Reviews: Allergy-Friendly Cookbooks
Published in 2014
The Blender Girl
By Tess Masters
Ten Speed Press, $19.99 paperback
An actress and voice-over artist, Tess Masters uses vivid photography and her natural vitality to glamorize eating green in this best-selling cookbook. Like a health spa handbook for home, the reader is briskly introduced to sprouting, superfoods and essentials on digestive health, before being whisked into a stunning display of nutrient-dense vegan, gluten-free and peanut-free recipes. Ranging from detoxifying drinks to comforting meals and creamy desserts, all have easy preparation thanks to the use of (you guessed it) a blender.
Recipes like the Green Queen and Mango Fire and Ice showcase Masters’ sassy side and display her devotion to a high-raw lifestyle. But for drizzly days, the cookbook still beckons with earthy pastas, egg-free crepes and rich dairy-free sauces. – Alisa Fleming
By Jennifer Esposito
Da Capo Press, $25.99 hardcover
This is a candid, personal story, but don’t believe tabloid reviews: Jennifer’s Way is not a beans-spiller. OK, there is a passage that may allude to her ex, fellow actor Bradley Cooper. And Esposito does tell her version of the rather infamous parting of the ways with CBS and the TV series Blue Bloods.
But if there’s a tell-all aspect to this book, it’s about the failure of the medical establishment to help a young woman, who at times is literally crying for help to identify what is wrong with her. In 2009, she finally learns that it is celiac disease, but along the way, she endures stomach symptoms, sinus infections, migraines, and black holes of depression. Then Esposito encounters hair loss, walking difficulty, and panic attacks. She’s desperate for answers. Yet again and again, she’s told it’s anxiety or stress.
Esposito performs a difficult balancing act of finding acting success while attempting to cope with symptoms. This book is frank, it’s raw, compelling, and ultimately uplifting. I just hope the tabloid coverage will lead to many book sales. Jennifer’s Way is a page-turner of medical self-discovery that will give many people a new appreciation of celiac disease. – Gwen Smith
The Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook
By Sue Shepherd, PhD
The Experiment, $19.95 paperback
From IBS to gluten sensitivity, FODMAPs (an array of difficult-to-digest carbs) have been singled out as potential culprits in digestive disorders. FODMAPs are found in milk, beans, soy, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables. Wheat, barley and rye also contain FODMAPs, and research is striving to determine whether those with gluten sensitivity on a gluten-free diet may actually be benefiting from reduced FODMAP intake. In her second cookbook, dietitian Sue Shepherd, inventor of the low-FODMAP diet, brings to the table 150 appetizing, low-FODMAP (and gluten-free) recipes, covering all bases from breakfast to dessert. – Patrick Bennett
Gluten-Free Family Favorites
By Kelli and Peter Bronski
The Experiment, $19.95 paperback
The husband-and-wife team behind the popular Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking are back with a cookbook for the busy family. Their 75 new gluten-free recipes include kid favorites such as Blueberry Mini Muffins, Chicken Fingers and Fish Sticks. But there are plenty of easy options for more refined palates, like the Pumpkin Gnocchi Nuggets and Asian Quinoa Salad. Recipes include modifications for those avoiding dairy, nuts or eggs.
The book also includes a wealth of helpful tips: from keeping a gluten-free kitchen to label reading and a section on reducing those gluten-free grocery bills. This is an excellent addition to the family cookbook collection. – Patrick Bennett
The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook
By Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Grand Central Life & Style, $26 paperback
Mastery of the culinary arts meets nutritional science in this behemoth third edition. It’s been expanded to include over 300 recipes that are gluten-free, and now also dairy-free. New chapters address whole food diets, digestive health, and the use of cultured foods with beneficial bacteria.
Simplicity, health and natural flavor are essential to Segersten, a cooking instructor. She dishes up the basics on cooking whole, gluten-free grains and making homemade milk alternatives, but even her more elaborate cuisine can be made with ease and farm-to-fork ingredients. Many of the recipes are free of top allergens or offer alternatives, and the baking shuns refined sweeteners and gums. – Alisa Fleming
By Laura B. Russell
Ten Speed Press, $23 hardcover
Lauded as nutritional stars, yet frowned upon by picky eaters, the bountiful Brassicaceae family is finally getting its day in the sun with this 80-recipe collection. Laura Russell first addresses flavor profiles, preparation and cooking techniques to work with the sometimes strong presence of this powerhouse clan. She then puts her recommendations to work: mild brassicas are gently seasoned in the Mizuna Salad with Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower while a peppery vegetal is paired with natural sweetness in the Turnip and Apple Salsa, and a bolder botanical is set ablaze in the Spicy Kale Fried Rice.
Russell cooks exclusively gluten-free and addresses multiple food allergies. Brassicas has a special diet table to note at a glance which recipes contain dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, coconut or sesame. – Alisa Fleming
By Alexa Croft
Kulia Media, $24.95 paperback
Lexie Croft, author of Lexie’s Kitchen, is back with an impressive ‘everyday’ recipe book. Each of her 68 recipes, presented with beautiful color photographs and typography, are free of gluten, dairy, eggs and soy. Some recipes are free of nuts and other key allergens too; a handy chart guides the reader on suitability.
Croft covers the full spectrum: from Breakfast Smoothies in fun flavors such as Cheery Cherry and Lemon-Aid, to restaurant-worthy Stroganoff and Chicken Milanese. Treats aren’t forgotten: there are classics like Vanilla Cupcakes, plus items you won’t see every day, like homemade Graham Crackers and Marshmallows (make your own S’mores!).
Whatever your diet needs, these recipes will add excitement, taste and health to your kitchen. - Patrick Bennett.
Sweet Debbie`s Organic Treats
By Debbie Adler
Harlequin Nonfiction, $19.95 paperback
Sassy Debbie Adler (aka Sweet Debbie) reveals the secrets behind her L.A. bakery’s delectable Top 8- and gluten-
free desserts. Inspired by her son with allergies, Adler takes allergy-friendly baking to new and healthier heights, shunning sugar for fruit purees and stevia, without sacrificing any goodness. Her recipes include muffins, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, donuts and breads. For a real treat, try the Girl Scout Brownies – with a combination of caramel and chocolate sauces. And for a holiday party, the Mocha Italian Espresso Cupcakes are bound to vanish quickly.
Cooking For Your Gluten-Free Teen
By Carlyn Berghoff & Sarah Berghoff McClure
Andrews McMeel Publishing, $19.99 paperback
Carlyn Berghoff’s family has been in the restaurant business in Chicago for more than 100 years, but this chef ’s world turned upside-down when her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. Now Berghoff and her daughter, Sarah, have collaborated to write a wonderful cookbook aimed squarely at gluten-free teens. It’s one that puts forbidden favorites back on the menu.
Teen staples like pizza, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets and fish sticks are sure to please, but every recipe in this book sounds and looks delicious. The book is not free of other allergens, but nut-containing recipes are few. All are easy to make, so budding cooks will enjoy experimenting along with Berghoff’s thoughtful advice for living healthy and gluten-free. – Patrick Bennett.