Happy Herbivore Blog

This Week's Q&A (10/22)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Ask Happy Herbivore: Your questions answered! 

This week I'm talking about flax seeds, frozen tofu, steamers, "cheating" in your diet goals and adding flavor to mellow and bland grains!

1. Do you have to grind flax seeds or can I eat them whole?

According to my flax seeds packaging, "we recommend grinding the seeds for the majority of the flaxseed you consume in order to receive the maximum benefit. The seeds are very small and it is hard to thoroughly chew them all. Your body utilizes the mucilage from the outer coating of the unbroken seeds, which does have health benefits, but will not take advantage of the Omega's within the seeds." 

You can buy flax seeds already ground up (often called flax meal) or grind them yourself with a cheap coffee grinder. Just remember to store them in the freezer as they are very perishable!

2. How do I make frozen tofu? Do you drain it first? Press it? Help!

Frozen tofu is awesome -- it has a really meaty and chewy texture. 

If you're not a fan of the texture of regular ol' tofu, chances are you'll like frozen tofu. When I make frozen tofu, I drain off the water, press it, put it in a ziplock bag, freeze it, then let it thaw completely before cooking. Andrea, however, just shoves the package straight into the freezer, then lets it thaw in the package. Both ways work and yield slightly different tofu textures. 

3. Does the occasional “slip” or "cheat" undo the good? Is a slice of cheesy pizza or a taste of haggen daz once a month pile up the plaque immediately?

I’m not a doctor so I can’t totally answer this, but I read this analogy in a book somewhere and it’s always stayed with me: 

Eating one burger or one ice cream cone is probably not going to kill you -- but we don’t just eat one in our lifetime

Imagine an empty glass bottle: Every time you eat an animal product a marble goes in. 5 marbles, 10 marbles, that doesn’t seem so bad...but it all adds up and it adds a lot up faster than we think it does. 

I can’t 100% guarantee that if someone eats a plant-based (vegan) diet they absolutely, positively, won’t get any kind of sickness (cancer, heart disease, etc) but what I can tell them is that with every bite of animal product, they make the propensity to get sick much more likely. So knowing that, is a cheat or slip even worth it?

Another problem with the occasional “cheat” is the mental effect it has. Unhealthy foods are very addictive and as long as we keep eating them, we keep being addicted. It’s hard to break the chain and build new habits when you’re cheating. Plus one slip might lead to another and then another. Go all in, you can do it! 

For more information about animal products and heart disease, see Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn Jr.

4. What does a steamer look like? and can I substitute anything? I want to make HH's sausages!

I use this electric steamer (bought on sale for $20). You can also use a metal steamer basket ($8), which are cheap and don't take up any extra kitchen real estate since you can store it in your pot. Or you can just line a really big pot with a tiny bit of water, bring it to a boil. Add the sausages (fold side up so no water gets in), but then keep an eye out the entire time because you'll need to add more water periodically and you'll burn the sausages (and your pot!) if the water runs out.

5. I like quinoa, cous cous and brown rice but my husband says it lacks flavor. Any suggestions on how to prepare it with more flavor?

I found when we started eating healthier (plant-based, less fat, less salt, less sugar) that foods that were previously not very flavorful or seemed bland, suddenly started having flavors. I’ve read that your taste buds can change or “heal” and that seems to be true for me. Especially in the case of less salt -- I find I’m really tasting food now.

However, brown rice, quinoa and cous cous are still pretty mellow. I like to cook all of them in vegetable broth instead of water. It adds more flavor and a smige of extra nutrition (of course, make sure your broths are low sodium!). I also like to smother my grains with sauces. For example, I love mushroom gravy with my cous cous. 

Anytime we eat quinoa, I put all of my dinner (like, say, a stir-fry) on top of it. Scott really likes barbecue sauce with his rice, but I think that’s a little odd :-) You can also add seasonings--spices and herbs---to your cooking water (or broth) which helps give grains a flavor boost. 

Speaking Up (if you see something, say something)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

When you see something, say something. Don't be embarrassed or afraid -- speak up.

I received the following message from a friend this morning:

"When I was walking out of the supply store yesterday, hands full of boxes, this older man, an employee, asked whether I was ticklish. I say "no" and start walking away fast. He then says "I was going to tickle you... do you have time? I say "huh? no..." and kept walking. He stayed behind me and asks again "do you have time to come to my car?" I skedaddled out of there -- and fast!"

Upon reading this -- I quickly urged my friend to call the store and report this incident to the store manager. My friend told me she felt violated and I felt violated just from hearing about it. 

Afterwards, my friend emailed me an update:

"I just spoke with the store manager. She said she knew exactly who it was and that they've had issues with him in the past. I guess this was his final strike because he's being fired now."

My reply to my friend was "Thank God you called!" and she replied: "Thank God you made me call!"

We both wondered how many customers this man was inappropriate with...but it had gone unreported? After all my friend -- who is an incredibly smart lady, might I add, didn't think to call until I mentioned it... Truth is, when these things happen, we tend to want to put them out of our minds. 

If you see something or something happens, speak up. Tell someone. It can't change what has happened to you, or what you saw, but it can prevent it from happening to someone else. 

In the grand scheme of things, it may not seem like such a big deal, after all, my friend is fine and we've all survived weirdos who catcall or hit on us, but my friend should feel safe in a store, if nothing else, she should not be harassed by an employee. 

But even still... employee or not. Who knows what would have happened had my friend not ran away or what the guy might try next time. He made her uncomfortable and the right thing to do was to report it. 

When I asked my friend if I could share her story on this blog, she said "please do! and please tell them that it all caught me off guard because he didn't look like a creep, if you know what I mean. He seemed harmless... a real reminder not to judge anyone by what they look like. Stereotypes are wrong. Be safe."

Single-Serving Pumpkin Muffin (whole wheat, fat free, vegan!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

You know how much I love my single servings (because I cannot be trusted with an entire pan of brownies or a dozen muffins).

Yesterday I was drying - dying - for a pumpkin muffin so I decided to play around and see if I could make a single-serving.

After I'd made one (and, ugh, then another) Scott scolded me saying "why do you only make one?!" I think you just answered your own question, m'dear.

So without further ado (send thank you notes to lindsay-at-happyherbivore.com) lol.

Recipe:Single-Serving Pumpkin Muffin

Prep time: | Cook time: | Total: | 1 servings

Description

The taste of fall -- without having to bake an entire batch.

Ingredients

Instructions

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350F. Grease a single muffin cup or place a paper liner in a metal measuring cup. In a small bowl, whisk dry ingredients together (flour, baking powder, pumpkin pie spice) then add remaining ingredients. Stir until combined, adding a little extra nondairy milk if necessary. Gently spoon into muffin cup and bake 15-18 minutes, until firm to the touch and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.