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Photograph by Ashley McLaughlin

Happy Wednesday! The visit with my dear college friend that I mentioned on Sunday has been lovely so far, but I’m taking a quick pause to share the macro bowls from Power Plates.

The bowls chapter of the cookbook came together before any of the others, with recipes that I’d been thinking about for a long time. Since macronutrient balance is a theme of the book, and since macro bowls are one of my all time favorite meals, I knew I’d be including a personal take on the grain, bean, green, sea vegetable, and squash combination.

This is it. A little non-traditional (I can’t seem to get hijiki salad just right at home, no matter how hard I try), but I did my best to pay homage to a meal that’s the essence of nourishment in my mind. Hope you’ll enjoy this one as much as I do; in the year since I finished testing recipes for the book, it’s the bowl I’ve made most often.
Macro Bowls from Power Plates (+ a Giveaway!) Print Recipe type: main dish Cuisine: vegan, gluten...

Happy Sunday! By the time this post goes live, I’ll be headed out of town to spend some time with one of my closest friends from college. I have the treat of seeing him a few times a year, since his folks are in New York, but it’s rare for us to have a five uninterrupted days together. I can’t wait.

My hope was of course to have all of my ducks in a row before I left: school projects wrapped up neatly in time for spring break, work inbox mastered, etc. That is not how things have gone this week. In fact, they’ve gone the opposite way: I feel as though I can’t make a dent in all the stuff I’m behind on. And I found out a few days ago that a major school deadline that I thought would be squishy is in fact very, very firm.

A year or two ago, that kind of discovery would have sent me tumbling into an anxiety black hole. That wasn’t my response this past week. I felt feelings, of course: frustration with myself for not being more on the ball. Guilt over having prioritized other things. Overwhelm. But the feelings were manageable, and I had the feeling they’d wash over me, giving me space and energy to focus on getting done what needs doing.

It’s hard for me to...

I know I’ve been posting a lot of soupy, stewy things to scoop over grains lately. My instinct is to apologize for the repetition, but this blog showcases the stuff I’ve been eating in real time, and lately, these are the meals that work. They’re easy to prepare, one-dish, and so long as I’ve got some sort of grain or pita or bread to serve them with, they make for a few nights of nutritious eating.

So…looking forward to more variety soon. But at this hectic moment, sorry not sorry for the soupy stuff

This meal was happily inspired by my friend Jodi’s delicata squash stew with chickpeas + quinoa. I saw it when she originally posted it and bookmarked it. It’s taken me longer than a year to create something along the same lines, but the fact that the dish has been on my mind for that long speaks volumes.

It didn’t disappoint. I love the combination of tender, sweet delicata, firm chickpeas, and a soupy, curried broth. Jodi’s...

It’s been a wordy week around here, so I’m keeping it short and sweet for today’s weekend reading. But, thank you all so much for the kind support of NEDA week and for a compassionate, honest dialog about recovery and healing. It means everything. To those of you who contributed to my GoFundMe campaign, deep gratitude: today’s the last day, and while there’s still time to give, I’ve met my goal for supporting NEDA.

There’s a quotation by Franz Kafka that keeps coming back to me as I reflect on the last couple of days and the recovery theme:

“You can hold yourself back from the sufferings of the world, that is something you are free to do and it accords with your nature, but perhaps this very holding back is the one suffering you could avoid.”

I’ve been thinking a lot this week about holding back, how that impulse sat at the heart of my eating disorder. At the same time, I’ve been thinking about how the impulse to share and connect, to be expansive and brave and bold, lights the path for recovery. The “take up space” and “be love” affirmations are connected to this, the project of allowing the spirit to radiate outward.

Until the last few days, I hadn’t...

I just want to start this post by thanking every person who’s been part of the NEDA week dialog over the last five days, both here on the blog and over social media. I feel so blessed to be celebrating recovery in your company.

“Keep faith” is the final of my five eating disorder recovery affirmations. When I talk about faith, I mean a sense of trust that change is possible and a willingness to let the process happen in its own time. I’m not sure I have too much to say about it that I didn’t say in this post from a couple years ago, so I’ll reprint a few of my thoughts from there:

. . . over time, simply through the act of my forcing myself to put one foot in front of the other, things actually did shift.

Growth can be like this. I’m starting to wonder if maybe growth is always like this: not neat and linear, as we’d like it to be, and not circumscribed by deep insights or obvious wisdom, as we think it should be. Rather, it’s a cluttered and confusing process that we survive only by mustering up a mixture of faith and determination . . .

Don’t get me wrong: I learned many deep and important lessons along my path to recovery,...

