Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Second Year I'm Doing a Vegan Cleanse With the Help of The Happy Herbivore

Last year, around this time of year, I did a 21 day cleanse (the Quantum Wellness Cleanse) and for 21 days I gave up meat/dairy/alcohol/sugar/caffeine and gluten. I bought my fair share of cookbooks, read some interesting articles and loved how I felt at the end of my 21 days.

Living that lifestyle was too extreme to keep up, but I knew I wanted to do it again this year. However, this year I have some additional takeaways that I can incorporate into my life. I know I can't give up everything, but would like to lean towards eating a predominately plant-based diet. I also wanted my husband taste what I was making. The cleanse is over and he actually surprised me by keeping an open mind and trying everything.

I made some great recipes from Lindsay Nixon's The Happy Herbivore and couldn't believe how mock tuna salad made with chickpeas could taste EXACTLY like tuna salad.

When I heard Lindsay was doing a blog tour for her new cookbook Everyday Happy Herbivore, I asked if I could interview her and was tickled pink when she said yes. I got NOTHING for promoting her new book, but as a meat eater, I wanted to let readers know there are really great cookbook authors out there who can change your mind.

1. How long have you been eating vegan, and what made you write these cookbooks?

I've followed a plant-based (vegan) diet since December 2006.

I started my blog, Happy Herbivore, as a way to show that eating healthy and plant-based diet is easy, approachable, affordable, realistic for everyone and also delicious -- my cookbooks are an extension of that mission.

2. Last year I went vegan for 21 days and the cookbooks I relied on didn't have recipes with nutritional yeast in it. I notice you use it and wondered why? Does it have an unique flavor?

It does! It tastes like cheese. It's also really nutritious.

3. My husband is a meat lover. Last year he wouldn't even try anything I made, this year he's agreed to try what I make, but I want him to enjoy the food as food and not say it's good for vegan food. He really enjoyed the Nacho Cheese and Tuna Salad recipe from your Happy Herbivore cookbook, but am wondering if you have any other recipes vegan skeptics really like?

That said, it's wonderful to hear your husband is open to exploring some plant-based foods! I wrote a whole recipe on what to feed meat-eaters:

Happy Herbivore: What to Feed Meat-Eaters

3. I'm a protein person. Can you recommend some great snacks I can enjoy (other than peanut butter or hummus) which are high in protein?

First I recommend you read this post on protein:

Ask HH about Protein

and then this post which lists plant-based sources of protein:

Vegetable Sources of Protein

4. The ingredients you use in your new cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore (low fat vegan recipes in under 30 minutes), are they easy to find? Also, I'm on a limited budget, will it cost me more to switch a vegan diet?

Yes. I wrote my cookbook while living on a small Caribbean island; I like to think if my tiny island had those ingredients, everyone has access to those ingredients. Plus I've always prided myself on using normal "everyday" ingredients. Nothing is more discouraging to me than a cookbook with expensive and obscure ingredients I can't find or afford, so you'll never find that in my books.

As for cost, you'll save money eating a plant-based diet. legumes, grains, seasonal fruits and vegetables -- they cost a fraction compared to the costs of meat. Most of the recipes in my cookbook cost less than $5 to make -- look for the special "budget friendly" icon. We chopped over $100 of our grocery bill when we adopted a plant-based diet -- even when shopping organic.

5. Have you had any feedback from the new cookbook in terms of weight loss or health benefits you could share with my readers?

My new book has only been out for a few days, so people haven't had it long enough to have any sort of experience... but with respect to my first book (same cooking style), I've had easily 100 people write me and say they lost 20, 40, 50, even 100+ pounds using my recipes. I love those stories -- and I've started featuring them on my blog, on Wednesdays, as "herbies of the week"

6. Do you give the newbie vegan menu suggestions in your new book? I always struggle with menu planning as a non-vegan and wonder if you help craft well balanced meals in your cookbook or website (Happy Herbivore)

Both books have pairing suggestions to make meal planning easy. I also have meal plans on my site, which take out all the guess work. They're balanced and tell you exactly what to eat. Perfect for the new vegan.

