Weekend Reading, 4.2.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, everyone. I’m settling back into the swing of things after a little departure this week: a couple days upstate, at my best friend’s family home.

Those of you who have been reading the blog for a while know that my oldest and closest friend, Chloe, lives in New Orleans, but we grew up together here in New York. Her family home, two hours north of the city, has always held special meaning for me. It was a place I went to often when I was growing up, sometimes in order to escape difficulties at home. It was a refuge, a place to experience the rhythms of nature that seemed so far away in my day-to-day life.

Year after year, Chloe and I (and many of our friends) would make the trip upstate. No matter what had happened since our last visit—and since we were adolescents, there was always plenty of drama to speak of—we had those rooms, that porch, and that landscape to return to. Having grown up in a small apartment, I had only a hazy understanding of what property could represent. Being in that house, however intermittently, made me understand why it is that the idea of home as a physical space—a set of walls, brick and mortar—is so universally cherished.

I grew up, went to college, and have spent most of the years since the same place. My experience of my own home, my mom’s apartment, has been pretty continuous. Of course being there feels different now, in my mid-thirties, than it did in my twenties or teens. But I’ve been around to witness whatever gradual changes have occurred. “Going home,” such as it is, rarely seems to pull back the curtain on the passage of time.

Being at Chloe’s home this week, on the other hand, did invite me to think about time, and change. There have been physical changes to the house and property. It’s been a while since I’ve seen Chloe’s parents, so there was plenty of family news to catch up on. I’m in a very different place than I was during my last visit, and it felt poignant to think about what’s been gained and lost. Last of all, and perhaps most significantly, Chloe is now a mother, so the visits we used to make on our own have expanded to include her daughter, my goddaughter.

For the first day or so I felt the weight of all that change heavily. I found myself experiencing nostalgia for how things used to be, for the time when everything seemed to lie ahead of us and so much had yet to be figured out. Our lives are more settled now—Chloe’s more than mine, but mine too, in its own way—and of course there are heavier responsibilities and concerns these days than there were back then.

As the time went by, though, I found myself settling back into the familiar: the rhythms of making dinner as a family, driving into town to see what’s on the shelves at the local bookstore, sitting on the porch, taking walks. It’s the same wooded landscape, the same set of sights and sounds. Local wildlife produces the same early morning and late evening noises. Many of the meals we’ve always made up there, from cracked wheat and oats in the morning to simple dinners of local veggies at night, remain unchanged.

Those continuities felt so comforting. They were a reminder that life is always changing—often more quickly than we’d like—but there are are small, everyday experiences that carry over from year to year. I experienced a lot of internal change last spring, as I came to term with some personal demons and tackled depression for the first time in a while. This spring I find myself confronting more literal upheavals. In the midst of all this, I’m grateful for the things that feel enduring, including that home, that piece of land, and that friendship.

This is the season of rebirth. This year, I’m thinking about spring not only as a new beginning, but also as a process of coming home, to the things that have been with me all along.

Speaking of spring, this week’s roundup features some seasonal, springtime recipes—as well as a few rich and interesting pieces of medical reporting. Enjoy.


A simple, healthy side dish for all of your spring dinners. This recipe for balsamic roasted new potatoes and asparagus is from the lovely Aimee, and it’s an easy go-to for serving with grains or whatever vegan protein you’ve got on the menu.

I’ve learned not to make big declarations about vegetables I do and don’t like, because my tastes expand pretty regularly. Lately I’m enjoying radishes in every which way, having once upon a time declared them way to bitter for me. But what changed my mind was roasting them—either in the oven or in a pan–and I’m still really partial to cooking them when I have the time. I’m loving Grace’s simple recipe for sautéed radishes and scallions with quinoa.

Nothing beats a great bowl meal, and Erin’s pineapple, tofu, and coconut rice bowl is one of the more vibrant and filling ones I’ve seen in a while. I’ve got some pineapple at home, so I’m excited to try this.

Laurel’s vegan antipasti pizza features a lot of the ingredients you might find on an antipasti menu or platter: capers, olives, artichokes, and tomatoes. And they’re all piled high on an easy, gluten free socca crust. Yum.

For dessert, I’ve been smiling from ear to ear each time I so much as look at Kathy’s adorable double chocolate cupcakes with their perfectly piped frosting and colorful sprinkles. So festive and pretty!


1. An interesting story about how entomologists all over the country have been increasingly pushed into unintended roles as therapists and physicians, thanks to the prevalence—which may or may not be on the rise—of what’s known as delusional parasitosis, or DP (also sometimes called Ekbom syndrome). It’s a kind of delusional disorder, characterized by the belief that one is being attacked by bugs or parasites, even when there’s no evidence of an infestation.

The article profiles Gale Ridge, an entomologist in Connecticut who finds herself increasingly called upon to try to help those who are suffering from the telltale symptoms of DP. I was struck by Ridge’s empathy, not only for her patients, but also for the insects she studies.

2. One of the factors that makes diseases like Type II diabetes so difficult and expensive to treat is that they’re often conjoined with other longterm health conditions, like atherosclerosis. This article profiles a team of doctors that is trying to implement an unconventional, yet potentially cost-effective means of offering multi-pronged care for those with comorbidity.

3. The internet has made it possible for patients and their families to take a far more proactive, informed approach to health care than was ever possible before. MIT Tech Review profiles the stories of parents who are pushing for rapid advances in gene therapy as a potential cure for rare diseases. Their efforts are organized and bold, including advocacy groups, research funding, and even the founding of biotech companies.

4. One of my classmates recently mentioned having come across research suggesting that the lungs may play a role in hematopoiesis, or the creation of red blood cells. The research is early, and so far it’s been unfortunately conducted on mice, so implications for the human body are unclear. The suggestion, thought, is that blood stem cells in the lungs can restore bone marrow, which could have huge implications for treatment of thrombocytopenia and other blood disorders.

5. Finally, I was fascinated to read about a new series from artist Patricia Smith, who is known for creative mapping among other works. According to this article in Daily Serving, the Incidents series

…concretizes the ephemeral. Inverting the Situationists’ concept of psychogeography, in which the experience of a place affects a person’s psychological state or behavior, Smith’s maps reinterpret spaces with reference to specific events or feelings. The Incidents series refers to particular moments in time and space. Like any attempt at describing sensation or memory, the results shift and undulate, making room for both geographic fact and chimeric phenomenological experience. In folding together things that can be known by other people (such as actual locations) and things that cannot (another person’s experiences), Smith’s work challenges the function of maps as reference points for reality and suggests that affective and objective experiences are not so distinct after all.

The maps that result are so unique (you can see numerous examples in the article), and I was also interested in the interplay between Smith’s titles and her accompanying imagery.

Happy gazing and reading, everyone. I’ve got a vibrant, hearty new sandwich recipe for spring coming up this week, and I’m excited to share it with you!


