Happy Herbivore Blog

Fat-Free (Chocolate) Holiday Cupcakes (Vegan)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

Hi Herbies! Thanks so much for all the support and congratulations yesterday! I was touched by all of the comments left on this blog, facebook--and that were sent in through twitter. It really does mean the world to me to have your love and support!

In case you missed the update: The Director of Food & Beverage, the Executive Chef and the Sous Chef all really enjoyed the food I provided and approved my menus!!

Now--on to the cupcakes!

These cupcakes come from my cookbook and I just love making them around the Holidays. Since they're chocolate cupcakes, they're a natural crowd pleaser, despite being a healthy option. 

That's right my friends! These cupcakes have no added fat--and they're whole wheat!

I had hoped to make some yesterday myself--but I ran out of time (they're on the agenda for today, though!) so I snatched some pictures from Google Images. Do a search for "Christmas Cupcakes" and be inspired by gorgeous cupcake artwork! 

Me? I usually make mine look like this: 

Low Fat Vegan Chocolate Cupcakes

1/4 c. unsweetened applesauce
1/2 c. raw sugar
1 c. chocolate nondairy milk (or plain)
1 tsp mint extract (or vanilla)
1 1/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup vegan chocolate chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease muffin tin or spray paper liners with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine applesauce, sugar, nondairy milk and extract. In another bowl, whisk flour, cocoa, baking powder and salt together. Add flour mixture to wet mixture in 3 to 4 batches, until almost combined. Add chips and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into cups 3/4 full and bake 15-25 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare the icing. Combine 1 cup confectioners sugar with a few drops of food coloring, 1/4 tsp vanilla or mint extract and a splash of plain nondairy milk or water, and mix until a nice paste-like icing results. (Add more sugar for thickness, more liquid to thin it out) Adjust food coloring. Once cupcakes are cool, slather icing and garnish with holiday candy.

[Images from Bakerella and The Cake List]

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! 


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.


Recipe:Eggless Salad


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.



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.