Happy Herbivore Blog

Nacho Soup, Fall Ratatouille, Baked Caprese Pasta & More!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MealPlan

Lots of flavorful and warming dishes are coming your way on this week's meal plan!

Nacho Soup (NEW!), Fall Ratatouille (NEW!), Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (NEW!), Roasted Chickpea & Potato Salad (NEW!, indi.), and Baked Caprese Pasta (NEW!, fam.) are not only all NEW!, but super delicious and easy to throw together!

Fall Ratatouille

Individual Highlights

  • Nacho Soup (NEW!)
  • Cinnamon Apple Sweet Potato (NEW!)
  • Slow Cooker Vegetable Stew
  • Roasted Chickpea & Potato Salad (NEW!)
  • Fall Ratatouille (NEW!)
  • Spicy Orange Broccoli & Noodles
  • Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potato (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Baked Caprese Pasta

Family Highlights

  • Mediterranean Stuffed Sweet Potatoes (NEW!)
  • Tex Mex Sloppy Joes
  • Nacho Soup (NEW!)
  • Baked Caprese Pasta (NEW!)
  • Quinoa Curry Bowl
  • Cream of Broccoli Soup
  • Fall Ratatouille (NEW!)

Get this meal plan now.

Nacho Soup

Testimonials

"I packed on the pounds when I first went vegan and hit my heaviest. I started following the meal plans in January and I've lost 30 pounds!"- Libby W

"I love the meal plans. The recipes are so easy and make sense. No exotic hard to find ingredients." - Michelle S

Get the current meal plan now.

Herbies of the Week: The Dern Family

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Meet our Herbies of the Week: The Dern Family!

After her mother suffered a heart attack at the age of 43, Jenna's parents made the decision to go plant-based after watching Dr. Sanjay Gupta's CNN special on plant-based diets.

It's been 3 years since making the switch and the Dern family is happier and healthier than ever! Jenna's parents both lost 20lbs while she lowered her own cholesterol and is at a "very low risk" for heart disease!

Continue reading for The Derns' plant-based journey!

My mother is a doctor. This has always been a fact that has provided me with great comfort, knowing that the choices my family made were in my best interest for my health and overall wellbeing. Nothing could have prepared me for the day when I learned that my mom had had a heart attack at 43 years old. I was only 13 at the time, and this news clouded the days that followed the event with sadness and fear. My family had always eaten healthy and exercised moderately. My parents were young and we had a happy, stress-free life. We had no idea at the time that my mom’s genetic predisposition to heart disease and the Standard American Diet that we were following would have such an impact on my mom’s health. Now, at 17, I know the simplest answer to health and wellbeing: plant-based foods.

The last vacation that my family spent together before becoming plant-based was in Hawaii, the summer after my mom’s heart attack. There, we feasted on gelato, Spam musubi, and Hawaiian barbecue food. Our vacation was amazing, the island that we stayed on was beautiful, and the food was tasty. However, my family looks back on this vacation with a twinge of bittersweet sadness—we had no idea at the time that the food we were eating was doing more harm than good to our bodies.

Only 2 weeks later, my parents watched Sanjay Gupta's "The Last Heart Attack" that focused on vegan diets. After learning about Bill Clinton’s remarkable health recovery after following a plant-based diet and delving into more documentaries, books, and research articles, my parents decided it was time to go vegan for the sake of my mother’s, and the rest of the family’s, health.

That day, we rid our fridge of all animal products. By doing so, we also emptied out tons of processed foods. We then stocked up on new foods that would be the staples of our diet: beans, rice, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds. The diet was so simple that it was almost too good to be true. But this lifestyle change has been the most significant moment in my life so far. Going vegan has had a remarkable affect on my family’s life.

Neither my mom nor my dad had ever been overweight, but before long, both of my parents had happily lost about 20 pounds each. My own cholesterol was about 110 the last time that I had it checked, and my LDL to HDL ratio was 1.5, classifying me as at a “very low” risk for heart disease!