HH Diet Plan

7. I love the glossary of ingredients, and recipe substitutions, in The Happy Herbivore (which was great for someone who had never heard of half the ingredients or what to substitute for an egg in various recipes) do you include such a section in Everyday Happy Herbivore?


8. What are your favorite go-to ingredients when cooking and why?

I go through phases. For a while I was really into Dijon mustard, then it was hot sauce, then it was cumin, and then it was green chilis and now I keep circling back to curry powder. Next week it will be something else. Same with main ingredients. For a while everything I made was with chickpeas, and then I got bored and moved on to black beans, and then kidney beans and so on. Right now I'm obsessive about lentils.

9. After my 21 day cleanse, I'm not sure if I'll make the full leap into a vegan way of eating, but am wondering if I am vegan for 3 to 4 days per week, will I still notice a difference in health benefits

You won't. I don't want to discourage, because some vegan meals are better than no vegan meals, but you won't experience all the amazing benefits of eating a clean, vegan diet unless you do it 100% As long as you continue to eat animal products, you continue to be addicted, and you continue to do damage to your body. You also prevent your mind and tastes to completely adjust to a new way of eating. You might notice some positive changes, but you would experience it 100 or 1000x more if you were 100%.

Spicy Orange Greens | serves 2

The slightly spicy orange sauce in this dish is one of my favorites. You can serve it with any greens you like or have on hand, but collard greens are my favorite to use. For a complete meal, serve over or tossed with noodles.

1/3 cup water
2 tbsp soy sauce
2 tbsp minced fresh ginger
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tbsp orange marmalade or jam
4 cups greens (any)

Pour water, soy sauce, ginger and red pepper flakes into a skillet. Turn heat to high and saute until the ginger is fragrant, about 1 minute. Whisk in marmalade and then add chopped greens. Reduce heat to medium and using tongs, turn greens into the sauce. This will help cook the greens down; stop when your greens are bright green and have softened. Serve.

Chef's Note: Cooked broccoli florets may be substituted for the greens. Toss cooked broccoli with the sauce once it's been warmed and serve.

Per Serving: 156 Calories, 1.5g Fat, 32g Carbohydrates, 8.8g Fiber, 11.6g Sugars, 10.1g Protein

Get your copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Low Fat and Fat-Free Vegan Recipes. Buy on Amazon.

After vegan chef Lindsay S. Nixon wrapped up her popular cookbook The Happy Herbivore Cookbook last year, she went back to her kitchen in her new home of St. Maarten. Island living encouraged Nixon to come up with simpler fare, which led to a follow-up cookbook focusing on recipes that bring tasty back to quick-and-easy.

Now, in Nixon's much-anticipated follow-up cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore, readers will see, once again, that just because plant-based eating is optimal for health, it doesn't have to also be expensive or time-consuming.

Everyday Happy Herbivore includes more than 175 doable recipes--recipes that are so quick and easy, you could cook three healthy meals from scratch every day like Nixon does.

Each of Nixon's recipes are made with wholesome, easy-to-find, fresh ingredients and include no added fats. With additional notes indicating recipes that are ideal for preparing ahead of time and those you can whip up with just a few dollars, Everyday Happy Herbivore will be the must-have cookbook for anyone desiring a healthier, happier menu!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Dear Martha Stewart....

With the holidays fast approaching, I have a confession.... I long for your holiday specials CBS would broadcast before you got all Hollywood and began inviting celebrities to your home (like the year Michael Jordan may have visited you was just wrong).

For me, the holidays are not the holidays without watching A Charlie Brown Christmas, Rudolph, It's a Wonderful Life, and for a time, the Martha Stewart Christmas specials on CBS.

My friend and I would prepare for the special as a football fan for the Superbowl. She'd make arrangements for her kids to be in bed or distracted by their dad, we'd each get our choice of wine and with phone and remote in hand, we'd plop down on the respective sofas for your specials.

We'd love when you'd make your own gift wrap with brown paper and some potatoes (very MacGyer like thinking); or when you had Julia Child on the show and spun caramel like anyone could do it.

