Happy Herbivore Blog

Interview: Dr. Laura Gruen

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: Herbies

I interviewed Dr. Laura Gruen, an interventional cardiologist, in October 2009 shortly after she'd adopted a vegan diet. Many readers expressed an interest in following-up with Laura after she'd been a vegan for a few months. With February being Heart Health month, it seemed only fitting to follow-up with Laura now. So, without further a do...

HH: So Laura, you've been vegan for a few months now. Have you noticed any changes in your body?
I definitely noticed a difference! In the first few weeks I noticed I had way more energy and I lost about 5 pounds in the process.  This weight loss and energy spike still occurred despite the fact that my work schedule allowed less time to work out.

HH: Shortly after going vegan you attended a conference that wasn't vegan-friendly. How did you deal with that?
Good question! The conference was one week after I decided to adopt a vegan diet.  It was a bit difficult in that the meatless meal options were not vegan.  Since all of our meals were provided/catered during the conference, I had to pick and choose carefully.  I kept a stockpile of peanut butter and trail mix on hand, and ate lots of salad.  I definitely didn't starve!

HH: You also recently study for and took your Board exams. Was it easy to keep your vegan diet under all that stress?
I think eating vegan actually helped.  With all the stress and crazy work hours and hours spent studying, it was nice to know I was taking care of myself to the best of my ability, by fueling with healthy, nutritious foods.  It helped having a plan--the plan to eat healthfully, and consistently healthy, in the setting of otherwise chaos.

HH: Do you think your new diet helped improve your concentration, stamina, etc?
I do think it helped! How can you go wrong fueling up with fruits and veggies and whole grains?

HH: You're also a marathon runner. Have you noticed any changes in your performance or recovery since going vegan?
I ran my first marathon as a vegan in October with my brother.  My performance was directly correllated with how much I'd trained and the recovery was easy.  I performed exactly the way I'd expected (not fast, but not back of the pack either), and it felt good to be a bit lighter as well.  I will never be as fast as my brother though...he is a giant.

HH: Have you had any slipups? If so, did you notice any changes or side effects when you consumed animal products?
Yes, I have had some "exceptions".  All of which occurred while either: eating out at a restaurant (oh wow, there is cheese in this) or, eating a meal someone else has catered/prepared for me (oh wow, there is cheese on that; or hmm, what is this?... a bacon bit?).  I didn't notice any major changes as a consequence, except I think I tend to break out if I've had some dairy.  I have noticed that not only do I not crave meat AT ALL, but it also makes me a bit queasy to see it and smell it.

HH: The holidays are a tough time for many vegans, particilarly when their family is not veg-friendly. How did your family react?
You're right, holidays are tough, especially if it is only one person who has a particular food preference. In general, my family has been very supportive, and we all try to eat healtfully. But yes, we did have a ham at christmas eve, and other fixings made with dairy and broth, etc.  I refused to tell my lovely mom how to prepare her food, but I did stay away from the ham, and tried to make some side dishes that were vegan.  I also baked a huge batch of your sweet potato-cranberry muffins to go along with our meal, and they were a big hit with everyone!

HH: Do you have a news years resolution?
Does "vacuum more frequently" count? I think I'm already flunking this one.

HH: Any short-term goals?
I'd like to drink more/enough water every day (when things get busy I just
forget) and I'd like to work on depending less on soy products for protein, and more on legumes.  My favorite bean dish is your black bean brownies! Yum! I am also looking forward to the release of your cookbook and plan on buying a ton of copies to give out as presents!  Thanks for your constant support and always helpful advice!

HH: How have your friends and co-workers responded to your new diet?
The large majority have been intrigued and supportive.  I was actually surprised to find out that some of my coworkers are vegetarians, or pescatarians.  We have exchanged recipes!  A lot of people have been interested in learning more about being vegan and I have directed them to check out your awesome website (happyherbivore.com) !  Of course, I did also get the occasional response of: "Vegan? Why?" or "Man, I could never do that!!"

HH: Anything else you'd like to share about your vegan journey?
It's been enlightening and exciting.  I feel great and love to know that I'm putting healthy foods into my body.

HH: Thanks so much, Laura! I hope to have you again for a third installment!

Farewell my baby!