Eating clean, whole foods has also allowed my physical strength to increase tremendously: as a young teenager, I could hardly run a couple of miles without feeling sick, but the plant-based lifestyle has changed this all. Now, I look forward to a 3 mile run in the morning with my parents, and I never feel exhausted or nauseous anymore. This feat may be small to some, but I always look up to my mom, who just ran her first half-marathon this year, as a source of constant positivity and inspiration. My mom proves to me every day that through nutrition and awareness, I can truly put my health first and take every step necessary to live the longest, most comfortable life possible.

Perhaps the most remarkable change that has taken place after going vegan is in my own eating habits. I have been a picky eater since I was a toddler. My parents used to have to feed me instant breakfast drinks in order to be sure that I was getting enough protein and vitamins each day. As I got older, I always disliked eating meat but would have chicken nuggets any time I went out to eat because they were just one food on a list of about 5 food items (including mac and cheese, cheese pizza, and plain pasta) that I could tolerate. Since this lifestyle change, I have welcomed an array of new fruits and vegetables into my life. I am still expanding my palate, but in this past summer I have found a brand new love for spinach and arugula salad and avocados! These steps may be small, but it feels great to know that I am constantly allowing myself to take in even more vitamins and nutrients with each new food that I welcome to my diet.

As a senior in high school, my life is just about to start. When asked what they want to do for a profession, nearly all students claim that they want to help others. Since becoming plant-based, I have longed to help others more than ever before. When asked the dreaded “What-do-you-want-to-do-in-the-future” questions, I wholeheartedly hope that others know how sincere I am about wanting to help people. I see the shocking statistics and articles about my generation’s health, the affects of the body when consuming animal-products, and the inhumane conditions that animals must suffer through, and I know what I am supposed to do.

I know that I have the ability to be anything that I want to be--if I wanted, I could pursue a career in medicine, chemistry, or mathematics. For a long time, I wondered if I would still contribute to society if I didn’t pursue an “important” career. I know I could do anything, but I truly love being creative, taking photographs, and connecting with people—after becoming plant-based, I began to learn that I can be important, all while doing the things I love. This summer, I created a food blog, where I share my vegan recipes, reviews, and tips. I find so much joy in making recipes, trying new fruits and vegetables, and helping others embrace this lifestyle. Who’s to say that that isn’t important? If I can change one life by touting the benefits of a vegan diet (there are just so many!) then I would in a heartbeat! I know the power of plant-based foods: it turned me from a picky eater to an adventurous lover of all things green. If I can prevent someone else from developing a sickness caused by diet, I don't think I think I would break down in tears of joy.

I cannot emphasize enough how grateful I am that my family has made this switch in our lives. I have never felt more alive, passionate about health and wellbeing, or happy as I have in the past 3 years that my family has been figuring this whole lifestyle out. For a while, in the beginning, I thought I would one day revert back to my cheddar-cheese-eating days. Today, I can happily order a custom pizza, sans cheese. I can make an amazing mac and cheese using a cauliflower and nutritional yeast sauce. I can make homemade almond milk or almond spread to put over toast. The possibilities truly never opened up until I embraced this diet. I can doanything with the power of plant foods and positivity.

Thank you, Lindsay for your amazing books, constant Facebook presence that always brightens my day, and everlasting passion for plant-based eating!

Thank you Jenna for sharing your family's inspirational story!

How to Talk to Others About Living a Plant-Based Lifestyle (Guest Post by Kayla!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guest

I'm always getting questions via email asking how one can spread the Herbie love. Specifically, how can they talk to others about living the plant-based lifestyle and without being preachy or overbearing.

I talk a lot about outreach (and how to tailor your message so your hearer hears it) in my new book, The Happy Herbivore Guide to Plant-Based Living, but today Kayla is sharing her own personal experience with outreach.