“Be love” is one of those expressions that you might have come across in any number of places, from yoga studios to self-help and wellness titles. It’s one of most important of my five ED recovery affirmations, but I feel a little funny writing about it, because I don’t have much to say that relates directly to food.

When I was in anorexia recovery, I was often encouraged to “love myself” or “love my body.” I have complicated feelings about these invocations; I appreciate their spirit, but I’ve truthfully never been able to love my body in the way that media or culture seems to want me to, which is a topic I’ve written about in the past.

I’ve stopped labeling this as “body dysmorphia,” which makes it sound more fraught and contentious than it I experience it as being. It’s no longer a wound or a struggle; I simply feel neutral about my body at best, at odds with my shape on difficult days. I’m not alone in this, and I know that the dynamic will grow and change with time. It already has.

When it comes to me and my body, I’ve settled on a vow of unconditional respect. I don’t have to love what I see in the mirror, and I don’t have to feel great in my skin, at least not...

Not too long ago I chatted with a client who told me, “I’m realizing more and more that I need to break my rules, because I made them all up.”

She delivered the words straightforwardly, and I didn’t have the feeling that she expected a big reaction from me. Still, I nearly fell out of my chair. Her sentiment—”I need to break my rules, because I made them all up”—might seem self-evident, but it’s a realization that has taken me the better part of twenty-five years. I was amazed at how neatly she articulated it and how little time it’s taken her, relatively speaking, to see it.

As I reflected on the conversation, I asked myself why it took me so long to see through my own rules, and then I realized that it was the wrong question. At the height of my anorexia, I did see through my rules. I knew that they had no inherent meaning. The real question is why was I so attached to them, if I knew that they were arbitrary and self-imposed?

The best answer I have is that I like rules. Rules make me feel safe. They give me sensations of meaning and order and calm, which I don’t have an easy time accessing on my own. They speak to...

Thank you for all of the NEDA week support so far! I’ve been chatting about my ED recovery affirmations this week, which are as follows:

  1. Keep it real
  2. Take up space
  3. Break your rules
  4. Be love
  5. Keep faith

Yesterday I wrote about what “keeping it real” means to me in the context of recovery. Today, I’m moving onto #2: take up space.

For a long time I took this affirmation literally, because weight gain was a part of my recovery process, and it was hard. As time went by, recovery became less physical, but the idea of taking up space continues to guide and challenge me.

Like many women, I was given the message very early on that I was too much: too big, too loud, too messy, too hungry, too unusual. I think a part of me always sensed that there was something wrong with this framing of my identity, but young people can’t help but be influenced by the narratives that are handed to them, and this one stayed with me. I can’t remember a time in my life, childhood included, when I didn’t think of myself as being ungainly and monstrous, or didn’t worry that my uninhibited self would alienate the people around me.

I haven’t come close to undoing this idea; it’s so old that it populates nearly all of my unconscious fears. But I’m aware of it now, and if recovery has taught me anything, it’s that...

Happy Monday, everyone, and happy first day of NEDA week. For the last couple of years I’ve used NEDA week as an opportunity to celebrate the recovery process. This year gives me special reason to do it: I spent much of 2017 navigating loss, and as I did, I called upon the patience and sense of resilience that anorexia recovery has taught me.

The theme of NEDA week this year is “Let’s Get Real,” and the goal is to expand our collective dialog about eating disorders and how they show up in real life. This means challenging preconceived ideas about how eating disorders might look or whom they impact, breaking through stigma, and being more radically honest than ever about the complexities of recovery. You can read more here.

I love this theme. I love any effort to create a more open, accommodating, reality-based dialog about disordered eating. Because the topic this year resonates so strongly, and because I’m celebrating the lessons of recovery in such a personal way right now, I’ve made the choice to gather a little support for NEDA—the National Eating Disorders Association—this week. More about that in a bit. First, I want to honor the start of this week by sharing some of the affirmations that have guided me through recovery.

What becomes clear to me as I move deeper into recovery is that the...

I’m going to keep my intro short and sweet today, because NEDA week kicks off tomorrow, and I’ll be sharing a lot more throughout the course of the week. Longtime readers know that I always greet NEDA week as an opportunity to celebrate the recovery process and send my support out to those who are struggling with food and body image.

I don’t demarcate my recovery story with start and end dates, because it’s an ongoing journey that unfolds in new dimensions all the time. But when I move into my thirty-sixth birthday this June, it’ll have been about a decade since I really made the choice to stop restricting—not a half-hearted promise to other people, not a dutiful articulation that I didn’t really feel. A sincere commitment to getting better.

