Weekend Reading, 5.29.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Memorial Day, to those of you who are celebrating, and happy Monday to those who aren’t. It’s gray and cold here today, but the city had sun and perfect spring temperatures yesterday, and I had the very nice treat of having my Mom over for a simple supper at my place.

One of the bigger adjustments I’ve faced in this new chapter is no longer having someone to share my food with every night. It isn’t all bad, or all sad; I’ve used my dinnertime rituals as a way to think about self-care during this season of change. The whole experience has brought back other moments in my life when cooking helped me to heal: most notably my anorexia recovery, but also my post-bacc years in DC, where I experienced a different kind of broken heart. Without the demands of cooking for two, I’ve been tuning in very carefully to what I’d like to eat–what would feel nourishing and grounding–and there’s something to be said for that kind of autonomy.

Yet sharing food with a domestic partner had become one of my biggest pleasures, and it would be a lie to say I don’t miss it. As someone whose history with food is marked with isolation and overthinking, it was nice to take someone else’s tastes and preferences into account when I prepared meals. It felt new and different to regard the act of making dinner as a chance to listen and to give. I spent so many years by myself with food; it’s no wonder that it felt sweet to finally share.

I’ve been trying to enjoy the unique pleasures and rewards of cooking solo again while also heeding this impulse I have to feed other people and connect at the table. I’ve been trying to have people over more often, to welcome friends into my home, even though my impulse during difficult times is to turn inward. Cooking for my mom is a great place to start, not only because I cherish her company but also because it’s nice to consider how much we’ve grown in how we eat together.

My mom has always supported my veganism, but it was (understandably) a big adjustment for her at the beginning. Time has helped to expand her tastes, and I’ve met her halfway by being more sensitive and responsive to them. For a while, I made her meals that I liked, or which I thought were healthful, without considering what would be most pleasurable for her. These days I welcome our dinners because I can prepare stuff I know she’ll love; last night’s dinner, for example, which was the creamy orecchiette from Food52 Vegan, salad, and a lemon bundt cake with vegan ice cream for dessert.

I think part of being a culinary activist is knowing that there are some “foreign” ingredients that friends and family will probably love if you prepare them the right way; a lot of folks think they hate tofu, for example, because they’ve had it prepared blandly, but a great dish can turn them around. There’s also wisdom in recognizing that we all have strong connections and attachments to food, and people will often be more open to a new way of eating (like veganism) if you can bring the dishes they love to life without animal products. It’s all a give-and-take.

I hope I’ll be able to spend more time cooking for others this coming summer, reminding myself that the opportunity to connect through food hasn’t gone away. It’s just changing shape.

Here are some fresh, summery recipes I’d be delighted to eat solo or with loved ones. For more ideas, you can always check out what I’m bookmarking and saving by checking out my Pinterest page.


Lots of bright, beautiful salads this week. First up, I can’t stop staring at Jessi’s roasted beet and cherry tomato salad. So colorful and pretty, and these are all ingredients I love: beets, tomatoes, a tahini dressing, herbs, and pecans for a little crunch.

As usual, Maya is cooking up colorful fare with this minty spelt berry, purple cabbage, and brussels sprout salad. Spelt berries are one of my favorite addition to salads for their texture and chew, and I’m excited to try this combination. Love the spicy chili garlic dressing, too!

I haven’t made a zucchini ribbon salad in a really long time, but Jose’s beautiful courgette, avocado, and kale salad with almond dukkah is inspiring me. Can’t wait for zucchinis to start teeming at the farmer’s market.

There’s pretty much no limit on how many simple quinoa/veggie pilafs I can make and eat. I had to bookmark Anne’s quinoa with roasted veggies and chickpeas. Just a simple, straightforward, and colorful bowl of goodness.

At this point you’ve probably had your fill of Memorial Day burger, coleslaw, and pasta salad recipes, so how about something a little different to share with friends? I love Jodi’s toasted pumpkin seed dip with fresh herbs (and her elegant presentation).


1. A fascinating article that compares two seemingly oppositional states–hypersensitivity to pain and congenital insensitivity to pain–and explains how certain novel gene therapies might actually serve to modulate (or perhaps even cure) both.

2. Important reporting on the large percentage of black American women who suffer from fibroid disease, including symptoms and new treatment options.

3. I guess it had never occurred to me that sand might be finite, but these days I’m coming to understand how delicate and precious each and every one of the earth’s natural resources are. An interesting article on how the world may be running out of sand–and what the consequences could be.

4. This look into the loss of grip strength in the American population also raises some interesting questions about duration vs. quality of life; we’re living longer than we used to, but how well are our bodies adapting to and withstanding the aging process?

5. Finally, a harrowing look at life with chronic illness from writer Tessa Miller, who suffers from Crohn’s Disease. Miller’s article echoes something I saw and heard often when I was working with IBD patients in DC, which is that one can “pass” for “normal” while enduring constant physical distress–as well as the depression, burnout and anxiety that accompany living with an unpredictable illness and its recurrences. It’s a raw and often desperate piece of writing, but I think it’s important, especially because these kinds of testimonies can help those of us who don’t intimately understand chronic illness to see it from the inside.

On this cool, quiet, misty morning, I’m wishing you all well. I’ll be back this week with a tasty new recipe for dipping and sharing, as well as a nostalgic sweet treat on Friday.


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Red Potato Salad with Creamy Cashew Dijon Dressing & Dill

Red Potato Salad with Creamy Cashew Dijon Dressing & Dill | The Full Helping

In my food science lab not too long ago, we made potato salad. Our professor noted that red potatoes are better for potato salad due to their low starch and high moisture content, which allow them to hold their shape better than, say, russets. It made sense, but I found it amusing because the thing I like best about red potato salad is smashing it up—and thereby ruining whatever shape the potatoes have held.

In any case, I love the moisture and lightness of red potatoes, and I couldn’t resist sharing my new favorite recipe for them as we head into Memorial Day weekend. This red potato salad with creamy cashew dill dressing & dill is easy to prepare, flavorful, and a little more nutritious than the traditional potato salads you might find at potlucks or cookouts this weekend.

As we were breaking down the intricacies of starch molecules, our professor paused to tell us about the many heated debates that have broken out in her lab regarding the proper way to make a potato salad. It’s cultural, she said: students who have grown up here might have very different opinions than students with German heritage, or students from Scandinavia.

I tend to think that there’s really never one way to go about a recipe–we all bring unique tastes and heritage and health considerations to bear on our cooking. This salad captures all of the things I love best in potato salad: it’s creamy, but it isn’t dense or heavy; it’s got plenty of mustard flavor, for kick; and it’s packed with dill, which is an herb I have a special fondness for, in part because I’m part Greek (and my mom puts it in everything). It’s also simple, which is a big consideration lately.

I’ve no idea how proper it is by canonical potato salad standards, but I think it’s super tasty, and I hope you will, too.

