Happy Herbivore Blog

Guest Blogger: Christy V.

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guests

As I mentioned last week, I want to bring your voices to this blog. I'm delighted to welcome Christy, our first guest blogger here on Happy Herbivore! Christy did what I love most about cooking -- taking a recipe and "making it your own." See how Christy made my low fat chocolate chip cookies sugar-free! 

Christy: I took the recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies in your cookbook (p. 203) and substituted 1 cup of ripe mashed bananas for the 1/2 cup of applesauce and 1/2 cup of sugar. They're really delicious and you can tell yourself you're just eating a banana. ;-) 

HH: Yum! What made you use mashed banana instead of applesauce and sugar?

My husband and I recently started trying to follow the Eat Right American Diet which doesn't approve of sugar, so I was trying to come up with a way to have my beloved Chocolate Chip cookies despite the restriction. I thought I'd try bananas since your recipe for Raw Ice Cream is sweet enough without any sugar.

HH: How did they come out?

The cookies are softer and you have to bake them longer. They need 10 to 15 minutes compared to 7 to 10 with the original recipe. I also don't completely mash the banana super thoroughly so sometimes you get a chunk of banana in the cookie, which I consider to be a bonus. In this picture, you can see some of the banana chunks. They look kind of like white chocolate pieces in the cookie:

 

HH: Mmm. I like the idea of warm banana chunks! Are the cookies sweet, even without sugar?

I don't care for super sweet desserts, and I haven't gotten a good sample of opinions, but my Dad, Step-Dad, Mom and Mother-in-law all really liked them and they tend to like desserts much sweeter than I do. My Dad and Step-Dad have the general public's taste preferences, I think, so if they like something I've made, I know I can bring it to a party and the guests will think it's delicious.

HH: Have you tried any other variations to the original recipe?

I just started substituting finely shredded zucchini for the applesauce since it's zucchini season here in Louisiana. The cookies are on the same sweetness level as before, but with an added vegetable. 

HH: The cute little guy in this picture--who is that? your son?

That's my 10-month old son, David. He's the reason I was trying the banana substitution. David has a genetic heart defect (HLHS) so I've been trying to cut out anything from our diet that would put a strain on your heart over the long term (fat, excess sugar, meat, dairy, etc). I'm also trying to boost our overall health through our diet by incorporating more fruits and veggies instead of more grains. 

My mother, who also likes to cook, can't stand the idea of a child never having cookies or ice cream or other "treats" so I'm also trying to go through the food she'd want to make for him but making it heart-healthy. 

HH:  What did David think of the cookies?

David loves bananas sothese cookies were a big hit with him. I pick out the chocolate though since children aren't supposed to have chocolate before they're a year old (according to my pediatrician). I let him gum up little bits of cookie. He's always indignant when I tell him he can't have any more cookie. It's super cute.

Thanks so much for sharing Christy and guest posting! I wish you much luck with your new approach to eating and of course our fingers are crossed for David. I hope his condition improves soon, I know he has a lot of surgeries ahead. 

Have you made any variations, modifications or adaptions to this cookie recipe? Please share!

Money can't buy you happiness.

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceBusiness101

I wanted to once again thank everyone for all the amazing comments on my memoir post. One particular comment stuck with me and I wanted to respond to it.

The comment read:

"I'm having a hard time understanding why you feel you can't practice law anymore, particularly since you aced your bar exam. You are probably not the only female attorney who has been sexually harassed!"

The reason I left the law goes far beyond the single instance of sexual harassment at my last job. That was just my breaking point. 

At a previous job, my supervisor, a female attorney, said to one of the male attorneys that she was surprised I was rehired for another term. The male attorney said "Why? Lindsay is a hard worker. Everyone in the office likes her." My supervisor then went on to say "Well, because she dresses too sexy." 

Let's put aside for a moment the question of whether I dressed too sexy or not. How is it possibly appropriate for my boss to say something like that about me to my co-worker? It made everyone uncomfortable. It also undermined me to my colleague, a colleague that I had a lot of respect for and who had taken me under his wing when I was a lowly intern. And for the record, I wore a pants suit every-single-day to the office. While I'm willing to admit they were flattering on me, as suits tend to be, they were far from "sexy." They were also much more conservative than what she wore on our occasional casual friday. 

I learned later that this was just the kind of person she is. She would backstab and undermine other team mates in our office regularly. Everyone else I worked with was amazing, and we all couldn't stand her, but she was the boss. Some lawyers make the law a dog-eat-dog, kill-or-be-killed profession, and she was clearly one of them.

Two terms later I left to work at a larger law firm. From the beginning I noticed the female attorneys were not treated as equals and that there was clear gender discrimination running rampant in the office. I also saw it every single time I went to the courthouse. I was frequently asked to show identification and "prove" I was an attorney. Of course, my male colleagues, even those younger than me, never were "carded" or presumed to be secretaries. Male attorneys and court officials also often said things like "dear" and "honey" and "sweet heart" which is not only unprofessional but they did it in a demeaning way. I once left a mediation with my male boss once (I sitting in to observe) when opposing counsel said to me, "Thanks. It was so nice to look at you all day today." I could go on and on.

