Happy Herbivore Blog

Guest Blogger: Michele B.

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Guests

Chickpea tacos are one of the most popular recipes on happyherbivore.com and one of my favorite healthy snacks (the chickpeas are great for nibbling!) Needless to say, I was thrilled when Michele (a.k.a a vegetarian who hates tofu) asked to guest post about them, showing how she made small changes to make the recipe "her own." That's what I love about home cooking so much: you can take a recipe and bend it to your palate, desires or simply, what you have on hand. After all, recipes are just suggestions.

So without further ado, here's Michele and her little helper:

HH: What made you cook up the chickpea tacos (p. 97)

Michele: I started making lentil tacos a few months back because my husband missed tacos. That was my first attempt at vegan tacos and while they are quite tasty, I got bored so I needed to change it up. I flipped through my Happy Herbivore Cookbook to the chickpea taco picture and they looked so yummy I had to give it a try! The great thing is that they're totally different than the lentil tacos I had been making, in both texture and flavor, which is exactly what I was looking for.   

HH: I love the idea of using lettuce cups instead of traditional taco shells because they're healthier. What gave you that idea?

Michele: Umm... I forgot to buy taco shells when I was at the grocery store! I always write a list of meals I'm planning to make that week so I can plan my grocery list and every week, no matter how organized I try to be, I forget at least one item on my list! That week I was planning for tacos and some kind of lettuce wrap for another meal but when I forgot the taco shells (and I was really in the mood for tacos, especially after deciding on the chickpea ones in your book!) I improvised and it turned out quite nicely. In fact, I am planning to make it this way again!

HH: Did the lettuce wraps add anything "extra" to the dish? For example, did they give a cool, refreshing crunch?

Michele: Absolutely! It was hot that day (humid, 95 degree Jersey weather = yuck!) and this was such a perfect dinner for a hot summer day. Even though I had to run the oven for a bit, it didn't take long to cook and it was totally worth it! The lettuce was crisp and refreshing and made it a perfect summer meal. When I made leftovers, I didn't reheat, just ate them chilled, and that was really good too and quite refreshing!

HH: Tell us about your toppings and what made you use them.

Michele: I topped the lettuce cups with some freshly picked cherry tomatoes from my garden, diced avocado, fresh cilantro and a sprinkle of crushed tortilla chips. I used the usual toppings I'd used for tacos, except that the tortilla chips (taco shell) and lettuce were reversed. 

HH: What did you think of the dish?

I love it! Chickpeas are on of my favorite things in the whole world to begin with. In this dish I just love the combination of flavors in the taco seasoning and the crispness you get from roasting the chickpeas. They are just wonderful! Pair that with some fresh veggies and a creamy ripe avocado and WOW! So delicious. Also, my husband thought they'd be good with some ranch dressing drizzled on so I'll have to find a good vegan one before I make these again. Any suggestions?

HH: There is a Ranch Dressing in my cookbook (pg. 232) I bet your little helper would like the leftover ranch with carrots and celery sticks -- that was my favorite snack when I was about her age.

Thank you so much for guest posting Michele -- I LOVE the idea of lettuce wraps instead of taco shells. I'm going to try this immediately! and I'm so going to try your lentil tacos too. Yum.

Have you made HH's chickpea Tacos? How'd you make them your own?

Living the American Dream

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: AdviceBusiness101

Since becoming an ex-pat full time, I've grown more interested in American culture, at least how it is viewed by people of other nationalities. Given the current political climate, and everything that has happened in the U.S. during the past few months, it's been a rather interesting time to live abroad!

My most interesting realization, however, actually happened through one of my sister's experiences. 

Courtney & I

My sister (who still lives in the U.S.), recently became friends with an ex-pat from Switzerland and during one of their recent conversations, I came up. He'd mentioned he wanted to visit New York City and Courtney said she had a sister that had lived there. Her friend then asked about me and Courtney said that well, I used to be a lawyer, but then I quit that to pursue what I love -- cooking and helping people -- so I created a website, which lead to a book and so on. 

Her friend's eyes widened in amazement and he said, rather excitedly, "So your sister is living the American dream!" 

Scott, a Herbie that visited in SXM (Nita), me, Courtney

This caught Courtney off guard because like me, we'd always thought the "American dream" was living in a nice house in the suburbs with 2.5 kids and a white picket fence. It had never occurred to us that the American dream was about exploring opportunity and building something out of nothing. 

As she was retelling her experience to me, I was just stunned. 

It sounds so silly to say this all out loud. But it was such an interesting "realization" that I had to share. It reminded me that sometimes we need an outside view to see progress we've made. That sometimes we look too long at something that we can't really see what's right there in front of us. 

