Happy Herbivore Blog

Top 10 Go Vegan Tips

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Have I ever mentioned that I love your emails? Because I do. Especially emails like this one from Olivia. I thought her question was such a good one that I decided to share it here, just in case someone else is curious about adopting a vegan diet. If you are a vegan, or a vegetarian, and have advice -- please leave it in the comments for future readers (and Olivia!). Thanks!

From Oliva:

"Hi Lindsay. I was always weary of going vegan because even though I *love* to cook, I always thought making vegan dishes had to be difficult! This was until I found your recipes! Everything is so simple and fast!! Anyway, I decided to go full force vegan for 30 days. Since you really did (or your recipes did anyway) play a major part in my decision I wanted to ask you if you had any advice. Maybe like a top 10 list of things you can recommend?" - Olivia

Olivia's feelings are something I can relate to. When I first went vegan I so intimidated. I freaked out over the long list of ingredients in my new vegan cookbooks (some I'd never heard of before in my life) and the 2-hour start-to-finish recipes. Heck, I felt intimidated recently when I read the Kind Diet and I've been a vegan for three years! Even just last week I had to google 'raw carrageenan' because it was called for in a recipe and I had no idea what the hell it was (& I'm still confused).

This makes me sad because I think a lot of people see these kinds of vegan recipes or books and think veganism is unattainable or expensive or both... I'm hoping with my cookbook and this blog I can prove that being vegan and eating healthfully is very easy, attainable, affordable and yes, delicious! I really tried to prove this with my cookbook. I took care to make recipes that use common, ordinary ingredients, recipes that whip up in 30 minutes or less, recipes that are easy to make but still kick-ass delicious (and healthy!). I try to follow this approach here on happyherbivore, too, but sometimes I get lost and caught up in the more complex dishes... 

That said, here are my top 10 suggestions!

  1. Find a good "milk" substitute. Try all the kinds, all the brands. Sweetened plain almond milk tends to be popular among new vegans.
  2. Eat as much as you want of anything while you adjust. If you want a vegan cookie, have a vegan cookie. Let yourself off the hook this first month. Adjusting to a new diet and way of thinking is hard enough. Don't try to also hold yourself to a strict or restrictive diet. If you're worried about weight gain, exercise.
  3. Have a laundry list of 10-25 recipes that are easy to make. Pick ones you've had before or ones you know you'll like. Keep the ingredients for those recipes on hand.
  4. Make meals that yield leftovers like lasagna rolls, red lentil dal and chickpea noodle soup.
  5. Have a well-stocked pantry and fridge of basic like wraps, refried beans, beans, salsa, instant brown rice, frozen veggies and pasta. Remember that meals don't have to be complex. Slap beans and salsa into a wrap. Combine equal parts soy sauce and sugar and mix it with cooked stir-fry veggies and rice. 
  6. If you really liked meat or cheese get yourself some fake stuff. I lived on Boca burgers at first, I'm not ashamed to admit that. Heck, I still eat fake meat and cheese from time to time. Gardein, Field Roast, Gardenburger, Yves... and Daiya! All good stuff.
  7. Network! Start a blog, join online veg groups -- make friends through social networks... build an online community of friends you can swap recipes with, ask questions and talk to. Most vegans are really welcoming and happy to meet new people. I know I am!
  8. Try new things every week-- at least one! whether it's something you've never had before like tempeh or something you previously disliked. Before I was a vegan I *hated* mushrooms and now they're one of my favorite foods.
  9. Examine cravings. Is your body asking for a nutrient (iron, calcium, protein) that you're simply associating with animal products or is it more mental and you're looking for a comfort food. Even people who are not typically emotional eaters can get mentally-charged cravings.
  10. Stash vegan food everywhere -- your locker, purse, car, desk at work -- over load it so you're never without options. Know where Subways are at all times, too! if possible too!

Lastly, ENJOY IT! If you go in happy, full of optimism believing that you will love it, succeed at it and have a great experience... you will!

(My friend Carrie also wrote a wonderful post with 7 other tips! A must read!)

... and if you ever have a question for me and you're shy about it, you can ask me anything anonymously!

I'll be hosting a LIVE Interview about a low fat vegan diet -- plus talking about my story tomorrow on HHTV! Questions are welcome! Ask me via email, facebook, twitter or anonymously

Fat-Free Raw Chili

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

As soon as I posted a picture of this chili on twitter, requests started to pour in for the recipe. Not that I blame anyone, it's so good -- and innovative! I wish I could take credit for the idea, but I can't. This raw chili recipe is based off a recipe in Everyday Raw by Matthew Kenney.

The original recipe uses nuts, oil, sun-dried tomatos, water (a lot of water!), and some different spincing that what I've done here. I came across Kenney's recipe when I was doing raw week and as soon as I saw the recipe, I knew it was something I had to try. I admit I was skeptical about it at first. For starters, I'm not a fan of raw mushrooms and I couldn't possibly imagine eating "chili" cold or at room temperature, but wow. I was knocked down in shock at how rawesome this recipe is. 

