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The Happy Herbivore stops by!

If you have not heard of the Happy Herbivore or her awesome recipes yet, you are truly missing out.  To get you all properly introduced, she has offered to answer some questions for me and shares one of her recipes with you too!

Meet Lindsay, the Happy Herbivore 🙂

The Interview

See Sarah Eat: How did you become vegan?

Happy Herbivore: I went vegan while on vacation in San Fran in Dec 2006. I’d been
vegetarian on and off my entire life, (and had been veg for about year
consistently by then). I’d heard so much about veganism; all these
health benefits, that I was curious, but worried it would be too hard
where I lived. Since SF is a vegan’s town I figured I might as well
experiment where it was “easy.” I felt so good, that I stuck with it
when I got home. Seeing huge, positive changes in me — more energy,
no tummy troubles, weight-loss, clear skin, kept me going and then
when I found out about all the horrors of the dairy and egg
industries, I knew I’d be vegan for life.

SSE: Amen to that! So, what do you think are some of the biggest challenges to eating a vegan diet?

HH: You have to give up a sense of convenience, which is not necessarily a
bad thing. In my early months as a vegan I was annoyed that I could
no-longer just grab a slice of pizza, or a muffin at starbucks; I had
to pack my lunch… but one thing I’ve realized is how GOOD that is. I
used to eat out a lot and my wallet and waste line suffered for it.
Being vegan really does help me stay on track and make good choices.

SSE: What inspired you to write your own cookbook?

HH: When the opportunity presented itself, I wasn’t entirely sure I even
wanted to write one. I’d been considering it, and had just started
looking into it when I met my publisher haphazardly, but once the
project started going I got really into it. I realized it was the
opportunity I’d been waiting for: to show people that eating
vegan–and eating healthy–is easy, approachable, affordable and
delicious!

SSE: What is your favorite recipe that you have created?

HH: My favorites come and go in waves. Last week I was obsessed with the
nacho cheese sauce but right now I would give just about anything for
a carrot cake cupcake.

SSE: What new recipes/projects are you working on now?

HH: I’m in the middle of writing my second cookbook, and after that I’ll
write my third cookbook and after that, I plan to open my own
restaurant, or something. I’d really like to be on TV too! I guess I
have a lot of aspirations!

That she does!

Thank you Lindsay for answering my questions and for being an inspiration and a big help to me when I went vegan. Your recipes are some of my all time favorites (mmm, meatloaf) and I definitely credit you for helping me realize that vegan cooking doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive 🙂

Make this recipe!

Lindsay is generously allowing me to share one of her recipes with you guys, which I hope you will all go home and make right now. Seriously, this stuff sounds delicious!

Quick Queso (makes 1 cup) – Lindsay says: “It’s okay to go at this sauce with a spoon. I won’t judge.” 😉

1 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/3 cup nutritional yeast
2 tbsp whole wheat flour
1 tsp granulated onion powder
1/2 tsp granulated garlic powder
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp paprika
1/4 tsp chili powder or cayenne (optional)
1/4 tsp salt, or to taste

Whisk all ingredients together in a sauce pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat, stirring often until thick. Serve immediately.

Note: Gluten-free flours or blends may be substituted, such as chickpea flour. Also, add a 1 10-ounce can of Rotel tomatoes with green chilies for a Mexican Queso twist.

Quick Queso

Photo credit: Happy Herbivore flickr page

Biographical notes

Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay’s recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women’s Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at happyherbivore.com

30 Whole Days – Day 1

In my last post, I discussed how I have decided to go forward with a 30 day whole foods challenge started by Happy Herbivore.

As I was preparing for this challenge, I couldn’t help but think it’s amazing how much my personal food philosophy has changed over the years.

I first got “healthy” in 2007 by making lots of lifestyle changes (drinking water, cutting out fast food, exercising, etc.) and lost a lot of weight in the process. But it wasn’t until later that I learned about things like artificial sweeteners, which prompted me to switch to a “crap free” approach to eating.