Red Potato Salad with Creamy Cashew Dijon Dressing & Dill

Recipe type: side dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, no oil
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 25 mins
Serves: 4-6 servings
  • 1½ lbs red potatoes, skins on, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ⅔ cup raw cashews, soaked for at least 2 hours and drained
  • ½ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 2½ tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ½ teaspoon + small pinch salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 small clove garlic (optional)
  • ½ cup finely chopped dill
  • ½ cup chopped green onion tops
  1. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add the potatoes and boil for 12-15 minutes, or until they’re fork-tender. Drain.
  2. While the potatoes cook, process or blend together the cashews, water, mustard, vinegar, salt, pepper, and garlic (if using), till the ingredients are completely smooth.
  3. Pour the creamy sauce over the potatoes and use a large fork fold it all together. The potatoes should retain some shape, but the fork will partially smash them up as you mix. Fold in the green onion tops and dill. Taste the salad and adjust the salt, vinegar, and pepper to your liking. Serve.
Leftovers will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 days. The salad can be prepared a day in advance.

The salad is perfect with some fresh green beans, your favorite veggie burger, or any other traditional summer fare. And I think the leftovers taste even better after a night in the fridge.

Whatever your plans are this weekend, I hope they involve good food and rest. I’ll be checking in on Monday for weekend reading this week–till then, be well.


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Peanutty Stewed Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens

Peanutty Stewed Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens | The Full Helping

This was one of those dishes I really didn’t intend to share. It was born of necessity in the form of a mason jar full of black-eyed peas that I’d been meaning for ages to use up. When I had the thought to add a big heaping scoop of peanut butter to the stew at the end, I suspected it would go one of two ways: either it would be delicious, or it would be ruinous.

Well, I think it’s delicious. And I always feel a special fondness for recipes that came together unexpectedly or involved a culinary leap of faith. With that I’m mind, I couldn’t help but share these simple, slightly offbeat, peanutty stewed black-eyed peas and collard greens.

Peanutty Stewed Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens | The Full Helping

I guess I had a good precedent for this soup in the form of my yam and peanut stew with kale, which is a longtime favorite. And there are many west African recipes that feature peanuts in soups and stews. The real reason I added PB was the fact that I’ve always thought that black-eyed peas have a slightly peanutty flavor and scent—something I was reminded of as the beans were simmering. Not sure if this is in my head or not! Peanuts are legumes, after all, so perhaps these two are cousins.

The recipe is super simple: it’s really just onion and garlic, smoked paprika and chili, beans, and peanut butter. You won’t need to do much as the beans simmer, and at the end, you simply make a slurry with your PB, add it to the pot, and allow your collards to cook down. The flavor is smoky, savory, and (of course) unmistakably nutty. I think a squeeze of lime and generous dash of hot sauce make it all the better.

Peanutty Stewed Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens | The Full Helping

Peanutty Stewed Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens

Recipe type: soup, main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free, soy free, tree nut free optional, oil free optional
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 75 mins
Total time: 1 hour 25 mins
Serves: 8 servings (recipe can be halved)
  • 2 teaspoons neutral cooking oil (such as grapeseed or avocado) or water
  • 1 large or 2 small onions, chopped
  • 1 green bell pepper, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 pound (about 2¼ cups) dry black-eyed peas, soaked overnight, drained, and rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon ground chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons smoked paprika
  • 1¼ teaspoons salt
  • 6 cups water
  • 2 bay leaves
  • ¼ cup creamy peanut butter (for a peanut-free option, you can substitute sunflower seed butter)
  • 12 ounces collard greens, thick bottom stems trimmed, chopped or cut into thin ribbons (about 2 small bunches, or 1 extra large bunch)
  • Juice of 1 large lime
  • Cayenne pepper, to taste
  • For serving: Cooked millet, rice, or another grain of choice, extra lime wedges, chopped roasted peanuts, hot sauce
  1. Heat the oil or water in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper. Cook for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently, or until the onion is clear and soft (if you’re using water to saute, add more by the tablespoon if the onion starts to stick). Add the garlic and cook for another 1-2 minutes, or until the garlic is fragrant.
  2. Add the black-eyed peas, chili, paprika, salt, and water. Bring the mixture to a boil, reduce heat to low, and cover. Cook for 60-75 minutes, or until the black-eyed peas are completely tender.
  3. Transfer ½ cup of the liquid from the pot to a small bowl. Add the peanut butter and whisk it all together to make a slurry. Add the slurry back to the pot. If you wish, use an immersion blender to blend up some of the beans; alternately, you can transfer 2-3 cups beans to a standing blender, blend till smooth, and transfer them back to the pot. (This is totally up to you; I like for some of the beans to be pureed, but it’s nice to leave them all whole, too!)
  4. Add the collard greens to the pot. Stir them in well (it’ll take a while for them to wilt into the soup), then cover and cook for another 10-12 minutes, or until the greens are tender. Stir in the lime juice, then add cayenne pepper and extra salt as needed.
  5. To serve the stewed beans, scoop them over your favorite cooked grain (or toast), with a squeeze of lemon, a dash of hot sauce, and chopped peanuts, if you like.
Recipe can be halved to yield 4 portions.

Leftover beans will last for 5 days in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers can be frozen for up to 8 weeks.


 Peanutty Stewed Black-Eyed Peas & Collard Greens | The Full Helping

The beans are great over toast, brown rice, or quinoa, but my favorite way to serve them this week has been with millet. The slight sweetness of the millet seems to play nicely with the nuttiness and heat of the stew (especially if you have a heavy hand with the cayenne). You could also pair the beans with some brown rice and stuff them into a vegan burrito!

As I was cooking, I thought about how great black-eyed peas are–and how underutilized in my kitchen. They’re full of nutrition: packed with protein, fiber, Vitamin B6, magnesium, and iron. Thanks to the combination of beans and collards here, the stew serves up about a quarter of your RDA of iron per serving. It’s a great dish to whip up if you’re working to optimize your iron consumption as a vegan (and if you are, this post might be useful, too).

I’d hoped that the end of my spring term would suddenly open up a lot of cooking time, but I’ve quickly realized that the first half of my summer will be pretty full. So, here’s to big batches of food and plenty of packed lunches. If you’re not trying to have leftovers, you can definitely cut this recipe in half. Enjoy the stew, friends, and I’ll be checking in at the end of the week with an easy, last-minute Memorial Day dish for sharing!


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Weekend Reading, 5.21.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, friends. A lot of you have already tried this past week’s curried tahini pasta salad and given it a thumbs up, which makes me so happy to hear! I’m already excited to make it again.

I’ve spent the last two days catching up on all of the stuff I didn’t take care of while I was wrapping up my spring semester: unanswered emails, chores, errands, cleaning, that sort of thing. There won’t be much of a breather this year, as my summer term already began on Thursday, and I’m taking three classes. It’s all good. My coursework is giving me a sense of purpose right now, which I need and feel grateful for.

