Losing Weight on a Plant Based Diet – Enjoy your food!

I think this is key. Key to resisting cravings and not feeling deprived. When we eat things that feel like a luxury or an indulgence, but are also healthy, it’s possible to lose weight without a constant internal struggle with food.

Additionally, this strategy makes lifelong change much more attractive and do-able.

So, what types of food fall into the healthy indulgence category? I’m sure that depends on who you are, what your childhood foods were like, how you feel about spending money on food, etc.

Personally, Pomegranate seeds fall into the indulgence category for me. I don’t happen to live anywhere they grow (although I did at one time), and so they tend to be on the expensive side. So, buying and enjoying a few (or more 🙂 ) pomegranates in season definitely falls into the healthy indulgence category for me.

The same could be said for any fruit or vegetable that you enjoy, but for some reason tend to feel is too expensive, or whatever your personal road block is.

Kumquats are another fruit that I feel this same way about. I’d really like to grow some in a greenhouse or something because these are just plain hard to come by, but I love eating them!

Additional examples are: Artichokes, French sorrel, fresh off the vine tomatoes, and in general – picked at it’s prime produce.

Aside from eating our favorite fruits and veggies straight up, what else can make a healthy diet feel indulgent?

Main courses that we love! These of course will vary a bit depending on who you are. I love crunchy raw salads with great dressings. Like my favorite salad, and The Seasoned Chickpeas over Kale & Avocado Salad from the OhSheGlows blog (which, try as I might, I cannot find the link to).

And of course, fun desserts that are as healthy as can be. What works for you will depend on your particular dietary demons, but one recipe that I found enjoyable was Raw Chocolate-Swirl Cheesecake Bars. I used honey instead of agave in the filling, and found that blending really well was key, but these turned out to be delicious.

This is my new approach. In the past I’ve focused more on strict discipline, but at this time in my life I find the need for a better motivation to a healthy diet. I’ve realized that I, at least, need a positive approach that focuses on the good things still available rather than what I need to cut out.

Have you noticed this in your own life?



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.


Is “normal” really normal?

Bringing back a classic post from August 2011. I had recently read Julianna Hever’s post “Redefining Normal” and when I came across this while going through my archives I decided to connect them both for your reading pleasure. 😉 (Ironically, my post may have also been inspired by soccer treats, as well as church treats, party treats, etc.)

“It’s helpful to realize that what is currently mainstream for dietary choices is far from normal or moderate. There is nothing normal about eating most of your food out of boxes, deep fried, or picked up at a drive up window. Such a diet is extreme, and in the world we live in today it can be hard to avoid. Even the salad dressings on the grocery store shelf may have been developed in a lab. How do I know? Well, one of my many majors in college was food science. And food scientists spend a lot of time in labs, developing new flavors, things that will sell and have a long shelf life. There is a lot of chemistry involved in that field, and as fascinating as chemistry can be, I’d rather not eat someone’s lab experiment.

I mention this because of the pervading view that eating a more natural, whole foods, and especially plant based diet is somehow extreme.

I can certainly see how it could seem that way when contrasted with the perversions that have developed in our world’s eating habits in the last 50 or 60 years. When we become more focused on appearance than health, and people are willing to do anything to lose weight and be thin, especially when it means they can keep eating all those delicious lab developed foods, that is a seriously warped perspective.

If we choose to complicate our diets to such an extent that they no longer resemble anything in the natural world, how is that normal?

I am saddened to watch all of the little children who are fed a constant diet of processed lab developed food. I believe many of them are never offered an option, and if they are it is something like cut up fruit or veggies placed in front of a child who has never really eaten them. When the children refuse to eat this “weird” unfamiliar food, their parents use that fact to defend their eating habits, “My kids just won’t eat ______”. Fill in the blank – healthy food, fruit, veggies, etc. I will say that both Melissa and I have experienced feeding children who are used to a more SAD diet, and they will eat healthy food, right off the bat if it is presented in the right way. Sure, it’s harder to work with them than a child raised to eat almost anything and to whom real food still looks like food, but it can be done. It works in much the same way that changing an adult diet does, start with things that are familiar. For instance frozen fruit smoothies in a popsicle mold are going to taste great to anyone, even and maybe especially someone who is used to frozen high fructose corn syrup.”

Julianna, the Plant Based Dietician posted a recent “rant” (in a good way :-)) on this same subject. So, if you want more, check it out here.


Would you choose cancer?

Or for that matter, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, strokes, obesity, etc. I don’t know of anyone who would jump up and down yelling, “Me, pick me!”
Yet, in many ways that is happening all over our country, and in fact much of the world daily.

Several years ago we lived in Massachusetts for a short time. While we were there I attended a church activity for women and met someone remarkable (by my estimation). She informed me that she was now vegan, because she had heart disease and she had to change her diet or die. When I mentioned how impressed I was that she would choose to make that change, her response was, “well, I had to, or I would die.” Yet I know many people who would choose death over dietary change any day.

Which, for those of us who have made major changes already, is particularly sad because we know how taste buds change, and how food can still be enjoyable, in fact more so than it was before.

I think there are several reasons behind the feeling that it’s just not worth changing:

One is that for many of us, we have been indoctrinated about the four foods groups for most of our lives. It can be difficult to overcome false teachings that we’ve listened to so long.

Additionally, old habits die hard. Change can seem overwhelming or scary to implement.

And of course there is the idea that food will never taste good again. That healthy food by it’s very nature must taste bad.

So, what to do? How do you change? What if you really don’t want to die, but aren’t sure where to start? How you can get yourself to stick to the changes?
The answers (in my admittedly strong opinion), coming soon to an herbivore blog near you.