Groundnut Stew

When I lived in Davis, CA, I knew a woman named Caroline Short, who ran her own food business called Kukalaka. My family would inhale her homemade salsa by the gallon, but our second-favorite dish was her version of Groundnut Stew, a West African staple. I don’t think I ever got the recipe from her directly, but I know I tried to wheedle it out of her and my version of this dish includes at least some of the ingredients she used. This is a hearty, rich, creamy stew that really sticks to your ribs. There are many variations out there; go check them out, mix and match your favorite bits, and have fun with it!

2 medium sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
4-6 chicken thighs (I use bone-in, skin-on)
Peanut oil (or other vegetable oil for frying)
3-4c chicken broth or water
1 can diced tomatoes
1 onion, chopped
3-5 cloves garlic, pressed or minced finely
1-2 jalapeno peppers, diced
1 red bell pepper, diced
1 T freshly grated ginger (tip: keep it in the freezer!)
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 can black beans
1c peanut butter
Rice (I like basmati for this)
Garnishes, if desired (see below)

Steam sweet potato cubes until tender.

In a Dutch oven, heat up a few tablespoons of the peanut (or other vegetable oil) to shimmering. Add the onions and fry until softened. Add the red and jalapeno peppers, stir until softened. Got any other veggies to add? Toss ’em in now! (See note below.) Add the garlic, ginger, and thyme. Doesn’t that smell great? Now, using a slotted spoon, try to scoop out as much of the cooked veggies as you can into a bowl. There should be some oil left in the bottom of the pot; if not, add a bit more.

Salt and pepper both sides of the meat, then fry until browned, about 5 minutes per side (it does not need to be cooked through). Now add enough stock to mostly cover the chicken (mine was about 3/4 immersed). Cover and simmer for about 20 minutes.

Open up your pot and carefully use tongs to pick up the meat. Set aside to cool a bit on a cutting board. Now add all that peanut butter and stir it in; if it’s being difficult, try using your immersion blender or a whisk to smooth it out. Pour in the onion-and-peppers mixture, the steamed yams, the tomatoes, the beans, and more stock if it seems too dry.

Carefully use a fork and knife to strip the chicken off of the bones, chop it into chunks, and put it back into the stew. Let it simmer a bit to get the flavors all happy together, then serve in a bowl over a scoop of rice with your choice of garnishes.

Note: Feel free to add green beans, diced summer squash, baked pumpkin, eggplant, corn, okra, anything you like!

Garnishes: I rarely do much more than this, but my understanding is that groundnut stew is often considered incomplete with a spread of optional garnishes to be added. Some of the suggestions include hard boiled eggs, steamed yams, breadcrumbs, sliced fruit (banana, mango, orange, papaya), shredded lettuce, parsley, chopped nuts, shredded coconut, sliced tomatoes, raw or fried sliced onions, chili peppers, chutney, and hot sauce.


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For science! …or breakfast

Have you tried those Starbucks egg bites? Fluffy and rich at the same time, packed with cheese and yummy bits, they are a pretty good snack if you’re avoiding carbs and need a protein/fat hit while away from home.

I snagged a super-cheap seven-serving egg bite silicone pan for the Instant Pot during a post-holiday sale a couple of years ago, but every recipe I tried just resulted in rubbery, chewy little domes of disappointment. I gave up, and the sad little pan got shoved into the back of a cupboard.

But lately, I’ve had friends swear that they were getting great results by cooking their egg bites sous vide in those cute li’l quarter-pint jelly jars. Another friend gave me an Instant Pot recipe they said gave even better results than the sous vide. So this morning, I decided to make them both and see which we liked better.

After spending a little time looking at some blogs and recipes online (AND the comments… usually it’s a good idea to avoid the comments, but you can find solid gold in them on recipes), I decided I would make the same base for both methods and compare them.

Head to head, Egg Bite Battle!

Egg Bites Two Ways
makes 7 small bites in the Instant Pot egg bite pan,
or 4 larger servings in 4oz. jelly jars

4 large eggs
1/4 c. cottage cheese (some folks say this could be replaced by Neufchatel or cream cheese or goat cheese, but it won’t be as fluffy)
1/2 c. shredded cheese (I used gruyere, but this could be cheddar or jack or mozzarella or Swiss or anything, even several mixed together)
1/4 c. heavy cream
A big pinch of salt and a few grinds of pepper
1/2 c. veggie and protein mix-ins (I used some of Bill’s home-smoked bacon, diced and rendered, then threw in a few tablespoons of minced red bell pepper, a couple of chopped mushrooms, and a thinly sliced scallion, heated together just for a few moments into the hot fat to soften. You could use sausage, ham, kale, asparagus, sundried tomatoes, artichoke hearts, lox, broccoli, chicken gouda sausage, whatever you feel like! Just make sure they are already cooked or OK to eat raw)
1 tsp. flour (I used Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour)

Whiz everything except the mix-ins and flour together in a blender until very smooth, for at least 30 seconds.

Drain the rendered fat from your cooked mix-ins if needed, then toss with the flour… this keeps your goodies from immediately sinking to the bottom of the cups.

SOUS VIDE METHOD (4 4-oz jars with lids and rings): Before you get started, set up a large pot with your sous vide wand set to 172. Make sure you spritz those jars with a little nonstick spray or butter or oil, or you will kick yourself later. Spoon equal amounts of your mix-ins into each jar, then fill with your egg mixture. The filling should reach around the bottom of the screw threads (if it doesn’t, there will be too much air in the jar and it could float). You can carefully stir things together with a chopstick, but my stuff seemed to mix nicely while I poured it in, so I didn’t bother.

Put the lids and rings on “finger tight.” This means just after you’ve gotten the ring to start to resist tightening any more; you want it tight enough not to let water in, but not cranked down super hard. When your sous vide bath reaches 172 degrees, use tongs to carefully set each jar into the pot. Set a timer for 45 minutes (with a little experimenting, I’ve found that 40 minutes was still a bit custardy; my youngest said it was like very softly scrambled eggs, but I wanted it a bit firmer. See the pictures below!).

Once your timer goes off, carefully remove your jars (I used tongs in one hand and a kitchen towel in the other to move them to a rack to cool). You can either use the towel to open them immediately and slide them onto your plate (if they are reluctant, use a butter knife run around the edge to persuade them. Good thing you greased those jars earlier, isn’t it?), or let them cool a little before popping them into the fridge to eat later, lids and all.

INSTANT POT METHOD (you’ll need a seven-serving silicone egg pan, like this, and some kind of device to lift it in and out of the pot safely, like this): These cups don’t need to be oiled; just spoon in your mix-ins and pour in your filling. Mine reached pretty close to the top of the cups. Put the lid on (if you don’t have one, you can use a piece of parchment paper; the idea is to avoid condensation dripping into your eggs). Set your pot on Steam at LOW pressure for 8 minutes, then let it sit for five more minutes after it finishes, then quick-release it and carefully lift out the pan onto a rack to cool a bit.

Once the lid is cool enough to open, peel it off and use a tablespoon to gently loosen and lift your bites out of their molds and onto a plate, or into a container to refrigerate for later.

