Happy Herbivore Blog

Minimalist Monday: Organizing Your Cabinets & Pantry

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Minimalist

Last week I took "minimalist" to a whole new level in my kitchen by removing everything possible from the kitchen table and counter tops. I'm still loving the clean look of my kitchen; I've never felt so zen! 

The lone downside to the overhaul, however, was that everything had to be shoved into my cabinets, which were already frazzled to begin with. On the upside, the chaos was out of sight, but I knew I needed to revamp that space too if I wanted a *totally* zen kitchen. 

Reorganizing my pantry and cabinets took less than an hour and I felt a huge, HUGE sense of accomplishment afterward. It was definitely one of those experiences where the little time and effort required was nothing compared to the overall reward. 

Not only is my kitchen totally neat and zen from the inside-out now, I also organized it in a way that saves more time in the long run. I basically arranged everything based on frequent use, so what I use the most is the closest too me, right at my fingertips.

To get a real appreciation for all the changes, take a quick peek at the photos from last week

Old pantry:

While there is some modest organization here (i.e. like items are somewhat grouped together) there is no "system" -- things fall where they may in their designated area which means I was often hunting around for the lone can of chickpeas or one of my spices.

There is really no method to the madness here; items are just put where ever there might be space and worse still, many items are hidden behind other items. I "discovered" several ingredients I didn't know I had during the reorganization. You'll also notice teas, flours and oats were in the last cabinet as well. Apparently even similar items weren't always together in my kitchen. Major fail, HH.

Another reason I'm glad I reorganized: it made me see how dirty my cabinets had become (ick!)

New pantry:

Like items are grouped together, but also in terms of frequency. I use canned beans at nearly every meal so they're up front while canned vegetables (which I don't use too often) are to the side. All of our overstocked condiments (extra soy sauce, etc) is lined up in the back. I can see our spares easily, but they are out of the way. Spices are also lined up based on their frequency and everything else that I don't use too often, like nori sheets, are lined up in the back where I see them but again, they're out of the way.

Just look at how much space is left over. I even had enough space for my knives, which I mentioned in my last post I'd wanted to store away too. 

This cabinet is even more organized; I just love opening it and looking at all my neat ingredients. In comparison to the "before" picture, you can see just how many ingredients were hidden before.  

I also decided while I was at it, to reorganize my kitchen drawers and pots and pans:

I also learned I have an affinity for cinnamon, or at least so many of them were hidden behind other things that I'd think I was out and purchased another:

Here is a picture Scott snapped of me consolidating all of the cinnamon. I'm in my workout clothes (the "organize by frequency" idea came to be on the elliptical) and don't worry, I threw out the plastic top in my mouth. 

Anyone else feel a huge sense of accomplishment when they organize their spices (or entire pantry!) ? 

Foodie Friday: Salads & Mexican Food

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

Here are some of the goings on in my kitchen this week:

Eggless salad on a... salad. (It's one of my favorite salad toppers.)

"Nacho" salad (my latest addiction!) In the middle is the Quick Queso (p. 263) from my cookbook (HHC). Omg it's so good! I'm totally addicted to this combo. Sometimes I also add crumbled corn chips in for texture. 

The makings of homemade enchilada sauce (p. 260 HHC). I'm not joking when I say I always keep this sauce on hand. It's so easy to make and so, so good. I add it to all sorts of things to "jazz them up." 

My latest "discovery:" warm refried beans are AMAZING on a cold salad. I actually made the refried beans from scratch -- a super easy, 8-minute recipe in my new cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore. I can't even begin to say how awesome this salad is.

Speaking of my new cookbook, this dish is from it as well:

Bok Choy is becoming one of my fave veggies!

Speaking of my new cookbook (again!)... because I was racing to finishing checking over the copyeditor's notes on the manuscript for EHH these last few days, Scott was tasked with making our dinner. Here's his handy work:

Mini Pizzas -- using whole-wheat pitas (in the toaster oven!)

Smoky Black Bean Enchiladas (p. 105 HHC). Can you tell Scott *loves* Mexican food?? It seems to be a permanent "theme" to our meals!

Baked Chimichangas (p. 101 HHC) filled with leftover fried beans and leftover brown rice. This is a great recipe for leftovers. In retrospect we should have put leftover enchilada sauce on top -- but a little guac and salsa was amazing. 

What good food did you make this week?

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!