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Tahini Mint Kale Salad

Tahini Mint Kale Salad | The Full Helping

It’s been a really long time since I shared a kale salad recipe, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been eating them as often as ever. This one didn’t really begin as a salad at all: it began as a dressing I’d fallen in love with, a mixture of tahini, mint, garlic, and parsley. It’s not very different from my delightfully green tahini dressing, but it’s evidence that small changes can make a huge difference in a recipe that’s simple to begin with; the mint changes everything.

So, tahini mint dressing started going on anything and everything at home, including many bowls of massaged kale. This tahini mint kale salad is the combination I’ve been coming back to most often.

Tahini Mint Kale Salad | The Full Helping

There’s a hint of sweetness in the dressing, which I like to play up by adding currants to the kale. I also toss in some chickpeas for protein and texture. The salad is nice and light on its own: a perfect side dish for any simple meal. I’ve also been piling it into the bottom of my vegan lunch bowls, then adding extra grains or tofu or tempeh or veggies on top.

Tahini Mint Kale Salad | The Full Helping

Tahini Mint Kale Salad

Recipe type: side dish, salad, dressing
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free, no oil
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 10 mins
Total time: 15 mins
Serves: 4 servings salad and 1½ cups dressing
Tahini Mint Dressing:
  • 6 tablespoons tahini
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1-2 garlic cloves, roughly chopped (adjust to taste)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 1 small pitted date (or 2 teaspoons maple syrup)
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ½ cup mint leaves
  • ½ cup parsley, leaves and stems
Tahini Mint Kale Salad:
  • 1 batch tahini mint dressing
  • 1 large bunch curly kale, stems removed and finely chopped
  • ⅓ cup currants (or raisins)
  • 1½ cup chickpeas
  1. To make the dressing, blend all ingredients together in a powerful blender till smooth. Taste and adjust salt as needed.
  2. To make the salad, add as much dressing as needed to coat the salad well. Massage the kale firmly with your hands, until the greens are softened. Add the chickpeas and currants and mix, adding additional dressing as needed. Serve.
Leftover salad will keep overnight in an airtight container in the fridge. Dressing will keep for up to 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge.

Tahini Mint Kale Salad | The Full Helping

One of my favorite things about making a big batch of kale salad is that the leftovers keep so well; I can use what I have in multiple salads and bowls for a couple days. (Not often the case with salad leftovers, which get soggy quickly.)

I’m loving the fresh, verdant flavor of this dressing, and I imagine I’ll be relying it on this spring and summer, not only in salads but also for drizzling onto grains and roasted summer veggies. Thanks to those of you on Instagram who requested I share! Hope you’ll give it a try and that you’ll enjoy it, too.


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Weekend Reading, 3.26.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

One of my favorite discoveries of 2017 so far (thanks to Twitter) is the work of Ashley C. Ford. I read and hear a lot about vulnerability these days, but it’s rare to encounter writing that’s as truly vulnerable, candid, and self-exploratory as Ashley’s. I never feel as though her essays are intended to teach me a lesson or prove a point: rather, I feel as though I’ve been granted an invitation to be a part of her thought process.

Another reason I’m drawn to Ashley’s work is that she has some incredibly refreshing things to say about body image. Her latest, a guest contribution to Joanna’s blog, is a meditation on how her relationship has liberated her—in many ways, but particularly in dissolving the shame she has long carried around when it comes to weight and size.

Ashley’s essay begins when she meets Kelly. At the time, she’s a college student, and in spite of the fact that Kelly immediately makes her feel at home, she can’t stop worrying about the fact that he weighs less than she does.

When Kelly first visits Ashley’s apartment, he asks what the number plastered on her wall is. It’s her weight; she has harbored a visible reminder since her last boyfriend lodged a complaint about her size. Kelly makes clear that he’s completely uninterested in the number; his disinterest becomes more and more evident as the number on the wall changes, yet his adoration of Ashley’s body does not.

Ashley and Kelly’s love story, which she captures with beautiful economy, is also a chronicle of the winding road toward self-love. Ashley writes,

Maya Angelou says, “Love liberates. It does not bind.” Before Kelly, “love” always looked like fixing myself the right way, so someone could bring themselves to love me. Being perfectly shaved, perfectly thin, and perfectly presentable. Now, I know real love makes room for you to love yourself the way you are, and the way you want to be. I feel more beautiful than I ever have, and I allow myself things I assumed were only allowed for women doing a better job at being pretty than I was. I allow myself to live fully.

What a beautiful testament to the healing power of being fully witnessed and embraced by another person. It reminded me of one of my friend Victoria’s quotations: “To the people who love you, you are beautiful already. This is not because they’re blind to your shortcomings but because they so clearly see your soul.”

While I haven’t felt much pressure to maintain or manipulate my body to suit a lover’s aesthetic preferences (the pressure I felt in that department always came from within), I’ve always felt that I had to edit or contain in other ways. It’s inspiring to know that this kind of love exists and that it can be transformative.

Ashley’s essay got me thinking about my own relationship with my body. As I’ve mentioned in the past, my recovery from anorexia had less to do with falling in love with my body than it did my falling in love with food. To this day, it’s my love of food (and veganism) that keeps me rooted in recovery. My relationship with my body is much improved, but it’s still complicated, and it doesn’t feel redemptive from a recovery standpoint.

I’ve learned, though, that ambivalence and complexity don’t have to get in the way of my experiencing a pretty healthy relationship with my body. For a long time, I thought that such a relationship would have to involve loving the way my body looked. I figured I’d wake up one day, and finally—finally!—like what I saw in the mirror. At long last, I’d feel sort of OK in a bathing suit. I wouldn’t grimace or squirm when I saw a photograph of myself; heck, maybe I’d even want to start taking selfies.

None of this has happened. What has happened is that I no longer feel as though I need to take overt pleasure in the way I look in order to have positive body image. Rather, I just don’t spend a lot of time worrying or thinking about my appearance. I don’t, or rarely do I, scrutinize myself, examine myself, or think about how my shape or size measures up to anyone else’s. I’ve stopped wanting to like what I see in mirrors and photos.

Instead, I focus on how my body feels. I cherish every signal of vitality and strength, because I’ve had health challenges in my life that make me appreciate the ways in which my body is physically resilient. I take pleasure in breathing deeply, in experiencing the profound impact that such breath has on my nervous system, not to mention my sense of being alive. I give thanks for my senses, for the capacity to smell, hear, and especially to taste.

So, when Ashley quoted Kelly as saying, “It’s not a body’s job to be perfect. It’s to keep you alive. I love your body for keeping my favorite person alive. Please, don’t hide it from me,” I found myself smiling in joyous recognition. This is a realization I know well: the understanding that our bodies aren’t charged with looking a certain way. They are the vessels that allow us to experience life, in all of its wonder.

Of course, there’s balance to be had in this business of body neutrality. For a while, I almost consciously avoided looking at myself; I dressed in baggy clothing and dodged any situation in which much of my shape would be revealed, to me or to others. Doing yoga in a sports bra, funnily enough, was a major turning point. It made me realize that, while I don’t have to love looking at myself, I don’t have to avoid it, either.

