Week 47: Happy Herbivore

No Thanksgiving post from me this week, others have that handled.  Since I was seeing so many mouth-watering whole food plant based Thanksgiving posts on my facebook timeline I did post a Dandelion Wishes Extra mid-week with a blogroll of some great online resources for WFPB living and included links to various Thanksgiving recipe resources.  If you read it mid-week, I’ve since updated the post to add a couple of sites I had missed first post.

Week 47 was all about Happy Herbivore.  When I posted a Forks Over Knives post a few week’s back I knew I wanted to dedicate a full post to Happy Herbivore.  A half can of lite coconut milk and a recipe for Thai Green Curry decided that this would be the week.  Lindsay Nixon is the Happy Herbivore.  I would say that Lindsay is the Rachel Ray of the Whole Foods Plant Based world.  She is not  a trained chef, her recipes are generally easy to put together with food on hand supplemented with minimal and easily accessible ingredient shopping, and most can be prepared in less than 30 minutes.  Happy Herbivore is a great place for someone new to WFPB living to start, or for a curious omnivore to plan a meatless Monday.  In addition to the website, and meal plan options (only $5 for a one week plan that includes breakfast, lunch and dinner recipes) Lindsay’s recipes can be found in her four cookbooks.

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The thing that sets Happy Herbivore Cookbooks apart from others is there are a lot of pictures!  The lack of pictures in cookbooks is a pet peeve of mine but that’s not an issue with any of the Happy Herbivore Cookbooks, they are beautiful and have a user-friendly lay-out.  They also have nutritional information, something missing from many other cookbooks.  This is helpful to me; though I do not count calories I have a general idea of the number of calories I need in a meal to not be searching for snacks later so it’s really helps to know how many calories are in my lunches and if I should throw an extra snack in the bag for later.

I decided to make Week 47 a cookbook tour and will go book by book from oldest to newest.

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook

The first cookbook  has some great dishes, my favorite meal from this book is probably the combination of burger, onion rings and baked beans (which reminds me I need to make those baked beans again!).  This book does have recipes using tempeh and meat substitutes, which I don’t eat but there are a lot of other options to choose from.  I made three new to me recipes from Happy Herbivore Cookbook for Week 47.  Tortilla Soup (1) with Crispy Tortilla Sticks (2) and Cinnamon-Sugar Tortilla Chips (3).  I had never made tortilla soup before but it was actually quite easy, and delicious.  This soup is packed with flavor from green chillies, garlic, cumin and chili powder.  It is not quite creamy but not a broth either.   The Tortilla Stick recipe is an example of one of the overly simplistic recipes in the book that is more of a technique than a recipe.  That said, normally I would by tortilla chips that have far more fat and salt than this simple idea of baking my own.  These recipes are a great reminder of how easy it is to prepare your own food that allows you to control the quality of ingredients.

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Homemade applesauce (I add fresh cranberries and a cinnamon stick, hence the color) is a dish I make often without any recipe. Since I had tortillas left in the package and knew I’d need a snack in the afternoon if I just had soup for lunch, I made the HHC Cinnamon-Sugar Tortilla chips for an added crunch to serve along side the applesauce. Delicious!

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Everyday Happy Herbivore

IMG_5179Everyday Happy Herbivore often gets forgotten because, until recently, it was the only Happy Herbivore cookbook that I did not have a hard copy of; I had bought the kindle version, but it was recently on sale so I now have the physical copy too.  This is my favorite Happy Herbivore book for breads and muffins, though the dish I’ve probably made most from this book is Chickpea Tikka Masala.  I love making my own version of Indian Buffets at home and this dish is always on the menu.

Week 47’s new to me recipes were Jalapeno Cornbread (4), which was great with the soup, and Glazed Cinnamon-Raisin Biscuits (5).  These were a deliciously moist biscuit with a lovely cake-like texture.  The recipe calls the basic glaze a separate recipe so I’ll count it (6).

