Thursday
Apr242014

Book Review: Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond by Linda J. Amendt

Book Description: 

Breakfast is the favorite meal of the day for millions of Americans, but those with a gluten intolerance are out of luck, since many breakfast foods and baked items have been banned from their diet. They must find gluten-free alternatives or go without. For the rising number of Americans who are choosing to follow a gluten-free diet as a healthy lifestyle and for parents experimenting with gluten-free recipes for their families, they, too, are having to do without. 

That disappointment will no longer be the case. In Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond, home cooks will discover a variety of gluten-free recipes for their family’s favorite breakfast foods. From light quick breads, muffins, biscuits and scones to tasty pancakes, waffles, coffee cakes and sweet rolls, this collection of 100 recipes will bring breakfast back to the gluten-free table. A tantalizing array of frittatas, quiches, and breakfast casseroles are perfect for any meal of the day. The recipes in Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond are quick and easy to make and yield delicious, satisfying results.

Recipes for homemade all-purpose flour, crepe batter, pancake batter, sweet roll dough, and biscuit dough will give every gluten-free cook the basics for creating delicious dishes of their own.
In addition to great recipes, Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond will provide cooks with the information they need about gluten-free ingredients, including ingredients to include—and avoid--in their diet and preparing and measuring ingredients. Each recipe chapter will begin with tips to help home cooks create great-tasting gluten-free breakfast specialties to serve from morning to night.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon: Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond Kindle: $9.99 Paperback: $14.21

Review:

Recently I had a reader contact me wanting to know my opinion on some of the gluten-free cookbooks to hit the shelves in recent months. I'll admit up front that I'm not the best authority on the subject, but I do like to answer reader requests whenever possible. It just so happens that I have three cookbooks dedicated to the topic sitting on my table, just waiting for me to have the free time to page through them. I'll be sharing the best of the bunch with you today.

For those of you who weren't aware, gluten-free cooking is sweeping the nation. For some it is the latest diet craze, but for those with celiac disease, an auto-immune disorder that can cause damage to the small intestine, a gluten-free lifestyle is absolutely necessary. The smallest amount of gluten can cause those with this disease an extreme amount of discomfort and pain as well as lead to health problems further down the road. Making the change to a gluten-free lifestyle isn't easy, it requires a lot of time and dedication. I didn't realize until recently that gluten hides in some pretty innocuous places. It's found in everything from baked goods to lipstick. It hides in condiments, dairy products such as yogurt and sour cream, even medications. To live a truly gluten-free lifestyle you have to be aware of every ingredient in every item that passes your lips. 

There certainly is a huge learning curve to living a gluten-free lifestyle, but fortunately for those who must make the switch, manufacturers and authors alike are making it easier than ever. As I mentioned before, I have three gluten-free cookbooks sitting on my table at the moment. Of those three Gluten-Free Breakfast, Brunch & Beyond stood out as being the most comprehensive as well as the most useful for those just beginning to make the switch. The book starts off with a basic understanding of what gluten is, where it is found, and what basic items you'll need in your pantry for gluten-free baking and cooking. Also included is an extensive section of helpful tips such as avoiding cross-contamination when preparing both gluten-laden and gluten-free meals in the same kitchen and what to do if your gluten-free baked goods are dry or crumbly. Each chapter starts off with quick tips and hints to help you fine tune your techniques and avoid many of the common problems associated with gluten-free baking.

As much as I enjoyed this book, it isn't suited to everyone. If you do not enjoy baking or will not be baking gluten-free on a regular basis, then this book is not for you. Over 75% of the recipes are for baked goods and all of these recipes ask you to use the gluten-free all-purpose flour recipe at the beginning of the book. The recipe contains only four ingredients, but these ingredients will not typically be found in even the most well-stocked pantry. None of the ingredients are hard to come by, I was able to find every one of them in our small-town grocery store, but they are expensive. Before tax you can plan on investing approximately $20 for the necessary ingredients. You'll also need to purchase either Guar Gum or Xanthan Gum, which also has a hefty price tag. You can expect to pay $0.99 for a single serving packet containing 1 Tablespoon of Xanthan Gum, or $15 for an 8 ounce package. Guar Gum is slightly less expensive, costing only $11 for an 8 ounce package and can be used interchangeably with recipes calling for Xanthan Gum. For those of you not familiar with either ingredient, they are typically used to provide flexibility and stability in gluten-free baked goods. 

While the gluten-free all-purpose flour recipe that I mentioned before may not be practical for the occasional gluten-free baker, it will be a life saver for those of you who still want to bake on a regular basis. If you have switched over to a gluten-free lifestyle and miss baked goods or are in the process of making the switch, yet reluctant to give up tasty treats such as pancakes or scones, then this is your book! Personally, I've been eyeing up the coffee cake recipes, especially the cherry. I'm a bit of a sucker when it comes to cherry pie filling, I will readily admit that I could eat it straight out of the jar.

