Weekend Reading, 4.13.14
April 13, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, everyone. Thank you for welcome Tess’ glorious chai rice pudding to the blog with so much warmth and enthusiasm. I hope you’ll check out her book!

I just returned from a weekend in NYC, visiting my mom and seeing friends. Here’s what I gazed at on my bus ride home.


I’m drooling over seasonal, spring recipes this week. To kick things off, check out Heidi’s glorious olive oil braised spring vegetables.


In that same vein, Sarah’s spring abundance bowl has me swooning–so colorful, flavorful, simple, and…well, abundant!

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I’m a complete pesto fiend, and will gladly eat it in or on anything. One of my favorite uses, though, is to mix it with brown rice or quinoa, so I’m all over Amanda’s vegan pesto brown rice with sauteed Swiss chard.


Another one of Tess Masters’ lovely creations: The Wicked Noodle is sharing her incredibly edible edamame dip. It looks so smooth and creamy!


Finally, I’m totally in love with Janae’s easy, gluten free, vegan breakfast crepes. She always manages to produce recipes that are simple, yet beautiful.


1. Last week, I mentioned that one lesson I’m learning lately more than ever is that my food doesn’t have to be “perfect.” If this does not sound like a revelation, it’s because it isn’t. I write about letting go of perfectionism all the time. But typically I talk about how I’ve learned to step away from perfectionism in the realm of nutrition or healthfulness.

The perfection I’m letting go of these days is different: it’s my need for meals to always be perfectly balanced, perfectly aesthetic, perfectly tasty. Making food that was exceptionally pretty and delicious helped me to fall in love with eating again after my disorder, and I’m not at all sorry that I took that path–a path lined with beautiful, thoughtful, conscientious meals. I think it’ll always be my impulse to make food look beautiful, and taste good, but lately I’m OK with avocado toast for dinner three nights in a row, meals that are a little messy or rushed, recipes that taste just OK, or plates that aren’t perfectly nutritionally balanced. I’m OK with winging it. It feels good.

In keeping with this theme, Emma recommended this article, from the Kitchn. I loved it. Hope you will, too.

2. Speaking of aesthetics, Andy Ellison writes a blog where he uses magnetic resonance imaging to look at the insides of fruits. It is absolutely mesmerizing. Go there.

3. This isn’t very CR-relevant, but Gizmodo ran a post about the memorial that will be built in Norway to commemorate the tragic 2011 attacks. I think it’s really beautiful.

4. Aeon Magazine published a controversial, somewhat revisionist response to Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene, and this week it deepens the debate. I’m going to sound really stupid if I attempt to comment on this topic, but I’ll say that, like editor Brigid Hains, I remember reading The Selfish Gene in college and finding it fascinating. I find these new reactions to it fascinating as well. Worth reading.

5. The physician I work for sent me this article about how we feed the sick in America. The focus is on new initiatives to revitalize hospital food, focusing on whole ingredients. It’s certainly a hopeful step forward.

And that, friends, is that. Enjoy the links. See you soon.


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  1. Great articles. I especially loved the Selfish Gene and hospital food articles. I work for a hospital and the food that is served is sad at best. I would never want to eat it… I believe good health starts in the kitchen. If we are trying to make these people better than we need to feed them whole nutricious foods.

  2. Thank you for including my pesto brown rice in your roundup! I really only started enjoying pesto recently and now, like you, I want to eat it on ALL THE THINGS.

    Also, those fruit MRI images are really mesmerizing… xoxo

  3. I think your work to reduce perfectionism is wonderful, Gena. I was actually visiting friends in Brooklyn this weekend and the mother said, “I just love good quality, delicious food. If it’s not good, I’d rather not eat” – and I can’t help but think of the millions of people who can’t afford to make that choice if their food isn’t good quality (and well, we both know skipping meals is not even a healthy choice haha!). The comment just reminded me how, even if my dining hall meals back at school aren’t great, they are still pretty damn good and all. I’m lucky that my mom buys local and organic when she can.

