Happy Sunday, friends. Thanks for all of your enthusiasm for Jackie’s book!
Another quiet and slow weekend here, punctuated by some housekeeping and some time catching up with friends. It has been, by and large, a solitary summer, and this is intentional. For me, self-study and growth have always seemed to necessitate quite a lot of solitude–more, even, than my introverted nature usually demands.
But with an introverted temperament always comes the danger of isolation or of hiding away, and I’m aware of this, even as I try to respect and maintain my boundaries. I caught up with two dear and close friends this week, and I was reminded in those moments of how profoundly human connection can serve as a form of nourishment.
I find it easy to nourish myself with food, yoga, solitude, and writing; it’s a lot harder for me to be “fed” by human engagement and interaction with the outside world. Yet I crave connection like everyone else, and like most people, I thrive off of listening and being heard. The past few days have been a great reminder of that.
Steven and I are getting ready to take a tiny trip together–a two night getaway in a summer that otherwise kept us close to home, immersed as we were in work and study. It will be quick, but I think it will be great. As I throw some things in my overnight bag and clear out the fridge, here are some of the recipes and articles that have been on my mind.
First up, breakfast. I love Jodi’s simple recipe for almond, cardamom, and vanilla French toast–a perfect weekend breakfast for summertime. But I’m even more taken in by her thoughts on baking (in this case, her budding experience with making sourdough) as a practice of patience and persistence and openness to the unknown, as well as her affirmation of food as a form of connection. Lovely.
Greek girl that I am, I can’t resist a vegan spin on tzatziki, and Brianne’s cashew based version is the latest to catch my eye! She uses it in a vibrant, colorful collard wrap that’s stuffed with olives, tomatoes, and quinoa. This is a light, yet flavorful summer lunch dish that I can’t wait to try.
It’s funny how the simplest foods are often the most appealing. This lentil salad, which I found on the Eat Grain site, couldn’t be more straightforward, and yet of all the recipes I pinned this week I may be most excited about it. Lentils, fresh summer tomatoes, fresh herbs, and a zesty, Greek-inspired vinaigrette–sounds pretty perfect to me.
Also in the realm of simple and summery is Alexandra’s bulgar and lentils with lemon tahini drizzle. It’s a fast, nutritious meal that’s brightened by a creamy ribbon of tahini. I’m no stranger to tahini drizzles–I love using them to brighten up simple grain+green dishes–and I’m sure that the toasted almonds in this recipe also help to liven up the bowl.
Craving comfort food? Then Sophie’s Cajun chickpea cauliflower burger is calling your name. I always have a tough time creating a really stellar veggie burger; texture seems to be a challenge for me, and I often feel as though the amount of effort that goes into the dish isn’t matched by the results. Lately I’m allowing myself to take my burger inspiration from others! This hearty, homestyle patty is definitely the next I’ll try.
1. This week, The Washington Post offered some promising coverage of the medical community’s efforts to meaningfully incorporate nutrition–and really, preventive care in general–into its work. The article touches on enhanced nutrition education for doctors (such as Tulane’s groundbreaking Goldring Center for Culinary Medicine) and a greater push for dietitians to work with physicians as part of an individualized care team for patients. As the title of the article suggest, some physicians are even “prescribing” farm-fresh fruits and vegetables as part of their patients’ regimens.
I love hearing this. There’s a preconception–which I know is based in patients’ experiences with their doctors–that most physicians are indifferent to the role that nutrition plays in health and wellness. But I believe that this is quickly changing. When I was pre-med, it was clear to me that my fellow hopeful med students and future physicians were hungry for a good understanding of nutrition. And I don’t only mean that they wanted to understand nutritional biochemistry, the ins and outs of the Kreb’s cycle. It also seemed to me that they truly wanted to understand food–everything from the politics of our country’s food system to the art of cooking. With any luck, growing awareness will create more resources and educational offerings for them, and for their patients.
2. Also on the topic of medicine, a sobering reflection on medical debt from writer Emily Maloney. Maloney examines debt both systemically, reporting on how many hospitals are in debt and therefore forced to carefully consider even the most routine parts of patient care (fresh scrubs, anesthesia), and also personally, as a young woman who herself was saddled with medical debt after a suicide attempt at age 19. The article is probing and well-written.
3. I was so impressed by Sophie McBain’s article in the New Statesman about human memory and its threats in the digital age. I’m always a little wary when an article seems to be bemoaning technology in some way, partly because I think the fears often don’t become fully realized and partly because I see so much good in the ways that technology can connect us to each other and to information.
Yet I understand that technology presents us with challenges, too, some of them profound. And McBain makes a very compelling case for technology’s interference with the process of memory building and retention. On the one hand, it’s possible for us to confuse information we’ve accessed online with information we’ve actually worked to retain and store:
On the other hand, the internet can store and freeze the raw stuff of memories (images, emails, and other forms of “documentation”) in a way that interferes with our capacity to consciously craft our memories of significant events:
It’s an intelligent, thoughtful intelligent essay on a very complicated topic, and it challenges the influence of technology on memory without taking a reactionary stance.
4. We all know that nutrition research is notoriously conflicting and confusing. This week, Gina Kolata takes a look at why that is, and she offers up information on how researchers are working to make their findings less confounding.
5. Finally, I loved this story of one baker’s journey from incarceration and addiction to sobriety and a sense of profound professional purpose–dharma, if you will. It is the story, retold by Simran Sethi, of John, a Denver-based baker who found himself struggling with alcoholism and ended up in a county jail for ninety days following a DUI.
John’s experience after his detention was hardly linear–indeed, it involved fits and starts and lots of temptation to revert to old patterns, especially since the food industry is notorious for enabling substance abuse. Today, though, John has found himself at the helm of his own bakery, and he gives a moving account of how each choice he makes as a business owner is at least partially animated by a desire to give back:
I was struck by John’s closing statement:
Putting aside the noble urge to do good, I like the way John frames the process of personal growth and healing: “ingredient by ingredient, day by day.” I think that anyone who has found some sort of redemption through the making of food–whatever his or her struggles have been–can relate to that simple idea.
Ingredient by ingredient, day by day. What more can we do?
I wish you a wonderful rest of the weekend.
Happy weekend to you all, and to those of you who are celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah, I wish you a wonderful holiday! I spent last night and this morning with my mother and Steven, and I’ll be gathering with a small group of family friends later today. I haven’t done much cooking–I’m still climbing back from some post-cookbook burnout–but I do have my lentil and sweet potato loaf ready for sharing. I’ve had mixed feelings about the holiday season this year, for reasons…
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I was so saddened to hear on Friday that Fatima Ali, a former Top Chef contestant, had passed away after a year-long battle with Ewing’s sarcoma. It’s been a long time since I tuned into Top Chef, but I’d learned about Chef Ali when she contributed this essay to Healthyish. She wrote it when her cancer had already been deemed terminal. It’s a funny, strong, humble meditation on how she intended to approach her remaining time. The following quotation has been shared widely…