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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.

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls | The Full Helping

Now matter how my eating patterns shift around to accommodate changes in schedule, the demands of recipe testing, or the pace of my life, my lunch bowls tend to remain the same. This isn’t to say that the ingredients are always the same, or that I always choose similar combinations of foods. I try to switch up my veggies, legumes, and grains as much as possible as the seasons change. But to enjoy a wholesome and comforting midday bowl of food has become as cherished a food ritual as I’ve ever had, and while I know that my schedule won’t always allow me to eat lunch at home, I’m relishing the habit while it lasts.

These easy lemon pepper tempeh and vegetable pasta bowls are my new favorite addition to the lunchtime (or anytime) routine. I’ve been doing a lot of easy pasta salads this summer, and these bowls are sort of a variation on that theme, though the extent to which you mix the ingredients up is totally up to you. You can layer or arrange them as in the photo above, or you can mix everything together before you even serve the dish. Either way, it’s all good.

One of the star ingredients in these easy bowls is my favorite lemon pepper tempeh cubes, which have become a staple weekly ingredient around here. I bake them up and throw them in bowls, salads, pop them into breakfast tostadas, or even pop a couple in my mouth when I’m in the mood for a hearty and protein-dense afternoon snack. They’re so easy to make and so satisfying, and they present me with an easy way to eat more tempeh, which is such an incredibly nutrient-dense plant food: each serving is rich in protein, fiber, and iron.

For the purposes of these bowls, I cut the tempeh into slightly smaller pieces than usual (easier for mixing) and seasoned the cooked pasta and roasted veggies with lemon and pepper, too. The result is a hearty, colorful, summery pasta bowl that can be served hot or cool. Feel free to mix up the vegetables you use for roasting: the eggplant, pepper, and zucchini trio is my summertime go-to, but tomatoes, radishes, onions, and beets would all be awesome, too.

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls | The Full Helping

Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  50 mins

Serves: 4 servings

  • 1 medium or large zucchini, cubed (I like to quarter the zucchini lengthwise, then cut it crosswise into about ¾-inch pieces)
  • 1 small eggplant (about a pound), trimmed and cut into cubes
  • 2 bell peppers, cut into a large dice
  • 2 tablespoons + 2-3 teaspoons (as needed) olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 4 teaspoons fresh thyme leaves
  • 1-2 tablespoons lemon juice (to taste)
  • 8 ounces pasta of choice (whole wheat, spelt, brown rice, quinoa, etc.)
  • 2 cups arugula or baby spinach
  • 1 recipe lemon pepper tempeh cubes (you can substitute baked tofu, either homemade or store-bought, smoked tofu, seasoned seitan pieces, or vegan sausage of choice!)

  1. Preheat your oven to 400F. Toss the vegetables with 2 tablespoons olive oil and the lemon zest. Place them on 1 or 2 lined baking sheets (depending on oven size) and sprinkle generously with salt and pepper. Roast the vegetables for 20 minutes. Add the minced garlic and give the vegetables a good stir on the baking sheet. Continue roasting for another 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are browning at the edges and tender.
  2. When the veggies are close to ready, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Cook your pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is ready, drain it and then toss it with the remaining olive oil (as much as you need to dress the pasta lightly), lemon juice, and thyme leaves. Season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.
  3. To serve your bowls, you can either divide the pasta, tempeh cubes, greens, and roasted veggies evenly in four bowls. Or you can stir everything together in a large mixing bowl before dividing onto plates or bowls and serving.

Leftover pasta, tempeh, and roasted veggies will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


Easy Lemon Pepper Tempeh & Vegetable Pasta Bowls | The Full Helping

There’s my bowl, all mixed up and looking mighty appetizing.

Adaptability is the key to a great bowl, so feel free to try these with orzo, rice, or another cooked grain in place of the pasta. Steamed kale or other greens would also be a nice change of pace from the spinach or the arugula, though I do love the crunch that the fresh greens add to the bowl! No matter what, I hope you enjoy the recipe.

I’m looking forward to the end of the week, and as always, to sharing some reads and recipe finds with you on Sunday. Take care.


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White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

Quesadillas aren’t necessarily a summertime food, but I do tend to make them more often than usual when the weather is warm. They’re low key and require very little cooking time, which is a boon on hot and humid days. Plus, they’re endlessly versatile, a perfect vehicle for all sorts of vegetables, spreads/sauces, beans and other proteins.

These white bean artichoke quesadillas–which I’m calling kale-sadillas, just to be cute–are my newest favorite! I love the contrast of creamy white beans, tangy marinated artichoke hearts, and the slight bite and bitterness of kale. It’s optional, but if you have time, adding roasted garlic to the white bean spread makes the flavors of this simple dish sing.

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

I’ve mentioned in the past that one of the decided downsides of blogging is that pressure to create new recipes can sometimes prevent one from reusing and re-interpreting old ones. The green herb dressing from my first cookbook is one of my all-time favorite summer dressings–a lemony mixture of tahini, parsley, basil, dill, and green onion–yet it’s been ages since I made it. As I was preparing the kale-sadillas for lunch this past weekend, it occurred to me that a bright, herbaceous dressing or sauce would help to enhance all of the flavors.

I’m so glad that I brought the green herb dressing (which I’m calling “dipping sauce” here, but it’s all the same) has re-entered my life. It’s a keeper, and while it’s not necessary for this recipe, it certainly helps to add flavor and color. Plus, it’ll yield leftovers, which you can use in your salads and bowls throughout the week!

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: main dish, entree
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free optional, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  50 mins
Total time:  1 hour

Serves: 2-4 servings

For the white bean artichoke spread:
  • 1 head garlic, top sliced off crosswise (or 1-2 cloves minced raw garlic)
  • 1 teaspoon + 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1½ cups cooked white beans (1 can beans, drained and rinsed)
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 6 ounces (about ¾ cup) marinated artichoke hearts, drained
  • Black pepper to taste
For the quesadillas:
  • 4 cups loosely packed chopped kale
  • 4 large or 6 small corn or whole grain tortillas
For the green herb dipping sauce:
  • 1 cup fresh parsley (leaves and stems)
  • ¼ cup fresh dill
  • ½ cup fresh basil
  • ¼ cup tahini
  • ½ teaspoon Herbamare or sea salt
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1-2 green onions, green parts only, roughly chopped
  • ¼ cup olive oil

  1. To prepare the white bean artichoke spread, preheat oven to 375F. Drizzle a teaspoon oil over the head of garlic and rub the oil over the exposed cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil and roast for 35-40 minutes, or until the cloves are very tender and browning.*
  2. Place the white beans, lemon juice, salt, and remaining olive oil into a food processor fitted with the S blade. When the garlic is ready, squeeze all of the roasted cloves into the mixture. Process the mixture for about 2 minutes, or until it’s very smooth. Add the artichoke hearts and pulse to incorporate them; they should be chopped into small pieces and the dip should be a little chunky. Add black pepper to taste.
  3. If you’re using the green herb dipping sauce, blend all ingredients together in a blender or a food processor till smooth and set the sauce aside.
  4. Steam or sauté the kale until it’s wilted and bright green.
  5. Top each of 2 large or 3 small tortillas with a layer of white bean spread that’s about ¼-inch thick. Top the white bean spread with the steamed kale. Place another tortilla on top. Heat a small sauté pan or grill pan and gently toast each side of the quesadilla, until the two tortillas are each gently browned. Slice the quesadillas into quarters and serve with the green herb sauce.