I'd have never thought someone would find what I have done inspiring; but it was humbling and a reminder that accomplishments don't have to be huge or grand. I don't have to be the next Bethenny Frankel to be able to define myself as "successful" (though that would certainly be nice!) We can find success and inspiration in all achievements, including overcoming small hurdles.

All of this led to more realizations. I forced myself to come to terms with the fact that I'm an artist. I'd always had this particular stereotype about what an artist is (or isn't) and I realized that stereotypes are rarely correct. The same true for entrepreneurs. 

Me with a fellow artist, Vicky.

I realized, I am an artist. I am an entrepreneur. I am living the American dream (even if I'm not living in America) and it's time I accept, really accept this and say it standing tall and proud.

So, I dare you: Who are you deep inside? 

Minimalist Monday: Going Minimalist with Social Media

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

Instead of rearranging my closet (next weekend) or taking the minimalist approach to the rest of the house (more future projects) I decided to take 'minimalist' to my virtual life this week.

I have a love-hate relationship with social media. I love the instant personal connection it gives me to others, especially since I am living on an island so far away from everything and everyone, and I love that it gave me the opportunity to build and grow happy herbivore beyond my wildest dreams. But at the same time, I hate that I'm always glued to my twitter stream and Facebook newsfeed. I'm an addict.

Because Happy Herbivore is my life (emotionally, spiritually and financially) and because Happy Herbivore is online, I'm always going to have a relationship with Twitter and Facebook. I mean, sure, I could still write cookbooks without a blog or Facebook page, but it wouldn't be as much fun or "very good for business." It also wouldn't be very good for me because I love interacting with you, my supporters, on a daily basis. You enrich my life and inspire me.

So, I had to find some kind of healthy balance. I had to go minimalist with my social media. 

I examined my personal Facebook page first. I was shocked to realize had well over 800 friends.  Did I really know that many people? 

I know there are other authors, etc. on Facebook who have thousands of friends, but since becoming "the happy herbivore" I've been pretty restrictive about adding people to my personal page. It's not that I don't want to be your friend or let you in (I totally do!!) but some of my family members and friends really value their privacy (more on this tomorrow) and since Facebook is always changing privacy and security settings, and the default is to overshare rather than privatize, keeping my personal page...personal seemed like the only solution. Besides, I'm more interactive on my public page anyway. 

But back to the 800 friends. I went through my list and opened the profile of every name I did not instantly recognize and checked out our "friendship." (Facebook has a feature called "view friendship" that allows you to see how often you interact with someone). I ended up having over 200 "friends" that I'd never once interacted with. Not once!

Sure having them as a "friend" wasn't 'hurting' me necessarily, but why have them? Just to show I have 800 friends? Is Facebook just another popularity contest? If I'm working to remove the noise and static from my home, and live the minimalist lifestyle, shouldn't I do the same for my virtual life?

Now I have 574 friends, but I actually know each and every person. Some I met online, some I knew from real life, some I talk to very little, some I talk to a lot, but what I've realized is: I want to give all the time I have to the people I actually spend time with.

Interestingly, I was posting updates to Facebook as I was 'purging' and many of my friends got on board and did the same with their pages. It was oddly liberating. I really felt good about it afterward and my friends that joined me said they felt "freer."

I'd say it took about an hour to filter through. I was listening to music the entire time (and I periodically got distracted by photos of cute babies and realizing some friend had gotten married, etc... and then making a mental note to pay better attention) but it didn't take long to purge and like with the pantry reorganization, the little time required was minimal compared to the reward I felt at the end.

Afterward, I moved on to twitter. I was following around 600 people and while that's not a lot compared to some, my twitter stream was updating so fast and so often that I was missing a lot of tweets I didn't want to miss. So I figured I'd go minimalist with Twitter too.

I use Twitter to interact with my supporters and make new friends but its also an information source for me. So, going back to my "I want to give all the time I have to the people I actually spend time with" minimalist principal, I started unfollowing anyone who I didn't recognize from past interaction or I was unsure why I was following them in the first place. (For example, AncientProverbs will probably never interact with me, but I like the random bursts of inspiration).

I haven't finished cleaning through my twitter yet, it's not as easy as Facebook to cycle through, but I'm working on it... and I really feel good about it -- I'm limiting my information intake and preventing overload which makes me feel stressed. Minimalist, indeed. 

I've also making a commitment to myself to use Facebook and Twitter less, or at least, making sure my updates are useful or interesting or offer something... I don't want to create noise. By the way, if you want me to follow you, just interact with me. I love meeting new people!

Have you ever had a big purge or "cleaned up" your Facebook or Twitter? 


UPDATE: After writing this post I stumbled upon ManageFlitter, which allowed me to clean up my twitter in minutes. It's not an end-all-solution, but it's a great start. 

Going completely minimalist with my social media is still a work-in-progress, but things are going well. Less is more.