Frequently Asked Questions

 

Why don’t you use oil?

I removed oil from my diet after reading Eat to Live and immediately noticed monumental changes in my health, weight and overall wellbeing. See this blog post for more information and resources on the subject. 

Why use foods with fat but not fat itself?

I eat a low fat, no added fat diet for health. I do use wholesome ingredients that contain a little fat naturally, such as beans, wheat, cocoa and tofu, because the body does need some dietary fat to survive. (A wholly fat-free diet deprives the body of necessary nutrients). However, I don't add any additional high fat ingredients such as nuts, seeds, olives, coconut milk or avocados to my diet or recipes, with one or two exceptions. I also never use oil, butter or margarine in my recipes beyond the occasional spritz of cooking spray to prevent sticking during baking. Basically, I consider any food made with no added fats to be "fat-free" and I strive to eat (and cook) without added fats, especially oil.

Can I make substitutions to your recipes?

If you’re adding or subtracting a spice or using gluten-free flour blends instead of whole wheat flour, you shouldn’t run into problems. Changing main ingredients, however, changes everything so I generally advise against it.

I also advise against trying to de-veganize a recipe since they're created vegan from inception and changing chemistry leads to bad baking. For example I find with whole wheat flours I don't need a binder which is what eggs generally do so something in my recipe, like a banana or applesauce, is not necessary replacing anything and is most likely needed for the goodies to come out right. Why not give healthy vegan food a chance?

Do your recipes have nutritional information?

All recipes in The Happy Herbivore CookbookEveryday Happy Herbivore and on this website contain nutritional information. We used caloriecount.com to obtain the information provided. You can use their free tool here. 

Where do you get your protein?

All foods contain protein, even kale and bananas! Rich plant-based sources of protein include beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, whole grains, peas and leafy greens. In fact, 100 calories of spinach has MORE protein than 100 calories of steak! 

What made you adopt a low fat vegan diet?

I talk about my journey to veganism, my past weight struggles and the benefits of a low fat plant-based diet in my "about me" video. You can also read this blog post, 10 Reasons Why I Love Being Vegan

Where do you get your calcium?

Most whole foods contain calcium, especially leafy greens like spinach, collard greens and turnip greens. 

Where do you get dietary iron?

The best sources for dietary iron are actually plant foods! Soybeans, lentils, spinach, tofu, sesame seeds, kidney beans and pumpkin seeds are the richest sources, beating out all meats. Garbanzo beans and navy beans are also great sources for dietary iron. 

What are e-cookbooks? and e-Courses? Are they still available?

Before I wrote The Happy Herbivore Cookbook I sold three e-cookbooks to help support and maintain this website. The e-books were discontinued on July 1, 2010 as part of the contract with my publisher. A few of the recipes are included in the cookbook. The e-Courses were discontinued for financial reasons.

How to prevent liners from sticking

If you use liners and don't want the muffins or cupcakes to stick, you can lightly spray the inside of the paper liners with an oil spray can or simply allow the muffins to completely cool before trying to pull them off. For best results use a non-stick muffin pan.

Is agave nectar healthier than HFCS?

You can read Madhava's Agave Nectar's response to these claims here.

Any Tips for going vegan?

You can read my blog post, Top 10 Tips for Going Vegan

Do any books support your diet?

Yes! Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman and The China Study by T. Colin Campbell. Dr. McDougall's books also support a low fat vegan diet plus the Engine 2 Diet.

Interviews & Press

Interviews with Choosing RawVegan NutritionistaVegan Hope and Feed Me I'm Cranky. A few of my recipes appeared in the Jan 2010 issue of Vegetarian Times and I've been featured on Women's Day Magazine's Blog (here and here) and on The Huffington Post. I also went on a virtual blog book tour after the release of my first cookbook, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook

Why don't you use healthy fats?

Quoting Dr. McDougall: The fat you eat is the fat you wear. The body does not recognize fat as an immediate energy source the way it does with carbohydrates. It recognizes fat as something to be stored, and it stores it. While it is true we need some fat to survive, remember that all foods, including legumes, fruits and vegetables, naturally contain a little fat. This means the body is always getting plenty of fat without adding extra. 

That said, I first removed added fat from my diet when I needed to lose weight. If I was trying to lose fat why was I eating more of it? That seemed very counterproductive. Now that I'm at my goal weight I do occasionally eat healthy wholesome fats like peanut butter and avocado, but only a little. Eating more than an occasional small serving and the weight creeps back on. 

What is whole wheat pastry flour? Can I use regular whole wheat?

Whole wheat pastry flour is much lighter and fluffier than whole wheat flour, which can be heavy and grainy. Whole wheat pastry is similar to all purpose, only it still has all it's nutrients and is less processed. 

White whole wheat usually works alright, and oat flour does a pretty good job most of the time too. Other whole wheat flours generally do not work or the results are dry and dense. Regular whole wheat flours tend to be thirstier than whole wheat pastry and much heavier and grainy. 

How do I make your recipe Gluten-Free

Gluten-free all purpose blends are generally your safest bet (see my GF flour recipe in Everyday Happy Herbivore). I've also found oat flour works pretty well. You can also try this GF substitute to replace seitan or vital wheat gluten.

Where can I find yellow miso?

I've always been able to find miso in supermarkets and even the small bodega by my apartment in NYC carried it. You can always find miso in a health food or Asian supermarket or on Amazon. If you can't find yellow, white is an okay substitution. 

What is yellow miso?

You can find my post on miso here.

What is kelp and where can I buy it?

You can find my post on kelp here.

What is the difference between instant oats and rolled oats and can you interchange them?

You can find my post about oats here.

Do you have any suggestions on what to feed skeptical omnivores?

You can find my meal suggestions here.

What is nutritional yeast and where can I buy it?

You can find my post on nutritional yeast here.

What is quinoa and what do I do with it?

You can find my post about quinoa here.

What Knife Do You Use? Knife Techniques?

I have two "knife skills" videos on YouTube "how to chop" and "how to peel frozen bananas." Read Scott's blog post (with video) about knife safety, complete with our knife brand recommendations.

How to Replace Bananas in Recipes?

I wrote an entire post on replacing bananas. Read it here.

What other sauces besides tomato is good for pasta?

In EHH I have a classic pesto sauce, a sun-dried tomato cream sauce and a few others. Then in HHC and the blog I have an Alfredo sauce -- there are a lot of sauces for pasta over than marinara

With the Mardi Gras Beans & Rice, it says it is 608 calories. Why is there so many calories?

Rice and beans both have a lot of calories, plus it is a very big portion.

I would have a much better shot at being a vegan if I could make a good cream sauce (like for pasta or scalloped potatoes). Is there one you recommend?

I have several creamy pasta sauces in both of my cookbooks, such as the Broccoli Pesto Pasta (p. 160, HHC) and the Sun-Dried Tomato Cream Sauce (pg. 208, EHH), as well as the one on the blog, Instant Vegan Alfredo. I don't have a recipe for scalloped potatoes, but I've seen tons of recipes online and in vegan cookbooks.

I am making the Gluten-Free Flour Blend (from EHH). If I want to make the Strawberry Cupcakes (from HHC) do I omit the baking powder, soda and salt?

NO! Use the blend in place of the flour but do not alter the recipe. Use the blend the way you’d normally use whole wheat flour.

I love your Quick Black Bean Burgers but they crumble on me. Any advice?

Watch this video that shows how to shape perfect bean burgers.

I'm wanting to make your Strawberry Cupcakes but no strawberries are added to the batter, just on top. Are strawberries supposed to be added?

You can add them to the batter if you like, but the recipe was written to only have them on top. Either works.

Do you have a whole-wheat bread recipe?

Try HH’s beer bread. It’s whole-wheat and so easy to make!

How can I get my Hippie Loaf to firm?

First you want to make sure you really chop and mince everything well. Next, You really want to pack it down tightly -- really smoosh it in there. Then let it cool before trying to pry it out. Mini loaf pans work better than standard loaf pans (cook time is about 5-10 minutes less) and you can also sub whole wheat flour for the brown rice (if you're not GF) and that helps bind it all together.

Can I use previously frozen bananas for your Black Bean Brownies?

No, you need fresh bananas. Thawed brownies are too mushy and won't produce the right consistency needed for the brownies. Freezing damages the texture.

Does the tofu quiche freeze well?

I've never tried it; I don't think so -- tofu changes texture and shape when it's frozen, so the quiche would not have a quiche texture after freezing. It keeps well in the fridge, however. See this post of freezing tofu for more information.

Any tips for multiplying the single-serving recipes?

Sadly, all the single-serving recipes are true single servings which means they don't really translate when multiplied out. If you want a full pan of brownies, try the Fudgey brownies (p. 207 HHC) and if you want a full pan of pumpkin muffins, try the maple muffins (p. 46 HHC). I also have a recipe for a full pan of blueberry muffins and a pan of fruit crisp on this blog... so basically, all my single serving recipes have a full serving cousin!

