Losing Weight on a Plant Based Diet – and Lindsay Nixon’s new book

Once again as Lindsay releases her newest masterpiece the opportunity to participate in a blog tour has arrived.


I had the opportunity to ask a few questions. I feel they were really all answered with the first one, but here they are for your enlightenment also.

Me – From what I understand this book is a bit of a departure from your other cookbooks in that it contains advice and exercises to assist in weight loss in addition to the recipes. Where did the idea for this come from?

Lindsay – I’m not sure I’d say it’s a departure. Happy Herbivore Light & Lean is still a lot like her sister books in my series. I continue to embrace my healthy, fuss-free, everyday ingredient cooking style. I’m still focusing on whole, plant foods, vegan recipes, keeping it low fat and super healthy. Each book I’ve written has had a theme and this book’s theme brings in a wholistic look at health. Making it about the whole body, not just what we put in our mouth 😉

I was very much inspired by my meals plans. While the recipes in this cookbook are different than the recipes I provide my clients through my meal plan service, I used the same approach: caloric density. More food, less calories. Focusing on ingredients that are satiating, and so forth.

One of my missions with Happy Herbivore is to disprove all the myths that eating healthy is hard, complicated or expensive. It’s actually delicious, easy, affordable and beautiful. I think the same misconceptions exist around exercise and fitness. You don’t need a lot of time, or fancy equipment or expensive gym memberships. You can do it all in your home, in minutes a day, no matter what your starting point. I’m showing that—celebrating it—in my new book.

Me – Are these techniques you used initially in your own weight loss, or based on routines you have developed over time/input from others?

Lindsay – I was a personal trainer for many years.

Me – And lastly, all of your books focus on no-oil, no added fat, plant based cooking, which of course is great for health. Do the recipes in this book differ in any significant way, and if so, how?

Lindsay – I’m using the same cooking style, but this time I was very focused on calorie density, as well as total calories.

Now, this is a pre-release interview and I haven’t seen an actual copy of the book yet. But, judging from her past books and from what I know about this one, I expect it to be an excellent resource for weight loss and a healthy lifestyle (not always the same thing). Here’s a sample recipe, straight from the new book, which looks delicious to me.


Thai Crunch
Single serving
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget, Single Serving

Before I was plant-based, I loved the Thai Crunch salad at California Pizza Kitchen. I finally decided to re-create a lighter vegan version of it for this cookbook. It’s easy, fresh, fast, and satisfying. (I also loved their Original BBQ Chicken Chopped salad, hence my BBQ Salad [in full cookbook] recipe!) By the way, CPK is one of the vegan-friendliest restaurant chains in the US. They have a PDF online indicating which menu items are suitable for vegans and vegetarians.

4 c napa cabbage, red cabbage, or lettuce (or a combination)
1 carrot, julienned
2 green onions, sliced
¼ – ½ c edamame
½ cucumber, sliced or diced
Thai Peanut Dressing
crushed peanuts (optional garnish)
cilantro (optional)
lime wedges (garnish)

Toss cabbage/lettuce, carrot, green onions, edamame, and cucumber together in a salad bowl, then top with Thai Peanut Dressing, crushed peanuts, and cilantro (if using), and garnish with a lime wedge. (I also love squeezing fresh lime juice over the salad.)

Chef’s Note: For a soy-free version, substitute chickpeas for the edamame.Per Serving

Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 300
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11.7g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 39.4g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13.7g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16.3g
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17.3g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6

Thai Peanut Dressing
Makes ¼ cup
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget, Pantry

Creamy, delicious—here’s a lower fat and lower calorie DIY peanut sauce.

1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp warm water
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce
juice of 1 lime wedge
2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
1 ¼ tsp rice vinegar
garlic powder
ground ginger
1–2 drops Asian hot sauce (e.g., Sriracha)
1 tbsp nondairy milk

In a small, microwave-safe bowl, add peanut butter with water, chili sauce, lime juice, soy sauce or
tamari, rice vinegar, a few dashes of garlic powder and ground ginger, plus hot sauce. Microwave for
10–20 seconds (so peanut butter is melty), whisk into a sauce, and then whisk in nondairy milk. Taste, adding more hot sauce as desired.

Chef’s Note: For a richer sauce, substitute coconut milk for the nondairy.

Per Serving
Thai Peanut Dressing (1 tbsp)
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1.4g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . .0.9g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


Losing Weight On a Plant Based Diet – Part 2

What really got me thinking about making changes was reading Chef AJ’s story (here). (For a story with more detail, try this) I started debating about whether or not I should be cutting out nuts, and then reality hit, ;-). Umm, shouldn’t I worry about the excessive sugar (see previous post), or the oils I cook with first?

I have since read a few things that have tweaked my ideas on the changes I need to make in my life. The first was some advice from a French doctor specializing in nutrition. (In “Forever Chic” by Tish Jett) He, Denis Lamboley points out to the author that there are only two reasons to eat, “hunger and pleasure”. Well, yeah, duh! But, wait. Is that always why I am eating? Or, more to the point, do I eat unhealthy, fatty foods when I am hungry rather than the nutritious foods my body needs. And so, when I am eating these things that should be treats, am I really enjoying them? No, often I am not.

Back to a basic premise I had when I very first started to cut sugar out. I was cutting it down, not out. And my rule was, if I ate sugar I should enjoy it. Desserts only, nothing hidden in the main course, etc.

I kind of modified his statement in my thoughts. It became, “there are only two reasons for eating, nutrition and pleasure”. And again, that made me think. If I am eating for hunger, it should also be for nutrition. If I am eating for pleasure, well then, I should be enjoying my food, right?