*If you don’t have time to roast the garlic, simply add 1-2 raw cloves to the white bean spread at the same time you add the beans, lemon, oil, and salt. Leftover white bean artichoke spread will keep for up to 4 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


White Bean Artichoke Kale-sadillas with Green Herb Dipping Sauce | The Full Helping

You can pair these nutritious kale-sadillas with a simple, summery soup (like my easy summer gazpacho or  Thai coconut carrot lemongrass soup) or a quick salad for a very easy, low-stress meal. You may find, as I did, that you love the white bean dip all on its own, in which case, no need to use it in this recipe specifically! I look forward to spreading it on toast or enjoying it with raw veggies as an afternoon snack.

Hope you enjoy the recipe. If you dig it, you might also want to check out my sweet potato and roasted red pepper quesadillas, which are also super summery (and very tasty).

I hope your week is off to a good start. Till soon,


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Weekend Reading, 7.17.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday.

It has been a very hot, if beautiful and sunny weekend here in New York. I’ve gotten caught up on email and work, and now I’m back in the process of cooking, testing, and cooking some more. It’s not the most ideal time of the year to have the stove and/or the oven on, but the creative juices are flowing, and that’s what matters.

Lots of interesting articles this week, as well as a few beautiful standout recipes from blogger friends.



Tis the season for sweet and crumbly berry scones! I love Jodi’s wholesome raspberry oat scones, which look to have just the perfect texture/crumb and feature my favorite type of berries. Use maple syrup or brown rice syrup in place of honey to make these delightful breakfast treats vegan.


My friend Kristy always delivers vegan food that is colorful, hearty, and which offers a new and creative spin on comfort food classics. This morning, I’m particularly intrigued by her chipotle cauliflower carnitas tacos, which feature a tangy green apple slaw and a flavorful spice rub on the roasted cauli. So bright and summery!


As most of you know, I’m a sucker for any recipe that features cashews, and Haley’s creamy cashew veggie noodle bowl is the latest to catch my eye! Brown rice noodles and veggies are simmered with a super rich, flavorful, sweet and salty cashew sauce. YUM.


Sometimes the best recipes are the simplest, especially during these long, hot summer days. I’m just loving Anya’s beautifully colorful marinated summer vegetables and beans over freekeh. I can’t say I use freekeh often enough, but it’s a lovely, nutty, and easy-to-cook whole grain. In this dish, it’s coupled with crisp, smoky summer vegetables and a touch of sriracha for heat.


I’m a great fan–personally and professionally–of vegan chef Anita Shepherd, so I was delighted to see her vegan chocolate birthday cake featured in a recent Food52 genius column. Anita uses avocado to make the cake itself rich and moist, and I can’t wait to try her version of vegan chocolate buttercream.



Some good news for Americans: for reasons that are not entirely clear to scientists and researchers, a number of major diseases, including colon cancer, dementia, and heart disease, are waning in wealthy nations, reports the New York Times. Cancer and heart disease remain leading killers, but they are striking later.

It’s difficult to say whether screening, treatment, or lifestyle change is at the heart of this shift; quite likely it’s a combination of all three. Gina Kolata’s coverage explores the possible factors involved and asks broader questions about how and why disease mortality can change between generations.


In an effort to raise awareness about air pollution and climate change, more than 800,000 students, government officials, and volunteers gathered in India’s Uttar Pradesh state on Monday to plant trees. They planted 49.3 million trees in only 24 hours–a tree-planting Guinness world record, even if it fell slightly short of their goal of 50 million. It’s an incredible effort and a meaningful act of hope.


As usual, Marion Nestle cuts through nutrition hype and misleading headlines with a balanced perspective. This week, she offered some clarity on butter (which, according to Time, is “back”). I appreciate her cautionary hype alert: “any time you read that science got it wrong, be skeptical.  Maybe they did, but it’s more likely that the science is still incomplete.”

And indeed, the Time coverage has failed to put research in a meaningful and clear context. The reality is that butter (and other saturated fats), so far as we can determine, are still moderation foods. For more on this, you can also read reporting from The Center for Science in the Public Interest and Harvard’s School of Public Health.


The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans have been published for some time now, and some of the controversy surrounding the failure of recommendations to reduce red meat consumption to be included in the final guidelines has abated. Still, one researcher–Stanford professor of medicine Randall Stafford–continues to take a stand.

In a letter to the Journal of the American Medical Association that was published on July 12, the preventive-medicine expert addressed the failure of the newest DGA to articulate the health and climate benefits of a low-meat diet. The Stanford Medicine News Center published a Q&A with Stafford, probing his mission in writing the letter and asking him some interesting questions about the benefits and urgency of a plant-based eating paradigm.


Finally, a smart and on-point article in Vox about the biggest challenges facing science today. Drawing on feedback from over 270 scientists, the article touches on such issues as industry funding, poorly designed studies, and failure to replicate study findings prior to publication. I think that point #6 — science is poorly communicated to the public — is especially important, especially within the nutrition world.

And that, friends, is that. I wish you a wonderful rest of your weekend, and I’ll have some new warm-weather vegan fare for you on the blog later this week!


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Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

When my interest with raw food was at its height, cool soups became one of my favorite types of recipes. It was cool to realize that blending a few simple ingredients could result in perfect gazpacho, a quick “tortilla” soup, or a chilled avocado cucumber soup to die for.

This hot or cold Thai carrot coconut lemongrass soup offers the best of both worlds: it’s simmered in order to release the flavors of lemongrass, ginger, garlic, and curry, but it can be served either warm or chilled, depending on what you’re in the mood for.

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

I love the thick, creamy texture, which is almost reminiscent of a bisque, and all of the bold Thai flavors. Best of all, the cooking time is pretty quick, which means that you won’t have to spend too much time at the stove on a hot day.

This soup marks one of my first attempts to cook with lemongrass. It’s a flavor that I love, but I confess that I’ve been a little intimidated by the tall, tough stalks of fresh lemongrass I’ve seen at markets. I used this video to help cue me through the cooking and preparation process, and it worked like a charm. I peeled the stalks, removing the tough outer layers, then used a rolling pin to smash them a bit. I threw them into the soup, allowed them to simmer with the other ingredients, and fished them out right before blending.