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Happy Herbivore Abroad

This is my favorite book.  To keep things interesting I try to vary my diet…Mexican one week, Indian another, Italian, Classic American.  I think I’ve probably made more recipes from Happy Herbivore Abroad than any other cookbook.  The dishes are still simple and generally quick to throw together and a great reminder how adding spices and seasoning is replacement for salt and fat.  Cheater Pad Thai is the favorite and most often made form this cookbook.

In Week 47 I made Swedish Meatballs (7).  The recipe called for tempeh, which as mentioned I do not eat, so it seemed a good excuse to make some beetballs; swedish meatballs are really all about the gravy anyway.  I made the gravy as called for in the recipe.  The book suggested serving over brown rice but in my Irish family Swedish meatballs were always served over egg noodles;  perusing the pasta aisle campanelle seemed a good egg-free replacement and it was.  The gravy was lovely, light but flavorful and the beetballs were a great substitute for the tempeh.

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Happy Herbivore Light & Lean

I cannot say much about Light & Lean because it quite literally arrived at my doorstep yesterday.  Skimming quickly through my first impression is that a lot of these recipes are more ideas of how to quickly put together a quick, homemade, low-calorie dish than a new recipe per se.  For example, there are lots of wraps, burritos and salads that are pretty intuitive.  However, if you are like me and get stuck in a rut (especially with lunches) I think you (and I) will find it an inspiring and helpful guide on how to mix things up and stay interested.  There are more novel and substantial stir-fries and pasta dishes in the book as well.  The book is different than the other books as the recipes are indexed both by type and by calorie levels.  There is also a section on working out.

IMG_5169Though I just received the book yesterday Lindsay had sent a few preview recipes in her blog posts, one of which is the new to me recipe for Week 47, Thai Green Curry (8).  This one surprised me with how good it was despite the fact it took about 10 minutes to make (no exaggeration).  It calls for 8 oz frozen vegetables of your choice but I had a broccoli, carrot, water chestnut steam-in-bag blend that was 11 oz  and used that.  While that was steaming I made the sauce.  The extra vegetables were fine without adjusting the sauce recipe.  The base is light coconut milk and the Thai flavors come from green curry paste, ginger and basil.  I served this over brown rice for a very satisfying lunch ( you get the packed and ready to go pic of this one).  The curry is not too spicy but all the flavors of Thai cooking come through.

There you have it, a tour of the Happy Herbivore brand!  A great resource that is highly recommended.

New Recipes Made This Week: 8

New Recipe Tally 2013: 137

Blogroll & Vegan Thanksgiving Resources

All of social media is a buzz with Thanksgiving recipes and “special diet” holiday meal ideas.  Apparently, anyone who does not follow the Standard American Diet (SAD) is “special”.  I decided this would be a good time to throw in an extra post to highlight some of my favorite online resources for new recipes and meatless dish inspiration.  Whether you are a herbivore, omnivore or proud follower of SAD, these bloggers have some delicious recipes and are great (and free) resources to learn about and give whole food plant based (WFPB) living a try.

