Hi Herbies! Today we are featuring a guest post from Megan, the Holistic Health Coach. Enjoy!
Happy Herbivore has taken me out of my pasta rut. I used to automatically make a pasta dish when I was pressed for time but wanted a meal that would be easy to prepare and satisfying. Although I still adore pasta, it wasn't until I started cooking from the Happy Herbivore Cookbook that my creativity kicked in.
The first recipe I ever made was the Black Bean Brownies. I was so intrigued by the idea that I rushed the soaking process and convinced myself there was plenty of time for the beans to soften in the oven. This taught me two things; black beans can make an awesome brownie and it pays to be patient. My brownies were a little dry but I was blown away by the flavor. I automatically bought canned black beans and made another batch that I took to work with me the next day playing a little game I like to call, "Guess what's in this!" The brownies were such a hit and I made them for everyone in my family for Christmas. I baked them, arranged them in festive tins, and drove them 6 hours to New Jersey to make sure every member of my family would be able to try them. No one could believe it was possible to enjoy a dessert that wasn't going to put them in a mini coma from the sugar highs and lows.
I then used Happy Herbivore as a reference to learn more about flavors and seasoning because I instinctively cook Mediterranean-type meals. I’m Italian and grew up with an unusual obsession with fresh basil and first learned to cook as an adult while spending a year in Greece. It wasn’t until the Happy Herbivore came along that I introduced new spices into my pantry. I bought Garam Masala for the first time after seeing the recipe for Red Lentil Dal. It hit me like a ton of bricks that my favorite ethnic foods are easy to make and the ingredients are ridiculously inexpensive. I just lacked the confidence and flavor guidelines which resulted in me overpaying for less healthful meals in restaurants. You won’t catch me paying $15 for a dish made from 89 cent chick peas or lentils anymore and my friends finally know that when they come over for dinner they have something other than spaghetti to look forward to.
I’m a little rebellious toward recipes. I almost never measure and am relaxed when it comes to substituting with whatever I have on hand. The Happy Herbivore recipes and the beautiful photos make it so easy to be inspired. I enjoy my kitchen so much more now that I look at the contents of my refrigerator with a new perspective.
This is probably a good time to mention that I’m not a vegan. I’m not even a vegetarian. I am, however, crazy about vegetables, sneaking them into absolutely everything I eat (including breakfast). I’ve never really had a taste for meat, but have no desire to commit to a label. I simply love food that is beautiful, makes you feel alive, tastes great, and doesn’t make you fat and tired.
I share my love of good food with practically everyone I meet. I teach cooking classes to show people that you can make a meal quickly without it coming from a box. My most recent class featured “Meatless Burgers that don’t suck.” We made Happy Herbivore spicy black bean burgers and mushroom burgers. I followed the black bean recipe, but used brown rice in the mushroom burgers rather than beans. Everyone was impressed that a vegan burger could be so satisfying and full of flavor.
Happy Herbivore has helped me set my refrigerator and pantry up in a way that making a healthy meal can be simple and faster than picking up takeout. My pantry now features more grains, beans, and legumes and a little less pasta. My husband and dinner guests are grateful for the variety and my waistline thanks you!
Thanks, Megan! I think we've all been in a pasta rut before. Herbies, have you ever been in a food rut before?