Weekend Reading, 6.15.14
June 15, 2014

Weekend Reading | The Full Helping

I skipped Weekend Reading last week because I was a little drained from my birthday post. I can’t tell you how nice it is to revisit my Sunday morning routine of browsing my favorite sites for drool-worthy recipes and images. As always, I hope that you enjoy these five exquisite dishes, as well as the articles I’m sharing.


Vegan caramelized onion mac n’ cheese? 10 ingredients? Holy shnikes. Dana and John have done it again.


This brussels sprout and chive pizza looks fancy, but it’s deceptively simple. A wonderful recipe from Jess of Cupcakes & Kale.


I can’t imagine anything more refreshing than this pineapple, avocado, and pea shoot salad. I bet it would work nicely with mango or citrus, too.


 I made chia seed jam for the first time this year, and I love it.  Cara puts a summery spin on it with a peach and basil chia jam–yum!


 Finally, for dessert, avocado and pistachio ice cream. AKA heaven AKA gimme AKA holy yum.


1. My editor at Food52 brought this article to my attention. It tells the story of an iconoclastic iced almond-macadamia milk latte, so exquisite and tasteful that it’s winning over even the most diehard coffee lovers in LA. “Pretty sure this almond-macadamia milk latte is @choosingraw’s soul in a beverage,” she wrote.

She’s right. This latte is my spirit animal. It is my muse. And I am going to recreate it at home, goshdarnit, even if I’ve never tasted the original beverage. G&B Coffee, I tip my hat to you. 

2. Have you ever wondered how much sleep your favorite genius got? This article, via New York Magazine, may have the answer. Thomas Mann’s 12am-5am is making me feel a little bit better about the fact that 5-6 hours is my norm (not insomnia; I just don’t tend to sleep much). Then again, I’m no genius, so I should probably stick to 6-7 hours…

3. This.

4. An great article by James Hamblin on sugar. It focuses in particular on some of the hysteria surrounding fructose these days (and products that contain a lot of fructose, including HFCS and agave). Hamblin isn’t defending the ubiquity of high fructose, concentrated sweeteners in our food chain, and neither am I. But he does clear up a lot of misconceptions that seem to be circulating lately about what fructose is, how it’s absorbed, and how it compares to glucose or sucrose. I think it’s an important article, because it serves as a detail-oriented and nuanced counterpoint to vitriolic YouTube videos and oversimplified accounts of what’s making Americans (and people worldwide) obese.

5. In response to last weekend’s birthday post, and the thoughts I shared about moving on from the pursuit of something, one of my readers directed me to this lovely interview with Mara Kofoed, author of A Blog About Love. It was a timely reading recommendation, since at least one CR reader had left me a comment saying that my words had evoked some of the feelings she has experienced in trying to decide whether or not to continue fertility treatments.

Mara Kofoed describes with tremendous frankness the end of a long and painful IVF journey:

“After ten years, I don’t have any more stamina to continue the pursuit. Moving on is one of the most complicated things I’ve ever faced. But every ounce of myself is done with pursuing, pursuing, pursuing. It’s like someone has died and instead of dedicating a life to changing what is, we are going to move on and try our very, very best to life the best life that we can. And we’re trying to cultivate as much excitement and hope that we can for a life that looks nothing like what we had planned.”

I certainly can’t pretend to know what it’s like to have tried for a baby for ten years, nor have I experienced the particular kind of grief that Kofoed describes. But I do know what it’s like to feel finished with something, even when it surprises some people that you don’t want to continue fighting for it. “Most people are very, very shocked that we don’t currently have plans to adopt or do more medical treatments,” she says. “I think most people just don’t understand why we just couldn’t continue trying.”

As a society, we embrace and celebrate tenacity. We encourage each other to keep going when we’ve been knocked down, to shove aside all obstacles that stand in our way, to try, try, and try again. It’s a wonderful, courageous impulse, and I’m glad that we hold it so dear. In all of our enthusiasm for the long and arduous fight, however, we may sometimes lose sight of the value of letting go, of being able to turn the page when effort has failed us. Sometimes, being doggedly committed to a single dream may even prevent us from recognizing the value of a new direction.

It all reminds me of the famous Joseph Campbell quote: “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

We are the only ones who can ever know whether a second or third or fourth attempt at something is the right choice or not; it’s something that outsiders can’t possibly understand. My post-bacc experience has definitely made me more sensitive to this; whereas a few years ago I valued perseverance so much that I’d likely encourage anyone who was struggling with something to “never give up,” I now recognize that it often takes as much courage to stop striving as it does to persist.

On that note: Happy Sunday.


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  1. “We must be willing to let go of the life we have planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us.”

    but oh god oh god what do you do when there are three different very fucking different potential life options waiting for you how do you know which one Gena which one

  2. Lovely, as always Gena! =) I’m definitely going to try that mac n cheese! I’m also extremely happy that Lego is finally making female scientist toys – representation is so important.
    You’re probably not aware, but saying that something is your “spirit animal” is culturally appropriative. This is a decent, not too in-depth article on basic cultural approriation: http://www.xojane.com/issues/casual-racism-matt-lauer-indian-giver
    Not trying to be offensive at all, just trying to spread awareness!