Sous vide egg bites on the left, Instant Pot on the right.
Sous vide bite is pretty loose and gooey; IP bite is firmer but not rubbery
I had one sous vide jar I hadn’t opened yet, so I popped it back into the bath for ten more minutes, bring the cooking time up to 45 minutes total.
Definitely an improvement! Lovely light texture, and no goo!

Bill and I liked the 45-minute sous vide bite the best, and Linc liked the Instant Pot version. They both tasted great, but I felt the IP method still made a slightly firmer, denser bite than I was looking for. If you try it, please let me know which you and your family prefer!

Enjoy your egg bites, however you like them!

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Your new favorite IP dinner

A friend turned me onto a popular Instant Pot butter chicken recipe. With a few tweaks, it became a huge hit in my house! So I’m posting it here to share. Enjoy!

Instant Pot Butter Chicken
Eight servings

1/2 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil
6 cloves to a whole head of garlic, peeled and roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. grated ginger (keep it frozen for easy grating with your Microplane)
1 Tbsp. ground turmeric
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (more if you roll that way)
1 Tbsp. ground sweet Hungarian paprika
1 Tbsp. garam masala
1 Tbsp. ground cumin
1 teaspoon salt
2 14-oz. cans diced tomatoes
2 pounds chicken thighs (you can use skinless/boneless and/or breasts if you prefer; frozen is OK)
1 can full-fat coconut milk
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain yogurt

  1. In your Instant Pot, on Saute, melt the butter and coconut oil. Add the garlic, ginger, turmeric, cayenne, paprika, garam masala, cumin, and salt, and let bloom for a minute. Add canned tomatoes and mix thoroughly. Place the chicken pieces on top of the sauce.
  2. Lock the lid into place. Select Manual, and adjust the pressure to High. Cook for ten minutes (12 minutes if using frozen chicken pieces).
  3. Let the pressure release naturally. Unlock the lid. Carefully remove the chicken and chop into cubes.
  4. Add the coconut milk. Using an immersion blender, whizz the contents of the pot into a smooth sauce.
  5. Add the chopped chicken back to the sauce. You can rewarm it if needed.
  6. Serve over rice (or, if you are low-carb like me, shirataki noodles. My current fave is Miracle Noodles.) Top with chopped cilantro and a scoop of plain thick yogurt.

(By the way, the links on my blog are Amazon Affiliate links. I use Amazon to obtain each of those tools and ingredients, and I offer the links to you as a convenient way to do the same.)

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The earthy morning scent of fall is getting stronger, so even though I’m not ready for summer to end yet, it’s clearly time to yank the basil. I had four Genovese plants that were big and bushy, all trying their best to sneak their flowers under my nose. I pulled ’em out whole, and stuck their roots into a bucket of water. The fragrant bouquet graced my back porch for a few days, until I made it to Costco for the rest of the supplies. Tonight was the big Pestoing!

The first step was to pick the leaves off of the plants:IMG_20170831_202507.jpg

My biggest Tupperware bowl, filled with leaves:IMG_20170831_205404.jpg

Gather up all our ingredients:IMG_20170831_210556.jpg

Pulse the garlic, pine nuts, and salt:IMG_20170831_210709.jpg

Add the leaves:IMG_20170831_210803.jpg

It smells better than it looks, and tastes even better than it smells!IMG_20170831_210839.jpg

Linc gives it a go:IMG_20170831_211621.jpg

Pesto is the besto!IMG_20170831_211835.jpg

We got seven bags, each about 12.5-13 ounces! That’s over FIVE POUNDS of goodness:IMG_20170831_214408.jpg

Now some folks insist you need to break out the mortar and pestle (after all, the fact that the words “pesto” and “pestle” are so similar isn’t an accident). But if you have a LOT of basil to process, and your kitchen assistants have limited attention spans, you’ve got to call in the big guns sometimes.

Pesto In Bulk

In a food processor with a large bowl, pulse together:
• 2/3 cup pine nuts (no need to toast them)
• 1 tsp. Kosher salt
• 6-8 cloves of peeled garlic, depending on the size

Add to the bowl and process until all the leaves are worked in (but not totally obliterated):
• 4 cups fresh basil leaves (rinsed, dried, all garden stowaways shaken off, and picked from the main woody stems… don’t use the flowers, they are bitter)

Remove the lid and blade, and use a flexible spatula to gently mix in:
• 2/3 cup grated Pecorino/Romano cheese
• 1/2 cup of the best olive oil you can afford

Makes about 12.5 oz. of pesto sauce, which should be plenty for about 3 pounds of cooked pasta. You can freeze it if you’re not going to use it in the next day or two, but be sure to leave plenty of time for your pesto to defrost… do NOT warm it up or use the microwave to defrost it! Heat will destroy your bright, beautiful flavors. When you want to use it, add it directly to the cooked, drained pasta, adding a quarter cup or so of reserved pasta water to help distribute the pesto evenly.






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What’s the saying? “Fast, good, cheap… pick two.” But I still like to go for the trifecta where I can, and this recipe nails it! I first had green chili enchiladas at a friend’s wedding, and didn’t stop pestering her until she gave me the recipe. I altered it a bit (because I’m lazy!) and now you can have it, too…

Green Chili Enchilasagna

1 yellow onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1-2 T olive oil
1 tsp. cumin, ground
1 tsp. salt
1-2 cups leftover chicken, shredded (a great use for the rest of that rotisserie bird, but not a good place for canned chicken. If you MUST, poach and shred a couple of breasts, but I much prefer leftover roasted chicken for this kind of hearty dish)
Small can of mild green chilis
8 oz. brick of cream cheese
1 large (28 oz.) can of green chili enchilada sauce
2-3 cups shredded quesadilla cheese (like Supremo Queso Chihuahua)
1 doz. fresh corn tortillas

Optional add-ins: cup of frozen corn, can of drained black beans, a chopped jalapeño, a diced zucchini, a can of drained black olives, a couple cloves of crushed garlic, a can of diced tomatoes, substitute pulled pork for the chicken… whatever sounds good to you! Enchiladas are less of a recipe than a technique. Feel free to be creative and try something offbeat!

Spray a 9″x13″ baking pan with nonstick spray and set aside. Preheat oven to 350°.

Sauté onions and bell pepper in olive oil in a large skillet until soft. Add cumin and salt, stir. (Now would be a good time to incorporate any of the suggested add-ins, if you like, or just keep it simple.) Add chopped chicken and canned green chilis, and heat through. Add the entire brick of cream cheese, cover with the hot mixture, turn heat to low and let melt. Once it’s all gooey, turn off the heat and mix well.

Open your can of sauce and get a small ladle. Ladle a few spoonfuls of sauce into the baking pan and tip to let the sauce more or less cover the bottom.

Now it’s assembly time! Lay four corn tortillas to cover the bottom (I usually lay out three and break up the fourth to cover the open spaces, but don’t stress if it’s not a perfect layer). Scoop half the warm chicken mixture on top of the tortillas and spread. Sprinkle half of your quesadilla cheese over the meat. Pour about a third of your can of sauce over the cheese. Lay out four more tortillas, then the other half of the meat mixture, the rest of the cheese, and another third of the sauce. Lay out the final four tortillas, and pour the rest of the sauce over the top (try to make sure all of the tortillas get at least a little sauce on them).

