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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

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping

I love recipes that are good multitaskers. These delicious individual strawberry chocolate crisps make for a perfect afternoon snack, a super wholesome dessert, or a sweet, fiber-packed, seasonal breakfast option. The recipe is designed to create 4 single servings, which means you can bake them, store them, and enjoy them whenever you need a healthful chocolate fix!

Ever since I made this breakfast crisp last summer, I’ve loved the idea of baked fruit dishes in the morning. These are the easiest crisps I’ve ever made, thanks to NuGo Fiber d’Lish© bars. Rather than creating a crumble topping, I baked the strawberries with just a touch of flour and sugar, till they were thick and bubbly. I allowed them to cool a little, then crumbled these fiber-packed bars on top. Not a traditional approach to crumble/crisp, but incredibly time-saving. And the results are super tasty.

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping
Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping

The end-of-semester push of finals, papers, assignments, and lab reports is ramping up quickly, so it’s a great moment for me to have healthful, ready-to-eat snacks at my fingertips.  NuGo Fiber d’Lish© bars are one of my favorite product discoveries of the year so far. They’re grain-based, soft-baked, and they pack an impressive 12 grams of fiber per bar, which means they’re gut-friendly, too.

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping

The fiber blend in the bars consists of whole grains (oats, wheat, and millet), psyllium, flax, and inulin. Inulin is a prebiotic, which can help to promote the growth of probiotics—the healthful microorganisms that populate the gut. The bars include both soluble and insoluble fiber, which means that they harness all of fiber’s potential health benefits: slowing of absorption of fats and sugars into the bloodstream, cholesterol lowering, satiety, and healthy digestion.

The bars are particularly rich in soluble fiber, the type of fiber that can be helpful for those with IBS and irregularity. Soluble fiber creates a viscous coating in the digestive tract, which helps to prevent transit that’s too rapid or too slow. (In other words, regular, consistent BMs.)

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping

I always recommend soluble-fiber rich foods—like oats, barley, beans, and flax—to clients who have irritable digestion. But a lot of my clients juggle incredibly busy schedules, travel, or long work hours, and it’s not always easy for them to prepare meals that are packed with, say, barley and sweet potato. Ready-to-eat snacks can’t replace whole foods, of course, but they can definitely help folks to eat well and meet fiber goals in a pinch.

In addition to being fiber-rich, NuGo Fiber d’Lish© bars are low in fat and sweetened with fruit juice. They come in ten tasty flavors—all vegan—including Cinnamon Raisin, Chocolate Brownie, Orange Cranberry, Peanut Chocolate Chip, Banana Walnut, Blueberry Cobbler, and Blondie Bar. I’ve had a chance to try them all, and the peanut chocolate chip, cinnamon raisin, and banana walnut bars are at the top of my list. But my favorite is (maybe unsurprisingly) the chocolate brownie. It’s rich and sweet, but it’s also full of the pleasantly nutty taste of whole grains.

Which makes it perfect for creating this healthful, fruity, seasonal treat.

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps

Recipe type: dessert, snack
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 55 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 4 servings
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F and lightly oil 4 ramekins or mini baking dishes (about 0.25 quarts each). Toss the strawberries, sugar, flour, and lemon juice together. Divide the berries between the ramekins. Bake the mini crisps for 35 minutes, or until the berries are thickened and bubbly.
  2. Allow the crisps to cool for about 15 minutes on a cooling rack. Crumble 1 NuGo Fiber d’Lish© bar over each crisp. Dig in!

Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps | The Full Helping

While the chocolate/strawberry combination is undeniably lovely, this recipe is super flexible. You can use any seasonal fruit—berries, peaches, cherries, or plums in the summer, pears or apples in fall—and you could use any of the Fiber d’Lish bar flavors as a topping. I’d love to try apples + cranberry orange! And of course you can also try the recipe with your favorite homemade snack bar, too.

I love that these bars are whole-grain based. It makes them richer in soluble fiber and gives them a more balanced macronutrient profile than a lot of the nut + dried fruit bars out there. And the chewy, soft-baked texture makes them especially appealing as a treat or part of a portable breakfast.

It’s a good day for me to be sharing an easy and wholesome snack option, because a bunch of bloggers are coming together today to help Sonja and Alex—the pair behind A Couple Cooks—celebrate the adoption of their son, Larson Ames. Sonja and Alex are two of the most sensitive, sweet, and generous individuals I’ve met through blogging, and I’m so happy for them as they embark on a new chapter. Here are some of the other healthy snack recipes being shared with Alex and Sonja by fellow bloggers!

Flourishing Foodie  |  Avocado and Asparagus Tartines with Basil Pesto
Snixy Kitchen  |  Roasted Lemon Mint Pesto Tartines, Two Ways
This Mess Is Ours  |  Coriander & Lime Scented Cashews
Making Thyme for Health  |  Hemp Ranch Hummus
Two Red Bowls  |  Buttered Eggs on Toast, with Radish & Parsley
Cookie and Kate  |  World’s Greatest Guacamole
Dolly and Oatmeal  |  Sunshine Mung Bean Spread w/ Gluten-Free Za’atar Bread
Edible Perspective  |  Tropical Oatmeal Snack Cookies
Eat This Poem  |  Red Pepper and Walnut Hummus
Brooklyn Supper  |  Roasted Cauliflower Tacos with Cilantro-Avocado Sauce
Gather & Dine  |  Muffin Tin Granola Cups with Lemon Greek Yogurt and Berries
The Fauxmartha  |  Laura’s Sunshine Crackers
FoodieCrush  |  Baked Beet Chips

Sonja and Alex: I know that new parents need nothing more than quick, nutritious, easy-to-make food. I hope this recipe will meet those needs and give you something sweet and just-a-little-indulgent to snack on as you navigate life as parents! Congratulations, and all my love goes to you and to Larson Ames.


This post is sponsored by NuGo Fiber d’Lish©. All opinions are my own, and I love these nutritious, convenient bars! Thanks for your support.

The post Individual Strawberry Chocolate Crisps appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Green Goddess Spring Socca

Green Goddess Spring Socca | The Full Helping

Socca is a lovely meal for anytime of year, but for whatever reason I’m always most compelled to make it in the springtime. It’s something about the weather getting warmer: I’m ready to break out of grain bowls and soups for lunch, more eager for flatbreads and toasts and salads. This simple green goddess spring socca is layered with avocado slices and fresh greens, then smothered with the vibrant, tahini green goddess dressing I shared a couple weeks ago (I’ve been putting it on everything lately). It’s so easy to make, and it’s perfect for slicing thin and sharing.

Green Goddess Spring Socca | The Full Helping

Sharing is just what I’ll be doing this coming Wednesday. I’m teaming up with the lovely team at Little Choc Apothecary, an all-vegan crêperie in Brooklyn, to host a 5-course vegan dinner in honor of springtime, Earth Day, and vegan community here in New York. This socca is on the menu, along with my minted pea soup, the arugula French lentil salad from Food52 Vegan, and a really delicious vegan dessert crepe with hazelnut praline, dark chocolate, and vanilla cashew cream.

Little Choc is a woman owned business, and its owner, Julia Kravets, is absolutely tireless. She’s at Little Choc every day, often whipping up crepes while also greeting customers and keeping up with social media. Julia spent ten years in the fashion and modeling industries, until going vegan changed her life and inspired her to go back to cooking school. Now she’s proving that creative, sweet and savory buckwheat crepes can be created without animal products. If you’re in the area and would like to check the dinner out, you can learn more here. I’d love to meet you!

In the meantime, I’m excited to be sharing one of the highlights of the meal with you. This socca is so simple that at first I wasn’t sure whether it belonged on the menu of a formal, sit-down meal. But if there’s anything I keep learning and re-learning about cooking, it’s that simple food—good bread, a really fresh salad, a perfectly seasoned bowl of soup—is what most of us crave. Embellishment isn’t necessary, especially when ingredients are fresh and appealing.