  1. Forks Over Knives: As noted in my Forks Over Knives Week post, Forks Over Knives does have a website with information about WFPB living and a whole recipe section.  Of the online recipes I’ve tried Lentil Shepherd’s Pie with Rustic Parsnip Crust is my favorite.  The Forks Over Knives Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup is also up on their website.
  2. The Engine 2 Diet:  Created by Rip Esselstyn when he was a firefighter at the Austin (TX) Engine 2 Station, E2 has really been very successful and popular in the WFPB world.  There are lots of Engine 2 products available, including a food line at Whole Foods.  My favorite online recipe from Engine 2 available online is the Spelt-Blueberry Pancakes recipe.
  3. Happy Herbivore: Lindsay Nixon is the Happy Herbivore.  Her website is very comprehensive with recipes, cooking tips, cheat sheets for substitutions, and a blog that goes beyond WFBP cooking and adds posts on minimalist living, Q&As, and my favorite, Herbie of the Week with inspiring interviews with those who have seen great health benefits from living WFPB lifestyles.  My favorite recipe available online is of course Chickpea Tacos but the fan favorite Pad Thai was recently revealed online in a Happy Herbivore Ustream cooking show.  You can also check out Lindsay’s Thanksgiving menu and prep sheet.  Week 47 will be dedicated to Happy Herbivore so stay tuned.
  4. Post Punk Kitchen: Isa Chandra is one of the authors of Veganomicon.  The Post Punk Kitchen website is another great online resource packed with recipes, videos and a blog.  I haven’t tried it yet, but the Stuffed Thanksgiving Burger both terrifies me and intrigues me with it’s beautiful photos reminiscent of Thanksgiving leftovers.  Isa’s new cookbook, Isa Does It is on the top of my Christmas list.
  5. Fat Free Vegan: Susan Voison is the woman behind Fat Free Vegan.  Her website is all recipes with beautiful pictures and great stories to share.  My love of the beetball has resulted in a whole blog post being dedicated to them so you can guess this is my favorite Fat Free Vegan recipe.  There are countless others I love on this site and many more on my need to try list.  Susan has a countdown to Thanksgiving on her facebook page with daily recipe posts.
  6. Plant-Powered Kitchen: Plant-Powered Kitchen is Dreena Burton’s website.  There are a LOT of recipes on this site.  If I had to pick a favorite online recipe I think I’d choose the No-Fu Loaf, a great WFPB meatloaf-like entree.  The Plant-powered Thanksgiving post makes me want pie and reminds me that I do have apples left that should really be used…
  7. Healthy.Happy. Life: aka lunchboxbunch.com is the home of Kathy Patalsky.  In addition to WFPB recipes, Kathy stands out with a lot of unique smoothie recipes, exceptional pictures and a wonderful, personal blog.  My favorite online recipe from Kathy is Easy Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers, but the Spicy Peanut Ginger Kale Salad is a very close second.
  8. Chocolate Covered Katie: This one is fairly new to me having recently discovered the page through Pinterest.  My new favorite breakfast, Baked Pumpkin Oatmeal is sourced from Katie.  What makes this page stand out is that it is mostly desserts with some oatmeal and pancake recipes mixed in.
  9. Straight Up Food:  The website of WFPB chef Cathy Fisher is filled with great recipe options and her recipes are often re-posted by Forks Over Knives.
  10. Oh She Glows:  Angela Liddon is the woman behind Oh She Glows.  This website is another fairly new to me site but I imagine I will be spend more time and gaining more inspiration here.  My favorite recipe (thus far) from this site is Pecan Pumpkin Butter, which makes a great dip and also a great cinnamon roll!

Since Pinterest was mentioned, it is a good place to go perusing for recipes if you have something in mind.  I’ve created a few too many boards on Pinterest but justify it by making sure I actually go and try some of the recipes I’ve pinned.

Week 46: Week in a Day

Week in a Day is a Food Network show hosted by Rachel Ray.  Often times when I’m taking a break from whatever I’m doing to grab a bite to eat, I’ll put on the TV to Food Network to watch while I’m munching.  This morning Rachel Ray’s Week in a Day was on while I had my brunch.  A new show to me but pretty similar to how I try to keep myself from impulse eats – cook as much as possible over the weekend so weekday meals can be quickly prepared.  At a loss for a clever name for Week 46, this seemed a fitting inspiration.

IMG_5163Everyday Happy Herbivore Morning Glory Muffins aren’t quite filling enough for a breakfast to me (though you could always eat 2 or 3 of these 100 calorie glories, or maybe make a giant version!) but they were a great whole food plant based snack – either mid-morning or with afternoon tea.  These are packed full of goodness from oats, carrots, pumpkin, and raisins.  Don’t be fooled by the ingredients (or the picture, not the best of my photos) these are wonderfully moist and have just the right sweetness for a tea accompaniment.

IMG_5158I decided to go Thai for lunch with Dreena Burton’s Peanut Thai Vegetable Stew from Let Them Eat Vegan.  The flavors in this dish were more subtle than I expected with ingredients like peanut butter, coconut milk, garlic and onion.  It was very light in flavor profile but had a creaminess that was almost like a thick cream soup.  I admit I wanted to boost the flavors in this dish and added extra lime juice and some Thai garlic sauce to enhance the spice level.  It was a lovely dish but more of an appetizer than a meal for me; I found myself craving something more.