Back in September, I was fresh on the heels of recipe development for the next cookbook. After the first, hectic year of my master’s program, it was a relief to escape the world of metabolic pathways and immerse myself instead in a project that was sensory and creative. When autumn rolled around, I dragged my heels back to class, often doubting whether the continued time and sacrifice was worth it.

If you had told me then that I’d be feeling so reinvigorated about my studies now, I’d have been more than a little surprised. But that’s just evidence of how powerfully perspective can shift around in a matter of months. My work ebbs and flows between two magnetic poles: one is creative and finds expression in this blog. The other is academic, with the ultimate goal of service in the nutrition field. It all fits together, at least in theory, though of course in practice there are moments when I feel as though I’m torn between domains, rather than gliding seamlessly between them.

It took me a long time to embrace the fact that I’m creatively inclined, for reasons I don’t entirely understand. Maybe it was the fact that I’d worked on the editorial side of publishing, so I was hesitant to admit that I wanted to write. Maybe it was fear of the vulnerability that comes along with any kind of self-expression. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m the child of a stupendously talented visual artist, someone who lives and breathes and perceives the world in color and form, and my own creative traits have never lined up with artistry as I perceive it in my mom.  Whatever the case, it’s a nice turn of events that I’ve been able to admit that I have a creative side and it needs to find expression in my work.

Yet there’s another, equally strong part of me that’s fascinated by the science of food, as well as the culinary arts. This part of me loves learning about nutrition, even when it’s a slog, and wants always to better understand the complex relationship between food and health. It’s also the part of me that wants to serve, to work with people hands-on, rather than through keystrokes and images. I lost touch with this part of myself earlier in the year; this happens, I guess, when a particular passion is so lit up that it temporarily outshines everything else. But it’s nice to feel the pieces coming together again.

After all of the turmoil and confusion of the last few months, I’m taking solace in the certainty (well…the very relative certainty) of the sciences. It’s a good time to have assignments and tasks at hand, projects that I can sink my teeth into. And it’s an especially good time to be reminded that the studies aren’t just an abstract exercise; they’re all a means of making myself better prepared to help others. It’s work that I’ve always felt lucky to do and look forward to deepening over time.

Lots of good health-related reading on the agenda for you this week, as well as some truly delicious-looking vegan recipes. As always, hope you enjoy.


Summer, with its many warm-weather gatherings and events, is always a good time to have finger food recipes on hand. I’m loving Hannah’s creative taco bites, which are made with beans and vegan meat and crushed tortilla chips. Such a cool alternative to conventional meatless balls or other standard appetizer fare.

I smiled when I read Amanda’s post about craving green food in spite of the fact that weather is becoming cool where she lives. I go through a similar phase every winter—a few weeks where I can’t seem to get enough green and crunchy stuff. Amanda’s goodness green bowl is full of verdant falafel and dressing, plus a broccoli spinach tabbouleh (!) that I can’t wait to try.

Cherry season hasn’t quite arrived in my part of the world, but I’m looking forward to it, and when it’s here I’ll be making these sour cherry overnight oats. (Technically, you don’t even have to wait for cherries to come into season, since the recipe conveniently invites you to use frozen fruit!)

Also in the realm of creative finger food, I’m loving Susan’s portobello mushroom pizzas. Susan grills ’em, packs them with good stuff (like zucchini, olives, and herbs), then tops them with hummus. Easy, nutritious, and so tasty.

Finally, a big, beautiful, flavorful pan of pasta: broccoli orecchiette with vegan bacon from Ania at Lazycat Kitchen. I’ve never thought to use my coconut bacon recipe in a pasta dish before, but I’m really excited to try it now, either with broccoli or with other summer veggies in a couple of weeks.


1. First, an interesting perspective/critique on efforts to recruit young women into STEM careers. The author’s main argument—illustrated by her own story—is that too much effort is spent trying to enlist girls into the sciences, rather than fixing the workplace culture and policies that make it difficult for women to remain in the field longterm.

2. A sensitive, eye-opening video about the day-to-day realities of being a young person with Type I Diabetes (or being a caretaker). The film profiles a teenager named Grace and her mom, who are struggling to cope with the demands of Grace’s diabetes; in Grace’s case, the practical realities of insulin therapy are coupled with the fact that her peers often misunderstand her disease and its cause.

The topic is close to my heart after studying T1DM in my medical nutrition therapy class this year and realizing just how constant the demands of blood glucose monitoring are. I read one reaction to the film that suggested it might be overly dark and fearful, which made sense to me, especially since treatment options are becoming more high-tech and effective. Still, it’s a glimpse into what it must be like to have one’s whole young adulthood constrained by the demands of a chronic health condition, and I think it’s worth watching and sharing.

3. I’m a really big fan of Taylor Wolfram‘s body-positive, compassionate work in the nutrition space, and I really like her take on weight neutrality and its importance in health care.

4. I can’t say I’m surprised to learn that dancing might have a positive effect on the brain, but I was interested/delighted to read about its many cognitive benefits—and really glad to hear that it’s being considered as a line of treatment for dementia.

5. I know I’ve linked to a bunch of articles about food insecurity this year, but it’s such an important topic that I keep finding links to share. I’m really glad to hear that healthcare providers are more routinely inquiring about food availability/access when they greet patients. As this article makes very clear, the signs of food insecurity aren’t always readily evident, so it’s important for screening to become a standard part of primary care. I think it goes for dietitians, too: patients can’t consider dietary modifications unless access to food is secure, and it’s an unfortunate reality that such security can never be assumed.

And that’s it for today. I did manage to get back into some cooking this weekend, and I have a hearty, flavorful, generous legume recipe on the way for you.


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Curried Tahini Pasta Salad

Curried Tahini Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

The upside of exam season each spring, if there is one, is that it stokes my love of cooking. I usually spend the last few weeks of the semester living off very simple foods and leftovers, itching to get back in the kitchen and let the creative juices flow. It’s become a culinary ritual like any other—like waiting for certain produce to come into season, or waiting for the holidays to arrive so that one can bake a favorite pie or sheet of cookies.

In the meantime, I do my best to whip up at least a few recipes while I’m navigating finals season, if only to blow off steam. This curried tahini pasta salad is so, so easy to prepare, which made it ideal for this past weekend. The leftovers keep well, which means it’s tiding me over for a couple of days. And it’s delicious and great for sharing, which means you can bring it to whatever Memorial Day or summery gatherings you’ve got in store.

Curried Tahini Pasta Salad | The Full Helping

The pasta here is a tender, light gluten free Italian fusilli from Nuts.com, which I was delighted to sample. While I’m not gluten free myself, I do plenty of cooking for private clients and for friends who are. I’m always hunting for new and noteworthy GF products, and pasta has been a tricky one: a lot of clients have told me that they’re less than excited about some of the brands they’ve tried.

This fusilli is a corn and rice blend, and it’s one of the best I’ve sampled. The downside of a lot of GF pastas is gummy or sticky texture; this one holds its shape perfectly and stays light through cooking. I’d easily have mistaken it for regular pasta had I not known that it was gluten-free, and I’d imagine that others would feel the same. It also has a mild, neutral flavor, very similar to traditional pasta.

