Copycat Pumpkin Seed Poppy Pate

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I admit it: I’m a copycat.

Why? Because nearly everything in this post was inspired by the magnificent food at Bonobos—a restaurant I recently visited with Ms. Bitt.

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And where I was also lucky enough to lunch with the lovely Sophia. She was pretty impressed with my enthusiasm for their soup:


I could pretty much take up residence at Bonobos, and feast on coconut chai and avocado soup and nori rolls forever. Since that wouldn’t be the most practical use of my time, I try to imitate their dishes as often as I can instead. On Thursday, when Bitt and I were picking out our dinner selections, I noticed that Bonobos has a poppy seed pate. This got the wheels turning: I’ve never included poppy seeds in pate, but I do think they’re pretty cute. And believe it or not, poppy seeds are a very good source of Omega-3 fatty acids. While we all tend to get relatively generous amounts of Omega-6 fatty acids, we tend to skimp on Omega-3s, so it’s a good idea to balance the ratio out whenever we find a convenient food source.

This is my own version of a poppy pate. I didn’t use poppy seeds as the base; I used pumpkin seeds, and added poppy seeds in at the end. (In future test runs, I may try soaking and using poppy seeds exclusively—has anyone else tried this?) It worked very nicely, and I loved the slight crunch and texture that the poppy seeds added to the dish!

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Pumpkin Seed and Poppy Pate (Raw, vegan, gluten free)

Yields 1 1/4 cups

1 cup raw pumpkin seeds, soaked 1 hour or more
1 small clove garlic, chopped
2-3 pitted dates
1-2 tbsp lemon juice (adjust to taste)
1 tbsp nama shoyu or tamari
3 tbsp poppy seeds

1) Combine the first six ingredients in a food processor and process till smooth. If you haven’t soaked the seeds for long, you’ll want to add water in a thin stream to make the mixture blend and become smooth. If you soaked them for a while, you may not need much water.

2) When the mixture is smooth, transfer to a container and stir in poppy seeds. The texture should be thick:

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And the taste ought to be heavenly!

In another act of Bonobos imitation, I served my new pate stuffed into a nori wrap. My rolls were not as pretty as Bonobos were, but, well, I’m getting there. Bonobos version:

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And my version:

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Not too terrible for a relative nori novice.

This pate is simple, versatile, and delicious. I hope you try it soon!

And of course, I can’t sign off for the night without thanking you all for your wonderful, welcoming, and honest response to the green recovery series and Freya’s words. I was really touched by all of the feedback, and I’m so glad that the reader demand is as robust as I expected it to be. All systems go! To answer two practical questions:

1) Can non-bloggers contribute?

Yes! Please! This series will wither and die if I don’t make it open to everyone. I don’t care if you write a blog or not; as long as you can write thoughtfully and be mindful of all CR readers (that is, as long as you can be careful to frame your story with respect for others who have or have recovered from EDs), I welcome you.

2) Will all series be guest posts?

Nope. I’ll be writing topical posts sometimes, too.

3) If veganism actually didn’t work for me—if it reinforced my need for control—can I write about that?

Absolutely. As I said, my goal is to make this series an honest and open discussion—not a sales pitch for the vegan diet. I see all of the reasons why veganism can in fact reinforce the patterns of disordered eating, and I want us to talk about that without fear.

Speaking of that last point, I also really appreciate the thoughtful criticism that I received about the premise of these guest posts—privately and in the comments (I’m thinking about Lauren’s comments in particular, which were awesome and insightful). I agree that it’s important to remember that for those who are still in the most intense, or clinical, phase of a disorder, veganism may *not* be a healthy option at all. Experience has shown me that it *may* be suitable for those who are in the period that comes after the formal part of recovery, when the individual is struggling to define a new and healthy relationship with food. When an active ED sufferer emails me to ask if he or she should go vegan, I always say that the formal part of recovery should come first, under the guidance of RDs and MDs and family, and that veganism can come later. That feels tough, because I do actually think some people who have active EDs could benefit from a plant based approach. But it’s the wisest answer.