There’s a difference between being generally unconcerned with one’s appearance versus hiding from it; the latter implies that there’s something shameful about the body, something that cannot or shouldn’t be seen, and I truly don’t feel this way, not anymore. I simply feel that body-acceptance as I’ve experienced it resides not in aesthetic appreciation, but in appreciation of how I feel and a deep sense of gratitude to my body for keeping me alive. It’s liberating, all things considered, and perhaps one day love will peel back yet another layer.

I hope some of you will be moved by Ashley’s essay, or find that it helps to plant a new seed of self-love. And I hope you’ll enjoy these week’s other reads, which include reporting on robot chefs (yup, it’s a thing) and a look inside the so-called dark sky movement. But first, the food.


First up, Izzy’s beautiful sourdough wholemeal bagels. I should probably figure out homemade bread first, but a girl can dream.

Alexandra’s chickpea noodle soup with parsley and lemon looks so comforting and homey and easy: exactly the kind of recipe I need these days.

This is Sarah’s favorite wrap. I love the fact that it features potatoes! I usually stuff my wraps with hummus and tofu/tempeh, but this gives me a new set of ideas (and I make a point of never turning down crispy, fresh-from-the-oven, spice-roasted potatoes).

Ever since I made my smashed kimchi chickpea salad, I’ve had the urge to put kimchi in anything/everything. I love the idea of loaded kimchi fries, and thanks to Taylor, I’ll be making them soon.

Finally, I’m loving Jessie’s adorable, uplifting little grapefruit cakes & glaze. So perfect for nibbling with afternoon tea.


1. David Marchese reports on what it’s like to be cooked for by a robot chef. Moley is advertised as being a part of the “world’s first robotic kitchen.” Moley, who takes the form of two robotic arms that can be suspended from a countertop or another surface, is programmed with motion picture captures of a trained cook preparing a certain dish; the robot is then able to mimic the same motions. Right now, Moley only prepares crab bisque, and Marchese is one of his first diners.

The article brings up some interesting questions about the potential appeal, and also the inherent limitations, of robotic cooking. Marchese’s closing anecdote sums it all up nicely.

2. A really interesting glimpse into the lives of people who have been diagnosed with highly superior autobiographical memory, or HSAM. There are about sixty or so known cases of the condition, which confers the ability to summon up abundant and detailed memories instantly. On first inspection this might sound like a blessing of sorts, but as the article makes clear, it can also be a burden, especially since the memories are frequently triggered involuntarily.

3. A peek at what’s known as the “dark sky movement”—a coordinated effort to look into potentially harmful consequences of the abundance of artificial light in our contemporary world. Not something I’d ever given much thought to, but if noise pollution is a real phenomenon, then of course it stands to reason that “light pollution” might be, too.

4. Marisa Meltzer’s recent piece on “body neutrality” brings up a lot of the same issues and questions I touched on at the start of this post—namely, whether or not it might be freeing to take a more neutral (i.e., less insistently positive) posture when it comes to feelings of body acceptance and self-image.

5. And finally, Ashley Ford’s awesome post on self-acceptance through loving and being loved.

Wishing you all a happy, peaceful Sunday. I’ve got a new favorite dressing and salad to share with you this week!


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Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

In January, I resolved to get back into the swing of steady meal planning. I’ve made good on that promise, mostly. For the first time in a long time, my Sundays are filled with the rhythms of batch cooking. At any given moment, there are a couple of pots of beans and grains soaking or boiling, a few sweet potatoes baking in the oven, and maybe a pot of soup simmering on the stovetop. It feels nice. It feels like coming home.

But then there are those Sundays when a craving hits for traditional, hearty comfort food: a casserole or a winter stew or a cassoulet. Something like that.

The problem is that my enthusiasm for longer cooking projects is a little low these days. I’ve had things on my mind that push cooking to the back burner, or at least limit the energy I can devote to it. Fortunately, I’m realizing that there are many strategies for creating fulsome, hearty dishes without spending hours in the kitchen. This easy vegan pizza pasta bake is proof.

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

Strategy 1: Prep. This recipe uses a couple of my homemade staples, including my all-purpose cashew cream and my tofu feta. So the recipe is technically a couple of recipes, folded together. But if you make the simple ones a day or two in advance, it comes together super quickly when it’s time to bake. (And store-bought staples can fill in if you don’t have time to prep your own.)

Strategy 2: Make it semi-homemade. I could have used my homemade, stress-free marinara sauce in the recipe, but lately I’ve been enjoying the convenience of using store-bought. As I’ve mentioned in the past, we all have different quirks and preferences when it comes DIY-ing. There’s a lot to be said for figuring out which homemade staples feel like a pleasure to make, versus those you’d rather let the pros handle. I often find that just one or two store-bought ingredients makes the whole process of a seemingly “fancy” dish so much easier; in this recipe, it’s the marinara and the vegan parm (I heart the Go Veggie brand).

Strategy 3: Frozen veggies. I love using seasonal produce in my cooking, and when a single vegetable is featured in the dish, I’ll almost always opt for fresh. But frozen veggies can be a lifesaver when you need to feature a mix of produce in a single dish, if only because they save you a lot of chopping/prep time. I also find that it makes sense to use a frozen blend in pastas and casseroles—they’re just so easy to heat up and fold in. I used a bag with broccoli, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, and green beans in this recipe. If you’d like to use your own mix of fresh and seasonal veggies, awesome.

Strategy 4: Use efficient cookware. Using a multipurpose pot or cooking vessel—something that can move easily from stovetop to oven, from boiling to baking, and so on—can help to save the mess of multiple dirty dishes. I also love using healthy nonstick cookware for the speedy cleanup!

My cooking vessel for this recipe met all of those criteria. It was the lovely Lagostina Nera hard adonized 5-quart casserole.

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

The Lagostina brand was founded in Italy over 100 years ago. It’s been a leader in high performance cookware ever since, and the new Nera line of cookware is their most innovative to date. The 5-qt casserole features premium hard anodized construction with thick, 3.5mm base for even heat distribution, non-stick coating for easy cooking and cleaning, sturdy stainless steel handles (and a lovely, hammered stainless steel lid), and flared edges for easy pouring.

The casserole is also dishwasher safe, oven/broiler safe, and comes with a lifetime warranty. Quite a piece of cookware—and I love the stylish look. It’s a treat to work with cookware that’s versatile and attractive enough to easily transition from cooking to serving; when I made this bake, I used the casserole to simmer my veggies, mix all of the ingredients, cook, and serve.

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

Lagostina is all about preserving the traditions and culture around food, and they invited me to share a regional, family recipe created with the Nera casserole. I got to thinking about what recipe might seem to capture the essence of NYC, and of course my mind went to pizza, which is probably the city’s most iconic food. Dearly though I love pizza, I wasn’t exactly in the mood to make crust, and a hearty, one-pot pasta casserole sounded perfect for the still-chilly weather.

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

I decided to channel the flavors of pizza—herbs, marinara, cheese—into a pasta casserole. And this feels even more like a family recipe because pasta bakes were my mother’s specialty comfort food when I was growing up. We didn’t eat a lot of elaborate, oven-baked dishes at home, but there’s something about baked pasta that gave my mom a lot of pleasure to make (and me a lot of pleasure to eat).

