Happy Sunday, everyone! As always, I hope that the weekend has brought you rest and restoration. Steven’s birthday was this past week, so we had a small celebration with friends on Friday and some quiet time yesterday. Now I’m catching up on meal plans for clients and diving into these recipes and reads.
First, a super simple but delightfully summery lunch idea from Ashley of Cookie Monster Cooking: summer garden veggie flatbreads.
Next, I love these crispy avocado tacos with roasted radishes and sriracha smashed beans from Jodi of What’s Cooking Good Looking. Tons of texture contrast (in spite of a simple ingredient list), and I’d imagine the beans are super flavorful. I’ve been getting into roasted radishes this summer (most recently, in my sorghum and roasted summer vegetable salad), and I can’t wait to try these!
Inspired in part by my friend Kristy’s wonderful cookbook, But I Could Never Go Vegan!, Laura of The First Mess has created a wonderfully hearty barbecue lentil dish with millet polenta. I’m eager to give the millet polenta trick a try, and I could eat lentils at pretty much meal, so this is definitely bookmarked.
Speaking of lentils, I love the looks of Lindsay’s one-pot creamy spinach lentils. What a great, nutritious dinner recipe! Substitute vegetable broth for chicken broth to make it vegan-friendly.
And for dessert, an adorable copycat recipe from Levan and Amrita of My Wife Makes: raw vegan twix bars with banana date caramel. The perfect bite-sized dessert.
1. A touching story about a school in San Diego that works with a facility dog to assist and support the education of children who confront complex circumstances in their home lives, including poverty, foster care, neighborhood gangs, and incarcerated parents. The article is clear that the use of facility dogs is not a cure for the stresses that can be associated with these factors, but the presence of Sejera — the dog who works with caretakers at the O’Farrell Charter School — seems to have had a decidedly positive impact on the students’ lives. “If an O’Farrell student is having a hard time in class, either emotionally or behaviorally,” the article states,
“a teacher can send him to see Sejera. The student can play or cuddle with the dog, or just talk with her. Sejera’s calm, comforting presence can often be enough to enable a student to recover equilibrium and return to class…[s]everal students wrote letters to Paws’itive Teams, Sejera’s training facility, about her importance to their daily school life. ‘Sejera motivates us,’ said one. ‘If we do a great job we can visit Sejera, so we do our best because we want to see her.’ Another student, who was “scared and felt terrible” after a car crash, wrote that after her teacher let her go see Sejera, ‘I wasn’t scared anymore.'”
2. Also on the topic of education, I was intrigued by the Sonima Foundation’s effort to incorporate wellness practices, including yoga-based exercise, nutrition, coping skills and mindfulness instruction, into the therapeutic care of children who are suffering from post-traumatic stress. Yoga is known to help practitioners modulate and control their responses to stress and anxiety, so it makes sense that it might work in concert with other forms of therapy for trauma. I hope that the study yields promising and replicable results.
3. I have no doubt that many of you have already seen this article about two pairs of identical twins who were accidentally swapped at birth (resulting in two pairs of twins who thought themselves to be fraternal). It is an incredible story, and from a scientific point of view, the story brings up so many fascinating questions about nature vs. nurture.
4. Young journalist Katie Worth has written a powerful and probing piece of investigative journalism, which questions the certainty with which most of us greet DNA testing. DNA testing is highly accurate under the right circumstances (a large quantity of one person’s well-preserved genes, a clear story of how evidence arrived at a crime scene, and error-free lab work), but as Worth notes, “those are not circumstances enjoyed by every criminal investigation.” She uses one particular crime case and conviction, which hinged strongly on DNA testing, to illustrate the complexities surrounding this technique and the fact that its accuracy is often taken for granted.
5. I very much enjoyed this post from Martha Bayne, which details her experience with triathlons after a difficult miscarriage. It’s honest and beautifully written; I have very little experience with endurance athletics, but I think anyone who has developed a challenging practice in the wake of personal struggle can relate to her account of growth. And I love what she has to say about learning to trust in the body’s strength, in spite of the initial doubts you might harbor about your own endurance or capacity:
“And against your generally contrary nature, you’ll find yourself changing — left foot, right foot. And while the new muscles are nice, it’s the ineffable connection between them and some elusive core of selfhood – still enfeebled by confusion and loss – that imperceptibly gains strength.”
Bayne’s article reminded me of my early forays into yoga, when ED recovery was still much more recent, and I hadn’t yet cultivated any trust in my physical shape. I didn’t enjoy it at first, and I fought back plenty of the contrariness that Worth mentions, but I found myself returning, class after class. Ultimately, I was able to tap into that connection of physicality and selfhood. I’m sure that this is possible within many forms of movement, not to mention other practices, like meditation. Definitely an inspiring read.
Speaking of the body and trust, it’s worth mentioning an experience I had yesterday. Maybe some of you read my post on bad body days last autumn. I woke up (for the first time in a long time) in the throes of one those yesterday. I went back and read that post, as well as the helpful and constructive comments that readers left. That reading, coupled with yoga and some quiet meditation, led to a complete midday transformation in my perspective. I can’t remember the last time that a day started and ended in such radically different places.
This is new for me, as historically I’ve assumed (and then proceeded to fulfill the prophecy) that a certain mood or perspective is bound to last forever. More and more, I’m learning to recontextualize challenging moods and feelings, and also to accept that the mind and spirit are in constant flux. It’s not always possible to “snap out of” a difficult frame of mind, but the possibility for a new perspective, I think, is always present. Thank you all for the comments on that post–they were definitely inspiring to me, and I just wanted to take a moment to tell you.
Have a wonderful Sunday, all.