Sunday, December 8, 2013

Cookbook Review: Happy Herbivore Light & Lean

I am so excited to be posting today about a new cookbook: Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. I stumbled upon Happy Herbivore a few years back when the school I attended for my masters degree had the author (Lindsay Nixon) down for a cooking demonstration. Unfortunately I heard about the event after it had already happened so I was not able to attend. Years later I am inspired by Lindsay's recipes and website and I especially love her Minimalist Monday series. And it turns out... Lindsay and I have my alma mater in common! We both attended the College of Charleston in beautiful Charleston, SC. Needless to say, I'm a fan. When I heard about the opportunity to share a recipe with my blog readers I jumped at the chance.
Lindsay's new cookbook is pretty amazing. I was especially surprised to find that the recipes are organized by calorie count, a life saver for someone like me who swears by calorie counting to keep my eating in check. If I know I have 400 calories left for dinner I can easily find a recipe that fits within my limits. Lindsay also lists nutritional information and weight watchers points.

Below you will find the recipe for Soba Peanut Noodles from her new cookbook, and below that - a Q & A with Lindsay herself! Check it out!

Soba Peanut Noodles
Serves 2
Gluten-free, Quick, Budget

All the taste you love in creamy peanut noodles but with less fat and calories thanks to a surprise ingredient: vegan yogurt! I call this a “cheater” recipe since I use a dab of peanut butter, but it’s still light compared to most peanut noodle recipes.

4 oz buckwheat noodles (could sub spaghetti)
2 green onions, sliced cubed tofu or edamame (optional)
vegetables, like broccoli or cucumber (optional)

Creamy Peanut Sauce
2 tbsp plain vegan yogurt
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp sweet red chili sauce
few dashes garlic powder
few dashes ground ginger
1 tbsp rice vinegar
1–2 tsp low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
Asian hot sauce (e.g., Sriracha; optional)

Cook noodles according to package instructions, rinse under cold water in a colander, and chill in the fridge for a few minutes if you can. Meanwhile, whisk peanut sauce ingredients together. Taste, adding more soy sauce or tamari, garlic, onion, or hot sauce as desired. Toss noodles with sauce, then stir in green onion, tofu or edamame if using, and vegetables, if using.

Chef’s Note: Despite having “wheat” in the name, buckwheat flour is completely gluten-free. Just make sure your noodles are 100% buckwheat if you have an allergy or sensitivity.

Per serving
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .274
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47.5g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6.6g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.7g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10.4g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7

The Veg Review: Do you have any tips for being minimalist in the kitchen? (besides cleaning out drawers - which is great to do too!) 

Lindsay Nixon: Don’t stockpile. Only buy what you need. Never shop without a list. If you haven’t used it in 6 months, donate it. Never keep two of anything except for basic stuff like forks. Don’t buy random gadgets like an avocado peeler. Get things off the countertop! (See my minimalist monday posts for more ideas).

VR: What do you think having a minimalist attitude toward food looks like? I know many of us think about food often throughout the day which likely distracts from our productivity.

LN: I follow (and can’t recommend enough) my meal plans ( You shop and cook once a week. Then your meals are just ready for you. It takes a lot of the thinking and wondering away -- its already decided. AND you only buy what you need with no waste or spoilage. Super minimalist!

VR: What was your favorite holiday growing up? 

LN: My birthday, which I guess doesn’t really count—but it was the only day in the year I got to eat exactly what I wanted.

VR: Where does your recipe inspiration come from? 

LN: It’s a mixed bag. Sometimes I’ll pick up an ingredient and figure out a way to make something with it. Other times I’ll see something and want to recreate it at home. For example, when I was in Ireland I saw signs all over the place for Guinness stew or Irish stew. Of course it wasn’t vegan, or vegetarian, so I waited until I got home, learned about the traditional recipe, then made a plant-based version… and now it’s in Light & Lean!

