Happy Herbivore Blog

So, that Marie Claire article...

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Advice

I was away all weekend (and yesterday) in D.C., celebrating my best friend’s birthday. Admittedly, I get nervous anytime I’m “unplugged.” I’m convinced something is going to happen in my absence — and often it does. For example, my domain, like clockwork, chooses to crash when I’m “unavailable” to fix it, or I get coverage on some big website when I’m on vacation.

So really, it should be no surprise that I missed a big Internet “to do” yesterday. I’m talking about the Marie Claire article that... discussed so-called “healthy blogs.”

First, let me say that the Internet is a small pond so I know most of these bloggers personally. In fact, one tested for my upcoming cookbook. Many of these bloggers have also have featured my recipes on their blogs (on their own accord), which I greatly appreciate.

That being said, if you were to ask me if I thought any of these blogs were “healthy,” I would have said no, but my definition of "healthy" is different than theirs. I promote a low fat whole foods vegan diet which none of these ladies follow. 

However, dietary selections aside, the only 'problem' I see with this community is that it can breed a pack mentality where myths, stereotypes and bad habits can fester. Poor choices and habits become justified because it’s what everyone is doing. For example, if 20 of your peers say yogurt (which has more sugar than a soda, is riddled with cholesterol and causes osteoporosis) is a “healthy choice,” it suddenly becomes one through social proof. This is basic conventional wisdom... but this can also happen in any circle with any issue.

But none of this is really my business. I don’t evaluate or judge what any of my friends eat so I won’t treat these ladies or their fans any differently. I agree with several points in the article, but not all.

The reason I’m responding (and forgive me — I know this type of post is completely out of character) is because I received an overwhelming number of tweets and e-mails asking for a response, my opinion or about a recipe mentioned in the article.

For the record, I was invited to speak at the Healthy Living Summit this year, but withdrew due to a scheduling conflict. 

Anyway, the article reads: "Pare once chased a 10-mile run with a flourless, low-fat, black-bean "brownie."(This is a criticism of Pare). Yes, that’s my black bean brownie recipe they are referring to (and are half insulting with the description and quotes around the word "brownie.")

Of course, I hate that my black bean brownie recipe was cast in such a negative light (and, if we’re being honest here, I don’t see what’s wrong with Pare, or anyone, eating one of these brownies as a nutritious protein snack after a workout) — yet I’m thankful (I suppose) that my name was left off (or maybe I’m jealous... there’s no such thing as bad press, right?). Plus, Pare is a dear friend. It saddens me that my recipe (which she was testing for my cookbook as a personal favor!) was used to attack her like this.

I guess, in the end, I'm simply left wondering what is so bad about a flourless food? Or a "brownie" made of beans? The article is critical in general, but why also criticize a food made with wholesome ingredients like beans, oats and bananas? And why also attack Pare for selecting a healthier choice? Would the author have been "happier" if Pare had eaten a "real" brownie -- one made with gobs of butter, no fiber, bleached flour and eggs?

**Update 10/7/10: I like this "response" article by Media Bistro. I wish the original Marie Claire article had been written more like this one.

***Update 10/8/10: Marie Claire is now following me on Twitter. The plot thickens!

Cookbook Reviews

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Reviews

I really shouldn't accept cookbooks for review anymore. They end up sitting in a pile for weeks, if not months, on end, making me feel guilty. (Sorry publishers!!)

I made the Spicy Black Beans from this book, only I added tomatoes and corn because I didn't have enough black beans (and I thought they sounded like a nice addition). I served the beans over steamed kale and true to the book's title, it came together quickly -- about 7 minutes total, not including cleanup. 

One thing I really like about this book is that the majority of the recipes use all fresh ingredients (even herbs). I find most "convenience" and "quick" cookbooks rely heavily on prepared and processed foods, like boca burgers or faux chicken patties -- but this one does not. It's quick, fresh food. 

The recipes are pretty oil-heavy, however, but I had no issues removing the oil from the recipe I tried. The only other thing I want to point out about this cookbook is that it is a "gourmet" cookbook so you'll find most recipes don't call for "everyday" ingredients and the recipes are a bit... unusual. For example, you'll find recipes calling for mung beans, flax oil, walnut oil, macadamia nut butter, mugwort soba noodles, orecchiette and the like. 

This cookbook is about what you'd expect from a cookbook that promises to use only 4 ingredients: It relies heavily on store-bought ingredients like pasta sauce, dairy substitutes and frozen foods. However, some recipes do "cook from scratch" and those are the recipes I tried. I made the Cherry Kiss Smoothie, which is a lot like the Cherry Bomb recipe floating around the internet, only without spinach. It was okay. 

I did like the Hot Spiced Apples, though and was happy to see a "dessert" recipe that used dates instead of sugar. I found the book to be fairly "low fat" overall and many recipes did not use oil at all. I think this cookbook would be good for a student, provided that student has a real kitchen and not just a microwave and hotplate. 

Although I've reviewed this book before, I thought I'd post pictures of recipes I've been making from this book since there was so much interest in my vegan dog post. These recipes are easy, inexpensive and the pugs really love them!

Oats, Rice, Veggies & Lentils 

Rover's Risotto

By the way, both of these dishes are stunning when they're made fresh. My photos really don't do them justice. When I tweeted pictures of me making these dishes, many of my followers said they were having to come to terms with the fact they wanted to eat dog food, a predicament they never expected to be in... and, for the record, sometimes I think the pugs eat better than I do! 

Recipes from the Pantry

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: FAQ

Top 10 Tuesday: Recipes from the Pantry

Every so often I like to "cook from my pantry." My pantry (which you can see in this video) is very small so there's no room for excess. I keep control over the situation by cooking from my pantry--which also helps keep my grocery bill down, too. Plus, pantry meals are great when your fridge looks pretty empty. 

Here are my 10 favorite "pantry meals" :

  1. Chickpea Tacos
  2. Creole Black-Eyed Peas
  3. Hippie Loaf
  4. Inca (or Aztec) Corn Soup
  5. Instant Vegan Alfredo
  6. Refried Bean Cakes
  7. Red Lentil Dal
  8. Whole-Wheat Pancakes
  9. Soy-Free Mac n' Cheese
  10. Brown Rice Breakfast

 Cleaning out your pantry has never been so tasty!