Today is a big day! I am very excited to share this interview with a plant-based rock star AND giveaway a copy of her latest cookbook. When friends and family tell me they are thinking about trying to eat less meat and ease into a more plant-based lifestyle, I point them in the direction of the Happy Herbivore. Lindsay Nixon’s cookbooks are part of my own journey into a plant-based diet. Lindsay’s recipes are super easy, and use ingredients that you can find in just about every grocery store in North America.
Lindsay has a no-fuss attitude towards cooking healthy, low-fat, plant-based food, which is one of the reasons I love her. Her first book; The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes was one of the first vegan cookbooks I bought. Her second; Everyday Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Quick-and-Easy Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes, is a must-have for quick and easy family friendly recipes. The recipes are also able to accommodate a household with food allergies like ours. I have the first two Happy Herbivore cookbooks and they are dog-eared, and food splattered.
Her third book, which I will review in more detail in a later post, is a fun journey that will take your taste buds around the world; Happy Herbivore Abroad: A Travelogue and Over 135 Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes from Around the World.
For a chance to win the latest Happy Herbivore cookbook, read on…
My barefoot interview with Lindsay Nixon…
Let me start by saying that I have both your books. I buy them as gifts for friends and your books are the first I recommend to anyone thinking of living a healthier life but do not want to eat ‘weird’ ingredients. What inspired you to write your first book? The Happy Herbivore Cookbook: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes
Aww thank you! The first book was an extension of my blog, happyherbivore.com. I started blogging because back then, I couldn’t find many vegan or plant-based blogs (or cookbooks), let alone ones that followed my dietary goals: whole foods, no oil, low fat. I thought there might be someone out there like me, trying to eat and live this way, so I started to share what I was doing — hoping to help someone like me. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect my blog to become popular, and then turn into a book
Please prove to us that you are human; what are some of your biggest recipe disasters?
LOL! This is really embarrassing but somehow I blew up seitan and it splattered everywhere. I’m really not sure how I did that. I’ve also left the top off the blender more times than I can count and am always scrubbing my kitchen fan and ceiling. I also have a habit of trying to pull things out of the oven without an oven glove on… and I may or may not disable the smoke detector when I’m cooking…
Blender-messes are the worst! Your minimalist approach to food and life is what attracted me to your books; un-fussy, simple ingredients that my 4-year old can pronounce and that I can find in most grocery stores. What is your favorite recipe with less than 5-ingredients?
I must confess that I don’t have any recipes memorized, so I can’t even think which ones have 5 ingredients. Maybe my cornbread has 5 ingredients… I really like that cornbread, but I always end up adding things to it — corn, jalapeños, so then it definitely has more than 5! LOL
What were your biggest challenges in putting together your latest book? Happy Herbivore Abroad: A Travelogue and Over 135 Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes from Around the World
Initially, I tried to respect the original recipes I brought back with me as much as I could — they are classics, after all! But that proved difficult since the original recipes used meat, dairy, oil, butter — things I don’t eat or cook with… There were also the elusive ingredients to contend with — ingredients that I’m sure are all over the place in, say, Italian markets, but aren’t readily available in the United States (and we all know how much I love “everyday” ingredients!)
Eventually I found a sort of peace where I’d stick to the original recipe closely if I could, but as long as it tasted like the original recipe in the end — I felt it was okay if I used different ingredients and methods to get there. It’s just a new interpretation! I wanted to respect the cultures, traditions and dishes I pulled inspiration from, and I feel I did that with the book and my recipes.
Tell us about your writing routine. Do you lock yourself in the kitchen? Do you set up shop on the couch? Hang out at your local café?
It’s been a little different with each book — often because my life situation has been different. For example, with the book I’m writing now, I’m trying to juggle writing it with going on a press tour for Happy Herbivore Abroad, flying around the country for speaking engagements and cooking classes, managing Happy Herbivore (i.e. writing blog posts, Facebook, Twitter, fan email, customer service) and live my life (that one gets neglected a lot!). So with all these balls in the air, I tend to play in the kitchen whenever I can (even if it’s at 10pm) and write the book, the manuscript part, on airplanes. When I was writing Abroad, my life was a lot less hectic — I was running Happy Herbivore, and going on a press tour for EHH, but I wasn’t traveling for work nearly as much, but it was snowboarding season… so….
Do you ever get recipe-writer block? How do you get past it?
When I wrote my first book, I really didn’t have anything else on my plate except my “day job”, so I treated writing a book like a part- time job. I worked from home as a freelancer, so I spent my mornings and afternoons in the kitchen experimenting while Scott (my husband) was at work, and then did my freelance assignments at night to pay the bills. I was in the kitchen for hours every day and I would have days where nothing worked, or I couldn’t think of anything. Now, I don’t get those days anymore because of my schedule. I only have a hours here and there to experiment, so I look at my notepad where I write ideas down (ideas that come to me when I’m doing things elsewhere and can’t get to my kitchen) and try to run through that list. I think having days away from my kitchen now also keeps me from getting mental block.
What book are you reading right now?
Unfortunately I only read when I’m on hiatus (after I turn my manuscript in, I don’t work on another book for three months, but still do all my other “work”). I wish I could read all the time — but I find it impossible with everything on my plate. The last book I read was The Perks of Being a Wallflower — I read it on my 17-hour flight to Finland. When I go on my hiatus I read like a maniac.
What songs are on the soundtrack of your life?
I’m not sure about my life soundtrack, but there is always a song that seems to cling on to me about a place I lived. Like a souvenir or something. (I’ve lived in a lot of places!). I can’t explain it except that every time I hear the song, I get transported back to that place. For example, any time I hear Jay-Z’s Empire State of Mind I’m home in NYC, if only in my mind.
As for my life… off the top of my head, “You and me” by Lifehouse. It’s my “wedding” song (even though we did not have a wedding).
Love Lifehouse! Why do you do what you do?
For my fans. Everything I do, I do for them. I want people to eat healthier and live better I find most people want that for themselves too, but don’t know where to begin — that’s where my work comes in.
Happy Herbivore Abroad Book Giveaway
Want to win a copy? Post your most hilarious, embarrassing, ‘OMG’ kitchen disaster in the comments below. Don’t be shy, share your absolute biggest blunder – hopefully you can laugh about it now. I have too many to count. I have prepared inedible dinners, baked cakes that resembled melted chocolate, and, once, had a little kitchen fire (the dog is still afraid of smoke detectors.)
A winner will be selected on Friday, December 7 at 12:00 pm EST. Contest is open to entries only from the US and Canada.