Gluten-Free Made Simple

I don’t like Labor Day, because it represents the end of summer. But the long weekend offered plenty of time to combine business with pleasure, by finding a couple of new baking books at my local Barnes & Noble.

Full reviews will wait upon recipe performance, but in the meantime I thought I’d share what I’ve found so far.

Gluten Free Made Simple was written by the Dahlstrom girls: Carol, who was the editor of Better Homes & Gardens for more than twenty years, Elizabeth, who is a nutritionist teaching a gluten-free diet and Marcia, a wife and mother with celiac disease who knows firsthand how to live comfortably with a gluten-free lifestyle.

These days you can’t walk through the cookbook aisle without being surrounded by books about gluten-free diets. It’s not just for celiac disease any more. Did you know, that the top male tennis player in the world, Novak Djokovic, eats gluten-free to improve his athletic performance?

The first thing that caught my eye is the Index. In addition to the usual A through Z listing, it gives a separate listing for egg-free and casein-free recipes. It also classifies low-fat, high-protein and vegetarian recipes. This can be very helpful for the many of us who watch our diet.

Another interesting touch of Gluten Free Made Simple is its sidebars. Each recipe has a different comment, tip, suggestion and special guidance for the preparation, purchase, or health benefits of ingredients. For instance, next to the old-fashioned meat loaf recipe we learn about the special health benefits of the ingredients used in the creation of the dish. It turns out that this recipe has a high concentration of zinc, iron and choline, which are great stimulants for our immune system.

Many of the recipes also tell us about the cost of the individual serving. The meat loaf is only $0.75 a serving! As someone who tries to stay within a budget, I appreciate this kind of practical information.

The icons next to the title of the dish, such as LF for low-fat, HP for high protein, HF for high fiber and so on are also an appreciated addition. Overall, it’s clear that the authors thought seriously about the home life situations of working mothers and how to make their lives as easy as possible.

Being a dessert addict, I was really curious how they will handle that section in a gluten-free recipe book. At first look, they passed my test with flying colors.

The breads and muffins chapter contain recipes for scones, banana bread and home-style waffles. The cookies, cakes and candies chapter offers coconut cake, lemon cupcakes, cranberry-pecan toffee and homemade fluffy marshmallows. Just reading the desserts and pies section was like eating comfort food as I flipped through the pages of puddings, crisps, pies and a cake roll. None looks different from standard desserts you can find in cookbooks.

I don’t have a wheat allergy, gluten intolerance, or celiac disease, yet I am tempted to try many of the recipes in this book, if only because they seem really good. Of course, the recipe results are the true test of any cookbook. When I work through enough of the recipes, (especially the baking ones) I’ll let you know if this book is as good as I think it is.

In the meantime, if you want to try some of the recipes, I would love to hear from you, particularly your opinion about the baking section. I was always wondering, how can a scone, for instance, taste good without flours. It is unbelievable, how we can substitute something like flour and a baking good, and still look and taste wonderful.