Happy Herbivore Blog

How to Reduce Salt (video)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQVideo

Today is “Less Salt” Day, so I thought I'd prepare a video and quick post with my tips for reducing salt in your diet.

Tips for Cutting Back on Salt:

  1. Instead of turning to salt for flavor, ramp up your spices and herbs.
  2. Spike & Kelp are great alternatives to salt – keep them on your table instead of a salt shaker.
  3. If a (non-baking) recipe calls for salt, omit it. Chances are you won't miss it. If you must add salt, add it to taste at the end, a pinch at a time. Alternatively, only sprinkle a little salt over top before serving.
  4. Try to use a little less each day.
  5. Stop adding salt to the water when you're cooking pasta, it's unnecessary.
  6. Avoid processed foods. Almost anything that's processed is going to have salt in it. Some have more salt than others, but whenever possible, skip junk foods and convenience foods – particularly fast foods. Fast food restaurants saturate everything with salt, but even on-the-go sandwiches that seem healthy can be loaded with salt.
  7. Be weary of anything marketed as “instant.”
  8. Be wary of “diet” products; they sometimes have more salt than the “regular” version.
  9. Buy low sodium and no-salt-added choices whenever possible, especially when it comes to soy sauce and canned beans. I like Eden Organics No-Salt-Added Beans . Whole Foods Market also sells salt-free canned beans that are less than a dollar per can. If you don't have access to low sodium canned goods, rinse well.
  10. If fresh is too expensive, go for frozen over canned. Frozen vegetables usually have less salt than canned veggies.
  11. Cut back on olives, pickles and capers.
  12. Make your own broth, or look for low-sodium options. Broths can be really salty!
  13. If you eat meat, avoid smoked and cured meats (like salami, jerky and bologna) which are really high in sodium. Ditto for cheese – shredded cheeses are high in salt, and canned meats (like tuna) are usually loaded with it. (Want to go veg? see my transitioning plans!)
  14. Have patience. Salt has an addictive taste and it takes a while to get over that. I've stopped using salt in my cooking a few months ago and my taste buds have changed. I find I'm more aware of salt now: pickles taste incredibly salty to me (and I used to love them!) and I also find food at most restaurants tastes salty.

Sneaky (and not so sneaky) Salt Bombs: 

  • Pretzels
  • Dill Pickles
  • Baking Soda
  • Saurkraut
  • Dry Roasted Mixed Nuts
  • Ketchup
  • White Bread
  • Potato Chips
  • Crackers (esp. SALTine Crackers)
  • Tortilla Chips
  • Dressings
  • Butter (incl. Vegan butters!)
  • Bouillon Cubes
  • Pasta Sauce
  • Soups (canned or at restaurants)
  • Breakfast Cereals
  • Canned or Bottled Beverages – especially sodas and drinks like V8.

For more reading, check out this NY Times article which has a lot of information and links to other resources. 

Do you have any tips for cutting back on salt?

Minimalist Monday: Removing Toxic People, Unhealthy Relationships

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

I'm looking for less stress and more happiness. That's what led me down this minimalist past. I had this awakening--realization that I'm a happy person by nature. I start my day with a glass full of happiness and it's the outside world that drinks it up. I realized if I want to be happier, I must to protect my glass and it's contents. I have to avoid or remove the stress monsters that are drinking from my glass.

The first stressor I removed was environmental: I cleared away the clutter in my home---out of sight, out of mind. It's all been really great for me...

But what about emotional stress?

A quote I'm quite fond of is "complaining is not a conversation." I've tried to complain less. It's a work-in-progress, but I've noticed the positive changes it's had on me and the people around me.

Emotions are contagious. If you're negative---even a tiny bit so, it latches on to whomever you're talking to.

For example, one of my friends complained to me every-single-day about the same thing. I never thought much of it. I felt for my friend and her situation; I wanted to be there for her and give her that ear to vent to.. but then she went on vacation and we didn't talk. When she came back, and the complaining started up again, I could suddenly feel the pull our conversation was having on me.

This stopped me and made me start thinking of outside stressors in a new light. Stress can come from your environment (i.e. clutter), or your work situation, or your financial situation -- but it can also come from relationships.

We all experience negativity and one of the beautiful things about relationships is that we have someone to share the good and bad with -- but there also becomes a point where relationships -- romantic and platonic -- become toxic. They become a stressor and you need to remove or reduce them.

My friend--the one who was complaining, once I told her that I thought our constant dwelling and rehashing was doing us both a disservice, she agreed. It was a big "aha" moment for us both and we haven't talked about it since. If anything, I think by not talking about it, it's motivated her to make a change...