I made your mayo (pg 271, HHC), and I am wondering how long it will last in the refrigerator?

Depending on the freshness of the tofu when you made it and your fridge and environment, it should make it at least a week. When tofu goes bad it smells horribly!

How long do I need to grind regular rolled oats to instant oat consistency?

You just pulse a few times so they’re chewed up -- not flour or a coarse flour. See this video, it’ll show you what size oats you’re aiming for, what are rolled oats vs. instant oats.

Are your recipes easy to double?

Most of my recipes should double okay, but be mindful of potent spices like cayenne and ginger, you may not want to double those. The single serving baked goods cannot be doubled.

I was looking at the Pineapple Sponge Cake recipe, and was wondering why you call for canned pineapple rings instead of canned crushed pineapple when you end up crushing them?

The pineapple rings come with juice in the can, that you need for the recipe - the canned crushed pineapple doesn't come with extra juice.

Do you need to thaw fruit before putting it into a one of your muffins?

I don't do it, but you could.

Can you freeze the Quick Queso cheese sauce and then shred it like a block of cheddar cheese?

No, it won't get hard enough, even frozen. If you want a 'cheese' like that, you can try the Uncheese Cookbook - it has block cheese recipes

Is it possible to use the mori-nu firm lite silken tofu for the Tofu Scramble?

I wouldn’t. Mori-Nu tofu has a soft, silken consistency. It’s very pudding like and falls apart easily. It wouldn’t give the right “eggs” texture for a scrambled tofu.

Can I make the chicken style seitan from HHC earlier in the day but leave the baking step until later?

Yes, you can make it ahead of time and then bake later.

When you say "non-dairy milk," can I use unsweetened almond milk?

 You can use any nondairy, almond or soy or rice or whatever.

I've tried to make your "chicken style seitan"and "pot roast seitan". Both times they came out delicious, but too chewy. What can I do next time about the chewiness?

Sounds like over mixing or too much kneading. Seitan can be a challenge, I admit.

I like veggie ground (faux beef). Is there any way I can make this myself?

Yep, I have a recipe in HHC called TVP Beef Crumbles on page 140.

I had to return my book to the library before getting to make some recipes. Would you please send those receipes to me?

 Unfortunately I can't email recipes since they are copyrighted to my publisher. Can you recheck the book out? Alternatively, it's only $4.99 in ebook format, and with Amazon's free software you don't even need a kindle -- you can read it on your computer, in your web browser, on your ipad or phone.

When making brown rice milk, are you able to use instant brown rice?

I've never tried it, but I don't think so--to make the milk, you need to overcook and waterlog the rice, which isn't really possible with microwave instant rice

Can I grind up dried chickpeas in the food processor to make chickpea flour?

It would depend on your food processor, but most processors cannot handle it. Same for most blenders. Check the manual or call your manufacturer.

Are your cake or cupcake recipes could use garbanzo flour?

You can use gluten free all purpose flour blends (either the recipe in EHH for a GF blend on page 303, or a commercial blend such as Bobs Red Mill) in any cake or cupcake recipe that uses whole wheat flour. You cannot use just garbanzo bean flour (in my recipes, or in any recipes). It doesn't work as a straight replacement. You need to blend multiple GF flours together and also mix in a binder.

I want to make a strawberry truffle, do you have a recipe for vanilla pudding?

I don't, but I do have a recipe for banana, and chocolate, in Everyday Happy Herbivore (pg. 262), that you could try to tweek. Mori-nu tofu makes a vanilla pudding mix. All you do is blend it with mori-nu tofu and water and it makes a great pudding. (You can find their pudding packets at health stores). I want to say Jell-O's pudding packet is vegan, and can be made with soy milk. I have no idea if these things are healthy, however. UPDATE: My sister's instant butterscotch jell-o box doesn't say anything about certain types of milk not working, however her roommate's cook & serve vanilla jell-o box does say that it will not work with soy milk

I love spicy stuff but I can't have it. Any recipe suggestions from either of your books?

As long as you don't do any of the Cajun recipes, you should be fine. You can also choose to omit the hot spices in any given recipe.

Is "Sugar in the Raw" even what you are referring to in some of your recipes?

"Sugar in the Raw" is just a brand. Raw sugar may be called "raw sugar" or "turbinado sugar" there is also Sucanant, which is similar. My local supermarket sells it's own version/brand of raw sugar -- and it says "raw sugar." I believe Trader Joes carries "turbinado" sugar under it's brand name, too.

Are raw sugar and organic sugar the same?

Raw sugar CAN be organic but so can processed white sugar -- they are not automatically the same thing.

Why does a recipe call for garlic powder over fresh garlic?

Could be any number of reasons. Maybe the chef prefers garlic powder, maybe the recipe is designed to be easy and quick (and powder is faster than mincing) or maybe it's a texture -- the recipe should yield something smooth not something with chunks in it. For example, I use garlic and onion powders in my mac and cheese recipe because chunks of onion and garlic don't give with how I expect mac and cheese to be.

What are your thoughts on eating baked potatoes?

I LOVE potatoes. Eat them daily. They’re very healthy -- always have been, it’s what people put on them (sour cream, butter, cheese, bacon, etc) that can make them unhealthy.

Which non-dairy (neutral/not sweet) milk do you use or recommend?

I tell people to find a plain non-dairy milk they like and use it universally. Rice, almond or soy -- just not hemp or coconut (I find both have tastes that are not complementary in a lot of dishes). I've used sweetened and unsweetened, rice, soy and almond, even homemade. They all work, it's a personal preference. I wouldn't use vanilla in cooking, but it would be fine in baking.

Are you recommending unsweetened or "regular" soy or almond milk that is sweetened?

I recommend people find a brand and type they like and stick to it. We use unsweetened almond milk, sweetened fat free soy milk, unsweetened rice milk, homemade rice milk, depends on whats on sale. I recommend any of the non-dairy milks, except for hemp and coconut, they sometimes alter the taste and chemistry.

What brand of [food i.e. tortillas, salsa] do you use/recommend?

The only food I’m brand specific about is nutritional yeast . I’ll only use Braggs or Red Star, even if it means having to order it online. Otherwise I buy whatever brand is available to me at my local store that meets my requirements. Unfortunately, most brands vary by region and aren’t available nationwide. For example, the whole-wheat bread I bought in California wasn’t available in New York or Colorado. Similarly, my best friend found an awesome peanut butter in DC that I couldn’t find anywhere in New York -- just 4 hours away, and my mom couldn’t find it in South Carolina either. You have to read labels and look (that’s what I do!). Go to all the different stores in your area to check out their different brands. If you can’t find what you need locally, try online. When I live in rural areas or small towns, I make good use of Amazon prime

Are there brands you like for vegan Mozzarella or Parmesan cheese?

Daiya seems to be the most popular brand for Mozzarella, and Galaxy Nutritional Foods for parm. Truthfully, I'm not really into substitutes because they tend to be expensive and high in fat -- I also can't get either where I live. I make my own "cheese" at home (why there are so many faux fat-free cheeses in The Happy Herbivore Cookbook!).

Are vegetarian and fat-free refried beans vegan?

It depends. If it says "vegetarian" on the label, than most likely yes. "Vegetarian" would mean there are no meat products in it (many brands of refried beans contain animal lard) but there's always a chance there might be an milk product in there, so check the label. As for "fat-free" refried beans, this gets more tricky. You'd think because they're labeled "fat-free" that there is no animal lard (fat), but the FDA is pretty loose with terms so things that are labeled "fat-free" can still contain fat (lard) if the quantity is small enough. So it might still be there AND hidden under "natural seasonings" or "natural flavorings" or any term like that. Kosher symbols can sometimes be helpful in determining what is vegan or vegetarian but you can always call the manufacturer too (say you have an allergy).

I was wondering if you have any suggestions for me on how to pop seeds without oil?

I pop seeds all the time without oil. First get your pan hot (heat on high) when a drop of water fizzles, it's ready. You can then proceed to pop your seeds, etc. I pop quinoa, amaranth and barley this way. I've also done it with popcorn! I have stainless steel, and am unsure if that matters. You do have to keep an eye on them and shake them occasionally to keep it from burning, however.

Can you suggest a brand or give me a list of ingredients to look for with tempeh?

Most stores that sell tempeh have different types of tempeh, like 5-grain or rice or veggie. The veggie one usually has peppers and onions added with the soybeans. Lightlife makes a grain and veggie version. You can also crumble tempeh and turn it into sausage crumbles (like from Everyday Happy Herbivore) which might have a more familiar taste to ease you into tempeh.

Can you talk about pearl barley? Is it OK or no?

I don't really classify foods as "okay" or "not okay" -- but in terms of food X is healthier than food Y. For example, I wouldn't say white rice is unhealthy or "bad" but obviously it's not as healthy and as good a choice as brown rice. You can read about barley here.

How long can I keep rice or quinoa once it's cooked?

