Happy Herbivore Blog

White Whole Wheat Vs Whole Wheat

Posted by: Andrea Dermos |

Category: FAQ

We received a question on Facebook about the difference between white whole wheat flour and whole wheat flour. Here's some information that might help you the next time you're in the baking aisle at the grocery store.

Whole wheat flour is ground from red wheat, that's why it has a tannish color. This creates more dense, fiber-full and nuttier baked goods. Whole wheat flour is good for homemade bread or pizza dough, anything that you want a good chew to. Whole wheat pastry flour is made from the same type of red wheat, but it has a slightly higher gluten content, which is why it's good for baking.

White whole wheat flour is ground from white wheat. The difference is simply in the actual wheat, white whole wheat is not bleached whole wheat flour. The different wheat makes this type of flour lighter, so it's great for baked goods. This is a great option if you are making muffins or cakes because it will give a slightly less dense result than whole wheat flour. 

White whole wheat and whole wheat flour are interchangeable. You'll notice a difference in texture, and some people say that white whole wheat is just a little sweeter than regular whole wheat flour. You will still be making a much better choice than you would be if you bought regular bleached white flour.

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All About Pressure Cookers from The Veggie Queen

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guests

Today's guest post comes from our friend Jill, The Veggie Queen. She published an ebook with all the information and recipes you need to use a pressure cooker!

Why You Might Love a Pressure Cooker by Jill Nussinow, MS, RD, The Veggie Queen™

If you’re a vegan or vegetarian and count on a host of typical veg foods such as beans, grains and vegetables as the basis for your diet, then meet your new best friend: the modern pressure cooker. I know, either you are either cringing in the corner because you are afraid of the pressure cooker or you are scratching your head because you don’t know what a pressure cooker is or does.

First, let me address the fear part. Unlike the old-style, mostly aluminum pressure cookers with a jiggler on top that make lots of noise and hiss steam while at full force, the new cookers are quiet and have at least 3, but often more, safety features built in.

If you don’t know what the pressure cooker does, here’s an extremely brief explanation. The pressure cooker is a a pot with a special lid that locks on in a variety of different ways but most often it is self-locking or has a small button to push. To build up the pressure, you must use liquid in your recipe. You put the pot with the locked lid on high heat (on just about any kind of heat source) and the liquid in the pot boils, causing steam. That steam goes out a vent, raises the button or rod, and the pot is now sealed and under pressure. The pot is safe because it cannot be opened until the pressure goes down.

There are 3 ways to release the pressure: the natural release, where the hot pot is moved off the burner and you wait for the rod to fall down the quick release, where you turn the dial or push on a valve (depending upon your particular pressure cooker model) to make the steam come out quickly the running water release, where you take the hot pot over to the sink and run water over the pot, but not on the pressure valve.

During the natural release period, most often it is between 1 and 10 minutes, our food is still cooking. The time that it takes for the pressure to come down depends upon how full your pressure cooker is and what is in it. I most often use the natural release for cooking beans or grains.

The quick release method is used for fast-cooking foods such as vegetables. See the video of Curried Cauliflower on You Tube to see the quick release. You will find this around the 5 minute mark and at around 6:25 minutes. The running water release was what you had to use for the older style pressure cookers to release the liquid more quickly. I rarely use this technique because I don’t have to as my cookers have a quick release button. If the pressure in your cooker seems to be staying high “too long”, you can use the running water release as a last resort. Food in a pressure cooker cooks at 250 degrees F. not the typical 212 degrees F. of boiling water which is why the food cooks more quickly. When you open the lid, be sure to tilt it away from you so that you don’t get burned by the hot steam. Also, remember that the food is quite hot, too.

The nice thing about using the pressure cooker is that you can cook ingredients in it first before adding the liquid. I often dry sauté ingredients without oil which is possible because these are stainless steel pots and have very thick bottoms. I discuss this in more detail in the book.

Using a pressure cooker is fast, easy and produces incredibly tasty food because the pressure seems to infuse flavors into the food which doesn’t happen easily with stove top cooking.