I really dug the delicate, fragrant citrusy quality that the lemongrass seemed to contribute to the soup, but if you don’t have any or can’t find it, no big deal. I recommend adding just a touch of extra lime juice and a teaspoon or two of lime zest to the soup instead!

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: soup
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  30 mins
Total time:  40 mins

Serves: 6 servings

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 white or yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 2 tablespoons red Thai curry paste
  • 2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 1 14-ounce can light coconut milk
  • 1¾ pounds trimmed, peeled, and chopped carrots (about 6-7 cups, or 8-9 large carrots)
  • 2 stalks lemongrass, tough outer layers remove and pounded with a rolling pin or mallet to release essential oils (substitute 2 teaspoons lime zest)
  • Dash crushed red pepper flakes
  • Juice of 1 lime

  1. Heat the oil in a large pot over medium heat. When the oil is shimmering, add the onion and sauté for about 5-7 minutes, or until the onions are clear and soft, adding a tablespoon or two of water to help prevent sticking if necessary. Add the garlic, ginger, curry paste, and tamari. Sauté for 2 minutes, or until the garlic is very fragrant.
  2. Add the broth, coconut milk, carrots, lemongrass, and red pepper to the pot. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and simmer for 20 minutes.
  3. Remove the lemongrass stalks from the pot. Transfer the soup to a blender in batches and blend till smooth, or use an immersion blender to blend the soup completely. Return the soup the pot, stir in the lime juice, and adjust seasonings to taste. You can also stir in some extra broth if the soup is too thick for your liking.
  4. Serve with chopped basil, finely chopped peppers, sprouts or microgreens, sliced avocado, or a swirl of coconut milk or cashew cream, if desired!

Leftover soup will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days. They can be frozen for up to 1 month.


Hot or Cold Thai Carrot Coconut Lemongrass Soup | The Full Helping

I hope you’ll enjoy this bright and delightful soup! So far, I’ve had it both warm and cold, and it’s hard to say which I prefer. It’s a hot and humid week around here, so I have a feeling that the chilled leftovers will be a staple for me for the next few days. The soup thickens up nicely in the fridge, and the flavors will continue to marry as the leftovers sit.

True to my promise to myself, I’ve eased back into things slowly and mindfully this week, taking care to pace myself. It feels good so far. I hope you all have a wonderful start to the weekend, and as always, I’ll be back with some weekend reading links on Sunday.


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Weekend Reading, 7.11.16

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Monday, everyone!

I’m back from Colorado, where I had a great time. It would have been difficult not to enjoy the trip, given that Ashley and I haven’t seen each other in a long time and had much catching up to do as friends. But my hope had been that the week would be professionally restorative, too–an anecdote to some of the creative frustration and general burnout I’ve been feeling.

And it was. I’ve promised myself that I’d ease back into the swing of things very slowly this week, so as not to create the same frantic work schedule that tends to drain me in the first place. But having a little time, space, and distance from my everyday life has certainly given me new energy and focus.

On a practical level, it was also a huge relief to retest some of the recipes and be assured that they work. My recipe testers have given awesome feedback so far, but it’s incredible how easy it can be to start revisiting and questioning. Making the recipes again–this time with the help of another cook–and watching them come to life through Ashley’s photos was a reminder of how and why the ideas had felt important to me in the first place.

And then there was Ashley’s calm presence, such a valuable antidote to my slightly nervous one. I have much to learn from her work ethic and attitude. I was so touched by her generosity and willingness to go far above and beyond her role as a photographer in making this book come to life.

golden rice bowl-3

There’s a song lyric that I used to think about all the time when I was living in DC. It’s from Bob Dylan’s “I’ll Keep it With Mine”:

Everybody will help you / Some people are very kind

Later in the song it becomes “everybody will help you / discover what you set out to find.” I thought of it so often during the post-bacc years, because in spite of how difficult they were, they were also marked by grace and generosity. A lot of people–some of whom were practically strangers–took the time to help and support me when I found myself struggling in a new city. It was a lesson in how gracious human beings can be.

And I learned that lesson all over again this past week, simply by being around Ashley. She is generous by nature, a great friend, and I’m grateful to her in many ways.


I wish I could say more about the images and the book itself, but publication is so far away that I don’t want to run the risk of exhausting you all with details before they’re actually timely! I guess what matters is that things are moving along!

wild rice salad
pesto pasta salad-2

And now, it’s time to settle back into real life–slowly. I’ll start by sharing some of the recipes and reads I found while I was traveling.


Cranberry Orange Bread (Vegan)

To being, I’m loving Traci’s colorful and simple recipe for broccoli slaw with golden raisins and walnuts. Golden raisins are one of my favorite dried fruits (especially for salads), and I love the use of vegan mayo to make this recipe authentic and creamy.

Screen Shot 2016-07-11 at 2.08.07 PM

It’s just about time for eggplant in anything and everything, and one recipe I’ve bookmarked is Kankana’s baby eggplant in coconut cashew gravy. I’d probably eat anything with cashew gravy, but the eggplants look especially tender and delightful.


Quinoa salads are basically my lunchtime staple during the summer (see: here and here and here), so I’m all over Heidi’s Latin chipotle quinoa salad with avocado. Fresh, colorful, and fast!


Snacktime just became a lot more wonderful, thanks to Dolly’s inspired raw “nutella” bars. I’ve seen many raw food renditions of Nutella itself, but not too many themed snacks or desserts. These look like just the right balance of decadent and healthful, and I can’t wait to try them.


Another beautiful raw food dessert: McKel’s raw strawberry summer tarts. So adorable, and I love that these take only 20 minutes to prepare!



I was disappointed to read this article in the New York Times about continuing pay discrepancies between male and female physicians. In spite of the fact that more women are represented in medicine than ever, the wage gap at a number of prominent medical schools seems to persist (according to the study, it’s $20,000 per year on average, after accounting for exogenous factors that could influence income).


An interesting article about the neurochemistry of anxiety, via Psychology Today. In some ways I felt that the article minimized external stressors and perhaps drew too many assumptions about the extent to which an anxiety sufferer can be “in control” of the phenomenon. But I do appreciate the article’s proactive and positive emphasis, and I thought the information about creating “self-soothing” pathways was pretty cool.