Bake for half an hour, remove and let cool for about 10 minutes. I like to serve this with cilantro lime rice, shredded lettuce tossed with lime juice and salt and olive oil, sour cream, and some pickled jalapeños. (Please comment if you want instructions for any of those things, as well!)


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Misen Unboxing

One year and one day ago, I plunked down $60 for a Kickstarter campaign for a knife that Kenji Lopez-Alt over at Serious Eats called “the holy grail” of kitchen cutlery: “Incredible quality and design, high-end materials, perfect balance, and a razor-sharp edge.” Swoon… I was hooked.

I’ve been working with my beloved Cooks Illustrated-recommended 8″ Victorinox chef’s knife for over eight years, but it’s had a few misadventures and been chipped and bent along the way. It’s still a fantastic deal at $45, but Kenji’s gushing and my desire for a grown-up knife pushed me over the edge and I took the plunge. I became a Misen backer.

Now, I’ve done enough Kickstarters to know how this goes. You pays your money and you takes your chances. My strategy is to mostly try to forget about the project, though I do take a peek at the emailed updates that are sent out. The less anxious I am about whether I threw away my money, the happier (and more pleasantly surprised) I am when the object actually arrives. This one was supposedly due in May; five months isn’t all THAT bad a delay. I figure I’m investing in someone learning a LOT about business, production, and customer relations in a short amount of time, so I wasn’t really all that worried. But still… I was curious, and when I got my notice telling me my knife was on the way, I admit that I started stalking the tracking page.

Today, the box arrived!


The box arrives, a year and a day after pledging.

Snazzy, innit? One of the production issues that held up the delivery of the knife was the packaging, so since they went to all the trouble of redoing the packing materials, I figured I do a series of unboxing photos to properly appreciate their efforts.


Opening the outer box…

Inside was a little shrinkwrapped packet that held the plastic knife guard that was a perk for Kickstarter supporters.


Knife sheath

It’s plastic with some soft stuff inside. Nothing special, but yay for a free knife cover!


Box (below) and slip cover

Now we’re getting to the good stuff. There’s a paperboard slipcover over the main box, which feels very solid and rigid. I was a little puzzled as to why they spent a nontrivial amount of money on the box presentation (I mean, you don’t have to convince us, we’ve already bought the darned thing, right?), until I remembered that our knives come with a lifetime sharpening service. So we’ll need a sturdy safe box to transport the knife back and forth… guess I’m going to hang on to the old Victorinox for the week or so that the Misen is out for her spa days!


The Misen

There she is! Nestled in a bed of soft and sturdy foam, the Misen shines invitingly. There was a protective card that had some tips on how to hold and clean the knife on one side (they urge you to use the pinch method for better control and power)…



Seven ways to cut a carrot…

and on the other side, some carrot bits for inspiration.


A tale of two knives

I pulled out my Victorinox to compare the two. The biggest difference that I noticed immediately was the balance of the weight. I can balance the Misen with my finger right where the blade meets the handle, but if I put my Victorinox on my finger the same way, it pitches forward… this means I am always spending at least a little energy pushing down on the handle in an effort to keep the tip of the knife up, whereas with the Misen it sort of hovers in my hand effortlessly. I know it sounds kind of dumb now as I’m writing it, but it really does feel different. How much that extra effort spent to deny gravity costs me in wrist/arm fatigue, I have no idea. But it’s not nothing.


Trial run

I would guess that, by far, the thing I chop the most with my chef knife is veggies, and the veggie I chop almost daily is onions. So I put the Misen through its paces, and found it to be very nice to use. I mean, it’s brand new and razor sharp, so I didn’t expect anything less. But there was no awkwardness or skipping, nothing felt strange, and the knife felt controlled and precise.


The Victorinox

After I chopped half an onion, I tried the Victorinox to compare. It’s not at it’s sharpest right now, and it skipped along the surface of the onion a bit, but the biggest difference between it and the Misen was the height of the blade. The Victorinox has a taller blade, and it was definitely most noticeable when I was slicing the onion held between the thumb and fingers of my left hand… it was definitely harder to manipulate the knife because I had to tent my palm high over the cutting surface to make enough room for the knife to maneuver. The shorter knife was more nimble; it was easier to hold the onion, more stable, and closer to the cutting surface. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that this feature will make the Misen a safer knife, as well.


If the Misen sounds like something you’d be interested in, the company is taking names for a waitlist for the second production run. If you’re wavering between the Victorinox or the Misen, I’d urge you to go with the Misen. But the company definitely has issues with their production times, so if you need a knife to work with right now, you will not be at all sorry to have the Victorinox in your hands. Still, I’m very happy with my Misen so far, and I’d love to hear from others who got one as well.


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Stick-to-your-ribs dinner


This is one of my go-to back-pocket wintertime dinners. So quick and easy, so delicious, and it’s even good for you! I’m posting it as part of my very slow-going project to create an online collection of my favorite recipes for my kids to have access to in case they ever have a hankerin’ for Mom’s cooking. (Vegetarians and vegans can just leave out the meat and up the beans for an additional protein boost.)

2 T. olive oil
1 red onion, chopped
4-6 big cloves of garlic, minced or crushed
2-4 kielbasa sausages, cut in quarters lengthwise and then sliced
1 bunch of kale, chopped into bite-size bits (include the stems, they’re good too!)
2 cans of black beans (don’t need to drain)
1 can of diced tomatoes
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Heat the oil in a big, heavy-bottomed pot. Sauté the onion and garlic until soft.

Add the sausage and kale, keep stirring until the kale wilts a bit.

Add in the beans, tomatoes, salt, and pepper, and stir until combined. Add a little water if it seems too dry, and let it simmer a bit to let everyone get comfy with each other, maybe 10 minutes or so. You can also add a cup or two of broth to make it more soupy if you like.

If you don’t have tomatoes on hand, you can add a shot of balsamic vinegar to get the touch of acid. It’s a pretty forgiving recipe, just use what you have and it will be great!

Everytime I eat this, I feel like a swarthy Eastern European peasant who just finished clearing rocks out of the field. Hope you enjoy it, too!

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The Most Beautiful Animated Movies


So CineFix posted a video listing their top ten choices for most beautiful animated films of all time, along with mentions of a couple dozen runner-ups. I thought they were missing a few, and so did some of the commenters. In a surprisingly civil discussion (for YouTube, at any rate), I read many suggestions for other people’s top picks. I thought it would be nice to have the whole thing compiled into a single list, so I could quickly find a movie to watch when I had some downtime… and I figured someone else might like to see it as well, so I’m posting it to my (sadly neglected) blog.

Many commenters joined me in expressing great surprise that Richard Williams’ The Thief and The Cobbler (pictured above) had not made it onto the list. if you are any fan of animation history whatsoever, you MUST go watch the Recobbled Cut as soon as possible (link in the list below).

As of today, I’ve seen 62 of the 142 films listed below… I’d love to hear if you thought we missed one of your own favorites!