I've read that cooked grains, stored in an air-tight container in the fridge, can last up to two weeks... but I'm far too scared to eat anything that is that old (especially considering my recent bout with food poisoning). I'd say ditch it after a week. I do like to cook in bulk, but I'm careful to estimate what I need to prevent spoilage and waste. After a week or two, you'll be aware of how much you eat, or how much you don't. One of the great things about quinoa is that it cooks in 15 minutes -- so I find I rarely need to make it in advance. I usually just let it do it's thing on the stove while I work on the other parts of dinner. Put it on the stove first, as soon as you get home, and it'll be ready for serving! As for brown rice, a great (but not required) tool is the mighty rice cooker. I spent a little extra money to get one that has a special brown rice setting and a timer. Often I’ll put rice in after dinner, or before bed, and set the timer so it’s ready when I wake up (I love rice at breakfast) -- or I set it in the morning before work so its ready for dinner. It’s like a crockpot for rice. Speaking of rice cookers -- you can cook quinoa in them using the “white rice” setting!

How is confectioners sugar and brown sugar okay to eat, but white sugar is not?

I'm not sure if you're asking from a vegan or health perspective, so I will address both: From a vegan standpoint, commercial brown sugar and confectioners sugar are generally not suitable because they are made from white sugar, which is not always vegan (some white sugars are processed with bone char). From a health stand point, they are the same (more or less) as white sugar, however you can make your own from raw sugar, which is what I do. In both cookbooks I mention how I make confectioners sugar, which involves raw sugar, cornstarch and a blender (super easy). Brown sugar is raw sugar with some molasses.

When using a cheese substitute, do you opt out of versions with casein or whey, or if that’s all you have access to, do you use it?

Let me first say that I’m highly annoyed some soy cheeses contain casien or whey. I don’t see the point of going to all the trouble to make a soy, rice or almond-based “cheese” only to add dairy to it. Stupid. I don’t eat any foods that contain animal products, including casein and whey (esp. casein since it’s one of the biggest known carcinogens on the planet!). If it’s not vegan, I’m not eating it. My health trumps any price tag or convenience. I’m always plant-based, always. I also spent a year and a half living in remote areas where I had no access to vegan substitutes and I did just fine :) 

Do you prefer using store bought applesauce or homemade?

If I could find applesauce that doesn’t contain sugar where I live, I’d buy it and save myself the trouble of making homemade applesauce. (Sweetened applesauce is absurd to me -- apples are sweet enough!) It’s not that making applesauce is hard; it’s actually quite easy, it just takes more time and I have to dirty my blender or food processor. What can I say? I’m a gal who loves easy. Making your own applesauce is a piece of cake and a great thing to do if you prefer fresh foods, or run out of applesauce, or its apple season and you have a lot of apples! Simply core your apple, chop it into large chunks, put it in your blender or food processor with a space of water and process until applesauce forms. You may need to add more water to get the right “applesauce” consistency. This also works great with pears Now that you have applesauce--try HH’s 3-ingredient applesauce biscuits!

Is white wine vinegar vegan?

I’m no wine expert, but I reached out to the folks at Barnivore who said white wines tend to be vegan, but not all. Whether or not a white wine vinegar is vegan then, would depend on if the wine used to make the vinegar was vegan in the first place. I imagine you’d have to do a little research -- track down the company, see what wines they use, find out if those wines are vegan. If you're wondering "wait! how can wine not be "vegan" it's made from grapes?" it's because eggs and other animal parts are sometimes used in the process of making wine.  As an alternative, rice wine vinegar is a decent substitute in most recipes and mirin might also work.

I like quinoa, cous cous and brown rice but my husband says it lacks flavor. Any suggestions on how to prepare it with more flavor?

I found when we started eating healthier (plant-based, less fat, less salt, less sugar) that foods that were previously not very flavorful or seemed bland, suddenly started having flavors. I’ve read that your taste buds can change or “heal” and that seems to be true for me. Especially in the case of less salt -- I find I’m really tasting food now. However, brown rice, quinoa and cous cous are still pretty mellow. I like to cook all of them in vegetable broth instead of water. It adds more flavor and a smige of extra nutrition (of course, make sure your broths are low sodium!). I also like to smother my grains with sauces. For example, I love mushroom gravy with my cous cous. Anytime we eat quinoa, I put all of my dinner (like, say, a stir-fry) on top of it. Scott really likes barbecue sauce with his rice, but I think that’s a little odd :-) You can also add seasonings--spices and herbs---to your cooking water (or broth) which helps give grains a flavor boost.

I struggle with quinoa – help!

I did a video post on quinoa that's helpful. I generally use quinoa as a substitute for grains like brown rice since it cooks in a fraction of the time. Usually I am putting my stir-fry on top of it, but I've made cold salads with it and a sort of "oatmeal" when I wanted a little variety.Quinoa is also a great, whole foods substitute for TVP.

Do you have to grind flax seeds or can I eat them whole?

 According to my flax seeds packaging, "we recommend grinding the seeds for the majority of the flaxseed you consume in order to receive the maximum benefit. The seeds are very small and it is hard to thoroughly chew them all. Your body utilizes the mucilage from the outer coating of the unbroken seeds, which does have health benefits, but will not take advantage of the Omega's within the seeds." You can buy flax seeds already ground up (often called flax meal) or grind them yourself with a cheap coffee grinder. Just remember to store them in the freezer as they are very perishable!

What's the deal with chia seeds? Are they really the super food the advertisements make them out to be?

They are packed with nutrients, but they can also interact with medicine and have some drawbacks. For more information, see my What are chia seeds post.

Can you tell me the difference between zucchini and summer squash?

Zucchini is green and summer squash is yellow. Their shape is also slightly different. zucchini looks like cucumbers, but summer squash are more curvy and squash-looking.

Are rolled oats more like instant or old fashioned whole oats?

See this post and video that explains the difference between rolled oats and instant oats.  For a more detailed reading or explanation, see this posts that covers all the different types of oats.

I don't like cinnamon or garam masala -- is there a way to season without using these ingredients?

Garam masala, not really -- it's essential to Indian cuisine and flavors. Trying to remove garam masala from an Indian dish would be like trying to remove oregano from Italian cuisine. As for cinnamon, it would really depend on the recipe, but generally, I find it's necessary for the right flavor.

How do I make frozen tofu? Do you drain it first? Press it?

Frozen tofu is awesome -- it has a really meaty and chewy texture. If you're not a fan of the texture of regular ol' tofu, chances are you'll like frozen tofu. When I make frozen tofu, I drain off the water, press it, put it in a ziplock bag, freeze it, then let it thaw completely before cooking. Andrea, however, just shoves the package straight into the freezer, then lets it thaw in the package. Both ways work and yield slightly different tofu textures.

What's your stance on eating honey?

 I don’t really have a 'stance' on honey. I feel, as with everything, everyone has to make their own choices based on what they believe and what’s right for them. That said, I’ve written about my personal beliefs before.

Where's the best place to find Mori-Nu tofu? Do I have to order it online?

My supermarket (Kroger) carries it, but it's on the shelf (not in the produce section) near quinoa and couscous. It was in the "Asian" section of my supermarket in St. Maarten. Most supermarkets and health food stores should have it. You can get it online, too

What's extra firm super protein tofu?

It usually says "super protein" on the packaging. It's a really heavy and firm block -- much more firm than "extra firm" tofu. It also has more protein per serving. You can find it at health food stores, Asian markets and some grocery stores if they carry a variety of tofu.

I just don't know which lentils are chosen for which types of recipes and why?

Any recipe (mine or someone else's) should indicate which lentil you need to use. For example, in the red lentil dal, you would use red lentils. In the Sweet Potato Dal (EHH) the recipe also calls for red lentils. In the Yellow Dal (HHC) you use yellow lentils (also called yellow split peas). In most cases, you cannot substitute in a different lentil than called for because the taste and texture are so different.

What are some protein-rich foods?

Quinoa, greens (i.e. spinach), beans, lentils, nuts, seeds, soy (such as soy milk and tofu). Bare in mind that all foods -- even bananas and kale -- have protein. So even when you're not eating a protein-rich food, you're still getting protein. Also, please, please read my blog post on (plant-based) vegan protein which links to many helpful and important resources and articles

Are dried beans susceptible to pesticides?

Organic dried beans should be pesticide free. If it's not organic, anything goes -- it would probably depend on the brand.

What's the difference between refrigerated tofu and Mori-Nu tofu?

 They are the same (as they are both tofu) -- except Mori-Nu sits on a shelf in a juice box container and the other must be refrigerated.However there are different types of tofu -- Mori-Nu is soft, like pudding, and the refrigerated kinds can be soft, but they can also be firm and extra firm... see my big tofu post for more info on the types of tofu

Why is nutritional yeast used in recipes?

See my post (and video) on nutritional yeast. Normally, it gives foods a cheesy flavor. I love it!

How much nutritional yeast is too much on a daily basis?

