I was. I carry around a lot of food baggage, and for me, a certain kind of caution is necessary–caution that may not be necessary for folks who are simply curious about a potentially beneficial way of eating.

But I do think there’s a certain danger in behaving as if nutrition can be divorced from real life experience, and in stripping the pleasure and cultural connotations of regular mealtime away from food. The author of this article, Julia Belluz, makes the point that the science of intermittent fasting is much less conclusive than some articles would have us believe. But her main point–the point I think is really compelling–is that the act of eating is not only about nutrient acquisition and metabolic regulation. It’s complex, and for better or for worse, it is deeply woven into the fabric of our whole lives.

On that note, friends, I’m off. I wish you a wonderful Sunday.


The post Weekend Reading, 4.17.16 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls with Roasted Spring Vegetables

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

When I shared my tips on putting together a perfect vegan lunch bowl a few weeks ago, at least one reader asked if I might share some tips on assembling breakfast bowls, too. The answer is yes, and these colorful chickpea scramble breakfast bowls with roasted spring vegetables are a great place to start.

I’m a big believer in the power of a hearty, well-rounded breakfast. Macronutrient balance within meals is a big part of my food philosophy overall, but I think that breakfast is especially critical because it sets the tone of the day ahead. Imbalanced breakfasts–ones that fail to deliver enough energy-sustaining complex carbs or satiating fats and protein–can contribute to hunger or overeating as the day goes on. Breakfast has to be followed up by balanced meals and snacks, of course, but it’s a powerful opportunity to establish a nourishing pattern at the start of a day.

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

These bowls combine a protein rich combination of chickpea flour scramble–which is quick and easy to prepare, and a nice alternative to tofu scramble if you happen to have a soy allergy–and quinoa.

They also channel the freshness and beauty of spring by incorporating fresh greens, roasted spring vegetables, and a light, bright drizzle of my delightfully green tahini dressing. For this recipe, I used dill in place of both spinach and parsley in the dressing; I love the flavor, and I associate it strongly with this time of year. Spinach, parsley, cilantro, and basil all work perfectly in the dressing, so feel free to highlight an herb or green that you love.

To make the chickpea flour scramble, you basically just combine equal parts chickpea flour and water, nutritional yeast, a touch of turmeric, salt, and pepper. Let the batter rest for about 30 minutes before heating it a small saucepan with some olive oil. The process is similar to making socca or pudla, but as the batter firms up, you use a spatula to gently break up the chickpea flour mixture and scramble it around in the pan, letting it get nice and toasted as you go. The result is a scrambled, savory mixture that’s perfect for this bowl, for a breakfast wrap, or even for topping salads.

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping
Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

Before you make the scramble, you’ll roast up some of your favorite spring veggies–for me, this was asparagus and sweet roasted radishes–and whip up a pot of fluffy quinoa. Once everything is ready, you can pile the ingredients high in a serving bowl and get ready to add your dressing.

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

To make assembly easy, try preparing the dressing or the roasted veggies a day or so in advance. The recipe makes four portions, but you can also cut it in half or you can make it all and keep the components–the roasted veggies, the grain, the dressing, and the scramble itself–to use in other ways throughout the week. I served the scramble on toast the day after I tried this bowl, and it was a great (if slightly messy) decision.

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls with Roasted Spring Vegetables
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: breakfast, entree, main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  50 mins

Serves: 4 servings

For the chickpea flour scramble:
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric (more if you love the flavor)
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast
  • 2 teaspoons olive, grapeseed, safflower, or another vegetable oil
For the bowls:
  • 1 small bunch asparagus, ends trimmed and spears cut into 2 inch pieces
  • 1 bunch radishes, cleaned and tops trimmed, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon olive or vegetable oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup (dry) quinoa
  • 4 heaping cups arugula, mesclun, mache, or other mixed salad greens
  • 1 batch delightfully green tahini dressing (substitute your favorite spring herb for the spinach, if desired), or another dressing/vinaigrette of choice

  1. Begin by making the scramble batter. Whisk together all of the scramble ingredients until no clumps remain, then allow the batter to rest for at least thirty minutes. You can refrigerate it and let it rest overnight, whisking in about a quarter cup water before preparing, or you can allow it to rest on a countertop for up to two hours prior to making the recipe.
  2. Preheat the oven to 375F. Toss the asparagus and radishes with the olive or vegetable oil and arrange them on a parchment or foiled lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Roast for 25-30 minutes, stirring halfway through, or until vegetables are tender.
  3. While the vegetables roast, rinse the quinoa in a fine sieve under running water. Add it to a medium sized saucepan with 2 cups water. Bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Simmer, covered, for 15 minutes, or until the grain has absorbed all of the water. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, cover again, and allow it to steam until you’re ready to use it.
  4. Prepare the delightfully green tahini dressing.
  5. Finally, prepare the scramble. Heat the olive oil in a small saute pan or skillet over medium high heat. Add the batter. Allow it to cook for 2-3 minutes, or until the bottom is golden and a few bubbles have formed at the top. Use a spatula to gently break this giant pancake apart, then gently scramble the whole mixture so that the pieces start to cook on every side. It will take about 2 minutes. Once all of the pieces are golden and cooked through, remove the scramble from heat.
  6. To serve, toss the greens with a few tablespoons of the dressing. Divide them into four bowls, then top each serving with a quarter (each) of the quinoa, chickpea scramble, and roasted veggies. Drizzle with extra dressing and serve.

Leftover scramble will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 4 days. Leftover quinoa and leftover dressing will keep for up to 5 days. Leftover roasted vegetables will keep for up to 3 days.


It’s funny: right before making this recipe over the weekend, I’d been writing about how most of my meals between now and the end of my semester needed to be super quick and streamlined. This recipe isn’t exactly a huge undertaking, but it’s not a twenty minute meal, either: there are steps and moving parts.

In the end, what prompted me to put it together wasn’t only that I loved the idea of a new breakfast bowl. It was the fact that I’d had an emotionally draining weekend, and I was feeling as though I needed nourishment that wasn’t only nutritional. For me, the cooking process really is nourishing in and of itself, a restorative and life-affirming act. It has been since the very early days of my anorexia recovery.

And so, when it feels as though things are falling apart a little, cooking is my way, however small, of piecing them together. Or piecing something together–in this case, a couple of nutritious plant foods that add up to a lovely, seasonal morning meal.

Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls | The Full Helping

I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as I did. Happy Tuesday, and I wish you all a great start to the week.


The post Chickpea Scramble Breakfast Bowls with Roasted Spring Vegetables appeared first on The Full Helping.

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