Happy Herbivore Blog

Guest Blogger: Cassandra L.

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guests

I'm always excited about our guest bloggers, but I love that today's guest blog post happened to coincide beautifully with New York passing a gay marriage law last Friday. I've always believed that Love is LOVE so I'm incredibly happy to see my home state recognizing marriage equality! 

But I don't want to take anymore away from Cassandra, this week's guest blogger who put a spin on Happy Herbivore's low fat guacamole for a Pride party!

HH: Was this your first time making the low fat guacamole ("Edamole")?

Cassandra: I first made the Edamole (p. 231) and your black bean brownies (p. 209) during the winter for a party I went to. Both got great reviews from my family and friends. My brother-in-law, Jamie, said the edamole was so good that he could eat a ton of it! (He said that about the brownies too!) He then asked me to make both for his Pride party, but I only had enough time to make the edamole. 

Eric (Cassandra's hubby) & Jaime 

HH: Did you make any changes to the recipe?

Cassandra: I usually don't change anything but for the party I made a few simple changes: Instead of salt I used kelp granules and since tomatoes are just coming to season (and mine were not out yet), I used canned organic Italian diced tomatoes. 

HH: I love the idea of using kelp instead of salt! What a healthy substitute! Plus, kelp is so nutritious! How'd the edamole go over at the party? 

Cassandra: It was a success! I would make it again for any party. 

HH: Have you made any other Happy Herbivore recipes? 

Cassandra: Yes! I've made the Aztec Corn saladMexican Cabbage (p. 130), and Corn Soup. When I took your black bean brownies to work, all my coworkers asked me for the recipe. I've had so many great reviews on your cookbook and I tell customers about it too! I really do love your cookbook. And everybody I let borrow it loves it too!

Cassandra used red cabbage instead of regular cabbage in the Mexican Cabbage recipe -- a great example of making a recipe work with what you have on hand.

Cassandra added extra vegetables to HHs Aztec Corn Salad, making the recipe "her own." 

HH: Aww thanks Cassandra!! That't too sweet and generous of you!! It was great having you and I'm thrilled my recipe was part of a Pride celebration!

Have you made HH's low fat guacamole? If so, did you make any changes to it?

Vegan Apple Biscuits

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

I don't revamp my recipes too often, but biscuits keep being redone. I guess I'm on a journey to find a healthy biscuit recipe! Or maybe I'm just a perfectionist about my biscuits... 

At first, I made low fat whole-wheat vegan biscuits by substituting Tofutti non-hydrogenated cream cheese in place of butter or shortening. (This was actually Scott's genius idea). Then when I wrote The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, I changed it still again by using a banana. 

The subtle hint of banana doesn't always jive with what I am making, however, so I created yet another biscuit recipe in Everyday Happy Herbivore. That one uses white whole wheat flour and applesauce (no banana), and it was my attempt to make that recipe for breakfast that led to today's recipe. 

I was all out of applesauce because I'd used applesauce for oil in a cake recipe the night before. I sent Scott to the store to get some, but he came back with 10 things, none of which were applesauce. Instead of sending him to the store again, I opted to make instant homemade applesauce (p. 277) in The Happy Herbivore Cookbook.

It's so easy to make applesauce yourself: just add an apple (or pear) to a blender with a little water and pulverize it. Voila!

I wasn't looking when I was pouring out my applesauce, however, and I accidentally dumped all of it into my flour mixture. My new recipe uses a little applesauce and some non-dairy milk, but the flour was so wet with the applesauce that there was no need for any additional liquid. 

I gave it a few stirs and since the batter seemed to come together, I decided to just bake them as is, half expecting a total failure.

The result? My biscuits came out beautifully and really fluffy. They also had a nice light sweetness to them and a lovely speckled look from the bits of red apple skin. 

I've since made these blooper applesauce biscuits two more times, once adding cinnamon and another time adding fresh rosemary. I can't even begin to say what I delight they are! A real testament that accidents are often a good thing!

I wouldn't use these to stand in for biscuits in another recipe (for instance, they're a bit too apple-y for "biscuits and gravy") but they're a terrific and healthy breakfast biscuit option. 

Recipe:Apple Biscuits (Applesauce Biscuits)

Prep time: | Cook time: | Total: | 12 servings

Description

A slightly sweet and wholesome alternative to breakfast biscuits.