    Speaking of New York, I was wandering around SoHo with one of my friends, and I walked past The Butcher’s Daughter! I didn’t have time to go there but I was so excited to see it after having read your restaurant review. And then we stumbled upon Babycakes, which was very popular. Glad to see vegan/GF desserts are cultivating a following!

  4. Love that article about food not having to be perfect. As you know, those who have experienced eating disorders often deal with residual disorderly habits and thought processes long after being considered “recovered” and otherwise healthy. Today, I still give myself a hard time whenever I eat a meal that wasn’t up to my standards. My mind automatically goes to that place of “you didn’t even enjoy that meal, so you shouldn’t have eaten it at all” or “you ate so much and it wasn’t even good, what a waste of calories.” Not every meal needs to be fabulous, sometimes it’s okay to eat something even if I won’t be raving about it afterwards. This is hard for me to accept. Even though I no longer even count calories OR particularly believe in their importance, I still have the tendency to consider mediocre meals a waste of calories. This isn’t healthy at all, and I need work on it. I can also relate to the “unbalanced meal” phobia. While it’s obviously healthy to have produce at every meal, it’s not healthy to feel like dinner HAS to have a vegetable every night, or that breakfast HAS to involve fruit. I envy people who can eat a bowl of pasta without feeling like they have to add vegetables to it–what an odd thing to envy, right? But you know exactly what I’m talking about, and I love seeing you openly write about it! The next time I eat an average, less than special meal, I’ll keep your words in mind! Thanks for sharing that article. (I don’t think the author wrote it with eating disorders in mind, but it definitely calls out those of us who struggle with food perfection.)

    • I agree, Jenni. Not an ED-focused article, but so totally relevant for those of us who have clung to the perfectionist tendencies.

  5. Gena, I truly love what you said about food not having to be perfect. I think that as a blogger, it is easy for others to think all your food appears the way your recipes do, but that’s certainly not the case with me. Though I like food to look pretty, I’m more concerned with it just tasting good. Some of my favorite foods are several things mashed up together, which looks more like a scientific experiment gone wrong than a picture-quality recipe. Sometimes I often WANT to photograph a food because it tastes so dang good, but because it’s pretty ugly, I don’t:) For the sake of my readers’ eyes, of course:) Oh, and by the way- that PB&J- looks great:) It was always my favorite sandwich of them all:)

  6. Gena, thank you for featuring my crepes! They really are one of my kid’s fave things to eat (we have a breakfast-for dinner night once a week & they always get crazy excited when I tell them I’m going to make crepes).

    “I think it’ll always be my impulse to make food look beautiful, and taste good, but lately I’m OK with avocado toast for dinner three nights in a row, meals that are a little messy or rushed, recipes that taste just OK, or plates that aren’t perfectly nutritionally balanced. I’m OK with winging it. It feels good.”

    Love this! This is something I’ve come to terms with, especially with adding another little one to our brood. Avocado “toast” (I spread an avocado over two rice cakes) & a tall glass of green smoothie something or other is often my rushed meal of choice. I find it totally satisfying & I can make it in nearly a blink of an eye.

    I am so grateful for the work of people like Angela (OSG’s) & others who have shown the world how freakin’ awesome vegan food is. At the same time, I feel it so important for people like you & I in vegan blogging world to show that vegan food doesn’t always have to be a presentation to be delicious & satisfying. Simple stuff like avocado toast or a bowl of oatmeal with fruit are some of the easiest “no-brainer” foods that fill the belly when short on time.

    I believe strongly that a good deal of vegan activism lies in making vegan food *very* accessible. For me, I want to show people, particularly busy moms on a budget, that they can feed their kids healthy vegan fare without a lot of time in the kitchen. Since I interact with lots of non-vegan folks, I find their number one concern about vegan food is that it is too time consuming or has to be elaborate.

    Anyway, I so appreciate you keeping it real about the realities of what you eat. You’re showing all of us that a vegan diet doesn’t have to be “perfect” or photo-worthy to be delicious & good. Such an important thing for everyone, especially people considering a vegan diet, to know!


  7. I think this is my favorite Weekend Reading yet! The fruit MRI images are transfixing and I’m making those crepes like yesterday! Thank you for sharing =]

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