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: News

Today is an exciting day for me -- today I'm sending my "manuscript" (a.k.a. my completed cookbook) to my editor. I'm still tieing up a few loose ends (a few photos need to be reshoot, nutritional information on a few recipes still needs to be calculated...) but for the most part, I'm done.

I still can't believe it. It feels like just yesterday I was signing the dotted line and this whole thing was becoming real. It's as though I blinked and it all happened, and it's over. A lot of my testers were tweeting yesterday that they were making their very last test recipe and they were so sad for it to be over. I'm a little sad, too.

I thought by the end of this cookbook I'd be sick of it. That it would be like writing a paper in law school, "I just want to hand the damn thing in already..." but not at all. I can't imagine my life without my cookbook being my forethought and at the top of my agenda every day. I just can't believe it's done!

In any event, it's been stressful, but mostly fun and something I hope to do again (and again, and again). I've never felt so inspired to create recipes as I have these past 2 months, which proves true to my personality: I work the best under stress and looming deadlines... I thrive in chaos and it brings out the best of me (at least from a creative standpoint, stress also makes me crabby, which isn't terribly loveable).

I've been busy shooting and reshooting the last of the photos over this past week and weekend and like last time, I snapped a few shots with my crappy little pocket camera as I was setting up the dishes for their photo op. If you follow me on twitter, you've probably seen most of these photos already, but I hope you enjoy them a second time.

I only picked my favorites to share today, but you can check the rest out on flickr, along with photos taken by my testers.

Oh, my testers. Let me just say this quickly (the rest I saved for the "acknowledgements" which makes me weepy just thinking about it). Testers: I love you all. Each and every one of you played a vital role in shaping and making this cookbook. To say that I could not have done this without you, is an understatement. I feel as though I am the luckiest girl in the world to have you in my life and by my side. Thank you for letting me rule your kitchens for the last three months -- thank you, a thousand times, thank you.

Now for the picture show! (more on flickr!)

loaded fat-free vegan nachos (the cheese whips up instantly!)

fat-free whole wheat cinnamon-raisin scones (so easy to make too!)

low fat nutty spread (unbelievable!) this was a HUGE hit with my testers.

Fajitas -- so quick they're perfect for a weeknight meal!

my famous ww ff vegan carrot cake cupcakes! yum yum

ww almost ff chocolate chip cookies (the only fat is in the chips!) I reworked my original recipe (in e-cookbook Sneak Peak) to make these easier & even tastier!

Cookbook Photos

Posted by: Lindsay S. Nixon |

Category: News

My life is playing much like a broken record. Cook food. Take photos of said food. Rinse and repeat.

The cookbook is almost finished --- the recipes are written (I surpassed my 200 goal, 213 recipes to be exact!) & now I'm just busy taking photos. I've been working on veganizing a family recipe for you in the meantime & I hope to have that up some time this week. I also have about 12 books and cookbooks I need to review (oops! I'm a bit behind).

Anyway, for now, here are some food shots for you from the cookbook photo shoot this weekend. I took these with my crappy little pocket camera while the actual photos were being taken and/or prepped. (In other words, these are just glimpses and by no means the final product). I'm using a light box since it's winter (natural sunlight isn't a daily occurance here in NYC) and a Nikon D40.

If you follow me on twitter you've seen most of these already; but I hope you enjoy them a second time. My good friend and neighbor, Katherine, also came by to help me out with cooking, cleaning, photog'ing and eating (I'm so grateful!) and she posted some shots and recaps on her blog, too (entry #1 & entry #2). Carrie also posted a long and gorgeous review of recipes she tested for the cookbook, so go check that out when you have a minute or want more food porn!

You can also see photos of other dishes taken by my cookbook testers on flickr. Enjoy!

fat-free vegan chocolate zucchini muffins

fat-free whole wheat chocolate zucchini muffins (so moist it's wrong)

easy vegan pad thai

cheater pad thai (whips up in 2 minutes!)

fat-free vegan cornbread

fat-free whole wheat cornbread (this is a new recipe -- ridiculously good!)

fat-free vegan cheese pizza

fat-free vegan cheese pizza (takes 3 minutes to make and so awesome!)

fat-free biscuits n gravy

fat-free whole wheat biscuits (new recipe & totally effortless!) with vegan fat-free sausage gravy

fat-free apple muffins

whole wheat fat-free apple crisp muffins. I made these for the Gift Basket Giveaway Winner.