Today we are talking to Lindsay Nixon, author of the “The Happy Herbivore“, the cookbook behind the fabulous website, “Happy Herbivore!” and upcoming cookbook “Every day Happy Herbivore” coming out this December!
We love Lindsay’s great plant-strong recipes! After the interview, see how you can win Lindsay’s cookbook!
1. How did you get into plant-strong cooking and baking?
I’d given up animal products initially for ethical reasons but because I was still eating white breads, oil, and other processed foods, I wasn’t looking or feeling my best. Then I read Eat to Live and the McDougall Program, and completely changed the way I approached eating. I cleaned up my diet: switched to whole grains, eliminated oil, white sugar and strived to eat whole foods — celebrate fruits, vegetables, grains and legumes. I ate (and still eat) a low fat, whole foods, plant-based diet. At first I thought I’d have to give up all the foods I loved, but with a little experimentation I realized I could make them with plant-strong foods and they would taste even better.
2. What has been the hardest challenges in your journey regarding learning how to eat/cook this way?
The only challenge is the lack of convenience. It used to be if I was hungry I’d stop at the first place I saw and ordered something. I can’t just go grab a slice of cheese pizza anymore — but I’m actually thankful for that. I’m not mindlessly eating unhealthy foods because they’re available. Adopting a plant-based diet has helped me stay aware of my choices and help encourage me to make good ones. Even at vegan restaurants, I still find myself going for the healthier and low fat options because I want to eat healthy and feel my best. I’m not going to feel my best eating deep fried tofu.
3. Is it hard to come up with recipes that are plant-based and oil free?
I didn’t learn how to cook until I was plant-based and eating a low fat (no oil) diet, so I don’t know any other way Writing recipes and cooking comes very natural for me and there has never been a moment where I thought “oh I wish I could use oil!” or “oh I wish I could use [some other unhealthy ingredient]”
Interestingly, I was telling a fellow chef this morning that I wouldn’t even know how to cook with oil. I haven’t the first clue how to use it — especially in baking.
4. Any funny kitchen fails?
I’ve turned my blender on full speed—with the top off. I think there still might be some green smoothie on my ceiling. I also once covered myself, my walls and my stove with seitan. I’m still not entire sure how I accomplished that. It just sort of splattered…everywhere.
5. Where can people find you, and can you tell us what you have coming up in the future?
My second cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore, will be released 12/6 but you can preorder on B&N, Amazon, Chapters, etc.
Some of your facebook questions:
Laurie asked: What do you like to cook to please and impress omni dinner guests?
HH: I have a great post about what to feed skeptical omni’s:
Lori asked: i am only 4 days in and do not have the book yet but i am finding a lot of things just taste like plain and bland to me. is this normal? also your mother says eat a lot of oats and i have always eaten my oats with butter and milk. what can i do to make them taste like that without eating dairy?
HH: I used to think vegetables, and even grains, were boring, bland — had no flavor from years of eating a diet high in fat, sugar and salt. After a while, once I broke my addictions, these foods suddenly started having so much flavor. It was as if my taste buds healed; the fog lifted and I was tasting food for the first time. I remember biting into a peach and thinking “why has a peach never tasted like this before? it’s pure heaven!” Stay strong — it will get better.
As for oatmeal — you can cook it with unsweetened almond milk (instead of dairy like you used to). I’m not a huge fan of oats, but when I make them, I mix my cooked oats with unsweetened applesauce, top with fresh banana slices, raisins, cinnamon and a little flax meal (sometimes). I also love cooking my oats in chai tea and serving it with frozen berries mixed in. Play around with flavors… add fruits to help sweeten it and give it a flavor you’ll like.
Rachel asked: I would like lots of recipes that are quick, some with no added oils or nuts at all and how to put spices and flavor combinations together. Stuff on exotic beans would be cool too because they have so many at whole foods I have never heard about.
HH: Quick recipes with no oil or nuts are my specialty! Pop on over to happyherbivore.com/recipes and wet your whistle! Off the top of my head –I saw go for the 6-ingredient (15 minute) black bean burgers, mexican cabbage, black bean & salsa soup & portobello steaks — all are super easy and fast.
Kathi asked: What do you use on veggies other than oil to keep them from sticking on the BBQ grill? Also, we’ve always liked roasting pans of veggies in the oven and have typically tossed them in olive oil prior to roasting…now what do we do? Maybe we don’t need oil for either use…haven’t figured that out entirely yet.
HH: I don’t have a grill–but I have an oven. I rinse my veggies under cold water, shake the excess off (but don’t let them get completely dry) then sprinkle my spices (this way they stick) and bake them in my oven, on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper — works beautifully!
HH: It’s totally okay not to like imitation meat products — most of them aren’t very healthy anyway and should be the accent to a diet rather than the bulk of it. Except for the occasional tofu dog at a BBQ, I almost never eat imitation meat products. If your heart is set on liking them, keep trying different products and different brands — maybe you’ll find one you like. Or try making them yourself, which is what I do. I make a mean 6-ingredient black bean burger that’s healthier and way tastier than the ones sold at the store.
Carla asks: How the heck do you cook acorn squash?
We want to thank Lindsay for taking time to talk with us today, but mostly we want to thank her for coming up with some great recipes for all of us!
And as a special bonus, we are giving away a copy of Lindsay’s cookbook! All you have to do is leave a comment and tell us why you’d love to win a cookbook! We will pick a winner at random tomorrow!