Happy Herbivore Blog

Fat-Free Mango Oatmeal (Vegan)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

In Monday's post where I talked about my vegan diet, I mentioned how my breakfast always involves a fruit and a grain. That grain is usually uncooked rolled oats. I like the "crunch" and overall texture the oats provide my tofu yogurt and I also like how they make smoothies more filling. (Plus they're easy and convient, who am I kidding?).

Still, despite this love for uncooked rolled oats, I've been slow to jump on the oatmeal bandwagon. Now, don't get me wrong: I do like oatmeal on occasion (especially steel cut oatmeal with soaked raisins, cinnamon and maple syrup!) but I'm just not in love with regular ol' oatmeal and I never been able to eat any kind of oatmeal every day---that is, until this recipe!

You see, Scott & I were catching up on Dexter (Anyone else watch that show? Anyone else find it weird that you're slightly attracted to a serial killer?) Anyway-- Dexter (the lead) says to his sister that his son misses her mango oatmeal in the morning and I immediately thought: "Mango Oatmeal? Why didn't I think of that?!" 

(Yes, I'm sure it says a lot about me that I'm thinking about food while watching a TV show about a serial killer!)

Thankfully, I had two mangos ripening on my counter during this...discovery, so the next morning I took a stab (heh, I said stab!) at Mango Oatmeal--and my god, it's fabulous. It's simple and fabulous. It's healthy and fabulous! It's fabulous and fabulous!

And for all my friends that don't live on a tropical island, no worries! It works with frozen mango chunks too!

It's really so simple I feel embarrassed posting it--but when something tastes this good, how can I not share my new discovery with my friends! (and also, if you're feeling a little decadent, you can totally use a bit of nondairy milk (or if you're feeling really decadent, some coconut milk) in place of the water).

And just to make sure you really get the feel for this Tropical-Caribbean-Miami-inspired hot breakfast:

Yep, that'd be my view from my front patio. (Sorry friends in snow, this sunshine is for you!)

Anyway, so how you make it: cook your oatmeal as you like it (for me this is about 1 cup oats to 1 1/2 cups water) and after a minute or so, mix in cubed mango (the fruit of an entire fresh mango, or anywhere from 1-2 cups if you're using frozen, depending on chunk size) and let the oatmeal finish cooking. Give it a good mix around a few times and then place it into your bowl. Sprinkle generously with cinnamon and eat! Really! That's all! The mango is so sweet that you don't need any extra sweetener! 

p.s. If you're feeling feisty, you can also add a little bit of cayenne or other hot spice. When I lived in Los Angeles, a co-worker from Mexico got me hooked on mango with hot spices on it... sounds gross, but it's delish! 

Any oatmeal fans out there? How do YOU eat YOUR oatmeal?

10 reasons why I love being vegan

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

To echo yesterday's post about my vegan diet, for this week's Top 10 Tuesday, I'm sharing my Top 10 Reasons Why I Love Eating a Plant-Based Diet. 

I'm not embarrassed to admit that my initial reason for adopting a vegan diet was rooted in vanity: I wanted to be thin and have clear skin. Of course, I was also motivated by the plight of animals, and it was my health that primarily motivated my initial steps at a vegetarian diet the year before, but the leap from "vegetarian" to "vegan" was intimately tied with my own selfish desires.

However, once I was vegan, my world shifted into focus. I hadn't been a vegan for very long when I read Skinny Bitch, The China Study and Eat to Live--three books that solidified my veganism for life (and changed how I ate--without these books, Happy Herbivore would not exist!). 

And yet, as the years have gone by, I still find more and more compelling reasons that make me glad I am a vegan. So, today, nearly four years later, I find that my reasons for why I continue to be a vegan are long and vast--  and although only a tiny fraction of those reasons are in my Top 10, know that I believe, that adopting this diet, is by far the best, and most profound, decision I will ever make.

(1) I am healthier than I previously thought possible. If you had told me five years ago that I would have ran a marathon, taken up snowboarding and otherwise lived an "athletic" life--I would have laughed you out of the room. Things that once seemed impossible, are not only possible--but a part of my life now. 