It feels nice to put a vegan spin on a dish that spelled comfort to me all those years ago, and still does today. I’m so excited to keep this recipe on hand as an easy, crowd-pleasing option for sharing with family and friends.

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, oil free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 15 mins
Cook time: 45 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 6-8 servings
  • 1 lb pasta of choice
  • 2 cups marinara sauce (homemade or store-bought)
  • 1 cup cashew cream (you can substitute unsweetened, non-dairy creamer)
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 16-ounce bag frozen vegetables, cooked according to package instructions, or 5 cups steamed, chopped vegetables of choice (broccoli, carrots, green beans, peppers, zucchini, and cauliflower are all great)
  • 1 batch tofu feta (reserve all of the marinade)*
  • Black pepper to taste
  • ¼ cup vegan parmesan topping or my hempesan
  1. Preheat your oven to 350F. Bring a pot of water to boil and cook pasta according to package instructions, until it’s al dente.
  2. While the pasta cooks, mix the marinara sauce, cashew cream, tomato paste, oregano, and thyme. When the pasta is ready, drain it and return it to the pot. Add the marinara mixture, the frozen vegetables, and the tofu feta (tip: don’t forget to include the tofu feta marinade, which is super flavorful!). Taste and add black pepper to taste, as well as extra salt (or some extra nutritional yeast, if you like).
  3. Transfer everything to your casserole dish and top with the parm. Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the pasta is bubbly and the top is just a little crispy. Serve.
*In place of tofu feta, you can substitute 1½ cups of your favorite vegan cheese. Add an extra tablespoon of lemon juice and 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast (to taste) to the recipe.

Easy Vegan Pizza Pasta Bake | The Full Helping

In spite of being the kind of dish you can confidently share with company, the bake is so low-maintenance. It’s also easy to customize for whomever you’re sharing with. Gluten free or whole grain pasta works perfectly, and you can replace the cashew cream with a non-dairy creamer if you need to accommodate a nut allergy. The dish is naturally oil free, depending on the type of marinara you use, and tofu feta can be replaced by a commercial vegan cheese.

When I make a meal like this, I think about how much my eating has changed since the days when I made virtually everything by scratch, eschewed packages as much as possible, and got leery of anything “processed” (a relative term, I realize now). It’s hard to imagine having the resources to spend as much time in the kitchen as I used to. But I’m glad that my style has evolved, because it has allowed me to keep cooking for myself, week in and week out. Whether I’m cooking fast or slow, that’s what really matters.

You can find the Lagostina Nera casserole—along with the entire Nera cooking line—for sale at Macy’s. And if you’d like to create a regional, family-inspired dish of your own using this lovely and durable piece of cookware, good news: the folks at Lagostina are sharing one complimentary Nera casserole with a Full Helping reader! The giveaway will run for two weeks, and it’s open to US and Canadian readers. Enter below to win (and if you do, I hope to hear about what you create with it).

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Hope you’ll enjoy this little homage to New York, family, and food—and perhaps someone you love will enjoy it with you. I’ll see you soon for another weekly roundup!


This post was sponsored by Lagostina USA, and I received a complimentary Nera casserole in exchange for my review. All opinions are my own. Thanks for your support!

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Weekend Reading, 3.19.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I read Rachel O’Meara’s article on the importance of pauses—especially as a tool for reevaluating professional direction—about a month ago. I took interest in the piece because I’ve been working to slow down these days.

Not too long ago I mentioned that I tend to force decisions, or make them too precipitously. My intention—to be proactive and not overthink things—is sensible enough. But when I act too quickly I often regret it; I end up wondering whether I might have come to a clearer and more lucid determination had I given myself time to think.

Like many people, I’ve historically fallen into the trap of believing that quicker is always better. I forget that time—unstructured time in particular—can encourage problem-solving. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with what it feels like to pause often, sometimes for longer than is comfortable, so that I can tune into my intentions before choosing to act.

O’Meara, whose career was reinvigorated after a three-month leave of absence, speaks to the value of pausing as a means of reassessing priorities and replenishing personal resources. Like many professionals, she hit a moment of burnout that left her questioning whether or not she could remain at her job. Unlike many professionals, she had the good fortune to be employed by a company (Google) that grants unpaid leaves of absence for non-medical reasons. O’Meara’s time off gave her a chance to move deliberately, without an urgent agenda. She writes,

Taking these simple steps enabled me to clear my head and become more sure of who I really was. I achieved a level of introspection that simply would not have been possible while dealing with the daily urgencies of the office.

In the end, the pause actually encouraged her to return to work with a renewed sense of purpose and possibility, which she believes has made her a more valuable employee and colleague. While she acknowledges that sabbaticals or unpaid leaves would, if adopted widely, result in some employees choosing to move on, she suggests that those who stay would be positioned to do more meaningful work:

Some people will inevitably choose not to return to work after a pause. This may not be such a bad thing and may even be a blessing in disguise that allows someone to pursue a new opportunity that might otherwise not have occurred.
Pauses bring employees a renewed sense of purpose and alignment. Exploring new interests or lifelong passions, taking a class, or spending time with family that otherwise wouldn’t happen are all big payoffs. Employees can reflect on what matters in life and take action to align their behavior with that. Employees end up feeling refreshed and rejuvenated — a feeling that is likely to have a ripple effect on their job and their co-workers when they return.
New leadership and growth opportunities emerge from these pauses. Newer or less experienced employees can fill interim roles and learn new skills. This leads to more fully engaged team members, which leads to greater flexibility and adaptability across a team or company.

Needless to say, most employers can’t or won’t offer the kind of pauses that O’Meara took, and any amount of unpaid time off is too much for the vast majority of individuals. Still, it’s interesting to think about what would be possible if more of us were given small opportunities to stop and reassess.

More and more, I find that big decisions—the ones that really matter—can’t be rushed. When there’s no readily apparent “right” choice, it’s important to give oneself time to weigh options, consider different outcomes, and even change one’s mind a couple of times. It’s incredibly difficult for me to embrace that last bit; having always prided myself on being decisive, I’m uncomfortable with fluidity. Yet I’m coming to understand that changes in perspective are often an essential part of finding direction.

Hope you’ll enjoy the reads this week, which include a fascinating report on cholera treatment around the globe and a nurse’s honest reflections on finding herself in the role of patient. As usual, let’s start with some wonderful food!


Nothing beats a hearty, healthy, nutrient-packed vegan burrito. Heidi’s super green vegan quinoa burrito is all of those things, and it’s also a great make-ahead option for packed lunches and travel.

It’s not exactly the height of pumpkin season anymore, but winter squash is still easy to find around here. I think my farewell to squash season will be Kati’s beautiful roasted pumpkin soup. I love the addition of crispy tofu as a “crouton” (I do the same thing with tempeh all the time, and this would be a nice variation).

I’ve had crispy roasted broccoli on my mind ever since I made this recipe a couple weeks ago. Now I have an exciting new use for it: Shira’s recipe for spicy roasted broccoli and sesame noodle salad, which is packed with plant protein (there’s kale and tempeh in there, too).

