Reviews: Allergy-Friendly & Gluten-Free Cookbooks

in Reviews
Published: December 4, 2013

Published in 2013

Amst_Paleo Cooking from Elanas Pantry

Paleo Cooking from EIana’s Pantry
By Elana Amsterdam
Ten Speed Press, $17.99 paperback 

Never mind that author Elana Amsterdam shuns gluten, grains, dairy, legumes (including soy and peanuts), excessive sugars, and most night- shades. Her cuisine asserts its flavorful presence, and reminds us that food really is at its best when it remains uncomplicated. In this book, her recipes average a mere five to eight ingredients.

Hitting The New York Times best-seller list within a month of its release, Paleo Cooking taps into a synergistic combination of beauty, taste, health and simplicity. The author knows this territory well, since she began dabbling in primitive dining a decade ago, long before the term “paleo” was uttered by talk show hosts.

Though Paleo Cooking contains grain-free twists on traditional comforts, the recipe focus is on practical everyday eating rather than substitutes. I swiftly scheduled the Cran-Apple Power Bars, Healing Vegetable Bisque, Paleo Shepherds Pie and Flour-less Nut-free Brownies into our weekly menu. –Alisa Fleming

Naturally Sweet and Gluten-FreeNaturally Sweet and Gluten Free_3D
By Ricki Heller
Sellers Publishing, $22.95 paperback

Author and holistic nutritionist Ricki Heller proves that dessert can be healthful, and still taste sinfully good. From the cover’s chocolate-frosted vanilla cupcakes to ultra-fudgy brownies and dairy-free cheesecake, she offers an inventive 100 recipes free of gluten, dairy, eggs – and refined sugar. Plus, many avoid soy and corn.

Heller shows impressive range: her recipes roam from breakfast treats to cookies, cakes, pies, bars, squares, cakes, tarts and no-bake goodies. They require only basic familiarity with gluten-free baking, and make ample use of emerging ingredients such as coconut flour, seeds, psyllium husk and stevia for sweetening.

She offers helpful explanations on the properties of gluten-free flours, starches, egg replacers, milk alternatives and binders. It’s a great book for satisfying the sweet tooth, without the guilt. –Gwen Smith

Sweet Cravings: 50 Seductive Desserts for a Gluten-Free LifestyleBuss_Sweet Cravings tiny
By Kyra Bussanich
Ten Speed Press, $18.99 hardcover

When Kyra Bussanich appeared on the Food Network’s Cupcake Wars in 2011, she didn’t tell the judges her creations were gluten-free. But that didn’t stop her from winning. Now with her first cookbook, Bussanich gives anyone the tools and secrets needed to bake 50 delicious and gluten-free desserts: cupcakes, pies, cookies and more.

The recipes, conveniently ranked from easy to advanced, are shown off in lush, full-page photographs. For a delectable treat, try the egg-free Strawberry Shortcake. Or see what the Cupcake Wars judges were raving about with the Boston Cream Pie Cupcakes.

While many of her recipes call for nuts or other top allergens, Bussanich, who has celiac disease, has created a superb gluten-free dessert cookbook. –Patrick Bennett

The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Cakes and CookiesAllergy Free Cook C&C_COVER_hi-res
By Laurie Sadowski
Book Publishing Co., $14.95 paperback 

With the persona of a quintessential homemaker, author Laurie Sadowski is baking her way through every treat imaginable, while simultaneously shunning gluten, dairy, eggs and soy.

Her first book, The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, was already an established favorite in my gluten-free collection. Now, I’m eager to dunk Laurie’s NOreo (Oreo-style) Chocolate Sandwich Cookies into a tall glass of rice milk and serve her maple-drizzled French Toast Cupcakes to my sweets-loving husband.

Beyond the enticing titles, I simply love that Laurie’s recipes work and that she takes the time to customize the flours in each dessert, rather than relying on a single gluten-free baking blend. Since the Allergy-Free Cook rarely relies on nut flours, experienced nut-free bakers should have little difficulty in using most of her recipes. –Alisa Fleming

The Food Allergy Mama’s Easy, Fast Family MealsFood Allergy Mama's
By Kelly Rudnicki
Avery, $19    

With her first book, she made cookies with Martha Stewart, but the Food Allergy Mama is no domestic diva. Rather, Kelly Rudnicki has a great sense of down-home cooking, creating easy and imaginative allergy-friendly meals that will delight your family.

The mother of five describes her new cookbook as written for the food allergy mom “who isn’t a pro in the kitchen, who doesn’t have time to shop at multiple stores, and who probably is juggling kids, homework and carpools.” Sound familiar?

The recipes – free of dairy, eggs and nuts – are kid-friendly, but so flavorful that adults will be lobbying for seconds. Among Rudnicki’s best are Chicken Dumpling Stew, Spaghetti and Turkey Meatballs, roast chicken, slow stews and dairy-free lasagna. Creative soups and salads, and as always with this mama, amazing cookies. –Gwen Smith

Allergy-Free and Easy CookingCybele Allergy-Free and Easy cooking
By Cybele Pascal
Ten Speed Press, $22 

“Wouldn’t it be great if someone came up with a guidebook for day-to-day allergy-free cooking?” Cybele Pascal had often thought. Since she was already an acclaimed allergy-free author, Cybele, now Allergic Living’s Food Editor, decided to it herself.

The result is this terrific book of 75 comfort food recipes, free of the Top 8 allergens, gluten and sesame, and all a cinch to prepare in 30 minutes.

From the kid-pleasing Creamy Mac ’n Cheese (made with Daiya vegan cheddar) and Shepherd’s Pie to her 30-minute English Beef Stew and the more sophisticated Thai Noodle Salad with Chicken, these are clearly recipes you will turn to again and again. This book has family favorite written all over it. –Gwen Smith

Next: Cookbook Reviews from 2012

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