Happy Herbivore Blog

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? 

Tofu Whipped Cream

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

Today's post is recipe by my long-time pal Katie, though you probably know her as CCK, "Chocolate Covered Katie."  

I met Katie shortly after I started Happy Herbivore -- 3.5 years ago! Back then, blogs were still relatively new and there were only about 2 dozen vegan bloggers. Naturally, being such a small community within an already small community, we all got friendly quick. Katie and I had a natural chemistry -- and I've stayed in touch with her over the years (other long-time blog pals include Vegan Crunk and Vegan Dad). 

Anyway, one of my favorite restaurants in New York, Angelica's Kitchen, sells a homemade tofu whip cream that I just love. Curious as to it's make up, I asked the waitress for the specifics and she said "it's just tofu and maple." 

Needless to say, I've been whipping tofu every which way with maple syrup, but to no avail. I just couldn't get it right. Then, after venting my frustrations on twitter, Katie messaged me saying she'd developed a tofu whip recipe. So, I took a peak at hers and then made some modifications so it would be more like Angelica's.

I added a little lemon juice to Katie's recipe to take off the tofu flavor (I found this secret when making tofu yogurt) plus a little flour which really helped it get the right consistency. I also used almond extract since it's clear and wouldn't add a brownish tinge to it like vanilla does, and I added a dash of cinnamon for good measure.

The end result doesn't remind me of whipped cream per se (that's what I get for tampering with a recipe!), but it does remind me of clotted cream, which is equally as awesome! I had it for breakfast with a big plate of peaches and nom! 

Here are the exact ingredients I used: 1/2 package mori-nu tofu, 2 tbsp whole wheat pastry flour, 1 lemon slice (squeezed), 1/2 tsp almond extract, 3 tsp powdered sugar, a splash of water and a dash of cinnamon.

Here is a lovely picture of the whip cream -- taken by Katie herself:

p.s. Katie is giving away a copy of my cookbook on her blog today! 

Be a Guest Blogger on HappyHerbivore.com!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: News

First, let me say thank you from the very bottom of my heart. Your comments to my memoir post lifted my spirits, gave me strength and reminded me how lucky I am in life, despite everything. I am so very touched and honored to know all of you. 

If you missed the post, be sure to check it out especially for the comments. There are so many personal stories of bravery, hope and resilience. I'm so sorry that so many people can relate to my woes on a personal level but I believe this is why we have each other -- to draw strength. 

Anyway, as I mentioned in my post I have a lot of new ideas I'm going to explore here on Happy Herbivore which includes bridging the gap between me and you, the community I love. 

I've always wanted Happy Herbivore to be something beyond my companion -- something bigger than me. I want Happy Herbivore to be a community: a safe space where anyone can feel welcomed and not judged. A place where we can come together to show our appreciation and passion for eating healthy, delicious meals.

So, my first step is to bring your voices to this blog. Happy Herbivore will no-longer be just about me and my voice, but it will have your voice and your unique spirit too. I'm going to start inviting guests to blog on Happy Herbivore -- much like my mom has been doing for the past few months (read Mama Herbivore's posts here and here). 

If you've made or adapted a Happy Herbivore recipe (from the blog or in my cookbook) and have a photo of the dish, please email me about guest posting -- Lindsay[at]happyherbivore[dot]com. 

We'll completely collaborate together and each guest post will have his or her own style. I've already got a few contributors lined up and I'm really excited about these guests posts! 

I hope you'll join in on the fun!