Happy Herbivore Blog

How to Replace Fats in Cooking

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

My techniques will teach you how to cook without oil and help you lighten up any savory recipe that calls for oil, butter, creamy or other fatty ingredients.

Tip #1: Saute in Water or Broth

Most recipes begin with sauteing onions or garlic in oil. To make the dish low-fat, cook onions, garlic or other ingredients in water, vegetable broth or vinegar over high heat. Start with 1/4 cup of liquid, adding more as necessary to prevent sticking and burning, and continue to cook over hight heat until the ingredients are cooked thoroughly and most of the liquid had evaporated. 

Tip #2: Bake, Don't Fry

When a recipe calls for frying or browning in oil, bake instead. Preheat your oven to 350F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper. Place food on the cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes. Flip and bake 10-12 minutes more, continuing the cycle until the food is cooked with a crisp outer crust. If you have a non-stick skillet, you can also try to "fry" that way.

Tip #3: Use Spices (not Fat!) for Flavor

Instead of using butter or oil for flavor, ramp up your spices. Similarly, if you remove fat from a recipe, consider doubling the spices called for.

Use This, Not That:

  • substitute soft or silken tofu for heavy cream
  • use low fat and fat-free non-dairy milks instead of dairy milks
  • use low fat and fat-free meat alternatives instead of meat products
  • substitute peas or edamame for avocado (see my mockamole)
  • use coconut extract instead of coconut
  • replace nuts or seeds with roasted chickpeas or mushrooms

Hummus and plain, unsweetened (vegan) yogurt makes a great alternative to mayo, by the way -- and you can also make your own low-fat mayo and sour cream using my recipes in The Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

Download a handy PDF of this blog post

Also, check out my video "low fat cooking tools" - mighty helpful tips!

re: steamers (in the video) 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. 

Cook Like a Pro (Cook from Sight!)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Math in the kitchen is fun!

Over the weekend I taught a couple virtual cooking lessons (they're always a blast!). At the start of one lesson, my student said to me, "I'm so embarrassed but my little daughter has hidden my measuring cups and spoons -- I gave them to her to play with and all I've retrieved is the 1 tbsp... I guess we need to cancel?"

I said not so fast -- I sometimes cook with only 1 tbsp or even 1/4 tsp, so we're on! 

Here's the tsp/tbsp/cup breakdown:

3 tsp = 1 tbsp 

1 1/2 tsp = 1/2 tbsp

4 tbsp = 1/4 cup (8 tbsp is 1/2 cup and so on)

5 heaping tbsp - 1/3 cup  (technically it's 5.33 tbsp)

Cooking from Sight:

Except for baking, you don't need to worry about perfect precision with cooking -- wing it:

once drizzle around the pan = 1 tbsp

a decent pinch = 1/4 tsp

a few shakes of a spice = 1/8 tsp

1 loose handful of greens = 1 cup

1 clenched handful of oats = 1/4 to 1/3 cup

Every time you measure something -- add it to whatever you're making and look at how much it spreads or how much it looks like. Over time you'll be able to eyeball almost anything...

and remember: more or less of a spice usually won't make or break a dish. Only be strict with baking -- and hot spices!

Minimalist Monday: "Because I want to" (Live Intentionally)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

"When people ask me why I moved out to California I simply respond "because I wanted to." I've learned that there's a small subset of socially acceptable reasons for moving across the country - family, job, business opportunity - and "because I want to" is not included in that set. It just showed me how rare it is to live intentionally, but how powerful it is once you let go of the "right reasons" and follow your own path" - Laura Roeder

In the last four years, Scott and I lived in Boston, but moved to Los Angeles, then to New York City and then to St. Maarten. Allow me to demonstrate in a graph:

Today we leave St. Maarten.

But we're more than leaving, or moving to a new place. Today is the last day of our old life and the first day of our new life. 

You see, for years, Scott & I have tried to shove a round peg into a square hole. We tried to be the people we thought we were supposed to be and live the lives we thought were supposed to live. When you do something for other people, and not yourself, you will not find happiness. At least we didn't.

We kept thinking that we'd find a place that we loved so much we'd want to stay there. We'd buy a house, set up a life, find the perfect couch - do the things adult married people do. Do all the things our families and friends wanted us to do ("get settled"). But the longer we stayed somewhere the less I liked it. The feeling of ants in my pants kept getting stronger and I'd be itching to leave. And eventually I'd get my way and we would.

In the 7 years I've been with Scott he has lived in 12 apartments and 5 states and 2 countries. Recently we decided to move to Colorado, which I was excited about -- but the prospect of staying there forever had me nervous. 

I kept saying things like "why can't we live in New York for part of the year, and Colorado or Montana for part of the year and abroad for part of the year... and... and... why do I have to stay in the same place all year, year after year?"

My mother chimed in at that point and said, "Because that's what you do Lindsay. You're 30 and he's 33. It's time you two found a place and settled down. Figured out where you are going to live. Finally stay put." But settling down and staying in one place was not what I wanted to do. That much was evident. 

So instead of trying to shove the round peg into the square hole again -- I decided to go seek out a round hole. 

I decided to embrace the art of nonconformity.

Scott took a telecommute job. It required a cut in pay, and significant change of course in the career path he was on, but he is excited about this new path and he's even more excited to have a job that allows him to literally work and live anywhere.Finally, we are free.

We no-longer have to stay in the same place anymore. We can get up and go when we want. I can live everywhere and anywhere. I can live the life I always wanted. Live the way I always wanted. Be who I was supposed to be. Be who I really am: a vagabond. 

It feels so good not to apologize for who I am or who I am not. 

Now I'm not saying you should quit your job and jump on the vagabond band wagon, because I'm sure this lifestyle would give some people anxiety, just like living in the same place gave me anxiety. 

My hope is to remind you to embrace the weird. Dare to dream. and dare to do! 

Be who you are because you are perfect. We are all perfect and beautiful and complex and different. Be who you are supposed to be. Even if it means embracing the art of nonconformity. 

and laugh. 

*"The Art of Nonconformity" is a blog, by a guy not too unlike me