I am writing this review from the perspective of a mother who's been cooking gluten, dairy and egg free for 4+ years due to food intolerances and allergies in our family. We've reduced processed foods and our sugar intake considerably and increased our vegetable intake as well. I'm fairly well-read on natural health viewpoints on nutrition, so I was familiar with the information presented in the preface and "Foundations of Health" section at the beginning of this cookbook. The authors include a great deal of information, so if you're new to nutritional reading or natural health, there is a lot to take in. Don't be discouraged. Start small and make the changes you can, don't be concerned with the changes you have not or will not make, look at what you CAN do. For example, don't fret if you aren't eating 95% organic, if the idea of eating fermented foods doesn't sound appetizing, or if you are overwhelmed by the suggestion to start making your salad dressings from scratch. (Those suggestions make me uneasy, too.) One small step at a time, done consistently, can bring about great change and you'll be less likely to get discouraged and give up if you have reasonable goals. People don't often change lifestyle habits like how they shop, cook and eat, overnight. Okay, back to the review...
This is a thick, heavy paperback book with over 500 pages. There are two brief sections of full color photos in this book, so about 32 pages with photos of some of the completed recipes. While this probably helps lower the cost of the book by not picturing every recipe and by containing the color pages to set areas, it is a bit awkward. Nonetheless, I like it better than not having any color or photos at all, so we'll take it as it comes. The photos are very easy to read with clear headings followed by pictures indicating which allergens are NOT in the recipe. There is a key in the front explaining the icons which show recipes free from: gluten (all recipes, but they still include an icon), grains, dairy, soy, eggs, nuts (tree nuts and peanuts are included here due to cross-contamination, but coconuts are not included in this allergen group as they are technically not tree nuts and many people with nut allergies don't react to coconut), and nightshades (tomatoes, tomatillos, potatoes, eggplant, peppers, curry powder, paprika, cayenne and more foods are in the nightshade family).
Breads & Muffins (36)
Soups & Stews (33)
Salads & Vegetables (48)
Whole Grains & Noodles (22)
Main Meals (44)
Dressings, Dips and Sauces (28)
Wraps & Rolls (12)
Snacks & Treats (12)
Preserving the Harvest (16)
Fourteen of the Breads & Muffins recipes included eggs, but there are enough different recipes one should find something enjoyable even if you don't use those. I found the fact that she includes a starter recipe and instructions for a gluten-free sourdough very fascinating and cannot wait to try it when I'm able to obtain all the flours needed. I was disappointed that a recipe I wanted to try called for "raw buckwheat flour." The author includes a note saying that the buckwheat flour sold in stores is typically from roasted buckwheat groats and they will not work in these recipes, so if you don't have a high-powered blender to make your own flour, you may be discouraged from these recipes as I am. I appreciate that the ingredients are listed out for each recipe, rather than calling for a special "flour mix" that has a ratio given elsewhere. I like to keep my gluten-free flours separate for ease of use in varying recipes so I appreciate this. Some of the flours and starches called for in recipes here include: blanched almond flour, coconut flour (not used in most recipes which helps those of us who don't care for it), arrowroot powder, brown rice flour, teff flours, tapioca flour, sorghum flour, millet flour, quinoa flour, and sweet rice flour. Psyllium husk seeds and powder, chia seeds, and flax are also used.
Some of the recipes under "Main Meals" seemed more like side dishes to me, such as baked beans. There are plenty of dishes in this section that include meat and plenty that do not. I appreciated some recipes that appeal to my Midwestern children, such as Roasted Whole Chicken with Root Vegetables, Apricot-Glazed Chicken, Grain-Free Chicken Nuggets, Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast and Slow-Cooked Beef Stew. I am sure Poached Salmon with Green Onions and White Wine or Thai Coconut Fish Sticks would please my husband, but often I pick up cookbooks and am disappointed there are too few family-friendly recipes. My littlest ones simply don't have an exotic palate just yet.
The Wraps & Wrolls section includes a few different recipes to make tortillas and THAT is exciting news. I have made gluten-dairy-egg free lefse with my own recipe, so I am up to the challenge. Gluten-free wraps that do not contain eggs are quite spendy so they are a rare treat around here. Fifteen of the Dessert Recipes include eggs. The Beverages Section includes nut milks, coconut keifer, teas, lemonade, cider, etc. The final section is called "Preserving the Harvest" and includes a unique mix of recipes for some vinegars, sauces, purees, sauerkraut, pickles, fruit butter
I typically try to make several recipes from a cookbook exactly as they are written before writing a review. However, with the holidays, I've been busy and on a budget so I have been unable to purchase the flours and ingredients I'd need to add to my pantry to try some of these recipes. We did try the "Cashew Roasted Red Pepper Dip" and my husband and I liked it as much as Sabra's Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus. It is sweeter as it has a cashew base, but it is delicious. My husband actually prefers it over Sabra, while I enjoy them both. It was much faster to prepare than I expected and the flavor was amazing. It's given me high hopes for other recipes to turn out well. I do apologize for not having more detailed reviews of individual recipes at this time, I hope to update this post when we've tried several recipes from the cookbook.
I recommend this cookbook to anyone looking for wholesome recipes. The information I've read is very useful and the recipes have great variety and look promising. After all these years of being gluten-dairy-egg free, I can say none of these recipes raised a red-flag for me as not looking like they'd turn out. Many times I see people just trying to substitute applesauce for eggs without any fats, which creates a gummy texture, or I notice they've suggested subbing flax seed for 4 eggs, which rarely works. (Subbing out 2 eggs is very easy, but more than 2 is a bit trickier to maintain the right texture.) If you've got allergies or food sensitivities, this book is definitely worth purchasing. We've checked out many gluten-dairy free cookbooks from the library that were no where near the quality of recipes included in this cookbook. These recipes are not bland items to make to get by, they are meals and snacks you can actually enjoy. Although it can be intimidating to make a dietary change, these recipes take a reasonable amount of prep time with healthy ingredients that taste good.
In the interest of full-disclosure, I received a copy of this book courtesy of Blogging for Books for the purpose of reviewing. I was not required to give a positive review, my opinions are genuine.