Happy Herbivore Blog

Eating Healthy on a Budget

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Can "eating healthy" and "budget" coexist in the same sentence? Yes! 

While there is no denying that some healthy foods can be pricey, it's possible to eat well (and save!) on a budget with a little leg work, smart shopping and planning.

A little more than a year ago I did a poverty awareness challenge where I had to eat for a week on $15 - in New York City.

Sure I wasn't going to win any gourmet awards with the foods I was eating, but it was healthful, full of grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables, and I was satisfied with the diversity and my meals. 

Cooking a pot of lentils for dinner might not be the sexiest option, but it's healthy, affordable and cheap. It also only takes a little extra work. You can throw a big pot of lentils together on the weekend and repurpose them all week long. Beans are also super affordable. You can buy a bag of dried beans for $1.00 and it will last for many, many meals. Store brand brown rice is also dirt cheap.

When it comes to produce: head to the freezer. At my local grocery store, you can buy 10 bags of frozen store brand vegetables for $10 and the bags are quite generous in size. You're also free to mix and match so you can get peas, corn, bell pepers, stir-fry veggies and so on. Frozen vegetables were my lifesaver on my $15 challenge and I find if you add them at the end of cooking, just to warm them up enough from their frozen state, they stay crisp and feel like fresh. 

If you really hate frozen, you can still find deals in the produce section. This week my store was selling 10 bell peppers for $10 or a bag of apples (10-12 apple) for $2.50. Those were both cheap options, along with bags of potatoes and leftover pumpkins that were practically free.

Another secret is to shop in the "ethnic section"-- you'll find spices are much cheaper on that isle (compared to the baking isle) and even things like dry beans and rice might be cheaper. It's an isle you never want to miss!

On that note, even better is an ethnic market. You'll be amazed at the savings you can find. I used to frequent this Indian market in Los Angeles where I could get a bag of lentils the size of a pillow case for $5! Spices were also really cheap there and rice too. At an Asian market in NYC I once found 10 tofu's for $3! 

Another way to save? Bulk. Bulk bins are a bargain and buying in bulk online (such as bulkfoods.com) or from a bulk store like Costco can be a deal. A friend of mine got a 5lb bag of quinoa at Costco for $5... which is about how much I paid for a tiny box of quinoa. 

Other tips:

1. Shop around. While visiting one store may be convenient, if you live in a place where you can visit several stores you should shop around. You can price items, look at sales, and figure out where to get your staples at the cheapest price.

2. Decipher between “staples” and “convenient.” I always thought canned beans were staples, when really they’re more convenient for me.

3. Try cooking 1 day a week.

4. Don’t let anything go to waste! You can recycle and repurpose anything -- even vegetable scraps (vegetable trimmings make great vegetable stock).

5. Try HH's meal plans. I've shaved $20/wk off our shopping list by sticking to my own plans!

A word about spices: I've choked looking at the prices of spices in supermarkets -- steer clear. I nearly died when I saw the price tag for dried basil at my mom's supermarket. It was almost $3 higher than what I paid for organic basil at Whole Foods Market (a place she insisted was too expensive to shop at). Whole Foods Market and Trader Joes have great deals on spices. Target also has spices at a reasonable price and many of them carry my favorite brand, Badia. 

You can also buy spices online from stores such as Penzeys or even Amazon. My friends over at Swanson have organic spices and herbs (and at a low price) and after some begging, they agreed to give you guys a discount! Click here for 15% off their spices

Lastly, skip over anything that involves individual packaging of any kind. You can get a big, giant tub of oats for the same price as a box of 6 packets of instant oatmeal. Take the few extra minutes to measure out portions of your oatmeal and save!

Have a thrifty tip? share it!

Public Life (I Refuse to be Vanilla)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

Lately I've been saying "I will no longer apologize for who I am or who I am not."

It all started with coming to a realization that I needed to stop trying to shove a square peg in a round hole, and instead, go find a square hole. But now it's extending to my entire life. I am who I am. Let me explain.

If you've ever tried to friend request me on Facebook, chances are you got a message (that I personally send to everyone) saying while I appreciate the friend request (it means a lot to me!) I don't accept requests from people I don't know in real life so as to protect the privacy of my friends and family.

While I have happily leaped into the public light -- my family and friends have not. I often struggle and grapple with this. My sister has gone to places and been instantly recognized as "The Happy Herbivores Sister" and while she likes it, it sometimes bothers me because my sister will never be a ghost again. True, I jumped in to the public light and gave up my privacy -- but she didn't. It just happened to her.

