Happy Herbivore Blog

Executive Chef Happy Herbivore?

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: News

When Scott was transferred to St. Maarten, I was practically skipping. I mean, who wouldn't want to spend a year in paradise? But then after the initial wave of excitement wore off, I starting feeling listless and eventually, I was overrun by panic and fear.

You see, I was finally at a place in my professional life where I was happy--and things seemed to be moving in the right direction.I'd dumped the law to do something I actually enjoyed (cooking) and my first cookbook was ready to make a splash! This, I realized, was what I was born to do--- but could I do it on the island? Would I have sufficient variety and access to vegan staples to write more recipes?!

My friends---my sweet, sweet friends, convinced me that I could make it work anywhere and they promised to send me whole wheat pastry flour and tofu by the boatload--literally--if I needed it. 

And while the island doesn't have everything that I'm used to, it has the bulk of what I need. Not to mention, these minor limitations push my creativity limits--and really, is challenge ever a bad thing?

So, I've long gotten over my anxiety and fear... but what I didn't anticipate, is that moving to St. Maarten would be fantastic for my career---a game changer even.

Let me back up.

Earlier this week, La Samanna's Food & Beverage Director, Marc, got wind that Scott was married to a vegan chef. Marc asked if I would be interested in consulting for them--help them add a vegetarian options to their menu-- which, of course, I said I was glad to do. (We subsequently found out a guest checked out of La Samanna due to the inadequate vegetarian options on the menu--doh!).

After a brief meeting on Tuesday morning, I was (tada!) commissioned to design a vegan menu for all four of La Samanna's restaurants, plus some a la carte stuff, bento boxes for the pool bar and various other neat things (like a kids menu!). They're also allowing me a lot of leeway, which just makes this opportunity all the more exceptional.  

Admittedly, I was nervous going into a French hotel and a French restaurant as I've associated the French with Julia Child's mentality:  I've often wondered to myself: Does a vegetarian look forward to dinner, ever? but everyone at La Samanna--even the head chef, seems really excited about this project. 

Speaking of Chef, I also have a lot of respect for him--not only because La Samanna is his territory, but because it takes a strong person to admit they need help. I can't count the times I've gone to a restaurant and the best the chef could offer me was a plate of boring steamed vegetables and white rice...They recognized not only that it's beneficial to have vegan and vegetarian options, but that vegan food is it's own cuisine. Even if it happened in just one kitchen--someone-somewhere-- recognized that veg cooking is a special art, too. (like pastries!)

Anyway, they're planning to roll out my menus on Monday and today I'm meeting with Marc and Chef to discuss my ideas, show them my menus and most importantly---feed them.

I suspect I'll be in and out of the kitchen at La Samanna for the next couple of days---and Scott's going try to get a picture of me in there!

The world is changing Herbies! 

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UPDATE: Hours before the meeting, my Vita-Mix "died" while trying to blend cooked lentils. This resulted in me not being able to prepare everything and showing up to my meeting with only 4 samples instead of 10. (The Vita-Mix was ultimately "fixed" later but my distaste for this overpriced piece of crap continues).

Despite the technology fumble, and a near break down on my part, I still made it to my meeting, four samples in hand---and... they loved everything! 

We talked about my menu ideas--and after a tiny change here and there--my menus were accepted. They'll be rolling out next week!

Fat-Free Tofu "Egg" Salad (Vegan Egg Salad)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

The first time I tried egg salad was about five years ago, when I was a vegetarian. I'd forgotten my lunch at home that day, and an egg salad sandwich was the only "option" at the grab-n-go deli by my internship. Honestly, it looked like a sloppy yellow mess and...well, I didn't know how I felt about it. 

For starters, I wasn't one for mayonaise (to be honest, mayo still gives me the heebie jeebies) and also wasn't a fan of eggs. In other words, an egg salad just wasn't anything I ever desired to try. Still, my stomach was rumbling so I bought one, hoping for the best.

One bite into that sandwich and I unleashed what would become a rather intense love affair with egg salad. I ate it on salads, slipped into a warm whole wheat pita or my fave--squishing out between two slices of pumpernickel bread. 

This affair continued until I went vegan a few months later. Although I'd sought out replica recipes online immediately, one glance at them made me realize they'd never taste the same... so I filed egg salad under "unhealthy foods I now avoid" in my brain and moved on.

