Gluten-Free Cookbooks Galore – Dig In!

Many of us, for health or other reasons, are now eating gluten-free.  In other words, we have eliminated gluten from our diets.  But what is gluten?  The short definition is that gluten is a protein found in wheat and certain other grains.  For more information, please see the several articles regarding gluten in OC Public Libraries' Health and Wellness Resource Center database.  You can access this database at home using your library card number or at one of our branches without a library card.

As a result of eliminating gluten from my own diet I have discovered many wonderful grains and recipes that I may never have encountered otherwise.  Believe me, there is a LOT of yummy stuff out there that does not involve gluten!  Whether you can eat gluten or not, the many gluten-free cookbooks in OC Public Libraries’ collection are well worth exploring.  Below are a few which I have personally reviewed and/or used in my own kitchen.  Bon appétit!

The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques, Ground-Breaking Recipes by America’s Test Kitchen (eds.)

One of the best features of this cookbook is a detailed opening section on gluten-free living, including a detailed description of gluten, why it aids in baking and cooking and how to cook well without it.  The authors also describe the foundational ingredients of a gluten-free pantry and give their evaluations of several commercial gluten-free flours, breads and pastas. The cookbook includes recipes for breakfast items, grains and pasta dishes, “comfort foods”, breads, cookies and bars, pies, other desserts and cakes.  There are many large photos showing finished products as well as smaller “step-by-step” photos for certain dishes.  Along with most recipes the authors have included a detailed section entitled “Why This Recipe Works” in which they discuss the challenges they faced when perfecting the recipe and how they resolved them with ingredients and techniques.

Roben Ryberg  began cooking with gluten-free flours almost two decades ago in order to help expand a gluten-intolerant friend’s diet.   The great strength of Ryberg’s cookbook is that she provides multiple variations for each recipe.   For example, she includes four different chocolate-chip cookie recipes: one using cornstarch, one using oat flour, one using potato starch and a fourth using rice flour.  For corn bread fans, she also presents four variations: two using cornmeal, one using millet flour and another using rice flour.   Before most recipes Ryberg offers helpful tips and notes on the effects that the ingredients will likely have on the final outcome.  The lack of photos in Roberg’s cookbook leaves all the more room for a huge selection of recipes covering appetizers, soups and stews, breakfast items, vegetable dishes, pies, tarts, cookies, other desserts, cakes, meat and poultry dishes, fish dishes, salads, an enormous array of breads and even a section on wedding cakes.

Often, those who are gluten-intolerant are also intolerant of dairy foods.  Hence, cookbooks that present recipes which are both gluten-free and dairy-free are invaluable for many, including myself.  Denise Jardine opens her cookbook with a nicely detailed discussion of dairy-related health issues, calcium and dairy food alternatives.  She includes recipes for breakfast items, snacks, salads, soups, fish dishes, meat and poultry dishes, vegetarian dishes, sauces, breads and desserts.  There are a few photos.  An extremely handy feature of Jardine’s book is that she notes in bold color-coded squares before each recipe whether it’s free of common allergens/irritants such as eggs, soy, nuts, sugars and/or oil.

A Gluten-Free Birthday for Me! by Sue Fliess

As this attractively illustrated picture/recipe book opens, we meet a cheerful little girl who is helping her family to get their house ready for her birthday celebration.  The author conveys the feeling that gluten-free living is very doable, keeping the mood light and fun throughout.  For example, when it comes time to bake the cake, the birthday girl smilingly notes, “Can’t use flour, / can’t eat wheat… / That’s got gluten!  What’s to eat? / Search the cookbooks… / time to bake -- / chocolate-cookie-crumble cake!”  The cake is a huge hit, and all the kids at the party want seconds.  After the story, the author includes two gluten-free dessert recipes, including one for the chocolate-cookie-crumble cake.  There are also some tips for friends and family of the gluten-intolerant, as well as a list of Web sites concerning gluten-intolerance.  

This is a great cookbook for eight to eleven-year-olds which includes recipes for seven different dishes and a flour mixture to use in general in gluten-free baking.  Some of the recipes included are blueberry pancakes, classic lasagna, cupcakes, chicken fingers and pineapple muffins.  There’s also a helpful opening section which provides kids with some tips on preparing to cook and defines many cooking terms.  Each recipe is accompanied by an inviting photo of the dish, a list of both ingredients and tools that will be needed and a step-by-step guide to making the dish.  Key steps are color-coded to match  illustrative photos of those steps.  This slim book is a great introduction to gluten-free cooking for children.

The above is just a small sampling of the numerous gluten-free cookbooks that we have for you to check out at OC Public Libraries.  And we are adding more!  Keep checking our catalog for new additions.

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