Good morning, friends, and happy Sunday.
It’s hard to believe that August is already here. I’m fighting the urge to start fretting–as I do nearly every summer–about all of the summery things I haven’t yet done: the outdoor concerts I haven’t seen, the picnic lunches I haven’t eaten, the languid hours of reading on sunny benches that haven’t happened.
It’s so easy to idealize summertime, to envision it as a series of postcard-perfect snapshots. Of course, the truth is that summer holds no special monopoly on leisure or on being outdoors, even if it makes those things a little easier and more accessible. I have to remind myself that, as important as this summer has been in terms of learning to slow down and live more consciously, that process can and hopefully will continue long after August is behind me.
For now, while August is still fresh and alive, here’s to long days and sunny afternoons. Here’s to getting outside. Here’s to a sense of time being suspended, if only for a few moments. Here’s to stone fruits, ripe heirloom tomatoes, zucchini by the bushel, sweet corn, and all the pie/crisp/crumble we can handle.
And here’s to this roundup of recipes, some summery, some not, that have inspired me this past week.
I must be itching to make babaganoush lately, because I keep bookmarking different eggplant dip recipes. My latest favorite is Natasha’s lovely roasted eggplant dip–so very simple, yet so appealing.
I have yet to get into gochujang–I’m admittedly a bit of a wimp when it comes to heat–but Erin’s double-dredged tofu with gochujang glaze might just turn me around. These little nuggets look incredible, so spicy and flavorful, and I’m imagining them in all sorts of bowls and stir fry meals!
Speaking of a gochujang, I’m so intrigued by Rika’s recipe for sauteed chili cucumbers! Cucumber is not a vegetable I ever think to enjoy warm (unless I happen to be mixing it up with another vegetable that’s just been cooked), but her recipe is so simple and intriguing that I may be about to change my tune. I love the idea of serving spicy, seared cukes with noodles or rice.
I haven’t had too much luck making vegan vegetable patties hold their shape just right–there have been numerous failed attempts at zucchini and rice cakes, for example–so I’m super impressed with Belen’s cauliflower & lemon patties. They’re beautiful to look at, specked with red quinoa, and ground flax and brown rice flour seem to hold them together nicely. Can’t wait to try them with some tahini sauce.
Finally, it’s not quite fig season here in New York, but it will be very soon. And when it is, I can’t wait to make Bakerita’s gorgeous, vegan and gluten free oatmeal fig bars. They look perfect!
1. First, a troubling look at trends in body dysmorphia and body manipulation among teens, with a specific focus on how conventional gender identification lines up with behavioral patterns. The article calls upon data from an ongoing study of more than 13,000 American children, the Growing Up Today Study (GUTS). It reveals that,
The researchers on the study were curious about whether or not such practices–using supplements or OTC drugs to slim down for girls, versus using them to bulk up among boys–aligned with traditional ideas about masculinity and femininity. And they did: regardless of sexual orientation, kids who described themselves as more gender conforming were more likely to use laxatives (the girls) or muscle-building products (the boys).
The article goes on to tackle how unrealistic portrayals of body shape in social media and popular media might continue to influence young people and harm their sense of self-esteem. It emphasizes the important role that caretakers can play in modeling healthful eating patterns and always refraining from making negative comments about body shape. It also makes the interesting point that, while kids and teens who are nonconformist in their sensibilities are sometimes considered more vulnerable to conditions like depression and social ostracism, kids who feel an inherent pressure to conform neatly to prevailing social norms and imagery might face their own set of struggles.
I’m glad that dialog continues to exist around the oh-so-problematic role that unrealistic body imagery plays in our society, and I’m also glad to see some attention brought to laxative abuse–a form of disordered eating that I’ve certainly struggled with, and which is often under-discussed or treated as taboo in the larger recovery/ED dialog.
2. Work with cadavers is a seminal part of medical training, and it tends to evoke no shortage of complex feelings and fears among medical students. I had only one glimpse into the experience during my own experience as a pre-med, and even that short encounter (being shown cadaver lab during a medical school tour) stayed with me.
So, I found Matt McCall’s article about cadavers in Nat Geo to be fascinating. It’s a broad look at the role that cadavers play and have always played in medical education, but it also examines a recent downward trend in body donation rates. Body donation remains an unconventional choice, and the article peers into the consequences of that choice for family members, specifically children of parents who have chosen to donate their bodies.