I couldn't find a quantitative amount, but if there is a limit, I'm sure no one would get to it on a daily basis. I love nutritional yeast and eat it daily -- the key with all diets is to eat a wide variety, keep it balanced so just don't live on nooche!

Do you know of any way to massage kale without oil?

I massage mine without oil all the time; there is also an oil-free "massaged" kale salad in HHC (pg. 181)

Any tips for storing produce in the fridge?

We keep them in the fridge, out of the bags, until we're ready to eat/cook them. Then we'll wash & chop them. I know many people chop their produce in the beginning of the week for convenience- I don't think either way you'll have a problem- but definitely take them out of the bag!

Any tips for finding out how to store certain priduce items or where to find good recipes to cook new items?

WHfoods.com put out a book that is a guide like you’re describing, the website also has a lot of good information. For ideas for new foods, my best advice is to flip to the index of my cookbooks, or whatever cookbooks you own, and look up recipes that use that ingredient or google for a recipe i.e. "recipe for portobello mushroom.”

Can you tell me the proper way to cook a sweet potato?

You can bake it just like a regular baked potato in the oven (make sure to stab it a few times with a fork first), and check it with a fork to see when it is done (the fork will slide in easily). A cooked sweet potato should be slightly soft. You can also boil pieces in water until they are fork tender and eat it that way or make “mashed sweet potatoes” (though you will probably need more liquid than you do when making traditional mashed potatoes). You can also cook them in the microwave. Be sure to stab it a few times with a fork. It can take anywhere from 8 to 15 minutes, depending on the size and power of your microwave. You can also cube them and bake on a cookie sheet in the oven at 375F. That takes about 20-25 minutes, but depends on how big the chunks of potatoes are.

What is the difference in light agave nectar and amber agave nectar?

I haven’t noticed much of a difference, though truthfully we don’t use agave too often. From what I’ve read, the light agave nectar has a milder flavor than the amber and the amber agave nectar has a little caramel flavor.

I have noticed you use a lot of processed ingredients in your recipes. Ketchup, taco seasoning, etc. Is there a reason you do so?

I use "Everyday" ingredients for ease -- making healthy, plant-based eating more approachable and easy for people. You can make your own taco seasoning (I have a blend in my cookbooks, but you can also find blend recipes online) and you can also use tomato sauce, or unsweetened ketchup (Westbrae is a great brand), or again, make your own ketchup, which is pretty easy to do and worth the little effort it requires. While I personally strive to use as few processed foods as possible in my diet, I find it's not always possible or realistic for most people, myself included. I find using condiments sparingly is a good compromise.

Is it better to buy refrigerated or shelf-stable soy milk?

My general advice around non-dairy milk is to find a brand/kind you like and stick with it; using it in any recipe that calls for a non-dairy milk (note: I suggest rice, almond and soy -- I find hemp and coconut don’t work well in a lot of recipes). That said, I’ve noticed that shelf-stable milks tend to have less ingredients and some of the refrigerated milks also contain oil, so I’d personally pick shelf-stable over refrigerated for those reasons. Plus, shelf-stable milks are much more economical and you can stock up :) But remember: The most important thing is that you buy something you like and will use. For more info see my video what is non-dairy milk.

Where do you buy kelp? Is it a powder?

I use a granule version of kelp, you can get it at most big grocery and health stores or online. I have heard that it comes in a liquid form, but I haven't tried that version.

Does carmalizing certain foods make the sugar content higher? Or more noticeable?

According to Jeff Novick, RD MS, "caramelization is a chemical reaction that makes the sugars sweeter but in general does not make the sugar content higher."

I'm curious about how men keep their calories up on a plant based diet, especially when other restrictions are in place?

You'll need to add more high calorie and high fat foods to your diet -- more raw nuts and raw seeds, coconut and avocado. You also want to make sure you're eating healthy foods like brown rice, which are high in calories. When I was a personal trainer, I had a client who couldn't seem to go beyond 90lbs. She was naturally very thin due to a high metabolism, but she was also very athletic -- a marathon runner. She wanted to get pregnant and her doctor thought she might have better luck if she'd gain 10 lbs. Within weeks of eating handfuls of raw almonds and cashews (her favorites) and adding avocado (which she loved!) she'd gained weight. She ended up having a baby and was a healthy, glowing mama her entire pregnancy.

I am wondering about how plant based eaters get enough ALA, DHA, and ELA in their diets?

Oil is not heart-healthy, it damages the lining of your arteries. Here is a great link by Dr. Essy which talks about how bad oil is for the heart, as well as omega's. The short answer is, yes. You get plenty on a varied, whole foods, low fat diet.  If you are unfamiliar with him, he wrote Prevent and Reverse Heart Disease and is a world renowned doctor -- one of the few who changed the medical opinion that heart disease is reversible. He's saved so many lives.

My husband has been concerned that we're not getting enough calcium since switching to a vegetarian (trying to be vegan) diet. What are your thoughts and suggestions?

Calcium is in most whole plant foods, so as long as you're eating a healthy, varied, plant-based diet you should get MORE then enough on a daily basis. Plus, even non-wholesome foods, like soy milk, are fortified with calcium. It would be hard not to get enough unless you just eat junk all day which I know you don't :-) See this link of the world's healthiest foods. Make sure to include those plant-foods listed, like greens. You'll get more than enough. Interestingly, eating dairy actually causes calcium to be leached from your bones, so you'll get more or at least, retain more calcium, by eating plant-based.

I'm cold -even my hands- ever since switching to a plant based diet. Am I missing something?

I'm not a doctor or a nutritionist, so I can't give any sort of medical advice, but it sounds like a circulation issue. Have you talked to your doctor about it? It has also been winter and you might be right about not getting enough calories. If it continues, talk to your doctor about circulation and in the meantime, make sure you’re eating enough daily calories. When you switch to a plant-based diet, you eat a lot more volume.

My nutritional analysis that I ran is different than yours in the books. Why is that?

I use caloriecount.com and an analysis tool I paid for to calculate; with the cookbooks, we also randomly do "quality control" by picking recipes at random, and running them through a third site (self or livestrong) to make sure they are the same or within a few calories of each other. Unless we use the same program and input them exact same brands, there will be some discrepancy since each brand has slightly different nutrition values and most calculators use different brands or their "Generic" value, which varies from program to program. Even doing something like 1 apple with 1/4 tsp cinnamon comes up with different values in each calculator, for example. Please note that we also do not count optional ingredients (which would likely explain the difference in the muffins) This is the best we can do - we can't guarantee 100% accuracy and for those needing to be very strict about their calories, they should input everything in their calculator, with their specific brands.

Do you strive for a certain amouunt of protein each day? I feel like I am not getting enough.

Protein is in ALL plant foods (even rice and bananas) so as long as you eat whole foods all day you get enough protein -- even more. You could eat nothing but potatoes all day and get enough protein. In fact, you CANNOT BE protein deficient UNLESS you are calorie deficient (meaning you are starving yourself and not eating enough calories each day). See my protein post for more information. I'm not a doctor or nutritionist, but re: the shaking, first you need to identify what kind of shaking you are experiencing. For example, if it's a muscle twitch, that's a (normal) muscular response to effort and activity. For example, sometimes my thigh muscles shake when I'm in certain yoga poses and that is totally natural. But if you have tremors (your hands are shaking) that is probably a blood sugar issue, and you should see a doctor about that and have tests done to rule out diabetes or other issues. As far as I know, blood sugars (specifically low blood sugars) are related to sugars, not protein consumption.

How do you get enough vitamin B12 and what foods can you find it in?

B12 is fortified into a lot of foods you eat -- like nondairy milk, nutritional yeast, cereals, etc. Here is a great article about B12 by Dr. McDougall, Vitamin B12 Deficiency--the Meat-eaters' Last Stand.

Is there an alternative to vital wheat gluten?

This gluten-free "gluten" substitute comes highly recommended by my GF friends

How can I replace tofu in recipes?

It depends on the recipe and what to tofu is being used for. For silken or soft tofu, you could try using a vegan yogurt that's non-soy, such as coconut milk yogurt or rice-based yogurt. You could also try this DIY soy-free tofu recipe. I haven't tried it myself, but it looks promising.

Can firm/extra firm tofu be substitued for super protein tofu?

 I would press extra-firm. It might be too floppy still to be firm and hold together, but at least it would be edible.

What are good subsitutes for refined sugar?

If you own any of my cookbooks, there is a chart for subbing out sugar (whether you want to use maple, agave, stevia, etc). If you want to eliminate all sweeteners (even things like maple) you could try using date sugar (dehydrated and ground dates) or beet sugar, or stevia. I wouldn't use bananas as a sugar substitute. Bananas can alter chemistry of baked goods since they act as a binder.

I’m allergic to corn. Is there a substitute for cornstarch or corn meal?

You can use arrowroot instead of cornstarch. Most supermarkets carry it, but you’ll definitely find it at a health food store. There isn’t really a replacement for corn meal. If a recipe calls for 1-2 tbsp, you could probably just use another flour, but if corn meal is a main ingredient (in, say, cornbread) you’ll just have to skip the recipe.