Ingredients

Instructions

Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a cookie sheet and set aside. Core an apple and quarter. Add apple to a blender or food processor with a
splash of water and pulverize into the consistency of applesauce, adding a touch more water if necessary and set aside. In a mixing bowl, whisk flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. (You can also add a little raw sugar or raisins for a sweeter biscuit, 1 tsp cinnamon or fresh rosemary for a savory biscuit here). Add applesauce 1/4 cup at a time until the batter is moist (wetter is better; you should use most of or all of the applesauce). Drop large spoonfuls on the cookie sheet and bake 10-13 minutes, or until firm to the touch and lightly golden on the bottom and edges.

Confession: I used to be a bad cook

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

I'm speaking at Google next week.

Ever since they invited me to come give a talk as part of their Authors@Google series, I've been trying to figure out what I'd talk about. I knew I wanted to share my story of how I went from being a lawyer to the happy herbivore, but I kept feeling like something was missing. That a part of my story was left unsaid.

I fell into my culinary career and believe me when I say no one was more surprised than me. 

When I left home to go to college, I didn't know how to make anything beyond a sandwich. I didn't even know how to boil water to make pasta. A few days before I was leaving for school, my mom tried to show me how to make scrambled eggs and it went badly. I could tell she was worried about me, how would I eat? But I assured her I'd make good use of the dining hall.

For the first two years, the extent of my "cooking" in college was making a bowl of cereal or heating up a poptart. (I could also make some awesome jell-o shots, but I'm not quite sure I can call that cooking.)

My third year roommate, however, was all domestic-like and loved cooking. On the weekends, all of our guys friends would flock to our apartment to eat whatever she made. I was a bit jealous of the attention, so one weekend I asked if I could help out; I wanted to get in on the action! My roommate went easy on me and gave me a recipe for crostini. I thought Great! How hard is it to toast bread and top it with stuff?

I failed. Miserably. The bread was so hard we almost broke our teeth trying to bite it. My roommate and all our friends, including my then-boyfriend, made fun of me for weeks. Anytime they ate something my roommate made when I was around, they'd say "You didn't make this right Lindsay?" 

I was mortified and promised myself I'd never step back in the kitchen. (I did eventually learn how to make a simple pasta dish that I used anytime I needed to entertain and I've included it in Everyday Happy Herbivore).

I met Scott my senior year and finding such a great boyfriend that also liked to cook seemed to be the best solution I could have hoped for. For the first three years we were together, Scott did all the cooking. I could make pasta, tacos (seasoning packet), sloppy joes (seasoning packet), mac n' cheese (from a box) and canned soup, but that was pretty much it. Even then I still hated cooking and cringed anytime Scott would ask me to make dinner since he was running late. 

Then when Scott & I were married, my family and friends started to tease me non-stop about my lack of cooking skills, insisting that I needed to learn how to make at least one really good meal. It had been a few years since the crostini debacle and while the scars were still there, the wounds weren't fresh, so I decided to give cooking another try. 

I went to the bookstore and bought one of Jaime Oliver's books (he was the Naked Chef back then) and spent hours -- literally hours -- preparing this one dish. Thankfully, it was edible, but it wasn't that great. It certainly wasn't worth the effort and time I had put in or the amount of money I spent on ingredients. Scott was really proud of my effort but I continued to think I was a lousy cook and it just wasn't for me.

I became a vegetarian not long after that and Scott (bless him!) was pretty good about making meals that we could both eat. When I went vegan, however, Scott was all "you are on your own." He was supportive of my decision, but had no idea what he'd make me if he had to take cheese and eggs out of the equation. 

I tried to get buy on stir-frys, pasta and veggie burgers, but it didn't take long for me to realize if I was going to be vegan, I needed to get in the kitchen and learn to cook. Back then there weren't many substitutes or convenience foods for vegans. I was also living in an not-so-veg-friendly city so my hand was really forced in the kitchen.

I started slow and easy, making things like soups and stews. I then ventured into muffins. The first 3 vegan baking attempts came out wrong but I was determined to make it work (I was hungry for muffins!) and when the fourth batch rose perfectly (and tasted good too!) I was a new person. Every bad experience was gone. I had a new excitement. I can still remember those muffins vividly -- I can still remember how good it felt to get something right. 

One "success" gave me the courage to keep trying, to keep cooking and keep baking. It all started out of necessity and along the way it turned out to be something I loved. As I got more comfortable and confident in the kitchen, I started trying to make my own recipes. I started experimenting with new flavors. New ideas kept coming and coming and coming and I was fearless about trying them out. I was a foodie. I was a cook. and somewhere in all of that, I became a chef. 

but I still don't make crostini.