Look who’s posting on a Tuesday! Not sure if I ever did that before but today is a special occasion that is well worth breaking from my blogging habits. There’s an awesome surprise waiting in store for you, too, but more on that later.
I’m sure you’ve heard of Lindsay S. Nixon and her website Happy Herbivore before. Lindsay doesn’t just blog but is the author of several cookbooks, too, the fourth of which is Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. I’m thrilled to take part in Lindsay’s blog book tour – especially since I have the honour of posting on the official release day :).
While I’m by no means trying to loose weight I simply like Lindsay’s approach to create simple recipes using whole foods and everyday ingredients. Currently living in the countryside again with a limited availability of special vegan products – no silken tofu, no special flours etc.- I was glad to find the recipes hardly calling for any of these. If – like me – you live in Europe and can’t find certain ingredients used in American recipes in general: Lindsay’s former intern Berta recently did a great post on living abroad as a vegan with lots of advice on how to adapt recipes.
Something else that stood out for me in the book was Lindsay’s relaxed attitude to not fussing when you can’t find the healthiest ever foods while on the road or at a restaurant. I’ve struggled with this before but now agree with what Lindsay says: you won’t always be able to find an option like brown rice on the menu so should just account for the situation you’re in. In the case of eating out white rice with a side of vegetables is still a healthier choice than something like a deep-fried spring roll. Though I personally wouldn’t mind going all out every now and then, either – it’s all about balance, right ;)?
Chipotle Harvest Chili from the book
There are many recipes I still want to try [hopefully soon]: Caribbean Chili, Nacho Bowl, Chocolate Surprise Frosting … to name just a few. In addition to those Herbivore Light & Lean is the first of Lindsay’s books also taking a look at the fitness part of healthy living. Working with the ’100 factor’ in terms of losing weight by cutting just that number of calories from your diet per day Lindsay’s fitness approach is the same. Rather than suggesting readers to do strenuous workouts all of the time she lists many everyday tasks burning 100 calories and fun ways of exercising like dancing, raking leaves or vacuuming [see, that's exercise, too!]. Additionally, Lindsay shows workouts – or ‘body recipes’ as she calls them – you need no gym membership or lots of equipment for but can just do at home. I really liked these, too.
As part of the book tour I got the chance to ask Lindsay as few question so here you go:
1. Happy Herbivore Light & Lean is your most personal book so far sharing your own health story. You describe veganism as your turning point to an overall better health, appearance and fitness. There are also many success stories of fellow ‘Herbies’ on your blog who greatly improved their lives by adopting a vegan diet. Do you feel veganism is the ‘best’ diet for everyone or can going mostly plant-based already make a difference?
I feel I should clarify that I don’t identify as a vegan, nor do many of the “Herbies” of the week. Veganism is a movement rooted in animal rights — abstaining from animal products on a moral/ethical basis “for the animals.” Health or being healthy is not a core objective. That’s not to say some vegans don’t care about their health, but one need only looks at commercial vegan substitutes like Boca burgers, or most mainstream “vegan” cookbooks and see that they’re only marginally healthier than their animal counterparts. I picked up a vegan cupcake at the store the other day and the accompanying nutritional facts were starling — a far cry from “healthy.” Someone could very easily be “vegan” and live on colas, French fries, Oreos, faux meats and soy cheeses, and their health would not necessarily improve or see s benefit. This is where the whole plant-based distinction comes in. Yes it’s a diet (and lifestyle) free of animal products like meat, fish, cheese and eggs, but it’s primary focus is on health and eating whole, plant-foods.
In that case, yes, anyone can (and will) benefit from a whole foods plant-based diet. Science tells us it is the best diet for humans. You can prevent and reverse heart disease, type 2 diabetes, the majority of cancers, and most (not as fatal) medical issues like acne, migraines, IBS, fatigue, PCOS, hypertension, and so forth with a plant-based diet.
2. One feature on your blog are your Minimalist Monday posts. How did you get started with minimalism and what does it mean for your decisions and actions in everyday life?
My minimalism was sort of forced on to me initially — I was laid off from my job and had to move into a really small studio apartment (from a large two bedroom) thereby parting with the vast majority of my possessions. Unemployment also shifted my expenses quite considerably. Yet despite my new “meager” livings, I found I was the happiest I ever was. I had this breakthrough moment realizing less really is more and fell into minimalism with open arms. It has completely changed how I navigate in the world and in all the right ways.
3. What is your best advice for people who want to stay active and work out during the colder months but can’t afford a gym membership?
Bundle up and go outside. Get into winter sports and enjoy them — they’re seasonal! Buy some workout DVDs. Take a yoga class.
4. During the past years I’ve been able to show my family and friends that vegan food can be quite flavourful and much more than simple stir-fries or plain cakes. However, when vegan and low-fat collaborate they’re still super skeptical and I haven’t dared serving them anything matching those criteria. Which dishes from your new book would you share with doubtful people?
All of them
5. 5. A successful blog, four cookbooks and many loyal fans – congratulations on how far you’ve come with Happy Herbivore! What do you hope to achieve with your blog and brand in the future?
Thanks! I never really set out with a plan or grand vision. I just… do. My goal has always been to help people. Each day I get to do that, I win. I look forward to seeing what happens next. I’m just along for the ride!
Just so you can get a first taste of the food in Happy Herbivore Light & Lean I’m allowed to share a recipe with you. Given the chance to pick one I went with the dish that immediately jumped at me: the Soba Peanut Noodles – and really, who doesn’t like peanut butter?!
Soba Peanut Noodles
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget
All the taste you love in creamy peanut noodles but with less fat and calories thanks to a surprise ingredient: vegan yogurt! I call this a “cheater” recipe since I use a dab of peanut butter, but it’s still light compared to most peanut noodle recipes.
- 4 oz buckwheat noodles (could sub spaghetti)
- 2 green onions, sliced cubed tofu or edamame (optional)
- vegetables, like broccoli or cucumber (optional)
Creamy Peanut Sauce
- 2 tbsp plain vegan yogurt
- 1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
- 1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce
- few dashes garlic powder
- few dashes ground ginger
- 1 tbsp rice vinegar
- 1–2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
- Asian hot sauce (e.g., Sriracha; optional)
Cook noodles according to package instructions, rinse under cold water in a colander, and chill in the fridge for a few minutes if you can. Meanwhile, whisk peanut sauce ingredients together. Taste, adding more soy sauce or tamari, garlic, onion, or hot sauce as desired. Toss noodles with sauce, then stir in green onion, tofu or edamame if using, and vegetables, if using.
Chef’s Note: Despite having “wheat” in the name, buckwheat flour is completely gluten-free. Just make sure your noodles are 100% buckwheat if you have an allergy or sensitivity.
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .274
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47.5g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.6g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.7g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.4g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
If you’re curious to see some more recipes have a look at those shared during the first part of Lindsay’s book tour. All in all I think Happy Herbivore Light & Lean is a great cookbook for everybody interested in plant-based cooking even if – like me – you’re not looking to loose weight.
What about the surprise I mentioned in the introduction? You might have guessed it already and yes, I’m happy to be allowed to not only share a recipe with all of you but also give away a copy of Lindsay’s new book. For organisational reasons Lindsay’s publisher asked me to hold the giveaway no earlier than next week so if you’re interested in getting Happy Herbivore Light & Lean for yourself stop by again!
Happiness inducing today: An overall marvelous Monday.
Have you tried any of Lindsay’s recipes before or even own some of her books?
Peanut butter: yay or nay?
If you aren’t vegan: Do you still enjoy trying vegan recipes?