Thanks for stopping by on your blog tour Lindsay! Stay tuned for more recipe reviews from the Happy Herbivore Light & Lean Cookbook in the next couple weeks. - The Veg Review

Thursday, December 5, 2013


I had a terrific Thanks-living this year. I was having a lot of anxiety about the holiday in general because I do not want to put anyone out with my "special needs" but at the same time, I want to feast! So this year I had the best of both worlds: I was able to run a 5k with my man in the morning, have an early (and quiet) T-day spread, then hit the road for some family time in the afternoon. It was perfect!

This is our second vegan Thanksgiving and we tried a Tofurky holiday roast for the first time. My husband seemed to love it, I would give it a 5/10. However, the roast came with the most delicious gravy I have had (even better than the meat based kind!). So that ups the rating to at least an 8/10. I found it for about $10 at Target. 

We also made Mac and Teese (amazing stuff, if you haven't tried Teese yet... you must!), mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, and a really yummy balsamic vinaigrette/cashew/dried cranberries/croutons/spinach salad. Top it off with a little wine and cookies for dessert = the perfect combination! My only regret is all the yellow on our plate - green beans might have been a better aesthetic choice (over corn). 


What was your favorite part of Thanks-living this year? 

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Raw Thanksgiving Demo and the Fly Trap Restaurant Review

A few weeks ago I attended my second raw vegan cooking demo. The food did not disappoint! When I arrived there was a delicious salad waiting for us with nuts, dried cranberries, and a maple balsamic dressing (recipe here). So delicious! The cooking demo was put on by an undergraduate named Katie. You should check out her blog here, she does excellent work! She is an upbeat ambassador to the raw and vegan food lifestyle.

We ate cauliflower mashed potatoes, mushroom gravy, cranberry relish (so good), squash soup, and sweet potato casserole. All RAW!
Sweet potato casserole and cranberry relish

By far my favorite part was dessert. Pumpkin Pie! Check out this beauty (well maybe the beauty is really in the taste...):

Click here for her "Fully Raw Pumpkin Pie" recipe. 

Even more important than the food - after the demo was done and we were enjoying the pie, Katie asked us to each share how we were going to stay healthy this holiday season. When it was Katie's turn she said she was going to suggest doing active activities with family members when they spend time together. Rather than watching a movie - take a walk! I love that idea. Plus, walking and talking is much better bonding time than watching TV!

I put her advice to work when I visited Detroit recently. I asked the friend I was visiting there to walk with me to breakfast and she was game! We went to the Fly Trap in Ferndale, MI. The place is small but we did not have to wait long. I ordered the vegan Veggie Rumble (sub tofu and no eggs) and the mini muffin of the day.

Unfortunately I did not take a picture of my breakfast but it was very good! I would recommend it. Next time I would order no mushrooms. Why are mushrooms considered "seasonal vegetables" to most people?? The Reeses inspired muffin was extra good. And you can't beat the totally hipster-chic salt and pepper shakers on each table. Ours were a pair of dogs (cats?) in sailor outfits!

How are you planning to stay healthy this holiday season? Fly Trap on Urbanspoon

Thursday, November 14, 2013


T.J.'s Magnificent Black Bean Burgers! 

1 can of black beans rinsed and drained, then mashed
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 cup of spinach
1 handful of various chopped vegetables (broccoli, tomato, zucchini, carrot, etc.)
1 small handful oats
1/8 cup flour
1 Tbl Olive oil
1 spoonful Veganiase
Salt, pepper, a dash of cayenne, and whatever else is on hand! Get creative with it.

Ninja together (or food process) the veggies until they are well chopped but not pureed, then add the mashed beans. Pulse and avoid over blending once the beans are in. Form into patties and fry them up on the stove with a tablespoon of olive oil over medium heat. Use more flour if the mix is too thin.
Top with veggie "cheese" slices and guacamole for extra points.