(2) I have no temptation. In the years prior to my veganism, I struggled with saying "no." I was tempted by everything: that snickers in the checkout line, that cupcake in the bakery window, that bag of cookies in the snack machine--but not anymore. Those foods aren't vegan, and while I might be willing to compromise my nutrition goals, I'm not willing to compromise my veganism so if it's not vegan, I walk by without any problem-- something I was not able to do before.

(3) My weight is under control. I lost the weight I needed to, and as long as I continue to make good choices, I don't put the weight back on, even during periods of inactivity. I am no-longer tied to the stair master--I have found a way to be "naturally thin" despite my temperamental genetics.

(4) I find great joy and satisfaction in knowing that my choices extend beyond me. By eating a plant-based diet I know that I'm helping myself, helping the planet, helping animals--and helping humanity. Talk about giving yourself a warm fuzzy!

(5) I feel rested. Prior to being vegan I was always tired, fatigued--even after 10 cups of coffee! (No, really, I did drink that much at one point!) No matter how much sleep I got, how much Red Bull I pounded, I never felt like I was "caught up" or totally "alive" before... However, within days of being vegan--I slept more soundly, which allowed me to wake feeling rested--and as the weeks progressed, I noticed I had more energy during the day--even without the help of stimulants! 

(6) Friends. So many of my closest friends are those I met through Happy Herbivore or the online vegan community. I have never known so much love, so much compassion, so much friendship for the sake of friendship. 

(7) I am conscious. Right after I went vegan a friend observed, "so you really think about what you eat. Gosh! If I thought this hamburger used to be a cow I couldn't eat it!" That really stuck with me--I'm so thankful that I no-longer blindly shove food inside of me, without taking a moment to think about what it is, what I might do once it's in there, and what it went through to get there in the first place. Although some people might find scanning labels (checking to see if its vegan) to be annoying--I find this a great gift of consideration; I never eat something that I don't know precisely what it is.

(8) I like food! I was a horribly "picky eater" as an omnivore. I rarely enjoyed food. I would sit at a table in a restaurant, frustrated, because nothing appealed to me. I have such a voracious appetite now it's ridiculous, but most importantly I really enjoy food. I love cooking (obviously!) and I love eating. I have open myself up to and tried so many cuisines and foods I would have never tried as an omni. Even though people might thing a vegan diet is "limited" I actually enjoy a wider variety of foods now than I did as an omnivore or even a vegetarian.

(9) I am no-longer susceptible to mainstream noise. I used to buy into every magazine article, news feed, latest "fad" I was always stressed about my nutrition and confused by it. I finally see how simple it all really is: eat real food.

(10) I broke all my nasty addictions. No more 10 cups of coffee (per day!), no more severe cravings, sugar crashes and the like. This is due, in part, because I no-longer eat junk food--but I lost the desire to eat junk foods when I went vegan. 

my vegan diet

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

For the longest time, I've hesitated to blog. I know that I have a "blog" but I sort of look at Happy Herbivore like a modern day recipe card index that's shared among family and friends-- I don't really see it as a diary or journal the way most blogs are chronicled... 

Though in the wake of all this chatter caused by ex-vegans (who claim a vegan diet made them sick) I thought I should provide an example.

Let me back up. I'll just put it out there that have a problem with these ex-vegans using veganismas a 'scapegoat' -- and for arguments sake, even if they aren't using veganism as a scapegoat, I have a problem with them flingling the message around that a vegan diet is unhealthy and "dangerous" so carelessly... especially because it is at the expense of silencing an important fundamental message:

Whether you are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore or a flexitarian, if you fail to eat a wholesome, appropriately balanced diet, you will have health issues eventually.

This is why my message on Happy Herbivore has always been about eating nutritious--wholesome food and not just simply about being vegan. Being vegan is not automatically synonymous with "health."  After all, you can be a vegan and live on coke and potato chips but you won't also be optimally healthy. 