IMG_5161Dinner was the star of the week for me in Week 46.  I made Black Beans in Chipotle Adobo Sauce and Mexican Millet from Veganomicon; I ran out of millet and could not find it in my grocery so I substituted brown rice for the grain but followed the recipe otherwise.  This dish was a delicious rice and beans dinner.  I made the peppers/onions from Happy Herbivore Abroad fajitas recipes (I’ve made the full recipe before) and served with fresh tomatoes and avocado to complete the meal.  I was quite pleased with myself and felt this was a quality dish that could stand next to any fajita plate I’d ordered at a Chili’s or like.  The dish also re-heated well and was easily turned into a burrito (one of which is now in the freezer to test as a homemade Amy’s substitute, wish me luck).

IMG_5160I was surprised when someone questioned how eating vegan isn’t boring this past week.  I have eaten a greater variety and tried more new dishes on this plant based journey than I ever did on a typical diet.  When was the last time you tried something new?

New Recipes Made This Week: 4

New Recipe Tally 2013: 129

Week 45: Forks Over Knives

With the weeks remaining in 2013 in the single digits I had every intention of writing some extra posts to finish out the year, yet here I am a bit late on my weekly post.  I only made one new recipe in Week 45 but also remade one of my favorites, both from Forks Over Knives The Cookbook.  So this Week 45 is dedicated to Forks Over Knives.

When I first decided to try a whole foods plant based diet it was intended to be a brief challenge to reclaim my diet and inspire new foods and dishes.  That was in February of 2012.  I have greatly enjoyed this plant based journey and am still finding inspiration to cook, meal plan and live a healthier lifestyle.  Forks Over Knives the documentary was one of the early inspirations.  Forks Over Knives focuses on the healthful benefits of a diet that is plant based and limits refined sugars, oils and processed ingredients.

The cookbook is one of my favorites.  In general, these recipes can be a bit more complex than a quick and easy weeknight meal.  That said there are also some more simple stews, wraps, and pastas to choose when you’re in a hurry.  I actually like the complexity of some of the dishes.  They are not difficult, but require more steps (and pots), but the payoff is a meal that just seems more special.

This week’s new dish was a sweet treat.  I had gone apple picking a few week’s back and managed to overdo it a bit (as usual).  In search of a recipe that would use more than one or two apples I decided on Forks Over Knives Apple Crisp.  This recipe has no butter or oil; it uses nut butter to make the topping (it calls for cashew butter but I used almond).  Maple syrup adds sweetness to the apples and the topping.  I decided to add some cranberries because I love the tartness of cranberries with apples.

IMG_5155This dish was wonderful.  I brought it into the office and it was well received by my co-workers as well.  There is just the right level of sweetness and the oat topping adds a nice crunch.  I re-heated the leftovers slightly to serve it warm.

Dinner for Week 45 was a remake of one of my favorites, Eggplant Rollatini.

Sounds simple right?!  I made this for the first time in Week 2.  Since then I’ve learned a lot about food blogging.  It is not as easy and intuitive as one would think to describe the process of cooking and relay the flavors of food in words that actually invoke an understanding of the meal (yummy, delicious are not in fact descriptive of flavor at all…it took some time to learn to focus on acid, spice, sweet, and textures).  I am also a bad food blogger who shows only finished product.  So here is the Week 45 version of Eggplant Rollatini…

The eggplant is sliced thin and brushed with a soy/garlic based marinade before roasting.

IMG_5130While the eggplant is cooking, prepare the stuffing – a millet stuffing with garlic and spinach.

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A  fresh tomato sauce, also from Forks Over Knives, is simple and herbaceous but an additional prep step.  To save time, this could be done ahead of time.

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Spoon some of the millet filling on to the roasted eggplant and roll.

