Happy Sunday! I hope you’ve been having a lovely weekend. Thanks a million for the nice feedback on my vegan lunch bowl post–glad that you found the tips to be helpful!
Little by little, I’m seeing more spring fare appear on some of my favorite food blogs. It’s all getting me excited to have asparagus, peas, radishes, and other seasonal produce at my fingertips. For now, I’m still enjoying a lot of soups and stews, and chilly weather in NYC this weekend makes them as appealing as ever.
Here are some of the recipes that caught my eye this week.
First up, I absolutely love Maya’s arugula, kidney bean, and za’atar spiced salad. I tend not to use kidney beans often enough in my cooking, and this is a great reminder to soak and cook some soon.
There were plenty of green recipes circulating this week for St. Patrick’s Day, but this one in particular stood out to me: Alanna’s no-bake matcha mint grasshopper pies in jars. They are absolutely adorable, and they look like such an easy, healthy dessert to whip up.
I really love the idea of a hummus that uses Jerusalem artichokes as a base. Sophie’s Jerusalem artichoke hummus with za’atar spiced crackers (can you tell I’m a sucker for za’atar spice?!) looks silky smooth, flavorful, and rich.
I have yet to try my hand at chocolate/mole chili, but I love the concept, and Ice’s spicy vegan chocolate chili will be my go-to recipe when I do give it a shot.
Finally, I’m totally smitten with my friend Jessie’s dark chocolate chunk olive oil scones. They sound fancy, but the recipe is really simple, and the results are lovely (as you can see). I can’t wait to dip one of these scones into a cup of hot coffee.
1. One of the co-founders of Reddit recently gave a talk in which he alleged that “sucking is the first step to being sorta good at something.” I like this reflection on his words.
Too often, the author says, we wait to do or start something because we worry that we haven’t got enough mastery. But if we all wait for mastery or expertise to hit, we run the risk of overvaluing experience and undervaluing the vital processes of experimentation, improvisation, and making/learning from mistakes. And we delay doing what we truly want to do because we’re waiting for a feeling of readiness that may or may not ever come.
I’ve struggled with this pattern, putting off and avoiding new projects and endeavors because I don’t think I have the skill, knowledge, or expertise necessary. (Being a major perfectionist doesn’t help.) Life has taught me that, to some extent, we’re all stumbling around in the dark, trying to figure things out as we go along. This is true for novices, and it’s often true for individuals who have already achieved great success. There’s a lot to be said for taking action sooner, rather than later, with a humble acknowledgement that lessons will be learned along the way.
2. A lot of you have probably seen this already, but a new report suggests that ultra-processed foods make up about 58% of all calories Americans consume in a typical day. They also deliver 90% of the added sugars that Americans eat and drink.
The news isn’t all worrying: one of the study architects noted that, while the typical study participant got nearly 60% of his or her calories from ultra-processed foods, one in five got fewer than 30% of their calories that way. This means that about 60 million Americans consume more than 70% of their calories in the form of real food.
Still, there’s clearly so much work to be done in helping to minimize the influence of processed foods on the American diet. And I think that this work must include making whole foods more affordable and accessible to people of all circumstances, and processed foods less so: in other words, creating a culture in which healthful choices are easier, and less healthful choices are more difficult.
3. My Advanced Nutrition II class this semester focuses almost entirely on micronutrients–vitamins and minerals–as opposed to macronutrients and energy metabolism, which were the main topics of Advanced Nutrition I. Our professor continually stresses the complex interplays of different vitamins, noting that, while we often study deficiencies discreetly, health care practitioners are far more likely to encounter clusters of deficiencies or multiple inadequacies in clinical settings.
So it’s fitting for me to have stumbled on this informative US News and World Report article on vitamin synergies. Some of these (iron + Vitamin C) will be very familiar to most of you, but others–such as B6, B12, and folate, or vitamins C + E, may be more surprising.
Articles like this are a great reminder that nutrients don’t work in a vacuum, and that a healthful diet is really more than the sum of its parts. Vitamin synergy is a good reason to aim for as much dietary variety as possible, as a greater host of food options is more likely to ensure that we’re getting the diversity of micronutrients we need.
4. This week, the New York Times addressed the growth and proliferation of ED treatment centers, which is raising concern about the role of corporate interest/funding, preferential referrals from affiliated health care providers, and the overall efficacy and value of treatment that is offered at such a high price.
I never experienced in-patient treatment, so my perspective on it is limited. Clients and readers who have been through residential programs don’t generally report positive experiences, though it’s worth saying that those who attribute their recovery to the in-patient experience are adamant that they would not have survived without it (in other words, most of the feedback I’ve heard has been mixed, but the positive feedback is strongly positive).
There’s no doubt in my mind that residential treatment serves a vital purpose, and I often wonder whether going at a young age would have saved me two painful relapses. There’s no way to know, and treatment through outpatient therapy did ultimately help me. Still, I remain really interested in in-patient treatment and the ways in which it can continually be tailored to provide an effective healing experience for those who suffer–one that is worth the significant investment that families often must make to secure a loved one’s place in a program.
5. Elaine Showalter’s A Literature of Their Own was a favorite book of mine in college, a work of feminist literary theory that felt empowering and paradigm-shifting to me when it read it for the first time. So I was interested to see that her new biography of the abolitionist Julia Ward Howe places some significant focus on Howe’s relationship with food, and specifically on the fact that Howe’s family members seemed intent on controlling her food choices until the very end of her life.
I believe firmly that appetite for food is deeply linked to other appetites. These might include appetites for sex, for freedom, for self-expression, or for success. It’s no surprise to me that EDs often quash and stifle these appetites as they also “police” the appetite for food. For me, recovery has meant growing comfortable with the idea of taking up space in the world, asserting my presence, and asking for what I want. Hunger for food, in other words, has real symbolic meaning.
This is loaded and fascinating material, the intersection of food and personal freedom. I’m curious to read Showalter’s new book!
On that note, friends, I wish you a very happy Sunday. I’ll see you tomorrow for Menu Plan Monday.
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This is the final installment of weekend reading for 2013. This little series is one of my favorite blog developments of the year! It has certainly made me a better and more avid reader of news, and it has also helped me to reconnect with food blog reading and recipe gazing (which I missed). I look forward to more of these posts in the new year. This harissa stew with purple sweet potatoes from Vegan Miam looks incredible. I made a lot of…