Then in late 2009, I decided to give vegan a shot after going back and forth with vegetarianism for over a year and now here I am. This challenge is just a reminder that I need to eat whole foods and not rely on processed stuff, no matter what my diet preferences.

I feel like the first day went really well!

For breakfast, I had oats (cooked with unsweetened rice milk) with banana and Krema natural peanut butter (which is made of just peanuts).

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Then I went out and did some shopping with my mom where I enjoyed a black Starbucks coffee (which I haven’t done in a while—I’d gotten hooked on their soy milk).

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I didn’t feel the need for a snack so I just ate lunch when I got hungry. I made some leftover vegetarian baked beans poured on top of a sweet potato and some leftover green beans.

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And later, I snacked on an organic Pink Lady apple before heading to a Derby party.

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I was a little nervous about the party food, but I have to say this challenge has given me more will power, at least today!

I snacked on lots of veggies with salsa and some fruit.

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And since everyone else was eating BBQ and chicken salad, I brought my own black bean burger which I laid on top of salad greens and topped with more salsa 🙂

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While the salsa was technically processed, it was all natural and was a lot better choice than some of the other dips or dressings I could’ve used.

I snacked on a few banana slices and carrots while we were there. One thing I didn’t plan on was the one cup of Coke Zero I had. But I think I’m getting over it – my stomach got upset and I got a headache after I drank it. Hmm…I had water the rest of the time!

When I got home later tonight, I felt hungry and knew I was low on grains for the day, so I had a small cup of oatmeal with peanut butter and some peppermint tea.

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I’m sure I am going to face more challenges, but one day in I have to say: so far, so good.

The “30 Whole Days” Challenge

Tomorrow is May 1st. Do you know what that means?

Well around here it is Derby Day, but that’s not really my cup of tea.

Instead, I will be celebrating the first of the month by beginning the Happy Herbivore 30 Whole Days blogger challenge.

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So, what’s the challenge? Eat no processed foods for 30 days!

Why would I want to do this challenge?

I like to think that I eat pretty “whole” already but there are still things that make their way into my pantry or freezer that are processed, like a frozen dinner here or a can of soup there. These will be easy to avoid.

But the real challenge is going to be the foods I didn’t even think of as being processed — like tofu, sweetened soy milk, and peanut butter that contains more than just peanuts!

I think it is important for all of us to reduce our intake of processed foods as much as possible. Even if they are “healthy” they still often contain added sugars, salt, and other additives that we just don’t need.

I also plan to take this opportunity to finally kick some nasty habits that keep creeping back into my life (diet soda, sugarless gum, etc). Perhaps I’ll even try to cut back on that second cup of coffee.

I have a lot of events coming up this month that are going to make things interesting. My birthday is next week and my best friend is going to make me vegan cupcakes! No way am I missing that. 🙂

I also have a few parties to go to for graduations, weddings, and whatnot. The good thing about parties though is there are usually fruit and vegetable trays and I can make and bring a dish or two.

I’m also going to exclude Wednesday night potluck dinners from the challenge because my girls have been accommodating enough since I went vegan in October, I don’t want to put any more pressure on them. I can make adjustments on my own, like skipping the bread or bringing fruit for dessert.

As the HH says herself, “the goal is not to make this so extreme it becomes impossible.” So I will just be doing the best that I can and hopefully learning a lot in the process (ha, no pun intended).

If you want to know more or are interested in joining this challenge yourself, check out this blog post or go directly to our Google Group and get ready!

Happy Herbivore’s Vegan Corndogs

When I first decided to go vegan, I was not very creative when it came to my meals and I worried I would get bored from eating the same things all the time or relying too much on frozen meals.

Thankfully, it wasn’t long after I started my journey that I found the Happy Herbivore blog and her incredibly easy and tasty recipes!

Last night, I made her Baked Vegan Corndogs for the girls to take to our Wednesday Night Potluck.