Despite all this, I was a good attorney and I often used their prejudices against them. I'd let them think I was some silly little airhead, all looks and no brains, and then I'd strike and wipe the floor with them. I was a damn fine attorney and after I had a lot of great experience I decided to seek out a job I deserved, where I would be rewarded for my merit. So you can imagine how it felt to learn I hadn't earned the job I was the most proud of because of my hard work, but because my boss wanted to sleep with me (or so he said). That was was the final blow for me. 

So, yes, the comment is right: I am not the first female who was sexually harassed, and sadly, I won't be the last. Sometimes I feel like times haven't changed at all, but after reading this story, I'm optimistic. 

Of course not every situation is like mine. I had an internship and a job in the mix that were fantastic; where I was treated as I deserved to be. And I know several female attorneys who are happy and can't offer a single complaint. 

I simply don't have it in me to get back out there and "fight the good fight" because I never loved what I did anyway. I went to law school because I wanted to help people. I never felt like I did that as an attorney, but every day that I have happy herbivore....every day that I write a recipe... every time one of you sends me a thank you note, I realize I finally am helping people. 

and that has made all the difference.

thank you.

Cheers!

Minimalist Monday: Kitchen Makeover (Minimalist Kitchen)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

In my memoir post I mentioned I had a lot of new ideas... and I do, for both my blog and my life.

Right before everything happened, I had been feeling very frustrated with life. I felt that there were certain obstacles holding me back from being truly happy. That's when this quote came in and changed everything:

Know that happiness is always available to you. The moment you see the truth of this, you can be happy right away.  There's nothing that needs to happen first for you to be happy.  You don't need to do anything else, go anywhere else, reform yourself, or become a different person.  Happiness is very simple.  It's only our tendency to complicate things that makes it difficult.

My friend Bethany stumbled across it in an old issue of Whole Living and emailed it to everyone she knew. It was exactly what I needed to hear.

Of course hearing it, believing it, and making it actually happen, are three very different things. I was having trouble seeing the truth of it, I guess, and then I lost my job. and I almost lost my Dad. 

Coming out of those experiences, though, granted me a new outlook on life --- one that finally allowed me to see the truth in the those words and find instant happiness. 

For me, creating happiness comes from removing outside stress, negativity and static to every extent possible. One semester in college a teacher said to my class, "Today, you all start with A's, it's your job to keep it"  and that's  how I feel about happiness. 

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. If I wanted to feel fully happy all the time, I realized it was my job to protect my glass and it's contents. I had to avoid or remove the monsters that drank from my glass.

Enter: minimalist living.

As someone who grew up with packrats, I'm the opposite. I LOVE to get rid of things. LOVE IT. I'm on a first name basis with most of the volunteers at GoodWill. I save nothing and sometimes this bites me, but any loss is a drop in the bucket compared to the bliss I feel everytime I move something out of my living space.  

But not having excess is not enough for me, clearly, because I still felt stressed and frazzled by my surroundings. 

Since I always felt my best, felt the least stressed, when my home was clean and everything was put away neatly, I thought I'd strive to maintain that hotel-neat environment on a day-to-day basis. I failed miserably and those old obstacles came back "Oh I'd be so much happier if I could afford a house keeper and could come home to a clean house!" 

(For the record I still don't doubt this to be true, but I also don't see having a housekeeper in the budget any time soon).

That's when I decided to get rid of all the clutter. Even things that I normally don't consider clutter, like functional equipment, had to go. I was taking minimalist to an entirely new level. 

I cleared everything from my kitchen table except for a coconut Scott had picked from a tree earlier in the week. I took everything off of my counters and counter tops. The dish soap behind the sink? Now under the sink. The oatmeal I left conveniently by the stove, away in the pantry. My blender that became a counter top fixture? In a cabinet, and so on. 

 Old Kitchen:

New Kitchen:

(If you were familiar with my NYC kitchen, you can see SXM has one benefit: more kitchen space!)

I've never felt happier or more zen in my life. It's not the end-all-solution but it was a HUGE first step to my new way of living. It's been two weeks and I LOVE it. I feel no stress when I walk into, out of, or past the kitchen. Just seeing the clean, open space, adds a splash of water to my happiness glass. 

I thought that I would waste a lot of time having to dig out and put away all the things that are now stored but I've been pleasantly surprised to realize it hasn't added much time at all and the few extra minutes it adds is nothing compared to the benefit I'm getting in return. What's five extra minutes in the kitchen if it means having a zen kitchen? 

I must encourage you to try it -- I promise your quality of life will improve instantly. It feels so good to have that clean, open space -- I can't describe it. Having things at your fingertips is nice, but it's not worth all the static. I think this is why hotel rooms are so calming, they're free of static. 

In case you're wondering: yes my cabinets and pantry are a little clustered and crazy now, and it's my next minimalist project to get them in order, but at least that's "out of sight out of mind." I plan to tackle that project this weekend, so I'll blog about it next week in my new column, Minimalist Monday!

Do you have a minimalist kitchen or living space?! What's one thing you could do to zen your space?