August 29, 2014

HappyCow Cookbook review and giveaway

Is there a traveling vegan or vegetarian who hasn't looked at the HappyCow review list of vegan/vegetarian-friendly places to eat? I doubt it. We always check the list when we're heading to a new location, and even sometimes when we're going out to eat at home, to see what food options are available. It's such a terrific resource. We used it a lot in July and August when we were on the road between Seattle and Madison, and when we went to Cape Cod for several days to attend a wedding. We found interesting places we never would have known about otherwise.

Now there is a HappyCow cookbook by Eric Brent, the creator of HappyCow, and Glen Merzer, co-author of Better Than Vegan, and I'm happy to help introduce the book as part of the Summer Road Trip HappyCow Blog Tour. The HappyCow Cookbook is a collection of interviews with the owners and/or chefs of more than 40 favorite HappyCow-listed restaurants from the United States and abroad, plus one or two favorite recipes from each establishment. Not only is it fun to find recipes from favorite restaurants where I've dined, but I had a great time looking up recipes from places I've always wanted to try. Candle Café, Karyn's On Green, Hangawi, Millennium, Native Foods and Sublime are just a few of the restaurants in the book.

raw Green coconut curry

I was asked to try recipes from, and generally highlight, the Seattle establishments, since that's where I now live, and there are two Seattle vegan restaurants in the collection — Chaco Canyon and Wayward Vegan Café. I've been to both many, many times. I've even taken a raw foods cooking class from two of Chaco's cooks. (One of the dishes we made was green coconut curry, which I photographed (above) on one of our visits to the restaurant.) Chaco serves both raw and cooked vegan food, and in addition to the curry, I'm very fond of their simple "bowls." I didn't find any of my favorite dishes from Chaco in the cookbook, but the quinoa tabbouleh that we made, is now a new favorite. It was easy to make and extremely delicious. Quinoa is probably my favorite grain, and I think I liked the Chaco version of quinoa tabbouleh better than a traditional wheat-based one. Thanks to the publisher, I can share the recipe with you. I just want to note that we used half the amount of oil called for and half the salt. Also, I think the quantity will probably serve at least eight, in spite of what the recipe says.

Quinoa Tabbouleh
From Chaco Canyon in Seattle, WA
Serves 4–6 (as a side dish)

Quinoa is a grainlike crop originally grown in the mountainous regions of Ecuador, Columbia, Peru, and Bolivia. It’s considered a complete protein for humans, as it contains a balanced set of essential amino acids. It’s gluten-free and easily digestible, making it an excellent grain alternative. This is a great way to use extra quinoa.
  • 2½ cups quinoa
  • 3¼ cups water
  • 1 cup minced fresh parsley (about ½ bunch)
  • 2 cups peeled, seeded, and diced cucumber
  • Leaves from 3 stalks of mint, minced
  • ¼ cup diced red onion (¼" dices)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ⅓ cup olive oil
Combine the quinoa with 3-1/4 cups water in a pot. Bring to a simmer and then reduce heat to low. Cover and cook for 30 to 35 minutes. Remove from heat and let sit covered for an additional 5 minutes. Fluff quinoa with a fork and cover and cool it in the refrigerator at least 4 hours. Once chilled, add quinoa to a large bowl with all the other ingredients. Mix together with a spoon and serve immediately or chill.

Tip: It’s easy to make variations on this recipe. You can mix red and black quinoa together with white (for example, cook 2 cups white quinoa with ½ cup red quinoa or ½ cup black quinoa) or use other grains like barley, farro, red rice, buckwheat, or millet.                                          
Homemade nutloaf served for lunch with summer squash and salad.

