Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Veg Cookbook Club, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean and The Eat to Live Cookbook Project

It's so cold outside, but I've got a warm heart for something I just discovered.

While relaxing on vacation, I played around quite a bit with Instagram. Being a person who enjoys editing photographs, up until now, Instagram has just been a way for me to have fun with photos and my phone. I upload the edited photos onto Instagram because that was the only way to save them. I used some of the photos in my blogging, and that was that.

I never knew that Instagram could be a community.

But what I discovered last week was a group of people all cooking out of one Vegan cookbook author's recipes, sharing their photos, tips and reviews on Instagram.

It all originates from this website: Veg Cookbook Club. Every month a new Vegan cookbook author is chosen and everyone who wants to participate can follow along. It's a version of what I attempt to do with The Eat to Live Cookbook Project, but it rotates every month.

It just so happens that this month's cookbook author is Lindsay Nixon, The Happy Herbivore, who's recipes are so fast, so easy, and mostly right up our low or no salt, and no oil alleys. She does use soy sauce/tamari to salt things, sugar in her desserts and a whole lotta white whole wheat flour too, just so you know. Her newest release, Happy Herbivore Light & Lean is the one cookbook that I choose to take on my vacation with us this year. For two weeks, I cooked about 60% from this one book alone and I was pretty darned impressed. There are some killer recipes in here that I will, without a doubt, make again and again.

My favorite recipe so far has been Lindsay's version of a California Pizza Kitchen Thai salad that I have loved for years. Lindsay calls it the Thai Crunch Salad and it is incredible and totally company worthy. I'm already planning in making it for a dinner party I'm hosting at the end of the month.

The Irish Stew was really great and really flavorful. Come to think of it, the level of salt in the recipes is so different from what I have been used to eating with Eat to Live that I might be a little bit swayed just from that alone, but it is what it is. Right now, I'm happy to have tasty oil-free Vegan food that is quick to prepare.

Some notes on the Irish Stew: I did use Arrowroot to thicken it up (I made a double batch of the stew and I used one heaping Tbsp of Arrowroot in a small bowl, ladle some of the hot broth into the bowl and whisk until there are almost no lumps, then add this slurry to the bigger pot of stew). Also,if you make this stew, consider using three times the amount of portabella mushrooms. The stew would be even better with way more mushrooms.

My two daughters are loving the Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Surprise Frosting. I did add maple syrup to the frosting for even more sweetness and to mask the flavor of the surprise ingredient (sweet potatoes--genius!).

We (any by we, I mean my kids, too) also loved the Soba Peanut Noodles.

As well as the Breakfast Tacos, which we had for lunch, and devoured!

The Spice Cake Surprise was a flop.

The Pineapple Pancakes were outstanding, although I didn't even make the pineapple version. Ours were just plain pancakes and they were wonderful!

Next I'll be making the Meatloaf Bites and Skinny Mac n' Cheese. Fingers crossed!

But back to the Veg Cookbook Club. I'm a little bit of a tech reject, so I'll tell you what I understand and you can explore the whole thing on your own if you are interested. It's so much fun.

(1) Subscribe to the blog at http://vegcookbookclub.com/

(2) Open an Instagram account if you don't have one. Get the Instagram app on your phone, pad and/or on your computer.

(3) Do a search for #vegcookbookclub (that's hashtag cookbookclub for us old farts).

(4) Start following the other Instagrammers who use that hashtag. Definintely follow @bbravo on Instagram. She's the person who started VegCookbook Club. And of course you'll want to follow me on Instagram @healthygirlskitchen. :)

(5) When you cook from the cookbook of the month, post pictures of the food, along with comments, onto Instagram. Make sure to include the hashtag vegcookbookclub (#vegcookbookclub) in the comments so that others will find your post. This is going to take a little getting used to and some exploring on your part if you are not already familiar with Instagram. It's very user friendly and you should get used to the whole world of it very quickly.

(6) Have fun following the trail of what other people are cooking and loving from the author of the month. Dinner time is even more fun with Instagram and VegCookbook Club.

I hope that made sense to you, because it barely made sense to me. LOL

Maybe, if we're lucky, next month's author might be Dr. Fuhrman . . .

They've already done Isa Does It. What a bummer that we missed that one!

What do you think? Do you have an Instagram account? Have you had any fun with it yet? Will you consider joining VegCookbook club with me?

Any more information about how this whole thing actually works will be greatly appreciated!

I'm going to continue cooking from the Happy Herbivore collection this month. As it turns out, I have quite a busy January and the thought of trying to fit in more Eat to Live Cookbook reviews was actually stressing me out. I'm enjoying the casualness of the recipes in Light & Lean and the ease (and fun) of communicating about those recipes with the Instagram community. 

I'll be blogging about my experiences with Happy Herbivore recipes and some other stuff that I've got cooked up, so to speak, but no more Eat to Live Cookbook reviews until February.


Want your own copy of Light & Lean and want to help support the work of Healthy Girl's Kitchen? Consider getting your copy through my Amazon store right here:
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