  3. Thank you dear Gena for sharing my pizza recipe in your weekend reading!

    As for your closing link, it was one that brought up a lot of emotion this morning as I sit and read at my computer, coffee in hand, as Woodrow naps beside me. Hearing about infertility hits close to home as I have several friends dealing with it now & after we had experienced our own loss in the process to start a family. Letting go does require strength beyond belief, and I wish more people recognized that, and that the length of our journeys are our own to decide too.

  4. Well Gena, you got this girl all teary-eyed and touched deeply by the words of Mara and letting go. Just beautiful. Thank you for posting that! And now that I know I live relatively close to a coffee shop that is serving up macadamia and almond milk lattes, looks like I have a new spot! (Thank you as well for the inclusion of the Jam–means a lot to me!) xo

  5. Love the legos! I saw The Lego Movie recently, and it was fantastic. It has a lot of pop culture references and a sort of satirical element that I think you’d find quite humorous.

  6. Thanks so much for sharing my avo pistachio ice cream, Gena! And I’m definitely getting those legos for my son and daughter.

  7. Your final comments remind me of the latest Freakonomics book, which covers both the value to quitting and of the value of failure. It was worth reading the book just for that.

  8. Hi Gena–great weekend reading edition–the recipes look amazing–I loved the legos, too, and look forward to reading the article about sugar. I wanted to read about the macadamia almond milk latte but got the 404 treatment for some reason. As for your closing remarks–amen to those wise words. Thank you for reminding me of them.


  9. The article seems to be discussing fructose as regards to calories and/or fatty liver disease. My concern with fructose has to do with it being one of the FODMAPs contributors for some people with IBS. I’m wondering if you were working with fructose in the IBS community when you were working with that one doctor and what you saw? (Forgive me for not remembering her name or more about your work.)

    • Hi Rebecca,

      Sure, in our practice (the doctor I work with is named Robynne Chutkan, and there is no way you should have been expected to remember that, by the way!) we do have patients on low FODMAPs diets, either to treat SIBO or IBS. We’ve seen mixed results; some folks do seem to improve, while others struggle through all of the many particulars only to see very little longterm improvement. As with all therapeutic dietary strategies, there’s usually a short term placebo effect in either case, but we look at the longer term picture–whether or not improvement is consistent after a few months–to see if the diet is working.

      Robynne’s feeling about FODMAPs seems to be that, if it works for you, fantastic. It’s also incredibly hard to maintain (especially as a vegan) and excludes a lot of really nutritious foods (including legumes, avocado, many vegetables, many fruits), so if it’s *not* working, then it’s certainly not worth it. I think that the research behind it is compelling and it’s certainly onto something, and my guess is that it accounts for *some* IBS cases. But IBS describes such a huge swath of people with such varied conditions that it’s hard to pin the syndrome down to a single point of origin. FODMAPs no doubt helps those people who do have trouble digesting the sugars that the diet avoids; I’m not convinced it’s an IBS cure-all, though, since fructose or disaccharide malabsorption likely is not the culprit behind *all* cases of IBS. (The cause might also be post-infectious sensitivity, visceral hypersensitivity, imbalanced gut flora, slow motility, etc.).

      Hope this helps — I should do a post on it soon.


  10. Thanks for sharing the sugar article. I’m sticking with maple and dates until someone finds out that they were pushed just for the financial gain too. It’s getting so we should not eat what ever the advertising industry tells us to. I’m working on a series about how minorities are effected by the American diet once they get to the U. S. I’ve been concentrating on meats and dairy but maybe fructose is equally destroying their health. Ahhh …..long gone are the days of eating half a bag of Oreos when Mom got home from the grocery ; (

    • I agree about the corporate pressure and the advertising, Angela. But I do think that the article is onto something when it describes the ways that fructose’s biochemical action has been accounted for somewhat innacurately in popular health media. In the end, I fall more into the “everything in moderation” camp with sweeteners — mostly dates and maple, but a some agave or evaporated cane juice or demerara sugar here and there isn’t a make-or-break issue. The only ones I avoid somewhat stringently are the artificial sweeteners.

          • Today was a little better but I’d still love to have a couple months of 65 – 70. 90 + degrees gets old when I’m outside all day pretty quickly, yes.
            Melting? Everything except for the extra weight I’d like to be melting 😉
            Stay cool ♥

  11. Amazing timing; one of my friends and I just made plans to meet for that macadamia latte! I wish you could join us. 🙂 I’m thrilled with those Lego figures and would happily buy them for the little girls in my life. xoxo

  12. I think I’m going to make that caramelized onion mac and cheese … sounds so ridiculously good!

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