I always love checking out what the folks at Nuts.com have on offer and supporting their awesome, family-owned business. They do a wonderful job of supplying ultra fresh nuts, dried fruit, grains, legumes, condiments, and spices with lightening-fast shipping and super friendly service. In this recipe, I relied not only on the new, gluten-free pasta, but also on the company’s turmeric and curry, both of which are staple spices in my kitchen.

Curried Tahini Pasta Salad | The Full Helping
Curried Tahini Pasta Salad | The Full Helping
Curried Tahini Pasta Salad

Recipe type: main dish, side dish, quick and easy
Cuisine: gluten free, soy free, tree nut free, no oil, vegan
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 5 mins
Cook time: 15 mins
Total time: 20 mins
Serves: 6 servings
For the pasta salad:
  • 1 lb pasta of choice (I use Nuts.com gluten-free fusilli)
  • 2 cups chopped broccoli florets
  • 1½ cups green peas (fresh or defrosted)
  • 1 cup chopped green beans
  • 1 cup chopped fresh or roasted red bell pepper
  • ½ cup finely chopped cilantro or parsley (or a mixture)
  • ¼ cup chopped green onion tops
  • Optional mix-ins: chickpeas, black beans, sliced almonds, golden raisins
For the sauce:
  • ⅓ cup (heaping) tahini
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • 1½ tablespoons freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup
  • 2-3 teaspoons curry powder (to taste; adjust based on flavor preference and how spicy your curry powder is)
  • ½ teaspoon ground turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 1 clove garlic, finely minced or grated
  1. Bring a pot of well salted water to boil and cook the pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is ready, drain it and rinse it under cold, running water.
  2. While the pasta cooks, bring another pot of water to boil and fit it with a steamer attachment. Steam the broccoli, peas, and cut green beans till the broccoli is tender but still has some crunch (about 5-7 minutes).
  3. Whisk together the dressing ingredients. The mixture should be slightly thicker than a regular salad dressing, but if it’s very thick, add water by the tablespoon until it’s easy to stir.
  4. When the pasta is ready, transfer it to a large mixing bowl. Add the peas, green beans, broccoli, pepper, cilantro or parsley, and chopped green onion tops, along with any other mix-ins you like. Add the tahini dressing and mix everything really well. Then taste the pasta and add salt, black pepper, and extra lime juice or vinegar as desired. Serve.
Pasta can be prepared a day in advance and kept in an airtight container in the fridge. Leftovers will also keep for 2-3 days in the fridge. Recipe can be halved.


I love how turmeric adds bright golden color to this already vibrant dish (and I always love sneaking turmeric and black pepper into recipes for the anti-inflammatory properties!). I encourage you to adjust the curry as needed; if you love curry or want to use a hot curry powder, go for it. If you’re like me and prefer a milder flavor, use a mild curry and stick to the 2-3 teaspoons specified. Of course, you can try using different vegetables here, like carrots or zucchini or eggplant. The dish will come together particularly quickly if you use a frozen veggie blend, in which case you can just eyeball the quantities (about 5 cups of veggies is good).

I’m eager to spend lots of quality time here on the blog this summer, sharing my food. I’ll be taking a full summer course load, but my experience has been that in spite of the compressed schedule, summer classes are a little more chill than their academic year counterparts. So, here’s to a lot more food in this space very soon. For now, enjoy the colorful salad, and see you this weekend for the customary roundup!


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

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Weekend Reading, 5.14.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, all, and a very happy Mother’s Day to those of you who are celebrating today.

This day has me thinking a lot about my mom and how grateful I am to her right now. I know I haven’t made things easy for her in the last year or so. I did a lot of soul searching last spring, as I waded through the mucky waters of depression, and much of that work involved delving into parts of my past I’d never really dealt with. There was no way to share that process with my mother without drawing her back into the past, too—a journey she may not have wanted or been ready to take.

In the last couple of months, post-breakup, my mom has seen me at my most vulnerable. It’s not a pretty sight. I’m sure she didn’t count on watching me fall apart this spring, and I hate the way I’ve had to depend on her at times. I’d rather my mom be getting a good night’s rest than getting hysterical phone calls from me, her thirty-five-year-old child, at 2am, because I’ve worked myself into a panic with anxiety and insomnia. I hate that I’ve lashed out at her at times, blamed her for not saying the “right” thing, heaped my grief at her feet—especially since she’s grieving, too. Like me, my mother had great faith in my relationship, had welcomed my partner into her (our) tiny family. She wasn’t ready for the the dissolution, either.

In spite of the fact that my mom would never want me to feel ashamed for needing her so much, I do. I always imagined that, at this point in my life, I’d be ready to take care of her a little more, and lean on her a little less. I thought I’d have more figured out, that I’d be in a sturdier, more solid place, and that she could take comfort in my competence and strength. I didn’t expect to so often feel like a scared, vulnerable kid, still trying to orient myself in the world and wanting a mother’s guidance.

But I know how deeply fortunate I am to have that guidance, that love, in the first place. Reading Lily’s essay last week was a reminder to give thanks for it. It’s not often in life that we’re given permission to fall apart by someone close, someone who will be there to help us when we’re ready to pick up the pieces. That kind of love is such a gift, something that comes around only in the strongest friendships and partnerships. If we’re lucky, we find it in our family—chosen or inherited family—too.

I have a small family, and many of the people I think of as family are not people to whom I’m biologically related. But I have been blessed many times over with the fierce friendship and bond I share with my mom. I know I’ve given her a hard time this year, that I’ve asked a lot of her, pushed her away sometimes, let her bear the brunt of a lot of angry feelings. She has never stopped trying to understand. I can’t really repay her, except to tell her again and again how grateful I am and how much I love her—and I know that, if she were reading, she’d tell me that there’s no debt to be repaid in the first place.

Whether you commemorate Mother’s Day or not, I hope you can spend time today with people who make you feel unconditionally embraced and accepted. On that note, onto some new food finds and reading material.


One of my own nutrition goals this year is to eat more fresh fruit. I know it’ll get easier as we move into warm weather, and salad is a great vehicle. I love the vibrant combination here: mango, roasted sweet potato, flaked coconut, and chopped herbs. This recipe is going on my list of summery food to make as soon as it actually feels like summer (right now NYC is still firmly planted in April/May drizzle and chill).

Having friends over for brunch anytime soon? Alissa’s chai coconut French toast will probably make you the most beloved host or hostess in town.

Babamesco is exactly what it sounds like: a genius hybrid of romesco sauce and babaganoush, garnished with parsley and za’atar. Nice one, Anya.

The Sarno brothers are working wonders in the kitchen (as usual!) with this recipe for vegan carbonara. Cashew-cauliflower alfredo sauce, sautéed shiitakes, peas, garlic…this is my idea of springtime comfort food.

More springtime goodness, and more za’atar spice. This bamboo rice and za’atar tempeh bowl is fully loaded, but the ingredient list totally manageable. And I really love the idea of adding za’atar spice to tempeh.