A powerful article about the ways in which human beings are coming to terms with the atrocities of factory farming and the overall brutality with which we treat farm animals. There seems to be a growing body of journalistic work that acknowledges and details how human recognition of animal sentience is shifting, and it makes me really excited.

credit JacobRushing

On a similar note, I absolutely loved The Vegan Society’s profile of author Ruby Roth, who has created remarkable children’s books that address animal rights and vegetarianism. I especially loved this explanation of Roth’s imagery and style:

Ruby’s works are filled with colourful, dynamic images of animals. These stylized figures are far removed from the Disnified characters often found in children’s cartoons – is this a conscious decision? “Absolutely! Anthropomorphisation takes away from the real rich emotional lives of animals as well as the intelligence of children. I don’t paint my animals smiling huge grins or with giant dewy eyes, and in general I steer clear of making them talk. We don’t need to make animals ‘serve’ kids in pretend, make-believe ways in order to get them to pay attention.”

And I was also interested to read that she finds children generally easier to communicate with regarding veganism than adults:

“Kids react to veganism with much more diplomacy than adults do. They get quiet, they think, they ask questions and offer insights. You can really have great philosophical discussions with kids because their imaginations and their love for nature and animals makes them so open to thinking about the world as it is and asking, ‘Why?’”

The whole piece is well worth reading. And if there is a young person in your life with whom you’d like to discuss the choice to not eat animals, Roth’s books are a wonderful point of departure.


Finally, a controversial new article in Today’s Dietitian about whether or not it is the responsibility of dietitians to adhere to certain body shapes in order to “set an example” for patients. My personal feeling, which is echoed by many of the dietitians interviewed, is that there’s some truth to the idea that patients would prefer to work with dietitians who actively model the healthful eating habits that they prescribe professionally. However, this is a separate issue from what dietitians weigh. Body shape is highly variable, often genetically determined, and appearances don’t bespeak a person’s healthfulness.

Beyond this, I think that there are limits to how strictly we ought to expect health care professionals to model the advice they are tasked with prescribing. I certainly understand this expectation, but at the same time, I believe that patients need to exercise compassion and real-world understanding. Health care professionals are human beings, and like all of us, they sometimes cannot or do not behave in a way that fits neatly with evidence-based lifestyle guidelines. That makes them no less capable of offering sound, informed, and intelligent advice to their patients, and we should grant them a little space between their professional duties and their personal choices.

On that note, friends, I’m signing off for today. I hope you all had a nice weekend, and I look forward to offering you a new recipe soon.


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Weekend Reading, 7.4.16


Happy July 4th, everyone! I hope you have a celebratory day, filled with good company and good food.

Steven and I are having a low key holiday at home this year. The avenues are quiet, the cars have all been driven away, and the city feels uncharacteristically spacious. Part of what I love about New York is its grittiness and bustle and noise, but when the city is empty over these long summer weekends I can admire it in a different way, peeking at what lies beneath the hectic daily tapestry.

My summer travels this year will begin after July 4th. This coming week, I’ll be flying to Denver to spend some time with my friend and fellow blogger Ashley. Why? Because Ashley has graciously agreed to be the photographer for my next cookbook, and we’re going to be working on the first photo shoot together. I’m a huge admirer of Ashley’s work, and I can’t believe how lucky I am to partner with her for this project. She’s already proving to be an invaluable source of ideas and inspiration, and I suspect that by the time the book is finished I’ll have her to thank for making it possible.

I’m going to take a week or so off from blogging while I’m gone, so that I can focus on the trip and the work at hand. I had every intention of making June a fruitful and productive month in terms of recipe development and testing, but I can’t say that things went according to schedule. I was bogged down by summer class, and if there’s a culinary correlate to writer’s block, I was all up in it.

My recipe testing process for the last two books was overwhelming at times, but it didn’t feel creatively challenging. Perhaps it was the quick turnaround time (short deadlines on both manuscripts) or the fact that I completed the first book as I was studying for the MCAT, and in comparison to test preparation any other task was bound to feel like a reprieve.

This time around, for whatever reason, the cookbook testing process has not felt easy or organic at all. A lot of it is sheer nerves: I’m amazed by how much time I spend second guessing myself, scrapping recipes, going back to the drawing board. I hope that this is all in the service of creating something that will feel authentic and valuable, but at the moment it’s hard not to be frustrated. My voice of culinary intuition is so tiny, and so quiet.

In the face of this little spell of creative blockage, I’ve turned to some of my favorite books about writing for comfort. I’ve always felt that there are some parallels between writing and cooking (maybe because the processes go hand-in-hand for me: I cook, and then I write about what I cook). In the past two weeks I’ve revisited passages from Bird by Bird, Still Writing, The Writing Life, The Situation and the Story–books that have given me insight into what the creative process feels like.

I don’t flatter myself that my recipe development is nearly as vital or as ambitious as the kind of artistic endeavors that the authors are trying to describe, but what makes these books appealing is that each one portrays the insecurities and ego-shakedowns that accompany creative work with honesty and humor. They’ve reminded me that creativity ebbs and flows for everyone, and we’re bound to feel shocked and abandoned when we find ourselves in the middle of an ebb. Sometimes we simply need space, distance, slowing down, and a little perspective in order to feel inspired again.

So, this week is a mini-break for me, a chance to step back and share the process with someone else (someone who is admirably patient, calm, and full of ideas–Ashley never ceases to impress me). When I come home, I’ll have the remainder of the summer to cultivate my own patience and (hopefully) have some fun with the process, too.

Also crucial for the creative process: inspiration from friends. Here are the beautiful recipes that caught my eye this week.



I’m licking my lips over Meg’s colorful best ever cauliflower roast. Cauliflower florets are tossed in a dreamy-sounding basil sauce, roasted, then piled over black rice and crispy chickpeas. What a fantastic mix of flavors and textures.


I should have posted Sheri’s scrumptious vegan eggplant sliders with oregano tomato slaw and peppercorn aioli before the long weekend, as they’re ideal for 4th of July gatherings. But summer is long, and this creative recipe will be seasonal for many weeks to come.


I’m so into Jessie’s zucchini asparagus corn summer pasta with creamy hemp sauce, which was apparently a casual lunch in her home (Jessie, I’m tipping my hat to you, because casual lunches around here are a lot less inspiring). When I was into raw food, I did a lot of zucchini noodle pasta meals with some sort of hemp-based sauce, and that’s what this dish reminds me of–but I love how the roasted vegetables add flavor and depth.


Speaking of lunches, Erin’s BBQ chickpea sandwich with tahini slaw is just about the perfect summer lunch, and I’m particularly intrigued by the peach barbecue sauce. This recipe is crying out to my love of sweet/savory things, and I can’t wait to make it.


Finally, another stone fruit recipe to savor this summer: Ana’s creamy peach and walnut ice cream. I love that Ana uses banana soft serve as a base for the dish (two types of fruit on one plate!) and the grilled peaces are an inspired accompaniment. Yum.



The last topic we covered in my summer MNT class was diabetes, and we spent much time discussing the dangers of hypoglycemic episodes, especially for those with T1DM. I was interested to read this article on companion dogs who can detect and respond to hypoglycemic episodes, often with far more efficacy than the various alarm systems that exist to alert diabetes sufferers of a dip in blood sugar.

