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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Featured Cookbook: Happy Herbivore

About a month ago, I posted about my ever evolving pursuit of Ethical Eating.  If you’re unfamiliar with Ethical Eating (not to be confused with veganism), please, please follow this link and find out a little about it.  I think you’ll be surprised by the ethics behind some foods and the very simple ways you can make a difference.  Anyway, in response to that post, Tricia asked if I could throw any good vegetarian recipes her way.  I started making a list of a few of my favorites, which promptly got buried under mountains of work.
Then I got a new cookbook.  An awesome new cookbook.  I had spent many hours over at least three visits to the bookstore scouring countless vegetarian cookbooks, trying to find a couple to buy.  While the internet provides millions of great, free vegetarian recipes, I remain loyal to cookbooks.  I like browsing through them.  I like having them on hand whenever I need them.  I even like the way the pages get stained with little droplets of cooking and powdery with flour – cookbooks sort of pick up the life of the kitchen like magic.  I think the bookworm and the pagan in me work together to foster this love of cookbooks.
I went through cookbook after cookbook, but couldn’t find just the right one.  Many of them called for unusual ingredients I had never heard of, or just had very extensive ingredients lists.  Others might as well have been regular non-veg omnivore cookbooks because every other recipe called for soymeat or TVP.  Don’t get me wrong, I love Morningstar Farms Grillers Prime burgers once in a while, and Punky and MacGyver are all about vegetarian sausage patties, but I wasn’t looking for 105 different ways to prepare “fake” meat.  I can come up with th0se myself.
Then I found it.   It had everything I wanted:
-  Uncomplicated ingredients lists.
-  Simple recipes.
-  Full, hearty, stand alone vegetarian meals that didn’t rely on meat alternatives.
-  Quick prep times for many of the recipes.
Nutritious recipes (believe it or not, it’s very easy to get really unhealthy in vegetarian cooking – fettuccine alfredo from a pouch, anyone?)
Seriously, even if you’re not a vegetarian, this cookbook rocks.  MacGyver and Punky are still omnivores; they still eat meat on the weekends (and probably other times when I’m not around ;-)), but they have loved everything I have made from this cookbook.  These are full, satisfying meals.  You never miss the meat.  When I started the push toward vegetarianism, half the time I just subbed beans for meat and went with it.  And while that works pretty well in a lot of dishes, after a while you miss the meat.  Hence my motivated search for a veg cookbook like this one.
This wonderful book that you should totally try even if you’re not a vegetarian (or vegan, like the author) is called
The Happy HerbivorebyLindsay Nixon
I was so thrilled with it that after preparing just two recipes from the book (and tabbing 8 more for the next couple weeks), I contacted Ms. Nixon to ask permission to share one of her recipes with you all.  Graciously, she agreed.  Not only did she allow me to post one of her recipes here, but she honored me with a short interview:
Q.  You used to be a lawyer, or you are a lawyer but no longer practicing - however you choose to look at it -  how does that play into your current life? 

A.  I am still technically licensed, but I am not practicing anymore. I started happyherbivore.com in law school when I went vegan and it morphed into a healthy weekend hobby when I was a lawyer. Then life handed me a curve ball which, in the end, allowed me to reevaluate my priorities and passions, so I left the law to pursue a new career. I guess I made the right choice because a few months later, I had a book deal :)

Q.  Are your dogs vegan?  (I ask this because I've been contemplating starting on the hunt for a more ethical dog food myself lately)

A.  Yes! They also get home cooked meals. I wrote a great post about them and their diet here on the blog.

Q.  Are you also vegan in other areas of your life - clothes, hair products, etc.?

A.  Yes and no. We don't buy cosmetic products (or other products) that are tested on animals or contain animal ingredients. We even avoid beers and wines that are not "vegan" because they are filtered with isinglass, eggs or something else. We also don't buy clothes or shoes, etc that are made out of leather and we've replaced all of our leather shoes from our pre-vegan days. That said, Scott & I both still own wool coats that we've had for years, before we were vegan. We don't have the resources to replace them (plus, we feel its better to use it then get rid of it anyway). We also will both eat things like whole wheat bread that has a dab of honey in it. We try to source breads (and other foods) that don't have honey but we have very limited options where we live (St. Maarten), so we bend on the honey issue.

Q.  What was the most unexpected health benefit you got from becoming vegan?

A.  I went vegan initially because I'd heard it would clear my skin and help me lose weight, but I didn't expect it to actually work! A healthy vegan diet has really helped me stay at a healthy weight, which I thought was something I'd always struggle with.