CineFix’s Top Ten Most Beautiful Animated Films

Including directors, studio, country of origin, and year released

(plus 132 runner-ups and honorable mentions from the comments as of 9/3/2015)

(Compiled by me, the sole person to blame for errors)

  1. The Lion King (Roger Allers/Rob Minkoff Disney, USA 1994)


One Hundred and One Dalmatians (Clyde Geronimi/Hamilton Luske/Wolfgang Reitherman, Disney, USA 1961)

Bambi (David Hand, Disney, USA 1942)

Sleeping Beauty (Les Clark/Eric Larson/Wolfgang Reitherman, Disney, USA 1959)

Treasure Planet (Ron Clements/John Musker, Disney, USA 2002)

The Prince of Egypt (Brenda Chapman/Simon Wells/Steve Hickner, DreamWorks, USA 1998)

Pocahontas (Mike Gabriel/Eric Goldberg, Disney, USA 1995)

Fantasia (Multiple segment directors, Disney, USA 1940)

Fantasia 2000 (Multiple segment directors, Disney, USA 1999)

  1. WALL-E (Andrew Stanton, Pixar, USA 2008)


Ratatouille (Brad Bird, Pixar, USA 2007)

How to Train Your Dragon (Chris Sanders/Dean DeBlois, DreamWorks, USA 2010)

How to Train Your Dragon 2 (Dean DeBlois, DreamWorks, USA 2014)

Tangled (Nathan Greno/Byron Howard, Disney, USA 2010)

  1. The Boxtrolls (Graham Annable/Anthony Stacchi, Laika, USA 2014)


The Nightmare Before Christmas (Henry Selick/Tim Burton, Touchstone, USA 1993)

Mary and Max (Adam Elliot, Melodrama Pictures, Australia 2009)

ParaNorman (Sam Fell/Chris Butler, Laika, USA 2012)

Coraline (Henry Selick, Laika, USA 2009)

  1. The Adventures of Prince Achmed/Die Abenteuer des Prinzen Achmed (Lotte Reiniger/Carl Koch [uncredited], Germany 1926)


The Tale of the Fox (Irene Starevich/Ladislas Starevich, France, 1937)

  1. The Lego Movie (Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, USA 2014)


Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs (Phil Lord/Christopher Miller, Sony, USA 2009)

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2 (Cody Cameron/Kris Pearn, Sony, USA 2013)

  1. Waltz with Bashir/Vals Im Bashir (Ari Folman, Israel, 2008)


Song of the Sea (Tomm Moore, Cartoon Saloon, Ireland 2014)

The Secret of Kells (Tomm Moore/Nora Twomey, Cartoon Saloon, Ireland 2009)

The Illusionist (Sylvain Chomet, France 2010)

The Triplets of Belleville (Sylvain Chomet, France 2003)

Ernest & Celestine (Stephane Aubier/Vincent Patar/Benjamin Renner, France 2012)

  1. The Tale of the Princess Kaguya/Kaguya-hime no Monogatari (Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2013)

Runner ups:

Spirited Away (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2001)

The Wind Rises (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2013)

Princess Mononoke (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1997)

Grave of the Fireflies (Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1988)

  1. Fantastic Mr. Fox (Wes Anderson, USA 2009)


$9.99 (Tatia Rosenthal, Australia/Israel 2008)

  1. Legend of the Guardians: The Owls of Ga’Hoole (Zack Snyder, Australia 2010)


Rango (Gore Verbinski, Nickelodeon, USA 2011)

The Book of Life (Jorge R. Gutierrez, USA 2014)

Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror (Shinsuke Sato, Japan 2009)

Jack and the Cuckoo-Clock Heart (Stéphane Berla/Mathias Malzieu, France, 2013)

  1. The Garden of Words/Kotonoha no Niwa (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2013)


Redline (Takeshi Koike, Madhouse, Japan 2009)

Akira (Katsuhiro Otomo, Tokyo Movie Shinsha, Japan 1988)

Metropolis (Rintaro, Madhouse, Japan 2001)

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie (Shinichiro Watanabe, Japan 2001)

Tekkonkinkreet (Michael Arias, Studio 4°C, Japan 2006)

Tokyo Godfathers (Satoshi Kon, Madhouse, Japan 2003)

Paprika (Satoshi Kon, Madhouse, Japan 2006)

5 Centimeters Per Second (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2007)

Children Who Chase Lost Voices (Mokoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2011)

Other films with multiple mentions in the comments:

The Thief and the Cobbler (Richard Williams [Recobbled Cut by Garrett Gilchrist], USA 2013)

Angel’s Egg/Tenshi no Tamago (Mamoru Oshii, Studio Deen, Japan 1985)

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1984)

Castle in the Sky (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1986)

My Neighbor Totoro (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1988)

Howl’s Moving Castle (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2004),

Ponyo (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2008)

Whisper of the Heart (Yoshifumi Kondo, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1995)

Summer Wars (Mamoru Hosoda, Madhouse, Japan 2009)

Wolf Children/Ookami Kodomo no Ame to Yuki (Mamoru Hosoda, Studio Chizu/Madhouse, Japan 2012)

Wizards (Ralph Bakshi, Bakshi Productions, USA 1977)

American Pop (Ralph Bakshi, Bakshi Productions, USA 1981)

Fire and Ice (Ralph Bakshi, Producers Sales Organization, USA 1983)

Waking Life (Richard Linklater, Thousand Words, USA 2001)

A Scanner Darkly (Richard Linklater, Thousand Words, USA 2006)

Secret of NIMH (Don Bluth, USA 1982)

Land Before Time (Don Bluth, USA 1988)

Titan A.E. (Don Bluth/Gary Goldman, Fox Animation Studios, USA 2000)

The Last Unicorn (Jules Bass/Arthur Rankin, Jr., Rankin/Bass Productions, USA 1982)

Persepolis (Marjane Satrapi/Vincent Paronnaud, France/USA/Iran 2007)

Fantastic Planet/La Planéte Sauvage (Rene Laloux, France/Czechoslovakia 1973)

End of Evangelion (Hideaki Anno/Kazuya Tsurumaki, Japan 1997)

Ghost in the Shell (Mamoru Oshii, Production I.G., Japan 1995, rereleased as GITS2.0 in 2008)

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence (Mamoru Oshii, Production I.G., Japan 2004)

Finding Nemo (Andrew Stanton/Lee Unkrich, Pixar, USA 2003)

Up (Pete Docter/Bob Peterson, Pixar, USA 2009)

Monsters University (Dan Scanlon, Pixar, USA 2013)

Other films with fewer mentions (some might not strictly be animation, or full-length feature films):

Renaissance (Christian Volckman, France 2005)

Corpse Bride (Tim Burton/Mike Johnson, Laika, USA 2005)

Yellow Submarine (George Dunning, Apple Films, USA 1968)

Fear(s) of the Dark/Peur(s) du noir (Horror anthology; many segment directors, France 2007)

Tree of Palme/Parumu no Ki (Takashi Nakamura, Palm Studio, Japan 2002)

Belladonna/Kanashimi no Beradonna (Eiichi Yamamoto, Mushi Production, Japan 1973)

Steamboy (Katsuhiro Otomo, Sunrise, Japan 2004)

Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade (Hiroyuki Okiura, Production I.G., Japan 2000)