It’s also true that veganism can prompt an obsession with control or restriction, even in the post-recovered. I see this tension, naturally, and want to avoid triggering people who are prone to such impulses. This is a big tension for me as a food/health blogger, and it’s not limited to this discussion: how can I talk about something that I think needs talking about without triggering readers who are vulnerable?  It’s a dilemma, but I don’t know that shutting down conversation to protect readers is the right move. Instead, I think careful language and considered approaches are the best we can do. The fact of the matter is that vegan diets do seem to enrich the lives of many people with ED histories. As long as we take care with our language, isn’t this something worth discussing?

Finally, the point was raised that, because veganism places tremendous importance on our food choices—even asks that we shape an identity around them—it’s not suitable for post-ED women and men, who are prone to allowing food to loom too large in their sense of self-worth. I think this is a good point, but I’d counter that, for many people who have struggled with food, it’s not possible or even valuable to deemphasize the importance of food altogether. Instead, it can be helpful to transform and redefine what will always be a naturally emotional relationship with food. There is a school of thought that would say that attaching any sense of identity to an eating style is by definition incompatible with recovery. My point here is that I don’t agree. I think that veganism offers a way of thinking about food that, while all encompassing, is nevertheless not necessarily a barrier to full recovery for every man or woman. In some cases, it may be a door.

But the main point here is that we can use these posts to talk about all of this stuff! From what I gather, there are very few safe spaces in which the many vegans who have ED histories can share their stories and inner thoughts without feeling judged by the fellow recovered, and I don’t think that’s right. I simply want to create a responsible forum in which we can discuss the relationship between plant-based diets and EDs—both the pros and the cons. And perhaps those of us who are recovered—vegan and non–can learn a lot about each other.

On that note, some quality time with my Mom and a long night of work awaits. G’nite, everyone!


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Categories: Uncategorized
Dietary Preferences: Raw

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  1. Hi Gena

    I have just come across your website, and am busily writing down so many new recipes. Yay!! Would you mind sharing exactly what you have put on the nori rolls above? They look delicious, and perfect to make for my two little ones 🙂

    • So happy you like the site! Those rolls were a while ago, but they look to have been carrot, beet, and cucumber, plus the pate and greens 🙂

  2. I tried to go to Bonobos today for lunch, but it seems they are closed! It was my fav go-to for lunch in that area and one of the only restaurants for affordable raw foods. It looks like their website has not been updated, but it also says they were opening another spot, so maybe that is still happening? Serious bummer.

  3. Wow—this pumpkin seed pate rolled up with veggies in a nori wrap is so delicious and satisfying! I had it for lunch almost 7 hours ago, and I’m still satisfied. (Now that’s what I call nutrient-dense goodness!) I’m hoping to get hungry again soon since I have another veggie wrap just waiting for my enjoyment. 🙂

    Thanks for your always insightful posts and simply delicious recipes!

  4. Hi Gena!

    I loved your last post/guest post about veganism and EDs. And I really appreciate your latter comments at the end of this post.

    I’m SO tempted to write about my experiences with veganism and how it coincided with ED thoughts reoccuring. The problem is that I’m still yet to strike the balance despite no longer living to the vegan label. A tension has occurred: my change in diet is coupled with a loss of love for food and cooking. I have easily gained weight since no longer being vegan, and without a second thought (high-five!) but at what expense? At the expense of a passion and joy I used to have?… Ok, now I’m starting to go on… Maybe I will write an exploratory post for you 🙂

    Hope you’re well and I’m glad you’re having a great time back in NYC.

    Lots of love xxx

  5. Can’t wait to try this pate! Just so you know, I’ve been on a Gena-salad-dressing kick lately and can’t get enough. Tomato tahini, sweet & savory avocado (went through two batches in less than two weeks) and raw green goddess have been on repeat. Also, I’ve been referring lots of my fellow students at Institute for Integrative Nutrition to your website for recipe ideas, veganism and eating disorder conversations. I just finished a post of food allergies and intolerances and was wondering what you thought about the issue, especially considering your medical endeavors. Maybe a future post?

    Happy studying 🙂

    • Hey Kate!

      Thanks so much for sharing my blog! I’m honored!

      Part of why I don’t really write about food allergies is that they’ve never touched my life the way EDs did: I don’t have any, so I don’t even really know what I would say! I love healthy whole grains like spelt, farro, kamut, and whole grain bread. Likewise tempeh and edamame and tofu!