What are "Flax" eggs?

 You can mix 1 tbsp ground flax seeds with 3 tbsp of warm water to make a sort of goop that can replace 1 egg in a recipe. For more egg substitutions, download my handy egg substitutes chart.

What are your thoughts on replacing sugar or agave nectar with stevia?

I personally find stevia appalling taste-wise. I've only tried it a few times and I really didn't care for it. That said, I've read you can replace 1 cup of sugar with 1 tsp of stevia, though I have never tried this myself.

Is there a substitute for chickpea flour?

There is no substitute. Any health food store or Indian market will have it -- though even in my very rural town, my supermarket carries it (you just have to look for it, its often on the bottom shelf). Some brands call it garbanzo bean flour or besan. You can also order it online.

Are 1-minute quick oats an okay substitute for rolled oats?

It depends on the recipe. Rolled oats can be turned into quick oats, though. See my post on oats, their differences and when you can substitute them.

I'm allergic to mushrooms, is there a substitute?

Unfortunately, no. Mushrooms are one of the few ingredients that have no alternative. If you're allergic, you'll just have to skip recipes with mushrooms or omit them where possible.

I just realized I'm totally out of lemons and had planned to make your tofu yogurt. Can I substitute another freshly squeezed juice, such as orange or lime?

While I haven't tried it personally, I have heard from other Herbies that lime juice does work for that recipe. I'm not aware if anyone has tried using orange juice, but I think it would be too strong unless you blend it with other fruits.

Is there a good alternative to coconut milk?

You can use any non-dairy milk (i.e. soy milk) instead with a drop of coconut extract. Some people also add a little agave, but I don’t find the extra sweetener necessary. I recommend using almond or soy milk if you can, I find they’re a lot creamier than rice milk and other “milks” and get the job done a bit better with curry.

What can replace "heavy cream" in a recipe?

Silk makes a soy creamer, and SO Delicious makes a coconut based creamer. Either of those should work. Coconut milk might also work, if the coconut flavor would compliment your recipe.

What's a good substitute for oil in baked goods?

See my post (with a handy PDF chart) for baking without fat.

Can I use gluten free flour instead of pastry flour?

You can, but in my experience GF flours tend to be thirstier, so you may need to increase the liquid. For more information on using GF flours, check out my post here.

Any recommendations for low-fat sliced "cheese"?

There's a grilled cheese recipe in Everyday Happy Herbivore that's great (even kid approved!)- and there's also many cheese sauce recipes in HHC.

Can I just use regular wheat flour instead of the pastry flour?

Whole wheat pastry flour is much lighter and fluffier than whole wheat flour, which can be heavy and grainy. Whole wheat pastry is similar to all purpose, only it still has all it's nutrients and is less processed. White whole wheat usually works alright, and oat flour does a pretty good job most of the time too. Other whole wheat flours (like regular whole wheat flour, or whole wheat flours that are lightly tan in color) generally do not work or the results are dry and dense. Regular whole wheat flours tend to be thirstier than whole wheat pastry and much heavier and grainy. Check out my earlier post on the different types of flours for more information on their differences.

Do you know of any substitutes for water?

There really isn't a substitute for water -- we need to drink water every day, but if plain water is boring, try adding lemon or lime to it, try flavored sparkling waters, try adding cucumber or mint leaves to your pitcher of water, and spice things up with herbal teas.

What is the difference between whole wheat pastry and whole wheat?

For a more in-depth discussion about flour, see this post on whole wheat flours.

Do I need a supplement for Omega-3?

I don't take any supplements. If you eat a variety of whole, plant-foods, you'll get everything you need (with the exception of B12, so you might need a supplement there for precaution). There are omega 3's in a lot of plant foods, like ground flax seeds and walnuts. Read more here about omegas.

My personal trainer told me that i should get an iron supplement since i am on a vegan diet, and a female.

Unless your personal trainer is also your physician, don't take this advice. Iron is a dangerous supplement, you can die from taking too much iron, which is very easy to do. One pill could be an overdose. No one should supplement with iron unless specified by a doctor after blood work. A vegan diet is not deficient in iron. Most people eating a vegan diet get more iron than meat eaters. Talk to your doctor and get blood work done. I say this as a personal trainer myself.

What protein powder do you recommend?

Please see my post on protein - it discusses protein powders.

How much vitamin B12 supplement do you take and how often?

I don't take any supplements. If you are concerned with vitamin B12, I recommend reading this article by Dr. McDougall about a vitamin B12 deficiency.

Can I make the pre-packaged seasoning mixes?

Absolutely, there are tons of recipes online for replicating seasoning packets at home -- get Googling!

How do you prevent sticking while baking or occasionally pan-frying without using oils?

Parchment paper or nonstick or silicon with baking, and I bake instead of fry. Saute in water or broth. For more information, see my post how to replace fat in baking and how to replace fat in cooking.

Can I make the cupcake recipes as a cake and will I need to adjust the temperature or baking time?

 The temperature should stay the same, but bake time will be much longer for a cake than cupcakes/muffins. Check on it and make sure to use a toothpick in the center so you'll know if it has baked through.

I see alot of your baking says "grease pan", is there something else I can use thats not grease or oil based?

You can use parchment paper or nonstick cookware.

Is it possible to cook in stainless steel pots without oil?

Absolutely. I have stainless steel and I never - ever - use oil. As long as a keep a thin barrier of water or broth, I'm good to go. Nothing has ever stuck on me, ever.

I'm wondering what do you cook with if you don't use oils?

You can check out my recipes to get ideas and read this blog post, how to replace oil in cooking and baking.

Can you cook quinoa in a rice cooker?

Yep -- using the "white rice setting" -- same 1:2 ratio. Though I have to admit I don't like quinoa in the rice cooker as much as I like it on the stovetop.

Do you have any go-to seasonings with cous cous?

I'm sorry to say we don't eat cous cous -- it's a preference thing, and also a health thing--can't find whole wheat cous cous where we live easily... I imagine you can treat it like quinoa or rice... I would smother it in one of my gravies if I did serve it. Hope that helps!

Can you make tortillas without white flour or oil?

Truthfully, I've never made my own tortillas, but I did make 100% whole wheat roti (an Indian bread thats somewhat like a tortilla) without oil and while the first few rotis I made were flops, I've got the hang of it now. I used Manjula's recipe and video.

Is there a way to store baked goods to keep them moist?

A fridge is designed to suck out moisture, so if you’re going to store anything in a fridge, it must be in an air-tight container or it’ll dry out (that’s the refrigerator doing it’s job). Tightly covered with plastic wrap isn’t air-tight, you need a container. Depending on where you live and your climate, you might be able to store them on a dish, covered with plastic wrap on the counter, too.

Do you had any advice for making vegan oatmeal cookies crispy/crunchy instead of soft and chewy?

It's hard to get a crumbly crunchy cookie without butter or oil. Most fat-free cookies are still somewhat soft or chewy. You can try to bake my Oatmeal Cookies (pg. 205, HHC) a little longer but they won't crumble like a store bought chocolate chip cookie.

I only have a toaster oven currently to cook. Any suggestions?

I would invest in a hot plate, then you'll be able to make pretty much anything. When I do food demos at conferences, I cook on a hot plate. Hot plates are not expensive and it’s well worth the small investment since we’re talking 2-3 months as opposed to 2-3 weeks. For added inspiration, read this post: how to cook without a kitchen. You’ll see how a friend of mine cooks in her 105 sq foot apartment with a toaster oven and a hot plate using HH recipes :) She cooks all my recipes using only a hot plate and toaster oven A rice cooker and pressure cooker could also come in handy if you have those!

Can you cook beans in the slow cooker?

Yes, although if you choose not to presoak them the cooking time will vary depending on the freshness of the dried beans. Kidney beans must be pre-cooked according to their package directions to make sure they are safe. For more information, see my post on Slow Cooking Lentils and Beans.

Are your meal plans consecutive weeks? Am I too late to join?

Nope! Each week stands alone so you can join at any time. (Get this week's plan here.)

I love your meal plans! Where can I buy previous weeks?

Please contact me directly Lindsay[at]happyherbivore[dot]com.

Could I send you a check for 20.00 and get the meal plans for a month? (plus service charge).

Unfortunately we're unable to use checks, but I assure you that paypal and google checkout are both safe and secure. Can use echecks through Paypal - also use Paypal guest feature without sign-in.

When you go vegan, do you become gassy?

It depends, each person is different and what your diet was like before also matters. The good news is, even if you get gas after the initial transition, it’ll get better over time as your body adjust. For more information see my post about flatulence and this Q&A.

I am vegan for three weeks and have a hard, stiff and bloated tummy each night. What’s happening?

I’m sorry you’re having bloating issues - that’s no fun. See my post on flatulence. Keep in mind that you just altered your diet pretty significantly, so your body will need some time to adjust :) and there are supplements and things you can do to help alleviate the bloating.