But none of this is really my point with this blog post, I'm just explaining why I don't accept friend requests on Facebook -- Facebook changes its privacy settings with the tide and since the default is to overshare rather than privatize, I'm trying to be proactive and allow those around me to have as much privacy as they can.

That said, I am an open book and always have been. 

I refuse to be one person behind closed doors and then a second person in front of the camera or in front of my fans. 

I refuse to be "Lindsay Nixon" and "Happy Herbivore" because Lindsay Nixon IS Happy Herbivore.

It's exhausting being one person, I can't imagine trying to be two people. Plus I have real moral issues with people who do that.

As such, I've always been open about how I vote, what religious philosophy I subscribe to, and so on. And while I don't accept friend requests, I do allow my entire profile to be visible, including my status updates.

I've been told to hide it -- to stay mellow yellow and vanilla so I appeal to everyone -- but that just seems wrong to me. 

So I tweet, share, "like" and post about anything -- no topic is off limits. I'm completely unfiltered and uncensored on my personal page and twitter account. I've always seen my both place as a space where I'm free express myself and I do. 

Anyway, over the past few weeks I've said things or shared things that were met with comments or replies along the lines of "and to think... I liked your cookbook but I'm not following you anymore."

My initial response was -- what do my recipes have to do with how I feel about Obama?

I guess I see it -- I just rattled on how I am Lindsay Nixon AND the Happy Herbivore, after all -- but then again I own books and CDs by artists who have different opinions than me (unfortunately, ALL of my favorite authors do not follow a plant-based diet and I'm pretty sure that's true of all my favorite musicians as well). I also have certain actors and actresses I really like and a lot of them eat, pray and vote differently than me. 

I know that not everyone is going to agree with me on everything but I don't want to stop being me just so I please everyone. I don't want to be a public figure that's not herself.

I have always been opinionated, political, outspoken and open. I can't change that about me - I won't. 

It's taken a lot of years to truly love myself, and accept myself for who I am. I spent a lot of years trying to be someone I wasn't and trying to get people to like me or be the kind of person I thought they would like and all that did was make ME unhappy. I was unhappy because I wasn't myself. 

If I've learned anything in life its that you have to be yourself. All I can be is me. All you can be is you. and we're all beautiful and perfect in our own way.

If the way I vote or pray or think offends you, I'm sorry. If it means you're not going to support me or follow me or buy my books anymore, okay (though I'm kind of sad because you'll miss out on some really great recipes!) Isn't variety of the spice of life?

I know I'm taking a huge HUGE risk writing this blog post on the cusp of my new book coming out -- but that's just it. I'm not in it to win it. I don't do what I do for the fame, glory or money. I do it because I'm passionate and I want to show how easy it is to eat healthy -- how delicious, approachable and affordable this way of life can be. 

So maybe that's why I'm comfortable being strawberry instead of vanilla. It's not a popularity contest for me. I'm totally humbled by my success -- and while I attribute my success to you Herbies, I have to remind myself that it was being myself that got me here.

I can't change one thing about me because it's the sum of all my parts that make me who I am. If I lose one part of myself, I lose myself. I have to be me. 

I have to be me.

Fat-Free Refried Beans Recipe (Vegetarian Refried Beans Recipe)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

In a little more than two weeks my second cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore, will be hitting shelves.

To get you excited for her arrival, I'm sharing a few recipes here on the blog. First up was my Sweet Potato Dal and now -- Skillet Refried Beans!

Sure canned refried beans are easy, but you just can't top the taste of homemade. The little effort required here is so worth it -- these beans are fantastic! 

1 small onion, diced
15 oz can pinto beans (undrained)
1 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder

Line a skillet with a thin layer of water and saute onion over high heat until translucent and most of the water has cooked off. Add cumin, chili powder and a few dashes of paprika, stirring to coat the onions. Add beans with their juices and stir to combine. Reduce heat to low and mash beans well using a fork or potato masher. It will look very soupy, don't be alarmed. Crank the heat up to high and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce heat to medium and simmer 10 minutes. If the beans start popping and splashing, cover for a few minutes, then uncover. Stir every minute or so, scraping along the bottom to lift the beans. After 10 minutes the liquid should have significantly reduced. It may still be a little soupy, that is alright, it will thicken as it cools. However, if its really soupy, cook longer. Add salt and pepper to taste, then serve.

Per serving (serves 2) 216 calories, 0.4g fat, 41.7g carbohydrates, 15.7g fiber, 4.8g sugar, 13.7g protein