Perhaps this isn’t helpful if you feel you enjoy EVERYTHING you eat, but I think for most of us, focusing on why we make the food choices we do is extremely helpful. In the long and short run.


So, as a second step, I need to make sure I have healthy options available so that when I get hungry I can eat those instead of looking for a quick snack. Right now I have a big bowl of my favorite salad in the fridge and the dressing to accompany it right there too.


Losing Weight on a Plant Based Diet – Part 1

Sounds like a no brainer, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.

Many years ago, I gave up sugar. I really cut it out, everything except fruit sugars, and milk sugars (because at the time dairy was a regular part of my diet). I tried stevia and concentrated fruit sweeteners, and I lost weight. It was pretty simple and straight forward. Then it started to creep back into my diet. Honey was fine. Meaning, I noticed no ill effects adding that in, I may have even added in in while still losing weight. And I know that a good friend of mine ate a ton of honey in her weight loss journey. (Read her story here.) This aided her in cutting out other sweeteners.

However, adding other options in has not been a good plan for me. I have for years bought into the idea that natural sweeteners are fine and not harmful. And I suspect that for a lot of people that is true. But, in my case the weight has crept back on, and even more telling, sometime subtle hints of the problems I used to have with blood sugar. Needing to eat right away, or even every few hours. Getting shaky, etc. Nothing huge, not as bad as it was, but obviously there is a problem there.

So, I am going back to my stricter regimen, cutting out sucanat, and agave. And for the most part maple syrup, because as great as this is supposed to be, I have always been able to tell that this affects my blood sugar almost as badly as refined sugar. (I should say that even with my sensitivity to sugar, there is a difference when cutting out refined sweeteners. Whether that is in volume eaten, or affect on the body is harder to say and probably individualized to some extent.)

This will be my first step towards getting back to a weight where I am comfortable.


The Evolution of Popcorn at our House

We used to eat popcorn just like everyone else (o.k. probably not everyone), with butter and salt. Air popped of course. I don’t like to use a microwave if there is  another handy option and we have a stand alone, plug in, air-popper. (Maybe there is a more official sounding name for that?)

Then, in an attempt to cut down on our butter consumption, I started to mix the butter with olive oil. Half and half at first and then 100% olive oil.

Then one day I decided to try the Barlean’s Flax Seed oil in our fridge. I may have mixed it with olive oil at first, but if so it rapidly transitioned to straight flax seed oil. I mention the brand because while it is the only one I’ve ever used, I have heard that some/a lot of others taste less than delicious.

So, now when I make popcorn I use flax seed oil, Redmond’s sea salt, and “yellows” (which is actually nutritional yeast). Yumm.

As the popcorn pops out into the receptacle (generally a bowl), I squirt the flax oil out from the handy dandy squeeze bottle it comes in. This alone makes it worth the switch ;-), so much faster and easier than melting butter or spooning olive oil on. Next, when it has finished popping we sprinkle on the Redmond’s sea salt (and really you could use other salt, but why?). And then, for those desiring it, top with a sprinkle of nutritional yeast – my personal favorite.

Now, you’ll notice that this is still not lowfat popcorn. I have tried using a Misto sprayer filled with olive oil, and it could be filled with flax instead, but personally I’m not satisfied with the coverage. Still, I would recommend that as an option if you want a lower fat, but still oiled popcorn option.


A few other smoothies

The peanut butter option has become a sort of stand by for those times when we are low on fruit options, but still want a smoothie.

Peanut Butter Smoothie

2 bananas, fresh or frozen
1 to 2 Tablespoons peanut butter (the good stuff – no added sugar, etc.), to taste
1 Tablespoons or so of agave, to taste
1 Tablespoon vanilla glycerite
Water or non-dairy milk to cover.

Blend together well and enjoy.

I really love this, my banana hating dh will drink it too, but my peanut butter hating son won’t touch it. Oh well.

A Chocolate Treat

2 bananas, fresh or frozen
Water to the top of the bananas (once in the blender)
3 Tablespoons Cocoa powder
3 to 4 Tablespoons agave
1/4 cup cashews
1 Tablespoon vanilla glycerite (optional)

Blend Well and enjoy!

A few notes; the cashews and water combined are actually functioning as a milk substitute here. So, you could make a similar smoothie using a non-dairy milk instead of water and leaving out the cashews entirely. Or leave the cashews in for an even creamier treat.


Super Delicious Smoothie

I kept waiting to post this until I had a photo, but in the interest of getting it on the blog before either the world or the government shutdown end, here is the recipe anyway.

1 orange, peeled
1 ripe banana (frozen)
1/2 to 3/4 cup fresh blueberries (but I’m sure you could use frozen too)
1/4 cup Orange Juice Concentrate
1 Tablespoon agave
2 teaspoons green ormus blend (Ormus Greens by SunWarrior)
1/2 Tablespoon Sun Warrior vanilla protien
Water added to the top of the ingredients
1 Tablespoon chia seeds, blend or stir briefly after this addition and let the mixture sit for a few minutes.

Than blend everything up well and enjoy!

I’m not sure how essential the protien powder and greens are. I suspect that the taste wouldn’t change much without them since they are in such small amounts.


I’m Back

I don’t post much about my personal life, but since I’ve been gone forever I figured an explanation is called for

You see I’m married to a professor, who is on sabbatical for the year. And since we had wanted to sell our house for quite awhile we did.

And ended up living in a 21 ft. travel trailer and working our way up the west coast over the summer break. There is generally no internet access at forest service, state park, or national park campgrounds. And, more importantly, cooking exciting things in a trailer is tricky.

But, I will post a smoothie recipe that was born in the trailer. And maybe something about the favorite recipes, which were also easy enough to cook while camping, that we took with us on the trip.

So, glad to be back. Glad to have internet service.

See you soon.