Anyway, Kenney's recipe is 100% raw and this one isn't since I use ketchup and soy sauce (I listed soy sauce because it's cheaper and easier to come by than nama shoyu but feel free to use nama shoyu!). That of course begs the quesetion: why am I calling it raw chili then if it's not 100% raw? Because it's mostly raw and I've noticed a lot of raw recipes do use marginal amounts of non-raw ingredients.

If you want it to be truly 100% raw use this raw ketchup recipe (substituting agave for honey for a truly vegan version) and nama shoyu. You can also use a few dashes of cayenne instead of the hot sauce since raw hot sauce can be hard to come by (or simply omit it). You might also want to add a dab of agave or other sweetener if you're using an unsweetened ketchup, raw or not.

Lastly, since I don't have a dehydrator, I tend to eat this chili with baked corn chips (which sort of craps all over the whole raw thing, I know) but it's great by the spoonful, too. If you have a dehydrator, you can make Kenney's Golden Tortilla Chips from Everyday Raw or my friend Diana's recipes for Guackers or Pulp Crackers (both raw). 

I'm really excited about sharing this recipe -- I can't wait to hear your thoughts!

Recipe:Raw Chili

Description

This recipe is based off an original recipe in Everyday Ray by the talented Matthew Kenney. Kenney's recipe uses nuts, oil and several other ingredients/spices that I've omitted, substituted out or altered in order to make a fat-free raw chili more akin to my taste preferences. For a truly 100% raw version, use a raw version of ketchup and nama shoyu for the soy sauce. 

Chef's Note: As the chili sits, the mushrooms start to release their juices and the chili may get a little watery. Simply drain off the liquid if this occurs, but note that this chili is best served and eaten immediately. 

Ingredients

Instructions

Remove bottom stems from portobellos and disgard. Break mushrooms in half, or quarters and place into your food processor. Pulse roughly 25 times or until the mushrooms look like ground up meat bits. Transfer mushroom bits to a large mixing bowl. Cut carrots in half or quarters and place in food processor. Pulse about 15 times, or until chunky. I like my carrot pieces slightly larger than my mushroom bits. Transfer to mixing bowl. Cut celery into thirds and place in food processor. Allow motor to run until celery is completely minced. Transfer to mixing bowl. Cut away top and seedy center of red bell pepper, then chop into four equal parts. Place in food processor and allow motor to run until completely minced. Transfer to mixing bowl. In a small food processor or blender, combine remaining ingredients with 2 tbsp of water and allow the motor to run until it's well combined and the garlic clove is pureed (you might want to start with 1-2 tbsp soy sauce and add more to taste). Add puree to mixing bowl and stir to combine. Taste, adding more soy sauce and/or hot sauce to taste. Serve immediately. 


Per serving: 94 calories, 1.1g fat, 0mg cholesterol, 19.5g carbohydrates, 5g fiber, 4.1g protein

Healthy School Lunches for Kids

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Have you heard about the Healthy School Lunch Initiave? It's fantastic. The Physcian's Commitee for Responsible Medicine has created a petition to help push Congress into giving kids healthier school lunches -- and vegetarian options. Even if you or your child is not a vegetarian (or vegan) but you're tired of the deep-fried, overly processed and unhealthy muck schools are serving these days, sign the petition!

Tell Congress that students deserve healthy foods—more vegetables, fruits, vegetarian foods, and healthful nondairy beverages. (Both parents and students can sign the petition!) You can also "fan" the iniative on Facebook.

I have been a huge supporter since I first learned about this revolution and was thrilled when PCRM asked me to devise a few healthy vegan lunch box lunch menus! Kid-tested and parent-approved, your kids will love these healthy vegan lunches!

Menu #1

- Crispy Chickenless Nuggets (+ dipping sauce)
- Kale Chips
- Grapes
- Pumpkin-Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
- Water or 100% Juice Box

Menu #2

- Mock Tuna Salad Sandwich
- Apple
- Carrot Sticks
- Black Bean Brownie
- Water or 100% Juice Box

Menu #3

- Baked Mini Corn Dogs (+ dipping sauce)
- Jicama Slices
- Kale Chips
- Pumpkin-Oatmeal Raisin Cookie
- Water or 100% Juice Box

Menu #4

- Chickpea Noodle Soup (in thermos)
- Orange
- Celery Sticks
- Carrot Cake Cupcake
- Water or 100% Juice Box

Menu #5

- Hummus (with mixed vegetables for dipping)
- Apple
- Orange
- Chocolate-Zucchini Muffin
- Water or 100% Juice Box

PCRM is also hosting a contest, "What's on your tray?" To enter, post a photo of the worst school lunch (or the best vegetarian school lunch) on PCRM's Facebook page and explain why it's so great or terrible. Contest is open to parents, teachers and students.  The winning photo will be posted on HealthySchoolLunches.org and the winner will receive a free "Plant Power" lunchbag!

What are some of YOUR favorite, healthy lunch items? Please share!