Happy Herbivore Blog

Teaching Tuesday: Nutritional Yeast (Facts & Uses)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Cooking101

Today's Teaching Tuesday topic is something I love and can't get enough of: nutritional yeast (aka nooche)!

I always get asked about nutritional yeast (especially what it tastes like), so hopefully you'll find this little "lesson" helpful.

And if you're still not sure about it, give nooche a chance ;)

(Image source)

What IS nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is a deactivated yeast and is dairy & gluten free. It is a complete protein, and has a good source of vitamins. Most brands are also fortified with B-12.

What does it taste like?

It has a cheesy, nutty flavor! It took me several times before I got used to it; I thought it was smelly. Now I can't stay away from it!

What brands do you use?

The only food I’m brand specific about is nutritional yeast (some brands are gross). I’ll only use Braggs or Red Star, even if it means having to order it online (like at bulkfoods.com).

How can I use nutritional yeast?

Nutritional yeast is commonly used in vegan recipes to replace a cheese taste. For example, I use it the Baked Shells & Cheese (The Happy Herbivore Cookbook), Grilled Cheeze (Everyday Happy Herbivore), Asparagus Quiche (Happy Herbivore Abroad), and the "Cheese" Ball (Happy Herbivore Light & Lean). I also use it in my tofu scramble and even like it sprinkled on popcorn!

Can I substitute it for active yeast?

Active yeast and nutritional yeast are completely different products that are used for two different things. When people ask me if they can swap out the two and use them interchangeably, I always have to tell them no because the results in whatever they're making will come out completely different! Active yeast works as a leavening agent in breads and other baked goods. It's primarily used to make your baked goods rise and add fluff to a piece of bread or a cinnamon roll. Active yeast can come in a jar, or it can come in little envelopes found in the baking aisle of your grocery store.

Do you like nutritional yeast?

Minimalist Monday: Living on a Boat (Guest Post by Andria!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: MinimalistGuest

Earlier this year I hosted a Virtual Minimalist Declutter Party Challenge (you can see the incredible before and after photos here.)

A couple days before the party, Andria posted a comment on the Facebook event page about her minimalist experience:

I couldn't believe it! I was so impressed by her story, I immediately reached out to Andria and asked if she would share her minimalist journey on the blog.

I'll let Andria take it away...

There I was living in my lovely home state of Michigan; a newlywed, unemployed, and sitting on a Master’s degree that wasn’t doing me any good. Terrified of leaving my home town, but desperate to get out and begin a career, after a year of interviews I was finally offered a job. In Alexandria, Virginia.

My husband Chris and I didn’t hesitate and jumped at the chance. We would pack up our stuff and be gone three weeks later, leaving all of our family and friends behind. This was our opportunity to live “the American dream.”

If you know anything about the D.C. area, you’re aware that the cost of living is insanely high. Especially for one individual, who is now employed by the state (me), and the other who is still searching for his big opportunity, but working retail in the meantime (Chris). We did what we had to do though. My parents paid our first month’s rent of $1,328 for our 650 sqft one-bedroom apartment (thank you!!), we had zero in savings, and two maxed out credit cards from our wedding just a few months prior. Not to mention the intense amount of student loan debt with a huge monthly payment. Needless to say, we were underwater barely able to tread. But, we both had jobs and were determined to make it work. Only a few short months later Chris found his calling as a firefighter, and hasn’t looked back since.

Fast forward to three years later.

We found ourselves struggling to save money, and what little we could save often was used in the following month for essential necessities. You know like, food. Gas. Utilities. At the height of our rental years, we paid $1,850 for a one-bedroom apartment. Not including utilities.

Things we felt like were luxuries took a back burner. No more cable, less trips to the coffee shop, better phone plan, etc. But it never felt like it made a difference. We were still relying on credit cards far too much, and still were not able to pay them down. We needed a change.

We moved out of the city.