My life isn’t populated by too many “before” and “after” moments—most of what really matters has been revealed to me slowly and subtly, often many years after the fact. But that choice does create a dividing line in my memory, and I look back on it as a very particular kind of coming-of-age. It was the first time since adolescence that I wanted to be healthy more than I wanted anorexia.

The recovery that followed was anything but neat, yet somehow through all of the ups and downs I held fast to the intention of...

As I was writing this post I got to thinking about how long it’s been since I posted a kale salad recipe on the blog. Turns out it’s been a while: the last was my tahini mint kale salad, which I shared last March! In other words, I’m overdue, and this maple mustard kale, quinoa & toasted pecan salad is a nice way to get back into the kale salad game.

This is a great kale salad for February. It’s packed with quinoa, golden beets, green beans, and toasted pecans, which together make for a lot of heartiness and nutrition and contrast in texture. What brings the salad together—underscoring the sweetness of the beets along the way—is the maple mustard vinaigrette, which is straight out of Power Plates (I shared the recipe with the harvest bowls, too).

The dressing began as a vinaigrette, and then one of my recipe testers tried it with tahini in place of oil and raved about it....

The first time self-soothing was explained to me, it was by a friend who had her hands full taking care of a new baby. Self-soothing, she said, is when a baby develops the capacity to calm his or herself down. It’s seen as being key to uninterrupted nights of sleep for parents, since it allows babies to get back to rest if they should happen to wake up during the night.

A little while later, when I was exploring resources on coping with depression and anxiety, I learned that there’s such a thing as adult self-soothing, too. It may be an especially important skill to develop if you identify as a sensitive person or you feel the impact of emotions very strongly.

Self-soothing practices can take all sorts of shapes and forms; they may take one out of time and place, like going for a walk or practicing yoga in a special part of the home, or they might be as simple as listening to a particular song, sipping tea, breathing deeply, praying, singing, humming, reading poetry out loud, or smelling an essential oil. These, anyway, are my own favorite ways to self-soothe.

Two years ago at this time, my anxiety was so bad that I often didn’t want to leave the house. I did leave, going about my business and trying to perform as much...

I always know that I’m in good hands when I make one of Hannah Kaminsky’s recipes. This isn’t only because I own all of her cookbooks (and swear by Vegan Desserts), but also because I’m a very, very longtime reader of her blog, Bittersweet. It was one of the first vegan blogs in my reader, back in the day, and my admiration of Hannah’s work grew exponentially when we worked on my first cookbook together.

I count on Hannah for food that’s practical and thoughtfully instructed, but with a touch of whimsy. Her recipes have a wonderfully playful and nostalgic touch. It’s always made sense to me that this quality would shine through in her dessert recipes—after all, what’s a more perfect realm for channeling nostalgia than pie or ice cream—but now I’m happy to see it animating a savory cookbook collection, too.

Real Food, Really Fast is Hannah’s latest. It’s a robust, vibrant, playful collection of vegan recipes that take 10 minutes or less to prepare and are made with real food...

I really, really, really love this cake.

It started as a vanilla cake with pears and dark chocolate chunks, and sometimes I still make it that way. But the next few times I tried it—and I made it often during the holiday season—I went with a chocolate-on-chocolate version instead. This double vegan dark chocolate pear cake is now my go-to, the one I made for Chanukah and on Christmas Day. I’m happy to make it this year’s Valentine’s Day offering to myself.

I had high hopes the first time I made the cake, but even so, I was pleasantly surprised at how well it turned out. Chocolate and fruit is a hit-or-miss combination for me: I love chocolate and raspberries together, but I’ve never really loved chocolate and orange. Most of the time, I like for chocolate cake to be simple and relatively unadorned: maybe a swirl of good frosting (this one is an all time favorite), but that’s about it.

In February, it’s not unusual for yoga classes and studios to place an emphasis on the 4th chakra, or anahata chakra. My studio is no exception, and even if Valentine’s Day weren’t around the corner, the heart chakra would be on my mind.

I’m going to try not to quote from Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart (which I mentioned last week) every single Sunday, since I don’t want to spoil its surprises for those who haven’t read it. But I was moved enough by a recent affirmation that I can’t help but share. The day is February 9th, and the entry is titled “Keep Your Heart Open”:

“Keep your heart open,” Beattie writes, “even when you can’t have what you want.”

She goes on to say:

It’s easy to keep our heart open to life’s magic and all of its possibilities when we have what we want. It’s more of a challenge, and more necessary than ever, to keep our hearts open when we can’t have what we want.Even on the best journey, things happen. Plans change. Things shift and move around. This shifting and moving causes doors to close, relationships to end, blocks and frustrations to appear on our path…Keep your heart open anyway. Consciously choose to do that. Yes, you can go away, you can leave, you can shut...