The second Seattle restaurant in the HappyCow cookbook is Wayward Vegan Café. Wayward is a vegan comfort food sort of place, and we've been going there since long before we moved to Seattle, when they were still at their old location. Back in the days before I had to give up gluten, my favorite dish was the nutloaf — except I think it was called a nutlet. I would order it exactly like you see it in the photo below — as an open-faced hot sandwich on grilled sourdough topped with mushroom gravy and a side of garlic steamed kale. Sometimes I'd get mashed potatoes, too, just to make the plate perfect.
The recipe for nutloaf isn't gluten-free, but was very easy to convert. I had planned to use leftover quinoa instead of breadcrumbs, but my husband 'accidentally' ate the quinoa, so I used some gf breadcrumbs that I'd made from a failed bread attempt, and stashed in the freezer. I also used two tablespoons of chia seeds instead of xanthan gum and flax, TSP* instead of TVP, and olive oil instead of vegan margarine. But even with the changes, it tasted exactly like I remember. I'm so happy to have my nutlet cutlet back!

photo and recipe courtesy of BenBella Books and Wayward Café

From Wayward Café in Seattle, Wash.
Serves 6
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts
  • 1 cup slivered almonds
  • 1 large white onion, diced small
  • 1 tablespoon ground flaxseed
  • 1 12-ounce block medium-firm tofu
  • ½ cup textured vegetable protein (TVP) granules
  • ¼ cup nutritional yeast flakes
  • ⅓ cup bread crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon ground sage
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • ½ tablespoon vegan chicken broth powder
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • ½ teaspoon xanthan gum
  • 2 tablespoons vegan margarine, softened
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. In a food processor grind the walnuts and almonds until they resemble a meal. Place all ingredients, including the processed nuts, in a large mixing bowl. Using clean hands, mash everything together into a paste. Mix very well. Spray a small cookie sheet with nonstick oil. Put the nutloaf dough onto the cookie sheet and spread evenly, filling all sides to the edge of the cookie sheet. Smooth the top to make sure the dough is level. Place the cookie sheet in the preheated oven for 45 minutes. Remove and allow to cool slightly before cutting.

Served as we do at our restaurant: either in a cold sandwich on toasted French bread with vegan mayonnaise, lettuce, and tomato, or in an open-faced hot sandwich on grilled sourdough topped with mushroom gravy and a side of garlic steamed kale. 
 (*I don't usually use TVP, and when I recently read a description of how it's made, I was leery of buying it for the nutloaf recipe, and eating it. However, I decided that a different form of the product, organic TSP, might be a reasonable choice. TVP is made using hexane, a chemical I'd like to avoid in my food. The organic TSP from Bob's Red Mill, is not. It's not something I'd want to eat every day, but occasionally consuming it seems reasonable. I had to order it online as I was unable to find TSP locally. Bob's also makes TVP, and that was all I could find at Whole Foods and our co-op. What do you think about these products?)

There are quite a number of recipes in The HappyCow Cookbook that I want to try, like the Thai Red Curry from Sublime, or the Moroccan Tajine from SunCafé Organic. Some of the recipes I would make as is, but many have way too much fat and salt for me, because this is restaurant food after all. While there are many recipes that look interesting, there are a few that appear overly complicated, and some where the directions seem unclear. But, it's a treat to be able to choose from so many esteemed-menu items and attempt them at home. And I can certainly alter the ingredients to suit my taste. Thanks to BenBella Books, you have a chance to win a copy of the HappyCow Cookbook so you, too, can recreate your favorite restaurant's dishes in your own kitchen. Just leave a comment telling me if you've ever used HappyCow, and if you have, name a great restaurant you found. (You needn't have used HappyCow to enter.) You have until Sept. 8 to enter. I'll randomly choose a winner and announce the results on the blog. Sorry, but the book can only be sent to addresses in the U.S. and Canada.

Thanks for all your comments. The giveaway has now ended.The winner was Lynsi, of Girl Goes Veggie!

Full disclosure: I received a review copy of the HappyCow cookbook for review. All opinions are my own. Recipes and nutloaf photo reprinted with permission.


  1. I would LOVE to get a copy of this book. I've used the Happy Cow site often when traveling through the US over the years. I couldn't possibly think of just one place I've found with it.

  2. What a great cookbook review, Andrea, I have yet to get a copy of this book! I would like to try recipes from where I live, too, especially Cornbread Cafe. Have you tried any recipes from Cornbread Cafe yet? Miam, the quinoa tabbouleh looks delicious! I’m planning to make Israeli cous cous salad today with cilantro vinaigrette, I think I will add diced cucumber and some yummy veggies today! I miss Wayward Vegan Cafe, it’s been awhile and I love their breakfast selections.

