Friday, August 19, 2011

Happy Herbivore: Best, most versatile cookbook since Moosewood

 "Mock Tuna Salad" from The Happy Herbivore website

"Let's cook something out of Happy Herbivore when Jack's family comes," my husband Ken suggested. "It's so nice to finally have a book of easy vegan recipes."

Ken didn't know I'd been asked to review the The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay Nixon, or was even interested in his opinion. But I was glad to hear it, and I totally share his enthusiasm for the book. This is the book we've been waiting for since the classic original Moosewood Cookbook - and even better, because The Happy Herbivore is low-fat and vegan, not just vegetarian.

We've been eating meatless and mostly vegan at our house for 13 years. We've boiled our rotation down to about 15 meals; we keep these recipes in a tattered folder on top the fridge. Occasionally our daughter Sadie, the creative cook, has warmed us to recipes with new ingredients - quinoa, red lentils, nutritional yeast. She and I co-authored the book Veggie Revolution a few years ago, which is in part a vegetarian recipe book, but is more an expose of local factory farms and an alternate look at small, humane, and green farms.  Sadie's one of the best cooks I know, and when she saw my copy of Happy Herbivore, she was determined to get one herself.  She's subsequently written a great review of the book on our blog.

Features of Nixon's book that won us over, that make The Happy Herbivore easy to use:

1. Beautiful layout, with delectable color photos of most dishes.
2. Nutritional info given on each recipe page: calories, calories from fat, total fat, protein, cholesterol, dietary fiber, total carbs, sugar.
3. Easy browsing due to 7 symbols on each recipe: no cooking required, kid-friendly, gluten-free, fat-free, soy-free, and omni-friendly (favorites of meat-eaters).
4. Inclusion of recipes for sauces, condiments, and spices needed for other recipes - to eliminate searching for hard-to-find vegan ingredients.  This is a tremendous asset.
5. Thorough coverage of food types, with 12 categories in the table of contents, including: Breakfast and Brunch; Muffins and Breads; Soups, Dals and Chilis; Pasta and Casseroles; Burgers, Wraps, Tacos, and More; Quick One-Pot Dinners; Tofu and Vegan Meats; Desserts; and so on.
6. 175 recipes!  And every single one looks good!

The section that intrigues me most is Tofu and Vegan Meats. Check out Nixon's "Mock Tuna Salad" recipe on her website. Ken and I spend a lot of money on "fake meats".  Now we can make our own! Sadie's already made the "Chicken-Style Seitan" and gave it an A+.  Ken already made "Breakfast Sausage Patties" (excellent) and we'll make the "TVP Beef Crumbles" later this week. TVP is cheap. Crumbles are not. Yay! I like saving money.

Last night we made Nixon's "Broccoli Pesto Pasta." We grow basil and make pesto pizzas all the time, which are probably my favorite entree ever. But I have to say the Broccoli Pesto Pizza is a close rival. And low-fat! Unlike the pizza. We got in a little debate after the broccoli pasta dish about who would get to eat the leftover for lunch.

For our visitors I mentioned in the opening sentence, we wound up making "Enchilada Casserole." Also Nixon's "Enchilada Sauce" and "Quick Queso Sauce," which are in her "Spreads, Gravies, and Sauces" section and part of the recipe.  The casserole and sauces were exceptionally yummy, and we're still eating the leftovers. As our guests stood up to leave, Danela said "I loved that casserole - the cheese was so good!" Ken told her, "There was no cheese, that taste was nutritional yeast." There was a momentary silence of bafflement; it was a fun opportunity to educate some non-vegans! Who needs cheese? Who needs to contribute to exploitive and polluting mega-dairies? Nutritional yeast - much more wholesome.

I look forward to enjoying new and scrumptious meals and feeling guilt-free about every bite with the The Happy Herbivore.

Keywords: vegan Happy Herbivore Lindsay Nixon vegan cookbook vegetarian cookbook fat-free cookbook low-fat cookbook great cookbook vegan recipes vegetarian recipes meatless recipes

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