Today I am excited to present a review of Lindsay S. Nixon’s fourth cookbook, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. Below, you can read my thoughts on the book, check out a Q&A I had with the author, and score a free recipe from the book! AND the publisher, BenBella Books, Inc., has generously offered to give away a copy to one of my readers! Please read through the post to find out how to enter to win. [Disclaimer: I was provided a free copy of the book to review. I have received no other compensation for this post, and all thoughts and opinions are my own.]
The name Happy Herbivore is probably familiar to most of you. Lindsay S. Nixon, the savvy lady behind the elephant, is a strong proponent of a no-oil, plant-based diet. Her three previous cookbooks (Happy Herbivore Cookbook, Everyday Happy Herbivore, and Happy Herbivore Abroad) have been extremely successful, and she also provides a weekly meal plan service designed to help people lose weight and stave off disease with a diet comprised of unprocessed, whole foods.
Her newest venture, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean, provides over 150 plant-based recipes, all of which use no oil and are 350 calories or less. A former personal trainer, she has also included a whole section on fitness!
While I personally do not follow a no-oil diet, I am always looking for ways to eat healthier and incorporate more whole plant foods into my daily menu. I have generally found the Happy Herbivore cookbooks and blog to be valuable resources and an inspiration for cleaner eating. And I have to say, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean may be the best resource yet.
For a start, I can pretty much open up the book to any page and be able to make the recipe using stuff I already have in my kitchen. Both the ingredients lists and the recipe instructions are short, sensible, and straightforward. This is a huge plus for me on weeknights when I don’t have a lot of time to shop or cook.
“Cheater” Peanut Butter Muffins (p.43). These were so easy, and were perfect for H and me to grab on our way out the door for work. They do taste pretty healthy (not necessarily a bad thing!) but they are quite satisfying. As you can see, I “cheated” a little more and added chocolate chips to 4 of them to make them more appealing to my man :)
Creamy Kale Salad (p. 180). So normally when a cookbook has a salad recipe I’m like, “Why do I need this?” But this one caught my eye because it employs a new-to-me technique of massaging hummus into the kale. The result is a giant (like, really big) bowl of totally palatable raw kale goodness. I’ve made this for dinner at least 5 times since I got the book.
In addition to the simplicity of the recipes, I feel like this book is a money saver as well. No fancy ingredients or equipment are required. There is even an entire section entitled “Do-It-Yourself” which includes instructions for making things like ketchup, vegan worcestershire sauce, and no-chicken broth powder from things you probably already have in your kitchen.
Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to have quick, healthy, no-fuss recipes (that are also perfectly tasty) at their fingertips.
As part of the blog tour, I had the opportunity to ask Lindsay some questions! Check out her responses:
A. Cook: This is your fourth cookbook! How do you stay inspired to create new recipes? How do you avoid repetition?
HH: 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 Guiness 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! I treat writing books like a job — 8-10 hours in a kitchen making it work!
A. Cook: You advocate a plant-based, oil-free diet and all of your cookbooks fit into this paradigm. How is HH L&L different from the others in terms of promoting weightloss?
HH: I was inspired by my meal plans (http://www.getmealplans.com). While the recipes in Light & Lean are different than the recipes my clients get each week with the meal plans, my approach to cooking (feeling full on fewer calories; making it ultra healthy but still delicious) was my focus with this cookbook. I was also a personal trainer some years ago, and it was nice to be able to bring that experience into this book. It felt like a good fit for the theme.
A. Cook: How has your cooking style evolved since you first published a cookbook?
HH: With each book I’ve taken feedback (good and bad) to heart and made adjustments based on that and what my fans want. It’s been an evolution together.
A. Cook: What were the main factors you considered when designing the workouts in this book?
HH: I wanted workouts that anyone could do — that were flexible to all skill levels, that could be done at home, in just a few minutes, and without pricey equipment. Mission accomplished!
A. Cook: Does your minimalist lifestyle play a role in the book? If so, how?
HH: I think being a minimalist falls into every aspect of my life, but I wouldn’t say I intentionally included it.
Today, with the publisher’s permission, I am sharing the recipe for Lentil Joes from Happy Herbivore Light & Lean. [Now, I know you're probably thinking, "But I already have a favorite recipe for Sloppy Joes made out of lentils!" But you know this one is probably healthier than the one you're using, and it's really good too! So don't be afraid to try something new.]
Gluten-free, Fat-free, Quick, Budget, Pantry
Sloppy joes—or, as my family calls them, “wimpies”—were one of my favorite childhood foods before I became a vegetarian. I’ve never had much success mimicking my mom’s recipe (vegan or not—I swear she’s holding back a secret ingredient!), so I decided to take a totally new approach and use lentils. It’s not Mom’s meatloaf—er, sloppy joes—but this recipe is deliciously different, quite filling, and very easy to make!
For years my lunchbox revolved around a sandwich. Although I’ve become more creative with my lunches over the past few plant based years, I still love going back to the classic sandwich with two sides option.
1 onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 green bell pepper, seeded and diced
½ c tomato sauce
2 tbsp ketchup
1 tbsp prepared yellow mustard
1 tbsp Dijon mustard
1 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce or gluten-free tamari
1 tsp Vegan Worcestershire Sauce (optional)
2 ½ c cooked lentils
¼ tsp ground cumin
1–2 tbsp brown sugar hot sauce or cayenne pepper
Line a large skillet with a thin layer of vegetable broth and saute onion, garlic, and bell peppers until onion is translucent, bell peppers have softened and turned a mellow green, and most of the broth has evaporated. Add remaining ingredients (hot sauce or cayenne as desired, plus a few dashes of smoked paprika) and stir to combine. Warm, stirring occasionally, over low, and then serve.
Per serving (about ½ cup)
Calories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .131
Fat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 0.7g
Carbs . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23.9g
Fiber. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7.8g
Sugars. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6.7g
Protein. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8.7g
WW Points. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3
You can watch Lindsay make this recipe in an online cooking class by clicking here.
Okay and finally, the giveaway! In honor of Lindsay and her minimalist approach to life, I’m keeping it simple. To enter, simply click over to Amazon, “Look Inside” the table of contents, and leave a comment telling me which recipe sounds the yummiest to you. Or, you can leave a comment with your favorite easy, low-cal plant-based dish!
This giveaway is open to residents of the U.S. and Canada only, and will close at 11:59:59 p.m. EST on Tuesday, December 17, 2013.