Q.  You are a self-proclaimed big mouth.  I'm sure you've had plenty of people give you flak about being vegan.  What has been your most humorous, enlightening, or infuriating encounter with an omnivore so far?

A.  Anytime an omnivore asks me where I get my protein, I ask them where they get their fiber :)

Q.  What is your favorite wine and why?

A.  I'm actually not much of a wine drinker, though I do enjoy a glass of sangria from time to time. The Nixon household praises hops.

 Bonus question:  You have lived in my favorite city, and the state I currently live in (SC), and now you live on an island (*envy*); how  would you say each of those places, as well as your "vagabond"  lifestyle have affected your veganism and your cooking?

A.  Living--and traveling to-- so many places has a huge impact on my recipes. I draw a lot of inspiration from all the different cuisines I've been exposed to. Each city has also helped shaped me as a chef.  For example, living in New York City is why I focus on quick, no fuss recipes since my kitchen there (where I wrote my cookbook) was tiny.
It's smaller than my mom's closest! Meanwhile island life has really made me value simplicity and cooking with what you have available to you.

Not only is the cookbook awesome, but the author is, too!  Seriously, I could have hounded her with dozens more questions.  I mean, come on – a vegan lawyer who went to school in NY, wrote a cookbook, and is now living on a tropical island where she makes vegan food for her dogs?  We’re talking serious girl crush.

So, without further ado, I give you the recipe I made last night, African Kale and Yam SoupMy comments in green.
I double all the recipes in the book to make enough for all three of us, but the amounts below are from the original recipe, which would be perfect for 2 people.  Everyone ALWAYS wants seconds, and there are rarely leftovers.

whole red onion, small 2 cups vegetable broth 1 whole yam, diced – I used sweet potatoes5 cups kale, chopped 2 tsp chili powder 1 tsp cumin 1 tsp garlic powder ¼ tsp red pepper flakes 1 tsp mild curry powder ¼ tsp cinnamon     1 tbsp yellow miso paste – This is a rather unusual ingredient – the first I’ve encountered after making about 6 recipes from this book – but it wasn’t hard to find, and I’m thrilled to have gotten it because it proved delicious and MacGyver and Punky love Wakkame Miso Soup anyway.
DirectionsLine a medium pot with 1/4 cup of water and cook onions over high heat until translucent, about 3 minutes.  Remember to let the onions sit for at least 5 minutes after you slice them up to maximize their nutritional value.
Add broth, yam, 3/4 cup water and bring to a boil. Once boiling, reduce to medium and cook until potatoes are almost fork tender, about 3 minutes. Immediately add kale and remaining ingredients and cook, stirring frequently, until kale is dark green and soft, about 3 more minutes. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, allowing flavors to merge.  See how SHORT that cook time is?  For me, chopping up the veggies for any recipe is always the most time consuming part, but when the rest of the prep is this fast and easy – and the meal is this delicious AND healthy – it’s soooo worth it.  Plus, the chopping in this recipe is minimal, just the onions, sweet pots, and kale.  (The picture above is from the book; the one on the left I took last night.  I always like to compare how good a recipe looks compared to the professional shots, and so far all the ones from
The Happy Herbivore have done quite nicely.)

I suggest serving the soup, which is just a little bit sweet, with a semi-dry Reisling from Washinton State - there are a lot of good organic brands out there, too!  The book also suggests serving with bread, and I wholeheartedly agree.  I'd suggest a crusty Italian bread.

This recipe, after having eaten the 5 Spice Harmony Bowl from the book last week, inspired Punky to announce that Kale is her new favorite veggie because it’s so healthy, so yummy, and so versatile.  I am totally okay with that.

Please let me know if you try the recipe!  I would LOVE to hear what you think of it.  You can find a whole bunch of other awesome recipes on Lindsay’s website.  I also highly suggest the Teriyaki Chickpeas (also delicious on a spinach salad), the Mexican Cabbage, and the Kale Chips – a great, nutritious snack food!

And, in case you’re interested, here are the links to a couple other vegetarian recipes I love from before I got The Happy Herbivore:

Curried Beans and Kale
Spinach Brownies – you have to try these; you won’t believe it!

Disclaimer:  I was not asked to write this post, nor have I been compensated in any way for doing so.  I just happen to love this cookbook and the associated website and wanted to share them with my wonderful bloggy friends.
Originally posted:
Feb 22, 2011 12:09 PM

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