And really, I'd forgotten about egg salad sandwiches until last week when a friend emailed to say the deli had closed down. Although I haven't eaten there in years (and since they didn't offer anything vegan, I couldn't patronage it anyway), I still find it sad when long-standing, independently-owned establishments go under.  

After reading the email, however, I started thinking about all those egg salad sandwiches---and then I wanted a vegan one. Not willing to try any old recipe--I sent a message out to twitter, asking if anyone knew of a good vegan egg salad sandwich recipe. Several people replied that if I found one, please share it--which left me feeling dismal about finding a great recipe...

But then, @pdxyogini tweeted me the following recipe: "12oz crumbled x-tra firm tofu, 1/3 c small dice onion, same of celery, veganaise, mustard, salt/pepper, dill pickle relish."

I liked the simplicity of her recipe and decided to use it as a template. The first time I made this eggless salad, I kept adding a little of this--a lot of that--tasting along the way until I had what I thought was the right taste. I served it to Scott & he went crazy for it--eating three and a half total sandwiches!

I then scratched out what I thought I'd done on a piece of paper and waited a few days to test out my "recipe." The second salad was not the same as the first--but it was better--- as though my mind somehow knew what was right and remembered it that way. 

Still, even with my recipe--you'll still need to do some tasting as you go, especially because we all have our own preferences when it comes to egg salad. For instance, Scott really likes the tang of dill, so he's generous with the relish, where I like it as a slight flavor accent.

Enjoy!

Recipe:Eggless Salad

Description

My long search for the perfect vegan "egg" salad is over! This tofu eggless salad tastes just like the original, only it's fat-free and a whole lot healthier. Black salt is the secret ingredient here. This has quickly became a favorite in our household.

Ingredients

Instructions

If using firm tofu, press for at least 20 minutes. Give exrta-firm tofu a good squeeze before starting. Crumble tofu into a large mixing bowl. Add remaining ingredients and stir until well combined. Let set for a few minutes (this allows the flavor to merge but also enhances the yellow coloring). Stir again. Taste, adjusting spices as necessary. Add black pepper to taste and serve.

I used the fat-free vegan mayo from The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. However, Nasoya makes a commercial fat-free vegan mayo and there are several low fat varieties by other brands.

The 4 Hour (Vegan) Body Diet Review

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Reviews

SHOCKER: Tim Ferris wants you to be vegan (no, really!)

"If you are considering test-driving a PPBD, which I hope you will..." - T.F.

Background: I've been hearing about the 4-Hour Body in one way or another since Tim first mentioned it on his blog. Several emails poured in asking for my thoughts on the Paleo diet (the alleged cornerstone of the book) and if I was going to review the book--so here we are.

Paleo Diet: I could speak for days on the fallacies and problems with Paleo but I need't do that here because the 4 Hour Body diet isn't necessarily a Paleo protege. Sure Tim shuns grains (like Paleo) but he's pro-legumes (a non-Paleo food). Is there some overlap? Well sure, but I think Tim calls his diet Slow-Carb for a practical reason: it's not identical to Low Carb/Atkins or it's protege, Paleo.

Sound Nutrition? Tim and I are on the same page with a few key issues: We both think commercial juices are rubbage and that whole foods are the way to go, but Tim is anti-fruit which always gives me a cause for concern. He's also pro-oil and well, we know where I am on that.

One thing I found particularly amusing: Tim recognizes milk as a retardant for weight-loss... but why is where we differ: His explanation revolves around some insulin-surge theory (which I'm not discounting); but he then later encourages whey, cottage cheese and some creams. Tim, all dairy is a weight-loss retardant and causes weight gain... because that's what dairy is intended to do! Turn a calf into a 400lb heifer in record time! Der.

Ferris Hates Vegetarians: Reading the first part of the book, you'd think Tim loathed vegetarians. Take this FAQ, for example: 

Can I do this if I'm lacto-ovo vegetarian? Tim:Meat isn't necessary, but it does make the job easier. Eggs and beans are sufficient to lose weight. (He also goes on to talking about how you really can't shake the last 5-10lbs without eating one of five meals every 3 hours--4 of which contain meat and/or eggs and the other--whey).