I’m continually amazed by what canine creatures can do, and touched by the ways in which our lives can be symbiotically intertwined with theirs.


Since I mentioned writing advice this weekend, I thought I’d share Leo Babuta’s post on training to be a good writer. I offer it with the disclaimer that some bits will probably resonate with you and others won’t. Take what you find useful, and leave the rest behind. I was especially struck by his words about overcoming resistance and greeting writing as a form of mindfulness practice.


Some good news: the National Aquarium in Baltimore will soon be moving eight dolphins who were raised in captivity to a protected, oceanside sanctuary, where they will live out the remainder of their natural lives in peace and without public scrutiny.

My hope is that this act and others like it will encourage places like Sea World to stop treating aquatic animals as a form of amusement, and to publicly recognize these creatures are here with us, not for us.


Another major victory for animals this week: all medical schools in the US and Canada are now completely free of the use of animals (like dogs and pigs) in medical training. This effort is thanks to decades of persistent and courageous activism from PCRM, and it is huge. I’m so grateful to the advocates who have made this possible, and I hope that it comes as happy news to the many pre-med and medical students who have spoken out against dissection and animal laboratories throughout the years.


Since I came clean about anxiety and depression in my birthday post this year, small glimmers of relief have started to shine through the bewildering feelings. Because I find it very hard to confide in people directly right now, writing has become a means of remaining honest and open. And since I named the struggles out loud, I’ve actually started to actively seek comfort–or at least a sense of solace through the recognition of shared experience.

So, I was interested to read Maria Popova’s review of Catherine Lepage’s Thin Slices of Anxiety, a sensitively illustrated book that matches imagery with some of the confounding and unspeakable feelings that anxiety sufferers face. It’s worth reading the review, which shares illustrations and captions from the book along with deeper reflections on its purpose:

Laced with the meta-stressors familiar to anyone afflicted with anxiety — shame for being gripped by anxiety in the first place, self-blame for putting oneself in situations known to trigger it, exasperation upon realizing that its predictable trajectory of anguish is underway yet being unable to stop it — the book radiates a wistful yet warm assurance that these overwhelming emotional states, as all-consuming and singular as they seem, mark our membership in a larger fellowship of tribulation in which we are never as alone as we may feel.

I nodded and smiled as I read Popova’s review, and perhaps you or someone you love will, too.


I’ll be back in a week with another roundup of reads, and with some new recipes before too long.

For now, happy 4th of July, again. May the day remind us of the value of freedom and independence for all living beings on earth.


The post Weekend Reading, 7.4.16 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

It can be daunting to ponder vegan options for a July 4th get together. Should one go with something traditional and suitable for grilling, like veggie burgers, tempeh skewers, or seitan? Perhaps it’s better to create a crowd-pleasing side dish, like potato salad or pasta salad. Then again, maybe something sweet, like a batch of cornbread or a vegan crisp or cobbler, is best.

This year, keeping with my recent theme of time-saving food, I decided to share a summery July 4th (or anytime) salad that’s substantial enough to be meal-worthy, but also light enough to serve as a side. This protein-packed black and kidney bean quinoa salad was inspired by the idea of a traditional three bean salad, but it became pretty untraditional along the way.

My recollection of three bean salads is that most mix green beans with two types of legumes. They’re plenty nutritious, but I’ve always felt that they could use a little extra substance. Since I’ve been adding quinoa to most of my salads lately (Caesar salad, BLT salad, etc.), I figured that it wouldn’t hurt to keep the theme going and add some quinoa to a three bean salad, too. A bit of fresh arugula adds bright, peppery flavor, as well as healthful phytonutrients.

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

This salad features black and kidney beans, along with shelled edamame. I’ve never paired these three ingredients before—usually when I make a salad, it’s one type of legume or another—but I really like the way that the size and textures of the different beans work together. And since there are also steamed green beans in here, the salad is really a four bean salad.

To make all of the flavors come alive, I added a roasted garlic vinaigrette that I feel certain I’ll be making again and again this summer. I tend to eat a lot of roasted garlic during these months because I’m often roasting one or another pan of tomatoes or peppers, and it’s easy to wrap a head of garlic and add it to the tray. I love how roasted garlic is super flavorful without being overly sharp or spicy. If you have a favorite vinaigrette that you use for summer salads, you can definitely substitute it, and save yourself the roasting step.

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  45 mins
Total time:  55 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

5.0 from 1 reviews


For the salad:
  • ¾ cups uncooked quinoa (or 2 ½ cups pre-cooked quinoa)
  • 1⅓ cups shelled edamame (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 2 cups green beans, cut into 1 inch pieces and steamed or blanched till crisp tender
  • 1 cup chopped, roasted red bell peppers (about 4 roasted bell peppers–you can roast them yourself, or purchase them in the jar) or 1 ½ cups chopped, fresh red pepper
  • 1½ cups cooked kidney beans (1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed, or ½ cup beans if you’re preparing from scratch)
  • 1½ cups cooked black beans (1 can black beans, drained and rinsed, or ½ cup beans if you’re preparing from scratch)
  • 3-4 loosely packed cups baby arugula
  • Optional: ¼ cup loosely packed, snipped chives or chopped green onion tops
For the Roasted Garlic Vinaigrette
  • 1 whole head garlic, top sliced off crosswise
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil, plus extra for roasting the garlic
  • ¼ cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup or agave
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste

  1. Preheat your oven to 375F. Drizzle a little olive oil over the head of the garlic and rub it over the exposed garlic cloves. Wrap the garlic in foil, place it on a baking sheet, and roast for 30-35 minutes, or until the cloves are soft and fragrant.
  2. While the garlic roasts, rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve. Transfer the quinoa and 1 ½ cups water to a small pot. Bring the mixture to a boil, cover, and reduce heat to low. Simmer for 15 minutes, or until the quinoa has absorbed all of the water. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to rest while you prepare the rest of the salad.
  3. When the garlic is ready, squeeze all of the cloves out of the garlic head into a blender or a food processor. Add all remaining dressing ingredients. Blend the dressing till smooth.
  4. To prepare the salad, pile the edamame, green beans, bell pepper, kidney beans, black beans, and arugula into an extra large mixing bowl. Add the cooked quinoa, the chives or green onions if using, and then the vinaigrette. Toss the salad well to combine, then adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve.


Protein-Packed Black and Kidney Bean Quinoa Salad | The Full Helping

As you can see, I recommend roasted red peppers for the recipe, but it’s fine to use raw ones instead. And of course, you should feel free to add your own veggies of choice; grated carrots, fresh corn, and roasted zucchini would all make a great addition to the salad.

