Happy Herbivore Blog

Vegan Paleo Diet

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

My review of the Four Hour Body sparked an interesting discussion about the Paleo diet on Twitter and Facebook--particularly about whether vegans can follow this diet (and I believe they can).

As a disclaimer, I am not supporting or encouraging the Paleo diet (even in a vegan form), but I wanted to provide information for individuals, who after doing their own research, have decided a vegan-paleo diet is best for them.

The Paleo diet, if you are unfamiliar, is an approach to eating that follows the presumed diet of "cavemen" (pre-agriculture). On this "diet" meat, fish, vegetables, fruits, roots and nuts are allowed (Paleo foods) but all grains, legumes, dairy products, salt, refined sugar and processed oils are not allowed. In short, the Paleo diet is essentially the newest form of Atkins--it is a high protein, low carb diet that causes ketosis

Proponents of the diet claim that cavemen didn't have disease because of this "diet" (thereby suggesting it should be followed to prevent and reverse modern diseases and illnesses) -- but this claim is quite controversial amongst nutritionists and anthropologists alike, many of whom disagree with it sharply, not only because there isn't enough evidence to truly determine how cavemen ate, but because it's widely accepted academically that cavemen were free from disease due to their societal structure and not the macronutrient characteristics of their diet. If anything, historial data suggests the near opposite: that humans are naturally vegetarian and people eating vegetarian, Mediterranean and Asian diets (which are primarily plant-based, high in grain, low in meat) have less disease and greater longevity... but I digress. 

Can you be vegan and follow the Paleo diet?

In theory, yes. Most raw foodists and fruitarians (80/10/10 diet) are inadvertently following a "Paleo" diet. [My good friend Ricki, also essentially follows a paleo-vegan diet as part of her ACD Diet regimen.]

In preparation for this article I did a lot of research--I read 100s of boards, forums and "paleo-community" webpages. Not surprising, any time someone asked if they could be vegan or vegetarian and follow paleo, the masses replied with their mundane protein paranoia, (for which I wanted to upload this image): 

(I'm truly amazed at how many people think protein is only found in eggs and meat!!). 

There was also a huge misconception that all vegetarians relied heavily on soybeans for their protein---which the paleo followers were quick to point out: soy is off-limits... but here is something interesting to consider regarding that:

Through the forums I realized, rather quickly, that the majority of paleo-omnivores "cheat." Most of them still use oil (lots of oil!) and many more still consume dairy products (sometimes raw dairy, but mostly pasteurized) and quinoa. I also found several small groups of omni-paleos who were regularly eating legumes! So, perhaps true paleo isn't possible for anyone? Or perhaps this suggests you can be vegan-paleo and "cheat" with legumes and quinoa like everyone else if you want to...

Perhaps what I found most interesting, though, was that a huge and widely-admired omnivore-paleo "caveman" named Grok went raw paleo-vegan as an experiment this summer and along the way, decided to stay with it! As of his last video post a few days ago, Grok is still vegan (he's a fruitarian, actually) and a super triathlete! 

With all that being said (phew!) Here are some resources for those of you who showed an interest in vegan-paleo:

Life and Beyond: Go Vegan Paleo by Maria Rainier
CrossFit: Vegan-Paleo Forum(best forum I found on the topic)
EliotBurdett: He tried vegan-paleo for 30 days (conclusion)
Paleo Vegan Recipes
Diet, Dessert & Dogs (Ricki's website--many vegan paleo recipes)

Lastly, I'm curious to hear YOUR thoughts--about Paleo and diets that eschew grains, fruitarianism and any hodgepodge in between. 

I'm sure we can all agree that a healthy diet is one that focuses on whole, natural foods--but where and at what point do we draw line?


UPDATE: (12/29/10 via CNN) Study: Neanderthals cooked, ate vegetables

UPDATE: (10/27/11 via NPR)The Paleo-Diet: Not the Way to a Healthy Future written by a biological archeologist

Also there is this post reflecting on Paleo by Jeff Novick, MS RD

A great, in-depth article by Dr. McDougall The Paleo Diet Is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue)

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!