Son of the White Mare/Fehérlófia (Marcell Jankovics, PannoniaFilm, Hungary 1981)

Heavy Metal (Gerald Potterton, Columbia Pictures, Canada 1981)

Tale of Tales/Skazka Skazok (Yuriy Norshteyn, Soviet Union 1979)

Kiki’s Delivery Service (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1989)

Porco Rosso (Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1992)

My Neighbors the Yamadas (Isao Takahata, Studio Ghibli, Japan 1999)

The Cat Returns (Hiroyuki Morita, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2002)

Tales from Earthsea (Goro Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2006)

From Up on Poppy Hill (Goro Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2011),

Arrietty (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2010)

When Marnie Was There (Hiromasa Yonebayashi, Studio Ghibli, Japan 2014)

Voice of a Distant Star (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2002)

The Place Promised in our Early Days (Makoto Shinkai, CoMix Wave, Japan 2004)

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (Mamoru Hosoda, Madhouse, Japan 2006)

The Whale/Kujira (Noburo Ofuji, Japan 1927)

The Man Who Planted Trees (Frederic Back, Canada 1988)

The Old Man and The Sea (Aleksander Petrov, Russia/Canada/Japan 1999)

Watership Down (Martin Rosen/John Hubley [uncredited], Nepenthe Productions, UK 1978)

Tintin (Steven Spielberg, USA/New Zealand 2011)

Azur and Asmer (Michel Ocelot, All Production Companies, France/Belgium/Spain/Italy 2006)

Kirikou and the Sorceress/Kirikou et la Sourciere (Michel Ocelot, France/Belgium/Luxembourge 1998)

Sword of a Stranger (Masahiro Ando, Bones, Japan 2007)

Kung Fu Panda (John Stevenson/Mark Osborne, DreamWorks, USA 2008)

Kung Fu Panda 2 (Jennifer Yuh Nelson, DreamWorks, USA 2011)

The King and The Mockingbird (Paul Grimault, France 1952)

Chicken Run (Peter Lord/Nick Park, Aardman Studios/DreamWorks, UK/USA 2000)

Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (Nick Park/Steve Box, Aardman Studios/DreamWorks, UK/USA 2005)

The Rabbi’s Cat (Joann Sfar/Antoine Delesvaux, Autochenille Production, France 2011)

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (Hiroyuki Yamaga, Gainax/Bandai, Japan 1987)

Long Way North/Tout en haut du monde (Remi Chaye, France 2015)

Mind Game (Masaaki Yuasa, Studio 4°C, Japan 2004)

Cat Soup (Tatsuo Sato, J.C. Staff, Japan 2001)

Patema Inverted/Sakasama no Patema (Yasuhiro Yoshiura, Purple Cow Studios, Japan 2012)

Sita Sings the Blues (Nina Paley, USA 2008)

Allegro Non Troppo (Bruno Bozzetto, Italy 1976)

Shrek (Andrew Adamson/Vicky Jenson, Pacific Data Images/DreamWorks, USA 2001)

Rise of the Guardians (Peter Ramsey, DreamWorks, USA 2012)

The Croods (Kirk DeMicco/Chris Sanders, DreamWorks, USA 2013)

Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet (Roger Allers, with many segment directors, Ventanarosa, Canada/France/Lebanon/Qatar/USA 2014)

Nocturna (Adrià García/Víctor Maldonado, Filmax Animation, Spain/France/UK 2007)

The Pinchcliffe Grand Prix/Flåklypa Grand Prix (Ivo Caprino, Norway 1975)

It’s Such a Beautiful Day (Don Hertzfeldt, Bitter Films, USA 2012)

The Snowman (Dianne Jackson, UK 2982)

The Snowman and the Snowdog (Hilary Audus, Lupus Films, UK 2012)

Atlantis (Gary Trousdale/Kirk Wise, Disney, USA 2001)

Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (Hironobu Sakaguchi, Square Pictures, USA 2001)

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (Tetsuya Nomura, Square Enix, Japan 2005)

The Boy Who Wanted to Be a Bear/Drenger der ville gore det umulige (Jannik Hastrup, France 2002)

Spirit Stallion of Cimarron (Kelly Asbury/Lorna Cook, DreamWorks, USA 2002)

Pinocchio (Ben Sharpsteen/Hamilton Luske and sequence directors, Disney, USA 1940)

Hakujaden/The Tale of the White Serpent (Taiji Yabushita/Kazuhiko Okabe, Japan 1958)

Nerawareta Gakuen (Ryosuke Nakamura, Sunrise/Madman, Japan 2012)

Genius Party (Anthology with many segment directors, Studio 4°C, Japan 2007)

Tarzan (Kevin Lima/Chris Buck, Disney, USA 1999)

Neo Tokyo/Meikyū Monogatari (Anthology with many segment directors, Project Team Argos/Madhouse, Japan 1976)


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Almond Joy Body Butter

I wanted to find a way to make a nourishing, succulent, moisturizing hand lotion or cream at home, mostly as a holiday gift but also for myself. I found lots of ideas, and finally settled on this version. I did the original from Rawmazing with the shea butter, and it indeed felt absolutely silky and rich, but I think the stuff I got was heading into rancid and the resulting butter wasn’t as delicious-smelling as I’d hoped. So I changed it up a bit, and am now using this formula.

I was fixing another batch tonight and thought I should share it with you all… it’s SO easy and it feels SO good! I bring a little Tupperware container of it with me to use after I do my deep water therapy (followed by the jacuzzi, the wet and dry saunas, and a long hot shower)… after all that water, my skin is really stripped and needs a little pampering. This stuff does the trick, and smells so delicious!

Almond Joy Body Butter
(based on a recipe from Rawmazing)

Makes 2 1/2 to 3 cups whipped butter.

  • 1 cup cocoa butter (I got mine from Amazon)
  • 1/2 cup coconut oil (Costco or Amazon)
  • 1/2 cup almond oil
  • 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract (optional)
  1. Melt cocoa butter and coconut oil together on low heat or in a double boiler. Let cool for 30 minutes.
  2. Stir in almond oil and vanilla.
  3. Place oil mixture in freezer until oils partially solidify (about 20 or 30 minutes).
  4. Whip with the whisk attachment on your kitchen mixer until you get a creamy butter-like consistency.
  5. Store in clean jar and enjoy!

Feel free to swap other oils, but remember to keep the ratio 75% solid to 25% liquid.

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When is a troll not a troll?

It seems that trolls can be fed trollbait and transformed into raving monsters… or you can treat them with kindness and compassion, and they can turn into friends.

Full Body Project, by Leonard Nimoy

A less-controversial photo from the Full Body Project… included here so silly FB won’t kill my post.

A few days ago, I posted the following link on Facebook, with a quote from Leonard Nimoy (who had passed away earlier that day). I thought it was a really sweet quote that fit with the work I’ve been doing on self-acceptance and with Abundia. But for some reason, it was accidentally posted publicly, and a friend of a friend took issue with it.