This socca is all about contrast: crisp greens, creamy avocado, cool toppings over a warm chickpea pancake. You can serve it with a soup or a nice salad for an easy lunch, or slice it up and serve it as an appetizer or finger food with friends.

Green Goddess Spring Socca | The Full Helping
Green Goddess Spring Socca

Recipe type: side dish, main
Cuisine: gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 30 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 45 mins
Serves: 3-4 generous or 6-8 appetizer-sized slices
  • 1 cup chickpea flour
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • 4 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 heaping cup baby greens (like arugula, mizuna, or mache) or microgreens
  • 2 ounces Hass avocado, thinly sliced
  • 1 batch tahini green goddess dressing
  1. Whisk together the chickpea flour, salt, 2 teaspoons olive oil, and water, until no clumps remain. Allow the socca batter to rest and thicken for at least 30 minutes, and up to 2 hours. In the meantime, preheat your oven to 450F and place a 10 or 12-inch skillet into the oven.
  2. Add one teaspoon oil to the skillet and swirl or brush it around to coat. Pour the socca batter into the hot skillet (it’ll sizzle, so be careful!). Transfer the skillet to the oven and bake for 10-15 minutes, or until the socca has set and the top is golden. For a crispy top, you can bake for 10 minutes, raise the oven heat to a broil, and put the socca in the broiler for the last 2 minutes of cooking.
  3. While the socca bakes, blend all green goddess dressing ingredients together till smooth.
  4. When the socca is ready, brush the top with the remaining teaspoon oil. Top with the greens and avocado slices, then drizzle generously with the green goddess dressing. Serve.

If you give the socca a try, let me know what you think! I’m guessing it would be lovely with steamed asparagus, baby broccoli, or even sautéed kale.

Happy springtime. I’ll be back later this week with an easy, nutritious snack/breakfast/dessert dish.


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Weekend Reading, 4.22.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Earth Day, everyone! In honor of the day—in honor of our planet and the sentient creatures that inhabit it—I’m sharing a few articles about animal rights and sustainability in today’s Saturday roundup.

It’s been a long week here. I’m not sure what I expected to happen once I came clean about the breakup, but I guess I was secretly hoping that writing about it would invite in some sort of clarity. It hasn’t. I keep wanting to feel things that are wiser and more composed than what I’m actually feeling, which is a ragged combination of anger and abandonment and hurt. It’s raw stuff, stuff that brings up fear and vulnerability. I had to cancel a few things this week because depression and anxiety had gotten the upper hand.

I hate being like this—how unhinged I feel. I wish I had calmer, more rational feelings to report, a mature perspective or optimism to share. I wish there were a lesson I could distill and write about, instead of writing this. A lot of it, I know, is my ego smarting: to be able to congratulate myself for how well I’m handling the breakup would be a small consolation, albeit a shallow one.

And yet this wintery mix of emotion is what I’ve got. As I learn to coexist with it, I continue to be buoyed by things that do feel real and solid and familiar. Cooking especially.

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans | The Full Helping

I wrote about bread-baking earlier this week. It’s quickly becoming a new hobby, thanks to inspiration from my friend Ali and her new cookbook. Interestingly, I don’t think I could have had a hobby like this one five or six or even three years ago. I was less solid in my anorexia recovery, and one indication of that was how rigid I was about the cooking I deemed worthy of my time. It would have seemed ridiculous to me to expend energy on something like bread-baking—something unessential.

I guess bread isn’t unessential to me, since I eat it so often. What I mean is that my younger self would have felt that the only suitable kitchen projects were those that yielded balanced, healthful, complete meals, or important weekly food staples. I wouldn’t have felt that homemade bread—something that I could just as easily purchase in an equally “healthy” form, which contained no virtuous leafy greens or vegetable matter, and which I could easily muss up on any given trial—was justifiable.

I was recently chatting with the lovely Erin about how I learned to cook, and one thing I mentioned was that, at the beginning, cooking challenged the part of me that needed to have all of my food intake feel “worth it.” Because I was so scarce with myself, each and every morsel served a purpose or met a goal. There just wasn’t any space for a culinary hobby—something pleasurable, yet superfluous.

Cooking also challenged my aversion to risk and unknowns. The kitchen space is pitted with trial and error, and annoyingly, you only learn by messing up. This is not easy for someone with an ED to accept: when every calorie has been meticulously allotted for, each meal planned with razor-sharp precision and perfect arithmetic, failure is not an option.

Of course, when you approach cooking this way there’s also no room for unexpected triumphs or discoveries. The more you insist on food being reliable and precise, the less likely it is that you’ll accidentally put unlikely flavors together and realize that they work, or take the time to master a process—like baking bread—that demands a learning curve but offers up great rewards. To stick to recipes that are a sure thing appeases the part of you that feels as though each and every meal is precious, a last supper. But it comes at a price.

I’m glad that I have a solid and steady enough foundation with food today that I can afford to take risks and have things turn out imperfectly. When they do, the worst that happens is that I lose ingredients and a little time. It may be momentarily disappointing, but it’s no big deal.

I’m glad, too, that not everything I cook is sensible, serves a nutritional purpose, or offers me some putative health benefit. Sometimes taking care of myself means cooking a dish that’s nutrient-dense, rich in protein, and chock full of veggies. Sometimes it means making something because I’ll enjoy the process, or because the finished dish holds sentimental value, or because it’s tasty and I want to eat it, plain and simple. It’s taken me a while, but I’m finally eating to live and living to eat.

No matter how muddled I’m feeling right now, I’m certain that big, beautiful plans can fall through, but there are always small, beautiful things to celebrate. Lots of them. This week, I’m celebrating the fact that I can (finally) approach cooking with curiosity and playfulness. I can afford to go off exploring, because I’m not busy trying to survive. Bread-baking may sound like a simple pastime, a little thing, but it speaks volumes about how far I’ve come with food. I’m holding it in my heart as a symbol of growth and resilience.

I hope you’ll enjoy this week’s collection of lovely and seasonal recipes.

While we’re on the topic of trying new things and leaning into unexpected flavor pairings, it’s the right time to share Steven’s super intriguing PBJ & J from The Nut Free Vegan. PBJ & J stands for peanut butter, jelly, and jalapeno. I love the idea of combining those sweet, salty, and spicy flavors, and I’m going to give it a whirl soon.

Leave it to Alexandra to create the most beautiful, vibrant-looking dish with the simplest of ingredients. Her spring green salad features radishes, peas, avocado, garlic, and a flavorful wild garlic and avocado sauce.

More spring salad! This is Amanda’s sunshine turmeric potato salad, which features a spice blend of turmeric, black pepper, lemongrass, and ginger from Big Heart Tea. So vibrant and pretty.

I love jollof rice, and Lisa’s vegan version looks spicy, flavorful, and easy to make. Win, win.

Speaking of quick and spicy recipes, I’ve also got my eye on Michael’s Thai green curry. Check out the super short ingredient list; this one would be perfect for any weeknight meal, or even a speedy lunch.


1. First, more promising research into the potential of plant-based eating patterns. A new study from Finland suggests that plant protein intake is associated with a lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while persons with a diet rich in meat have a higher risk.

2. Professors Jessica Pierce and Marc Bekoff make the argument that, while science continues to indicate how deeply we’ve underestimated the mental lives of animals, our treatment of them continues to demonstrate apathy and disregard.

3. Marla Rose interviews the brave and compassionate Jo-Anne McArthur. McArthur’s photography documents the commodification of animals in the human world. She captures not only abuse, but also neglect, loneliness, and isolation. The images are often heartbreaking, but they’re important.

I really love what McArthur has to say about her activism. When asked what she thinks the most effective means of communicating a vegan message is, she says,

I have a “let them start the conversation” approach. Spend a few minutes with me and you’ll see what’s on my plate, you’ll have found out that I’m an animal rights photojournalist…and these are interesting things! I’m friendly and happy, which allows people to feel comfortable asking me questions about what I do, what I eat, and why. The conversations happen inevitably, and they can see that my choices are a joy, not a deprivation.