I love making homemade pizza, but sometimes it feels like a commitment. Alissa’s recipe for vegan Greek pizza is so simple and awesome-looking that there’s no excuse for me to whip up some homemade dough very soon.

Speaking of simple, I’m loving Tessa’s easy vegan chocolate pudding cake recipe! No mixer required, one bowl, and super fudgy—that’s my kind of dessert.


1. I remember reading The Ghost Map years ago and being surprised to learn that in spite of cholera’s communicability and virulence, treatment for the disease is relatively simple. This New York Times profile of global efforts to halt cholera outbreaks dives into that paradox and highlights some recent advances in the fight against a notoriously deadly infection.

2. When I first went vegan, I started to realize that my food choices stretched far beyond me and my body; I saw that what and how I ate could have an impact on the environment, animals, and fellow non-human animals, too. I wish I’d made these connections sooner; I think they would have helped me to be less obsessive and more passionate about eating.

So, I was interested to read about a new app that teaches kids about the environmental impact of their food choices. The app isn’t intended to push a dietary agenda, but rather to help kids understand that their food has origins and a story. It—and other technology like it—might be an important step forward in making young people feel informed as consumers.

3. Also on the topic of kids/teens and food, I really like these insights into helping children develop a healthy relationship with eating.

4. Lindsay is an oncology nurse who crossed the bridge into life as a patient when she was diagnosed with stage 3 colorectal cancer. In this beautifully honest blog post, she offers an apology to the patients’ whose struggles and experiences she may have dismissed or witnessed without empathy, until now.

5. Finally, Rachel O’Meara’s thoughts on the value of pausing.

I hope you enjoy the reading, and the next time I check in, it’ll be with an easy, hearty vegan comfort food recipe!


The post Weekend Reading, 3.19.17 appeared first on The Full Helping.

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Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils (& Bowls)

Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils | The Full Helping

This is one of those recipes that began as one thing and became another. Prompted by a pound of green lentils that needed using, I started off with the intention of making a big pot of curried green lentil soup. As it was cooking I found myself hesitant to add more liquid; I kept thinking about my masala lentils and how much I love their dense, creamy texture. I also thought about my friend Ali’s tribute to Julia Turshen’s lentils with coconut milk, and how I’ve had that recipe bookmarked for a while.

In the end, I let the mixture stay more stew-like than soupy, and I’m not sorry about it. These creamy coconut curried green lentils are so versatile: you can serve them like soup if you want to (even adding a splash of water or coconut milk to loosen them up), but you can also serve them over rice, pile them into a bowl, or scoop them up with naan or flatbread.

Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils | The Full Helping

Usually when I make a big ‘ole pot of lentils, I’m aiming to have leftovers. So, as with most of my soup and stew recipes, this one makes a lot. I’d say it’s about 8 servings. It’s totally freezer friendly, though, and the leftovers will keep in the fridge for up to 5 days, so it’s not a bad thing to make and store for the weeks and months ahead. NYC has been battling a cold snap and snow for the last few days, and I’ve taken a lot of comfort in simple, flavorful bowls of lentils and rice.

I’m sort of ashamed to say that I didn’t use homemade green curry paste here. But if you’d like to make your own, which is certainly worth doing, I really recommend Lisa and Nicole’s recipe from DIY Vegan. (I recommend that book in general for homemade vegan pantry staples and condiments—it’s an incredible resource!)

You’ll notice that I mention soaking the lentils prior to cooking. I never used to do this, but lately I’ve experienced a lot of variation in cooking time with green lentils (just a function of how old my lentils are, where I buy them, etc.), and so I’ve started soaking them for a few hours prior to cooking. I find it to be a helpful step, a way of ensuring that you don’t end up stuck with a batch that won’t seem to get tender, no matter how long you simmer it for. You can skip the soak if you like, but know that your cooking time could vary a bit. If you do choose to soak, you can do so for up to 8 hours, or for as few as two.

Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils | The Full Helping
Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils | The Full Helping
Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils (& Bowls)

Recipe type: main dish, side
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 50 mins
Total time: 1 hour
Serves: 8 servings
  • 2 teaspoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large or 2 small yellow onions, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely minced
  • 1 tablespoon finely minced fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ground ginger)
  • ¼ cup green curry paste (homemade or store-bought), plus extra to suit your taste
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 lb (about 2¼ cups) green lentils, soaked for a few hours prior and drained prior to cooking*
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth + 1 cup water
  • 1 cup full-fat coconut milk (substitute cashew cream)
  • 6 cups finely chopped spinach or baby spinach
  • Fresh lime juice, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper flakes, to taste
  • For serving or bowls: Cooked jasmine or long-grain brown rice, shredded cabbage, steamed greens, toasted cashews or peanuts, sriracha
  1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large stock pot over medium heat. Add the onion and carrots and cook for 5-7 minutes, or until clear and tender, stirring often. Add the garlic, ginger, and green curry paste and cook for another minute, stirring constantly.
  2. Add the salt, lentils, broth, and water to the pot. Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium low, cover, and simmer for 30-35 minutes, or until the lentils are tender (more time may be needed, depending on whether you have time to soak your lentils first). Uncover and add the coconut milk and spinach. Cook for 10 more minutes, uncovered, or until the spinach is tender. Add lime juice and crushed red pepper to taste, and adjust salt as needed.
  3. You can scoop the curried lentils over cooked rice, or you can serve them bowl style (as pictured!) by serving them with rice, steamed vegetables, and some crunchy toppings. The lentils are also great with flatbread.
*Soaking isn’t necessary, but it can help to reduce cooking time.

Leftover lentils will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month. Recipe can be cut in half for a smaller yield.


 Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils | The Full Helping

As you can see, I’ve been serving the lentils bowl style, with cooked jasmine rice, steamed greens, and a crunchy topping of shredded purple cabbage and freshly chopped cilantro. A squeeze of sriracha or a little handful of chopped nuts is really nice, too.

If the recipe yield is too much, you can certainly cut the whole recipe in half for fewer portions. You can also use brown lentils in place of green, and I’m guessing that black lentils and French lentils would work nicely, too (red lentils would create a soupier mixture, but they’d still taste great). If you’d like to substitute cashew cream or light coconut milk for the full-fat coconut milk, go for it: there’s not too much coconut milk in the recipe, at least not in proportion to all of the other stuff, so I didn’t mind the richness of the regular variety here.

Creamy Coconut Curried Green Lentils | The Full Helping

There’s something so comforting about having a giant batch of cooked legumes on hand for a week’s worth of meals, especially when it’s cold outside. I hope you’ll enjoy this simple, generous batch of food as much as I have.


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Weekend Reading, 3.12.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

A few weeks ago, one of my readers sent me a link to Steph Davis’ post “Love Dogs.” Ostensibly it’s the story of how Davis lost one companion animal and found another, but it’s more than that. It’s a sweet, moving reflection on the boundlessness of love.