    1. I haven't tried Cornbread Cafe's recipes, yet, Rika, but we've made the tabbouleh twice!

  3. What a great review, Andrea! Like most vegans, I check HappyCow whenever I travel.

  4. Happy Cow located a veg cafe (downtown central perk) in davenport, IA. Did not expect to find any veg places in the Quad Cities! Crane & Pelican, another quad cities restaurant, also has vegetarian and gluten free options.

    1. Hello, fellow Iowan! Happy Cow is updated by people who submit restaurants to the site. It is so helpful in less vegan-friendly areas. I've been to Downtown Central Perk, but I found it pretty underwhelming, unfortunately. In the Quad Cities I highly recommend Mantra, Crust, and Exotic Thai for their vegan options.

    2. Oh my goodness, thank you so much! I recently moved to the area and am adjusting to the limited restaurant & natural grocery choices. I loved Mantra but haven't tried the other two places you mentioned! I have discovered Greatest Grains, the Hy-Vee organic produce & super-expensive natural market sections, and an amazing organic (and truly sustainable) farm that sells amazing produce. I think the farm's name is Mad Farmer. Do you have any other tips? I'll be so sad when the farmers market closes this fall and plan to have a garden next year to supplement what we can buy.

  5. Sadly, Soy & Sake in West Village, NYC is closing this week.

  6. I LOVE IT! Veggie Grille in Seattle!

  7. Just used Happy Cow while in Sheboygan, Wisconsin and found the delightful Paradigm on N.8th St. Good food, friendly people, warm atmosphere and soooo tasty baked goods (don't miss the pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!)

  8. All of this stuff looks sooo good, especially the tabbouleh. I really love Happy Cow. So thankful for its existence - I don't know what I would do without it, really!

  9. I like to use Happy Cow to randomly investigate what Vegan restaurants are popping up all over and what they are making. So interesting and gives me great ideas for home cooking.

  10. I can't imagine going on a trip without HappyCow! It's so useful - especially the iPhone app. I have the book (so don't enter me into the giveaway), and I have liked reading all of the interviews. It would make a good coffee table book in addition to a cookbook.

    I have made a couple of recipes from the book and have had some issues with them, actually. So I'm glad to hear that yours worked out. I'm planning on posting about the book at some point in the future on my blog, but life has gotten in the way recently.

    1. We just used Happy Cow to find a restaurant in Chicago. I'm glad you mentioned problems with the recipes because it reminded me of a note I meant to add to the review. I'm going to revise the review to reflect my observations that some of the recipes are overly complex and some of the directions are vague. Too bad you hit a couple of the less successful ones.

  11. I use Happy Cow whenever I'm on vacation and it led me to the fabulous Aux Vivres in Montreal :)

  12. I recently used Happy Cow to find a lovely Iranian cafe in Chapel Hill North Carolina. It was all vegan and all delicious!


  13. I've used Happy Cow to find Field Roast hot dogs at Safeco Field. Yum!

  14. Yes I have used Happy Cow for Restaurants when in Portland OR. I would love to win a copy of this cookbook. Thanks for the chance to win.

  15. I'm always looking for a good cookbook.

  16. I've checked it out before but we don't eat out a lot.

  17. I looked around on the website but I haven't actually gone to a restaurant that I chose off the site.

  18. I didn't know about Happy Cow until now. Looking forward to using it!

  19. Thanks for the new resource and great recipes!

  20. I love Happy Cow! Paradise Vegetarian Noodle House is a favorite I discovered thanks to them. They're also indispensable for travelling.

  21. I am a long time Happy Cow user. I love to find new restaurants when I travel and this is a wonderful resource. A memorable discovery was Fresh Mint in Paia, HI - I'm so sad to read that it closed down this summer :-(

  22. I use Happy Cow when meeting people for lunch or dinner. It's a great way to map out the nearby options and how I found Teatree Cafe and Eatery


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