Let's keep that a secret now, shall we?

While I did not have an opportunity to test any of the recipes from today's book, I'm still confident in recommending it to those of you who are living a gluten-free lifestyle. I was very impressed by the books attention to detail and helpful tips that those of you who are new to the lifestyle or considering the switch will find useful.

Sources:

"What Is Celiac Disease? - Celiac Disease Foundation." Celiac Disease Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.

Disclaimer:

This book was sent to me for review by The Taunton Press through NetGalley. As always, all opinions are my own. 

This post contains referral links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Please keep in mind that this is a necessary evil to cover my expenses in running this blog so I can continue to provide you with quality content.

Tuesday
Apr222014

Tuesday Tea - Mandarin Cream - The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

Tea Description:

Our Mandarin Cream tea awakens the senses with oolong loose tea leaves, hints of cream and a stimulating citrus finish. Blended with lemon myrtle, marigolds, and natural essence of vanilla, Mandarin Cream is a rich and smooth tea experience with an utterly heavenly aroma.

Ingredients: Organic Oolong Loose-Leaf Tea, Organic Lemon Myrtle, Marigold Petals, Natural Flavors

Other Information:

Leaf Type: Oolong (flavored)

Where to Purchase: The Persimmon Tree Tea Company

Suggested Brewing Tips:

Serving Size: 1 - 2 teaspoons per 8oz serving

Water Temp: 195°F 

Steep Time: 3-5 minutes

Review:

The Persimmon Tree Tea Company first hit my radar a little over a year ago when I was looking to branch out and try new tea. What caught my attention was the fact that I could pick up a sample of their tea for only $1.25 or a 5 pack (plus a sample of German rock sugar) for $5. There are a number of tea companies that offer sample sizes, but not very many do so at such a low price. I immediately ordered five samples to try out and a month or two after that I ordered five more. Now, just over a year later I have found a number of teas I can't live without, especially during the summer months. I was delighted when the contacted me recently and offered me the chance to select two teas to share with you. I spent hours going back and forth over my choices and ultimately settled on one of their bestselling teas, Mandarin Cream.

I'll fully admit that I had never looked very closely at this tea before, despite it being one of their best sellers. The name turned me off a bit, I thought perhaps it might be an orange cream tea. As I've mentioned before, I'm absolutely not a fan of oranges, or anything strongly citrus flavored. There have only been a few exceptions to this so I tend to shy away from them completely. Imagine my surprise when I finally read the ingredient list and discovered that this blend had nothing at all to do with Mandarin oranges. Rather than the orange cream flavored tea that I had feared this was a blend of pouchong, lemon myrtle, and vanilla.

When I first opened up the tin I was greeted with the heavenly scent of vanilla. This wasn't the artificial scent of vanilla I've come to expect of many vanilla teas. No, this smelled like I had opened up a new package of vanilla beans. Did I mention that it smelled heavenly? I love the scent of vanilla beans! Once the tea had been steeped the vanilla flavor mellowed out a little and I could taste the subtle floral flavors from the pouchong base as well as a hint of citrus from the lemon myrtle. When it comes to citrus teas I find that I prefer the subtle flavor that lemon myrtle adds. It gives a hint of citrus flavor without the overwhelming tartness of real lemon. 

Now that I've tried this tea I'm kicking myself for not having tried it sooner. The bright citrus flavor and sweet vanilla are the perfect springtime combination. I love that it is sweet enough on its own that I don't have to add sugar to it. Since it was 45°F when I woke up I tried this hot first, but it also makes a wonderful iced tea. I'll definitely be purchasing more of this once the weather warms up! 

Before I end my review today I want to mention something. If you're planning on visiting the Persimmon Tree website make sure you have your pop-up blocker turned off. They occasionally offer a promotion called Share and Receive Complimentary Tea! It shows up as a pop-up, you'll click the Facebook share button and once you've shared it you'll receive a coupon code for a free tin of tea. When I participated last year it was for a tin of White Guava, although the flavor offered may have changed.

My Rating: 92/100

Would I order this again? Yes! Boy have I been missing out, this tea was fabulous hot and even better iced.

Disclosure:

In an effort to be open with my readers I want to let you know that The Persimmon Tree Tea Company has provided me with two tins of tea for review. As always, all opinions are my own. 

Friday
Apr182014

Book Review: The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther

Book Description: 

A cookbook from the author of the popular website Nourished Kitchen, featuring 175 recipes based on the "traditional foods" philosophy of eating, which emphasizes whole grains, dairy, red meat, organ meats, and fermented foods. 

The traditional foods movement is a fad-free approach to cooking and eating that emphasizes nutrient-dense, real food, and values quality, environment, and community over the convenience of processed, additive-laden products that are the norm on grocery store shelves. 

