Weekend Reading, 5.18.14
May 18, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

Happy Sunday, friends. In case you missed it, the folks at NuZest are hosting a giveaway for CR readers; the first 200 people to sign up will receive free sample packs of their vegan, non-GMO, allergen free pea protein powder, and three lucky readers will receive three full sized tubs in flavors of their choosing. Check it out! And in the meantime, here’s weekend reading.


Feeling snacky? Ali has done it again with these scrumptious, dehydrated broccoli crunch snack bites. I know from experience that dehydrating crucifers, while utterly delightful, is also a little stinky. so keep the windows open!

Mango Rice 2

Speaking of raw food, I am positively drooling over Amy’s raw curried mango coconut rice.


I was fortunate enough to have a vegan meal this past week at Cedar restaurant in DC. A chilled pea and fennel soup was my appetizer selection, and since then, I’ve had pea soup on the brain. This bright green bowl from the wonderful Heidi Swanson looks perfect.


Moving on to breakfast/brunch. How perfect are Ella’s gluten free and vegan French crepes?


Finally, Julie’s lemon raspberry cake (both GF and vegan) is a perfectly simple, seasonal treat.


1. Interesting blog post, via the Humane Society, about chickens’ cognitive abilities. I’ve heard it argued that chickens suffer more than any other farm animal, and they rarely command the sort of sympathy that piglets and cows do, in part because they’re so often dismissed as “stupid.” You’ll be surprised at some of the complexity this article describes. Of course, I don’t think that we need proof that an animal is intelligent to conclude that it’s wrong to imprison, torture, and kill him/her. But if information like this helps to make people feel more connected to farm animals, then so much the better.

2. Perhaps you all remember Emma’s wonderful Green Recovery story, featured quite recently on CR. Right now she has a guest post up on my friend Janae’s blog, Bring Joy, about exercise habits post-recovery. I loved it, and could relate to so much of what she said. I, too, have been through ups and downs as I define my relationship with exercise/fitness post-ED, and I too have had to examine my motives and listen to my intuition frequently. Ultimately, it was yoga that really helped me to embrace movement again after too many years of abusing physical fitness. But I’m sure that the journey is different for every person, and Emma’s wise words about self-trust may be helpful to you if you’re navigating this space.

3. Speaking of body image, my dear friend Kristy recently wrote a stellar post about body image. It begins humorously, with a busted zipper on a pair of snug jeans, and in her characteristically subtle, humble way, Kristy doesn’t belabor her point. But she has some great things to say about balance and self-acceptance. I especially liked her thoughts about allowing one’s body to shift and change over time. I don’t have to tell you that this topic has been on my mind often in the last four years. This post, this one, and this one sum it up nicely.

Kristy, you are beautiful and awesome. Also, your flourless chocolate peanut butter cookies look insane; please send me some.

4. An article from Shape magazine called “Is Your Diet a Cult?” In some ways, I really liked it, especially points #3 (you constantly live in fear of cheating) and #4 (other diets personally offend you). I’m all about eliminating the notion of “cheating” from the food lexicon, and I also think that part of feeling secure and confident in one’s own “food style” is no longer feeling the need to lambast or put down other ways of eating (something I was unfortunately known to do in the early raw/vegan days).

Of course, the whole idea of “forbidden foods” is a rich and complicated one. Certain foods–many foods–are not included in a vegan paradigm. For me, this is a matter of philosophical choice, rather than adherence to any sort of diet plan. And even in the absence of ethics or philosophical orientation, I don’t think it’s necessarily cultish to decide that certain kinds of foods are not desirable to eat; my vegan friends who identify as plant-based eaters or nutritarians have chosen, thoughtfully and with plenty of free will, to eliminate certain foods from their diets, usually after a long process of experimentation and listening to their bodies. It’s a far cry from the “rules” of conventional weight loss.

Within my veganism, though, the idea of “forbidden food” is an absolute no-no. Gone are the days when I can stomach any eating “plan” that tells me to eliminate carbs, or oils, or salt, or sugar, or every morsel of processed food, or …anything. I’ve made the choice to eat a diet that’s specialized by any standard. But that choice, and all of the good/bad or forbidden/allowed thinking that characterizes most diets, so many of which I’ve tried, feels very different.