I’ve always found that one of the most meaningful ways to start a constructive dialog about veganism is to allow one’s passion for the lifestyle to shine through. I also like what McArthur has to say about effective communication:

My short answer is that people like to think they are coming to a decision on their own. They feel more empowered. Do your best to let them. More showing, less shoving.

4. A heartbreaking story about Osmin, a captive sea turtle who died last month as a result of consuming more than 11 pounds of coins—coins that had been tossed into her tank by onlookers. What gives me hope is that journalist Margo Pierce uses this tragedy as a chance to talk about the veterinarians who performed emergency surgery on Osmin, and whose understanding of how sea turtles’ bodies work is now deepened because of the procedure they performed. She writes,

…the field does have dedicated men and women performing life-saving procedures on a species we haven’t shared a common ancestor with in a few hundred million years—and that’s nothing to sniff at. While there are plenty of procedures that don’t end up working, and patients like [Osmin] who simply can’t be saved, there are also lots of success stories. In 2014, the Juno Beach facility treated 106 sea turtles. Of those, 45 patients were swimming in the ocean again later that year.

It doesn’t take away from what happened to Osmin, but as Pierce suggests, it’s something.

5. Finally, it seems that human beings are creating a new geological layer through our production of waste. Scary stuff (and sort of fascinating, too). My hope is that the energy and momentum that surround Earth Day and the March for Science will help to create consciousness and change.

Alright, friends. That’s it for this roundup. I’ll be back on Monday with a light, bright, springy socca recipe. Thanks for listening, and be well.



The post Weekend Reading, 4.22.17 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans | The Full Helping

I know that I may have exhausted your interest in toast and toast toppings with Tuesday’s post, but I’m hoping you’ll have the bandwidth for one more—especially since the recipe is good for more than bread alone. These herby, slow cooker tomato white beans can be served with noodles, over your favorite whole grain, with crackers, with steamed greens, and yes, they make for killer toast.

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans | The Full Helping

It’s actually been a while since I used my slow cooker, but with final exams and end-of-semester papers approaching, not to mention some deadlines for my book manuscript, I’m anticipating a busy few weeks ahead. It’s a good time for big batches of food, and since I’m on this bread kick, I figured I’d prepare something that was good for scooping up with Ali’s peasant bread. A big pot of soupy, saucy, fragrant legumes fit the bill.

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans | The Full Helping

Funnily enough, after I prepared the recipe I saw that Ali has got a very similar one for gigante beans with pancetta on her blog, which was in turn inspired by one of Jenny Rosenstrach’s recipes. Friendly minds think alike, and now I’m eager to try this recipe template with gigante beans, which would probably remind me of my Yaya’s cooking (in fact, I don’t think I’ve had gigante beans since I was little). For now, this recipe is more Italian than Greek—I used thyme and rosemary sprigs, along with plenty of garlic—but you can take tons of liberty with the herbs and flavorings you use.

I threw the beans in the slow cooker pretty late, after a long and tough day, so my tolerance for chopping was low. I peeled an onion, halved it, and threw it right into the pot, a la Marcella Hazan’s tomato sauce. I worried that the onion wouldn’t get tender or impart enough flavor, but of course eight hours was enough to tenderize it completely. In fact, I didn’t even remove the onion once the beans were done; I just smashed it a bit with a fork, to loosen up the pieces, then stirred it in.

Same for the garlic cloves, which I dropped into the slow cooker whole. By the time the beans were finished, the cloves were practically melting into the beans and so very sweet; you can definitely leave them whole, and if you happen to see one on your toast, you can smash it a bit to unleash more of its flavor!

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans | The Full Helping

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans

Recipe type: slow cooker, main dish, side
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 8 hours
Total time: 8 hours 5 mins
Serves: 8-10 servings
  • 1 pound (about 2¼ cups) white beans (navy, cannellini, great northern, or gigante), soaked overnight and drained
  • 1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 8-ounce can tomato paste
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 onion, peeled, trimmed, and cut in half
  • 8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon sugar (optional)
  • 10 sprigs fresh thyme and 4 sprigs rosemary, tied together with twine or string
  • 2 bay leaves
  • Black pepper to taste
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil (optional)
  • For serving: Toast or bread, cooked whole grains, pasta or noodles, steamed or sautéed greens, vegan parmesan or hempesan
  1. Combine all ingredients except the pepper and oil in a slow cooker. Cook on low for 8-10 hours, until the beans are tender and the onion is practically melting.
  2. Remove the bundle of herbs and bay leaves. If you like, you can remove the onion (I just break mine into pieces and mix it in.) Taste the beans and add pepper and additional salt as desired. Stir in the olive oil, if using. Serve over toast, grains, steamed or sautéed greens, or pasta, with some vegan parmesan or hempesan on top.
The beans can also be prepared by simmering in a Dutch oven, covered, over low heat, for about 2 hours, or until tender. Remove the onion halves, bay leaves, and herb bundle before serving.

Leftovers will keep in an airtight container for up to 5 days in the fridge. They can be frozen for up to 6 weeks.


For me, the whole point of using a slow cooker is to conserve time and effort, so it’s especially nice when I can load it up with ingredients, set the timer, and fall asleep—no chopping or mincing or preliminary sautéing required.

As for the beans, they’re just so good: garlicky, creamy, and packed with rich tomato flavor and umami. I love that they’re thick enough to hold their own with bread, but also soupy enough to work nicely with pasta. For the last few nights, I’ve boiled and drained pasta, then mixed it with a heaping cup of the beans and some cooked greens or asparagus. It’s a simple, almost-instant dinner that tastes homey and comforting.

Slow Cooker Tomato White Beans | The Full Helping

I’ve also tried scooping the beans over cooked couscous or bulgur, then pairing them with whatever veggies I’ve got. You could try this with quinoa, rice, barley, millet, or any whole grain you love. And once again, hempesan or vegan parmesan would be a great finishing touch.

I’ve got a six quart slow cooker, which works best for sizable batches, but you could definitely cut the recipe in half if you’ve got a smaller slow cooker (or if you make it in a Dutch oven instead). Even now that I’m only cooking for one, I find it helpful to make big batches and freeze half right away. It’s such a relief to have ready-made, healthful food at the ready when I need it; just earlier this week I finished the last of my spicy black bean soup, and I was sorry to see it go.

If you haven’t yet entered to win a copy of Ali’s new bread baking book, I’m running a giveaway for the next two weeks. In the meantime, I hope some of you will get to try these beans soon. If you do, let me know what you think! Happy weekend,


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Alexandra Stafford’s Peasant Bread & Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas

Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas | The Full Helping

I’ve mentioned recently that I’m dipping my toes (gradually) into the world of homemade bread making. Like a lot of home cooks, I’ve harbored a fear of any recipe involving yeast for as long as I can remember, which doesn’t really make sense: yeast is just another ingredient, and it’s probably less temperamental than some others. But as soon as I start to read about proofing and resting and autolysing, my eyes start to glaze over.

The thing is, I really, really love bread. And while I’m always happy to support awesome bread brands (like Silver Hills, which I wrote about recently), it seems like a shame not to have the tools to prepare a food I love so much at home. This is why I’m thrilled to have found Alexandra Stafford’s book, Bread Toast Crumbs, and her game-changing peasant bread recipe.

Ali is the voice behind Alexandra Cooks, a chronicle of many types of home cookery but especially anything involving bread (and all of the things you can make with bread). Ali went to culinary school and has spent time in the kitchens of some masterful chefs, but her style is rustic and homey. She features simple, timeless, family-friendly recipes that you’ll make on repeat. Her blog isn’t vegan, but many of her weeknight recipes—including curries, grain salads, and a plethora of chickpea-based dishes—are, or easily can be.

