Weekend Reading, 11.8.13
November 8, 2013

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Friday, friends. As you settle into your weekend, here’s a little reading material for you.

butter top1. Delicata Squash Butter from Helyn of Helyn’s Healthy Kitchen looks like a scrumptious alternative to almond or pumpkin butter.

Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich (15)

2. This Cranberry Walnut Chickpea Salad Sandwich from Julie of the Simple Veganista looks filling and tasty.


3. Janet’s Pan-Roasted Cauliflower Steak is, like all of her recipes, creative and lovely.

Screen Shot 2013-11-08 at 8.58.57 PM

4. I’ve been on a soup kick since the rutabaga and parsnip concoction I posted yesterday, and Shira’s Creamy Vegan Tomato and Vegetable Soup is at the top of my “must make” list.

Ruby Tarts 4

5. Raw Ruby Tartlets from Amy of Fragrant Vanilla Cake are making me crave dessert!


1. My friend Rose wrote an awesome article about Marie Curie for Rookie Magazine. I share Rose’s admiration for Madame Curie and her legacy, and this account of her story, animated by Rose’s insightful voice, really touched me.

2. In that article, Rose cites this article from the Times, about continuing inequities between women and men in the sciences. The article is both troubling–a powerful study of how cultural stereotypes can limit individuals’ interest and sense of ability in a certain field–and hopeful. I’ve developed an almost ridiculous reverence for people who pursue and excel in the sciences, because my post-bacc showed me a tiny glimpse of what they’re up against. Now I have a strong appreciation of some of the biases that women in science and technology face as well.

As I read the article, I thought of my friend Sydney, whom I’ve known since we were Freshmen in high school. Sydney was always funny, self-assured, and effortlessly cool (totally unlike me at that time in my life) and she was also naturally gifted in the sciences. Personally, I think we as a society need to redefine our definition of “cool” vs. “nerdy” if we don’t think that science and scientific acumen are “cool.” But in spite of the popular stereotype that the sciences are for “nerdy guys” (discussed in the article), Syd plunged headlong into a science career, and is now working in DC as a PhD in physics. I’m lucky to have her here, but even luckier to have her as a role model.

3. Speaking of the sciences, my mom directed me to How to Get an A- in Organic Chemistry, by Barbara Moran. I smiled and chuckled at this account from a fellow post-bacc student. Moran also hails from a writing background (though she’s a science writer, so at least she knew…something before starting). She captures an experience I confronted often:

…[T]hat dreadful realization of your own limits, that terrible moment when you stop controlling the situation and start mitigating the damage. I expect that’s an all-too-common feeling in medicine. I often felt that way in orgo, but kept going back for more. That’s what orgo is testing, I think: resilience. And humility.


Ms. Moran, by the way, an A- in Orgo II. And that’s where our similarities end 🙂

4. My friend Melanie‘s article, “Why Alternative Medicine Just Isn’t Enough Sometimes,” for Mind Body Green. A thoughtful consideration from an experienced herbalist on finding balance between alternative and mainstream treatment, without abandoning either.

5. Melissa wrote an inspiring article about her eating disorder, ten years after it began. I have been reading Melissa’s blog for years now (five years? six?) and we’ve also been lucky enough to connect in “real life.” I am so profoundly proud of her for writing this, but more importantly for persisting with her recovery efforts even when it was difficult. I’ll share a few of her words with you:

It amazes me still that I have been able to get to this point in my recovery. Ask me a year ago if I’d ever get to this point and I would have told you it felt impossible.  Absolutely out of reach.  So far off in space, that it may just not exist.  But it does. There is always a turning point.  ALWAYS.  I have gone to the edge and back with this disease and felt so hopeless at times that I thought I would be forever plagued by guilt about food and everything else in between.

But here it is. Recovery.  I’ve finally taken the road and I’m so glad I found it.  It’s been there all along, I just had to figure out how to walk down it.  I talk to many of you ladies personally about how to get to this road, and it’s not one I can just direct you to. It’s one you have to find and walk down yourself. It may feel like an earthquake underneath you while you’re walking on it, but that’s when you run. You run as fast as you can and the light at the end of that road, it’s filled with everything you’ve ever dreamed of.  None of those dreams ever left you, they just…went into hiding for a bit.

I don’t and never will minimize or trivialize the incredible difficulty of the recovery process. As you all know, I still struggle with lingering thought patterns, insecurities, or tendencies, and I’m constantly developing new strategies that allow me to manage them effectively. But I was also fortunate enough to find a turning point, and I believe that it’s possible for others. Don’t give up. Read Melissa’s post, and have hope. (And Melissa, I want a Green Recovery post from you!)

On that note, I wish you a fantastic weekend.