In any case, I think it’s a refreshing change of pace when mainstream womens’ magazine critique excessive rigidity in the realm of food, since they so often reinforce it.

5. I really liked LV Anderson’s piece for Slate entitled “Stop Describing Your Diet as Clean Eating.” The article is likely to strike nerves, since “clean eating” is such a popular term, and let me disclaim that I know it can be a positive, enthusiastic one. Words are words, and ultimately the meaning of an expression like “clean eating” is determined by the person who uses it; if it signifies nourishing, beautiful, minimally processed food to you, then that’s great.

To me, the word “clean” necessarily evokes its antonym, the word “dirty.” And no matter how happily I celebrate healthful food, I can’t bear to call any food–processed, greasy, fried, whatever–dirty. It’s such a loaded word, so charged with puritanism; as Janae noted when I tweeted this article “Can we throw in ‘pure’ as well? Pure, clean…might as well add righteous :)”

I have a similar reaction. The food we eat is not a measure of our virtue. Drinking green juice and eating salad does not make one a better person, just as eating any of the foods we like to label as “unclean” these days does not besmirch one’s immortal soul. We can find words to describe food as healthful that don’t come loaded with moral judgment. Just my two cents.

And that, friends, is that. I want to circle back to some of the thoughts we all shared on being self-critical last weekend, so you can expect that–along with the usual recipe sharing–this week. Happy Sunday.


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  1. I agree with what you said about the Slate piece. “Clean” has been thrown around so much lately in the diet lexicon that it has all but lost any substantive meaning! What is “clean” anyway? When arbitrary, subjective adjectives like “clean” are used to describe something as personal as one’s diet, you have to wonder what the point is in using them.

    On that note, I’m going to go eat a “dirty” cupcake 🙂

  2. Oh yum! Everything looks SO good!!! 😉
    And thank you for including my Crepes recipe 😉 I can’t wait to make those again!! 😉
    And what a great roundup of great articles too!! I will be clicking on those soon….

    I just want to throw in my thoughts there on the ‘clean’ eating…
    It took me a long time to accept that word and use it – and I do use it on occasion to describe my recipes but only because it’s what people out there want! Maybe it’s a trend… or maybe it’s a way for some people to differentiate between foods to help them make better choices. I don’t love it just like I don’t like describing a diet with “no processed foods” because there’s so many foods that are still processed but healthy – like olive oil! Then there’s “sugar-free” and there’s still sugar used – maybe it’s not white sugar – but in the end dates or maple syrup are loaded with sugar anyway!!!
    So, it’s just terms that end up being used, in the end you can’t take it too seriously…
    As for “clean” eating, I don’t see moral judgement associated, but I definitely think how ‘dirty’ food can be when I think of a McDonald’s burger!
    For me, it’s purely a visual thing… clean vs. dirty!
    Oh and I’m totally guilty of hashtagging my recipes as #purefood 😉 Ooops!!! 😉
    I’m enjoying that though so please no harsh judgement there 😉

    I did change my diet for health reasons and for me food needs to be nourishing first! It just so happens that a plant-strong and wheat/ gluten-free diet is pretty amazing when it comes to nutrition 😉

    I do often have to defend my eating style when I choose healthier options or when I don’t eat certain foods at a party – and I usually say… “sure, I could eat it, but I don’t want to” 😉 That puzzles people even more because I just don’t think most of my friends see the difference in the foods out there. For them, the clean/ dirty differentiation might help a lot to help them choose better foods! I only hope 😉

    ~ ella

    • Oh, Ella, my dear, no judgment at all! As I said, phrases like “clean eating” are really defined by individuals–the phrase itself is neutral. I was just sharing my gut reactions. And I also agree that there should be no compulsion whatsoever to eat anything and everything. I certainly don’t label anything as being off limits within my veganism. But of course there are foods that simply don’t appeal to me because I know that they wouldn’t nourish me in any way — body, spirit, or soul. Those choices are ours to make.