I want to eat plant-based but I am so confused as to what to eat. Help.

This is exactly why we created meal plans -- it takes all the guesswork out, The meal plans make eating plant-based really easy, effortless and tasty!

I want to go vegan very badly, but we live on a VERY tight budget. I also can’t have soy, any hope?

You can live well on beans, rice, fruits and vegetables. Dry beans/lentils are $2 or less for 1 bag, which will feed you for the week. Rice is also very inexpensive, especially if you buy in bulk. At my supermarket, you can get 10 bags of frozen vegetables for $10, and you can squeeze three meals out of each bag. Go to an Indian or Asian supermarket and your buck will go even further.  I’ve written about eating vegan on a budget before, and I once did a challenge where I ate vegan for a week for on $21 in New York City.  For inspiration, read our interview with a homeless vegan.  Buy in bulk. Stick to staples. Shop around for deals and get food stamps or help from a Food Bank if you need it. You can eat healthy, and vegan/plant-based on any budget. I also have a “budget” icon in Everyday Happy Herbivore that signifies meals costing less than $5 to make.

I have completely fallen off track of healthy eating. Help?

Try our meal plans. I find having a plan in place and meals always ready for you makes it much easier to transition and less likely to make poor choices. You will have to break your bad habits and develop newer, healthier ones. You will also have to readjust your taste buds. All this takes time, but cannot be done as long as you continue with bad habits. You just have to do it. Take it one meal at a time. Put your mind to it and do it.

I am plant based but seem to get hungry alot. Any tips?

I’m not a doctor or nutritionist, but here are my experiences: First, make sure you’re getting enough calories. When most people switch to a plant-based diet, they continue to eat the same volume as before, except that plant foods tend have less calories, so you actually need to eat more volume. Calculate your daily needs, then count up your food choices to make sure you're meeting your needs. Second, include a good bit of whole grains, potatoes, sweet potatoes and other healthy starches or carbohydrates. I love a big salad. A really big salad, but if I only put vegetables in it, I’m stuffed for an hour and ready to eat again because my salad was more like a “snack” in terms of calories. If I add grains or rice to it, however, I stay full. My body doesn’t zip through a potato as fast as it zips through lettuce. Finally, eat more. If you’re hungry, eat. Don’t allow yourself to go hungry. Anytime someone writes me asking this question, I have them send me their daily diet and 90% of the time, they weren’t getting enough calories or incorporating enough grains and once they eat more, the problem is gone :)

Should I wait to become vegan until I move out? I am too young to get a job.

I was the only vegetarian in my house growing up (though I was really a vegan since I'm dairy intolerant and never ate eggs), and my parents didn't buy anything special for me or cook for me. I ate the vegetable sides my mother served with the meat, and made pb&j, or pasta when she didn't make vegetables. I ate a lot of rice -- usually I'd make some rice in the microwave to go with the vegetables. As long as your parents buy vegetables (canned, fresh or frozen), fruits (canned, fresh, frozen, etc) and grains (rice, pasta, bread, etc), and most families do, you will have food to eat. You can also ask them to buy you lentils and beans in a can or dry, and cook them yourself. They are only a few dollars. You can get a bag of beans for $1 and it will last you all week. Maybe also ask for an allowance or do chores for an allowance to buy things?

How do I spend holidays with my meat-eating family?

Bring your own food to eat and something that everyone can try. Something that is familiar and not intimidating. For example, for the 4th of July, I brought the low fat vegan potato salad from HHC , and no one missed a beat. My mom also brought my healthy, vegan baked beans from HHC and everyone raved about them. I also like to bring baked goods i.e. muffins or cake -- no one turns down cake!

Do you have any Thanksgiving recommendations?

Yep! I wrote a post recommending plant-based (vegan) recipes for Thanksgiving.

Should I bend my dietary rules when meeting my significant other's family?

I wouldn't - I can understand wanting to make a good impression, but you have to be yourself, and how you eat and why you eat that way, are a part of who you are. Let them get to know the REAL you.  Plus, it may cause issues down the line. If you bend now, they might expect you to bend later. "Why won't your partner eat this? They ate something like it last visit?!" I've also noticed that some people don't respect your choices as much if you cave.

How do you deal with situations like being invited to holiday parties where there's absolutely no food for you?

Anytime I'm invited to dinner or a party, I always tell the host well in advance about my dietary restrictions, and then I immediately offer to help, such as bringing something. If I go and there is still nothing to eat, I don't eat. It's that simple. I have to help myself, not someone else. I'm not going to feel good about myself or my choices if I do something I don't want to do out of peer or societal pressure. It's also possible to decline and be polite about it... I've said things like "Thank you so much for preparing this, I really appreciate it, but I don't eat [food item]" but telling them BEFORE hand helps prevent the situation altogether.

How do you combat naysayers who ask things like where do you get your nutrients on a vegan diet?

  neutralize the topic by pointing out that the important thing to understand is whether you are vegan, vegetarian, omnivore, etc. you must--absolutely must-- eat a balanced diet with a wide variety of nutritious foods. Eating meat and dairy does not mean you will automatically meet all your nutritional needs or you'll meet them more likely than someone who eats plants. There are plenty of omnivores with deficiencies, or who are on supplements or have health issues. Meat and dairy are missing lots of key nutrients, too. For example, where is fiber in meat? Where is vitamin C in milk? With any diet, you must eat well and make good choices to be optimally healthy.

What are some tips for eating out?

See my post on traveling and eating out.

Do you avoid oil and fats when you're eating out?


Yes. I eat oil-free and low fat/fat-free whenever possible. You can also look at this post for Vegan Anywhere.

First I look at the menu for dishes that could fit the bill (which means skipping past anything that's fried). I specifically look for things that can be steamed or are not cooked (i.e. fresh spring rolls in a Thai restaurant or a salad). I'll also inquire whether my meal can be made without oil. Most often it can, if not, I'll ask if there is another dish that could.

If I end up with a salad (or that's just what I want) I skip the dressing, and ask for salsa (if they have it) or vinegar. If I'm dining solo, I'll also ask them to hold the nuts and avocado -- or anything that might be fried.

For example, I recently ordered a salad that normally came with fried tortilla crisps, and I had them hold that, but if I'm out with friends I'll just pick off the nuts or avocado because someone at the table always wants my discard. And if something looks oily, I will send it back. I'm never embarrassed about that.

Likewise if I eat something and I can tell it's really oily, I stop eating it and order something else. That said, now that I'm at a healthy weight (and I have maintained it for a while) I do splurge on occasion and, say, get a slice of vegan pizza with friends. Or I'll get a vegan cookie, or a slice of vegan pie which will I'm sure has some kind of fat or oil in it. I try to share desserts, and if I can't share, I have a few bites to be satisfied, then discard the rest.

Though I try not to make dessert a common event -- more like a once in a while treat when I'm out with friends or celebrating. We all have to find our own balance, but I try not to live to eat.

I'd love to only eat in, but that's not realistic with my lifestyle and work (which requires constant travel) or social situations... so I shoot for 100% perfection and land somewhere closer to 85-90% and that's fine by me. I always eat vegan though - that's never an exception.

What foods are good to prep and freeze before a holiday?

Most anything can be prepped ahead and stored in the fridge. I don't like to freeze anything - I find it always changes the texture. Plus I've never really had freezer space. With holidays and such, I do the prep work a few days ahead so I'm just shoving things into the oven or heating them on the stove. They're still cooked or baked fresh, rather than reheated, but the legwork is done in advance.

What can I take on road trips? I have kids.

We always bake a batch or two of HH muffins, ingredients for PB&J, fresh fruit, bean burritos, trail mix, the granola bars p. 23 in Everyday Happy Herbivore. If we're stopping overnight at a hotel, soup. Though you can heat soups in most gas stations. I've also heard great things about McDougall's Right Food soup mixes. I think you just add water.

What kind of sweetener do you use for cereal and tea?

I don't eat cereal -- they're a little too processed to me (I mean, just exactly happened to the grains for them to take on those weird “cereal” shapes?), but no judgement here for cereal lovers, I used to be one, too! I can't remember ever adding sweetener to my cereals, even when I ate plain, puffed brown rice. Maybe add in sliced bananas? I also like my tea unsweetened. Stevia and agave seem like the most common drink sweeteners.

I am curious what your thoughts on coconut oil are?

I'm anti all oils because they are all very unhealthy, processed foods that damage your heart -- with coconut being the worst since it's so high in saturated fat. Here is Dr. Esselstyn's statement: “Q: Olive oil, canola oil, coconut oil, Sunflower oil, soybean oil, peanut oil, any oil - Which oil is best? A: Avoid oils. They injure the endothelium, the innermost lining of the artery, and that injury is the gateway to vascular disease.”

You have beautiful hair and I was wondering what you use to wash and condition it?