Here are two recipes from my newest book The New Fast Food™: The Veggie Queen Pressure Cooks Whole Food Meals in less than 30 Minutes to get you started.

Best Black Beans 
Makes 2-3 cups 

Pressure cooking takes so little time that there’s no need for me to buy canned beans any more (and be concerned about the BPA in the cans) except to have them around for an emergency. They taste better from the pressure cooker, too. I like to always presoak my beans but you can do them from dried but they take much longer (25 mins) and require more water (3 cups).

  •  5 to 6 minutes high pressure; natural pressure release 
  • 1 cup black beans, soaked overnight or quick soaked 
  • 2/3 cup water 
  • 1 4 to 6-inch piece kombu seaweed 
  • 1 sprig epazote (a Mexican herb), if available 
  • 1-2 cloves garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds 
  • Salt for after cooking

   

  1. Put the soaked beans, water, kombu, garlic, herb and spices in the pressure cooker. 
  2. Bring to high pressure over high heat. 
  3. When the button pops up, start timing.
  4.  After 5 minutes, remove the pot from the heat and let the pressure come down naturally. 
  5. Taste to be sure that the beans are cooked through. If not, put them back on the heat and bring to pressure for another minute or two.
  6.  Repeat bringing them to pressure and letting the pressure come down naturally. 
  7. Open the pot, tilting the lid away from you. Remove the kombu and epazote. Salt the beans, to taste.

Autumn Sunset Stew (featured on the cover of the book)
Serves 4-6

You can use any vegetables that are fresh in the fall for this recipe. It is highly adaptable and very delicious. Season it any way that you like. Here I use thyme and smoked paprika. You could just as easily use Herbs de Provence, chili powder or curry – it’s your call.

3 minutes high pressure; quick release; 2 minutes high pressure, natural pressure release 

  • 1 tablespoon water*
  • 1-2 teaspoons smoked paprika or chipotle powder
  • 1 onion, diced 
  • 1 medium red pepper, diced 
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced 
  • 1 cup dried, red, pinto or black beans, presoaked 
  • 1 cup diced tofu (optional) 
  • 1/2 cup vegetable broth 
  • 1/2 cup diced potatoes, any color
  • 1 cup diced sweet potato or winter squash 
  • 1 1/2 cups chopped eggplant 
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme or other herbs
  • 2 cups chopped fresh or canned tomatoes 
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the water in the cooker over medium heat. 
  2. Add the paprika, onion and pepper. Sauté for 1 minute. 
  3. Add the garlic, beans, and stock and lock on the lid. Bring to high pressure over high heat. Lower the heat to maintain high pressure and cook for 2 minutes; then quick release the pressure.
  4. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you. 
  5. Add the remaining ingredients except tomatoes, salt and pepper. Stir the stew. 
  6. Add the tomatoes on top of the other ingredients (do not add salt and pepper, yet). Lock on the lid, return to high heat and bring to high pressure.
  7. Reduce the heat to low and maintain high pressure for 3 more minutes. Let the pressure come down naturally. Remove the lid, tilting it away from you. 
  8. Remove the thyme sprigs. Make sure that the beans are cooked through. (If not, return the pot to the heat, adding more liquid, if necessary, and bring back to pressure for another minute or two.) 
  9. Add the salt and pepper. 
  10. Serve hot over rice or quinoa.

*The recipe originally called for oil but since I do not cook with oil, I omitted it and sauted with water like I normally do. I made these recipes in my new pressure cooker, I love it! 

How I Got My Book Deal

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceBusiness101

I get a lot of emails from people asking about book deals -- specifically, how I got mine, how someone can get theirs --- what's my story?

It was 2009. I'd been blogging for about two years and Happy Herbivore had a modest, but growing audience. I contacted my now publisher about The China Study. I loved the book so much that I wanted to promote it, and I asked if they'd mail me a copy to giveaway on my blog. They graciously gave me a few copies and I hosted a giveaway. During this period, I became friendly with the contact I had at the publisher. We had some common interests, and emailed a few times. A little while later, I asked her if she knew anything about cookbooks. I wasn't even sure if I wanted to write one (yep, admitting that out loud), I was mostly just curious about the process. 

