Weekend Reading, 11.21.15
November 21, 2015


Hello friends. As you can see, the Thanksgiving recipe roundup I promised for yesterday didn’t come to pass. I got hit like a ton of bricks with a nasty stomach flu on Thursday night, and I’m still in rough shape, though things have taken a turn (I hope) for the better this morning.

So, no blogging for me yesterday. I’m going to do a nice little Thanksgiving recipe roundup on Monday in lieu of my regular menu plan Monday post, though, so it’s still on the agenda. For now, feast your eyes on some Thanksgiving-themed weekend reading recipes!


First up, with all of the focus on cooking for Thanksgiving itself, it’s easy to forget about post-Thanksgiving breakfast. If you have family or friends staying over this year and you want to impress them the morning after Tofurkey day, try serving Amanda’s hearty, satisfying chai-spiced kabocha squash porridge from Heartbeet Kitchen. I love the idea of adding kabocha to a breakfast porridge!


The fall salad of fall salads: Margaret’s awesomely abundant and colorful fall-inspired quinoa salad from The Plant Strong Vegan.


A perfect vegan Thanksgiving main: wild rice, cranberry, and lentil stuffed delicata squash from Alissa of Coinosseurus Veg, via Oh My Veggies.


OK, a dessert double-header this week! First up, Renee’s gorgeous, deep amber “high vibe” vegan, gluten free pumpkin pie. Renee uses coconut milk, coconut sugar, chia seeds and just a touch of brandy to create a wonderful, healthy spin on the classic Thanksgiving dessert.


Next, Marley’s awesomely decadent vegan pecan pie. Couldn’t look any more authentic!


1. I know I post a whole lot of microbiome articles, but this one, written by autoimmune specialist Moises Velesquez-Manoff, takes an interesting, evolutionary approach to the topic. Velesquez-Manoff interviews researchers who are examining the microbiomes of individuals around the world to arrive at the conclusion that our Western diet may actually have pushed certain microbial species into permanent extinction. The hopeful news is that eating a high fiber diet may at help to at least maximize beneficial gut bacteria, and the short chain fatty acid production they’re responsible for. And short chain fatty acids, like butyrate, are associated with a reduced risk of colon cancer.

2. An interesting new study from the Harvard school of public health suggests that people who eat spicy foods nearly every day have a 14% chance of living longer than those who consume spicy foods less than once a week. The study is a comprehensive one, involving 487,375 people, ages 30-79. The likely cause? Capsaicin and other bioactive ingredients in chili peppers, which have been found in previous studies to have anti-obesity, antioxidant, anti-inflammation, and anticancer properties. Good reason for me to be a bit less of a spice wimp!

3. One of the first things I emphasize with my nutrition clients is regular meals at regular intervals; in other words, I’m pretty adamantly opposed to meal skipping, at least within reason. Sure, life happens–sometimes travel gives you no time to stop and eat, or a meeting runs super late, and lunch simply can’t be a priority. But whenever you have the option of eating a complete breakfast, lunch, and dinner, that’s the ideal.

Superstar RD Ellie Krieger presents good research on why skipping lunch may make you look focused and productive, but it won’t actually increase your performance. In fact, the opposite is true:

“Part of the reason lunch can boost your performance at work is that food literally fuels your brain, which needs a constant supply of energy to function optimally. So the worst thing you can do for your midday mental performance is to skip lunch; and the best thing you can do, it seems, is to eat one with a balance of carbohydrates, protein, and fat.

Carbohydrate is the brain’s primary fuel and study after study, on everyone from children to airline pilots to the elderly, show improvement on memory tests after eating carbs, especially slow-release carbohydrates such as whole grains and vegetables.”

Good reason to take the 20-60 minutes you need to eat a healthy, balanced lunch–no matter how busy you are, the payoff will be worth it.

4. A nice article about how the top medical schools in the country are incorporating drama, language arts, and visual arts into their curricula, as a means of inspiring greater empathy and humanity in future physicians.

5. And finally, a concise, lovely article on the soothing properties of nature. Sure, time spent in nature can be beneficial because it means increased physical activity. But nature may also help to induce relaxation. One Stanford study reports that participants who spent time walking in nature showed reduced neural activity to the subgenual prefrontal cortex, corresponding to feelings of relaxation or a lift in their mood. The article concludes,

Based on the wealth of research, the benefits of nature—both physical and psychological—are undeniable. Whether we are city-dwellers or are most at-home in the rich outdoors, the need for contact with the natural world is a part of healing our bodies and minds. Despite the ever-growing technology in this area to develop computer generated opportunities to simulate contact with an actual tree, pond or blade of grass, whenever possible get out and breathe in the sights, sounds and smells of the real thing. As the data in this area indicates, it’s often the simplest things that make a big impact on our health.”

I so totally agree.

Alright, folks. On that note, it’s back to toast and coconut water and rest for me. I look forward to checking in on Monday morning, and I wish you all a very lovely weekend!


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  1. HEY there! Just want to say THANK you again for including my pumpkin pie in your roundup! You’re such an inspiration to me as a recipe developer and blogger babe. And I LOVE these Weekend Reading posts. I’m also really intrigued by the micro biome and all things nutrition. So getting to pick your brain on the latest news and cool stuff via these posts is really fun!

  2. Kombucha for breakfast? A house fave here – awesome recipe share. Hope you feel better!

    Sent along the spicy food article: great study! My partner can NOT eat enough spice to fully satisfy. Well, sometimes. Serrano jelly is a breakfast staple here.

  3. Feel better, Gena! I love coconut water when I’m sick, too 🙂 Hope it helps.

  4. first, i hope you feel better! being sick is no good, especially with the holidays & exams coming up!! (i actually was writing about what i do when i get sick, and what i learned- lots of tea was key for me. have you tried echinacea? that got pushed to the wayside when i made some berry crisp <3)

    i think i will make that kabocha squash breakfast sometime this weekend, thank you 🙂

  5. I love your pro healthy complex carbs stance despite the fact that everyone is currently on the high fat high protein train. I too feel healthy plant-based carbs need to play a central role in our diet, so am super grateful for the scientific data to back things up.

    Hope you feel yourself again soon. Take care 🙂

  6. What a lovely, informative post. I’m so into the microbiome these days so really looking forward to checking out those links you’ve provided. And thanks for including my pecan pie. It’s an honor to be on your list with some great company. Thoughts to you for a speedy recovery!

  7. Oh no! Tummy woes and thinking about food are a terrible combo!!! Feel better ASAP!

    • Thanks so much, Marilee. I don’t mind thinking about food for the blog, but it does so make me miss my appetite! I’m resting and working on feeling better 🙂

  8. That quinoa salad is absolutely gorgeous! And a big YAY for the research on spicy foods- coming from someone who enjoys hot sauce with each and every meal.

  9. Dear Gena,

    So sorry to hear you have been down for the count with the stomach flu. I hope the toast, coconut water and rest have you on the mend really soon. You are valiant to treat us to a Weekend Reading nonetheless. I really enjoyed the article about nature. So here’s wishing you a walk under lovely trees once you are up to it. And lots more spiciness to come. I, too, am trying to eat more hot pepper here and there. 🙂 xoxo

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