Most of all, Ali is a champion of homemade bread, which her mom baked and served at the family table every night during her childhood. When Ali moved away she missed the bread more than any other fixture of home, so her mother gave her the recipe, which she quickly started baking for friends and roommates. Years later, she begged her mother to allow her to share the recipe—which was until then a closely guarded family secret—on her blog, and it became an internet sensation.

It’s not hard to see why. The bread is no-knead, but it doesn’t require any long rise times or fermentation or overnight stints in the fridge. It doesn’t even demand folding or gentle kneading: after the first rise, you simply deflate it with two forks, use the same forks to divide it in half, then plop the dough into two buttered pyrex bowls (this video sums it up in about a minute). You bake the bread in those same bowls, which means that the entire process is essentially mess-free.

One of the major deterrents of bread making (at least in my experience) is creating a sink full of floured and greased bowls to clean. The beauty of this recipe is that it’s not messy, cumbersome, or time consuming: it’s bread you can make if you plan to be home for two hours doing other things.

In spite of being almost entirely hands-off, the bread has a perfect texture, a nice, golden crust, and an adorable round shape. It’s delicious enough to tear apart and eat as it is, but it also makes stellar toast.

Bread Toast Crumbs is dedicated to showing off the bread’s versatility: the first third of the book features the master peasant bread recipe, along with a ton of variations, from whole grain versions to cinnamon swirl loaf to olive and other savory breads. The second third features toast or bread-based fare (sandwiches, bruschetta), while the final third features recipes that you can make with all of your bread ends and crumbs (soups, pastas with buttery crumbs, that kind of thing).

It’s basically a bread lover’s dream come true.

Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas | The Full Helping

Best of all, the peasant bread and most of its variations are all vegan-friendly. The only thing you’ll need to do is swap vegan buttery sticks or coconut oil for the butter you’ll use to grease the pyrex bowls (or another baking vessel). After that, you simply need water, salt, yeast and flour.

Some of the vegan-as-written recipes include the three-seed, rosemary semolina, quinoa flax, einkorn, walnut, rye, bulgur, kalamata olive, anadama, and oatmeal maple breads; ones that can be veganized with a simple swap (honey for maple syrup; buttermilk for a non-dairy milk + vinegar combo) include the honey whole wheat, cinnamon swirl, pumpkin harvest, and dark chocolate breads. Ali even has a tried-and-true, gluten-free option.

I haven’t yet explored all of these variations, but I’ve got them bookmarked. For the time being, I’ve been marveling over how easy it is to prepare the peasant bread every couple of days. The recipe yields two loaves, and I usually keep one and share the other with a neighbor or friend or with my mom (who now claims she doesn’t want to eat any other bread). I never imagined that it could be so easy to integrate bread-making into the bustle of everyday life, but I think that’s exactly what Ali is going for with this book: an approach to bread-making that feels fear-free and realistic. And I can’t imagine a warmer or more personable voice than hers to demystify the process.

In a second, I’ll share some of the toast ideas that have recently emerged from my bread-making efforts. But first, here’s Ali’s famous peasant bread recipe.

Alexandra Stafford’s Peasant Bread

Recipe type: Bread, side
Cuisine: vegan, can be soy free, tree nut free
Author: Alexandra Stafford
Prep time: 1 hour 35 mins
Cook time: 35 mins
Total time: 2 hours 10 mins
Serves: 2 14-ounce loaves
  • 4 cups (512 grams) unbleached, all-purpose flour
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2¼ teaspoons instant yeast
  • 2 cups lukewarm water, made by mixing ½ cup boiling water with 1½ cups cold water
  • Softened vegan buttery sticks or solid coconut oil, for greasing*
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, salt, sugar, and instant yeast. Add the water. Using a rubber spatula, mix until the water is absorbed and the ingredients form a sticky dough ball.
  2. Cover the bowl with a damp tea towel or plastic wrap and set aside in a warm spot to rise for 1 to 1½ hours, until the dough has doubled in bulk. Note: Here’s a trick for making the perfect warm spot for the dough to rise. Set the oven to 400° F and let it preheat for 1 minute, then shut it off. The temperature will be between 80° F and 100° F. You should be able to place your hands (carefully) on the oven grates without burning them.
  3. Set a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 425° F. Grease two 1-quart oven-safe bowls, like Pyrex, with softened vegan buttery sticks or coconut oil—be generous. Using two forks, deflate the dough by releasing it from the sides of the bowl and pulling it toward the center. Rotate the bowl quarter turns as you deflate, turning the mass into a rough ball.
  4. Using your two forks and working from the center out, separate the dough into two equal pieces. Use the forks to lift each half of the dough into a prepared bowl. If the dough is too wet to transfer with forks, lightly grease your hands with butter or oil, then transfer half to a bowl. (If your dough drops and breaks apart on the transfer, don’t worry, just divvy the dough between the bowls and it will come back together as it rises.) Do not cover the bowls. Let the dough rise on the countertop near the oven (or another warm, draft-free spot) for 10 to 20 minutes, until the top of the dough just crowns the rims of the bowls.
  5. Transfer the bowls to the oven and bake for 15 minutes. Reduce the heat to 375° F and bake for 17 to 20 minutes more, until evenly golden all around. Remove the bowls from the oven and turn the loaves out onto cooling racks. If the loaves look pale, return them to their bowls and bake for 5 minutes longer. Let the loaves cool for 15 minutes before cutting.**
*I think the buttery spread gives much more flavorful results, but both options will work.

**If you don’t have 2 one-quart bowls, you may use other vessels, though differences in pan sizes will affect the shape of the final loaves. This recipe can be adapted for 2 loaf pans (preferably 8.5 x 4.5-inch pans) by multiplying the quantities of ingredients by 1.5 (i.e. 6 cups/768g flour, 3 cups water, etc.).


Peasant Bread | The Full Helping

Once you’ve got bread, it’s time for toast. Of course any of the usual suspects—avocado toast, hummus toast, PB & J—are great. But I thought it would be fun to share some of the less-usual toast combinations I’ve been enjoying lately, both savory and sweet.

Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas | The Full Helping

Breakfast Toasts

PB, Banana, and Hemp Toast: Spread your favorite peanut butter over toast. Top with freshly sliced banana, shelled hemp seeds, and a drizzle of agave or maple syrup.

Black Bean Toast with Quick Corn Salsa: Top toast with some vegan refried beans (I like the refried black beans from Whole Foods’ 365 brand and the refried black beans with chiles from the Pacific brand). Toss some corn kernels (fresh and blanched or frozen and heated) with halved cherry tomatoes, lime juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and fresh, chopped cilantro. This one’s also great with some finely chopped red onion or diced avocado!

Yogurt Toast with Berries and Chia: Top toast with your favorite vegan yogurt (my favorite is Nancy’s soy yogurt or Kite Hill yogurt), sliced strawberries (or any other berry) and a sprinkle of chia seed.

Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas | The Full Helping

Lunch (or Dinner) Toasts

Cashew Cheese with Edamame, Radish, and Mint: Spread some of my go-to cashew cheese recipe (or your favorite spreadable/soft vegan cheese) over toast. Toss some steamed, shelled edamame, thinly sliced radish, and finely chopped mint with a squeeze of lemon and a little drizzle of olive oil (if desired). Pile the edamame mixture over the toast.

Tahini, Beet and Parsley: Spread tahini on your toast. Toss some steamed or roasted beets with red onion (or pickled red onion), parsley, olive oil, and lemon. Pile the beets over the tahini toast.

Cream Cheese, Cucumber, and Dill: Spread your toast with vegan cream cheese (I still love the Tofutti non-hydrogenated better-than-cream-cheese, but Go Veggie, Kite Hill, Follow Your Heart, and Daiya make great varieties), thinly sliced cucumber, and fresh dill.

Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas | The Full Helping

Sometimes a cookbook seems to fall into your hands at just the right time. In these past few weeks, as I adjust to new circumstances, I’ve been craving simple, comforting food—bread, toast, and soup especially. It feels wonderful to have the tools to make my own bread, week in and week out, easily and without fuss. Once I have a good feel for the process, I look forward to branching into other loaves and different blends of flours. And I’ll be sharing what I learn here on the blog!