This dish is part of my year long celebration of the International Year of Pulses! In honor of the UN’s recognition of pulses as a sustainable, economical, and nutritious protein source, I’m inviting everyone to take the Pulse Pledge with me. It’s a commitment to eating pulses once a week for 10 weeks (or as long as you like). For plant-based eaters, this amount is no big deal, but if you’re hoping to incorporate more pulse recipes into your diet, the pledge is one stress-free way to do it.

In addition to being crowd-pleasing, this salad lives up to its name: once serving packs about 17 grams of pulse-powered protein. Which means that it’s both a tasty and a nutritious contribution to any holiday weekend gatherings you might be joining.

I hope you’ll enjoy it. And I look forward to seeing you back here this weekend, as always, for my weekly roundup of recipes and reads.


This post was created in partnership with the USA Pulses and Pulse Canada. Opinions are my own. Thank you for your support, and I can’t wait to share more pulse recipes with you this year! To learn more about the Pulse Pledge, visit www.pulsepledge.com.

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Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

I’ve heard it said that tofu, tempeh, and seitan are the “holy trinity” of vegan proteins. I’ve been an ardent and tofu and tempeh lover most of my vegan years, but seitan has always been a tough sell for me, which is why I’m particularly excited to share this recipe for spicy seitan sofrito bowls today.

My first reaction upon eating seitan was that it tasted a little too much like meat; whereas tofu and tempeh seemed to have flavors and textures that were undeniably unique, seitan really did taste (to me) like chicken. As someone who had given meat up happily and without too many residual cravings, I didn’t feel a strong need to replace it in my vegan diet.

Over time, though, and especially since I’ve started dating Steven, I’ve come to value meat replacements a lot more highly. Steven has adopted a mostly vegan diet as part of our life together. It was a big change for him, and I see how much easier and more enjoyable his journey has been because really wonderful veggie burgers, burger crumbles, chicken strips, deli slices, and other faux meats exist. These products give him a sense of connection to familiar, favorite foods, and using more of them in my cooking has given me a fun opportunity to experiment, to expand my options, and to try new ingredients.

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

Seitan is easy to make, but since it’s still a relatively new-to-me ingredient, I’m focused on figuring out how to use and season it–creating a homemade version will come next! For now, I’ve been appreciating the convenience and flavor of Sweet Earth seitan strips.

The Sweet Earth Natural Foods company focuses on making affordable, plant-based vegetarian and vegan foods that are packed with protein and flavor. The products are easy to prepare, and they can be found at a wide range of retailers, from local health food stores to Target. The company is passionate about making a plant-based diet “accessible to anyone who wants to try it.”

Sweet Earth Foods | The Full Helping
Sweet Earth Foods | The Full Helping

SweetEarth products range from seitan strips and grounds (in traditional flavor, chipotle, or curry satay) to a variety of vegan and vegetarian burritos, frozen meals, and even a “benevolent bacon.” The products honor seitan as part of a long tradition of vegetarian cooking, which dates back to the kitchens of Buddhist zen monks (seitan is still sometimes referred to as “monk meat”). Sweet Earth foods also feature a wide array of nutrient dense vegetables, pulses, nuts and seeds.

The veggie burgers–which feature millet, black beans, and chickpeas–are among my favorites, especially the za’atar flavor.

Seitan Sofrito Bowls 4

Sweet Earth products pay homage to global flavors and bold, savory seasonings. So, as I was thinking about today’s recipe, the idea of a bold sofrito bowl immediately came to mind.

Sofrito is a sauce–usually consisting of consists of garlic, onion, paprika, peppers, and tomatoes–used to flavor vegetables and meat in Spanish, Portugese, and South American cooking. It’s simple to prepare, especially if you allow a food processor to do the chopping.

Here, a simple sofrito mix is used to simmer hearty seitan strips, and it’s all paired with an easy, flavorful spin on Spanish rice (the rice recipe may become a staple for me; it’s a great way to turn ordinary rice into a more filling side dish). Massaged kale and avocado complete the dish and add color. You can use your favorite steamed or roasted vegetable in place of the kale, and if you’re allergic to wheat or gluten, you can use tofu or tempeh (or even spiced lentils) in place of the seitan.

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  40 mins
Total time:  50 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

5.0 from 1 reviews


For the Spanish rice:
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ large white or yellow onion, diced
  • ½ red bell pepper, diced
  • ½ green bell pepper, diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 1 cup green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 cup cauliflower, chopped into small florets and pieces
  • 1 cup uncooked brown basmati rice, rinsed
  • ¾ cup crushed tomatoes (half of a 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes; you’ll use the other half in the sofrito, below)
  • ¾ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Generous dash crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 2 cups water or low sodium vegetable broth
For the seitan sofrito:
  • 1 tablespoon + 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 16 ounces seitan strips (substitute 16 ounces cubed tofu or tempeh if you’re allergic to wheat or gluten)
  • 4 cloves garlic, peeled
  • ½ large white or yellow onion, roughly chopped
  • ½ red bell pepper
  • ½ green bell pepper
  • ¾ cup crushed tomatoes (1/2 14-ounce can crushed tomatoes)
  • 4 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon crushed thyme
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Dash cayenne pepper (optional)
For the massaged kale:
  • 6 cups finely chopped kale leaves
  • ½ tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • Pinch salt and dash pepper
  • ½ Hass avocado

  1. First, make the rice. Heat the olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and a pinch of salt. Cook the onions for 5 minutes, or until they’re soft and clear, stirring frequently. Add the peppers, carrot, cauliflower, and green beans. Cook the vegetables, stirring occasionally, for another 4-5 minutes, or until the cauliflower is just tender. Add the rice, tomatoes, smoked paprika, salt, crushed red pepper, and water or broth. Bring the mixture to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cover the rice. Simmer for 35-45 minutes, or until the rice is tender and has absorbed all of the liquid. Remove the rice from heat and adjust seasonings to taste.
  2. While the rice cooks, make the seitan sofrito. Place the garlic, onion, and peppers into the bowl of a food processor fitted with the S blade and pulse until everything is finely chopped. (Alternately, finely chop by hand.)
  3. Heat two teaspoons oil in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add the seitan strips and cook, stirring, until they’re lightly browned. Remove the seitan strips from the skillet.
  4. Add another tablespoon olive oil to the skillet. Add the chopped garlic, onion, and pepper mixture, along with the crushed tomatoes, tomato paste, thyme, and cayenne. Wait until the mixture is bubbly, then simmer it for 10 minutes, covered, or until it has thickened up (it should be the texture of a chunky tomato sauce). Stir in the seitan strips.
  5. To make the kale, place all ingredients in a large mixing bowl. Massage the kale with our hands until it’s tender, then season to taste.
  6. To assemble the bowls, divide the rice, seitan, and kale evenly into four bowls. Serve with any toppings you like: hot sauce, chopped cilantro or parsley, or chopped green onions are all great!