I only had to buy a couple ingredients, including the dogs, dry mustard and onion powder.

And finally, after 7 months of vegan eating, I purchased my first box of Ener-G Egg replacer!

The box costs about $5, but there are 113 servings in the box! This is equivalent to 113 eggs!! It’s CHEAPER THAN EGGS! This box should last me a while 🙂

I followed the recipe exactly, which I rarely do. But, I still had a hard time getting the batter to coat the Smart Dogs, so it took a little effort and getting my hands dirty.

I also got the batter to cover 8 dogs, instead of the 6 called for by the recipe.

While they were cooking in the oven, I couldn’t believe how much my apartment smelled like “real” corndogs! I knew we were in for a treat.

When the corndogs came out, the coating wasn’t the prettiest and it had cracked in a few places.

But, I am pleased to say that these tasted very good. I tasted one first to make sure they were edible 😉

I never doubted it! Every recipe from Happy Herbivore I have tried has been great. I can’t wait for her cookbook to come out next year, I will be purchasing it for sure 🙂

To go with our “dogs” we had sweet potato fries, mixed vegetables…

and white wine.

Then for dessert, “sparkling” pink wine and a Tofutti mini ice cream sandwich.

Rewind

On my way home from work I was hungry (and thirsty!) so I stopped at Whole Foods and picked up a snack 🙂

This tea was okay, but not as “refreshing” as I had hoped for. I think next time I’ll just get a venti iced green tea from Starbucks 😉

Hungry runner

Hello!

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This little guy (think it was a possum) was sitting outside our building this morning when I came into work. I’d seen it once before on the other side of campus!

I tried to get him to turn around but he couldn’t hear me tapping on the glass (I so would not have taken this if there weren’t glass between us, ha ha). I never thought I’d say this about a possum, but it was cute 😉

Breakfast this morning was oats in a jar again!

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I snacked on some chips, fruit and veggies at a work party. Then a couple hours later it was lunch time!

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These soups were on sale at Whole Foods this weekend. I can’t remember if I’d already had it before but I decided to try it anyway.

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The soup was delicious! I loved the chunks of carrots in there too.

I snacked on this yogurt + granola to fuel me for my accidental 5 mile run this afternoon!

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When I got home, I made Happy Herbivore’s refried bean cakes for dinner.

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I topped a few of these with some spicy salsa and had some veggies and a slice of toast with Smart Balance on the side.

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A little while after dinner, I was hungry again thanks to running so much today!

I decided to make exactly what I was craving…a mini serving of oats with dark chocolate dreams 🙂

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Thankfully that seemed to do the trick, plus lots of water. I’m ready for some tea and Jack Bauer now!

Is there an animal people usually see as gross or scary that you think is cute?

Apparently, I’m a possum lover 😉

Sharing a vegan dinner

When I first transitioned to eating a vegan diet, I was a little afraid of how some of my friends and family would respond.

I’ve always liked making healthy dishes and sharing them with whomever would try them, and my best friend Court is always game for whatever I make. She’s awesome like that.

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So last night, I busted out the recipe for Happy Herbivore’s vegan meatloaf and mashed potatoes. You will recall, I made the faux meatloaf several weeks ago for my other omni friend Renee and it was awesome!

This time, I added green peppers but kept everything else the same (note: I almost always sub oats for bread crumbs).

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This was my first time making the vegan mashed potatoes and it was so easy. I also used a little Smart Balance Light since it is vegan!

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They turned out kind of spicy (think it was the garlic powder) but that was a good thing. Yum!

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I steamed my broccoli in my steamer and I have to say, I don’t want to buy frozen vegetables anymore! Something about buying fresh veggies and steaming them not only tastes good but makes me feel good too.

Courtney said everything was really good and that I should make this for our Wednesday night potluck soon 😉

She brought over this delicious wine from Argentina.

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I thought I had never had Argentinean wine before but apparently the Gato Negro I had the other night is also from there…I didn’t even look, ha ha.