My friend and I would drink our wine while commenting on the phone why all you need is a stapler and bag to wrap a present or how slice-and-bake cookies were still the way to go.

It's sad that my friend's daughter won't be able to see these specials now that's she's older. Some shows are classics and should be aired.

I know your shows were informative and women probably imitated you (actually we had a mutual friend who made the gift wrap - bless her little soul), but my friend and I long for quality time during the holidays where we could sit in our respective homes, and discuss how we're sane because we've chosen not to spend 22+ hours attempting a croquembouche.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

A Pickup Line a Guy Should NEVER Use....

I'm over 50 and DON'T need Viagra!

Yup. You read what I wrote. And yes, this very line was used on my sister while in NYC a couple of weekends ago.

About 3 weeks ago, my sister, YogaGirl, PonchoGirl (my friend since I was 5) and I went into NYC. YogaGirl turns 50 next week and treated us, for her birthday (which I don't get, but I'm okay with it) to tickets to see Harry Connick Jr on Broadway. After the play, PonchoGirl treated us to dinner at Barbuto (YUMMY - would highly recommend), but it was the time in between the play and dinner that YogaGirl met the man of her dreams....

Okay, maybe it was a nightmare, but still, a nightmare is a dream!

We went across the street to this bar where every inch of space, including the ceiling, was adored with glittery pictures of the Virgin Mary and Jesus. The specialty of the house were margaritas, and although I'm not partial to the artwork in the bar (translation, I don't have any glittery coloring book pictures of Jesus, Mary or Joseph in my home), the place had a very fun kitchy vibe to it and we parked our butts on the bar stool. This is where my sister met Mr. Wonderful and his friend.

This is the point in the story where I need to make my disclaimer: If an annoying, or I think I'm an ultra-cool man, begins to talk to a friend or family member of mine, I don't care how close we are, I will ditch your sorry ass to avoid any conversation with such human being.

Yup. It's true. I've done it in the past, but to my defense, I learned this trick from a girlfriend who'd did the same to me before I remarried.

I guess the conversation was going smoothly between my sister, non-Viagra (nV) man and his friend until the friend went to the bathroom. I guess nV felt this the perfect time let her know he was in town for one night and how he was over 50, but needed no Viagra. Mind you, the guy was wearing a wedding band. I missed this conversation, as I had already turned my back and ditched her to chat with my friend.

What the hell was nV guy thinking? Did he think telling my sister of his manliness was going to get her on her back in his hotel room? (Note: he made sure to mention several times prior how they were only in town for one night - this was precisely the moment I turned my back on her to chat only with my friend).

I'm not sure what I might have said if I had been tossed that line. Actually I do. I would have said: "Wow, you must be really proud". But somehow, I think her approach of not responding was probably the way to go.

We left shortly after the comment and as we made our way to the restaurant, I asked my sister why she didn't go for it.

Yeah, I laughed at her expense.

Evolution of My Food Pantry Dinner Parties

Today marks the day where my food pantry dinner parties have changed since I started them in 2009.

Initially, I swiped the concept from Weight Watchers that for every pound I lose, each of my guests had to bring a pound of food for the local food pantry.

I held fast to that rule for the longest time, but now, I let people bring what they want and because of my financial situation, people have even chipped in to keep the dinners going.

One of the most wonderful unexpected outcomes from these dinners, is how I've met some great women and gotten to know others better. I've always opened up my table to allow my friends to bring their friends. Because I've adopted this attitude, I have gotten to make some new friends and catch a glimpse into the lives of people I may have never met in my everyday travels.

The conversations are warm, funny and honest. We share the struggles and joys of husbands, children, finances and aging (both us and our parents). It's one conversation with 6 to 8 women. We share tales or listen to others. No conversation is off limits and I never want anyone around my table to feel excluded or exclude others.

I've always read about the strong bonds women form and have friendships that are over 40 years long. However, I've gotten to see first hand how putting together a group of women, random strangers, for this one night a month, can create one of the most enriched evenings because of open conversations.

I have many things I can be sad about because of the lose of my job, but if I hadn't lost my job, I may have never started these dinners. Now...I can't imagine not having them.