As I've said before: You can lead a horse to water, but you can't force him to drink. However, leading by example is dynamite. If you lower your head to drink the water, then start moaning over how refreshingly delicious it is, the horse may very well get curious and give it a try!

When I discovered how great I feel eating an 85% vegan diet, I wanted to prove it to my family, friends, and acquaintances on Facebook. But since I live in a small, fast food loving town where everyone is a fan of fried foods, I knew I had a challenge on my hands!

Like Lindsay, I also wanted to start my own business and be my own boss, so I started making and selling Happy Herbivore baked good recipes to local businesses (eye doctors, offices, dentists, etc). Unfortunately, I wasn't making much of a profit so I quit selling door to door.

A little while later, one of my friends shared a granola bar recipe with me. It was good, but, I felt like it could be healthier. So, with faith in God, I started tweaking the recipe and eventually "Kay's Delight Bars" were born.

I've been selling my bars to friends, family, and coworkers ever since for the past two years.

I'm still not making a profit, but I love knowing I'm getting those I care about to open up and try healthier foods. I still hope to own my own health-based business some day.

Recently, I decided to take my outreach even farther by participating in an event called "The Taste of Rogersville." The Taste of Rogersville is an annual event where local vendors and restaurants give out samples to anyone who buys an admission ticket (hence the name).

The Taste of Rogersville is always a huge event (some 1,500 people attend), so I decided to participate. I wanted to show my town how wonderful healthy, plant-based food can be by providing some plant-based options at the event.

It took me eleven hours to make all samples myself, but it was worth the work.

I didn't win a prize (there were awards for Best Dessert, Best Taste, People's Choice and Best Booth) but I didn't care. My award was seeing people's smiling faces, wide eyes, and hearing their high praise compliments about my bars.

(I used a basket of fake fruit, Happy Herbivore books, and the No Meat Athlete book as my main décor, with fake flowers)

I ended up with a good bit of leftover bars so I gave them to the owners of three different local restaurants.

One of the restaurants, the Sunshine Sandwich Shop, opened a year ago. When I first walked in, I was delighted to see they had healthy vegetarian choices already on their menu. When I mentioned to the owners I was vegan, they started participating in "Meatless Mondays" by making their Monday specials vegan and vegetarian dishes. As far as I know, no other restaurant in town had done anything like this.

To date, the Sunshine Sandwich Shop is VERY popular and I think it's their "uniqueness". Their willingness to step out of the circle, stand out and be different, that gives them a competitive edge.

Meanwhile, the chef at another local restaurant, Hale Springs Inn, always made a special vegan dish for me whenever I'd come to eat. I'm delighted to say my veggie/bean dish is now on the regular dinner menu! Just goes to show you it never hurts to ask and by asking you might create a vegan option for others in your town to try!

Also, at the event, another restaurant, Jubilee Point Café, told me they wanted to start putting vegan and vegetarian options on their menu as well. [Editorial note: the Jubilee Point Café has closed.]

My state, Tennessee, is one of the unhealthiest and obese states in America, and I'm glad to see local restaurants getting on board with healthier fare. My town might be small, and these changes might seem small, but they can lead into a big change that the community needs.

It's not an overnight thing, but one person, one step, can make an army of success.

Help get the word out in your area! One person can make a difference.

Here are some of my favorite ways to reach and inspire others:

**Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter-Share, share, share! Share healthy tips, encourage, motivate and show off your eats!

**Ask if your company has a Wellness Program and if it doesn't, see if the company is open to starting one with your help.

**Take part of food contests. Spread the healthy news.

**Ask locally owned restaurants if they can make something special for you. Then thank them over and over.

Above all, remember that inspiring others is a domino effect. Build them up and nudge them in the right direction. It won't happen overnight, but, with patience, faith, willpower, and determination, anything is possible if you just believe.

Plant the seed, nurture it, watch it grow. It'll do the rest on its own.

With all this said,

GOOD LUCK WITH WHATEVER YOU DECIDE ON!

Stand up. Stand out. Color outside of the lines.