They didn't do cookbooks there, so I didn't feel like my question was inappropriate or crossing any lines. She wrote back that she knew nothing because that wasn't their industry, but she'd ask around the office to see if anyone knew of a book I could read or an old colleague I could talk to. Never, in my wildest dreams, did I expect the publisher himself to contact me asking for a proposal!!

Turns out he'd wanted to do a cookbook for a while, he was just waiting for the right person with the right book idea. That was me, it was fate. 

I stayed up all night with my friend Lisa putting a proposal together -- not even knowing what a proposal is supposed to look like or be like. (I still have the proposal and maybe someday I'll be brave enough to put it on this blog, typos and all). 

I figured it was a long shot, and I still didn't even know if I wanted to do it IF it worked out. I knew what writing a book would mean: lots of hard work, lots of hours and money, with little to no return on my investment. I figured, "cross that bridge when I come to it" and two and a half months later, the bridge appeared. They offered me a book deal. 

I debated long and hard with myself about the opportunity... I decided to do it because it was something I was so passionate about. I wanted, more than anything, to show how easily, affordable and delicious low fat plant-based eating can be and I knew that writing a book was the biggest and best opportunity to accomplish that, even if it meant having to quit my job, move into a tiny apartment, and scrape by for the next year -- all the while working harder than I have ever worked. (Bless my sweet, sweet husband who agreed to letting me do all this -- he gave up our comfortable lifestyle so I could chase my dreams).

Little did I know, it takes a year to put a book together when you count all the revisions, edits, final proofs, pictures and so on. What I thought would take a few months, took many months. After three months I had to go back to work so my family could survive financially, and so I was literally working 40hrs a week at one job, while spending every waking free moment on my book. And we were still barely getting by. There was so much sacrifice that I often felt guilty -- my husband and dogs had given up so much for me. I'd given up so much for me. But I was chasing my passion. It was something I HAD to do, whatever the cost. 

And even once the book was finished, I realized the challenge and journey had just begun. Getting a book published is a tiny, tiny first step. We had absolutely no idea whether the book would sell, or not sell. So many books fail and flop. I had no idea what would happened to mine and what it would mean for me. I felt like I'd spent a year holding my breathe.

Thank god, with the help of my wonderful and supportive fans (and their word-of-mouth campaign) my book made it. 

But it wasn't a grand solution. I've mentioned a few times before how there is very little money in writing books, even if your book is a best seller. The reality was, I wasn't out of the pool, I was still swimming and splashing around hoping to find shore, or at the very least, a life raft. I spent another year scraping by and working like a mad woman while trying to write another book. 

There were more than a handful of moments where I laid sobbing on the bed saying I couldn't do it anymore. I'd worked so hard for so long and I was so tired of being so broke. That yes, writing healthy recipes was my passion, but gosh darn it, how much longer could I go on living like this? Working like a mad woman? Barely being able to pay my bills? I was 29! I was more financially stable in college!

So then, on some particularly bad days, I'd think about quitting.... just deleting Happy Herbivore and moving on. Going back to being a lawyer and stop working so hard for pennies... but I could never bring myself to do it. 

The universe always seemed to know I was on a ledge, and just then I'd get a really nice email. or a tweet. or a message on Facebook that saved me. It was always innocent, as simple as "Thanks for your great recipes Lindsay!" and suddenly, I would remember why I did what I did. It was for you, for my fans. I did it all for you. It was all worth it because I had you. 

I couldn't quit because it was my passion, it was my passion to help others eat healthier and I was doing it. It was my mission to show that eating healthy can be realistic, approachable, affordable, and delicious. I had to keep going, keep doing, whatever the cost. It didn't matter, I couldn't not do it. I HAD TO DO THIS.

and that's my single advice to anyone who wants to run down this path: it has to be about passion. Chasing the dream, whatever the cost. 

Read More:How I Make a Living (Hint: It's Not Blogging).

and Herbies, Thank you.