      I think I tread carefully with allergy conversations, too, because I see so many people self-diagnosing in scenarios where I’m not sure it’s necessary. I believe food allergies are very serious and in fact would like to see more done to protect those who have them in restaurant settings, etc. I just think that it’s also unfair to suggest–as some do–that everyone suffers from them, even if we have no reason to believe we do. My conversations with doctors have essentially confirmed this view–food allergies are serious and attention must be paid, but not everyone is a food allergy sufferer.

      However, since I have a TON of GF or soy free readers, I am trying hard to mark recipes and experiment with gluten free breads, flours, etc. It’s fun!

      And naturally, I think that the allergy epidemic is in part related to the fact that American packaged food has an excess of processed gluten and soy and corn in it. So it’s always wise to treat those foods in healthy balance/moderation–even if you are allergy free. I eat wheat, but not constantly. Ditto for soy. Moderation matters here.

      Hope that helps!


      • Thanks for the thoughtful response, Gena 🙂

        I can relate to the why you haven’t touched on food allergies because I feel similar about eating disorders. I have never had any issues with food, but I learn so much from your posts on the topic. As a health counselor I will not be qualified to help those suffering from disordered eating, but at the very least, I can help identify their issues and refer them to someone who can help them. Plus the perspective I have gained on the issue through your site helps me better empathize with people who have an eating disorder.

        As far as food allergies, I tend to agree with you and the “allergy epidemic” and feel the cause three pronged: 1) increased awareness by both doctor and patient 2) inaccurate testing 3) not distinguishing between a food allergy and a food intolerance (immune system response vs. physiological reaction). Anyway, thanks again for the response and your valuable insight.

  6. I am so appreciative of this supportive community that you built for us to discuss our personal experiences with ‘green recovery.’ Though I am looking at my ED behaviors from quite a distance now, it’s thoroughly fascinating to me to revisit these themes with this group. I love gaining new insight on the complexities of eating disorders and especially what it means to be ‘recovered.’

    It’s inspiring to me to read these personal chronicles of others who have transformed their negative relationship with their body in a therapeutically unconventional way. No doubt, many ED experts would consider channeling one’s energy into veganism a more passive form of disordered eating that simply perpetuates one’s innate/learned tendencies, and such can be a slippery slope. So it’s heartwarming to meet so many others who have gained peace with their bodies through adopting a vegan diet.

    Thank you your leadership in setting the stage for so much rich and respectful conversation, Gena.

  7. Hi there,

    Just wondering if there is a particular food processor you would recommend – I am interested in getting one (my dinky blender just won’t be able to handle some of the things I’d like to try making) but am always uncertain where to start.


  8. I really appreciate you putting the conversation on EDs out in the open. Pros, cons and otherwise, it provides great support for an issue that is so often dealt with in private.

    I have asked myself whether my shift to a raw vegan lifestyle was a good one or not. The health benefits aren’t the question, but the continued preoccupation with food is. However, I see that the real difference is between compulsive mindless eating of food that has little benefit (or may even be damaging) vs. a focus on mindful eating and learning a real appreciation for food – whether that be where it comes from or the preparation of it.

    I look forward to following the series and comments from others.

  9. Omega 6 in flax? What? I thought the whole point of taking flaxseed oil was its high omega 3:omega 6 ratio….

    • Thanks for flagging this, Ste! While there are both 3s and 6s on flax, that was a really confusing and not at all productive example. Deleted.

  10. Love the addition of dates in your pate! Can’t wait to try this.

    I have to say that I enjoyed the first in your recovery series so much. The guest post was wonderful and the comments illuminating! I’m going to read this series with great interest!

  11. This brought back great memories of our lunch at Bonobos, too–I think there was a pumpkinseed-based pate in my nori cigar that day as well! Your pate looks fabulous–I absolutely have to try this! And those nori rolls ain’t half bad, either. 😉 Glad to see that any and all can contribute to the series, as well. Looking forward to more great stories and information. 🙂

  12. Thanks for recognizing the control, obsession, and restriction issues of veganism in ED 🙂 It’s important to talk about!
    Also, this recipe is great for me since I adore the flavor of poppy seed and pumpkin seeds!