But this realization had much larger implications beyond this single instance with my friend. It made me realize that there are some people in my life who are toxic and weighing me down. It's not abusive per se, but they are not a good influence on me. My relationships and experience with them are--overall, not positive.

I thought about all the people in my life and I asked myself, "Is this person helping me get to where I want to go? Is this person filling my happiness glass or drinking from it?"

I realized to find a place of less stress and more happiness, I needed to end or take a break from relationships that are toxic for me...

This doesn't mean I'm only being friendly with people who are exploding rainbows---because someone can be happy or sad in their own life, while still being toxic for your life. By saying I'm removing toxic relationships, I mean that I'm choosing to surround myself with people that make me feel good about myself, that make me a better person, that are good influences on me and to remove relationships that are overall, not positive.

For example, this meant ending a 'friendship' with someone who always deflated my self-esteem and often made me feel bad about myself. We had a lot of good times, true, and she'd been there for me through some tough times also, but I needed to stop clinging to those few good instances. Overall, it wasn't a positive relationship for me.

Then, another step was taking a break from a friend who suffers from an addiction. Lord knows I've tried to get her help. She doesn't want it. She digs a deeper hole with every swig of the bottle. It's her life, not mine. and I'm not judging her, but I can't keep playing on the emotional teeter totter with her. Her life is chaotic, extreme and toxic and her cyclone winds are strong. I'm dizzy. I cried feeling like I abandoned her; I thought I was a bad person for walking away, but I have to hope that doing so was the best thing for us both.

Have you ever had to walk away from a toxic relationship?

How to Become Vegetarian (or Vegan)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Motivated to eat a plant-based (vegan) or vegetarian diet? Here's how:

Transitioning Plans: Most vegans (and vegetarians) take a transitional approach where non-veg items are phased out over time, while others do a total 180 overnight.

Which plan you use depends on your unique personality and needs. Make changes at your own pace, creating your own transitioning plan if you need to. People who fail usually do so because they hold themselves to too high a standard or place too many constraints or limitations on themselves right away.

Preparation:

  1. Find a good milk substitute
  2. Have a laundry list of 10–25 vegan recipes you like (see the recipes page!)
  3. Make meals that yield leftovers, like soups and lasagna.
  4. Stock your pantry and fridge with basic veg-savvy ingredients (my shopping list).
  5. Find meat and dairy substitutes that you like.
  6. Give yourself the freedom to indulge in occasional vegan treats during transition.
  7. Join veg forums and online groups for support and friendship.
  8. Stash veg food everywhere: at work, in your car, in your locker.
  9. Get used to simple meals like bean burritos, PB&J and vegetable stir-frys with rice.
  10. Join HH’s Facebook community.

Plan A (24 hours): This plan is aggressive and challenging, but the quickest way to adopt a vegan diet. Plan A is recommended by those who are motivated by ethical reasons, live alone, generally adapt to change easily or are already vegetarian.

On this plan, you’ll go completely vegan overnight (“cold tofu”). You can choose to start your vegan diet the morning after completing this course, or you can select a future date where it will occur. For example, Jessica, a long-time vegetarian, decided she would go vegan on Earth Day. I, on the other hand, went vegan while on vacation in San Francisco.

Plan B (one week): Slightly less aggressive than Plan A, using Plan B will adapt you to a vegan diet in 7 days. Each day, you will phase out one animal product. This plan can be extended longer, allowing more than one day between each phase, but should be completed in no less than three weeks. For days 1–3, it is strongly recommended you eat at least one vegetarian meal. For days 3– 4, it is strongly recommended that you eat one vegetarian meal and one vegan meal each day. For days 5–6, it is strongly recommended you eat mostly vegan.

Day 1: Eliminate beef, organ meats and game meats.
Day 2: Eliminate pork.
Day 3: Eliminate poultry (all bird meats).
Day 4: Eliminate fish.
Day 5: Eliminate eggs and shellfish.
Day 6: Eliminate dairy.
Day 7: Eliminate all animal by-products, such as gelatin.

Plan C (one month): This plan is very gradual, allowing adjustment to a vegan diet over a 30-day period. You are encouraged to eat as many vegan and vegetarian meals as possible during each week. For weeks 3–4, eat at least one vegan meal on a vegetarian day.


Week 1: Eat vegetarian 1 full day, plus 3 other vegetarian meals that week.
Week 2: Eat vegetarian 2–3 full days, plus 3 other vegan meals that week.
Week 3: Eat vegetarian 3 full days, vegan 1 full day plus 2 other vegetarian meals.
Week 4: Eat vegetarian 4 full days and vegan 2 full days... then get ready to go vegan!

Have any questions? Leave a comment---I'll answer!