Friday, October 28, 2011

The Happy Herbivore Cookbook Review (Vegan MoFo Day 28)

Lindsay S. Nixon created a cookbook that is a perfect example that a healthy, low-fat or fat-free vegan food doesn't have to be about eating cardboard and twigs, but rather enjoying delicious, comforting and beautiful meals and desserts.

I was very lucky to win this cookbook through a blog giveaway (on Jayedee's "Life in the lost world" blog), because I was not planning on buying it. I never though that I would EVER bake or sauté anything without the use of oil. I thought it was impossible and I was always worried that cooking and baking without oil would result in a major kitchen fail. That was the reason why I did not want to buy this cookbook, because I was skeptical and scared to cook without added oils and other fats. But shortly after I received the book, all my fears vanished. I am sure that there are other people who make a sour face when they see or hear the words fat-free or low-fat when it comes to a cookbook, but I promise you, you will not be disappointed with The Happy Herbivore Cookbook. I already pre-ordered Lindsay's upcoming cookbook "Everyday Happy Herbivore" .

I have made more than half of the recipes in The Happy Herbivore cookbook and I am slowly cooking and baking my way through it. I know some of the recipes by heart.

This cookbook has it all, from a vegan breakfast omelet "Nomelet" (page 17), autumn inspired Apple Crisp Muffins (page 40) and Pumpkin Bread (page 52), moist Black Bean Brownies (page 209), "meaty" Portobello Steaks (page 148), to comforting Fettuccine Alfredo (page 163) and decadent Strawberry Cupcakes (page 216).

Do you have a hard time getting certain vegan condiments, dressings or fake chicken and beef broth? No problem! You can make your own with The Happy Herbivore. Everything from Nacho Cheese Sauce (page 265), Tofu Ricotta Cheese (page 266), Vegan Mayo and Vegan Sour Cream (page 271), No-Beef Broth (page 279), No-Chicken Broth Powder (page 281) to Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (page 272).

The Happy Herbivore cookbook is full of recipes and great tips and advice for everyone from novice cooks, newbie vegans, to experienced chefs. Each recipe has little icons that suggest something special about the recipe, such as "Kid-friendly", "Omni-Friendly", "Gluten-Free", "Quick" and more.

I love, love, love cookbooks with pictures. The Happy Herbivore is full of colorful pictures :-) I eat with my eyes first and I get more motivated to try a new recipe when I see the picture first. Most cookbooks have few pages of pictures, but this one is full of beautiful pictures, which makes me really happy!

The Happy Herbivore features not only American dishes, but also Indian, Cajun, Ethiopian, Hawaiian, Mexican, and Italian dishes that will make your mouth water. Here are some of my favorite and most frequently made recipes so far.

Portobello Steaks (page 148) are so good that I always double the recipe. I have used them instead of burgers as well. They are "meaty", juicy, flavorful, and very satisfying.

I am very proud of my Czech vegan potato salad and very rarely make other potato salads, with the exception of this Lemon Dill "Potato Salad" (page 189). This salad is fresh, creamy and not too heavy. I love the idea of fresh dill and lemon, this combo gives it extra zing. I usually eat it just by itself, or as a side dish with grilled asparagus or other veggies.

When I first saw this recipe I though: "Yuck! Black beans in brownies?" Well, it turns out that Lindsay is a genius in the kitchen and this recipe is one of her best creations. I made it with oats and with flour and it always turned out nicely. I promise, you would never guess that there are beans in this chocolate brownies. When I first made it I used banana extract instead of vanilla extract and it was amazing, the chocolate and extra banana flavor together were perfect. It does not look thick but it is very filling.

This was one of the first recipes that I made. I saw the recipe picture for Fettuccine Alfredo (page 163) I was so excited to make this I could not wait and had to run into a store for a Silken Tofu that evening. This is soooooooooo good, I could literally bath in this sauce. I cannot even count how many times I made it. One time I even made Bacon Bits (page 137) on top of the pasta. I used crumbled up tempeh instead of TVP and it turned out wonderfully.

Traditional Stuffing (page 195) makes a perfect festive side dish. I served mine with fried seitan and a few times just by itself.

This are seriously the best Oatmeal Cookies (page 205) that I ever had! So moist, chewy and flavorful!

I wish this picture turned out as well as it looked in person, because this Frittata (page 15) was stunning! I used fresh spinach and fresh dill and it was very tasty.

Classic Baked Tofu (page 138) is a super easy and relatively quick way to prepare tasty tofu.
I brush mine with soy sauce so it takes a little longer to prepare, but if I marinade it overnight the flavor improves dramatically. I even add some lime juice or vinegar to the soy sauce for extra flavor experience.

Strawberry Cupcakes (216) are awesome! Sometimes I add some vegan cream cheese to the icing. I made it with raspberries, too. I used this recipe to make my dog's birthday cupcake and I did a guest blog post about it on When I made these cupcakes for the first time, I made a mistake and over-stirred the batter resulting in doughy and dense cupcakes. I learned from that mistake and next time only stirred the batter until just combined (as the recipe directions suggest). The cupcakes came out much better!

Mexican Chorizo (page 147) quickly turned into one of my frequently used recipes because it bursts with flavor. I make it with quinoa and TVP, which both result in amazing taste and texture. The top picture is made with quinoa and served over Cajun Home Fries (page 30) and the bottom picture is made with TVP and served over Tofu Scramble (page 18).
I cook this uncovered so the liquid cooks off faster. I have to admit, I am crazy about the simmering broth for this dish! I make more broth since I always end up eating some of it before I add the quinoa or TVP.

Another dish that I make often is Chickpeas and Dumplings (page 119), but the picture never turns out blog worthy. I make mine with carrots and green peas instead of the suggested mushrooms.

These are all the kitchen tools (plus a knife, pots and pans, baking sheet and whisk) that you need when preparing recipes from The Happy Herbivore. Nothing fancy or expensive, no crazy equipment necessary. This picture is courtesy of Lindsay. This is actually a very authentic picture of tools that Lindsay used in creating this cookbook. How cool is that??!! I bet I could find these in most city kitchens, as well as in beach houses and weekend mountain cottages. I love simplicity in the kitchen and hate buying and storing tools that I only use once or twice a year. This cookbook also uses ingredients that you can easily find almost anywhere and that will not cost you a fortune.
I am so happy that I have this cookbook. Even though I did not totally give up oil and fats, I am cooking more fat-free and low-fat foods now.
By the way, Lindsay is not only a wonderful, talented cook, she is also a kind-hearted, strong, motivated, supportive, encouraging, smart, compassionate and fun girl. I am honored and happy that I became friends with her. She is kind of a life coach for her devoted Herbies. She has brilliant ideas not just about cooking and food, but about organizing your home, minimizing clutter and eliminating negativity from your life and dealing with mean and negative people. Her blog posts are very inspirational and though provoking.

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