2016 Update: Isaac & Lacey Goldstein are no longer involved in Happy Cow.
I grew up with a mom who insisted that I could eat cookies as long as she baked them at home. I believe in homemade and I believe in unprocessed. Since I began my journey of understanding that eating the right foods is the only path to strong health, there is nothing that makes me happier than enjoying delicious food that is nourishing. I also tend to feel a little sorry for myself sometimes, living in Hong Kong where it is hard to find great healthy food and the right cooking ingredients. I miss Whole Foods – political debate notwithstanding. I yearn for our very Cafe Gratitude. I ache for farmers markets like this one. Don’t get me wrong- things are getting really good for us health conscious foodies in Hong Kong. We have our own versions of CSAs such as Homegrown Foods and Eat Fresh, new eateries popping out in every corner and the local movement is growing with great efforts like Island East Markets. But the happiest moment of my Hong Kong foodie life in the past few weeks was sitting at Grassroots Pantry and discovering Happy Cow coconut ice cream. The moment the lovely server told me about it was a local coconut ice cream brand, I became obsessed. My husband resigned himself to a dearth of dinner conversation. We ordered three flavors and I immediately grabbed my phone and started searching for more information. Who had made this? What was the story of the brand? Where could I buy some?
Eventually I got in touch with Isaac Goldstein, the friendly, passionate and charming fellow who, along with his lovely wife, were desperate for a vegan ice cream alternative whilst living in Beijing (which admittedly makes Hong Kong seem like the greenest city in Asia!) so started making their own coconut cream based ice cream, sharing it with friends and family. Said friends and family wanted more so after a move to Hong Kong for work, they decided to pursue this full time. Thank goodness!
The ice cream is made with coconut cream, coconut sugar (also known as coconut nectar, coconut palm sugar and coconut crystals) and various flavourings. Happy Cow boasts an impressive list of flavours:
- Vanilla Bean
- Cherry Almond Fudge
- Mint Chip
- Banana Caramel Swirl
- Piña Colada
- Lime In The Coconut
- Pure Coconut
- Cinnamon Caramel Swirl
More are in the works. They are all delicious! All the ice creams use sugar free, vegan ingredients that are minimally processed and organic where possible. Flavourings are made from real ingredients and there are no fillers, thickeners, preservatives or additives of any kind. Every looked at a commercial ice cream pint’s ingredient labels?
Chances are you won’t be able to pronounce the majority of the list. Further, you will have no idea what most of the ingredients are. With Happy Cow, the label is 5 or 6 ingredients max and all are whole foods that you have tried before. Happy Cow is a healthy addition to your diet in reasonable quantities (one scoop a day). If you are trying to lose weight but want a treat, this one’s perfect.
While this is not an article about the benefits of consuming coconut products per se (learn more about the benefits of coconuts from GQ’s handy infographic), here are some important facts that are relevant: 1) coconut sugar is one of the lowest glycemic sweeteners around and some studies show it contains more nutrients than most raw honeys (such as this one here); 2) consuming coconut sugar (at our house we don’t use anything else!) will not send your insulin spiking so it is diabetes friendly. Coconut cream contains coconut fat which is one of the healthiest fats around and is extremely good for mental acuity, weight loss and keeping your immune system healthy.
Given that a steady supply of organic fruits is difficult (read: impossible) to source in Hong Kong, Isaac is careful to only use fruits listed on the Clean Fifteen list (for more information, check out Green Queen’s Foodie article about the Clean Fifteen and the Dirty Dozen) so as to reduce toxic load such as bananas which are in a new flavour he is working on called Acai- pictured here with the Mint Chip- and which boasts superfood acai along with said bananas and coconut cream. His Mint Chip, which is Green Queen’s favourite, and his Chocolate are made with organic raw cacao powder (which is the highest source of Vitamin C and magnesium on the planet). Essences such as mint are food grade pure essential oils. This is homemade, handcrafted food at its best. Plus all the ingredients are sourced regionally. Oh did I forgot to mention that Happy Cow is kosher?
The ice cream itself is delicious. It is not too sweet, tastes fresh and wholesome and impressively, the coconut flavour is not overbearing at all- which is the overriding concern of most coconut ice cream virgins. It tastes like real, home churned, yummy ice cream. Which it is!
Happy Cow can be purchased at the Jewish Community Centre (JCC) Mart and enjoyed whilst dining at Grassroots Pantry or you can order directly through Happy Cow‘s Facebook Page; Isaac is hard at work trying to get Happy Cow into more retail outlets 🙂