If you’d like to join me in exploring the world of homemade bread, I’m happy to say that Ali and her publisher are offering one of my readers a free copy of Bread, Toast, Crumbs. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian readers, and I’ll pick and email a winner two weeks from today.

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Of course, these toast combos will work nicely with any bread you like. You can use your own cherished recipe, or you can try them with your favorite bread brand. I hope you’ll enjoy some of them in the months ahead. Later this week, I’ll check in with yet another toast topping idea, but one that’s also great for serving with noodles, whole grains, or veggies. Stay tuned!


The post Alexandra Stafford’s Peasant Bread & Six Tasty Vegan Toast Ideas appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Weekend Reading, 4.16.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

In the week since I wrote about heartache here on the blog, a lot of kind people have taken the time to share their own stories with me or simply offer up goodwill. One longtime reader directed me to this address about learning the healer’s art. It’s written from a religious perspective, but I think it touches on truths about the healing process that are universal, and I wanted to share from it today.

The speaker, Elaine S. Marshall, was dean of the BYU College of Nursing. I’m not surprised that these insights would come from someone who spent a lifetime in the nursing profession. When I was volunteering in hospitals, it seemed to me that nurses were the caregivers who become most intimate with patients’ experiences of illness and healing.

Marshall’s first insight is that “healing hurts.” It comes as a bit of a surprise, not because it isn’t true, but because I think we tend to envision healing as a process that “turns off” pain. As anyone who has healed from an illness, injury, or emotional hardship knows, though, pain is usually a part of getting better. Physical therapy tests one’s strength and tolerance long before a bone is set or a muscle strengthened; an infection might wax and wane and seem to grow worse before it recedes.

Heartache and mourning are equally unpredictable. Just when we think we’ve made peace with things, we’re hit with another wave of sadness, rage, or attachment to what we’ve lost. Eating disorder recovery can work the same way: we turn a corner, only to be confronted with an urge or tendency that just won’t seem to quit.

Marshall writes,

When I was a young nurse in the hospital, hardly a day went by that a patient did not ask, “Will it hurt?” If I had been truthful, the whispered answer would nearly always have been, “Yes, it will hurt.” I have learned that healing hurts. Life hurts. Healing really only begins when we face the hurt in its full force and then grow through it with all the strength of our soul. For every reward of learning and growing, some degree of pain is always the price.

This is such an important insight, not only because it acknowledges the universality of suffering as a part of healing, but also because Marshall has the guts to admit that she wishes she had spoken more honestly to her patients about the reality of their pain. Healing is difficult no matter what, but perhaps it would be easier if we were to accept that pain and hardship are woven into the process.

In my work, I see many people who are various stages of healing. Some are struggling with digestive ailments or adjusting to an unexpected diagnosis; other are working to heal their relationships with food. My experience has been that nearly everyone finds his or her way to some form of healing, but the process is rarely as linear or as quick as the person would like. Food, ironically, is the easy part. The real challenge is to accept that the journey will be unpredictable.

This ties into Marshall’s second lesson, which is that “healing is active—you have to be there.” She writes,

. . . To begin healing, you must acknowledge and feel the hurt. Only those who don’t feel, those without conscience, cannot heal.
On [my] first day as a nurse, I assumed cure, care, and healing to be synonymous. I have learned they are not the same. Healing is not cure. Cure is clean, quick, and done—often under anesthesia. The antibiotic kills the pathogen; the scalpel cuts out the malignancy; the medication resolves the distorted chemistry. Healing, however, is often a lifelong process of recovery and growth in spite of, maybe because of, enduring physical, emotional, or spiritual assault. It requires time.

I like how Marshall frames this. The “active” posture she describes isn’t forceful or aggressive. It’s a kind of presence, a capacity to feel. It’s about showing up even when it hurts and meeting things as they are, without knowing how they’ll turn out.

I heard it said recently that what makes human beings unique is our impulse to map meaning onto our experiences. It reminded me of Joan Didion’s observation that “we tell ourselves stories in order to live.” I think this is a beautiful impulse, but I suspect that it can be part of our vulnerability, too. When things feel senseless—when resolution is remote and insight hard to come by—it’s difficult for us to respond. At these moments it’s helpful to remember that feelings of despair and senselessness can be endured long before we know what they mean. Marshall’s words are a good reminder of this.

Marshall goes on to share several other wise lessons about healing, including the assurance that “healing is private” and the reminder that it’s our responsibility to help others through their healing. This last point echoes something I’ve always felt, which is that healing is regenerative; any healing experience gives us the tools we need to support others.

Reading Marshall’s address, I was reminded of what drew me to the healing arts in the first place: first, the belief that healing is a birthright of sorts, something that’s possible for everyone, even if the process is deeply personal. Second, the feeling that we’re all in this together, holding each other up and allowing ourselves to be held.

I’ve been held up by a lot of people this past week, many of whom I’ve never met. And I’m just so grateful.

I hope that Marshall’s address will find some of you at the right time. A big thank you to the reader who took the time to put it on my radar. Enjoy it, and the other recipes and reads this week.


Is there such a thing as too many lentil/tahini/green salads? Nope, I don’t think so. This one, courtesy of Liberty from Homespun Capers, looks awesome.

Aimee’s Spanish omelette features new potatoes and chickpea flour, along with just a small handful of other ingredients. It’s so simple, but it looks so tasty and authentic.

I’m totally digging the brilliant color and toothsome texture of Ana’s beet “barlotto” (barley risotto) with hemp seeds.

I’ve tried lots of different pestos, but never a version with mustard greens. This mustard green pesto pasta bake looks awesome—perfect springtime comfort food!

Finally, I’m loving Claryn’s vegan poppyseed swirl bread, which is a perfectly traditional recipe to share on Easter.


1. RD Abbie Gelman shares some smart tips on how to improve or stabilize mood with good nutrition. I love that Abbie focuses first and foremost on consistent meals and good portion size; I totally agree that sporadic or inadequate food intake can often exacerbate mood imbalances or sluggishness.

2. Major props to Ashley Marcin for having shared her story of a longtime struggle with bulimia on Healthline. What’s so touching about this narrative is Marcin’s humble acknowledgment that more than a decade of her memories were tainted or shaped by the disease. She writes,

The thing is, the complications of bulimia go beyond the physical. I can’t get back the decade or so I spent in the throes of bulimia. During that time, my thoughts were consumed with binging and purging. So many important moments of my life, like my prom, my first day of college, and my wedding day, are tainted with memories of purging.
If you’re dealing with an eating disorder, I encourage you to seek help. You don’t have to wait. You can do it today. Don’t let yourself live with an eating disorder for another week, month, or year. Eating disorders like bulimia are often not just about losing weight. They also revolve around issues of control or negative thoughts, like having a poor self-image. Learning healthy coping mechanisms can help.
. . . It’s not easy. You may feel embarrassed. You may be convinced you can do it on your own. Stay strong and seek help. Don’t make my mistake and fill your memory book with reminders of your eating disorder instead of the truly important moments in your life.

Anorexia and disordered eating were a part of my life for so long that it’s practically impossible for me to imagine what growing up or young adulthood would have been without them. They also taught me a lot—or at least the recovery process did—and they shaped the appreciation I have of food today. I can recognize what they’ve given me as well as what they took away.

Still, I regret that so many of my memories, from birthdays and anniversaries to family vacations and precious time with friends, include the recollection of restriction, hunger, food anxiety, and mental math. I hate that I was adding and subtracting and negotiating tradeoffs in my head when I could have been experiencing life more directly and fully. It saddens me that at exactly the moment when I could have been making valuable connections—the college years, for example—I was self-isolating, choosing to be alone with my food obsessions. And like Ashley Marcin, I encourage anyone who can seek help to stop waiting and do it, to trust that what can be gained from recovery is precious and worth pursuing here and now.