The ensuing conversation was a great opportunity for me to learn how to engage with someone who is still spouting the beliefs that are deeply ingrained in our culture, specifically that all heavy bodies are unhealthy bodies (and a few other issues, like the idea that losing weight is only about eating right and exercising). My commenter didn’t feel like she was just trying to be obnoxious, though… I had a feeling that she was struggling with a lot of the same beliefs I had wrestled with myself about ten years ago, after I gained back everything (and then some) I’d lost after a huge post-divorce life change. This is when I finally (after an entire lifetime) started to do the real research in how our bodies work, and had my eyes opened to the fact that it’s not just about calories-in-calories-out.

Here’s an approximate transcription of the evening’s discussion (the commenter deleted her posts, and then FB removed the whole thing for “nudity,” so I only have bits and pieces of the conversation):

The original post:

Me: “At the end of the day we just gotta be happy with who we are, and if we’re not, take on the responsibility to change. We got one life and one body. Much love to the big girls, the small girls and everyone in between.” Thank you, Leonard. A class act all the way.

Full Body Project

The image that ran with the post, from The Full Body Project by Leonard Nimoy

THE FULL BODY PROJECT BY LEONARD NIMOY, photography by Leonard Nimoy

FriendOfAFriend: I’m all for embracing a healthy body. But these women are not healthy. They are just as healthy as someone who is underweight. How about embracing the real healthy? Being active, eating well, and not being over or underweight. Women weren’t meant to look like this, just as they weren’t meant to look too skinny. This whole movement is just as unfortunate as the magazine and model lifestyle

FriendOfAFriend: (Yes I know that my weight will probably be attacked for saying that but whatever, I’m working hard at improving that)

Me: Hi, FOAF! Since I am not your doctor or psychologist, and know nothing about your medical history or background, I would never DREAM of commenting on your body size or health unless invited to do so. The only thing you can tell about a body by looking at it is what it looks like. I would like to respectfully invite you to read a book called “Health at Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight” (it’s a compendium of weight-related research and evidence-based applications of that research). The biggest revelations in the book for me were the explanation of set points, how the body uses fat to protect itself, and the true indicators of health (spoiler alert: it has nothing to do with a number on the scale!). Thanks for commenting, and know that I aim for friendly informed debate in this corner of FB… no attacks will be tolerated.

Health At Every Size: The Surprising Truth About Your Weight

FriendOfAFriend: It seems like this book just encourages people to not improve on their current health levels. It’s never healthy to have fat build up to the point where you are justifying it by “protecting yourself”. Again, I’m seriously all for embracing yourself and loving yourself. But any doctor will tell you that the women in those photographs are at risk health wise. Serious risk too. I’ve personally seen it happen! In both ends of the spectrum, under and overweight

Me: This book did FAR more for my health levels than any diet ever did! (And believe me, I did a lot of them.) Just like you can’t tell what is going on inside a body without studying it, you can’t know the contents of a book without reading it. I think I may have been unclear on explaining that concept, let me try again: one of the body’s reactions to inflammation is to build up fat, not the other way around (nobody tries to build up fat as a means of protection). What this book does is investigate the real costs of weight loss. Did you know that if you push far past your body’s self-regulated weight set points, you run the risk of damaging several of your body’s organs… the opposite of getting healthy. Here’s a link to Dr. Bacon’s website, with some of the book’s info published for free.

Dr. Linda Bacon’s HAES Website 

FriendOfAFriend: Fatlogic

FriendOfAFriend: At its finest

FriendOfAFriend: I’m sorry it’s too hard for you

(NOTE: Here is where my blood pressure started to rise… and the kind PMs started to flow in, which helped keep stay at an even keel.)

Me: You can be fat and fit, or you can be skinny and sick. Studies are showing more and more that you can indeed be a healthy large person, and indeed you will be healthier even if large if you quit focusing on numbers and start focusing on what you eat, and how you move.

FriendOfAFriend: How much do you eat and how much do you move? What about being skinny and fit? If you can be fat and fit why not skinny and fit? How about normal sized and healthy?

Me: I love that you use “Fatlogic” in a post inspired by Leonard Nimoy! Here’s the link I meant to add to that previous post, by the way:

Can You Be Fat and Fit — or Thin and Unhealthy? |
Turns out, being obese isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

FriendOfAFriend: You can be healthy and larger. But not healthy and obese

FriendOfAFriend: I’ll ask again, how much do you eat calorie wise in a day? And how much do you burn? I know I’ve struggled with this but no one ever told me I didn’t need to worry because skinny is beautiful. Nope, they said gain weight. Just as someone would tell an obese person to lose weight

FriendOfAFriend: So you say you can be fat and fit, can you be skinny and fit also?

Me: See, the challenge is that, if you’ve already become obese, how do you get back to health?

(NOTE: ACK… I did NOT mean to say that! I meant: “…how do you get back to what society considers a ‘normal’ weight?” See, even after all these years, I still goof up and subconsciously equate a smaller body size with health. Rookie mistake, but I think the majority of the time I’m on track in this conversation….)

Me: Is it absolutely necessary to lose weight to be healthy? The studies are saying no… that massive weight loss is not only unsustainable (very few people are able to keep weight off after a few years), it can damage your heart, your liver, your kidneys, and your nervous system.

Me: YES! You absolutely can be skinny and fit!

FriendOfAFriend: You are equating weight loss to massive weight loss

ECG: As a (fat) yoga teacher, I see HAES working all the time to benefit my private clients and people (fat and thin and all the in between) who come to my public classes.

Me: Do people give you crap about being skinny? That is just as bad, in its own way, as someone giving somebody crap about being larger. I’m so sorry if that’s what’s happened to you.

FriendOfAFriend: You can’t be skinny and fit or fat and fit

FriendOfAFriend: Being skinny landed me in the hospital, just as being obese will land you in a grave

(NOTE: The light goes off… this signals to me that she’s probably been hospitalized for some kind of eating disorder, and tells me that my task is just gotten both more difficult and significantly more important… but it also commits me to holding my tongue and digging deep to find compassion for her. While I’ve never suffered from anorexia or bulimia, I’ve heard their siren song and supported friends in recovery… it’s an incredibly difficult battle and my heart just ached for her.) 

FriendOfAFriend: Nope, I’ve gained weight. But I know scientifically that being on either end of the spectrum is not going to help anyone life a long happy life

Me: The body’s set point can fluctuate safely up and down about 15-20 pounds (depending on a person’s metabolism and environment). It’s when you push past that point, that you start seeing problems… and as soon as the body can, it will bounce back to its set point as quickly as it can.

ECG: We will all die, of course.

FriendOfAFriend: I know we all die. I just don’t like seeing encouragement to die early

Me: You don’t die of being fat. There are conditions that will increase your weight that will also kill you.

FriendOfAFriend: You die of eating unhealthy or too much and not excersise go enough to compensate for that to the point that you become overweight and unhealthy

Me: I don’t want to die early, either, FOAF. I’ve done the weight loss thing, and I’ve been unhealthy, and I’ve been large, and I’ve been healthy. Here’s a great TED talk by a (healthy, fit, trim!) doctor who has finally started to connect the dots:

Is the obesity crisis hiding a bigger problem?

“As a young surgeon, Peter Attia felt contempt for a patient with diabetes. She was overweight, he thought, and thus responsible for the fact that she needed a foot amputation. But years later, Attia received an unpleasant medical surprise that led him to wonder: is our understanding of diabetes right? Could the precursors to diabetes cause obesity, and not the other way around? A look at how assumptions may be leading us to wage the wrong medical war.”

