Interview: Lindsay Nixon – The Happy Herbivore
Today I have something very special for you: An interview with Lindsay Nixon (the Happy Herbivore) to celebrate the release of her newest cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore. Not only has she been generous enough to do the interview, but she also wants me to share with you one of her tasty recipes from the new book!
If you are unfamiliar with Lindsay’s work (if you’ve been a vegan for any length of time you are most assuredly aware of her awesomeness already), she’s the author of The Happy Herbivore blog as well as a cookbook of the same name. She’s also a pioneer of low-fat vegan recipes that will keep you slim while living a compassionate life!
Also, as a little bit of background as to how this cookbook came about, here’s a blurb from the publisher:
After vegan chef Lindsay S. Nixon wrapped up her popular cookbook The Happy Herbivore Cookbook last year, she went back to her kitchen in her new home of St. Maarten. Island living encouraged Nixon to come up with simpler fare, which led to a follow-up cookbook focusing on recipes that bring tasty back to quick-and-easy.
Without further ado, here is the interview followed by a first-look at one of her scrumptious recipes!
The Unintentional Vegan: The recipes in Everyday Happy Herbivore are geared towards quick preparation with more common ‘pantry’ ingredients. What made you focus more on simpler dishes this time around?
Lindsay Nixon: Both of my cookbooks focus on using common, inexpensive “everyday” ingredients and fast, no fuss recipes; but with perhaps more fervor in Everyday. I wrote the cookbook while living on a small Caribbean island where I had to cook three times a day, everyday (no veg restaurants or convenience foods) and had to work with ingredient limitations. Since everything had to be flown in to St. Maarten, what was available at the grocery store was always changing. Ingredients constantly ran out, and for weeks at a time. I had to find a way to make fresh, fast meals from whatever I had on hand…. this streamlined “make it work” approach is what led to Everyday.
TUV: The idea that eating a plant-based diet is expensive is something I hear quite often from people around me. What are some of your favorite, low-cost staples that you use in yourEveryday Happy Herbivore cookbook?
LN: Most of the recipes in Everyday cost less than $5 to make. I actually have a “budget-friendly” icon indicating which recipes are really inexpensive. Eating healthy, and plant-based can be a bargain.
TUV: The recipes in your cookbooks are low-fat or fat-free. What turned you off from cooking with oils and other products that add fat to meals? Additionally, what do you say to people who think that dishes can’t be flavorful without a little fat?
LN: I follow the McDougall Program — Dr. McDougall is famous for saying “the fat you eat is the fat you wear” — if you want to lose fat, don’t eat more of it… which certainly proved true for me. I lost a lot of weight when I stopped adding fat to my meals (I went from a 12 to a 4!). I stopped using oil specifically when I realized that 1 tbsp of oil had about the same amount of fat and calories as a snickers bar. If I don’t eat candy bars because I think they’re unhealthy, why was I adding their equivalent to my vegetables?!
As for taste… Oil.. butter…deep-fry… of course fat tastes good, you could deep fry a shoe and it would probably be pretty tasty; so I am not impressed by someone who has to rely on fats to make food taste good. If you want to impress me, make a meal without fat that’s delicious. If you think you can’t have flavor without the fat, you’re really missing out because fats often mute flavors since they coat your tongue–so you’re actually missing out on real flavors. Basically, food with fat is less flavorful by design.
TUV: What’s the best advice you have to offer those who are just starting to eat and cook more plant-based meals that can help simplify the process?
LN: Take it one meal at a time and remember that meals do not have to be elaborate or complex. A bean and rice burrito with salsa is great. So is a vegetable stir-fry with a little soy sauce.
TUV: On a separate note, I love the idea of the 1200 calorie meal plans that you discuss on your blog. 1200 calories is not a lot to work with, so where do you begin when you sit down to create a new one?
LN: You would be surprised at how much food you can have for 1200 calories if you’re eating wholesome plant foods. I can’t count the emails I get from people who say they are stuffed and can’t believe how satisfied they feel. It’s shocking how much food is involved — I pick healthy options that are filling but low cal.
So far over 120lbs have been lost by participants since we started a few weeks ago — and that’s just people who report it. But the plans aren’t just for those looking to lose. They’re for anyone — and the calories can be increased to meet anyones needs. It’s a great way to start a plant-based diet, all the guesswork is taken out.
Many thanks to Lindsay for all of the insight she provided in the interview! Now, for a peek at one of her recipes from the Everyday Happy Herbivore cookbook: Quick Burgers (pictured at the top of this post).
Quick Burgers | makes 4
I developed these burgers in a hotel room: they’re quick, easy and require very few ingredients. (In fact, except for the beans and a seasoning packet, I sourced all the ingredients from the complimentary “breakfast bar”). I make these burgers any time I need a super fast meal or I’m really low on ingredients.
15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp yellow mustard
1 tsp onion powder (granulated)
1 tsp garlic powder (granulated)
1/3 c instant oats
Preheat oven to 400F. Grease a cookie sheet or line with parchment paper and set aside. In a mixing bowl, mash black beans with a fork until mostly pureed but still some half beans and bean parts are left. Stir in condiments and spices until well combined. Then mix in oats.
Divide into 4 equal portions and shape into thin patties with your hands. Bake for 7 minutes, carefully flip over and bake for another 7 minutes, or until crusty on the outside. Slap into a bun with extra condiments and eat!Chef’s note: If you only have rolled oats, chop them up in a food processor or blender so they are smaller and more like instant oats. Rolled oats left whole tend to make the burgers fall apart.
Per Burger: 109 Calories, 0.5g Fat, 17.6g Carbohydrates, 3g Fiber, 2.2g Sugars, 5g Protein
Reprinted with permission from the author.
I love comfort food, so these burgers were a standout recipe for me. They are so quick and easy that you can make these instead of a prepackaged meal or ordering out on nights when you’re short on time!
Be sure to pick up your copy of Everyday Happy Herbivore
like asap! It would make a great gift for someone you know who doesn’t have a lot of time to spend in the kitchen (or it would be a perfect little gift to yourself this holiday season!).