Cookbook Review Everyday Happy Herbivore

If you’ve seen my twitter feed, you surely know I’m an Herbie… that is, a huge fan of Happy Herbivore (HH), also known as Lindsay Nixon.  I’m always making HH’s recipes, or learning something new from her fantastic blog.  I even have the Happy Herbivore 2012 calendar hanging on my desk at work, for healthy inspiration.  When I heard Lindsay was coming out with her second cookbook, I pre-ordered my copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore, and it’s now earned a permanent spot, not on the bookshelf, but right on my kitchen counter.

 

Why am I such a big fan of Happy Herbivore? While I have a huge library of cookbooks that I absolutely adore, when I’m really hungry, I know with HH recipes I can get something filling and flavorful on the table fast. When I’m planning out my weekly meals, the majority of my weeknight recipes come from Happy Herbivore’s books or website.

 

Take, for example, the Sweet Potato Dal (p. 114 & at the end of this post), a new favorite of mine.  This was ready in less than 30 minutes, and since, like all HH recipes, it uses no added oil and loads of plant-based foods (sweet potatoes, lentils & spinach – yum!), it was incredibly filling & healthy.  The entire bowl pictured below had only 232 calories, just 0.9 grams of fat, and it packed in 17 grams of fiber and 15 grams of protein!  It was so good & easy, that when it was all gone, I immediately cooked another batch.

When I saw on the Happy Herbivore blog back in December that Lindsay was inviting bloggers to participate in a “Virtual Book Tour” for Everyday Happy Herbivore, including the opportunity interview Lindsay and share one of her newest recipes, I was so eager to participate!  Unfortunately, this opportunity came up just as I was working to clear out my fridge & pantry for my big Asia trip, and my pre-ordered copy of the cookbook had only just arrived… so I’m incredibly belated in writing this post.

I’ve been cooking up a storm ever since I returned from Asia.  In addition to the Dal, here are some of my favorite recipes from Everyday Happy Herbivore so far:

Blueberry Breakfast Cake (p. 70)

Last weekend, Mike and I had a few friends over to our place and we served them brunch.  While our entire menu wasn’t vegan, I wanted to show them how good vegan food can be, so I whipped up this Blueberry Breakfast Cake.  Not a single piece was left after the meal, and several friends requested the recipe.

Deity Dressing (p. 128)

This is Lindsay’s take on Annie’s Goddess dressing.  While the flavor profile was similar, it wasn’t an exact match to Annie’s, but I loved it all the same.  It was so thick and creamy and only about 20 calories for 2 TBSP vs. about 120 calories in Annie’s.  I was dipping all sorts of veggies into this dressing, and wish I had made a double-batch! (Note: I forgot to buy green onions so I used white instead.  I imagine it would be much prettier with flecks of green in the dressing!)

Moroccan Lentil Soup (p. 101)
 
I actually made this soup back in November.  It’s been a fan-favorite on HappyHerbivore.com for ages, so it made it into the book.  What I love about this recipe is that all the ingredients are kitchen staples that I always have on hand – onions, carrots, celery, dried lentils, a carton of broth, and several items from my spice-rack.  I had a cold when I made this and I ate 6 bowls of this soup in 2 days – it was that good, and so flavorful I could still taste it with a stuffed up nose.
 

Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce (p. 208)

This simple sauce is whipped up in a blender or food processor.  Lindsay recommended making it ahead so that the flavors intensify the next day.  Not only did this maximize the flavor, but it also made for a super convenient dinner.  The next day, Mike simply cooked some pasta and heated up the sauce, and dinner was ready & waiting for me when I got home from work!

I’ve had many more great meals from this book (including Fiesta Bake, Chickpea Tenders, Cinnamon Raisin Biscuits, etc…), but this post is getting rather long, and I still haven’t shared the interview yet!

Meet Lindsay Nixon, the Happy Herbivore!

  

Q: For any readers that aren’t familiar with Happy Herbivore, give us a quick background about yourself – how long have you been vegan and what inspired you to make the change?

A: I’ve followed a plant-based diet since 2006; but I don’t identify as a vegan (read more here: http://happyherbivore.com/2011/10/im-not-vegan-anymore/

I’m motivated by the health benefits, the environmental and humanitarian aspects as well as the plight of farm animals. 

 
Q. I’ve encountered a lot of tough questions about my eating preferences – How do you explain veganism to people who are skeptical of its benefits?
 
A: When possible, I try to point them to the documentary Forks Over Knives; but generally I tell them to try a vegan meal, then they can see first-hand how great they feel afterward.
 