Davis’ story begins with a description of the bond she formed with Fletch, the quiet and self-sufficient dog she’d adopted from the brother of a friend. Davis and Fletch were both uprooted when they met, and they found home in each other. “The life of a traveling climber can be lonely,” Davis writes. “But Fletch and I shared hundreds, probably thousands, of miles of highway and trail. We grew up together.”

When Fletch passed away from spinal arthritis, Davis was devastated. She feared she wouldn’t be able to open her heart to another dog again, and when she did adopt for the second time—a rambunctious stray named Cajun—she struggled to adjust to her new pup’s personality. Cajun was Fletch’s opposite: rambunctious, defiant, and unruly. Davis couldn’t help but compare her unfavorably to the independent and well-behaved companion she’d lost.

Over time, though, Davis’ heart opened up to her energetic new friend. “After two years,” she writes, “I had fallen completely in love with this leaping, prancing, exuberant creature, who could sprint like a cheetah and climb like a goat.” (Her post contains a photo of Cajun, caught mid-air in an olympian leap.) She realized that love doesn’t demand either/or choices:

Fletch was my sensei. Cajun was my wildchild. For the first time, I understood that I loved Cajun with all my heart and I also loved Fletch with all my heart, and love doesn’t have math. I realized that love is not “or,” love is “and.”

The post ends on a particularly poignant note, as Davis describes losing her (human) partner, Mario, and falling in love again some time later. Davis’ experience with Fletch and Cajun had primed her to trust in newfound love, even after a profound loss:

…when it happened I didn’t question it or second guess, though I’d been warned by many that I would. I didn’t struggle with fear or sadness or doubt, thoughts of how life ends and begins, of how to fit together the past and the future, because Fletcher and Cajun taught me something about love. Love is the one thing that has a beginning but not an end, that makes more space the more it grows. It’s the one thing that lasts forever.

My reader said that the article had made her think of me and weekend reading posts, but she couldn’t have known how much the idea of love as a regenerative force would speak to me right now.

In the wake of a great loss it’s tempting to measure everything we encounter in terms of its similitude to the thing (or the individual) we’re mourning. Part of what makes loss so difficult, though, is the singularity of what’s gone—after all, if something were easily replaceable, we wouldn’t feel its absence so strongly. In my experience, healing often means opening ourselves up to the possibility that we won’t be able to revive what’s gone, but we can and will experience new attachments. What’s lost may be irreplaceable, but love is resilient.

Other reads that caught my eye this week include two powerful pieces of reporting on the healthcare system, a peek at the nature of compulsions and compulsive behavior, and a lyrical look at the heroic efforts of individuals who are on a mission to save the Oregon silverspot butterfly. I hope you’ll enjoy them. And first, some food.


I’m still on a comfort food kick, and I can’t think of a better way to satisfy the craving than these perfect vegan potato gnocchi. Valentina offers more than a recipe: her post will also tell you everything you need to know for homemade gnocchi success.

Brian’s lentil and green bean salad with crispy tofu is going on my lunch lineup ASAP. So simple and good.

I don’t always have the best luck with homemade veggie burgers, but I know an awesome recipe when I see it, and Alex’s spiced lentil burgers look fantastic.

I love Japanese sweet potatoes, but I’ve never thought to try them as fries. Leave it to Alanna to turn them into the crispiest and most flavorful fries I’ve seen in ages–with a simple recipe for wasabi aioli to accompany them. Yum.

And for dessert, I’m loving Sarah’s creative and colorful recipe for coconut matcha rice pudding with date-sweetened adzuki bean paste. So pretty!


1. David Epstein and ProPublica’s tough examination of the epidemic of unnecessary health care has been making the rounds recently, for good reason. It’s a sobering indictment of procedures, like angiograms and stent placement, that are prescribed more often than is necessary, often with serious risks and consequences. I appreciate that the authors profile health care providers who stress the potential of lifestyle change, including nutrition, as an alternative to needlessly invasive measures.

2. I’ve never given much thought to medical waste, and that’s part of why this article was an interesting read. Marshall Allen takes a look at the high cost of medical equipment and supplies that hospitals throw away—in spite of the fact that such supplies are desperately needed in the developing world.

3. The Oregon silverspot butterfly used to range from Northern California to Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. Habitat loss—erosion of the coastal dunes and grasslands where the butterfly dwells—is precipitating the species’ disappearance. This article profiles the work of scientists and conservationists who are fighting to preserve the future of this beautiful insect.

4. Sharon Begley’s new book, Can’t Just Stop, takes a look at compulsive behavior in both its extreme and commonplace forms. In this interview, Begley paints an incredibly compassionate portrait of compulsions and the way they work. She suggests that beneath all compulsive tendencies is an impulse that most of us can relate to. Take, for example, hoarding. Begley says,

…One of the things I tried to do is explain in a way that I hope is sympathetic why people who are doing things that society frowns on are acting the way they do. Hoarding, obviously, is worse than frowned on. But the hoarders I spoke to were, in absolutely every case, just expressing an extreme form of something that I think all of us feel. Many, many, many cases of hoarding are because people have an emotional attachment to their stuff. I think we all have an emotional attachment to our stuff. I was working at Newsweek during the turn of the Millennium, 1999 to 2000. I was working the morning of January 1st, and I walked through midtown, and there was confetti all over. I thought, “This is the Millennium confetti.” So I picked up a few pieces and I’ve kept them. It’s not like I have a closet full of the stuff, but absolutely, it means something to me. It was a teeny little tile in the mosaic of my life.
So we all have feelings like that. People who hoard have them to an extreme. It’s not a different feeling, it’s the same feeling, just ratcheted up.

Begley extends the same kind of integrity and empathy to other compulsive habits, as well as to anxiety, which is being diagnosed more frequently these days. It’s a wonderfully down-to-earth interview, and I recognized plenty of the factors that drive my own compulsive tendencies as I was reading it.

5. Finally, Steph Davis’ lovely reflections on dogs and love.

I wish you a great start to the week. It’s dipping back into freezing temperatures and snow around these parts, and I’ve been staying warm with a hearty, spicy soup that I’m excited to share in a couple days!


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Smashed Kimchi Chickpea Salad

Smashed Kimchi Chickpea Salad | The Full Helping

Once upon a time, I knew chickpea salad as a wholesome vegan alternative to chicken salad, a plant-based mainstay for sandwiches and wraps. Nowadays chickpea salad is so popular that I’ve seen it on (omnivore) restaurant menus, not to mention all over the interwebs, and the other day my own mom announced to me that she had seen a recipe and wanted to try it.

My standard recipe for chickpea salad is pretty traditional; it’s indeed reminiscent of the chicken salad I grew up with (vegan mayo, mustard, sometimes dill or parsley). Lately, though, I’ve been getting more creative and taking more liberties with how I prepare it. Just as with hummus, avocado toast, or oatmeal, there are tons of ways to approach this everyday staple. My latest favorite is a smashed kimchi chickpea salad that’s a little salty, a little spicy, and all things tasty.

