Review & a Recipe: Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings

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The name Happy Herbivore has become synonymous with tasty plant-based food that’s easy to prepare, and for good reason.  Lindsay S. Nixon, the Happy Herbivore herself, has developed a host of recipes that anyone can make without having to travel all over to find specialty ingredients or spend hours in the kitchen.  She’s worked to make plant-based eating and vegan diets more accessible to the general public, and she’s doing an amazing job!

So of course, when a new HH book hits the shelves, it catches my interest.  Say hello to her latest, Happy Herbivore Holidays & Gatherings.

hh holidays and gatherings front cover

Image courtesy of BenBella Books

It’s largely a collection of recipes from other HH books along with some updates of old favorites, all arranged into holiday categories to make it easy for anyone to plan a menu for any special occasion.  Holidays & Gatherings starts with Thanksgiving, covers all the winter holidays including both New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day, takes a trip through Valentine’s Day and even includes recipes for summer BBQs and kid-friendly events.

The recipe selection is wide and varied, ranging from hearty meat-free loaves that fill you up in winter to simple salads and slaws suitable for picnics.  The book itself is a solid, attractive paperback with glossy pages and a generous sprinkling of pictures.  I do wish there had been more new recipes, though.  If you have the other HH books, many of the dishes in Holidays & Gatherings will be familiar.  However, having everything organized into event-specific chapters does take the guesswork out of holiday meal planning.  If you need something more, there’s a list at the back of other HH recipes as well as which books they appear in to help you round out your menu.

As per usual, I tried several recipes from the book to get an idea of what it has to offer.  First up was the Mini Quiche, which was so cute I couldn’t resist.

mini quiche hh holidays
Made with chickpea flour and a mix of Southwestern fillings including black beans, peppers and corn, these bake up in muffin tins and come out like little fluffy cups of egg and cheese–except they’re 100% plant-based, of course.  HH uses black salt to give hers an eggy flavor, but I didn’t have any so I substituted a bit of Vegg powder for some of the nutritional yeast in the recipe and that worked out well.

For some reason, my batter came out very thin and I had to spoon the fillings between the muffin cups because they sank instead of mixing in.  This didn’t affect the baking time or the flavor, though I did wind up getting a couple more quiches than indicated in the recipe.  I can’t say whether these actually taste like quiche, since I never had a non-vegan one, but they were quite delicious when served with some greens, roasted butternut squash and a tomato salad!

Next up, Smoky Sweet Potato Burgers, because I am a sucker for all things sweet potato and anything containing liquid smoke.

hh holidays sweet potato burgers closeup
hh holidays sweet potato burger served
These had a light smoky flavor that would have been complemented well by some chipotle mayo and a bit of extra spice, perhaps cayenne.  They were delicious served on sprouted English muffins with a side of shaved Brussels sprouts!  I found that they came out a little soft after baking, so when I make them again (and you can bet I will!), I think I’ll cook them a bit longer at a lower temperature to firm them up.

Speaking of soft things, who can say no to Soft Pretzels?

hh holidays soft pretzels
hh holidays soft pretzel closeup

(Admit it, you know you can’t.) I have fond memories of eating those microwaved monstrosities that come in the black box with the big chunks of white salt that crunch when you bite into them.  These are much healthier and just as tasty with the added bonus of being incredibly easy to make.  Even though it’s a yeast dough, it comes together quickly and doesn’t require a lot of rising time.  There’s even a baking soda/water “egg wash” to help the salt to stick.

It didn’t take much effort to roll these out, and so it wasn’t long before I was enjoying one with hummus and sharing the others with my parents (who went the classic route with mustard).  One caution with these, though: they’re so soft that they go moldy rather quickly if stored at room temperature.  I’d say keep the leftovers in the fridge–but then again, they’re kind of addictive, so leftovers might not be an issue!

Another recipe that looks terribly addictive but that I haven’t yet had a chance to try is Dark Chocolate Truffles.  Having your chocolate and eating it, too, can be a bit challenging when you’re trying to follow a healthy, whole-food diet, but thanks to HH, you can enjoy a truffle or two.  Or even three.  Because these are actually healthy!  With a base of beans and endless options for customization, you can whip up a batch of these for yourself or make them for a special person in your life.

hh holidays dark chocolate truffles

Image courtesy of BenBella Books

Dark Chocolate Truffles
reprinted with permission

Makes 10

These good-for-you truffles are only 39 calories a pop! Make them for your sweetheart.

1 c cooked white beans (see note)
1 tbsp smooth peanut butter
1 tbsp pure maple syrup, plus more to taste
2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa

  1. Combine all ingredients in food processor and allow motor to run. Stop to scrape the sides as necessary, until you have a smooth and homogenous mixture.
  2. Taste, adding another 1 tbsp maple syrup for a sweeter chocolate (you don’t want it to get too wet though). The “batter” should be thick and pliable.
  3. Pick off 10 pieces and roll into bouncy bite-size balls.

Chef’s Notes:
Any white beans, such as navy, cannellini, or butter beans, will work in this recipe. If you want to get all fancy pants, roll crushed vegan chocolate chips or nut pieces into the balls.

Per truffle: 39 calories, 1g fat, 6.2g carbohydrates, 1.8g fiber, 1.4g sugars, 2g protein



About the Author:

Sam has been eating a plant-based diet since summer of 2009 and has spent the subsequent years experimenting with all manner of plant-based food. She holds a Certificate in Plant-Based Nutrition from the T. Colin Campbell Center for Nutrition Studies and is a graduate of the Bauman College Nutrition Consultant Program. She is a former member of Toastmasters International and was awarded a Competent Communicator designation for public speaking. When she's not blogging or cooking, Sam likes to read and study the Bible, play silly card games and knit socks.
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