1. First up, an article about the need for greater PTSD awareness and treatment interventions in disadvantaged neighborhoods, especially those in which gun violence is common. It’s a fine piece of local reporting, yet I’d imagine that the issues journalist Grace Wong describes are widespread.

2. Fascinating information on how the “soundscape” of oceans—that is, the whole collection of sounds made by animals, waves, weather, and human beings—can give scientists clues about the health of a coastal ecosystem, especially in the face of climate change.

I’ve never exactly imagined oceans as being quiet, but the article paints a vivid picture of just how busy and alive they are. “People often assume that oceans are quiet, aside from the noises made by whales and dolphins,” author Roberta Kwok writes. “But small animals chatter too. For instance, damselfish open and close their jaws with a brrrp brrrp, triggerfish brush their pectoral fins against their bodies to produce a keek-keek-keek and drum fish contract muscles around an organ called the swim bladder to make a drumming sound.”

During toxic algae blooms and other natural disasters, these oceans go eerily quiet. It’s worth listening to some of the recordings in the article, which capture the web of sounds that Kwok describes.

3. A beautiful, surprising essay about how a prolonged experience of aphasia—the loss of speech or understanding of speech—gave one woman a drastically different experience of life. The author, Lauren Marks, had a stroke at the age of twenty-seven while traveling abroad. It left her with deficiencies in reading, writing, and speech—an event that might well be seen as catastrophic for an actor and PhD candidate. Marks’ experience, though, isn’t what you might think: in the wake of the stroke, she experienced a transformative “quiet” that she’d never known before:

Once-fixed concepts, like “wall” and “window,” weren’t as easy to identify anymore, and the differences between “he” and “she” and “I” and “it” were becoming indistinguishable. I knew my parents were my parents and my friends were my friends, but I felt less like myself and more like everything around me…
At this point I didn’t know much about my brain injury at all. I wasn’t in any pain, so my thoughts about my new condition were unfocused and fleeting. Instead of being occupied by questions about why I was in the hospital and what had happened to me, my mind was engrossed in an entirely different set of perceptions. The smallest of activities would enthrall me. Dressing myself, I was awed by the orbital distance between cloth and flesh. Brushing my teeth, I was enchanted by the stiffness of the bristles and the sponginess of my gums. I also spent an inordinate amount of time looking out the window. My view was mainly of the hospital’s rooftop, with its gray and untextured panels, though I developed a lot of interest in a nearby tree. I could only make out the tops of the branches, but I’d watch this section of needles and boughs intently, fascinated by how the slightest wind would change the shape entirely. It was always and never the same tree.

Marks attributes much of this experience to the fact that she was “no longer the narrator of my own life.” She notes that she is still reaching out for language, working to gain it back day by day. But “the quiet” was illuminating in its own way:

The constant stream of language, which I had always assumed was thought, had stopped. It’s hard to describe this voice exactly, and even harder to describe its lack. It is the internal monologue that turns on in the morning, when we instruct ourselves to “Get up” and “Make breakfast.” It’s a voice we use to monitor ourselves, to criticize or to doubt—and it can be pernicious this way. However, it can be an effective tool as well. We can motivate ourselves with it, understand our environment better, and sometimes modify our situations as well. My inner speech returned very slowly, not on a certain day, but in bits and bobs. In the hospital, though, I didn’t realize that I no longer had access to it, only that something in me felt substantially…different.

The essay gave me so much to think about; I can’t imagine going a moment without the narrative voice Marks describes (which for me is often a very busy, boisterous chatter), but I was fascinated by her account, and I’m definitely interested in checking out her new book.

4. Also thought-provoking: Sarah Todd’s reflections on what it’s like to have a very popular name. Todd’s main point is that having a common name can be freeing, a way of moving through life without having too much significance or connotation attached to one’s moniker. She writes,

I may not have a name that feels particularly descriptive, but it has made me feel free. As a kid I knew Sarah’s who were bookworms and Sarah’s who were bold and popular, Sarah’s who could do tricks on the jungle gym and Sarah’s who were class clowns. I read about people with my name who were inventors and musicians and activists and writers. And so I grew up understanding that I might not have to choose. In this way, perhaps parents who give their children a common name are making their own kind of wish. Keep your options open, they’re saying. You could be anyone.

I have an unusual name (Eugenia) and a nickname (Gena) that tends to confuse people because it isn’t spelled the way it’s pronounced (like “Jenna”). I don’t mind any of it, but I’ve definitely wondered what it might be like to have a name that’s more inconspicuous, and Todd’s essay is fun food for thought.

5. Finally, I’m super proud of Abby—whom some of you may know as the author of Abby Has Issues—for speaking up about her struggle with exercise addiction. It’s a struggle that doesn’t get enough attention, but I see it all the time in my work. Kudos to Abby for having the guts to share her story and shine some light.

On that note, I’m off to spend some time with my mom and to deliver her weekly loaf of peasant bread. See you soon, with an easy, flavorful, crowd-pleasing pasta salad recipe.


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Vegan Dark Chocolate Cashew Cream Scones

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cashew Cream Scones | The Full Helping

Figuring out what and how to cook for my mom, who has a very different set of tastebuds from mine, has been a welcome challenge over the years. But experience has shown me that she’s pretty much guaranteed to love anything with dark chocolate in it, and I also happen to know that she’s partial to something sweet for breakfast. This year, my Mother’s Day offering to her is a batch of rich, crumbly vegan dark chocolate cashew cream scones.

It’s hard to imagine anyone not loving these scones, what with their buttery taste and pockets of bittersweet dark chocolate. I’ve experimented with a lot of whole grain, nutty approaches to morning scones, using rye flour, einkorn flour, spelt flour, and other whole grain varieties. I love those scones; I love how the bold flavor of wheat really shines through.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cashew Cream Scones | The Full Helping

But that’s not what these scones are about. These scones are light and white and crumbly; every bite is rich and tastes like butter (you can use either solid coconut oil or a vegan butter to make them; they’ll be buttery-tasting either way). They’re traditional, a little decadent, and more dessert than breakfast fare. In other words, they’re a treat—a treat worthy of gifting and sharing.

Many scone recipes call for heavy cream; I’ve always substituted non-dairy milk in the past. This time, I decided to use the sweet version of my all-purpose cashew cream instead. I’m in love with the results. Yes, making the cashew cream is an extra step, but I really do think it makes the scones richer and more tender. And you’ll probably have a few tablespoons of the cashew cream leftover, which will be perfect for drizzling onto your morning oats or a bowl of fresh berries.