What do you throw in your black bean burger mix? Where did you have the best black bean burger of your life? Mine was right here in my kitchen. My husband sure does make a mean black bean burger!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Recipe Review: Cookie Dough Dip

Chocolate Covered Katie's Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Dip is delish! A big hit with adults, kids, and everyone in between. I have made this dip twice and it is super easy. The recipe scores an 8/10 easily in my book. The only downside is that I have to try and not eat the whole bowl. You can find the recipe here. I just threw all the ingredients except the chocolate chips in my ninja and ninja'd for a good long time to smooth everything out.

The dip looks a little runny in these pictures but you can just pop it in the fridge for 30-60 minutes and it thickens up. Serve with graham crackers. Just be sure to keep the secret ingredient a secret... chick peas!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Recipe Review: Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Muffins

Fall is in the air... and I had some left over pumpkin to use after I made chocolate chip pumpkin brownies last week...

And so we have chocolate chip pumpkin muffins! I found the recipe here (and you can too) from All Recipes. These muffins are moist, thick, chocolatey, and delicious. Super bonus: they are also low fat. The pumpkin takes the place of any oil or butter.

I followed the recipe almost exactly but I used white wheat flour, mini-chocolate chips, and sprinkled a little cinnamon sugar mix on top.

I give this recipe a 6/10. I love the festiveness of the orange muffin, but I prefer my muffins filled with fruit instead. :-) Also, after the muffin cooled it was a big spongey. It is great for the season though. I love that a muffin is practically a dessert that can pass as a good breakfast option too.

Happy Fall! I hope you all are staying warm. I'm using my oven as much as possible to help heat up the house!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Charleston Vegan Eats: Five Loaves Cafe & Mellow Mushroom

Can I just take a moment to say how beautiful Charleston is? Arguably one of the most beautiful places in the U.S. Look at this college campus! Can you imagine going to school here and then moving to INDIANA? 

While downtown Charleston a couple weeks ago we decided to check out Five Loaves Cafe. This place is good... especially if you are NOT a vegan. But it worked for us. We ordered the only 2 veganish items on the menu: Sweet Chili Glazed Eggplant Wrap and the Mediterranean Garden Wrap. They were both pretty good, but definitely not the highest highlight of our trip.

The place was pretty cute but I was so hungry I forgot to take pics of the food. So instead you get a pic of the table with a nice Lucille Ball quote on it!

One of the nights we needed a late night snack and I had heard a rumor that Mellow Mushroom had vegan cheese. The rumor was true! And the pizza was pretty stinking good. This is only the second restaurant made vegan-cheese pizza we have had, so it really was a treat for us! It has Daiya cheese and sun dried tomatoes on it.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Chocolate Chip Pumpkin Brownies

I found this fall-appropriate brownie recipe just in time for the cool weather to come rolling it. These brownies are so fudgey and delicious! Another great recipe from Chocolate Covered Katie. You can find it publicly posted here.

I give this recipe an 8/10. It was very easy and quick. I used all-purpose white flour instead of ww pastry flour and baked my brownies a little longer than Katie suggested: about 27 minutes at 330 degrees. My husband voted for a 7/10. After I tell him what is in the recipe he always changes his mind a little. I did add a little squirt of Hersey chocolate syrup before I baked these - a brownie habit (HFCS!) that is hard to break.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Vegan in Kalamazoo: The Crow's Nest

The Queen Anne's Revenge at the Crow's Nest in Kalamazoo might seriously be my favorite vegan meal of all time. I would eat this stuff all day and all night if I could! 

Queen Anne's revenge is a scramble of vegan pesto, sun dried tomatoes, tofu, zucchini, onion, and mushrooms in it. The Crow's Nest serves it as a huge helping with hashbrowns and toast. 

They also have a coffee shop downstairs with vegan desserts, breads, and of course coffee. I had a vegan "Dirty Chai." If you don't know, a dirty chai has a shot of espresso in it! What could be better?