  13. Awesome for replicating that! Even though I like the thing I got better, although I can’t remember what it was! Go ahead and replicate everything on the menu, please. 🙂

    I understand your wanting to hear a variety of voices but frankly I’ve heard enough stories about how veganism triggered people’s eating disorders and I don’t know how productive that would be. It almost seems the opposite of what you are trying to achieve.

    • As usual, good question!

      No posts on veganism triggering an ED, that’s for sure. The issue is whether or not to publish the occasional post that says honestly that veganism didn’t aid in furthering recovery. I’ve gotten a few emails from people who have smart and insightful things to say about veganism and its role in their road to recovery, but who also honestly note that they couldn’t ultimately persist with it.

      I obviously will shape the emphasis of this series, and be clear that my real interest is in exploring the positive effect of veganism on people with ED pasts. But I do think it’s fair to illustrate a few examples where it didn’t work that way — if only because I believe my ideas about veganism and recovery will be a lot more credible if I don’t seem to be bulldozing over the examples where it didn’t work the way it did for me. In any case, I’ll be sure to include really respectful, and tasteful, instances where it didn’t work.

      And focus mostly on the ones where it did 🙂

      • I am really glad to hear your response to this comment, Gena. I read that last night and it has been bothering me. I think it would be completely irresponsible to post a series like this and ignore the potential negative impacts as well. Like you said, it might not work for everyone, and you don’t have dedicate an entire post to that topic, but a lot of girls with disordered eating will be reading these posts, and without some sort of caveat, it can be misconstrued very easily. And as far as what you are trying to achieve, it seems like it is opening a dialogue about this topic, not necessarily promoting your agenda.

        I could be wrong about that last part though.

  14. Love the followup messages and points you clarified and reiterated, Gena. I could spend hours reading the comments on yesterday’s post and digesting them, pondering them, and thinking about them all.

    “I simply want to create a responsible forum in which we can discuss the relationship between plant-based diets and EDs—both the pros and the cons.”–
    Amen to that. That pretty much says it all.

    Talking about things, discussing, learning, sharing, on both sides of the issues, or shall I say all sides, b/c there are sooo many facets.

    The meetup with Bitt & Sophia…you are just the Miss Meetup Queen, love it!

    The pate, looks delightful.

    And your nori rolls…they will be offering you a sushi chef position at Bonobos. What are you talking about that yours dont look as good? They look perfect!!


  15. I heart Bonobos. And you. That is all.

    And thank you for starting this amazing dialogue w/Green Recovery. I can’t wait to read more.

  16. Thanks for posting so thoughtfully on topics of interest and also for some really yummy recipes! I’m so glad I found your blog! It’s proving to be an invaluable resource as I lean more and more into veganism 🙂

  17. I’m glad you made that point.
    I am needing to gain weight and so caught up in guilt and turmoil with eating, eating grains, and unable to exercise. On top of that, I have physical digestive issues…so…I’m at a loss.
    But even though some of the animal products I eat seem to major disagree with me, I can’t bring myself to “let them go” or even reduce them.
    When I see all the pretty and well-intentioned vegan and vegetarian eats, I often feel guilty. But I know I need to get past it.
    I think the hardest thing I find about the “recovery” stories is that most everyone could exercise while gaining, or resumed it thereafter and excelled.
    I’m pretty sure after years of this, I’m done for…my physical self is so…not great.
    Anyway, I admire anyone who overcomes any personal turmoils; so I’ll be cautious about reading those posts.

    In the meantime, if any suggestions for easiest-to-digest foods would be great…and any tips on how on earth to be comfortable with eating lots of grains and sugars…without so much protein (and not exercising for a good long, long time) and be not guilty for it..tired of the guilt you know?

    Oddly, everyone seems to have a very different opinion on what is easiest to maybe its a guess.

  18. That’s right around the corner from the friend I stay with in NYC! I had the greatest salad ever on the bus home from them. Next time, I’m getting nori rolls 🙂

  19. Thank you for the considered response to some of the points raised in the comments setion, Gena. I also agree that it is beneficial to get some of these issues out in the open – perhaps we can reduce the stigma surrounding EDs, which can contribute to people resisting admitting that they need help.

    Onto the food now… I’m very excited by this poppyseed pate! My mum made a poppyseed cake when I was growing up that I loved. She would soak the poppy seeds in soymilk for an hour or so, so I’d be interested to know what that might do here.