Happy Herbivore Blog

Gluten-Free Happy Herbivore (Gluten-Free Vegan)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Question: Do you have any tips on gluten-free vegan living or recipes? I don't want to depend on gluten-free substitutes as they can be expensive and sometimes difficult to locate.

Let's talk recipes first. You’ll find a lot on the recipes on this website (see the recipes page and click “gluten-free”) are gluten-free, plus The Happy Herbivore Cookbook has more than 50% gluten-free recipes and well over 50% of the recipes in my new cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore are gluten-free. I have a number of gluten-free and wheat-free testers on my testing squad so if a recipe doesn't translate to gluten-free (if it's not already gluten-free) it doesn't make it into my books.

There are also tons of websites dedicated to gluten-free and gluten-free vegan living, so get Googling!

Next, for recipes that aren't inherently gluten-free, you can make them gluten-free with simple substitutes. 

If it's a baked good recipe, you can use a gluten-free flour blend or try my nifty oat flour trick. If the flour is used in another recipe (i.e. in a gravy as a thickener) you can usually substitute brown rice flour, or chickpea flour, without running into problems.

The one ingredients that's a little touchy - vital wheat gluten (and it's companion, seitan), even have a gluten-free replacement now! My Celiac friend Talia turned me on to Orgran's gluten-free gluten substitute and I've heard nothing but great things about it. 

In addition to online, you can find this product at most health food stores, particularly stores with generous gluten-free sections. If your local store doesn't have it, but carries other Orgran products -- ask. Chances are they will order some for you. 

As for commercial substitutes, you're right, they can be pricey, but some gluten-free items can be inexpensive. For example corn tortillas and brown rice tortillas are comparable in price to wheat tortillas. 

Doing-it-yourself, while not as effortless as buying something, is a great way to have gluten-free goodies on the cheap. Plus you can take pride in your gluten-free creations. The tips in this post will help you get started!

Guest Blogger: Brooke "Baby's 1st Birthday"

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guests

My darling daughter enjoyed HH's Carrot Cake Cupcakes (p. 213 HHC) on her First Birthday. 

On her birthday, we were in process of moving and had to take our daughter's birthday-day to run tons of errands, including driving down to our new place a few hours away. It was a full day, filled with chaos, but when we finally got home, the perfect end to the day was when we were able to whip up a batch of HH's Carrot Cake Cupcakes (in no time at all!) and enjoy a mini-celebration with our dear monkey.

Milk and eggs? Who needs them! 

Our baby didn't spit out in disgust asking for more sugar or processed ingredients! She devoured her cupcake, loving every second of it. 

When you feed children with whole foods from the beginning, their taste buds will thank you in the end. It's a completely gratifying feeling as a mother. 

We feel so fortunate to have simple, healthy, and absolutely delicious recipes at our fingertips. Making healthful, plant-based meals is super easy when we turn to The Happy Herbivore Cookbook

Our daughter couldn't be happier. She is a lover of Cheater Pad Thai (p. 117 HHC) amongst many other recipes. And it's exciting to know that birthday parties in the future will be a breeze with all the tasty options. Carnivores will never know what hit them!

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.