Based on the research of Weston A. Price, who studied the diets of indigenous peoples to understand the relationship between nutrition and health, a traditional foods diet avoids processed ingredients, but allows meat, animal fat, and grains. It embraces cultured dairy, such as kefir and yogurt, that contain beneficial bacteria; fermented foods, such as sauerkraut  and kombucha, that are rich in probiotics; and organ meats that are packed with vitamins and minerals. It also celebrates locally grown foods. By choosing ingredients from nearby sources, you create a stronger connection to your food, and have a better understanding what you’re eating and how it was produced. 

In The Nourished Kitchen, Jennifer McGruther guides you through her traditional foods kitchen and offers more than 160 recipes inspired by  the seasons, land, and waters around her. In the morning, fuel up with Eggs Poached in Fiery Tomato Sauce. On a hot summer day, Cucumber Salad with Dill and Kefir is a cooling side dish, and on a chilly fall evening, Barley in Broth with Bacon and Kale offers comfort and warmth. Old-Fashioned Meat Loaf with Gravy makes a hearty family meal, while Chicken in Riesling with Peas can be the centerpiece of an elegant supper. Satisfy your sweet tooth with Maple-Roasted Pears, and quench your thirst with naturally fermented Vanilla Mint Soda. With the benefit of Jennifer’s experience, you can craft a loaf of Whole Wheat and Spelt Sourdough Bread and stock your kitchen with Spiced Sour Pickles with Garlic.

The Nourished Kitchen not only teaches how to prepare wholesome, nourishing foods,  but also encourages a mindful approach cooking and a celebration of old-world culinary traditions that have sustained healthy people for millennia. Whether you’re already a practitioner of the traditional foods lifestyle or simply trying to incorporate more natural, highly nutritious foods into your routine, you will find plenty to savor in The Nourished Kitchen.

Where to Purchase:

Amazon: The Nourished Kitchen: Farm-to-Table Recipes for the Traditional Foods Lifestyle Kindle: $11.99 Hardcover: $17.74

Review:

Things are a bit topsy-turvy this week at Not Starving Yet which is why I'm running a little behind with today's review. I've been gearing up to photograph my little brother's wedding and it has kept me much busier than I had originally anticipated. I'll be working with a fabulous photographer out of the St. Louis area and we've been hashing out our strategy since neither of us has worked together before. Can I take a minute and gush a bit? My baby brother is getting married!

Ok, now that that is out of my system.

This week I'm extremely excited to have a chance to review The Nourished Kitchen by Jennifer McGruther. I've been following her blog, Nourished Kitchen, for a number of years now and have been counting down the days until her cookbook was released. Not only has her blog been a great source of recipes, but it has also changed the way I cook. I can't say that about many blogs. In our household we don't live a dedicated traditional foods lifestyle, I am after all prone to eating a Lean Cuisine when I'm pressed for time, but I do make the majority of our food from scratch and many of my recipes are similar to the ones found in this cookbook.

I've mentioned this before, but just after my wedding nearly six years ago I begged my mother to turn loose of her mother and grandmother's recipes. I was met with a resounding no. You know the one I'm talking about, the one that all mothers have. In this case it means you'll have to pry them out of my cold dead fingers, in fact, she told me almost exactly that. We tend to have a dark sense of humor in my family. Instead of turning loose of the original copies of these treasured family recipes my mother spent days scanning everything for me. I've got the best mother ever!

Why did I bring this up again you ask?

Well, while these may not be the types of dishes your mother made, they're certainly the types your grandmother or great grandmother made. These dishes are from a time when everyone grew a garden and put up the reserves to eat over the long cold winter. If your crops failed that year then you learned to barter for what you needed or do without and stretch what you did have. There were no supermarkets to rush to, no imported fruit from Mexico or Chile, and most importantly, no worries of what was really in your food. A large part of me wishes we still lived in those much simpler times. While I don't grow a garden myself, I am fortunate enough to have the Dane County Farmer's Market where I can buy fresh produce. There I can talk with local farmers about their growing practices and understand exactly where my food comes from.

Having access to fresh, locally grown food means I'm one step closer to being able to completely eliminate processed foods from my family's diet, ensuring we receive the necessary nutrition from our foods and not a bunch of added chemicals. The Nourished Kitchen is a great resource for the traditional recipes you expect, but the author provides her own 21st century twist with combinations of ingredients you grandmother never thought about. There are so many recipes in this book I want to try that I don't even know where to begin. Do I start with some of the basics such as sour cream or slow-cultured yogurt that I've been meaning to try making myself, or do I jump right in and make the sourdough blueberry pancakes with buttered orange syrup that make my mouth water? It's a tough decision, but I do know that I will thoroughly enjoy working my way through every recipe in this book.

Disclaimer:

This book was sent to me for review by Ten Speed Press through NetGalley. As always, all opinions are my own. 

This post contains referral links. I try to keep advertising unobtrusive and to a minimum in order to provide you with the best experience possible. Please keep in mind that this is a necessary evil to cover my expenses in running this blog so I can continue to provide you with quality content.