Living out in the country felt less suffocating, and in our eyes much cheaper. Instead of an apartment, we found a nice house to rent for $1,295. Not much less than our very first apartment when we moved to the area, but at least we were getting more for our money. Which seemed important at the time. However, living further out also meant we had to commute in for work. Commuting equals more gas, which equals more money. Not to mention my sanity.

I started to feel like we were worse off than when we first began this journey three years earlier. I was becoming unhappy with my job, which made the commute even worse. But I didn’t have a backup plan, so we needed my job, my income, just to survive. Speaking to my mom one day she suggested, half kidding probably, that we move onto a boat. I laughed at her suggestion and continued the conversation in a different direction. But the more suppressed I felt, the more that suggestion kept entering my mind as an option.

The idea of living smaller really became clearer after several failed attempts to find and purchase a house within our budget. At some point during the process I remember telling Chris that none of it felt right. That it didn’t make sense to add large amounts of debt to more debt. So I presented him with the idea of moving on to a boat, living smaller, and being able to pay down our debt and save money. After many nights of convincing, with a few cocktails I’m sure, Chris was in. So in July 2013 we began looking for our next home. One that we could put money toward owning, not renting.

We set our purchasing limit to $20,000. The chain of events that occurred after we finally found it happened so fast, I can hardly remember. But, all you need to know is that it ended with the keys of a 1979 Trojan Tri Cabin in our hands for $18,000, and payment of just $330 per month.

Now that we had the boat, we needed to decide how to downsize. We started with one room at a time. First the bedroom, then the closets, and onto the bathrooms. The office and living room were next. Deciding which electronics and books to donate and take with us. Then finally, the kitchen. My sacred space. That was by far the most difficult for me because cooking is my de-stressor, and I did not want to part ways with some of my utensils. What will I do without a food processor? My juicer? My Kitchen Aid mixer??!!

We both had to donate, sell or relocate (my mixer is at the firehouse!) many of our possessions, and guess what? We don’t miss them, nor do we need them. Each of us has kept quite a few sentimental or family things, but overall the boat has ample storage space and hidden cubbies. Most of which we still haven’t filled because we don’t have enough stuff! Still no cable, or weekly trips to the coffee shop, but that’s because we’re used to it and don’t find it necessary. We’ve also done some work on the inside to make it homier. New paint, wood flooring, an Ikea bench hack for the nook, new pillows, and some key lighting all did the trick. More to be done I’m sure.

Since moving on the boat in September 2013 we’ve paid off three credit cards, saved a couple thousand dollars as an emergency fund, and the best part; that I am able to quit my job and pursue other passions in life without us having to rely on a second income. That to me is priceless. By the end of our year being on the boat (and five year anniversary of moving to the area), the roughly $14,000 that normally would have gone towards rent or a mortgage, will have gone towards us being completely credit card debt free and finally having savings in our account.

We came out here to live “the American dream,” and discovered that every person’s dream is different. Some people love the idea of having a house with a white picket fence, 2.5 kids, and a job they never tire of. But with that dream comes debt up to your eyeballs, a mortgage, and most often a job that is only in your life to pay for that dream. Our dream still exists; it just replaces all of that with a lovely two-bed, two-bath ‘condo’ literally on the water, with a dock instead of a fence. One of the lowest mortgage payments you will ever find in the metro D.C. area, a dog, and the financial freedom to take control of our future. When you live with less, you need less. I can’t imagine doing it any other way right now. This to me is the American dream.

Why We Shouldn't Hate on Celebrities for Going Vegan

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

On Wednesday my mom sent me this article saying, "Did you know Jennifer Lopez went vegan?"

I couldn't believe it and quickly put a little meme together and posted the happy news on Facebook.

The first few comments bashed JLo and how she wasn't really vegan -- and then the thread just got hateful and ugly (You can read it here.)

In response to the heat, I posted this on Facebook shortly thereafter:

If you can't read it, it says:

"re: JLo and "vegan"

I understand vegans want to protect their term and label, but the reality is the media + public have come to know "vegan" as meaning "diet w/o animal foods."

Fundamentally, yes, I understand "vegan" was intended to mean so much more than what you eat, but words evolve, sometimes in ways we wish they didn't.