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  1. Thank you so much for featuring me on your weekend reads Gena! I could not have made this recovery without you and yes, I owe you a Green Recovery Story! School ends in a few weeks…I’ll email you about it then! I miss you lady and I am of course, always reading and delighted to see how well you’re doing!

    • I am so proud of you, and while I didn’t do much, I’m glad that my encouragement has helped you to work through your recovery. Lots of love — and I miss you too!! We need to find an excuse to hang. In the meantime, I’d love a Green Recovery story from you whenever you have the time 🙂

  2. What an interesting Times article. My organization is currently hosting a fellowship grant for women researchers who are committed to using alternatives to animal testing. While I think it is a wonderful opportunity, it saddens me that we must give these issues (parity for women in science, seeking non-animal alternatives) such distinction among other scientific endeavors. Thanks for raising this issue, Gena!

  3. i am so jealous i didnt have rookie mag when i was in high school. no matter. here i am newly 31 and reading it. major tavi appreciation <3

  4. Hi Gena! Great round-up, and thanks for the love and the shoutout 🙂
    Love your writing as always, you are guaranteed to always make me stop and think. Have a great weekend!

  5. Gosh – I so look forward to this new weekly series, Gena! Your accompanying narratives make these posts so unique and compelling, unlike most blog posts of this nature. That soup looks esp. stellar as does Melissa’s post. Have a beautiful weekend, my friend.

  6. Hey Gena, great reading suggestions, as always. Your discussion of women in the sciences is redolent of a conversation I was involved in last week over Carl Sagan and his wives. OK, that was an eerier conversation.

    I loved reading Melissa’s article about her recovery journey too. As I have shared many times, I consider myself fully recovered from a bout with anorexia that lasted from age 19 to age 27-28 or so. I began inching toward recovery and completely changed the way I ate at that point, going from pre-determined and measured meals to “three piles a day.” It was a pretty huge shift in that I opened up to the idea of eating more intuitively (rather than planning the day before) and also, eating to appetite. That said, less than two years into recovery, and less than a year into a three-year graduate program, I suffered a pretty bad relapse. But before I turned 32 I was back on the recovery road, and I haven’t really looked back. I have developed a relationship with food that makes me (I’ve thought) relapse-proof in that while I sometimes long for my former body, I have no desire – and no capacity – for the lifestyle that maintaining such a body requires.

    Well, it’s many years later, and ironically enough, I’ve found myself at a new turning point. I’ve always claimed that recovery wasn’t really (beyond a certain critical point, that is) about weight gain, but I’m dealing with some health issues now (very amorphous), the solution to which seems to involve not just eating more protein, but gaining additional weight. Not just a few pounds, but at least ten. Never would have imagined as good I was feeling just a few years ago that I’d hit this rocky place in my journey, but one thing eating disorder sufferers need to realize is that all bills come due. You just can’t deprive your body for so many years (in my case decades) and get away with it. I always thought I was a kind of exception – that as long as I maintained my weight over X, which I admitted was dangerously low – I was fine. But I am now so COLD all the time that I’ve taken to wearing multiple wool layers and a big puffy coat INDOORS. I have taken to working at home because I can’t bear going outside, even though it’s still over 40. And I’m so fuzzy-brained that I’m starting to feel stupid, which is really hard as being smart has always been as constitutive of my identity as being skinny. I always forget plots of novels, but after a year or so, not half-way through!

    Doctors don’t always diagnose these sorts of things. My lipid profile has always been so stellar (LDL = 44, tryglycerides = 36), that they ask me for tips. I did finally have vitamin D and B12 tested and I’m very very low in both, so I’ve been supplementing now for some months. Except for the fact, that I’m still cold, I’m feeling a tiny bit better now (I’ve also started taking a number of tonic herbs) and I’m practing yoga again. But I have gotten a strong intuitive hit that I need to gain some serious weight and in the last week or so I’ve felt mentally prepared to do that. Of course I want to do it my way so in end I still rather like my body so I’m actually finding some inspiration in those “strong is new sexy” pics that I know you hate! But I’m thinking I could add the whole 10 lbs in my arms!

    Oh well, I’m sharing all this earlier than I’d planned to … sorry to be so inarticulate.

    • Hey Elizabeth – Your roller coaster of experience with anorexia is not uncommon. Please know that many of us who have had serious, long-lasting bouts of anorexia and have made it through years of “healthy” living, have been sidetracked by the same completely unexpected bumps in the road. In my experience, this is what the real “recovery” process looks like – it can be messy and disorganized. Now is the time to dip into that bag of strategies – positive affirmations and all the tools/resources/social networks and sources of motivation, you’ve acquired over the past several years and apply them (and/or seek out professional help to aid you in applying them.) Posting this comment was the first step in affirming to yourself that you don’t want to live in this dreadful, lifeless space. Please stay strong, put one foot in front of the other and do whatever you need to do, to return to your “recovered” life. Sending you lots of positive energy and courage…hugs to you!

