Alisa Fleming ~ The Happy Herbivore by Lindsay S. Nixon has hit the ground running, flying into the top sales ranks of vegan cookbooks within its first month. But I’m not too surprised, as the subject matter is rather timely. The Happy Herbivore combines two top trends in health right now … vegan and low-fat. Though I thought the low-fat craze of the 80’s was long past, it has made a resurgence as the diabetes “epidemic” continues to expand and we all seem to be coming down from those buttercream-laden vegan cupcake highs.
The book itself has a wonderful design. It is very well organized with a cute layout, the recipes are sequestered to one per page, there are several handy charts and guides, the index is complete yet simple, there are pictures for several of the recipes, and for those who are counting calories, each of the recipes includes the basic nutritional information (calories, fat, protein, carbohydrates, sugar, and fiber).
The recipes in The Happy Herbivore have hints of creativity, but are pleasantly simple. Lindsay’s cooking philosophy is, “ … to make great food at home using the fewest number of ingredients and only ingredients that can easily be found at any store, on any budget – and can be made in even the coziest of kitchens.” For the most part, I think Lindsay definitely succeeds in this …
I live in a small town, and my local grocer doesn’t carry Gimme Lean mock meats, TVP, Vegan Worcestershire sauce, or a few of the other specialty foods used in this cookbook, but most of the recipes are “from-scratch,” which is simply fantastic.
I marked about a dozen recipes of interest, but decided to make the Cheddar Cheesy Sauce first. It seemed like the perfect accompaniment for the abundance of cauliflower I had on hand. Lindsay refers to it as her “favorite cheese sauce recipe,” and like many of the recipes in the book, it is fat-free. I thought the flavor was excellent! It did lack the richness of the cheesy sauce that I usually make (which would be considered low fat, but not fat free), but it is a great base sauce and very quick to boot! The entire recipe was ready in less than 5 minutes.
Lindsay also uses this sauce to make her “Easy Macaroni and Cheese” recipe in The Happy Herbivore, which is soy-free optional.
I’m a bit timid with the baked good recipes in The Happy Herbivore, as many are fat-free, and I’ve never had a good experience with completely fat-free muffins and cookies. However, the following recipes sound amazing, and are on my “to try” list:
- Chili Lime Corn Chips
- Baked Onion Rings
- Maple Glazed Vegetables
- Cajun Home Fries
- Red Lentil Dal
- Buddha’s Delight
- 5-Spice Harmony Bowl
- Instant Cookie Dough
Should you be curious, but still uncertain, Lindsay has a few sample recipes from her book that are posted on her blog (which is also named the Happy Herbivore), so that you can "try before you buy" or at least get sucked in by the mouth-watering photos. The recipes include:
- Cheddar Cheesy Sauce (The one I tried above!)
- Apple Crisp Muffins
- African Kale & Yam Soup
- Black Bean Brownies
- Mexican Cabbage
- Cinnamon Buns
All-in-all, if a very low-fat diet is your goal, then this fun, easy, and practical cookbook is definitely worth a look … whether you are vegan or not!
This is a third party review by Alisa Fleming, founder of GoDairyFree.org, blogger at Alisa Cooks, and author of Go Dairy Free: The Guide and Cookbook for Milk Allergies, Lactose Intolerance, and Casein-Free Living. Alisa is also a freelance writer for several publications, with an emphasis on creating recipes for various types of special diets.
Visit Amazon for more information and to purchase The Happy Herbivore: Over 175 Delicious Fat-Free and Low-Fat Vegan Recipes.