Happy Herbivore Blog

In Defense of My Recipes

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

(I'm stealing this blog post title from the fabulous Dreena Burton...who had a similar issue.)

Ever since writing my cookbook, I've tried to deal better with criticism. I've accepted that not everyone is going to like all of my recipes and some people may hate my book altogether. When those people come along, I try not to let this make me want to quit. 

Anyway, today I noticed I had a new 1-star review on Amazon... and

I couldn't help myself, I had to look:

"After reading the reviews I had a look at happyherbivore.com, I was curious if she used oil in the recipes. Well after reading the mashed potato recipe it is obvious there is no skill here. Garlic powder, onion flakes...come on give me a break, who cooks like that? I just could not buy this book after reading the mashed potato ingredients."

I wanted to scream -- bang my fists into the floor and pull my hair out. 

Well, dear reviewer, *I* cook like that. 

I'm also not quite sure why my *book* is getting a bad review for a recipe that's on my *blog* but that's not here nor there. People can think what they want.... but of all the 150 recipes that are free on this website I'm not sure why he or she picked that one to look at, or why that recipe alone convinced him or her I'm not talented... or what they were expecting from a recipe for mashed potatoes. I mean, it's mashed potatoes...

But, yes, I'm going to throw a temper tantrum because I don't think it's fair. or deserved. 

and because Dreena is far more eloquent then me, let me borrow some of her language to explain my feelings:

"I know the positive reviews outweigh the bad. And I know that's what is important. But I feel I need to stick up for myseld and my own work here, and since this is my blog, that's what I'm going to do." 

Mashed potatoes, by the way, are AWESOME with garlic powder and onion powder (or onion flakes). It really gives them something extra -- a lot of flavor without the fat (butter, cream). 

As you all know, I love my dried spices! They're cheap, convenient, and fast! Plus I don't have to waste time chopping and sauteing. I'm a lazy cook, a home cook... a girl who wants easy, healthy and tasty all at once... and I'm not going to apologize for that. 

What is Honey? The Vegan Debate (& My Beliefs)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQPopular

Earlier today I received an email from someone asking my opinion on honey and I thought I'd share my answer in a blog post. Honey, it seems, is a hot topic among vegans; one that's constantly debated, often with a good bit of fervor! 

That said, I don't know that there is a single answer or an answer that's suitable for everyone. My own feelings are complicated and conflicting, and I admit I'm a little nervous to share them.

[photo credit]

To get right down to it: I do consume small amounts of honey from time to time. I find it's difficult to avoid when you're trying to buy whole-wheat products. I'm not going to eat white bread and while sure, I suppose I could just not buy the bread, that's not really practical for me or my family. We have to eat at home every single meal and not having bread to work with on occasion would bring a whole new level of stress and challenges!

Now, when I lived in New York City, I would go around to all the different stores looking for whole-wheat bread that was vegan (no dairy or eggs) and also honey-free but here in St. Maarten (a tiny Caribbean island) I only have one store to shop at and the selection is really, really small. I'm doing the best I can. If we keep 100% vegan except for a dab of honey in our bread, I can live with that.

But then there is another consideration I grapple with. What about honey for purely medicinal purposes? 

My sister Courtney is vegan and going vegan actually helped eliminate her food allergies (read her story here) but it didn't completely erase her environmental allergies. To treat her grass allergy, Courtney can eat local, organic honey regularly or she can get allergy shots and take medication. She's opted for the more holistic approach, which I think is probably the healthier and more compassionate option anyway. I don't have a moral objection to what my sister is doing and I just can't see myself saying "no! take the pills instead! honey is not vegan!" Actually, if I did say that, I'm pretty sure Courtney would give me the finger...

Of course, I understand the vegan (animal rights) arguments against eating honey, namely, bees are insects, and therefore animals, and we shouldn't limit our compassion to one species. I also know that some bees die during honey extraction, and by eating honey, even small bits, I'm supporting this, but I can't turn a blind eye to the fact that lots of insects incidentally die in the cultivation of plant foods I eat everyday. I'm not saying this makes it okay, or its is a justification for my actions; it's just something I like to remember when talking about the honey issue. 

Then, as you may remember, my veganism is a 3-legged stool -- I'm motivated by compassion, the environment and my health, and it's that last one that bubbles up with the honey issue. 

On the one hand, honey is said to have many health benefits. On the other, we're reminded honey a simple sugar that can cause spikes in our blood sugar... I still haven't decided if I'm "for" or "against" consuming honey from a health perspective, but if I ever settled on "yay" I know that I'd make a point to get it locally, from an organic farm, and from a beekeeper that's passionate about being a beekeeper. 

For example, Scott's close friend Greg is a beekeeper (his motivations are entirely environmental: he wanted to create a safe habitat for bees as a way to help the ecosystem) and I know first hand the care he takes, and how much the bees mean to him. I'm not so sure I'd say 'no' if Greg offered up a sample of his honey. I wouldn't go hog wild with it because, well, it's a sweetener, and I think all sweeteners, including healthful ones, should accent to my diet, not be a big player... but just a taste? A little here and there? Maybe. Maybe not. 

So in a nutshell... that's where I am coming from; these are my feelings on honey. 

What are yours? Is honey vegan? healthy? 

Happy Herbivore in Madrid

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Travel

From Barcelona I headed south to Madrid. Madrid is such a pretty city. It's picture perfect. Every building is exquisite with that architecture Spain is known for. 

and how cool is this street??

I also decided to try paella, a signature dish of Spain. I ordered the vegetarian version (a.k.a. vegetable paella). 

Lucky for me, I happened to also meet another American who was also traveling alone in Madrid and when we realized we both had an affinity for sangria...we knew it was fate!

But first...before we found sangria we stumbled upon these, ugh, models. I just had to take a picture. 

Yes. Thank you.