3. RD Rebecca Stritchfield is a powerful advocate of body kindness and self-respect. I really like her response to a recent New York Times article on cooking classes as a potentially mandatory, health-promoting part of school curriculums. Her point is that cooking should be taught, but that it should be shared in a way that emphasizes its many gifts. Stritchfield notes,

We also need to expand the conversation of “health” to include mind and body health. This can include lessons in mindful eating, associating eating all foods with pleasure — including cookies and ice cream. (Let’s be real. People are going to eat sweets. Let’s help them do it without shame. Let’s help them make choices that fit them best and help them learn balance and moderation.)

There’s no denying the value of teaching kids to connect with food through cooking, and of course there’s ample evidence that home cookery can improve lifestyle and foster good health. Still, to present cooking only as a conduit to certain health outcomes (specifically weight maintenance) strikes me as a lost opportunity, an over-simplification of what can be a profound cultural, social, and sensory experience.

4. Relatedly, some sweet thoughts on why cooking and baking can feel so therapeutic.

5. Finally, Elaine Marshall’s words on “the healer’s art.”

Speaking of the healing powers of cooking, I’ll be sharing a bit about my current love affair with homemade bread making (albeit very low-maintenance bread making) this week. Till then, be well, and a very happy Easter Sunday to those of you who celebrated today.


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Simple Vegan Spring Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

Simple Vegan Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

I don’t tend to observe Easter with quite the same concentration of festive spirit that I bring to the winter holidays, but I do welcome its approach each year, if only as an opportunity to cook some celebratory springtime food. This simple vegan spring lemon orzo pasta salad has it all: bright, lemony flavor, a bounty of tender spring vegetables, and plenty of herbs.

When I was growing up, my father celebrated Easter as an Anglican, on the Gregorian calendar, while my mother observed Greek Easter, which follows the Julian calendar. The two holidays were often weeks apart, so Easter came twice in my home. My father’s Easter involved the traditional Easter fare: ham, potato salad, hot cross buns, frittatas and other brunch foods. My mother’s was marked by tsoureki bread, avgolemono soup, and what felt like an interminable wait until midnight before we could eat.

It’s Greek Easter that has stayed with me. This year it happens to fall on the same Sunday as regular Easter, so I’m sharing a recipe that’s equally suitable for both iterations of the holiday—or simply as a seasonal, crowd-pleasing dish for sharing with friends. It’s pasta salad, which means that it’s an easy crowd-pleaser, but it’s also packed with Mediterranean ingredients and flavors—artichokes, dill, lemon, and asparagus—so it still feels like a nod to my Greek roots.

The dish can be served either warm, in which case it feels more like a regular pasta dish, or cool, in which case it’s more of a salad (the proportion of vegetables to pasta is pretty high). If you serve it cool, you can pile it over a bed of fresh baby greens. It’s so easy to make, and it will keep nicely in the fridge overnight if you happen to need a last minute dish for preparing in advance and taking with you to a gathering on Sunday.

Simple Vegan Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

Simple Vegan Spring Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad

Recipe type: pasta, salad
Cuisine: gluten free optional, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 6 servings
  • 1 lb asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1½-inch pieces
  • 1 cup green peas, fresh or frozen and thawed
  • 1 6 or 8-ounce jar marinated artichoke hearts
  • 1½ cups cooked chickpeas (1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 12 ounces (about 1¾ cups) orzo pasta*
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon freshly grated lemon zest
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped shallots
  • 1 small clove garlic, grated (optional)
  • ¼ teaspoon fine salt, plus extra as needed
  • ⅛ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra as needed
  • ¼ cup minced fresh dill
  • ½ cup finely chopped parsley
  • Optional: 2-4 tablespoons (as desired) vegan parmesan (I like the Go Veggie brand) or hempesan
  1. Bring a large pot of salt water to boil. Add the orzo. Cook for about 8 minutes, or until the orzo is al dente and not quite ready. Add the asparagus pieces; cook for another 2 minutes. Add the peas and cook for 1 more minute. Drain the pasta and vegetables.
  2. While the pasta water is coming to a boil, whisk together the olive oil, lemon juice and zest, shallots, garlic (if using), salt, and pepper.
  3. When the pasta and vegetables are ready, transfer them to a large mixing bowl. Add the dressing and toss everything well to combine. Finally, fold in the chopped parsley and dill, along with the parmesan, if you like. Taste the salad and adjust salt and pepper as needed. Serve.
*Gluten free orzo can be used in place of regular orzo.

The pasta will keep overnight in an airtight container in the fridge. If you plan to store it before sharing, prepare as directed but leave out the fresh parsley. Right before serving, fold the parsley in.


Simple Vegan Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

I’m really partial to the orzo in this recipe, but it would work nicely with any small pasta shape, including macaroni. You can also use pearl barley or Israeli couscous for a more toothsome salad (if you do that, you can steam the vegetables before tossing everything together).

One of my readers recently emailed to ask if I have a special tab with Easter recipes on the site; I don’t, at least not right now, though the question made me realize that I should probably add some specific Holiday search fields to my recipe page! For now, some of my favorite Easter recipes (or recipes that I think would be nice to serve on Easter) include:

Vegan avgolemono
Minted pea soup with cashew cream
Cream of celeriac and fennel soup
Tahini mint kale salad
Purple asparagus and quinoa salad with pea shoots
Quinoa citrus and smoked tofu salad
Chickpea pesto pasta salad
Roasted cauliflower lemon pasta
Lemon pepper tempeh and herbed rice bowls
Stuffed cabbage rolls with rice, lentils, and currants
Whole roasted lemon tahini cauliflower
Strawberry rhubarb crumble bars
Raspberry tart

Whether you’re observing a holiday or not, I wish you a restful and happy weekend ahead, and I’ll be back for some weekend reading.


The post Simple Vegan Spring Lemon Orzo Pasta Salad appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Spicy Black Bean Kale Soup

Spicy Black Bean Kale Soup | The Full Helping

Thank you all for the very kind comments on Sunday’s post—as well as some of the emails and messages I’ve gotten since then. I’m a little at a loss for how to express my thankfulness or articulate how touched I am. Hopefully my appreciation is shining through the words I’ve got.

In that post, I mentioned that food has been a big source of comfort through this breakup. In the first few days of being newly on my own I felt overwhelmed to think of how much I’d miss the rhythms of cooking for two and the satisfaction of sharing food. For the past three years I’ve taken a lot of daily pleasure in offering nourishment to another person, and now I feel the absence of that ritual keenly. I hope I’ll get to share my meals again someday. For now, though, I’m taking solace in the joys of cooking solo for the first time in a long while.

Cooking has always held a lot of symbolic importance for me. When I was recovering from anorexia, cooking was an act of resistance against the disease and my way of asserting the desire to be healthy again. It was rebellion against the restrictive impulse, a gesture of generosity toward myself and my body. It signaled the hard-won realization that I deserved to be fed, to be satisfied, to have my hungers met.

During my post-bacc years, cooking came to symbolize my commitment to recovery. It would have been easy to use my unhappiness or shortage of free time back then as an excuse to start cutting corners with food, to use restriction as a means of managing the stress. But I didn’t. In spite of the long days and the fact that I was desperate to feel empowered in the face of my academic struggles, I protected my relationship with food. I cooked for myself whenever I could and sat down to three balanced meals every single day. In the past, I’d withheld food as a means of proving my own strength; this time, I got the strength I needed from eating.

Now I’m turning to food once again, this time as a source of comfort. Mealtimes remind me that small, daily rituals can be powerful anchors during times of change and loss. Cooking is my way of being kind to myself, of taking care of my body in spite of the fact that my heart is aching. To make a pot of soup or bake bread doesn’t sound like much, but right now, it feels like a lot. It feels like everything.

So here’s the kind of meal I’ve been having a lot lately: a hearty legume soup to pair with toast or rice or whatever you like. I’ve always loved black bean soup, but I’ve never created a formal recipe to share on the blog. This particular one gets some heat from seasoned chipotle peppers, and I throw a whole bunch of kale in at the end, giving the meal a little extra nutrient density. It’s filling, warming, and easy to make—which is exactly what I need right now.