Smashed Kimchi Chickpea Salad | The Full Helping
Smashed Kimchi Chickpea Salad | The Full Helping

The recipe was inspired by Julia Turshen’s kimchi avocado toast from Small Victories, which takes advantage of kimchi as a topping and also uses some of the brine for drizzling. What that recipe showed me is that the bold flavor of kimchi can go such a long way in flavoring a dish; once you add it, you don’t really need to fuss around with much additional seasoning or flavor.

So, in this very simple recipe, you fold together smashed chickpeas, vegan mayo (or tahini), a squeeze of sriracha, and a dash of crushed red pepper. You can certainly get fancy with the addition of dulse, gomasio, sesame seeds, or something else for crunch; you could add herbs or grated carrot. But the kimchi does most of the work here. I found that I didn’t even need to add additional salt to the dish once I’d incorporated it.

As far as serving goes, the salad is perfect with toast, crackers, or on a wrap, but it’s also a nice topping for lunch bowls. The other day I mixed a big scoop of it together with a heaping cup of cooked rice and some steamed greens, then topped it all with a squeeze of sriracha and lime juice. It was random and messy, for sure, but it was so, so good.

Smashed Kimchi Chickpea Salad | The Full Helping

Smashed Kimchi & Chickpea Salad

Recipe type: side dish, dip, spread
Cuisine: vegan, no oil option, gluten free option, soy free option, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 5 mins
Total time: 10 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 3 cups cooked chickpeas (2 cans chickpeas, drained and rinsed)
  • 5-6 tablespoons vegan mayonnaise or tahini (as needed)
  • 1 heaping cup finely chopped kimchi + 2 tablespoons kimchi brine
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • Sriracha, to taste
  • Crushed red pepper, to taste
  • Optional mix-ins: A few dashes of dulse or kelp flakes, 1-2 tablespoons gomasio or toasted sesame seeds, finely chopped scallions, grated carrot
  1. Place the chickpeas in a mixing bowl and add the mayonnaise or tahini. Use a potato masher or the back of a fork to mash the chickpeas up; they should be mostly mashed, but it’s nice when a few of them remain whole. Start with 5 tablespoons of mayonnaise or tahini, then add a little more as needed for a creamy texture.
  2. Fold in the kimchi, vinegar, sriracha, and pepper. Add any additional mix-ins you like, then taste and adjust seasoning as needed. Serve.
Leftover salad will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days.

 Smashed Kimchi Chickpea Salad | The Full Helping

Another way to make the salad even more versatile is to vary your toppings. You can use additional chopped kimchi, thinly sliced cucumber or radish, grated carrot or beets, greens, or herbs.

Throughout the last week or two I’ve been diving into more intense work and academic routine than I’ve had in a while, so toast has been a very comforting, simple lunchtime mainstay for me. No matter how many toast lunches I eat, I’m always happy to have a new favorite spread or topping to play with, and I have a feeling this one is destined to stick around. I hope you enjoy it, too—and I’ll be checking in with some new reads this weekend.


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Cheesy Vegan Roasted Broccoli with Smashed Root Vegetables

Cheesy Vegan Roasted Broccoli with Smashed Root Vegetables | The Full Helping

There’s something so felicitous about a meal that wasn’t meant to be a meal, about a mishmash of ingredients that added up to something greater than the sum of its parts. This simple plate of cheesy vegan roasted broccoli with smashed root vegetables was really meant to be two side dishes: the roasted broccoli on the one hand, the rutabaga and turnips on the other. Once I’d gotten around to preparing both, it occurred to me that they’d play nicely together, and suddenly my attempt to use up the produce in my fridge had amounted to lunch.

 Cheesy Vegan Roasted Broccoli with Smashed Root Vegetables | The Full Helping

The star of the dish is the broccoli, a simple vegan spin on roasted broccoli with parmesan (which I used to love, love, love in my pre-gan days). This is one of those dishes that I’m shocked I haven’t made yet, and now that I have, I’m sure I’ll be roasting up trays all the time. The nutritional yeast gives the broccoli savoriness and cheesy flavor, and the red pepper flakes a touch of heat. It’s a great way to prepare broccoli for bowls, pasta, or as a simple side dish.

Smashed root vegetables are a winter mainstay for me, a perfect pairing for baked tofu or tempeh, beans, sauteed greens, and more. (Sometimes I even enjoy them as a snack, which I know is a little strange.) What I’m sharing here is my most basic for making them. As you’ll see, I like to smash them roughly and leave plenty of texture; they’re not mashed potatoes, so the goal isn’t something pillowy or smooth. You can use parsnips, turnips, rutabaga, celery root, winter squash, or a combination of any of these; for this recipe, I used turnips and rutabaga. Feel free to add any seasonings or extra to the mash that are calling your name; I offer my personal favorites at the bottom of the recipe!

Cheesy Vegan Roasted Broccoli with Smashed Root Vegetables | The Full Helping

Cheesy Vegan Roasted Broccoli with Smashed Root Vegetables

Recipe type: main dish, side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free optional, tree nut free
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 30 mins
Total time: 40 mins
Serves: 3-4 servings
  • 1 head (3 crowns) broccoli (about 1 lb)
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil, such as avocado or grapeseed
  • 2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, plus extra for sprinkling
  • Coarse salt and crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 medium large rutabaga, peeled and cubed (about 1 lb)
  • 2 medium large turnips, peeled and cubed (about 1 lb)
  • ¼ cup unsweetened soy or almond milk
  • Dash nutmeg
  • Fine salt and freshly ground black pepper as needed
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • Optional additions to the mash: 1-2 tablespoons nutritional yeast, hempesan, or vegan parmesan for cheesiness; finely grated horseradish for spiciness; garlic powder or pureed, roasted garlic for garlicky flavor
  1. Preheat your oven to 425F. Trim and peel the broccoli stems. Cut the broccoli crowns into small florets and the stems into small pieces. Toss the broccoli with the vegetable oil and nutritional yeast. Place it onto a lined baking sheet and sprinkle generously with coarse salt, along with crushed red pepper to taste. Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until the broccoli is tender and golden.
  2. While the broccoli roasts, bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Peel the rutabaga and turnips and cut them into large cubes. When the water is boiling, add the root vegetables. Boil for 20 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Drain them and add them back to the pot, along with the non-dairy milk and nutmeg. Use a potato masher to mash them roughly, leaving some texture. Add salt and pepper to taste and fold in the parsley. Add some hempesan or vegan parmesan and/or any other mix-ins of choice.
  3. Divide the root vegetable mash onto plates and top with a generous handful of the cheesy roasted broccoli. Serve.

 Cheesy Vegan Roasted Broccoli with Smashed Root Vegetables | The Full Helping

On it’s own, this is a light meal. You can increase the nutrient density and make it more filling by adding some beans, baked tofu, your favorite vegan meat, or perhaps some of my baked lemon pepper tempeh cubes. It’s a lovely, comforting dish to make while root veggies are still in season.

Before I go, a quick thanks for the kind comments and emails during NEDA week. I’ll be back in a couple days with my new favorite (!) toast recipe.


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Weekend Reading, 3.4.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Today’s the last day of NEDA week 2017, and this weekend reading roundup places special emphasis on ED stories, research, and reporting.

