An Interview With Lindsay Nixon – The Happy Herbivore

I’m aware that I spend more time in the kitchen than most people nowdays. And in spite of the fact that I do try to post relatively quick recipes, some of you want more. So, in the interest of furthering your skills in plant based cooking, here’s and introduction to Lindsay, and her new book The Everyday Happy Herbivore.

The official scoop on Lindsay and her cookbooks:

“Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay’s recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women’s Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at happyherbivore.com

“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.”

“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.”

And now, our interview. :-)

HerbivoreMeals (HM) – I’m excited to interview you about your new cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore. Could you briefly your cooking style for any of my readers who aren’t familiar with you? In particular, what are your priorities when it comes to developing a new recipe? I know they obviously need to be plant based and that you don’t use added fats, anything else?

Happy Herbivore (HH) – I have a no fuss cooking style — “everyday” ingredients we all have in our pantries or at our local supermarket (nothing obscure or bizarre) and recipes that are not only easy to prepare but fast (30 mins or less, many are under 15 minutes). I’m all about making healthy eating affordable, practical, accessible to everyone — and delicious!

HM – From what I’ve read on your blog it sounds like the decision to start eating a Vegan diet was also the moment that you had to start cooking. What was the transition like from little kitchen experience to the main chef? How long did learning to cook well take?

HH – I was a complete novice — I barely knew how to boil water to make pasta. Scott, my husband, was the cook in our relationship and when I decided to ditch meat, he was supportive and cooked us great vegetarian dishes, but when I took the next step — vegan, he told me I was on my own. I’d only tried to cook a few times prior, and all attempts were total failures, so I had little confidence I’d be able to make anything edible, but I was determined to be vegan. I started slow and easy, making things like soup in a crockpot. Then I ventured into muffins and the first 3 baking attempts came out wrong, but when the 4th batch rose perfectly (and tasted good too!) I was a new person. Every bad experience – gone.
One success gave me the courage to keep cooking. It started out of necessity but turned into something I loved.

HM – Do you have any tips to make the transition easier for new plant based cooks?

HH – Take it a meal at a time. Remember attitude is everything. Have a positive attitude and you’ll have a positive experience. Focus on all the foods you can have, not those you gave up.

HM – Personally, I find I enjoy food more without the animal products. I think the flavors of the food are highlighted rather than covered with cheese, etc. What has your experience with this been?

HH – I eat a much wider variety of food now than I ever did as an omnivore. Once I gave up animal products, and also oil, I discovered a world of flavor I’d missed previously. Foods that I thought were bland and tasteless were now bursting with flavor. Animal products and oil coat your tongue, so it’s like tasting food with a glove on… once the glove comes off there is so much flavor!

HM – What is the main difference between this new cookbook and your last? Is it just new recipes and the same cooking style or do these recipes focus more on time saving techniques?

HH – Both books focus on wholesome “everyday” ingredients, low fat recipes… the same no fuss cooking style, but Everyday has more variety. For example, I have smoothies in Everyday (something you won’t find in the first book). I also pulled in a lot of international inspiration. You’ll find recipes with Cajun flavors, Thai, African, Indian, Italian and so many more.

My first cookbook has a lot of “comfort foods” and I’m sort of going back to basics with Everyday — focusing on fresh ingredients, celebrating vegetables and legumes rather than remaking an old family favorite like I did with the first book.

HM – I’m especially curious about the time frame for making your recipes since some of my readers are only interested in cooking if it’s quick.
How much time does it take to make your average recipes?

HH – In Everyday, most recipes come together in 30 minutes or less. Most are under 15 minutes. The idea behind the book is the recipes are so quick-and-easy you could cook from scratch 3x a day like I do. The only recipes that take over 30 minutes are cakes and some other desserts which just can’t be shortened. There are a lot of quick recipes in my first book as well. Both books have a “quick” icon indicating fast recipes.

A few question specifically about the content of this cookbook:

HM – How often do you call for refined sugars?

HH – It depends on what you consider refined. I don’t use white sugar, but you’ll find maple syrup, molasses, raw sugar and agave in the baked goods (i.e. muffins and cakes) — though I did include some sugar-free (sweetener-free) recipes in both the muffins and dessert section as well. I don’t have muffins or cookies very often, so I don’t mind using a little sugar when I make them.

HM – What is your inspiration when developing new recipes? And, do they usually work out the first time, or do you have flops on the way?

HH – It’s a good mix of trying to replicate recipes that I used to eat that were either not vegan or not healthy, I’ll create something on the fly or I’ll be inspired by an ingredient. For example I saw a beautiful bunch of chard I couldn’t pass up so I took it home and created a recipe for it.

I’m fortunate that most recipes work on the first try, though there are always some recipes that take a lot of work to get it just right. There was a sausage recipe in my first book that took 4 or 5 executions before it worked.

HM – One benefit to your cooking style is that you use ingredients that are generally very easy to find. What would you consider the most “exotic” or difficult to find ingredients that you use in Everyday Happy Herbivore?

HH – Nutritional yeast.

HM – What are your favorite recipes in your new book?

HH – Asking a chef to pick their favorite recipe is like asking a parent to pick their favorite child :-)

So, there you have it, and hopefully that will be helpful to some of you with your last minute Christmas shopping, or just your own personal cookbook collection. :-)

Also, Lindsay has provided a recipe from her new cookbook for all of you to try.

Quick Burgers | makes 4

I developed these burgers in a hotel room: they’re quick, easy and require very few ingredients. (In fact, except for the beans and a seasoning packet, I sourced all the ingredients from the complimentary “breakfast bar”). I make these burgers any time I need a super fast meal or I’m really low on ingredients.

15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp onion powder (granulated)
1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)
1/3 c instant oats

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork until mostly pureed but still some half beans and bean parts are left. Stir in condiments and spices until well combined. Then mix in oats. Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into thin patties with your hands. Bake for 7 minutes, carefully flip over and bake for another 7 minutes, or until crusty on the outside. Slap into a bun with extra condiments and eat!

Chef’s note: If you only have rolled oats, chop them up in a food processor or blender so they are smaller and more like instant oats. Rolled oats left whole tend to make the burgers fall apart.

Per Burger: 109 Calories, 0.5g Fat, 17.6g Carbohydrates, 3g Fiber, 2.2g Sugars, 5g Protein

Hope you enjoy!

C

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