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.
Where to Purchase
"What Is Celiac Disease? - Celiac Disease Foundation." Celiac Disease Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Apr. 2014.
This book was sent to me for review by The Taunton Press through NetGalley. As always, all opinions are my own.
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