Happy Herbivore Blog

Fat-Free Whole-Wheat Vegan Zucchini Muffins

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

My zucchini plants are quite bountiful. After one very large zucchini I harvested three more a week later... all of which were size of my forearm. Then two days later, I had another one ready for harvest! 

My thoughts immediately shifted to a zucchini bread I made some years ago (when Happy Herbivore was still in its infancy). The recipe and picture are a hot mess, let me tell you. Oh, how far I've come.

Still, the recipe has received enough positive reviews that I thought I'd rework it a bit: Take out the flax-egg because I prefer to use "everyday" ingredients now and revamp the flavors a bit to be a little more... edgy.

I also went for muffins since they bake in a fraction of the time as bread, and, well, the less time my oven has to be hot, the better. It was 102 degrees in Central Park yesterday!

The result? deliciousness. And at less than 100 calories per muffin, these little zucchini clouds of whole wheat love are the perfect summer harvest snack. They're just a little sweet and really filling. Bake up a batch and see!

I also recommend they're chocolate cousins: HH's chocolate-zucchini muffins!

Recipe:Zucchini Muffins


Use up your harvested zucchini to make a batch of these slightly sweet muffins with a hint of lemon. You can also make a lovely light zucchini bread with this recipe.  



Preheat oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl whisk flour, baking powder, cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg and salt together. In another bowl combine sugar, applesauce, vanilla, lemon zest, zucchini and non-dairy milk. Stir until well combined. Add wet mixture into dry mixture and stir until just barely combined. Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake 18-25 minutes. If making a bread bake 45 minutes to 1 hour. Check doneness by inserting a toothpick into the center. If toothpick pulls out cleanly the bread is done. (You can also add 1/4 cup chopped dried fruits such as cranberries or raisins, chopped raw walnuts or minced crystalized ginger to this recipe.)

Interview: Carol

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

Today's inspirational interviewee comes to us from St. Louis. Carol aka @HelloMyAvocado describes herself as "vegan, nerdy, cute, easily amused and bursting with fruit flavor" which couldn't be a more perfect description of her. Carol's upbeat attitude comes from her devotion to a healthy lifestyle -- and how it saved her life.

HH: First, the million dollar question: How long have you been vegan and what made you go vegan?

I have been vegan since June 5, 2007. I took what I call the "scenic route" to veganism. It initially started as a decision to get healthier because many of my friends and coworkers were getting diseases like cancer, high blood pressure and diabetes. Since there is a history of diabetes in my family, I knew I had to do something; it hit close to home.


HH: What was your health like before?

I was morbidly obese and way out of shape. 

HH: You've since lost more than 100 lbs! That's incredible! Tell us how you did it.

Losing weight was a secondary benefit to becoming vegan. At my lowest weight (which I'm working back toward) I lost 130 pounds. 

HH: How did the pounds creep back on?

The past couple of years have been emotionally taxing; I recoiled and let everything fall to the wayside. I've got to regain some of the territory I've lost and I could kick myself about it, but I've still come so far. One setback isn't going to undue me unless I let it. 

HH: What's your weight-loss method?

I eat a healthy vegan diet and I exercise regularly. I still indulge with fatty and sweet foods but only on days I work out. That way I can combat the extra calories. I can't tell you how many diets I'd previously tried in my prevegan days. Quick fixes don't work. Healthy weight loss come from healthy lifestyle choices.

HH: What role has exercise played in your transformation?

I still remember the moment I realized I needed to exercise. I was listening to the podcast "Fitness Rocks" while making breakfast and thought to myself "Damn. I need to start running." I did a program called "Couch to 5k", it took a while but I slowly improved. I've found exercising helps with my mood, weight and general well-being. 

HH: In addition to weight-loss, what other positive changes have you experience since going vegan?

My family is big on fatty, processed foods so going vegan gave me more power over food which I've always had a complicated relationship with. I've also experienced increased energy and less stomach pain. Most importantly, going vegan has allowed me to take control over my health.

HH: You come from an obese family and had a big scare with your mom recently. How much does that play into your dietary choices?

Coming from an obese family can be difficult when its the result of unhealthy lifestyles. It's like slowly watching a loved one kill themselves.  I get upset when I think about all the awful things I used to put in my body. The scare with my mother only cemented my need to get healthy. We nearly lost her from complications of diabetes -- that we didn't even know she had!

HH: What was your diet like before veganism?