I use a natural tea-tree oil shampoo and conditioner. It's similar to what they sell at Trader Joes. I've heard great things about washing your hair with water + baking soda, then rinsing with water + vinegar, but have not tried it yet. I find diet plays a huge role in the healthiness of my hair -- and I don’t eat added fats, so any article claiming you need nuts and avo for good hair is wrong.

I am a Type O blood type and I get HUGE cravings for animal protein when I avoid it. Do you have any pointers?

I have type O and never have cravings... it sounds like you're not craving meat, but some nutrient you've come to associate with meat. I would suggest having your iron and other nutrient levels checked. Your body might be associating a specific nutrient with meat. You can also check out my posts on Food Cravings and Food Addictions and Dealing with Food Cravings.

Do you have any tips to help get my daughter to start exercising with me, and eat healthier?

My advice is to lead by example, be encouraging, applaud her when she makes an effort, make it fun and about something you can enjoy together. See my previous post "How to Talk about Veganism" on being an advocate and talking about this lifestyle with others.

Do you know if perfume is animal cruelty free?

I imagine perfume is a lot like cosmetics. Some are tested on animals, some are not. I imagine most do not contain animal ingredients, but you never know. My friend Gin wrote a guest post on ingredients to look for in makeup. I don't wear perfume so I haven't looked into it much – sorry!

What are good vegan snacks?

I'm not sure if you mean prepackaged snacks (for a list of commercial, though not always healthy, snacks that are vegan, check out Peta's "accidentally vegan" list) or plant-strong snacks you can make yourself. If I snack, I tend to snack on fruit, raw vegetables, toast or if I'm really ravenous, a smoothie, such as HH's Green Goddess or PB Cup Smoothie. I also love baby carrots and celery but my favorite munchie is jicama sticks with a little lime juice. I also love, love, LOVE HH's Kale chips! Lately I've been making them with hot sauce, which makes them super addictive. Roasted chickpeas, such as the chickpeas in HH's Chickpea Tacos, are also great. Muffins are also portable.

Do you recommend a vegan "ice cream like" dessert? The ones at the store are too high in fat.

I can't think of any store brands that are low in fat (but there are so many options I might be missing one.) If you want a lower fat or lower calorie vegan ice cream, you'll need to DIY. The easiest, and quickest, is HH's Instant Banana Ice Cream, which is fat-free. Another option is Tofu Ice Cream (but you'll need about 30 minutes and an ice cream machine for this). I know it sounds kind of odd, and maybe gross--tofu ice cream? but it's really good and you can't detect the tofu at all. I've made chocolate, banana, cinnamon, strawberry, vanilla, blueberry swirl...

How often do you go grocery shopping?

When I lived in NYC I went every day. This was partly because my kitchen and fridge were so impossibly small that I really didn't have the ability to stock up. I also lived within 5 minutes walking distance of several markets, grocery stores and a boutique health food store, so it was really easy for me to get what I needed on the way home. (Note: I don't recommend this, I found I spent too much money this way). When I lived in St, Maarten I went almost every day. We had a bigger kitchen, and more storage, but since the store received new and different shipments several days a week and some foods sold out fast -- I was always there, ready to get my hands on cartons of almond milk, or fresh produce or bread. The market was also within walking distance, which made it convenient, at least. Living on an island has a lot of frustrations, a big one being that all food is flown in and frequently runs out. Now that I'm in Colorado, however, where the grocery store is 5 miles away, I try to only go once per week. I find if I plan my meals out (which I do with HH's Meal Plans!) I can get everything I need in one trip. I can't really cut it back any more than that, our fridge isn't big enough to hold 2 weeks worth of fresh produce. Scott & I have large appetites and really love our salads and greens.

What do you do to have such beautiful hair?

Aww... thanks for the compliment. I believe it's all diet. I don't really put any products in my hair (outside of gentle shampoo and sometimes if it's really tangled, gentle condition or avocado). I always find it amusing when people say you need to eat more fat to get strong, shiny and beautiful hair since the exact opposite has proven true for me. My low fat diet has done my body (and hair!) good. I saw positive changes in my hair when I adopted a plant-based diet, but it got even healthier when I went to a low fat, whole foods diet.

What do you feed your dogs?

The pugs are on a homemade vegan diet, which I talk about here. There are also plenty of vegan and vegetarian kibbles on the market.

I am on the low side of diabetes. I do not take meds or insulin. Is this the right way for me to eat?

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, I can’t recommend Prevent and Reverse Diabetes by Dr. Neal Barnard enough. I’ve known several people who reversed their T2 diabetes following this approach such as Candy and Natala. Another good book is The Starch Solution.

Does the occasional “slip” or "cheat" undo the good?

I’m not a doctor so I can’t totally answer this, but I read this analogy in a book somewhere and it’s always stayed with me: “Eating one burger or one ice cream cone is probably not going to kill you -- but we don’t just eat one in our lifetime.” Imagine an empty glass bottle: Every time you eat an animal product a marble goes in. 5 marbles, 10 marbles, that doesn’t seem so bad...but it all adds up and it adds a lot up faster than we think it does.I can’t 100% guarantee that if someone eats a plant-based (vegan) diet they absolutely, positively, won’t get any kind of sickness (cancer, heart disease, etc) but what I can tell them is that with every bite of animal product, they make the propensity to get sick much more likely. So knowing that, is a cheat or slip even worth it?Another problem with the occasional “cheat” is the mental effect it has. Unhealthy foods are very addictive and as long as we keep eating them, we keep being addicted. It’s hard to break the chain and build new habits when you’re cheating. Plus one slip might lead to another and then another. Go all in, you can do it!  For more information about animal products and heart disease, see Preventing and Reversing Heart Disease by Dr. Caldwell Esseltyn Jr.

What does a steamer look like? Can I substitute anything? I want to make HH's sausages!

I use this electric steamer (bought on sale for $20). You can also use a metal steamer basket ($8), which are cheap and don't take up any extra kitchen real estate since you can store it in your pot. Or you can just line a really big pot with a tiny bit of water, bring it to a boil. Add the sausages (fold side up so no water gets in), but then keep an eye out the entire time because you'll need to add more water periodically because you'll burn the sausages (and your pot!) if the water runs out.

How can you healthfully *gain* weight?

You'll need to add more high calorie and high fat foods to your diet -- more raw nuts and raw seeds, coconut and avocado. You also want to make sure you're eating healthy foods like brown rice, which are high in calories. When I was a personal trainer, I had a client who couldn't seem to go beyond 90lbs. She was naturally very thin due to a high metabolism, but she was also very athletic -- a marathon runner. We didn't fuss much with her weight until she wanted to get pregnant and her doctor thought she might have better luck if she'd gain 10 lbs. At first, my client stopped exercising and was eating tons of candy bars, cupcakes and fried foods trying to pack it on but she came back to me saying she didn't feel her best and she missed feeling high on life. She complained of bloating and fatigue and a general meh feeling. I talked her into dropping the junk food and instead eating handfuls of raw almonds and cashews (her favorites) adding flax seeds to her smoothies and adding avocado (which she loved!) to almost every meal. Within weeks she'd gained weight but within days she reported feeling fabulous, more alert and much healthier. She ended up having a baby and was a healthy, glowing mama her entire pregnancy -- she's still a healthy, glowing mama and she's still eating lots of nuts and avocados to keep the weight on.

I'm gluten free but also soy free. Are your books suitable for me?

YES! All 3 of my books are over 80% soy-free and gluten-free. Of the recipes that do contain soy or gluten, there are easy substitutions, such as using brown rice pasta instead of whole wheat, or coconut aminos instead of soy sauce or tamari. The meal plans are also completely (100%) soy-free and gluten free.

Do you have a tofu press, what brand do you recommend?

I had a tofu press, Nasoya sent me one for free but, sadly, I never used it and ended up giving it to a friend -- my kitchen is too tiny for items I don't use daily or at least weekly.

How can one ensure you are getting enough protein without soy or seitan?

As long as you are not calorie deficient (meaning you eat enough calories per day), you cannot be protein deficient. ALL foods - even bananas - have protein in them. If you ate nothing but potatoes all day, you'd still get the minimum amount of protein. There is really no need to worry about protein. See my post on protein for more info and also my post on vegetable and plant-based sources of protein.

I’m trying to do vegan paleo. Why can’t I have grains? Is sugar really bad? Help!

Paleo is a vanity diet (the new Atkins) that might make people skinny by forcing their body into ketosis, but it won't improve their insides -- heart disease, cancer, diabetes, and other food-related illnesses exist if you eat animal products. Last I checked, there are no any scientific studies in peer-reviewed journals that support the paleo diet and Anthropologists don’t agree that’s how our ancestors ate.  There is no basis not to eat whole grains or legumes aside from carb phobia. Both whole grains and legumes are very healthy and have been eaten by people for years. Some of the healthiest peoples on the planet eat lots of grains and legumes. Sugar and flour are scapegoats, not the problem. For more information, I highly recommend reading The Starch Solution ; “The Paleo Diet Is Uncivilized (And Unhealthy and Untrue)." I also wrote a post about a vegan paleo diet. I can't recommend the links to articles at the bottom enough -- several link to articles by doctors and other nutrition experts and the dangers and fallacies of paleo.  Side note: Everyone I know on “paleo” cheats like crazy which makes me think the diet is not realistic -- I never cheat or feel the urge to following my healthy plant-based diet and lifestyle.. Perhaps because I’m actually satisfied and eating the way our bodies were intended to? Just a thought.