Leftover rice and seitan will keep for up to 3 days in an airtight container in the fridge.


Spicy Seitan Sofrito Bowls | The Full Helping

Even if you’ve been eating a vegan diet for a long time, it’s fun to branch out and experiment with new foods. I’m glad that products like these exist to widen options and increase convenience for both longtime vegans and those who are curious about trying the diet. I hope you enjoy the bowls, too.

For those of you who are curious about trying some of the Sweet Earth products at home, a little giveaway. Enter below to win a Sweet Earth Swag Kit (including a T-shirt, tote bag, and stickers) and 5 free product coupons–which you can use at any retailer to explore Sweet Earth products of your choice. The giveaway will run for one week, and it’s open to US readers only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I’ll be back at the end of this week with an easy, flavorful, protein packed salad that’s perfect for toting along to July 4th cookouts and gatherings. Till soon!


This post is sponsored by Sweet Earth Natural Foods. All opinions expressed are my own. Thank you for your support!

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Weekend Reading, 6.26.16


Happy Sunday, friends! I hope you’ve had a nice weekend.

I’m moving into the home stretch of my summer MNT class, and I couldn’t be more ready for it to end. It has been interesting, for sure, but I’m ready to turn my attention to my work for the remainder of the summer. Steven and I have a quiet 4th of July weekend planned at home, and it’ll be a great opportunity to rest, cook, and catch up. In the meantime, one more exam and one more assignment to go.

Lots of delicious, simple, summery eats to share with you this week, from pasta to popsicles. Here’s what I’ve been bookmarking.



First up, I can’t stop drooling over Ashley’s gorgeous vegan and gluten free vanilla waffles, which are topped off with vanilla cashew cream. The waffles use aquafaba as a binder, and Ashley says it took her 10+ tries to get them just right. I rarely have the patience to stick with a recipe for that long if it’s not turning out for me, so I’m super impressed with Ashley’s persistence, which was clearly worthwhile. These are beautiful, and I can’t wait to try them.


A very different, yet equally delicious breakfast idea: Marta’s chocolate fruity breakfast quinoa with nuts. It’s basically a chocolatey smoothie with cooked quinoa stirred in and plenty of crunchy toppings. I love this idea; smoothies rarely satisfy me anymore as a breakfast option, but I can definitely get down with morning smoothies if they happen to include some wholesome grains and nuts or seeds.

And some chocolate.


Speaking of breakfast, tostadas are probably my favorite breakfast these days, and Ashley’s grilled avocado tostadas with black beans and charred scallion salsa are calling my name. Just check out her beautiful and abundant spread, featuring perfectly grilled, tender avocados! The scallion salsa alone is a wonderful idea for adding flavor and smokiness to bowls, salads, and wraps.


I can’t think of a more quintessential vegan comfort food dish than Heather’s lemony garlic pasta with nooch and veggies (well, OK, I probably can, but this kind of meal would be high on the list).

I used to eat spaghetti with nooch all the time when I first went vegan. Heather’s lovely pasta is a more nutritious and colorful spin on what remains a super comforting combination for me.


Finally, I’m craving Alana’s beautiful blackberry maple cream popsicles, which are totally vegan and feature a maple cashew cream base. It’s nice to see a creamy vegan popsicle recipe that isn’t coconut based (I like coconut, but only in small amounts, and I tend to prefer the sweetness and neutral flavor of cashews), and the color contrast here is so pretty. Also, I tend to be a sucker for anything with maple flavor!



This is a really cool article, via NPR, on global interdependence in the food system. Many of us know that tomatoes, for example, didn’t original in Italy, in spite of how closely we associate Italian cuisine with tomato sauce and caprese salad.

Still, it can be hard for us to wrap our minds around the extent to which the foods we know and love have passed through multiple points of origin. A new study has endeavored to reveal the full extent of globalization in our food supply. Its findings show that more than two-thirds of the crops that underpin national diets originally came from somewhere else, and that somewhere else was often quite far indeed. The trend has accelerated exponentially in the past 50 years.

The article is worth checking out; you might surprised to explore the origin and primary regions of diversity for 151 different food crops. The authors of the study in question say that their findings are good evidence that we should acknowledge the interdependence of our food system, especially as threats of extreme weather continue to grow.


I really loved Carrie Armstrong’s reflections on lessons learned from having once endeavored–and succeeded–to be stickly thin. Armstrong isn’t the first writer to bravely advocate for inhabiting a healthful, well-nourished body, but I think she captures the hollowness of anorexia better than most:

Then I got poorly. Really quite poorly, for a long time. And one result of this was that I went down to weighing six stone.
I realised then, that really what happened when you became very thin, was just that your clothing became very small.
That you were cold, all the time.
That you woke up, covered in bruises from where your protruding bones met mattress springs.
That it didn’t make you anything, other than less than you were before.

That’s about the long and the short of it. For me, the essence of anorexia recovery is an acknowledgement that extreme thinness, far from amplifying our own importance, value, or worthiness, makes us smaller. Smaller in every way. To recover is to expand not only the physical shape, but also the scope of one’s life and potential.

Screen Shot 2016-06-26 at 9.18.28 AM

A smart, succinct, and commonsense article by a registered dietitian on the trouble with low-carb dieting, especially when it’s coupled with increased exercise. Jae Berman argues that this pattern can not only trigger binges or excessive carb cravings in the long-term, but also that it can enhance stress, which can encourage the lowering of basal metabolic rate and retention of weight.

Of course, every body is different. Experience has suggested to me that people can feel particularly energetic or well with a variety of different macronutrient balances. This is reflected in dietary patterns and cultural eating styles around the world, some of which are naturally higher in fat and lower in carbs, or higher in complex carbs but lower in fat.

Some variance aside, however, we all need protein, fat, and carbohydrates to function and thrive, and I’ve seen primarily disastrous consequences among clients who have tried to dramatically slash carb intake (namely binge and purge cycles, but also low energy, irritability, hormone disruption, and weight gain). As Berman notes, “the body absolutely needs carbohydrates for survival and a healthy metabolism. Especially if you are exercising, carbohydrates are needed — they are the fuel to assist our metabolism, feed our brain and manage our stress hormones.”


An interesting article on the marketing of “manly” food to men and teen boys. Not surprisingly, “man food” often includes excessive portions and plenty of meat (I couldn’t help but think of Carol J. Adams as I was reading). Author David Sax writes,

Manly food ads present a cleverly crafted challenge to our manhood: Are you man enough to eat this shit?
And shit it is. Manly food, as opposed to equally patronizing “lady food” (diet sodas, low-calorie cereals, herbal teas), are pretty much universally unhealthy. Huge quantities of processed, salty meats, wrapped in refined carbohydrates, saturated in chemical cheese goos, and fortified with colored sugar water. Are you man enough to get a colonoscopy? Because that’s what’ll happen if you buy into this crap…
…[T]he consequences of this kind of marketing are real. Men suffer from heart attacks and fatal coronary heart disease at twice the levels women do, and obesity rates tend to be considerably higher for men as well.