One last note about the Crow's Nest. I read on Urbanspoon a lot of hating on the place for poor service, bad atmosphere, etc. To be honest, I love the service there. It can be a little spotty but it is such a neat little place with a great atmosphere, I don't mind it at all. Don't go there if you are in a rush. To be fair, I took my dad there once and he will never go back. We went at a busy time and were too close to a group of loud women + he wasn't too hip on the atmosphere for some reason. Not his scene I guess!

Crow's Nest on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 4, 2013

Recipe Review: Cheezy Broccoli Orzo

Time and again I have been disappointed by "cheezy" sauce recipes or mixes or jars. I am happy to announce that today I finally made one that is as good as it looks! I made just a few slight variations to this recipe which can be found posted publicly here on My Vegan Cookbook or pinned to my Vegan Recipe Pinterest board here.

First, I omitted onion powder because we didn't have any, second, I added a squirt of Dijon mustard and third, I cut the amount of nutritional yeast in half (because I'm not a huge nooch fan!). I also steamed (instead of boiled) extra broccoli because I love love broccoli!

I give this recipe a 10/10. It is so creamy and comforting. I hope it heats up well... I'll get back to you on that. I think this would make a really great side dish or even an entree. I ate it by itself for lunch today. It reminds me a lot of non-vegan broccoli rice casserole but even better.

P.S. Isn't orzo amazing?

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Charleston Vegan Eats: Puree

Next on our journey through vegan cuisine in Charleston, SC was Puree Cafe, an adorable little restaurant in Mt. Pleasant. The service was great and the atmosphere was very clean, crisp, and fresh feeling. My husband did say it was a little offensive to his manliness (not all vegans/vegetarians are chicks ya know!) but I thought it was charming.

T.J. ordered the BBQ tempeh sausage burger with lentil salad on the side (both were delish!)

I got the tofu scrambler with pesto toast. I think I would have preferred jam on my toast because I like to do a little salty a little sweet, but it was very good. The tofu chunks were a little big for my taste, but overall a healthy and hearty lunch.

We topped it all off with a little key lime cheesecake, because when in the South I must eat key lime something! The only drawback to this place was the price tag. If I still lived in CHS there is no way we could afford to eat here often. But since it was on vacation, why not! 

Puree Organic Cafe on Urbanspoon

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Dairy-Free Yogurt at TCBY

I have literally been searching for a TCBY that a) has the new Silk chocolate almond flavor soft serve yogurt and b) hasn't sold out of it already! I went to 4 TCBY's in 3 different cities before I found it, but this weekend I finally did! It was just as good as it sounds. It has been a long long time since I have had the pleasure of soft serve. It kind of reminded me of something I have had before (not ice cream), maybe a fudge-sicle? A friend went with me and said it reminded her of a Wendy's frosty.

All said, it was good but not worth searching 3 cities for. A win for vegans everywhere though!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Charleston Vegan Eats: The Sprout

I recently spent some time in Charleston, SC, a place I used to call home. Back when I lived there I was a vegetarian, not a vegan, and already found it to be pretty non-veg friendly. I am happy to report that is beginning to change! The area now boasts a couple of all vegetarian restaurants and more veg-friendliness all around. They even have a Whole Foods.

The first spot I tried during this trip was called The Sprout. Online this place looked great. When we arrived we realized it is inside a gym! Like those smoothie places they put in gyms sometimes. But a little better than that. It had its own entrance and we chose to sit outside (because the inside was blaring gym music and smelled a bit like a gym). The food was good but not spectacular. I ordered the taco lunch so I could try a couple different things. I had the organic seared tofu taco and the avocado and black bean taco. Both were pretty good. The side salad it came with was good too. My husband ordered the walnut burger which came on sandwich bread... but was otherwise pretty tasty.

A truly healthy meal on vacation!

Finally, we ordered a vegan doughnut for dessert. Which was the highlight of the meal! :-)
If you are looking to eat a meal you can feel good about while in Charleston, I recommend this place all the way. I even lost weight on this trip we ate so well!

Sprout on Urbanspoon