 
Q. As a vegetarian for over 10 years, in 2011 I started cutting back on the amount of eggs & dairy that I eat, though I can’t seem to kick the habit completely.  What advice do you have for someone who is finding it challenging to cut out eggs & dairy?
 
A. Just do it. Dairy is addictive (it’s actually physically addictive like a drug) so every time you eat it, the addiction is reinforced and the cycle starts all over — you have to kick the habit. 
 
 
Q. On the road to becoming vegan, did you have any slip-ups, and how did you get past them?
 
A. I talk about that in detail here: http://happyherbivore.com/2011/11/my-road-plant-based-diet-uncensored/ 
 
 
Q. I read that you’re a self-taught cook.  What was the learning process like, and what were some of the best resources you found along the way? 
 
A. Trial and error. Lots of trial and error!
 
 
Q. What foods/ingredients have you recently discovered?  Tell us about the last time you ate something for the first time.
 
A. I just spent a year abroad; it was really interesting and fascinating to try foods — fruits and vegetables, that aren’t common in the states but are common in other areas of the world. I had this one fruit in Croatia, not sure what it was, looked like a big grape, but tasted like a plum. Oh! I had chocolate in Germany that changed my life, and I’ll never be able to eat chocolate ever again unless it’s German chocolate – FROM Germany. It was incredible and I don’t even normally like chocolate! And I’m sad to say, after having fresh olives in Europe I can’t eat the jarred kind anymore in America… those olives, I’m drooling just thinking about them. German bread is always amazing too (and whole grain!). No one does bread right — only the Germans! Though I did have some pretty terrific bread in Holland, too.
 
 
Q. When I try to make my own recipes, they almost never come out right on the first try.  Do you have any tips for improvising in the kitchen?
 
A. Taste and tweek as you go. When I’m creating, I typically am just in my kitchen playing around with spices and ingredients. Tasting, adding a little more of this or that. I find that leads to the most successes. I’m lucky, in that very few recipes need to be made more than once to be perfected — but I’m very much an “on the fly” cook.
 
 
Q. It looks like you have a great network of recipe testers, which you call your “Super Beans”.  How does one get to become a “Super Bean”, and what characteristics are you looking for in a tester?
 
A. “Super beans” was the code name for my testers in Everyday Happy Herbivore. I called my first group of testers, for my first book, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook “wild chickpeas” and now the testers for my third book are called “Tofu Rangers” (my husband named them this time).
 
I hand pick all of my testers. I look for people who tweet or blog about my recipes a lot and generally seem very passionate about what I do and healthy, low fat cooking. I look for people who are active in the HH community — and reach out to them, ask them if they are interested in testing, and tell them the requirements. I develop very close relationships with my testers and they with each other — it’s like a little family, really. I feel very lucky to have them.
 
Thanks to Lindsay for taking the time to answer my questions, and also for providing me with the recipe for Sweet Potato Dal to share with all of you!  I am completely in love with this recipe and hope you give it a try!
 

Sweet Potato Dal | serves 2

This soup is Dal-icious! It’s so flavorful you’ll want seconds. and thirds!

1 small sweet potato, skinned
1 small onion, finely chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp garam masala, plus extra
1 cup vegetable broth, plus extra
1/2 cup red lentils
4 cups spinach, or more
salt

Dice sweet potato into small ½-inch cubes, and set aside. Line a medium pot with a thin layer of water and saute onions and garlic for a minute. Add a pinch or two red pepper flakes and continue to cook until all the water has cooked off. Add turmeric, ¼ tsp garam masala and stir to coat. Add 1 cup broth, uncooked lentils, and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce to low, cover, and simmer for a few minutes, about 5. Add sweet potatoes, bring to a boil again and reduce to low and simmer, until lentils are fully cooked (they expand and the sauce thickens), about 5 minutes more. Check periodically to see if you need additional broth (I tend to add an extra ½ cup but it can vary). Once lentils are cooked and sweet potatoes are fork tender, taste, adding more garam masala as desired (I like to add another ¼ tsp but some blends are stronger than others). Add spinach, continuing to stir until spinach cooks down and softens. Add salt to taste and serve.

Per Serving: 232 Calories, 0.9g Fat, 42.2g Carbohydrates, 17.7g Fiber, 4.7g Sugar, 15.4g Protein

 I’d love to hear from you!

Have you tried any Happy Herbivore recipes?

What question would you have asked Lindsay?

Coming up Next: Dinner with the non-profit Mercy for Animals, and then stay tuned for my adventures in Cambodia!