It’s worth noting that heart disease and obesity rates are climbing for women these days, especially in minority communities, and food marketing to women can be equally insidious. Still, Sax is right to point out that the presentation of junk food as a “challenge” to men’s sense of virility is both ridiculous and damaging.


Finally, a humorously written, yet serious article on how to support an anxious partner while also taking care of yourself. As an anxious person whose anxious tendencies keeping growing as I get older, I appreciated author Kat Kinsman’s tips, especially these two:

Don’t try to fix them.
You’re this person’s husband, wife, boyfriend, girlfriend, lover, polyamorous partner, not their therapist. (And if you are, stop dating them immediately because that’s creepy and unethical.) They cannot be well for you. It’s unfair to pressure someone to live up to your idea of how they should be, and they may end up feeling like they failed you. It makes your love conditional. Instead, just let them know that you’d like them to feel better because you love them — not because they have to be well in order to be loved.
Be OK with the fact that happiness looks different for different people.
For some, it’s balloons, dancing, party hats or Jaeger bombs at the club. Others, an Instagram snapshot with toes in sand or Deepak Chopra drawn in latte foam. (#bliss #bestlife #blessed) For an anxious person, it might be a day that passes without a panic attack or having to pound down Tums. It might just be having the wherewithal to get dressed and walk around the block. Calm is a terribly underrated emotion, but it’s just as valid as joy.

Both of these ideas resonate with me. It’s terrible to feel, when you’re stuck in the muck of anxiety or depression, that your experience is making you a less desirable or worthy lover, partner, or friend. Being pushed to slough off the feelings in order to meet someone else’s expectations of normalcy or happiness is never helpful, never a true means of resolution.

And yes, calmness, equanimity, the feeling spaciousness–these can be underrated emotions, but for many of us, they are as important and precious as celebration or jubilation.

OK, everyone, I’m off for today. I wish you a happy Sunday–whatever that means to you–and I’ll be back this week with some new recipes.


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Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

When I was living in DC, I ate some form of a quinoa salad for lunch nearly every single day. It was a perfect response to the heat and humidity: something light, yet filling and nutritious. Sometimes I’d add beans, sometimes not; sometimes it was hemp or flax oil and on other days I preferred an avocado dressing. In any case, the basic combination of quinoa, veggies, and greens was always the same. This quinoa BLT salad with shiitake bacon is my latest addition to the quinoa lunch salad rotation, and it’s a delicious addition at that.

When I first pulled the shiitake bacon that makes this recipe special out of the oven, Steven was incredulous: it seemed hard for him to imagine me savoring anything that resembled or tasted like bacon. Truth be told, bacon was a favorite of mine prior to giving up meat when I was little, and BLT sandwiches were my favorite use for it. I’ve tried plenty of vegan imaginings of bacon, including my coconut bacon and eggplant bacon. Sometimes I even feel that throwing a handful of salty dulse into a salad creates that salty effect–though I know it’s a stretch to compare bacon and seaweed.

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

Shiitake bacon may be my new favorite approach to plant-based bacon. I love the slightly chewy texture that the mushrooms take on as they’re roasted, low and slow. And the flavor is everything it should be: smoky, salty, and just a tiny bit sweet.

Other standout features of this salad: oven dried tomatoes, which have concentrated flavor that stands up to the mushroom bacon nicely (if you don’t want to spend time roasting them, sun-dried tomatoes are also a good option, or you can simply use regular, fresh tomatoes here). A creamy avocado dressing. And, of course, there’s the quinoa, which adds plenty of texture and substance to the dish. Altogether, it’s a flavorful and satisfying summer lunch: a little fancier than what I tend to make on an everyday basis, but all the more rewarding for demanding a little extra time.

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Recipe type: salad
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, nut free
Prep time:  10 mins
Cook time:  2 hours 30 mins
Total time:  2 hours 40 mins

Serves: 4-6 servings

5.0 from 1 reviews


For the shiitake bacon:
  • 10 ounces (about 4 cups) de-stemmed and sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 2½ tablespoons low-sodium tamari
  • 3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon ground chili powder
For the dressing:
  • ½ Hass avocado (about ¼-1/3 cup avocado, tightly packed)
  • ¾ cup water
  • 2 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried dill (or two tablespoons freshly chopped dill)
  • ½ teaspoon salt (more to taste)
  • ⅛ teaspoon black pepper
For the salad:
  • 6 plum tomatoes, quartered
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 cup quinoa (dry)
  • 4-5 heaping cups mesclun or baby arugula
  • ½ Hass avocado, chopped (use the half that’s remaining from making the dressing!)

  1. Begin by making the shiitake bacon. Whisk together the tamari, vinegar, syrup, olive oil, paprika, and chili. Transfer to a rectangular, airtight container and add the mushroom slices. Marinate them for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 (overnight).
  2. Preheat your oven to 250° F and transfer the mushrooms to a baking sheet lined with foil. Bake for 1½ to 2 hours, or until the pieces are shrunken and chewy, stirring them once halfway through cooking. Once the mushrooms are ready, they can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 7 days or used right away in the salad.
  3. Increase oven heat to 400F. Place the quartered tomatoes on a rimmed baking sheet that’s lined with parchment or foil. Drizzle them with the oil, then sprinkle them with salt and pepper. Roast for 30 minutes, or until they’re browning at the edges and very tender.
  4. While the tomatoes roast, rinse the quinoa through a fine sieve. Transfer it, along with 2 cups water, to a saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, and cover. Simmer the quinoa, covered, for 15 minutes. Fluff the quinoa with a fork, re-cover, and allow it to steam for 5-10 minutes.
  5. Blend all of the dressing ingredients together. Adjust seasoning to taste.
  6. To prepare the salad, toss the greens, cooked quinoa, shiitake bacon, and avocado together. Roughly chop and add the tomatoes. Add dressing to taste and mix everything well. Serve.


 Quinoa BLT Salad with Shiitake Bacon | The Full Helping

Little things can make such a big difference in salads. Here, the roasted mushrooms and tomatoes add an intensity of flavor that does wonders for the dish. I love the salad, and I hope you will, too.

On that note, I’m wrapping up my second-to-last week of summer class. It has flown by, and now I have only one exam and one assignment to work through before getting a true break from school in July and August. I can’t wait to truly immerse myself in work and recipe testing–and to nurturing my whole life, too, including time with Steven. See you for weekend reading!


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