Vegan Dark Chocolate Cashew Cream Scones | The Full Helping

Dark Chocolate Cashew Cream Scones

Recipe type: dessert, snack, breakfast
Cuisine: vegan, soy free, gluten free option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 40 mins
Cook time: 25 mins
Total time: 1 hour 5 mins
Serves: 8 large scones
  • 2½ cups unbleached, all-purpose flour (substitute your most reliable gluten free flour blend)
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar, plus extra for sprinkling (cane sugar and coconut sugar work well)
  • 2½ teaspoons baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt (if you use vegan buttery spread instead of coconut oil, you should reduce the salt to ½ teaspoon)
  • 6 tablespoons coconut oil (solid, not melted) or vegan butter, cut into pieces
  • ¾ cup chopped dark chocolate, dark chocolate chunks, or dark chocolate chips
  • 1 cup all-purpose cashew cream (substitute 1 cup almond, soy, or coconut milk creamer)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons almond milk + 1 teaspoon agave or maple syrup (optional, for glazing)
  1. In a large mixing bowl, mix together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add the coconut oil or butter and use a pastry cutter or two forks to incorporate it into the flour mixture; it should be evenly incorporated and no big pieces visible, but little pieces (just less than pea-sized) are good. Mix in the dark chocolate.
  2. Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and add the cashew cream and vanilla. Use a spatula to mix until it’s all just holding together (the dough can be a little shaggy and messy; it shouldn’t be too wet). Transfer the dough to a floured surface and press it into a circle (about 7 inches across). Cut the circle into 8 scones. Place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate the scones for 30 minutes to 1 hour (or you can place them in the freezer for 30 minutes).
  3. While the scones are in the fridge or freezer, preheat the oven to 350F. When the scones have chilled, you can brush them with the almond milk + syrup mixture (a vegan egg wash, inspired by Abby), then sprinkle them with extra sugar. (You can also skip this step.) Transfer the scones to the oven. Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the scones are just golden at the edges. Allow them to cool before enjoying.

 Vegan Dark Chocolate Cashew Cream Scones | The Full Helping

My scone making skills have gotten a lot better thanks to inspiration from Liz Larkin (sconeladylarkin on Instagram), whose royal wedding scones are a perfect template for all sorts of creative variations! Posie also has some wonderful scone recipes that can be veganized, and for vegan-as-written recipes, I think nothing beats the scones in Vegan with a Vengeance. If you’re looking to perfect your vegan scone game, Isa’s hazelnut scones are a great place to begin.

I can’t wait to give these to my mom this coming weekend. They’ll be a small but sweet token of my appreciation for all of the love and support she’s given me in the last few months. Until then, it’s back to cramming for final exams. Have a lovely rest of the week, friends.


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Weekend Reading, 5.7.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

The process of clicking around in search of links for these weekend reading posts is always full of surprise and discovery. It’s often filled with emotion, too—grief, sadness, or excitement, depending on what I find and how it strikes me. This week, my heart ached and then celebrated along with Lily, who bravely shared her story of returning to the kitchen space after her mother’s death on Food52.

“My mother was my portal into the world of the senses,” Lily writes. “She taught me to cook without recipes, to experiment freely with whatever ingredients were on hand, to look first to the earth, and second to the demands of hunger. But in 2008, when she died, the kitchen suddenly became a foreign space filled with hotspots of loss.”

It’s no surprise that the loss of her Mom temporarily severed Lily’s connection to cooking: “In the months after her death, I felt infantile, my twenty-four-year-old self reduced to the lowest common denominator of adult capacity. There were days when I couldn’t bear to step into the kitchen at all, so weighty was the pall of her absence.”

One of the most difficult dimensions of loss, at least in my experience, is how thoroughly it can transform spaces that have always felt familiar and safe. I remember setting foot into my grandmother’s apartment for the first time after she passed away and feeling shocked at how different it seemed to me. It had always been a safe, cozy, sunny place, a place that was animated by my Yaya’s undeniable joie de vivre. Suddenly it felt dark and crowded, overrun with the belongings that my mom and I were tasked with sorting through and giving away. It even looked different to me: smaller, older, a little dingier. Without her big, warm, welcoming presence, nothing was the same.

Physical spaces can take on new meaning and be perceived differently after all kinds of loss. The spaces you shared with a lover and partner suddenly feel barren—maybe even unapproachable—once the bond has dissolved. (I’m experiencing this with many familiar spots and corners of the city right now.) Family estrangement can do it, too. Even when a relationship ends by choice, the sudden changes in one’s immediate landscape can feel shocking.

I really can’t imagine the depth of Lily’s grief or the strength that it took for her to step back into the kitchen as she mourned, but I do know that food can hold remarkable healing power. I know that, when you’re feeling lost, recipes can bring you home. So I found myself nodding and smiling when Lily described how tofu—an ingredient she’d been introduced to by her “hippie at heart” parents as a small baby and immediately named “fuff”—was a part of her healing process.

Tofu was so woven into the fabric of Lily’s childhood that she was able to make it even when cooking anything else felt impossible. A familiar recipe served as a portal through which Lily was able to let memory in and start to feel again, little by little:

This, then, was how I put myself back together again in the kitchen, summoning those moments when the wholeness of our family was so plain and joyful it didn’t hurt. Remembering her as she was before, relearning the tastes and textures and foods that she gave me. Now, when I make tofu, I feel her in me. Drain the water. Slice the curd. Marinate. Remember. Feel it all.

Lily’s words resonate not only because they’re rich and honest (and because I love tofu), but also because I know how foreign the kitchen can feel in the wake of painful life events. I’ve watched many clients go through periods of total alienation from cooking when they’re suffering, either because food and cooking are too imbued with memory to be bearable or because other forms of self-care need to come first.

I’ve also had the privilege of bearing witness as cooking and food become a part of peoples’ healing process, a step in finding the way back to pleasure and self-nourishment. And I’ve known that type of healing firsthand, too. I’m getting small doses of it now, as I cook and bake my way through this breakup.

It’s so clear that Lily has inherited her mother’s sensuality, passion, and love of food. (And love of tofu.) These qualities shine through her recipes and her writing all the time. The kitchen may have felt barren to her for a while, but she’s returned to it with so much spirit and love.

I hope you’ll enjoy her essay. After you read it, you can dive into her recipe for black sesame tofu with pickled veggies and tahini cilantro sauce, which is one of many memorable recipes I’ve been gazing at in the last week!


It says a lot about Jeanine’s lovely coconut mango breakfast muffins that they are making me crave two ingredients (coconut and mango) that I don’t usually use in baking. These look so sunny and sweet and perfect for summer.

Also on the breakfast lineup: Alanna‘s genius clumpy granola, as featured on Food52. In the great granola debate—clumpy vs. crumbly—I am strictly a clump person, so this recipe is right up my alley.

I love a good vegan taco salad, especially when it’s packed full of protein and nutrient-rich tempeh. Heidi’s latest recipe looks so good, and I love the idea to add roasted cherry tomatoes.

Steaming is one of my favorite ways to make spring produce, like asparagus and broccolini, shine. I can’t wait to try Andrea’s recipe, which features an accompanying lemon miso sauce. Such a simple, healthy side dish.

This vegan bibimbap recipe is super flexible and easy, not to mention colorful. A tasty, spicy sauce formula never hurts, either.