Maybe it’s just the fact that I spend more time looking than I used to, but I feel as though the ED narrative has expanded a lot in the last few years; media is taking interest in the whole spectrum of EDs, rather than focusing exclusively on anorexia/bulimia (though we still have a long way to go), and first person voices and testimonials of recovery seem to be diversifying.

There’s greater awareness these days of the fact that disordered eating does not always show up as being clinically underweight/overweight. I hope this encourages more people to speak up about their struggles, rather than feeling as though they should ignore them or try to go it alone because they don’t fit into a diagnostic box.

One of the articles I’m sharing today makes open acknowledgment of the fact that eating disorders, which have long been “widely viewed ‘as a white girl vanity issue,’” in the author’s words, are gaining recognition as complex mental illnesses. It discusses how the tech industry may be a surprising and invaluable ally in changing public awareness/perception and offering more tools to support those who are suffering.

Gillian Harvey’s humble and candid essay in The Guardian also tackles the reality of EDs as mental illnesses. Harvey writes,

For women like me, the perception that anorexia is a disease of the young and is linked to narcissism is damaging. It’s embarrassing to admit, when teetering on the brink of your fourth decade, that you’ve just gorged on chocolate and found yourself hunched over the toilet bowl. But it shouldn’t be. Eating disorders are a mental illness.

I’m not sure whether Harvey and I feel similarly about the promise of a full recovery, but I agree with her observation that EDs can flare up repeatedly over the course of a lifetime, which makes the work of guarding one’s recovery through continual mindfulness all the more important.

In the last year or so, I’ve come to understand that anorexia was, for better or for worse, my primary coping mechanism for a really long time. Staying in recovery means resisting the urge to summon up a set of behaviors that made me feel safe, protected, and empowered. I’ve learned how to critically examine and resist the ED tendencies, but the process of developing a toolkit to cope with pain or powerlessness is ongoing. In many ways, life feels much lonelier than it did when I had the disorder to keep me company. Even now, this comes as a surprise; it’s one of those realities of life-after-recovery that no one can really prepare you for.

I was often told during recovery that the process was like letting go of an abusive lover—sometimes he was given the name of “Ed.” For me, the process felt more like parting ways with my best friend—a tender confidant who had shepherded me through hard times. It has been many years since my physical recovery, and I still find myself longing for her company sometimes. My personal NEDA week observance this year has been to understand that recovery isn’t simply a process of doing battle or dancing on one’s demons; it can also be a painful and poignant rupture, the pangs of which can be felt for many years after.

I’ve never been farther away from my ED in my habits, never more certain that I won’t go back to tedious cycles of restriction and obsession. But the last year in particular has made me yearn for the feelings of certainty and structure that the disorder gave me. That I know how deceptive those feelings were makes it easy to resist engaging with them again, but it doesn’t necessarily soften the blow of living without them.

That’s recovery, in all of its mess and incongruities. I’d never trade the rich world I inhabit today for the narrow and rigid one left behind. But I miss it sometimes. Lately, I miss it a lot of the time. I take heart in reminding myself that recovery—at least as I have experienced it—is a practice, not a neat story of before-and-after. It’s a process that I give myself to with attention and faith every single day. This week, more than in other weeks, I’m lifted up and supported by the many voices of others who have found their way through it.

And of course, one of the major joys of recovery is to live in peace and celebration with food! On that note, let’s move on to some links.


I’m loving Elizabeth’s bright, zesty, and seasonal avocado and grapefruit salad—and I especially love her recipe for green goddess dressing made with pumpkin seeds.

Sam’s vegan spinach, cashew ricotta, and “ham” cannelloni is vegan comfort food at its finest. I love the idea of a coconut ham recipe.

Muhammara is one of my favorite dips, and I can’t wait to try Lisa’s version, which incorporates a drizzle of pomegranate molasses (I’ve got a bottle sitting in my pantry that could use a little love).

More innovative, sumptuous comfort food: Anya’s colorful spaghetti squash and mung bean lasagna.

Finally, something sweet. Thalia’s vegan chocolate mousse is made with aquafaba, melted dark chocolate, and coconut milk for plenty of thick, smooth decadence, and then it’s topped with a layer of cardamom cream. What a wonderful dessert!


1. Fast Company reports on how eating disorders are getting the “silicon valley treatment.” It’ll be interesting to see how the use of apps and other tech platforms might impact these mental illnesses (and mental health in general).

2. One of the more difficult parts of my recovery—another one of those uphill battles that I didn’t anticipate—was that my readiness to embrace a new relationship with food preceded any real advances in making peace with my body. As I was learning to respect and even celebrate my own cravings, I had to fight off the continuing discomfort of body dysmorphia (especially as my body started to change). This article provides some good tips on how to make peace with food even as body discomfort persists.

Growth comes in bits and pieces. Sometimes it doesn’t feel cohesive or progressive, but it’s important to celebrate each small victory or gain in freedom anyway. The process begins wherever it can, and if it begins with food—no matter what else remains to be healed—well, that’s pretty great.

3. Binge eating disorder (BED) is now the most common ED in the United States. In spite of this fact, it remains poorly understood and often shrouded in misconception. Julie Friedman, a research scientist at the front lines of working to better understand BED, explains some of the common myths surrounding this type of eating disorder.

4. Carrie Arnold (@edbites on Twitter) has a lot of smart, heartfelt things to say about EDs and ED treatment. Her latest article for STAT News touches on all of the issues I’ve mentioned in this post, starting with the importance of recognizing eating disorders as illnesses, rather than a form of willful behavior. She writes,

Treating a disease that involves self-starvation seems relatively straightforward. “Just eat” seems to be the obvious solution. If only it were that simple. Just as someone with schizophrenia can’t will themselves out of psychosis and a person with bipolar disorder can’t wave a wand to eliminate mania, those with anorexia can’t just eat. Malnutrition accompanies eating disorders, which has been shown to shrink the brain and affect cognitive function, potentially interfering with a person’s ability to see the necessity of treatment. Many with anorexia also don’t find the weight loss alarming or disconcerting. As my illness tightened its grip and my weight dropped, I didn’t find the prospect of dying nearly as terrifying as the thought of having to face a plate of food five times a day. I wanted to get well, just as long as it didn’t involve eating or gaining weight.

Arnold and I had different experiences of anorexia and recovery, but I can certainly remember the denial and fear she references. I see time and time again how casually people assume that the disease can be consciously overcome—without the expert care and support we assume are necessary for other types of illnesses.

Arnold’s life was saved by forced tube feeding, but her thoughts about the value of this type of intervention are anything but simple. Instead, she weighs the procedure with thoughtfulness and nuance, and her considerations are worth reading.

5. Finally, Gillian Harvey’s bracingly honest thoughts on her ongoing struggle with disordered eating, along with a personal plea for us to fight back against stigma and stereotyping.

These aren’t easy reads, but I think there’s comfort in bearing witness to honest and brave reflections. These remembrances aren’t neat or sanitized or simplified, but they’re truthful, and I admire the courage it must have taken to write them.

That’s it for today, and for NEDA week. I’ll be back to business this week with some new food to savor.


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