ECG: Dieting can have as major a negative impact on the body’s organs as being fat can. Much of the “science” that people depend on is really fake science sponsored by the multi-billion dollar diet industry.

FriendOfAFriend: Well I’ve said my bit. I’ll look into your evidence again, but I’m set in stone. So let the debate continue with others

ECG: Oh that’s a great Ted talk.

Me: But can you see, FOAF, that a fat person can eat well and exercise and improve her heart rate, her blood pressure, her cholesterol numbers, and still look fat?

FriendOfAFriend: I am not talking about dieting btw. I’m talking about exercising and maintaining a weight that it not over or under weight. Simple as that

FriendOfAFriend: No I can’t see that

Me: Thank you for engaging, FOAF. If nothing else, listen to that one TED talk. He explains what I’m clumsily trying to say in a much more elegant and clear manner. He also believed VERY STRONGLY (possibly even set in stone!) what you believe… and he tells his story beautifully.

FriendOfAFriend: Thanks I’ll check it out

Me: (And thank you, everyone else who has contacted me, for helping me keep this conversation respectful and evidence-based and positive. My friends ROCK!)

(NOTE: My private messages were pinging fast and furious, with about a dozen people, all offering incredibly positive messages of support and encouragement, bless them! Their words were so grounding and helpful and I knew that many others were reading this exchange… it kept me honest and compassionate when I sometimes wanted to really scream.)

FriendOfAFriend: Was it ever disrespectful?

Me Well, the “Fatlogic” “At it’s finest” felt a little… harsh to me. But no, it didn’t go overboard and I was trying to say thank you for that

Me: And FOAF, most of the studies in the HAES book would apply to underweight as well as overweight folks. You might want to pick it up at the library just to get a handle on what the current weight management research says, just to arm yourself in the future if anyone else ever gives you crap about your weight. How DARE they! I’d be happy to help take ’em down for you, any time!

(NOTE: A few comments were lost around this point… at one point FOAF had called me ignorant about how to lose weight)

AZR: Okay! So you’ve just called Katje “ignorant,” then. I weigh 130 lb and have a huge list of health problems, including blood pressure and cholesterol; my sister is also about 130 with diabetes. Friend of mine who weighs 250, her blood pressure and chol… (rest of comment cut off, but it was an example of a larger, healthy woman)

Me: Oh, FOAF also repeatedly called for my caloric intake and exercise levels. What she can’t tell by looking at me is that I am living with osteoarthritis and a handful of other autoimmune issues, that I eat almost exclusively homemade foods, gluten-free (rest of comment was cut off, but I talked about eating mostly fruits/veg, meat, nuts, some dairy, but very little sugar/grain, much less than my “normal” sized husband, doing weights and swimming, and having very good blood pressure, heart rate, and lab numbers).

DAP: I think the photos are beautiful. Too much obsession over what standards ought to be lets us lose sight in the diversity of beauty.

(NOTE: More comments lost, but FOAF said “That’s impossible. I don’t believe you” about my circumstances, and asked where the photos of normal-sized people were.)

Me: There’s one more link, FOAF, that you might want to visit if you really want to learn more about how human bodies work as well as some of the sociological implications of our society’s fatphobia. Deb’s Just Maintaining blog is written by a member of (comment cut off; talked about Deb being one of the tiny minority of those who lose weight and keep it off long-term. Her blog is an absolute goldmine of information that anyone who is interested in the physiology of weight management should read thoroughly.)

Debra’s Just Maintaining

Me: FOAF, what do you think is impossible? Is it me you don’t believe? What have I said that you believe is untrue? I’m serious… I want to be very honest with you.

Me: Well, the link is to photos from a particular book that Leonard Nimoy published. He did many other photos as well.

AZR: FOAF, what on earth is your problem? You’re trolling big time.

AZR: GOOGLE, FOAF. Get your own skinny pictures.

AZR: Katje is not your Googling lackey.

AZR: It bears noting that a “healthy weight” has zero correlation with mental health, or with manners.

CG: Katje, I’m FB friends with R and saw this. your self restraint is incredible. I want to try to be more like that. Thank you

Me: Guys, FOAF is being asked to confront some pretty deeply held beliefs… this stuff is HARD to grasp! Hell, it took me DECADES. I can’t expect her to get it in one night. I’m just hoping she will listen, and think, and do her own research. And I thi… (comment cut off, but I was saying that I thought she was intelligent and willing to do the work to figure out the truth about physiology and cultural bias)

Me: I’ve been trying to simultaneously channel Ragen Chastain and Ijeoma Oluo

AZR: You know, I was thinking of posting Ijeoma Oluo’s phenomenal MLK Day Storify!

Me: Way ahead of you:

An amazing woman feeds a troll on MLK Day and it was nothing short of inspirational

Me: Well, I frankly don’t know if Nimoy did a book on thinner women, but since most models on any fashion runway are pretty obviously devoid of body fat, it would be easy to collect your own images.

BS: Just read this whole thread, HAESers. AMAZED at your kindness and restraint. xoxoo. FOAF, I have slim friends who suffer judgments from people who assume various negative things about them. It’s not OK! Very not OK. (comment cut off, but if I recall correctly, she went on to discuss the connections between feminism and fatphobia)

(Lost a few of FOAF’s comments, she insisted she was only disagreeing and not trying to troll anyone)

Me: Well, it’s all in HOW one disagrees, FOAF. I’m not calling you a troll here, because I want to encourage you to think about these things… but some of the things you are saying could be construed as such. What I want you to do is to look for actual… (comment cut off, but I talked about looking for evidence-based weight loss research to back up her statements)

FriendOfAFriend: I never even said that

FriendOfAFriend: All I said was being healthy, active and at a normal weight is how to live longer

FriendOfAFriend: When did I say anything about losing massive amounts of weight

BS: I think we all mostly agree with that. Except “normal” is relative to you, and no matter what you weigh, health is never a guarantee. Cancer and car crashes are indiscriminate.

FriendOfAFriend: I said over and over again that being overweight or underweight will cause more health problems than should be had

Me: You said all those women in the photos were unhealthy, right? And that they needed to lose weight to be healthy?

FriendOfAFriend: It’s a FACT

FriendOfAFriend: I said they are unhealthy yes

BS: It’s true that a lot of people think being overweight is unhealthy, and that that’s a “fact.” People also used to think the world was flat and that smoking isn’t bad for you. We know better now.

Me How can you tell? Honestly? How can you tell by looking at their photos what their lifespan will be? Whether they will get cancer? If they have diabetes? What I’m saying is: you can’t. There might be some conditions that cause weight gain, that could also shorten lifespan… but it was the condition that created the gain, not the other way around.

RD: A ‘fact’ is something you can back up with research. Something we’ve given you plenty of access to & you’ve given us your disbelief. How exactly do you think your (uninformed – you aren’t a doctor nor to you know any of those women) opinion hold water  (Comment cut off)

FriendOfAFriend: So we should assume that most women who look like that and band together have a life altering disease?