My appetite was quite large and I ate the worst stuff you can imagine. I also didn't know how to cook so I (over)indulged with fast food, esp. frozen pizzas. Once I went vegan I learned to cook and saved money -- home cooking is often much cheaper.

HH: When you first went vegan you said you "crunched on fake meats, cakes and cookies" but now you eat a much more wholesome diet, what sparked this change?

Even though relying on processed vegan substitutes isn't a healthy diet it was healthier than what I was eating before. Weight even started coming off which was exhilarating. I knew I was moving in a more positive direction which kept me motivated to keep improving.

HH: What are some of your favorite wholesome foods?

I love cantaloupe but if I'm not careful I could eat all of it in one sitting. I also love broccoli, brocolini, zucchini, onions, yellow squash and salads (provided there isn't iceberg lettuce in it), spinach, and other greens. My pallet has changed over time to accomodate my new way of eating.

HH: You've mentioned having trouble regulating your temperature since losing weight. Mind telling us about that?

I get cold a lot easier but it also takes me longer to get overheated, which is good. I've learned to adjust -- I take a coat with me when it's 60 degrees or cooler. It's also a common symptom to losing weight rapidly (but in a healthy manner!). I think it's a response to having less body fat -- less "insulation."

HH: You call yourself a "proud fatty" and are very open about how you don't care to be thin or slender, just at a weight you feel more comfortable at. How do you determine what weight is good for you?

I am a proud fatty but I also believe that if some one is uncomfortable at a certain weight (plus or minus) they should do something about it in a healthy manner. The lowest I was able to get was 225 and for me, that's a respectable weight. At that weight my body felt better in general. I'm at 254 now and while I don't feel bad, I'm not comfortable. 

When your body changes, it changes how you interact with the world. I feel clumsier now than I did. My clothes also fit tighter which isn't comfortable. I don't want to go buy more, bigger clothes because they're expensive and it will only allow me to continue bad behaviors. My discomfort keeps me in check. Of course, I still fully support anyone decision to be whatever size is comfortable and right for them -- these are just my personal opinions about my situation.

HH: Many people assume all vegans are stick-figures like Kate Moss; as a proud full figured vegan lady, care to weigh in on that?

The vegan community has many different shapes, sizes, sexes, genders and sexual orientations as any other group. The idea that vegans are "scrawny" does an injustice to us. I think it's a stifling view that veganism may be unhealthy. I've heard people accuse veganism as a way to mask eating disorders. I'd like more visibility for vegans. I'd love to see beautifully curved women in the media go vegan and help broaden the general view.

HH: This has been an incredible interview Carol! How can we connect with you further?

I'm on twitter @hellomyavocado, facebook and I have a blog.



Southern Slaw Dogs (Vegan, Fat-Free)

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Recipe

My experience with telling people I keep a vegan diet has been largely positive. Although there have been a few harsh responses here and there, most people are impressed and curious. They want to know more about my diet and what it is that I eat. The most popular question I get asked is if I miss anything. I always struggle to come up with an answer, which is a good thing -- it's a testament that I really don't miss anything from my pre-vegan days. 

Of course, on occasion I'll get a hankering for something and my solution has always been to recreate a vegan (and healthy!) version instead. It's for this reason you'll find recipes for baked donuts, corn dogs, nachos, chocolate chip cookies, French toast, spinach & artichoke dip, cheesecake & many other "comfort" foods on happyherbivore.com. (Just wait till you see all the comfort food in my cookbook -- I even have a pot roast recipe!)

Which brings me to today's post. A few days ago, Scott & I were musing over the years we lived in Charleston, South Carolina since we'll be returning for a reunion this Fall. During our last summer there, Scott & I must have visited Jack's Cosmic Dogs every weekend. It was close to where we lived and the "solution" for days when it was too hot to cook (and during a South Carolina summer, every day is too hot to cook).

We always ordered the same thing: A Southern Slaw Dog with orange soda. It's been years since we've had one of these hot dogs and I decided to recreate them this 4th of July. The fat-free vegan version was a smashing success! I dare say these hot dogs are even better!

I used "Jumbo" vegan hot dogs complete with lightly toasted whole wheat hot dog buns and topped the dogs with the fat-free chili and fat-free veggie slaw from my upcoming cookbook. You could easily replicate these dogs with any vegan chili or slaw.

And since Scott & I used to wash the Charleston Southern-Slaw Dogs down with old fashioned Orange Soda, I thought this was a perfect time to try Zevia's orange soda... which was the perfect compliment!

I hope everyone had a special (and safe) 4th of July!