This is then supported by evidence presented from his 194 test subjects (he lists 10 as vegetarian and 178 as non-vegetarian..I'm guessing the other 6 are space aliens?) The vegetarians lost 21lbs on average, compared to the non-vegetarians who lost 23.

The problem I have with this kind of "evidence" is that it doesn't take into account where the individuals started from. Since vegetarians have lower BMI's than non-vegetarians perhaps they lost less because they had less to lose?? I really don't know--and except for a passing sentence, there isn't any information on the people who dropped out or who gained weight--and what their diet was. (I wonder, too, if the gainers might reduce the overall averages??)

Ferris Loves Vegetarians: The word vegan did actually slip past Tim's lips a few times, but he ultimately opted to use PPBD (primarily plant-based diet) -- which can mean vegan, vegetarian, pescatarian and flexitarians whose diet is 70% or more plant foods... though the vegan diet is emphasized in the greatest detail... with a transition plan to boot! 

However, Tim starts the topic of veganism by saying: if someone becomes vegan, he realizes he needs a B12 supplement, and upon researching B12, he sees that animal liver is a good source of B12, so he then eats grass-fed beef once a week instead of being vegan.

I almost fired off an angry email right then! I mean, that is so nonsensical I don't know where to begin! Especially coming from the same person who pushes supplements in the proceeding 100 pages! (100 pages!) of the book! 

Then I turned the page and Tim does a complete 180. 

"If you are considering test-driving a PPBD, which I hope you will..." - T.F.

Why Tim, you did get all my emails! 

Tim's reasons for PPBD? Environmental welfare. And health. kinda. The "health"aspect is all really complicated, and I hate to say, bi-polar. Tim's message is so conflicting--even his "expert" contradicts himself--but the takeaway message is pro-vegan if you don't buy into the BS too much. 

Allow me show you: 

In one of his "vegan" chapters, Tim introduces Dr. Beradi (who admittedly I'm totally unfamiliar with). Dr. Beradi enters the picture after Ferris talks about super vegan Scott Jurek (he interviewed him) and Bill Pearl's sexy vegetarian muscles... and Dr. Beradi tries the 4-Hour Body diet as a ovo-vegetarian. and he does well on it, but ultimately concludes "I've come to conclude that vegetarianism can work, but this usually requires the help of a trained nutrition coach... I've also concluded that vegetarianism is a real challenge for the average person. Without meticulous planning and some nutritional guidance, most are doomed to muscle loss, poor performance, and a host of nutritional deficiencies" Umm... no. (My feelings on this subject are here). By the way, even if you are an omnivore, if you are on Tim's diet without supplements, you too will have a host of nutritional deficiencies...(as admitted by Tim). So...yeah.

But then (!) Dr. Butthead--Beradi, follows with this on the next page"Proper vegans tend to eat more whole, natural, locally produced and unprocessed foods than most omnivores. This means things like raw nuts and seeds, whole grains...locally grown fruit and veggies. That's all they eat, so they do it right." Dr. Beradi also affirm that vegans are more eco-friendly--which is Tim's big point for why you should try PPBD.

All-in-all, the two chapters on PPBD read this way--bi-polar--and I can only guess Tim was trying to be objective, but in reality you just want to say "spoken like a true meat eater" in a passive-aggressive tone. (i.e. He rails on soy, pointing out it can mess with your hormones and make you infertile...so how to we explain the population crisis in China, Tim?)

Conclusion: Tim's diet reads a little like an Eating Disorder--if I'm going to be brutally honest. It's obsessively restrictive, with one binge day---but hey! He didn't totally crap all over vegans, which is what we all expected from him, right? (I'm also concerned he approves things like sugar-free jello and Diet Coke...daily!) but aside from all the flaws, there is also great information in there and its presented in a way you not only understand, but won't find terribly boring to read. Is this book and diet for everyone? I'm doubtful--but I'm tempted to try it vegan-style for two weeks as an experiment.

Btw--Tim is wearing sneakers in all his workout demos--don't wear running shoes when you are lifting weights!

Disclaimer: I speed read the book as Tim told me too--namely, I only read chapters that mattered to me. For example, I skipped the chapter re: the 15-minute orgasm because I don't know that I want to experience a 15-minute orgasm..that sounds painful, actually.