Personally, I love when a celeb shines a bright spotlight on eating plant-based. It makes it more normal, and helps bring about more change, more options for us in the future as consumers. It's a million times easier to be plant-based TODAY because of the awareness and help of big voices.

Sadly, there is a massive disconnect out there with food, clothes and our health. Give people time... eventually they see the big picture... but again, applaud progress not perfection.

Why do we love dogs, wear cows, and eat pigs? People just don't get it... remember that not everyone has made the journey you have -- help them along with love.


Last week, I blogged about applauding progress.

Specifically, I talked about how all change counts... that the "all or nothing" approach doesn't work.

That nitpicking and critiquing where someone might fall short in your view of perfection (A view they're not even aware they're being measured against) does a disservice to everyone...

But back to the celebrities.

It made me so sad to see so many people hating on Jennifer... it reminded me of all the drama around Jay Z and Beyonce at the end of last year...

We shouldn't hate on celebrities for "going vegan" even if they are "doing it wrong" or fall off the vegan wagon...

....because when a celebrity shines a bright spotlight on eating vegan or plant-based, it makes it more normal. It brings about more change. It's a million times easier to be plant-based TODAY because of the awareness and help of big voices.

If you don't think President Bill Clinton's "vegan-ness" (or 98% plant-based-ness) hasn't helped, I assure you it has. Or any of the many athletes and other celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, or Anne Hathaway or Samuel L. Jackson, or whomever, even if they ended up falling off the wagon or not being 100%.

I fully believe in my heart that Bill Clinton going plant-based (along with Oprah having a big event about it on her show) helped push MY parents to do it themselves.

Because those are their peers. Those were people they knew and respected... They were smart, successful people saying "this is okay, it's not weird."

It was more than just me, their free spirited daughter, saying it.

Every day I meet someone who tells me they went vegan or plant-based, or are trying to get there, BECAUSE they heard about it from Lea Michele or a friend who heard it from Jared Leto or something else that traces back to something that involves word-of-mouth.

Let's let them use their big mouths... even if they aren't perfect in their delivery or execution.

Because if JLo's comment about feeling great as a vegan gets 100 people who never heard about it looking into it... and trying it... and if only one out of that 100 stays vegan/plant-based... that's still a win... and a huge win... because that person will become a wellness warrior...

He or she will then lead by example and maybe spread. This is what I mean when I say even 2% matters.

When I first got into the business of being a blogger, a marketing professional I go to yoga with said "There is no such thing as bad press. No matter what!" and that is true.

We must also remember that Rome was not built in a day.

It is a JOURNEY and we have to give people a chance to travel the path we have.

Most of us did not go from 0 to 180. I didn't. I was a vegetarian for years without having a clue that maybe I should stop wearing leather too if I was so passionate about helping animals.

There is a HUGE disconnect out there... why do we love dogs but wear cows and eat pigs?

We have to give peas a chance! ;-)

One other comment I feel I HAVE to make... For years I have heard certain groups say, point blank, that the only way you could truly convert someone to be "vegan" or stop eating animals, is via animal rights and ethical channel... not by their health because if they don't get skinny or whatever, they'll go right back to their old ways...

I know plenty of animal rights vegans who went right back to eating meat... including "famous" vegans...

People do what people do...

I don't care WHY anyone went vegan (and neither do the animals being saved... they're just happy to be ALIVE).

Personally, I believe the more motivations to keep someone motivated, the better.

I have also found that when someone starts caring about one thing, the other things fall into place.

A friend of mine was by no means an animals rights activist when she went plant-based. It was all because she had T2 diabetes... and where was she a few weekends ago? Protesting the circus.

Any motivation someone has to eat more plants and less animals is a good one... whether they are a celebrity or the average Joe... and everyone screws up in the beginning...

It feels odd I'm even writing about this because 5 years ago I never would have, in a million years, believed Beyonce or Jennifer Lopez would be vegan for 24 hours... or even know what "vegan" is...

And yet here we are... the world is changing, and that's awesome.