However, it is much easier to eat healthfully on a vegan diet than an omnivorous one that is loaded with saturated fats and proteins that science has linked to cancer and other debilitating conditions. (Even the crappiest vegan diet doesn't have that, and any vegan--even so-called "junk food vegans" are still likely to eat more fruits, vegetables, legumes and grains than you're average meat eater.)

And I'm not saying that any of these ex-vegans lived on soda and potato chips---but what I am saying is that there is more to it than boiling it down to veganism. Just as there are vegans who may find themselves with a myraid of problems from there "diet" there are many more omnivores who are sick and dying from their "diet." 

Which brings me to another point: I often wonder why it is that there is such a concern for vegans and where they get their calcium, protein, iron, etc--but no one wonders where an omnivore gets their fiber and water-soluble vitamins? And why is there such criticism for the teenager who eats a diet filled with vegetables and fruits--but no judgment is passed on the teenager whose only source of fruit is a juice box and whose only vegetable intake is a French fry?

I suppose this is, inadvertently, my own manifesto to combat the dark shadows cast on the message I (and my colleagues--Gena, Natala, to name a few) have been working so hard to spread, which is that optimum health comes from a balanced diet consisting of wholesome, unprocessed plant foods.

And to return those shadows cast in kind, let me say I find it...amusing that these ex-vegans who gave up their veganism for health reasons are all eating significant amounts of bacon, fried eggs--and other foods that anyone--whether vegan or omnivore--would not be quick to call a "healthy" choice.

So with my long rant over--here is a peek into my vegan diet. In the four years I have been a vegan, my physical and mental health has only improved, but I'll touch more on that tomorrow.

Breakfast:

Breakfast always involves a fruit and a grain. For example, we love Mango Oatmeal (recipe coming Wednesday) and protein often finds its way intro breakfast too. For example, Tofu Yogurt is another favorite around here. Scott & I both love "yogurt" with banana slices, oats for a bit of a "crunch" and occasionally, a dab of peanut butter.

Lunch:

Lunch always involves a green leafy vegetable, proteins and complex carbs. Here in SXM we always eat kale at lunch, but in NYC we often used other greens or we put our protein and carbs over a huge bed of lettuce. (i.e. a jumbo salad with tofu "feta" and whole wheat pita). Kale is more practical/affordable here.

The "protein" in our lunch is always changing -sometimes it's beans, sometimes baked tofu, other times tempeh. I've also done lentils and while we both prefer brown rice, sometimes I'm out and substitute barley or whole wheat toast. Another "stand by" is bean burritos -- whole wheat wrap, refried beans, leftover vegetables, cooked rice and hot sauce. Scott eats 3 burritos, I eat 2. If all else fails, we have PB&J or PB&Banana--though not too often.

Dinner:

Dinner can be any number of things--most of the recipes on HH are past "dinners" but they always involve vegetables and grains. I'll add protein as I need or want.

Then, throughout the day, we both snack in between meals. I tend to lean towards fruits and vegetables--oranges, bananas, apple slices, baby carrots; where Scott favors whole wheat crackers, trail mix and the occasional banana. 

We probably eat more fruit servings than recommended and not enough vegetables--but that's largely due to the fact we live on an island where no vegetables are grown and most vegetables have to be flown in from other countries. Since I feel that you should try to eat foods native to your climate, this leads me to eating more tropical fruit, and less vegetables--though in NYC it was quite the opposite: more vegetables and less fruit. 

In the fours years I've been vegan I've never taken any sort of vitamin or supplement, unless you count commercial foods that are fortified such as soymilk or nutritional yeast. I'm a firm believer that everything you need can be obtained through diet and that if you eat a varied diet consisting of natural, wholesome foods--you will get everything you need. In short, I allow the Earth and all its bounty to nourish me, naturally. 

Perhaps I just have good luck and thats why I've never ran into any health problem as a vegan---but then again, I had a myriad of health problems as an omnivore, and also as a vegetarian. Of course I'm not going to blame my "diet" totally--sure, I don't think eating meat and dairy was helping me, but I also wasn't making great choices and I need to own up to that. I am eating better--healthier--now, and I have my veganism to thank.