1. I’ve learned a lot about rest in the last couple of years. One important lesson has been that rest doesn’t only take the form of sleeping or napping; it can also take the form of reading, walking, or unhurried, exploratory thought.

This article is slightly prescriptive and medicalized for something that’s addressing the power of daydreaming and other forms of cognitive rest, but I like the general idea and the habits it describes.

2. Many of you may have seen that the USDA removed a number of animal welfare reports from its website in February, causing outcry from animal rights advocates. This Washington Post article explains how an animal showhorse lawsuit may have been involved, and it also highlights broader and timely issues to do with transparency and government agencies.

3. A factory in the small, agricultural municipality of Hinwil, Switzerland, will be the first to practice direct air capture. This is a process in which ambient carbon dioxide is trapped by filtration, then converted; in this case, the freed CO2 will be pumped over to a greenhouse for use in fertilization of vegetables and lettuce.

As this article notes, there are tons of questions about the viability and cost of these kinds of factories, but their technology may be necessary if nations are to comply with the goals set out by the Paris Agreement. I think there’s something lovely about the idea of all of those greenhouse emissions being used to grow plants!

4. This is the story of how a graduate student who was conduction fieldwork in Panama stumbled on a finding that’s now making herpetologists rethink frog parenting. But, as the article notes, it’s also “a reminder that fieldwork remains a valuable tool for discovery in an era of indoor genetic labs.”

5. Finally, Lily Diamond’s reminiscences on finding her way back to cooking, one block of tofu at a time.

I hope you enjoy the reads. I’ll be back this week with a decadent, delicious vegan baked treat!


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Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos

Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos | The Full Helping

I’ve come to rely heavily on cauliflower when I’m sharing vegan food with family and friends. It seems to be a universal crowd pleaser: nutritious, a gluten-free option for the dinner centerpiece, and everyone is pleasantly surprised at how versatile the vegetable is, whether it’s whole roasted, cut into “steaks,” folded into a zesty pasta dish, or whipped into a smoky appetizer dip. These crispy cauliflower chimichurri tacos are my latest favorite use for the many-sided crucifer, and I can’t wait to share them with friends as the weather gets warmer.

Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos | The Full Helping

When I made these tacos over the weekend I had just been thinking about ways to streamline my cooking as final exams heat up. I prepared the cauliflower and chimichurri sauce a day in advance, which meant that on Sunday, when it was time to make the tacos themselves, nearly all of the heavy lifting was done. At that point, I just toasted my tortillas and threw together the lentil/cabbage slaw.

The tacos have it all: a combination of textures, smoky, spicy, and slightly sweet flavors, plus a hint of garlic and herbs from the chimichurri. This chimichurri sauce is thicker than other versions I’ve tried at home, which were probably more authentic and traditional, but I really love how almonds give it substance. The sauce itself doesn’t have to be used on tacos: you can also use it in a vegan bowl, as an accompaniment to grilled tofu or seitan, or with veggie kebabs in the summer (yum).

Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos | The Full Helping

Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos

Recipe type: main dish
Cuisine: vegan, gluten free option, soy free, tree nut free option
Author: Gena Hamshaw
Prep time: 10 mins
Cook time: 40 mins
Total time: 50 mins
Serves: 4 servings
For the crispy cauliflower:
  • 1 medium or large head cauliflower, tough stem removed and chopped into bite-sized pieces
  • 1 tablespoon neutral vegetable oil, such as grapeseed or avocado
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground chili powder
  • ½ teaspoon smoked paprika
  • Crushed red pepper flakes
  • Coarse salt
For the almond chimichurri:
  • ½ cup roasted almonds (salted or unsalted is fine, but if you use salted you may wish to reduce the salt in the sauce slightly)*
  • 2 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
  • ½ teaspoon fine salt
  • ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (or to taste)
  • ½ cup packed, fresh cilantro
  • 1 cup tightly packed, fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2-4 tablespoons water
For the tacos & slaw:
  • 3 cups shredded purple or green cabbage (or a mix)
  • 1 cup cooked lentils or black beans
  • ¾ cup packed, fresh chopped cilantro
  • 2-3 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Drizzle agave or maple syrup (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 8 6-inch flour or corn tortillas (use 100% corn for a gluten-free option)
  1. Preheat your oven to 400F and line a baking sheet with parchment or foil. Toss the cauliflower with the oil, cumin, chili, smoked paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes to taste. Spread the cauliflower on the baking sheet and sprinkle generously with coarse salt. Roast for 30-40 minutes, stirring once halfway through, until the cauliflower is getting crispy and browning at the edges.
  2. While the cauliflower roasts, place the almonds in a food processor fitted with the S blade. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper. Process until the almonds have been broken down into a coarse meal. Add the cilantro, parsley, lemon, red wine vinegar, olive oil, and 2 tablespoons water. Process until the mixture is bright green and evenly mixed; it should resemble a pesto. You may wish to add 1-2 extra tablespoons water, one at a time, to thin the sauce if it’s very thick.
  3. In a mixing bowl, toss together the cabbage, lentils or beans, cilantro, extra virgin olive oil, lime juice, and agave or maple syrup (if using). Season to taste with salt, pepper, and an additional drizzle of lime juice or oil, if needed.
  4. To prepare the tacos, you you can toast your tortillas over an open gas burner set to very low flame for about 1 minute per side—this will give you a slightly browned, crispy texture. You can also reduce the oven heat to 300F after you roast the cauliflower, wrap all of the tortillas in foil, and allow them to warm up for 10 minutes before you assemble the tacos. To assemble, fill all of the tacos with about ½ cup (each) slaw and cauliflower, then drizzle with the chimichurri sauce.
*For a tree nut free version, try using toasted pepitas or hulled sunflower seeds in place of the almonds.

 Crispy Cauliflower Chimichurri Tacos | The Full Helping

In place of the lentils in the slaw, you can use black beans, chickpeas, pinto beans, or even black eyed peas. Either red or green cabbage works, and if you don’t have either of those, you can also use finely chopped romaine lettuce leaves. Folding some chopped avocado into the slaw—or piling some slices into the tacos—wouldn’t hurt, either!

This is a fun vegan Cinco de Mayo dish, if you plan to cook up something celebratory, but it’s also a great dish for summer gatherings or warm weather suppers at home. Regular readers know that I really love tacos/tostadas for breakfast; I usually make a super simple version with vegan refried beans and rice, plus a handful of veggies and avocado or whatever sauce I have lying around. The leftovers of this dish are definitely more colorful and festive than my usual, and I’ve been enjoying them so much for breakfast in the last few days.

See you over the weekend, with the usual roundup of recipes and reads.


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Weekend Reading, 4.30.17

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, everyone. I’ve spent most of this weekend putting finishing touches on the term paper for my psychology class. Lots of work, but it’s interesting work: I’m writing about issues that pop up routinely in these weekend reading posts.

