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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Bread: A Template – part 2

We’ll start with the water, 3 to 3 1/2 cups will give you an average size batch of bread dough. This makes 2 or 3 loaves, or a loaf and a bunch of rolls, etc. I pour in about 1/2 of the amount from room temperature filtered water, and the other half out of my tea kettle (heated of course), not necessarily boiling, but quite hot. (I will say here, that some people – Chef Brad for instance – dump in all the ingredients, half the flour, and add the yeast on top to avoid any risk of killing it with water that’s too hot. So, if you’re interested you can look into that method.) You’re going for “wrist temperature” water in the mixer, that means quite warm, but not anywhere near boiling.

Add in a bit of sweetener, 1/2 teaspoon is sufficient here, but who wants to measure? This could be almost anything; like molasses, agave, barley malt, rice syrup or honey.

Now add in your yeast, about 1 Tablespoon is good for a batch of this size.

Let this proof – proving to you that the yeast is active and happy.

Add in a few cups (about 3) of the flour (this needs to be a gluten containing flour, like wheat or spelt) for the sponge stage where you’ll let this raise for 1/2 hour or so. Of course bread can be made without this step, in fact if you have a mixer you could just mix it longer to develop the gluten, but I think using the sponge step leads to lighter whole grain breads.

Now, for the fun part.
Decide how much oil, sweetener, etc. that you want to add, 1/4 to 1/2 cup of each is a good range. I actually use less oil than that and often less sweetener. (Rather than adding any oil you could use ground flax seeds). Be sure to include salt, bread made without it will remind you never to do so again. Use about 1 Tablespoon for a batch this size.
You can at this point also include seasonings, herbs, soaked/cooked grains, or nuts in your creation.

Some suggestions:
For a french style bread you’ll want to leave the oil and sweetener out entirely.
For a richer dough you could use more oil/ground flax seed and even sub some non-dairy milk for part of the liquid.

Add/knead in the additional flour. This does not all need to have a high gluten content. For instance some of it could be oat flour, which does not contain gluten. Continue to add flour until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl. You want it a bit sticky, this gives a softer bread, be especially careful when using a mixer which can make it easy to add too much flour.

Here we have what you could call the official “template”, to be used as a jumping off point.

3 – 3 1/2 cups water
drop of sweetener
1 Tablespoon yeast
at least 4 cups of a gluten containing flour, such as spelt or wheat in it’s many variations.
1 Tablespoon salt
Oil or ground flax seed
Honey or other sweetener
Any desired additions
The rest of the flour, gluten or not depending on your creation

For more information on this method, and instructions with and without a mixer see the Basic Whole Wheat Bread recipe in our recipe section.

C

Bread: A Template – Part 1

I used to think it required special bread recipe for each new type of bread I wanted to make; crescent rolls, baugettes, pizza, etc. And while that might give your bread some subtle differences that those striving for perfection could appreciate, it’s often not a practical way to provide your family with bread. Who has time to make 4 different recipes in a week? So, that leaves you with the option of only eating one type of bread that week (I’ve done this a lot, not a bad option really), purchasing some of your bread ready made, or… becoming more flexible with the use of your basic bread recipe.

This way you can make bread once for a week, or two if you double the recipe. And still end up with your sandwich bread, rolls, pizza, buns, or whatever else is needed for the week (because you planned your menus, so you know what you need, right?). Here’s a very basic bread recipe, it doesn’t get much more basic than this.

However, I’ll elaborate on it a bit, and you should be able to come up with your own recipe’s in the future. I will say too, that making bread is one of those things you need to actually DO before you entirely “get it”. It’s not hard though, just a new skill that will take a small time investment to catch on to.

This will be a three part series, so stay tuned. 🙂

C

31 Days of Menus: Thanksgiving 1

Thanksgiving can seem to be one of the hardest holidays to cook for on a plant based diet. After all, the main feature of the meal is traditionally, a turkey. However, the rest of the meal is quite easy to adapt.

Here are some suggestions for a substantial plant based meal to celebrate your Thanksgiving Holiday.

Bryanna’s Breast of Tofu Slices, this recipe used to be available on her blog, and it may be again (I hope). She is currently revisiting the recipes to make them printable, etc. and I’m hoping that’s why it is not available. (Found the recipe online, complete with a video if you so desire.)
Alternatively, you could use Oven Roasted Tofurky Deli Slices.