FriendOfAFriend: Or maybe just maybe, they are seeing other women make excuses for them to not eat right and excersice so it’s totally beautiful and ok

RD: No, we shouldn’t. That’s exactly (part of) the point. you CAN’T know those things by looking at them.

Me: Remember, gang… we are asking FOAF to change her view on something that took us a long time to come to terms with. I don’t expect her to do a 180 tonight. But I do expect her, and all of us, to stay polite. Thanks, all, for keepin’ it classy!

FriendOfAFriend: As with any debate, you have to explore the opposite side to gain “water”

FriendOfAFriend: Tell me

FriendOfAFriend: What have you researched that holds that this is healthy too

FriendOfAFriend: (posted a pro-ana photograph of an emaciated young woman; it’s pretty triggering so I’m not including it, but if you must see it, it’s over here:

Me FOAF, I’m telling you that I am a fat woman who “eats right and exercises” and I’m still fat! YOIKS! But it’s true! And maybe, just maybe, it’s true for some (if not all) of the women in that book. The whole point is that we can’t tell by looking at them.

BS: FOAF, that’s a pro-ana image. That’s meant to inspire women to starve themselves. That has absolutely nothing to do with health. Not trying to be aggressive about this, but that is not the same thing. What HAES is about isn’t gaining weight — it’s pursuing health, both physical and emotional. “Pro ana” is the antithesis of that.

FriendOfAFriend: Well I still disagree and I’m sorry if that means that I’m trolling

RD: what are the opposite sides as you see it? I think that might be a piece of confusion.

Me FOAF, is that you? (If not, I certainly hope you have the person’s permission to share their image with us.) Yes, I would indeed have a knee-jerk reaction that says this woman isn’t healthy… but I would also bite back a response to say, “Go eat a …(sandwich” … lost the rest of the comment, but I said that my knee-jerk reaction to an ultra-thin person could be just as disrespectful as a knee-jerk reaction to a fat person, and that I would be far more concerned about a friend whose eyes seemed so unhappy than I would about weight)

FriendOfAFriend: Ok go ahead and attack me for posting a picture of a person who is already very public on the Internet (cheap shot, good job). She’s unhealthy!!! Just like your knee jerk reaction says. So are the women in the article uou posted. Do you see the sadness and despair in the magazine models eyes that your article talks about? I don’t, they are just skinny

FriendOfAFriend: I’m sure most of those women’s doctors have told them that it’s in their best interest to lose weight

Me: I think telling that young woman in your image to gain weight would do her exactly as much good as telling one of Nimoy’s models to lose weight. It wouldn’t help any of them at all. Do you think gaining weight would solve all her problems? I don’t. And I’m not attacking you (and I’m not seeing anyone else attack, either).

FriendOfAFriend: I’m trying to say that neither end of this is healthy

FriendOfAFriend: I was trying to make a comparison that neither end is healthy at all. Which you confirmed

Me: OK, FOAF, like I said, please just listen to that TED talk. I think, out of all these links, it will illustrate best someone’s journey from where you are sitting to where I am sitting.

FriendOfAFriend: Maybe

BS: I just want to make one more suggestion: What if those models are unhealthy? If we had all their bloodwork somehow and it showed that they all had diabetes and high blood pressure (which can be managed with medicine) … who cares? It’s their bodies, their lives. They’re free to do as they like.

Me: I’d also like to say that my knee-jerk reaction is only that… knee-jerk and not informed or backed by research or anything. I was displaying my own deep prejudices, which I’m still working on.

BS: I have found that people in ED recovery have the hardest time embracing these concepts, which makes sense to me. Congrats on your recovery, FOAF. I hope you’re kind to yourself, inside and out, like we are

BS: (or try to be  )

FriendOfAFriend: I just strongly disagree that it’s ok to advocate either end of this. That’s all im trying to say

Me: I’m very happy to take your “maybe” for now! Thank you for your willingness to share your experiences and participate in a discussion that helped us all question our beliefs and what drives them. I think that’s more a sign of intelligence than anything else… the ability to examine your beliefs and being willing to alter them if/when evidence shows they need revision.

RD: No matter your weight, you are still a person that deserves respect and is valuable. I hope you are able to continue to do what you need to do. Good luck.

FriendOfAFriend: I am not lying when I say I will watch your clips. I’m always open to other views. Sorry if I’m solid in mine for now

BS: Well, I don’t think Leonard Nimoy’s photos really “advocate” for anything. He liked big ladies. Which is cool. Lots of other guys like skinny ladies. Also cool.

Me: I believe you, FOAF, really I do. I was in your shoes 20 years ago, and I remember how deep those beliefs were. It’s taken me a long, long time to get where I am now, and I think that since you are willing to educate yourself, you’ll evolve as well. Hang in there and remember: “If possible, be kind. It is always possible.” (Dalai Lama)

FriendOfAFriend: Well I might evolve to still disagree

FriendOfAFriend: Hope that’s ok too

Me: That’s fine. Just do it because you did the research and learned the facts yourself, not because you were regurgitating phrases you’ve heard drummed into your head all your life.

Me: And of course you are OK, FOAF. You’re OK right now, right where you are, exactly who you are. We’re just trying to help you see that everyone else is OK too!

FriendOfAFriend: Sent a pm

FOAF did indeed send me a private message, and we talked for another hour about a wide range of things. After our conversation, I’m convinced that she was not indeed trying to troll, but that she was honestly concerned about what she sees as a huge health problem. In her line of work, she’s witnessed some terrible tragedies, and I can see how she would associate deadly conditions with large body size.

As she hinted at early in the conversation, she also has struggled with her own relationship with weight and her body, but she recognizes that it’s a long-term journey and not an easy one. She did acknowledge that some of her phrasing might have been construed as aggressive and while she didn’t exactly apologize for it, she showed me that she respected where I was coming from and honestly wanted to find out why I was saying the things I was trying to express, even though in her mind they ran counter to everything she knows.

Our exchange grew to be a pleasant one, and I genuinely like her. I was surprised when I saw that she offered to “friend” me on Facebook, and after struggling a little bit with whether or not to do it, I accepted her offer. However, by the next morning, she’d read what some of my friends had written about her being a troll, rescinded her friend offer, and deleted all but the first of her comments on this threat. However, she was willing to talk with me a little more, and gave me her permission to publish her words if I concealed her identity.

I do believe she is going to follow up on reading/watching the links I gave her, just as I will follow up on reading something she recommended to me. While we aren’t going to be FB friends, I do believe she is going to take this experience to heart and really think about what we discussed. She’s a compassionate and good woman, who is serving the public in a tough and demanding career. I hope to meet her in person someday, and give her my thanks and encouragement face-to-face.

I’m glad I had this experience (even though I wasn’t necessarily overjoyed about it while it was going on). Several people had asked about it after it was deleted, and with FOAF’s permission, this is what I was able to cobble together from the clips I managed to copy. It’s incomplete, but I think I managed to gather the gist of the conversation, and so am presenting it here on my blog.

Thank you for taking me on this journey, FOAF. I’m hoping that this experience will make me a more compassionate and stronger advocate for my beliefs, and I’m hoping that you will grow into truly appreciating your body, and others’ bodies, for the miraculous things that they are.


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