Spicy Black Bean Kale Soup | The Full Helping

Spicy Black Bean Kale Soup

Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 75 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 8 servings
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 regular sized or 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • ¼ cup diced chipotle peppers in adobo, with the liquid (more to taste)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 pound (about 2¼ cups) dry black beans, soaked overnight and drained
  • 4 cups vegetable broth + 2 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon fine salt (more as needed)
  • White or sherry vinegar, to taste (substitute freshly squeezed lime juice)
  • 1 bunch curly kale, stems removed and torn into bite-sized pieces
  • Optional, for topping: Chopped avocado, cilantro, or crumbled corn chips
  1. Heat the oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrot. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is tender and clear. Add the garlic and chipotle peppers in adobo; cook for another 2 minutes, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the cumin, coriander, beans, broth, water, and salt. Bring the mixture to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Cover the soup and simmer for 60-90 minutes, or until the beans are tender.
  3. If you like, you can puree the soup partially with an immersion blender or by transferring a few cups to a standing blender (it’s also fine to lave the soup as it is). Stir in the vinegar and adjust the salt to taste; you can also add a touch of extra heat by stirring in a little more chopped chipotle pepper.
  4. Finally, stir the kale into the soup, re-cover, and allow the kale to cook for about 5 minutes, till it’s tender. Serve the soup with any toppings you like.
Leftover soup will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Soup can be frozen for up to 2 months.

Spicy Black Bean Kale Soup | The Full Helping

I haven’t tried it yet, but I’m guessing that the soup would be especially good with some cashew cream stirred in (a vegan spin on sour cream), or some coconut bacon on top. You could also easily adapt it for a slow cooker; just throw the ingredients in and let it simmer at low heat overnight.

That bread you see back there is the peasant bread from Alexandra Stafford’s wonderful new book, Bread Toast Crumbs, which I’ll be sharing from next week. It’s the first homemade bread I’ve ever mastered consistently—which hasn’t been hard, given how utterly simple and foolproof the recipe is. Bread, just like soup, is quintessential comfort food, but it has the added bonus of conferring the pride that comes with a good baking project. The book found me at the right time, and I’m excited to tell you more (and perhaps share a toast recipe that all these homemade loaves have inspired).

For now, I wish you a great start to the weekend.


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Weekend Reading, 4.9.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

This past Friday, Angelica Kitchen, one of New York’s oldest and most beloved vegan restaurants, closed its doors. The eatery had served seasonal, farm fresh, and affordable plant-based food for over 40 years. It was one of my favorite places in the city, a cozy refuge where traditionally prepared legumes, grains, and vegetables were always on offer.

This week, I’m sharing James Oseland’s elegy for Angelica, among other reads. Oseland remembers the restaurant with fondness, and he mourns the fact that it is one of many eateries being forced out of business by high rents and a rapidly changing cityscape. He writes,

Angelica Kitchen was both a marvel and marvelous: one felt a connection to the past there even though the restaurant sat firmly in the present. You’d see people new to the city, younger faces, but also plenty of old-timers like myself. The clientele flowed through, but its soul was frozen in time. It had been updated — it moved to a new location, it became larger and leaner and fancier than it had once been — but by and large it was the same restaurant it had always been.

It’s all true. There are new plant-based eateries in town, but I doubt that any of them will be able to fill the hole that Angelica is leaving behind. A lot of the newer spots are upscale, focused on small plates and elegant vegetable preparations. I appreciate that these restaurants are challenging mainstream notions of what vegan dining looks like, but the food feels a little fussy to me. I’ll miss Angelica’s simple, heaping plates of grains, beans, tofu, and greens.

I’ll miss what Angelica represents, too: community, nourishment, and a back-to-basics, time-honored approach to cooking. It always seemed as though the restaurant would be there forever, a welcoming fixture in an ever-changing neighborhood. I’m used to watching businesses come and go, but I’ve been surprised at how much this closing has affected me. Or maybe it’s just my mood these days.

Steven and I are broken up. It’s been about a month now. I wasn’t going to write about it, at least not for a while, but it’s starting to feel a little disjointed to show up here each Sunday and chat about the spring weather and new recipes without at least acknowledging the thing that’s mostly on my mind.

I’ve been through enough breakups to know that the process will run its course, that feelings will ebb and flow, and that everything will be OK. But it would be dishonest to say that this breakup feels like any other I’ve experienced. The sense of loss is so much deeper. There’s more confusion to sift through, more blame and self-doubt and regret. Whereas other breakups have seemed to run a predictable course—a mourning process that gives way to hope and even excitement at the prospect of a fresh start—this one is proving volatile and bewildering so far. I’m taking care of myself, going to therapy, reaching out to friends. Still, I’m incredibly lonely, in a way I never have been before.

At one point I thought I’d mention the uncoupling in my birthday post this June. I’ve always used those posts as an opportunity to reflect on the year behind me, and I suppose I hoped that, by then, this story would have a beginning and a middle and an end. I thought I might be nearing closure of some kind, that I’d have wise and philosophical things to say.

I can’t predict how I’ll feel in a few months, but right now it’s hard to imagine that I’ll have reached a stage of wise philosophizing. Instead, I suspect that I’m at very the start of what will be a lengthy process. So for now, the best I can do is simply say what’s happened. I’ve talked about authenticity a lot this year, and one of my own challenges in being authentic is to express myself without wrapping all of my feelings in elegant words or neat narrative scaffolding—to let my sentiments be rough-hewn or even incomplete. This post is a part of that, I guess.

Angelica Kitchen was Steven’s and my favorite place to eat together, our cherished spot for date nights and spontaneous outings. This adds an even more poignant layer to the restaurant’s closing. I suspect that many New Yorkers have their own special memories of Angelica, their own associations and reasons for holding the restaurant dear. It’s been really heartening to see how many folks came out to support the eatery in its final days, the outpouring of love that sprung from the community here.

Food has been an enormous source of comfort in the last four weeks, and I’m particularly excited about the recipes I’m sharing today. Hope they inspire, entice, or offer you comfort, too.



Jodi’s fig anise cookies are sort of a cross between a cookie and a sweet cracker, and I can’t imagine anything nicer to nibble on with a cup of afternoon tea or coffee. Perfect for edible gifting, too. So excited to try them.

It’s not quite berry season here in NYC, but as soon as the time is right, I’ll be making Emilie’s bright and colorful quinoa and spinach salad with raspberry vinaigrette.

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, but Cadry’s artichoke pesto pasta is a perfect recipe for all of the spring months. It’s the sort of recipe that feels fancy enough for company, but is so easy to make.

I’ve had a recipe for mapo tofu bookmarked in Fuchsia Dunlop’s book, Every Grain of Rice, for ages now, but Amanda’s vibrant mapo tofu recipe is now giving it a run for its money. Amanda describes the recipe as being “a little bit spicy,” which is just perfect for me. And I love the addition of mushrooms for umami.

Next week, I’m going to be sharing some thoughts on my recent adventures in homemade bread baking and why its becoming a cherished domestic ritual. For now, I’m sharing Kimberly’s beautiful red onion focaccia, which is so perfect for slicing and sharing.


1. Most of us have read about, or even experienced, some of the dangers of yo-yo dieting. These include an increased risk for disordered eating and a greater likelihood of future weight gain. A new study suggests that yo-yo dieting can also have grave consequences for cardiac health.

The study indicates that yo-yo dieters have more than twice the risk of death, heart attack or stroke compared with people who maintain a relatively stable body weight; for each 1.5- to 2-pound fluctuation, the risk of a cardiovascular event increases by 4 percent, and the risk of death by 9 percent. The lead researcher, Dr. Sripal Bangalore of NYU’s Langone Medical Center, posits that fluctuations in weight place stress on the body, and that it might also cause hormonal changes that affect the heart.