Cranberry Sauce (of course)

3 cups cranberries
3/4 cup honey
1 cup water

Simmer honey and water until well combined. Add the cranberries and simmer as the skins pop and the berries soften, about 5 minutes.
Cool and refrigerate until ready to serve.
This is not a really thick sauce, it’s more on the runny side. However, it is delicious!

Stuffing – use any bread based stuffing recipe that doesn’t call for meat and substitute vegetable broth for the stock

Rolls – use this recipe, except up the oil and sweetener for the holidays. Try 1/2 cup oil and 1/4 to 1/3 cup honey or agave.

Tossed salad

Mashed Potatoes (this is a small recipe, you may need to double or triple it)

2 potatoes, in 1″ cubes, skins intact (I prefer Yukon Gold, use 2 large or three smaller potatoes if using this variety)
1/4 cup non-dairy milk
Sea Salt
Pepper

Boil or steam the potatoes until tender, drain and place in a bowl. Beat with a hand mixer adding milk (cooking water or vegetable broth could also be used) as needed. Or use a potato masher. if you go with the blender option, which is what I use, be sure to blend briefly so the potatoes don’t resemble glue when you’re done. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Some olive oil could also be added, or a salt free seasoning mix used.

Gravy – there are a lot of options here, I like the Chicken Style Gravy from Passionate Vegetarian. You could also try, Tammie’s Simple Basic Gravy recipe.

for dessert…

Try This Pumpkin Pie Brownie (scroll down for the link to her Thanksgiving dinner menu/recipes – including this pie).
You could serve it with Coconut Bliss Vanilla as Angela suggests, (and I do love this brand) but if you’re more into ice cream than I am, you might have other favorites.

C

Cinnamon Rolls

O.k. You’ll need 2/3 of the Basic Bread Dough Recipe, the variation involving more honey 😉 (I bake the other third into a loaf).

Then, mix up the filling:

3/4 cup chopped walnuts
6 Tablespoons raisins
2 Tablespoons sucanat
3/4 cup liquid honey
up to 6 Tablespoons water, as needed
2 Tablespoons flour
2 to 3 teaspoons powdered cinnamon

Stir together in a small bowl, add water if needed to make the filling more spreadable.

Then, divide the dough in two and roll into rectangles, approximately 18 X 11 inches, the dough will be about 1/4 inch thick.
Spread 1/2 of the filling over each rectangle, leaving the border uncovered. Roll up, from the long side, and pinch closed to seal.
Slice into rolls with a sharp knife (or use dental floss if you want), I cut mine 1 1/2 to 2 inches thick. Place in a greased rectangular (13 X 9 inch) glass pan. Let raise 30 to 45 minutes and bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 35 minutes.

C

Guacamole

A pretty basic recipe, but here it is, just in case anyone needs it.

1 perfectly ripe avacado, peeled & seeded
About 1 Tablespoon of freshly squeezed lemon juice (to taste)

Sprinkle on some sea salt, preferably Redmond’s

And, add a clove of diced garlic (FRESH garlic, not the jarred in the fridge stuff and no powder!)

Mash it all together with a fork, enjoy!

And yes, that’s more than a clove of garlic, about 3 to be exact. But, I’m sick so besides the fact that I couldn’t taste the one clove, the actual guacamole in these photos was for medicinal purposes.

“Let your food be your medicine, and your medicine your food.” – Hippocrates

You’re the Apple of my eye

I couldn’t resist leading in with the cute valentine stickers for fruit. So, just in case you need a last minute gift idea ;-).

And for your dining pleasure, a recipe for apple crisp.

Ingredients:

4 Medium apples, sliced (about 4 cups)
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup Whole Spelt or Wheat flour
1/2 cup rolled oats
1/4 cup coconut oil
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 375 F. Grease an 8 x 8 inch pan lightly with coconut oil and fill with the sliced apples.

In a separate bowl mix the flour, oats, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg together. Mash the coconut oil into this with a fork (or just stir it in if your house is warmer than mine 🙂 ).

Drizzle 1 or 2 Tablespoons of the honey over the apple slices and work the remaining honey into the topping mixture with a fork.

Spread the topping over the apples – just kind of mush it down with your hands or a spoon, or combination thereof.

Bake for 30 minutes until the topping is golden and crisp.

Adapted from Betty Crocker’s New Cookbook. I have a few general (non-vegan/vegetarian) cookbooks that I like to keep around as a reference and resource for recipes to adapt and this is one of them.

Apple Crisp is really Melissa’s area of expertise, but this turned out so well I decided to post it anyway. Maybe I’ll get her to post her fat free version at a later date ;-).

C