October 15, 2011

Cooking Vegan Can Be Easy and Inexpensive – The Happy Herbivore

When people hear that I eat a plant-based (vegan) diet, the most common response I get isn’t “oh I could never give up [animal product]” but “oh I’d love to, but it’s too expensive!”

I find that most people think that eating healthy, and eating vegan, is costs a lot of money, but eating vegan foods can actually be a bargain. That’s why I wrote my first cookbook, The Happy Herbivore Cookbook, so I could prove that eating healthy (and vegan) is not only delicious, but affordable too.

Now sure, specialty vegan foods can be expensive, but they’re no more expensive than other specialty foods… and just as you probably wouldn’t buy stuffed clams every time you went to the grocery store, you shouldn’t fall into the trap of buying premium vegan treats all the time either.

Wholesome vegan staples like beans and lentils, whole grains, fruits and vegetables can be a bargain. In fact, we cut our grocery bill in half when we went vegan, even though we also started buying mostly organic brands. Our secret? We buy from the bulk bin whenever we can, we choose generic over name brand, and we buy what’s on sale or is season, or if neither, frozen or canned.

I don’t have time for complicated recipes or the budget for obscure ingredients, so all of our meals, and my recipes, use “everyday” ingredients — things we all have in our pantries.

One of my favorite recipes is my Creamy Carrot Soup and I’m willing to bet you have everything you need on hand to make this tonight.


Creamy Carrot Soup (serves 2)
Oats are the magical ingredient in this soup. They give the soup a texture it wouldn’t otherwise have and also impart a lot of creamy flavor without using actual cream. This soup also whips up in an instant.

1 lb carrots, peeled and sliced
1 small onion, diced
1/4 cup instant oats
1/2 cup non-dairy milk (such as fat-free soymilk)
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp allspice
salt and pepper – to taste (optional)

In a medium saucepan, combine 2 cups of water, carrots, onion and oats over high heat. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium. Continue to cook, stirring frequently, until oats are cooked and carrots are fork-tender, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a blender, in batches if necessary, and blend with non-dairy milk until smooth and creamy. Add extra water or non-dairy milk if needed. Return soup to sauce pan and add spices. Gently reheat and add salt and pepper to taste if desired.


I think people sometimes forget that meals don’t have to be complicated and that simplicity can be really beautiful and very delicious. Another popular recipe around here involves a bag of frozen stir-fry veggies, cooked and tossed with equal parts soy sauce and sugar, and then served over rice or quinoa. It’s simple, it’s fast and it’s easy (in my cookbook I call that recipe Buddha’s Delight).

The next time you don’t think you have anything for dinner, give yourself a little challenge. Try to come up with a simple meal using 5 items or less. It was this exact exercise that led to one of my most popular recipes: Chickpea Tacos. I was standing in my pantry with a hungry belly looking at the one can of chickpeas I had. For whatever reason I got the wild idea to mix them with taco seasoning, bake them and then make tacos with it. Now it’s one of my most favorite — and most popular — recipes.


Lindsay S. Nixon is a rising star in the culinary world, praised for her ability to use everyday ingredients to create healthy, low fat recipes that taste just as delicious as they are nutritious. Lindsay’s recipes have been featured in Vegetarian Times, Women’s Health Magazine and on The Huffington Post. Lindsay is also a consulting chef at La Samanna, a luxury resort and four-star restaurant in the French West Indies. You can learn more about Lindsay and sample some of her recipes at happyherbivore.com

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