Specifically, I’m considering the placebo/nocebo effect as it relates to our experience of food. Too much to summarize neatly here (plus I’m a little braindead from combing through citations), but the research has given me a deeper understanding of what I know intuitively from my work, which is that our beliefs and assumptions about food exert a very powerful influence on how we experience food physically.

This can be problematic, especially in cases of orthorexia or food fear. Research (albeit limited research) suggests that negative anticipation about food can cause physical distress. Presumably this is a cyclical and self-reinforcing pattern: anticipation induces symptoms, and the experience of those symptoms bolsters fear or anxiety. The potential upside would be that a hopeful or expectant posture could enhance the sense of well-being that we derive from food, too—even aside from the nutritive value we’re taking in.

Expectation isn’t the whole story, of course: plenty of other factors influence how food makes us feel. But it is remarkable and humbling to be reminded of the power of the mind to influence the body. Our professor routinely notes that the patients who are most susceptible to psychosomatic illness are also especially capable of self-healing. It’s an empowering idea, and I hope I’ll have more opportunity to explore it, especially within the nutrition realm.

I’m sure there will be more to say at when my own mind is working a little better. For now, I’m turning this post over to some enticing recipes and interesting medical reads from the last week!



Roasted radishes are one of my favorite spring treats—it’s incredible how sweet they become, given how peppery they are! Danielle and Cameron’s roasted radish and farro salad looks just lovely. The recipe calls for butter for roasting the radishes, but you could easily use vegan buttery spread or olive oil instead.

Another grain salad that caught my eye this week is Erin’s simple, vibrant coriander cauliflower amaranth salad. I really don’t use amaranth often enough, and this dish would be a perfect place to start.

Bek’s ultimate vegan portobello burger is plant-based comfort food at its finest. It’s crusted in panko bread crumbs and stuffed with cashew cheese—how much more decadent and delicious could a vegan burger recipe be?!

I’ve never thought to make hummus with mung beans, but Lindsey’s recipe is inspiring me. I also love her whole spread in the post, which includes beet chips, olives, and a homemade gluten-free za’atar bread. Yum.

For dessert, I’m loving Renee’s pretty raspberry cheesecake bars. They’re a perfect sweet treat for berry season, which is just around the corner where I live.


1. First, a candid and sensitive essay by Jennifer Adaeze Okwerekwu on what it feels like to experience hurt feelings as a physician.

More and more, medical schools are coming to recognize the importance of humanistic care and offering training that better enables doctors to communicate with their patients. It’s nowadays understood that good medical care recognizes patients’ feelings and works to earn their trust.

But if doctor-patient relationships are to be truly bidirectional, then doctors will also experience feeling and vulnerability. Okwerekwu recounts a situation in which she administered particularly sensitive care to a patient, only to have the entire ministration be forgotten. She writes,

The day before she went home, as I had done every day, we talked about her treatment plan. A couple of hours later, I got a page — this patient was angry because she said she hadn’t been seen by a doctor that day. In those days of caring for her, I introduced myself as her doctor, I mentioned being part of her team of doctors, and I was prescribing her different medicines. All of these indicators that I was a physician, and she had no idea who I was.
At that moment, I felt so defeated. I’m often mistaken for something other than a doctor because I am female, young, and black, but it was more than that. I was disappointed because I had committed a lot of time and energy to her care. I had assumed that this would lead to some interpersonal connection — that we’d stand together in her journey to get well. I wasn’t prepared for the hurt of being abandoned on that journey.

I think it’s great that doctors are being encouraged to engage fully with the individuals they’re trying to help. But Okwerekwu’s perspective is an important reminder that deeper relationships will create the potential for hurt feelings or perceived slights on both sides—a factor that medical training should address.

2. One of the newest trends in healthcare is the emergence of high-tech apps and virtual care programs. It’ll be interesting to see how these services work for consumers and whether they can be made affordable, but some of the early feedback and data is promising.

Anahad O’Connor recently profiled Virta Health, which uses careful food tracking, blood glucose monitoring, and guidance from doctors and dietitians to help those suffering from Type 2 Diabetes. The couple he profiles used Virta to take charge of their health in a very proactive way, and their story is inspiring.

3. I’ve been struck by the co-incidence of eating disorders and celiac disease (along with other autoimmune diseases) that I see in my work, so I was really interested to read about a new study demonstrating linkages between anorexia nervosa (AN) and celiac disease (CD). The linkage seems to work bidirectionally, which is to say that those diagnosed with celiac are more likely to have received a previous or subsequent diagnosis of AN.

My initial thought was that chronic health conditions have been shown to be a predisposing factor for development of disordered eating; one reason may be that patients become hyper-vigilant about diet in an attempt to manage the illness. The study authors posit three possible explanations for their findings:

  • CD may have been misdiagnosed earlier as AN, or vice versa;
  • closer scrutiny of patients diagnosed with one condition may have led to a surveillance bias in detecting the second condition; and
  • a shared genetic susceptibility may have increased the risk of developing both conditions.

I’m so curious to see follow up to this. If you want to check out the original study, you can find it here.

4. Many people consider whether they would donate an organ to a loved one who was in the midst of a health crisis, but the idea of donating to strangers feels like more of an abstraction. Dylan Matthews has some inspiring words to share about why he chose to donate a kidney and why it was less difficult—and even more rewarding—than one might imagine. Part of what makes the story so special is that Matthews’ donation wasn’t isolated:

We were part of a chain of donations that led to four people getting kidneys, all told. My recipient (let’s call him Craig) had a relative who was willing to donate a kidney to him. Unfortunately, the two didn’t match. So Craig and his relative agreed to a trade: If Craig got a kidney from somebody, his relative would still go forward and donate to someone else who needed a kidney.
So the very same day that I donated, Craig’s relative had their kidney taken out as well and flown to the West Coast. This second recipient also had a friend or relative agreeing to an exchange; so did the third recipient, who got the second recipient’s friend’s kidney. Our chain will let people enjoy 36 to 40 years of life they would’ve otherwise been denied.
Our four kidneys were pretty good, but some chains can go even longer. A chain started by a 44-year-old man in California named Rick Ruzzamenti wound up getting 30 people kidneys. Ruzzamenti’s chain let people live 270 to 300 years longer. You can literally measure the years of life his kidney donation chain gave in centuries.

The article totally changed my thinking about organ donation. I appreciate that Matthews uses approachable, commonsense language to write about a choice that might seem incredibly daunting and heavy.

5. My medical nutrition therapy class was assigned The Emperor of All Maladies last fall when we were studying cancer/oncology nutrition. It was my second time reading the book, and I was struck once again by how well Siddhartha Mukherjee captures the sheer complexity of cancer as a collection of diseases.

Ed Yong’s recent article in The Atlantic shares some similarities with Mukherjee’s. It’s a really interesting and well-written account of how researchers are coming to better understand the many pathways by which cancers can evolve and using that knowledge to develop treatment options.

Enjoy the reads, the food, and I’ll be back this week with an easy, colorful, and flavorful vegan taco recipe for warmer weather ahead.


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