      • Hi Karen, thanks so much for commenting. I should be clear that I am absolutely not experiencing a relapse. I know what anorexia looks feels like, abd this is none of that. I love food, I love to eat, and eat unspologetically. It’s more nagging health issues, which may or may not be related to years of ED, not enough protein/various vitamins, of perhaps problems with assimilation, and a realization that my recovered weight, while high enough for many years, seems not high enough anymore, and the difficult decision to gain, given my aesthetic preference for lean body. But trust me, I have not engaged in anorexic behaviors (restriction, etc.) in many years, and am quite far from ever going back there. Younger bodies are more forgiving than older bodies!

  7. Thanks for the shout-out, Gena, especially among such other gloriously delicious eats and reads. I really liked the Marie Curie post. My attending was just telling me how her daughter had a project at school about Marie Curie and how her daughter doesn’t think she knows science too well, although she is a very well respected pathologist.

    I also spotted some very Gena-esque posts recently:

  8. I’m a female PhD student in biomedical sciences, and I must say that although there are definitely fewer women in general in the physical sciences and engineering, us ladies dominate the grad student population in biomed.

    It’s become an interesting (and somewhat disconcerting) dynamic – while most of the grad students in our department are female, all of the professors (aka the bosses) on our floor are male. While this situation accurately reflects part of what the article was talking about (men receiving tenure + higher salaries + respect more than women), when those old geisers retire, who do you think will take their place? Will it be the few male grad students that get hired, or the equally talented in every-which-way female students? I like to think it’s the latter. 🙂

    • I keep hearing people say this, but women have been getting a pretty large chunk of the PhDs for years now, and it has yet to result in much parity when it comes to tenure track. As a female science PhD who opted to go into industry (and who is REALLY happy with that choice!), I think a big part of the problem is not the lack of women getting degrees, but the fact that academia is just NOT an attractive long-term career option these days. Regardless of your gender you will probably have: a really difficult job search, several years post-graduation earning peanuts as a post-doc, little to no choice in where you eventually wind up living, half a dozen high stress years while you try to get tenure, constant pressure to bring in research money as grants are getting harder and harder to secure, and of course, the joys of university bureaucracy (which make the bureaucracy at my huge old-school and highly regulated corporate job look like a cakewalk…plus, we actually have an adequate support staff to deal with that stuff). If you are female, add the fact that your early career years are also the prime childbearing years, and that if you are partnered, your partner is more likely to also have a PhD (and thus be facing the same set of pressures and constraints that you are), and it suddenly looks like a not very attractive field.

      Despite what academics might tell you, careers outside of the academy can actually be very fulfilling and intellectually stimulating. In my case, I feel I’ve actually gotten more encouragement and support for professional development and work/life balance in my corporate job than I ever got as a grad student!

      • Sorry, I just realized that whole post is a bit of a downer. I realize I am *still* in recovery from the “but you are a woman, it is your DUTY AS A FEMINIST to seek out an academic position” mantra I heard so often in grad school 🙂 Obviously, if it’s what you really want, go for it!

        • Not at all, Catherine. It’s a really good perspective. And it’s a tricky issue: presumably academia will be more welcoming and equitable for women if more women enter the field and advocate for their interests. But of course women also shouldn’t feel the need to be martyrs to a system that does not present them with the possibility of a rewarding future! While longterm academia will always appeal only to a limited number of individuals, who are prepared for its challenges and motivated in spite of them, hopefully time will at least equal the playing field, so that the limited number won’t reflect outdated biases.

    • Thanks so much for your perspective, Sarah, and kudos to you for what you’re doing. I do indeed believe that you will inherit some of those places! And I’m glad you bring optimism to this discussion.

  9. “I’ve developed an almost ridiculous reverence for people who pursue and excel in the sciences, because my post-bacc showed me a tiny glimpse of what they’re up agains.”
    I’ve always been in awe of the sciences, & those who excel in them. I had a completely science-deficient education in both high school & college days, but I do listen to Science Fridays on NPR & I read the National Geographic (both science-y for the layman, right?), so I’d like to think, though horribly inept, I still retain a curiosity & interest in the scientific world around me which counts for something.

    All of those recipes look just fabulous, but especially #2. I love lots of texture in my sandwiches & the addition of grapes looks marvelous.

    Thanks for so many good links. I always love seeing what you’re reading & glad you take time to share. Hope you have a great weekend Gena! ox

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