The week is wrapping up, and I’m afraid that the stubborn cold I thought I’d shaken off a couple weeks ago might be returning. I’ve got work to do this weekend, but thanks to a stocked freezer and a giant batch of my friends’ Sonja and Alex’s Moroccan sweet potato stew, I don’t have to worry about cooking. The stew is fragrant, filling, and nutritious, and I’ll be eating it happily for days.

This is a recipe from Sonja and Alex’s awesome new cookbook, Pretty Simple Cooking, which was published on Tuesday.

Those of you who read the couple’s blog, A Couple Cooks, know that Sonja and Alex are all about homemade food that’s as accessible as it is beautiful to look at and healthful to eat. The cookbook follows suit; it’s packed with everyday nibbles and satisfying main dishes that are easy to prepare. Sonja and Alex also have a lot of wisdom to share about building a healthful relationship with food; the Q&A I did with Sonja a couple years back is one of...

Valentine’s Day is a week away. For me, this means pretty much one thing: seven days in which to use my heart-shaped cookie cutter in as many ways possible. So far, my treats of choice are these sweet cherry oat crumble bars, which I’m wrapping up and carrying around with me as I continue to ride a busy wave. They’re energizing, filling, and just the right amount of sweet.

I modeled the bars after these blueberry breakfast bars, an old recipe, but one that I remember loving for portable breakfasts when I was in the thick of my post-bacc. I made a couple of tweaks to the formula, and instead of using fruit preserves, I used a layer of chopped, frozen sweet Northwest cherries. I love what using whole fruit adds to the bars in terms of moisture and texture.

And I love...

It’s been an unusually hectic week around here, the first in a long time that had me running around without a pause. That kind of pace was much more of a norm for me a few years ago, right before and during my post-bacc, and it’s something I took conscious steps to disentangle myself from when my anxiety got really bad.

I’m glad I’ve distanced myself from that particular craziness, but life is life, and chaotic spells are inevitable. I do my best to avoid overwhelm, but I’m still looking for a toolkit to help me stay grounded when things become unusually . . . lively.

On January 1st, I started reading Melody Beattie’s Journey to the Heart. I’m loving it so far; it’s not a book that’s designed to be read continuously (though you could if you wanted to). Instead, it offers a short meditation for each of the 365 days of the year. They hit a sweet spot between challenging the reader to let go of self-imprisoning habits while also offering up tremendous empathy for how and why we all sometimes choose to be—or can’t imagine not being—stuck.

On January 29th, just at the start of this demanding week, Beattie’s entry was titled “Seek Peace.” She writes,

Cultivate peace. Commit to peace. Insist on it. Don’t settle for peace based on outward circumstances or a...
Photograph by Ashley McLaughlin

With Super Bowl Sunday around the corner, I wanted to pop in quickly to share a recipe from Power Plates that’s perfect for game day entertaining—and a tasty party dish for any time of year! It’s the sweet potato nacho fries, which are (you guessed it) a hybrid of baked sweet potato fries and fully loaded nachos, with the sweet potatoes standing in for chips.

I love sweet potato fries as a side dish, but this recipe elevates them to a more meal-worthy status, thanks to layers of black beans, avocado, and creamy cashew queso sauce. If you make the queso in advance, it’s a pretty quick and easy recipe to serve to friends, and it’s a more nutrient-dense alternative to most nacho recipes. You can adjust the spices on the sweet potatoes to be more or less hot, and you can also play around with the fixings: hot sauce, salsa, and pickled jalapenos would all be nice additions. Here’s the recipe.

Photograph by Ashley McLaughlin

Sweet Potato Nacho Fries from Power...

I’m gearing up to cook my way back through some of the recipes in Power Plates, having been apart from them for over a year now. This means that one-bowl/one-skillet/one-pot/one-plate meals are very much on my mind. I experimented with this skillet seitan and bulgur with fennel & olives on Monday night, hoping that it would be a quick, protein-rich, flavorful meal for weeknights, and I think it came through!

A shortlist of foods & flavors I didn’t grow up with:

  • Onions and garlic
  • Hot spices (most spices, really)
  • Most legumes
  • Dark leafy greens (aside from spinach)
  • Olives

Funnily enough, I cook with all of these things routinely now, and some of them—greens and legumes especially—are among my favorite foods. Spicy things and alliums took longer, and so did olives, which for a long time were super foreign to me in their all of their wonderful, briny saltiness.

I use olives often now, not just for snacking or finger food,...