Weekend Reading, 2.22.15
February 22, 2015

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday! If you’re not busy watching the Oscars, I have some delicious and beautiful recipes to share with you, along with some thought-provoking reads.

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To begin with, check out the absolutely electric colors in this crunchy salad. Yum!

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These Italian flavored vegan green “peaballs” look absolutely terrific. I’d love to serve them with some orzo or over risotto.

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Warm up on a cold night with a spicy, warming, and oh-so-cozy cup of masala chai hot chocolate. Wonderful.

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For dessert, let’s start with cherry chocolate brownies that are as simple and straightforward as they are enticing.

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And why not have dessert seconds? This gluten free, vegan, hazelnut vanilla cake is beautiful, and it sounds like a wonderful combination of hearty and sweet. (Use a translating function to get the recipe, as the original page is in Finnish!)

Reads

1. I loved this post from Well and Good, in which chef Aliya LeeKong highlights five spices that can help you to cook like a chef. Chef-ly or not, the post features five of my favorite spices, ones that I think are indispensable for any kitchen.

2. NEDA week begins today, so of course eating disorder awareness and body positivity are on my mind. Check out this short, powerful video from activist Caroline Rothstein. The upshot? “[W]hen I feel fat,” Rothstein says, “I know that means I’m feeling something else, and it’s worth figuring out what that is.” According to the article, “in times like these, Rothstein actively chooses to focus on how grateful she is for the miraculous things her body can do—from turning food into energy to cartwheeling across the room—and the amazing things her body has overcome.”

3. I love mythbusting articles, and this one–picking apart some of the claims made about “superfoods,” was particularly fun. Beneath the snark is an important point about nutrition science and its complications. As the article states,

“…Diet is complex. It’s tough to tease apart the contribution of individual components because the nutrients in many foods become available to us only when eaten as part of a wider diet: studies have shown that only when we cook carrots can their beta-carotene become more available and; the lycopene in tomatoes is most readily available when they are eaten with oil.

But what about all the other vague claims about foods that can help you lose weight, or support a healthy immune function, or lead to a healthy heart? They all sound good and sort of make sense, don’t they? According to Ali Khavandi, a cardiologist at the Royal United Hospital in Bath, these claims are vague for a reason – they are based on experiments carried out on animals or on human cells in a lab. They have not been shown to have any effect on people, and until such effectiveness is shown, he says, we should stay open-minded but cautious about exaggerated claims.”

This is very true, and it’s part of why nutrition headlines are often so incredibly confusing.

4. Speaking of nutrition world debates, after many recent years of sometimes heated arguments about dietary cholesterol and its role in the development of heart disease, the U.S. government guidelines on cholesterol have been changed.

It’s a complex development, because evidence still suggests that some people need to be mindful of their intake of cholesterol in food. Still, with more and more evidence pointing to saturated fat, rather than dietary cholesterol, as the more major dietary culprit behind high levels of serum cholesterol–not to mention all of the compelling evidence that refined carbohydrates raise triglyceride levels, which are also a major heart disease risk factor–this may be an important new shift for public health messaging. Cholesterol was singled out as a villain in the battle against heart disease (at the expense of other risk factors) for a long time. I hope the new guidelines are conveyed with nuance, and that they help to make the big picture more clear.

5. One of my clients sent this article to me this week, which reminded me that a friend had put it on my radar some time ago, too. It’s writer Alice Gregory’s review of Kelsey Osgood’s book, How to Disappear Completely: On Modern Anorexia. At times, the article had me practically cheering, and at others it didn’t entirely resonate. Gregory’s central point is that it’s nearly impossible for authors–memoirists in particular–to write about anorexia without glamorizing it. Gregory’s indictment of anorexia’s inherent dullness is without a doubt the best and most direct I’ve ever read. She says that she isn’t sure what a deliberately boring memoir about anorexia would be like, but that

“The closest Osgood gets is when she writes, “I used to sit in trigonometry class and calculate my intake obsessively in the margins of my notebook, each time coming up with the same answer, each time dismissing my mathematics as unreliable.” That is a much more accurate description of the disease than anything involving clavicles or frozen yogurt or sexual abuse or the fear of feeding tubes. If we really wanted to protect our supposedly susceptible youth, we’d paint anorexics as they are: slowly suicidal obsessives who avoid other people and expend ninety-five per cent of their mental energy counting the calories in green vegetables. We wouldn’t see them as worth reading about at all.”

On the one hand, it’s true. On the other, I understand why people who write about their disorder experiences invest the narrative with glamor and intensity; when I look back on my own, there’s a vast disconnect between how vivid and intense and sometimes exciting the disease felt, and how uninteresting and narrow and gray my life actually became in its grip. When I write about my ED, I’m often trying to reconcile these things–how did something so inherently pitiful compel me so strongly?

In the end, I suppose I sympathize with both impulses: the impulse to talk about how boring and sad and empty eating disorders actually are, to declare them as unworthy of our fascination, and also the impulse to repeat them, to tell our stories, to run over the contours of what happened again and again. I imagine I’m not the only one who feels conflicted this way.

On that note, more NEDA stuff later in the week. For now, I wish you all a great night.

xo

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    5 Comments
  1. Gosh; a lot to take in here- but thanks; got to give those pea balls a look sometime… on eds; I’m glad to hear the word boring associated with it-that is how I described my past experience of anorexia to my teenage daughter when I found her surfing “thinspiration” sites a few years ago. That, and a waste of precious time. my ed was finally so boring to others it cost me a marriage. Of course, that’s not going to help anyone who’s already in the throes of an ed and needs lots of love and compassion, but it’s a great antidote to the glamorization that tempts so many young people to starve and/ or binge- purge.

  2. Thank you so much for picking up my recipe for hazelnut vanilla cake!
    You can find the English translation of the recipe at the end of the post so theres on need for Google translate 🙂

    Happy baking to everyone! 🙂

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