Happy Herbivore Blog

March 31, 2012

This Week's Q&A (Talking Oil, Flour, Children and more!) Plus Prize Winners Announced!

You've got questions, I've got answers!

1. Have you written anything on raw sugar vs. organic sugar?  I didn’t find anything in the FAQ’s.  Are they the same? 

Raw sugar CAN be organic but so can processed white sugar -- they are not automatically the same thing.

2.  I really struggle sautéing without added oils. Everything either sticks or gets mushy. I keep trying but many times, I add a bit of oil to make veggies a bit more palatable. How do you do it?

We use water or vegetable broth. If you line the skillet with a thin layer, things shouldn't stick or become mushy.

3. I keep messing up every sweet potato recipe I've tried, to the point where I skip over them to avoid another disaster. The last time I tried it exploded in my oven leaving me a HUGE mess. Can you tell me the proper way to cook a sweet potato?

You can bake it just like a regular baked potato in the oven (make sure to stab it a few times with a fork first), and check it with a fork to see when it is done (the fork will slide in easily). A cooked sweet potato should be slightly soft. You can also boil pieces in water until they are fork tender and eat it that way or make “mashed sweet potatoes” (though you will probably need more liquid than you do when making traditional mashed potatoes). You can also cook them in the microwave. Be sure to stab it a few times with a fork. It can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the size and power of your microwave. You can also cube them and bake on a cookie sheet in the oven at 375F. That takes about 20-25 minutes, but depends on how big the chunks of potatoes are.

4. I am concerned about feeding my children a plant-based diet, any advice?

It is the official position of the American and Canadian Dietetic Associations that a plant-based diet is suitable for all stages of life. As long as your children are eating diet with a variety of whole foods, they should get all the nutrients they need. Also note that eating animal products doesn’t mean they are any more likely to get everything they need and many of today’s kids aren’t getting all the nutrients they need because of the standard American Diet. Nevertheless, you should to have your pediatrician check just to make sure your kids are thriving and meeting their needs (though this is true for all kids, not just plant-based ones). We have a parents group on Facebook, called Herbie Parents, you might want to join. We also had a guest post by Julieanna Hever on raising plant-based kids

5. I know there are differences but is it really a big deal to use pastry flour when baking cakes/cookies/etc? Can I just use regular wheat flour instead of the pastry flour?

Whole wheat pastry flour is much lighter and fluffier than whole wheat flour, which can be heavy and grainy. Whole wheat pastry is similar to all purpose, only it still has all it's nutrients and is less processed. 

White whole wheat usually works alright, and oat flour does a pretty good job most of the time too. Other whole wheat flours (like regular whole wheat flour, or whole wheat flours that are lightly tan in color) generally do not work or the results are dry and dense. Regular whole wheat flours tend to be thirstier than whole wheat pastry and much heavier and grainy. Check out my earlier post on the different types of flours for more information on their differences.

Congratulations to our 20,000 Facebook Fan Giveaway Winners!

Ashley wrote: "I love that the Happy Herbivore helps me to make healthy meals for me and my family! Whenever I'm stuck for an idea... I come to you!

Chantal wrote: "My favorite thing about HH is the recipes. I've really liked them all. #elephant"

Meagan wrote: "Happy Herbivore is a must-have for people eating vegan! Great recipes that my husband and preschooler love to eat!"

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