What, besides being vegan, do you think contributes to your awesome complexion?

I eat vegan, but it's low fat, absolutely no oil. My skin cleared when I went vegan somewhat, but it wasn't until I eliminated oil that it totally cleared. Some people break out from soy (I don't) so perhaps try removing oil and soy (if you use either) and see if it helps. I also can't recommend washing your face with baking soda enough! For more ideas on cleaning with baking soda, check out my post here.

Why are most soy products genetically altered? Where are the ones that aren't? What are some soy alternatives?

Usually there is a non-GMO label somewhere on the box or package. With the tofu I buy locally, it says "Non-GMO" right on the box. I'm not 100% certain but I believe all organic soy products are non-GMO. There are many soy alternatives, depending on what you're looking for. There are nut and rice milks, chickpea miso, coconut-based yogurts and ice creams, daiya cheese, to name a few alternatives to soy. For some ideas on soy-free meals, check out my earlier post here. Additionally, although soy is perhaps the most known plant food for being GM, Soy is not the only genetically modified (GM or GMO) product in our food system. Corn, papaya, zucchini, yellow squash, and sugar beets can also be GM.

Is there a vegan ranch dressing powder?

Not that I know of, but you can buy commercial vegan ranch by Abby's Table or make your own using my recipe in HHC pg. 232.

Do you use a rice cooker?

I *do* use a rice cooker, but it has long been discontinued by Panasonic. I recommend spending a little extra and getting one with a special brown rice setting as I find the run of the mill rice cookers can't really handle brown rice without a special setting. I also recommend one with a digital timer if you can spend a bit more. Mine has a timer so I can put rice in it before bed, but have it hot and ready for breakfast OR put it together in the morning and have hot rice ready when I walk in the door after work, that sort of thing. Not necessary, but worth the extra cost in my honest opinion.

I'd like to know more about natural skin care and makeup products, do you have any suggestions?

There are several brands of natural skin care and makeup available. See this post for a list of them as well as vegan skin care tips.

What are some easy, fast go-to comfort foods so I don't stray from my diet?

See my post about meals that are faster than fast food.

I wanted to know your thoughts on the "processed" vegan foods, like the Morning Star products.

I think we can all agree that highly processed foods, whether they are plant-based or not, are not "good" for us or "healthy" foods. Do I think faux meats and faux cheeses can be helpful for people during transition? Yes. Do I think having them once in a while as a "treat" as part of an otherwise healthy, whole foods, plant-based diet is probably okay? Yes. I have a tofu dog and a boca burger from time to time, but not often and usually only on special occasions (such as at a baseball game). We all have to find our own balance, but my advice is always to eat whole, plant foods as much as possible.

I have been plant-based for 4 months but can't kick sugar. Help?

 When it hits, eat fruit instead. You just have to break the cycle... also read The Pleasure Trap :)

I am concerned about feeding my children a plant-based diet, any advice?

It is the official position of the American and Canadian Dietetic Associations that a plant-based diet is suitable for all stages of life. As long as your children are eating diet with a variety of whole foods, they should get all the nutrients they need. Also note that eating animal products doesn’t mean they are any more likely to get everything they need and many of today’s kids aren’t getting all the nutrients they need because of the standard American Diet. Nevertheless, you should to have your pediatrician check just to make sure your kids are thriving and meeting their needs (though this is true for all kids, not just plant-based ones). We have a parents group on Facebook, called Herbie Parents, you might want to join. We also had a guest post by Julieanna Hever on raising plant-based kids.

It doesn't seem as though many people eat pasta or bread on plant-based. Is there a particular reason for this?

I do use pasta and bread in some recipes, in my cookbooks and in the meal plans but strongly suggest using either whole wheat, gluten-free or brown rice options since white pasta and white flour are not healthy. A whole foods diet focuses on whole, unprocessed foods and even whole-wheat breads and pasta are to some extent processed, so they are not as great as brown rice, oatmeal and other grains that are still whole, but my belief is they are fine as part of the accent to a diet, but should not be the bulk of the diet -- the bulk of the diet should be whole, unprocessed foods like grains, legumes, fruits and vegetables

Do you have kid-friendly recipes? Tips for transitioning kids?

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook has a kid-friendly icon, indicating which recipes the testers kids like best, and and all of the recipes in Everyday Happy Herbivore were approved by my testers children. The Herbie Parents group is for parents, not specifically moms. Start giving your child plant-based food immediately. Talk to her about why you aren't eating meat and dairy/eggs anymore. Give plenty of choices too -- instead of 1 option, allow her to have a muffin, or toast, or fresh fruit, etc. I find kids transition better when they have options and no one thing is forced.

Do you get a flu shot? I believe that there is egg or chicken in them?

I do not get flu shots, but I do think you're right that they contain animal products.

What do you suggest for an energy drink or food? I’m wiped out because of stress.

It's important (especially during stressful situations) to eat as healthy as possible and drink lots of water. That is the best way to fight fatigue and stress. Greens (like kale) and fresh or dried fruits are great at providing energy quickly and whole grains, like brown rice or quinoa, and potatoes also provide slow and steady energy. I don't recommend caffeine or energy drinks or pills. It's like paying a credit card with a credit card. Also, if you haven't already, try our meal plans. -- you prepare a week's worth of healthy, energizing meals in 2-3 hours, and reheat during the week. I find having healthy food on hand helps reduce my stress and anxiety, particularly in situations where so much of my life is out of my control, in limbo or out of balance. It’s always great to have a plan and structure. Feel better soon!

Are the recipes in HHC as easy as the ones in EHH? Are they basically the same, just different recipes?

Yes they are as easy, I use the same cooking style in all books; just different recipes and "themes".

I am just wondering if you think the fake meat items are healthy or not?

I think it's important to remember that all fake meats are heavily processed foods. Some are also down right junky -- made with oil, processed flour, preservatives and isolated soy proteins. Are they healthier than their meat counterparts? Sure, but are they a healthy food? No. Do I think a processed meat once in a while as a treat is okay as part of a whole foods, plant-based diet? Yes. I have a tofu dog from time to time and I'll buy the fake sausage for my husband once in awhile (usually for his birthday). I think fake meats and cheese can be helpful during transition, but overall they should accent the diet, not be a main player. We lived abroad all last year and now live in a small town where we don't have much access to the meats, and I think we're better off.

I'd like some information on how to defend plant-based eating over the Paleo Diet.

I've written about the Paleo diet before. As far as I know, there are no scientific studies in peer reviewed journals that support the Paleo diet and I don't trust anything that isn't backed by impartial schools and is missing from peer reviewed journals. There are, however, tons of studies (both in the lab and clinical with people) and in peer reviewed journals that show eating meat, dairy and other animal products cause cancer and other sickness. It's the proteins in these animal products that turn cancer on and off, and they exist regardless of where the animal came from or what it was fed or how it was treated. The evidence is indisputable, a whole foods, plant-based diet is the only diet that is healthy, will prevent and reverse disease and is also the only diet that is truly sustainable for our world. A biological archaeologist for NPR wrote an article about how the Paleo diet isn't reflective of what caveman ate (and how it's not great for today's work either) see: Paleo Diet: Not the Way to a Healthy Future.

Do you have any favorite nutrition/vegan blogs to recommend for my list of reading?

I don't read any blogs on food or nutrition really but I do read Engine 2 and Forks Over Knives and follow Jeff Novick's posts on Facebook. I also like NutritionFacts.org Sorry!

I'm struggling with bad skin and I was wondering what your advice would be and if there was any foods that would specifically help or any to steer well clear of?

Avoid all animal foods especially dairy. Also avoid all oils. If skin issues persist after removing those main culprits try removing soy as it does give some people acne. Drink plenty of water and wash your face with baking soda.

I was just wondering what you do for exercise, especially while traveling?

I snowboard in the winter and do water sports in the summer, I just keep an active non-sedentary lifestyle.

Do you know if using oil externally as a skin cleanser or as an "oil pull" is as detrimental as consuming it?

I don't think so, but I'm not sure. I've never used oil on my skin, except a tiny bit of coconut oil on my elbows, but I switched to unscented shea butter a while ago. Our skin is our biggest organ, and it does absorb, but still I don't think it would be the same as ingesting it.

What do you think is the best vegan "hamburger" crumble available?

I don't buy any of the commercial ones -- mostly because they are outside of my budget or are not available where I live -- I live in a very small town. I make my own bean burgers, etc (recipes in my cookbooks and on my blog) and I have a recipe for "beef" crumbles in my first book, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook on page 140, that I use all the time.