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IMG_5137Place seam side down in a pan with a layer of fresh tomato sauce then top with additional sauce and bake.

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Enjoy a beautifully delicious fresh and filling meal!  Gah, bad adjectives.  If you are looking for the creaminess of a typical rollatini, this recipe is not for you.  The millet has a firmer texture than a quinoa, more similar to a couscous, and it adds a subtle nuttiness to dishes.  It also reheats very well.

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Read more about Forks Over Knives and see some of the recipes they’ve posted on their website.

New Recipes Made This Week: 1

New Recipe Tally 2013: 125

Week 44: Flavors of Fall

I may have overdone it a bit this past week.  All told I ended up with six new recipes!  I’ll kick things off with the one not quite fall recipe.

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I had bought a package of extra firm tofu for Week 43 but only used one slice of it in the BBQ preparation.  I didn’t want to waste the whole package so I thought I would give a completely different preparation a try and see if I liked the texture any better.  Thai Salad with Slow-Cooked Tofu in Pineapple BBQ sauce caught my eye because I saw in the comments that freezing and thawing the tofu alters the texture.  However, when it came time to do my food prep I was more in the mood for a stir-fry so I made Thai Black Pepper and Garlic Tofu.   I already had freeze/thawed the tofu but prepared the recipe as written otherwise.  The sauce of this dish is nice and light but packed with flavor from the pepper and garlic.  The texture of the tofu did seem improved from my last attempt and I ate a whole serving of the dish.  That said, I picked the tofu out of the leftovers and have conceded that I simply do not like tofu in general.  If you do like tofu Susan has a bunch of yummy looking recipes up on her blog.

On to the Flavors of Fall!  You’ll be impressed that it’s not just pumpkin this week (though of course there will be pumpkin).  Enticed by the beautiful picture on Pinterest, I made Autumn Arugula Salad with Caramelized Squash, Spiced Pecans and Pomegranate Ginger Vinaigrette for lunches.  I buy a pomegranate about once a year because it only takes one to remind myself that I’m too impatient for pomegranate.  This salad was a good use of my annual pom though!  There is a lot going on with creaminess from the squash and avocado, crunch from the pecans and cucumbers and a lovely sweet burst from the pomegranate (like natural pop rocks – yes, I am a dork).

IMG_5075IMG_5129I was getting a bit bored of salad after a day or two but didn’t want to waste food so decided to reinvent the lunches by adding a soup.  I took what was left of the acorn squash and made Chipotle Acorn Squash Soup.  I had about enough squash for half the recipe.  I used vegetable broth, subbed chipotle peppers for the hot sauce and sriracha and Fresh Cream Sauce from Let Them Eat Vegan for the cream.  I sprinkled a few toasted pine nuts on top with some fresh ground pepper to finish.  It’s a lovely soup that tastes much richer than it is and the chipotle was a nice addition.  A much more satisfying lunch as a combo.

I had actually made the Fresh Cream Sauce for another recipe, Pumpkin Chickpea Cauliflower Curry with Fresh Cream Sauce.  This is also from Let Them Eat Vegan but Dreena Burton has posted the recipe online as well (linked in the recipe title).  Instead of the recommended zucchini I decided to use bell peppers and peas to add some color and texture to the dish.  I also added a potato diced small because I had one that needed to be used and this seemed the kind of dish forgivable to substitutions.  This was a great one-pot meal.  The pumpkin creates a lovely sauce and the addition of  a little bit of the cream sauce really makes it rich and satisfying.  I served mine over brown rice.

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IMG_5083Finally, a sweet treat for Halloween.  It was bound to happen eventually, I have found a pumpkin recipe I do not like.  I was perusing recipes and was intrigued by Happy Herbivore Pumpkin-Swirl Brownies.   I like pumpkin (in case you haven’t noticed).  I like chocolate.  Why not put them together?  No, this one was not for me.  The two flavors together just seemed odd and competing.  I will have to stick to enjoying my pumpkin and my chocolate separately from here on out.

New Recipes Made This Week: 6

New Recipe Tally 2013: 124