Our writer and food-enthusiast Katie delved into the new The Happy Pear cookbook
400,000 people took part in “Veganuary” in 2020, almost double that of 2019. It seems that more and more people are choosing a healthier lifestyle for themselves, and Irish brothers Stephen and David Flynn are at the forefront of the movement with their business, The Happy Pear.
As a plant-based eater myself, I am always looking for new recipes to try out in the kitchen. There is certainly a lot of hype around The Happy Pear, and I was intrigued to find out how good their books really are.
- Huge variety of recipes
- Easy layout
- Simple, store-cupboard ingredients
- Both quick, easy recipes, and more complex recipes
Happy Pear who?
Stephen and David founded The Happy Pear after both brothers made the transition to a more plant-based diet while travelling on opposite sides of the world. They quickly discovered the huge health benefits of this lifestyle, and wanted to share it with the world, opening a small veg shop in 2004. Now, 16 years later, The Happy Pear is a rapidly growing franchise consisting of four cafes, a farm, a product range, a roastery, six online courses, four cookbooks, 120 employees, and over one million people on social media following their plant-based diet and lifestyle.
A plant-based diet is scientifically proven to be better in many ways; plants use less resources and produce less greenhouse emissions than animal products. For example, it takes 13,500 litres of water to produce 1kg of beef, but only 238 litres to produce 1kg of corn. Perhaps more persuasive are the undoubtable health benefits of this lifestyle, which focuses on wholefoods and fresh produce, instead of the processed food that features so heavily in the Western diet. The Happy Pear champions a wholefoods approach, teaching people the numerous and exciting options available with a plant-based diet.
Let’s get cooking
So many people I know are put off vegan eating because they simply don’t know what to make. When I find a new cookbook, my first question is whether or not this is accessible to the average eater. There’s no point including thousands of complicated ingredients that can only be found in health-food stores, or including recipes that take hours to make.
This book is different to most cookbooks you will come across. Instead of individual recipes, the book is laid out in tables with separate columns for each recipe and a row for core vegetables, extra vegetables, legumes/pulses, flavourings, and dressings. There is one uniform recipe at the start of each chapter, and the emphasis is on you to select your preferred ingredients. You can stick to the prescribed recipe, or you can mix and match to give your own twist to the meal.
To start with, this layout unnerved me a little as I am so used to the traditional step-by-step method. However, as Stephen and David explain, this book is intended to teach you how to cook, not just how to make a dish. In breaking the recipes up in this way, the plant-based protegeé is given the basic building blocks required to become confident in the kitchen.
At the start of the book, there is also a detailed explanation of the five different aspects of flavour (sweet, salt, savoury, bitter, and umami), as well as the different ingredients available with this diet. It is clearly intended to be educational and set people for a life of delicious plant-based eating.
I chose three recipes to try out, two savoury and one sweet.
Goan Korma Curry
We are big fans of curry in my house. Curry dishes are so versatile and pack so much flavour, and you can throw any vegetables you like in. The Goan Korma came from the ‘Fancier Curry’ recipe section, so required a little more time than some of the other recipes, but was still incredibly simple thanks to the table layout. I knew exactly which ingredients I needed, and the steps included at the start of the chapter told me what order to do things in. It was clear and concise, and the whole dish was ready to serve in an hour.
Stephen and David definitely know what they are doing. The combination of spices was perfect, and the important first step of dry-frying them before grinding added a whole new depth to the dish. A dish that outwardly seems quite complex to make was in fact wonderfully simple and well worth the effort. I will be making this one again!
Red Pepper Pesto and Bean Salad
Salads are an excellent summer meal, but they have to be interesting. This recipe sounded wonderful, and the picture accompanying it enticed me to give it a go. The pesto recipe was in a separate section, and something that you could prepare at the start of the week and have ready in the fridge to use at any meal. The mix of fresh tomatoes, nutty pesto, and fresh leaves made this a very satisfying meal, the perfect lunch or light dinner. It was the easiest thing to make and ready in 15 minutes with the pre-prepared pesto. I appreciated how easy the pesto was to make, and that it only required minimal ingredients, all of which could be found in my cupboard!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
The best part of this recipe is that you can choose how chewy you want your cookies! The table had four recipes all with the same ingredient but slightly different ratios, depending on your preferred texture. Personally, I love a soft cookie, but you could also have a “biscuity”, “shortbread-style”, or “chewy oaty” cookie, all of which were pictured if you weren’t sure which would best suit your cravings.
This recipe was so simple and easy, and they turned out perfectly! The book has many sweet treats that would be perfect to get kids involved with. What more could you ask for than a delicious and healthy treat? I have my eye on a few other recipes to try from this section.
I am definitely impressed with this book, and with the whole ethos of The Happy Pear. Beyond the cookbooks, The Happy Pear also offers online courses in healthy eating for all, eating for heart-health, and for gut health. Their popular Instagram page shows stunning images from their cookbook and the produce of their cafes in Wicklow, Ireland, as well as the everyday life of the brothers from early morning swims to making endless sourdough loaves.
This book has something for everyone, from healthy salads to hearty burgers, even meat-lovers will find a recipe to love. It is easy to navigate and the recipes become incredibly simple when laid out in the table format. Whatsmore, it’s educational. Try even one recipe from the book and you will gain an understanding of how to layer, flavour, and construct a health, balanced, and delicious meal.
5/5 stars for The Happy Pear