I liked this quotation, uttered by the son of a donor: “Anything that can contribute to life, whether it’s for science or pure love, usher along mankind. That may sound lofty, but it’s how I feel.”
3. I’ve always been fascinated by how sensory experience for humans and other animals changes over the generations. I remember vividly reading a proposal, back when I was an editor, about how much noisier the world has become, how true silence–or at least, silence from man-made sound–has become a rarity. What are the consequences for our health, the quality of our lives, and our experience of the physical space in which we live?
This article looks at a different, yet linked phenomenon–the relative disappearance of darkness from our world. The author begins by sharing a childhood experience that may be rarer and rarer these days:
The article goes on to explore how changes in the night sky–or rather, the way in which we perceive it–might change the experience of being human. One park ranger is quoted saying “Most children, right now, growing up in the US, will never see the Milky Way.”
From there, the article takes some fascinating turns, exploring the history of our relationship with illumination (darkness, the author notes, has long been associated with fear and unknown; what does it mean for the unknown to become increasingly scarce?), debates over LED streetlights, and the health consequences of sleeping in overly illuminated settings. I can’t really do justice to Amanda Petrusich’s marvelous scope and insight, but I can share the final few grafs, and then tell you that the the article is well worth reading in its entirety:
4. If you could erase painful memories, would you? It’s an idea that has been explored in the context of romantic love and loss (I’m thinking of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind), but this article approaches the idea with a more psychiatric focus. We are close, apparently, to having pharmaceuticals that might actually be able to remove unbearable memories from our consciousness.
What would that mean for us? It’s widely thought that re-engaging with painful memories in a safe way is crucial for contextualizing, learning to bear, and then reintegrating past experience. How would erasure of memory change this process?
I’m inclined to agree with the author of the article, who insists that he would not take back painful memories–even one so painful as his father’s struggle with MS–if he could. Such memories, he suspects, have become a crucial part of his sense of self. I feel the same way about my own painful memories; indeed, I’ve lately been trying to spend more time with them as a means of moving forward with more wholeness and self-understanding. Then again, I’ve never lived through PTSD, nor do traumatic memories ever intrude on my everyday, waking life. If they did, I might feel very differently about this.
I was also interested to read the author’s statement that he would not wish to replace or repopulate memories that he has erased–a dimension of this dialog that’s addressed more rarely than the notion of wiping out memories that hurt. Having lost many memories of his father before MS, the author is still able to write,
It’s an honest, insightful, and very worthy essay.
5. Finally, I was sorry to hear that the decline of cardiovascular mortality is slowing down after years of progress. But I did like that this article emphasized not only the importance of some well-validated dietary approaches (like the DASH diet), but also the profound value of cooking and getting into the kitchen as a means of prevention and management.
So, here’s to cooking–both for our pleasure, and for our health!
On that note, I’m off. I hope you savor the last bit of the weekend, and I’ll see you this week with a new recipe and a fun new cookbook review (been a while since I shared one of those!).
It’s been a lovely couple days of taking my own advice. In Friday’s post—the responses to which I’m so grateful for—I mentioned the importance of learning how to relax, and then practicing relaxation whenever possible. Last weekend, I wrote about not trying too hard all the time. Or, in the words of one of my yoga teachers: when it can be easy, let it be easy. So that’s what I’ve been up to since my birthday: doing a whole lot of nothing. No…
I’m writing this post as I make my way home from a faraway place. I’ll be sharing more about the trip next weekend. For now, I’ll say that this experience has made me grateful on two fronts: grateful for the opportunity to leave home and explore a different part of the world, and grateful to be coming back. It’s the gratitude for home I want to focus on today. Last week, I wrote about my exercise in journaling about things that make me…
I’m in the same mode I was a week ago when I wrote my Sunday post: taking care of business, little by little. There are things that feel weighty indeed, but I’m doing my best to look after what needs my attention regardless. That includes studying for the RD exam; it took me some time to find my groove, but now I’m chipping away at it. It includes continuing to rummage through all of the work emails and items I pushed aside while…
Happy Sunday, all. My thumb is finally healing and the stitches are out, so this past weekend has been full of recipe testing. The fridge is stocked with a strange (but tasty) assortment of sweets and salads and soups. In particular, I’ve been whipping up my first few batches of summertime pesto, and I’ll be sharing the fruits of that labor here on the blog on Thursday. For now, here are some of the recipes that stood out to me this week, plus some…