Experts note that yo-yo dieting might be an indication of larger health complications, which could help to explain study findings. But in any case, the study presents yet more evidence that dieting and weight change should be approached seriously and with expert support, if possible.

2. I suspect that many of the food lovers reading would say that food food counts as health care. But a new study is aiming to prove it.

3. During my post-bacc training, and especially as I observed physicians at work in the hospital setting, I learned that diagnosis is a medical art in itself. The question is now emerging of whether sensitive diagnoses can ever be automated or generated by artificial intelligence.

4. A new study suggests that race is a greater determinant of future diabetes risk than weight. The study found that, in a sample of 803 individuals, Americans of South Asian descent were twice as likely as whites to have risks for heart disease, stroke and diabetes, when their weight was in the normal range.

Similarly, Americans of Hispanic descent were 80 percent more likely than whites to suffer from the so-called cardio-metabolic abnormalities that give rise to heart disease, stroke and diabetes, compared with 50 percent more likely for those who were Chinese and African-American. Those characteristic risks include hypertension, elevated blood glucose, low HDL cholesterol (the “good cholesterol”) and high triglycerides.

Weight is often regarded as the major predictor of Type II diabetes and metabolic syndrome, but this study gives support to the idea that social determinants of health and epigenetics may play an equally, if not more important, role in the genesis of these diseases.

5. Finally, James Oseland’s farewell to Angelica Kitchen, a place that he says always made him feel “at home.”

It made me feel at home, too.

Thanks to you all for listening today. And speaking of feeling at home, I’ll be back with a homey soup recipe in a couple of days.


The post Weekend Reading, 4.9.17 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Green Goddess Club Sandwich

Green Goddess Club Sandwich | The Full Helping

It’s occurred to me recently that there’s a serious shortage of vegan sandwich recipes on this blog. I’ve gotten into such a routine with my vegan lunch bowls that sandwiches sometimes get short shrift. But really, there’s nothing like a sandwich for an easy, packable lunch, and it’s about time I shared some of my go-tos. This green goddess club sandwich is a new favorite, and while it’s good for any season, the dressing and flavors are particularly appropriate for spring.

The star of the sandwich, of course, is the vegan green goddess dressing. I’m trying not to share too many recipes from the next book, as the publication date is still so far away, but this dressing is quickly becoming a staple at home, and it feels strange not to mention it or write about it. It’s a more flavorful, more complex version of the delightfully green tahini dressing that I’ve made and mentioned so often. I love what a little vinegar and green onion does to the mixture.

Green Goddess Club Sandwich | The Full Helping

The sandwich formula here is pretty simple: grilled or baked tofu, fresh veggies (I used radish, cucumber, carrots, and baby spinach, but you can adjust this with the seasons and get creative with what you use!), toasted bread, and plenty of the goddess dressing (I slathered it on every slice of toast). The result is a sandwich that is hearty and protein-packed but full of light, lemony, herbacious flavor.

Green Goddess Club Sandwich | The Full Helping

Every time I post a sandwich or toast recipe on my Instagram page, I’m asked right away what bread I like to use. The answer is that I love trying lots of different kinds, and lately I’m working on making my own bread at home, which is a process I hope to write more about. But right now, I’m really digging the tender, sprouted breads from Silver Hills Bakery.

Green Goddess Club Sandwich | The Full Helping

Silver Hills Bakery opened in 1989 with a mission to empower people by providing healthy, whole grain products. The company is still family-owned and operated, still dedicated to making delicious, nourishing, plant-powerful breads, bagels, and buns. All of the products are vegan, and they’re all made with nutrient-rich, high-fiber whole grains that have been sprouted in clean, cold Canadian water (the company is headquartered near Vancouver). Silver Hills foods are non-GMO and rich in protein, as well as fiber and B vitamins.

The sprouting process can help to make breads more nutritious by releasing anti-nutrients that block our absorption of essential minerals. It may also help to lower glycemic index, which means longer, more sustained energy from all of those healthful complex carbs. Silver Hills is devoted to the sprouting process, to creating breads with patience and integrity. And their hard work and craftsmanship shows—the breads are so tender, wholesome, and flavorful. The sweetness and nuttiness of whole wheat and ancient grains is in every bite.

Silver Hills offers a number of bread products, including their signature squirrely bread, which boasts 12 grams of protein and tons of B vitamins—50% of the RDA for niacin—in every in two slices. I also love the brands “big 16” bread, which features 16 different grains and seeds, including millet, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa, sunflower, and flax. It’s packed with magnesium, selenium, and zinc. The company also offers a “little big bread” option, which is the same treasured, sprouted recipe in a smaller, thinner slice. This bread is perfect for clubs and stacked sandwiches, and it’s what I used to make my green goddess club.

Green Goddess Club Sandwich | The Full Helping

Green Goddess Club Sandwich

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, no oil, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 35 mins
Serves: 4 servings
For the club:
  • 1 block (15 ounces) extra firm tofu, pressed if possible
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoon tamari
  • 2 carrots, sliced into wide, thin strips
  • 1 large cucumber, cut into thin rounds
  • 4-5 radishes, sliced thinly
  • Couple handfuls baby spinach, arugula, or another green
  • 12 slices Silver Hills Bakery Little Big Bread (or another thin, whole grain bread of choice)
  • Optional: sprouts; microgreens; chopped fresh mint, parsley, or green onion tops
For the tahini green goddess dressing:
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ¼ cup + 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons agave or maple syrup
  • 1 clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh parsley leaves
  • ¼ cup fresh basil leaves
  • 1 green onion, top only
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste
  1. Prepare a grill or grill pan (or preheat your oven to 375F). Slice the tofu into ½-inch thick slabs and place them into a shallow dish. Whisk together the lemon and tamari and pour over the pieces. You can allow them to marinate in the fridge for an hour or so, or you can start grilling.
  2. Grill the tofu for 3-4 minutes per side, until you have some nice grill marks. Flip and repeat until you’ve grilled all of the tofu. Alternately, you can bake the tofu slices on a parchment-lined sheet for 20-25 minutes, or until lightly golden, flipping them once halfway through baking.
  3. Blend all dressing ingredients together in a powerful blender or a food processor till smooth.
  4. Toast the bread. Lay four pieces of toast in front of you and top each with a quarter of the grilled tofu, as well as a tablespoon or so of the green goddess dressing. Top with another slice toast. Layer this slice with even layers of the veggies, then another tablespoon green goddess dressing. Place a final layer of toast on top and slice the club sandwich in half. Repeat and serve!
If you like, you can use 15 ounces of your favorite pre-marinated, baked tofu or smoked tofu in place of grilling/baking at home.

 Green Goddess Club Sandwich | The Full Helping

I love that this sandwich packs a protein punch, includes healthful fat in the form of a scrumptious dressing, and is layered with fresh, crispy veggies. I can’t wait to try it with fresh, heirloom tomato slices in the summer and thinly sliced sweet potato rounds in the colder months. I also highly recommend using the optional addition of fresh, chopped herbs; they add a nice touch and make the whole bite more spring-y. If you’d like to save yourself some time, you can use a pre-baked, marinated tofu or smoked tofu from the grocery store in place of baking or grilling at home.

You can learn more about Silver Hills by exploring the company’s website. And if you’re curious about finding Silver Hills breads (or bagels!) near you, they’re available at a number of wholesome grocers and health food stores. The website includes a convenient store locator to help you search.

Yeah, there’s really nothing like a good sandwich. This colorful club certainly beats the bland, mayonnaise-slathered ones I remember from growing up. I have a feeling I’ll be making it pretty often around here, relying on it especially when I’m having lunch on the go. (I’m already thinking ahead to my DI year, when more of my daily meals will be packed up!). Hope you’ll enjoy it, too, and that you’ll save your extra goddess dressing for putting on anything and everything.


This post is sponsored by Silver Hills Bakery. All opinions are my own, and I love these wholesome breads. Thanks for your support!

The post Green Goddess Club Sandwich appeared first on The Full Helping.

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