Weekend Reading
October 16, 2022

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Five years ago, just as summer transitioned into fall, I took a trip to Prague.

I was a few months past a terrible breakup, still trying to find my footing. Enough time had gone by that friends were starting to ask me if I was ready to start dating again.

It was a natural enough question, offered in an encouraging spirit, but it seemed ridiculous to even consider.

I knew that whenever I did date again, it would probably have to happen long before I felt ready. I’ve learned that if I wait until I feel entirely ready to do anything, I almost always wait too long.

Still, at the time, dating was out of the question. I was still trying to process all of my anger and grief. I knew that it would take me a while.

One friend had good advice. She told me to take my time in doing the work, as they say. But in the meantime, she suggested, I could date myself.

When she said this, I thought about taking myself to restaurants and buying myself flowers, and it all seemed, honestly, like the last thing I wanted to do.

But Prague helped to change that.

I’m a really good solo traveler. It’s not that I do especially daring things; I don’t go mountain climbing on other continents or even eat anything that’s adventurous for my tastes.

But when I travel, be it for a weekend or weeks at a time, I manage to squeeze a ton of meaningful and pleasurable experience into each day.

I wake up each morning with a list of coffee shops and wine bars I want to try. I seek out art. I think about which streets I’d like to traverse as I go from place to place. I usually find out where the good bakeries are, and I embark on bread tourism.

I’m intentional about what I do, and I make sure that each bite and each stroll is something that will give me pleasure.

I had inner work to do before that trip, and I had a whole lot to do after. But I came home a little stronger than I had been before.

I’m not sure whether I dated myself while I was in Prague, but I re-learned how to be alone with myself, how to be my own friend, and that was enough.

I’ve been remembering that week lately, because in some ways moving to a new neighborhood feels like being in another city.

Once again, for different reasons, I’m getting intentional about the process of being with myself.

I’ve always lived in New York, but I fall into the same routines anyone does. Covid lockdown didn’t help when it comes to exploration or discovery.

For the first time, I’m making lists of all of the places I’d like to eat or drink. I’m planning which cups of coffee, glasses of wine, vegan baked goods, bagels, plates of pasta, and slices of plant-based pizza I want to try. I’m eating out by myself often, and I love it.

Now that the performing arts are back to life, I can make good on the Covid promise that I made to myself, which was that I was going to rekindle my love of opera and theater.

There are even opportunities to feel like a true tourist.

This past Monday, my mom came downtown. We went to the Elizabeth Street Sculpture Garden and sat outside on a painfully beautiful fall afternoon.

We both remarked on how faraway we felt from the New York we’ve always known. I could tell that she was as delighted as I am to be in the process of discovering so many new places.

I think for Halloween I’ll do a tour of the catacombs of St. Patrick’s old cathedral.

Solo travel is wonderful, but so is being reminded of the infinite possibilities of experience that exist exactly where you are.

More meaningful still, at least for me, is the experience of curating my life a little more consciously, tasting and doing and seeing with intention. All without the need for another person to do that with, even if the desire for partner connection is very much there.

It took me five years, but I guess I’m dating myself.

Happy Sunday, friends. Here are some recipes and reads.

Recipes

I haven’t yet tried making French toast with Just Egg, but I want to.

I’m always in the mood for a new soy curl recipe.

I love tartar sauce! Glad that Iosune created this tasty looking vegan version.

I was just singing the praises of both casseroles and stuffed vegetables in my vegan meal prep dinner post. I love the idea of turning stuffed peppers into a casserole.

This Funfetti loaf is definitely my next fall baking project!

Reads

1. I feel so sad thinking about pastry chefs becoming rarer in restaurant kitchens. Genevieve Yam writes about why this talented group of food creators is struggling more than ever to find work.

2. I love the elegant yet direct language and tone of Naomi Gordon-Loebl’s essay on top surgery. “It needs to go now,” Gordon-Loebl writes, “not because it is wrong, or something worth despising, but simply because it is standing in the way of a life I can no longer postpone.”

3. Self-sabotage is something I’m all too prone to; I guess a lot of us are. I like how this article normalizes it and contextualizes it, and I also appreciated the strategies for preventing it.

4. As someone who falls into the 10% of women whose breast tissue is “extremely dense,” I always need ultrasound screening along with mammography.

It’s cool that Katie Couric has spoken about her breast cancer diagnosis and treatment in a way that calls attention to the need for additional screening methods (on top of mammograms) for those who also have dense breasts.

5. I typically recommend a minimum of 1 gram protein per kilogram body weight per day to plant-based eaters.

This is slightly higher than the RDA of 0.8g/kg, with the reasoning that plant protein is slightly harder to assimilate.

However, clients of mine who are athletes, especially those who are trying to actively gain muscle, often ask whether more is better.

The answer seems to be that more is probably better, within certain parameters. According to this article, new research suggests that 1.2 to 1.6 grams per kilogram body weight can have a positive influence on muscle gains.

My only addendum to that would be to choose lean proteins when possible, for the sake of cardiovascular fitness. They can include legumes, tofu, tempeh, seitan, vegan meats that aren’t overly high in coconut oil/saturated fat, and, for omnivores, lean meats, lean poultry, fish, and eggs.

The research on macronutrients needs is always evolving. And I’ll always pay attention and share what catches my eye!

On that note, friends, time for me to start getting some rest. It’s been a long week, and I look forward to a quiet Sunday night.

xo

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    1 Comment
  1. Gena, I don’t know what’s compelling me to comment for the first time right now (I never comment anywhere), but I’ve been a reader for years (seven?) and I just had to tell you you’re one of the last two blogs I kept my subscription with in all those years because I read every post throughout, tried at least half of your recipes (most of them being part of my regular rotation because they’re so simple and easy yet just so freakin’ good, they’re even toddlers-approved here), and even though we’re so different I can relate to a lot of your posts. You’re insightful and interesting and smart, you’re one of my inspiration and I hope I can raise my daughters with the same values you seem to possess and live in your daily life. Thank you for your blog.

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