This wine was really good, I have to say it rivals the Yellowtail Shiraz for me, which is a current favorite. Plus what a cute name and label (they get me every time).

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We had fun watching the UFC and spending time together. What a great weekend this has been, truly.

I can’t wait to start a new week though, time to pile on some more miles!

I also have an Exercise Science exam tomorrow but I’m taking the approach I did with the first one, just reviewing my notes and not trying to memorize everything like I did on the second test. I did much better the first time because of that!

How do you study? Do you do better when you study over the course of a few days, using flashcards and memorization? Or are you better just reviewing, winging it and counting on a good night’s sleep to help your brain retain the information?

I’m in the latter group there. It’s weird but procrastination and not preparing too much pays off for me. Ha ha.

HH’s Gingerbread French Toast

As usual on Saturday morning, I wanted a “special” breakfast. Luckily I had seen this post on Happy Herbivore for Gingerbread French Toast. Yes, please!

I threw all the ingredients together (I quartered the recipe to make just 2 pieces) and started cooking.

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Of course, as I expected, this recipe came out delicious! I loved the hints of ginger, which were not overwhelming (even though I love ginger) and I added some powdered sugar on top just for the heck of it 😉

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On the side I had a banana with peanut butter and some coffee with light vanilla soymilk. I got vanilla this time because it’s more flavor for only 1 more gram of sugar and 10 more calories. 

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This was seriously the best breakfast! Makes me wonder why I made boring old French toast with eggs for so many years.

After breakfast, I went grocery shopping and got all this stuff for about $55. I went a bit over our budget this week 😦

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I’ve had quite an exciting day and there’s more to come. Be back soon!

Day 26: Making adjustments

I just realized that today is exactly ONE MONTH UNTIL THANKSGIVING!

This has made me realize that I have been indulging in some things lately that I don’t usually and it’s time to make some adjustments before we get into the holiday season.

To start the day off, I had some healthy, filling oatmeal with apples, cinnamon and peanut butter for breakfast.

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I decided to give the Pumpkin Spice Silk another try so I heated up about 1/2 cup and then poured coffee on top of it.

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BINGO! This tasted great and what a more affordable (and vegan) way to enjoy pumpkin in my coffee 🙂 Next I’m going to have to try Mama Pea’s version!

Snacked on some peanuts for the first time in a while (for me).

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Then for lunch,  I had leftover Vegan Refried Bean cakes which I turned into a sandwich with some spicy mustard!

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I also had some carrots and a new type of hummus on the side.

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I picked this up at Whole Foods over the weekend. Once again, it was just okay. I’m going back to the good stuff after this 😉

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After lunch,  I went to class and tried not to fall asleep. I managed but I still yawned quite a bit. Exercise Science is an interesting field to me but we’re still making our way through all the body systems and I’m finding it rather dull.

Later in the afternoon, I snacked on some soy yogurt.

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This stuff was way too sweet and made me realize that I have been consuming more sugar lately than I am used to. There’s one adjustment I’d like to make. I need to find a good brand that has lower sugar. Some are better than others. And I definitely need to stick to plain and put my own stuff in it.

After work, I went for a 4 mile walk. I had it on my “agenda” to run tonight but it was one of those days where I walk just sounded like a better idea. I really enjoyed it and my legs are definitely still tired!

For dinner, I was having a major bread craving, so I made this ciabatta loaf I picked up at Kroger (take and heat):

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I also made a nice salad of Italian style greens and a drizzle of Italian dressing.

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Then I heated up some leftover Hot Tamale Vegetable Pie with a side of bread 🙂

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All together now…

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I’m so glad I took the time to figure out what I wanted and made a healthy and enjoyable dinner. The only thing missing was some good wine, but that is another thing I am trying to keep to a minimum. I am secretly hoping somebody brings some on Wednesday at Girl’s Night 🙂

With just one month until Thanksgiving, what goals are you hoping to work on?