      I love your point about “processed food,” by the way. I do use expressions like “minimizing processed food” or “eating less processed food” when I talk to clients, but I agree that a “no processed food, ever” stance is impractical and also impossible to define. I love olive oil, maple syrup, and nutritional yeast, not to mention almond milk (storebought as well as homemade), sunshine burgers, sprouted bread, snack bars–the list goes on. If that’s processed, but it makes my life easier, then I am 200% OK with it 🙂

      Thanks for your gorgeous recipe, Ella!


  3. This is an awesome roundup of articles and recipes! I couldn’t agree with you more about the phrase “clean eating”. To me, it has a negative connotation and just rubs me the wrong way. One time when I told somebody that I am vegan, they asked me, “So, you do clean eating?” It made me somewhat defensive because I felt like she was calling me self-righteous and like she wanted me to challenge her that any other eating is inherently “dirty”. Nevertheless, I didn’t want to pick a fight and instead told her that veganism is more of a lifestyle, an ethical choice, and that it happens to include foods that are incredibly nourishing and healthful.

  4. I’m with you on the flourless peanut butter cookies. Yes. In fact, I feel like kind of an idiot because I went and posted this reply on Kristy’s blog but of course it is mostly in response to your recap, oh well.

    I favor boyfriend jeans, so I don’t tend to pop zippers, but I can kinda sorta relate to that angst. On the one hand, I love the whole idea of throwing out the skinny jeans (remember that wonderful scene in Eat Pray Love where she does exactly that, or JL’s New Year’s resolution a few years back). On the other, I held on to mine for years and years. When I did finally throw them away, they resembled doll clothes. I think I wear clothes that are too big (even my Armani suits “hang”) versus clothes that are fitted because tight clothing makes me kind of hyper-aware of my body in a not pleasant way. I can wear stretchy stuff that’s fitted, but nothign with seams it seems. Whatever works is what I say.

    I too abhor restriction and labels of all sorts, though I’m not bothered by the vegan label as does seem to me to be an (admirable) ethical stance and is not, as you and countless others demonstrate, a means of depriving oneself of nourishment or pleasure. That said, I am a very picky eater, and I just don’t see that changing. I am not picky in the natural hygiene sense – I don’t care if a food is raw or cooked, much as I prefer raw, and I abhor the notion of “clean” eating for precisely the reasons you state – but very obsessed with other things like quality and freshness, where the food comes from, etc. I guess if I have any kind of dichotomy going on in my mind when it comes to food it would be edible / inedible. Perhaps my edible category is a bit too small and my inedible category is abit too big, but truly, living in a Northeastern city, it’s not some huge burden to find food that makes me happy. Being picky doesn’t feel limiting in the way my eating disorder did. The worst is that might occasionally eat later than ideal because there’s nothing that appeals at this or that event or in this or that airport/trainstation/whatever.

  5. i actually struggle with the notion of food not being a virtue to some extent. i’ve never had issues with eating too much or too little but i definitely have a tendency to fall into that realm of orthorexia. oh the life of a control freak/perfectionist 🙂
    i do feel some guilt when i eat something i’ve deemed as ‘bad’ or not pure. example:nate buys a pint of ben & jerry’s peanut butter cup core ice cream. it’s not something i would ever buy but it’s in the house so i steal a few bites because…chocolate/peanut butter 🙂 i was actually surprised that i felt bad about that since i prob eat dairy 1-2% of the entire year.

    but then i snap back and realize that i’m putting way too much weight behind food and feelings and it just isn’t that important in the grand scheme of things.

    anyway, i had an insane soup with edible flowers over the weekend and it was the picture of spring! shaved asparagus and dandelion with bits of local honeycomb. almost too pretty to eat! also, love broccoli snacks—along the same vein, have you tried brussel bytes? i love these: http://mycocoroons.com/products/brussel-bytes-chili-pumpkin-seed

  6. Yes, yes, yes on the eating clean thang. I personally have what most would consider a “clean” diet but I really hate when folks describe it that way. Health isn’t a moral issue! It bugs me (as an ED recover-er) to think that if I decide to eat chips or whatever that I will somehow be “dirty.” BOO.

    I really liked this weeks list!

  7. Thanks for featuring my broccoli snack bites, Gena! Also thank you for linking to the Slate piece on clean eating. I cringe a little whenever I hear that term, and I’m so glad that it’s being questioned in a popular publication.

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