I’ve also decided to join Caitlin, Bobbi, and many others in the Pile on the Miles challenge that begins on November 1st!

While I have no goal of winning this thing, since there are some really dedicated runners in this group, I do want to make it a goal for myself to get in lots of miles, either through walking or running, between now and Thanksgiving.

This is why I love Mondays, ends of months, and beginnings of new ones. Let’s get to it!

Day 24.2: Fall flavors

I ended up going to Whole Foods, Valu Market and Kroger before my grocery shopping extravaganza was finished! I went a little over my budget (which was $40) but I splurged on a couple of seasonal items 🙂

This is why I love Fall!

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There is also a “Nog” flavor that I will be getting closer to Christmas time.

I’ve been on the search for pumpkin butter for a while too and I finally found this little gem, which just happens to be local (from Hazard, KY) which makes it that much better!

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These apples were no splurge, I got 3 lbs for $1.50!

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When I got home, I was starving for lunch, so I had some leftover Vegan Refried Bean Cakes that I turned into a wrap when I topped them with salsa on a tortilla.

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Then I had some carrots and hummus on the side to round out my meal. I really enjoyed this!

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After shopping at all those places, I think I want to try and get more stuff from Whole Foods next time. They had a lot of winter squash on sale and also avocados for $1 each! I passed those up this time, but I did find peanut butter for $1.79, a new kind of hummus to try and of course the Silk Pumpkin Spice. I will be using that in my coffee tomorrow morning!

There were a lot of things that were more expensive though, like bread, lunchmeat, etc. that I buy for Josh so I doubt I will ever do all of my shopping there but maybe when we have a bigger budget.

I actually found some really great things at Valu Market, especially produce! So I think next week I may try to do Whole Foods + Valu only, we’ll see.

It’s time to go be crazy with Courtney at the Halloween stores!

Hope you have a wonderful day 🙂

Day 22.2: In need of rest

For lunch today, I had leftover Vegan Red Beans & Rice, the last serving (sniff, sniff). I can’t wait to make this dish again and perhaps make some modifications (or perhaps get that Adobo seasoning)!

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For my afternoon snack, I unintentionally had 2 tbsp peanut butter. It just sounded better than peanuts and it was already there 😉

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I was scheduled to work out with Farrah today to do a short run and some weights but something came up on both our ends, so I decided to go home early and enjoy a night of relaxation 🙂

Self-realization #2 – I love to cook!

I have yet to make up my own recipes but I love trying out what others have created and sometimes putting my own twist on them. Especially when I have the time to just take it easy and prepare a good meal…there’s nothing quite like it.

Tonight, I tried another Happy Herbivore selection…Vegan Refried Bean Cakes!

I used just regular vegetarian refried beans and I substituted oats for the bread crumbs, like I did with the vegan meatloaf.

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I also finished off the wine from Tuesday night while cooking, that’s a good way to relax too 🙂

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And here are the little cakes when they came out of the oven.

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I was really hungry by the time dinner was done, so I piled a few on my plate and went back for seconds later. I actually nibbled at the veggies before the cakes were done so there were more there originally 😉

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There are still enough left for another serving or two, yay!

For dessert, I had some So Delicious peanut butter zig zag. It’s my favorite, officially.

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I usually don’t eat dessert this much but thanks to my friends, I have a freezer full of So Delicious treats. I think they should just make a container of peanut butter So Delicious now that I think of it. Can they get on that?

I’ve been sitting on the couch most of the night and I think I will do a load of dishes and laundry before the Jeff Dunham show comes on, then after that hit the hay.

It was nice to take a day off from exercise. I love it and it is a big part of my life but sometimes we need a break.

I don’t want to overdo it and miss out on good workouts like my run yesterday. My hips are still kind of sore. But I should be good to go tomorrow!

And put my alarm clock across the room before I go to sleep! See how sneaky the dog is then…

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Good night!