Reviews: Allergy-Friendly & Gluten-Free Cookbooks

in Reviews
Published: December 4, 2013


Published in 2014

The Complete Coconut Cookbook
By Camilla V. Saulsbury
coconut cookbookRobert Rose, $24.95

Flakes, flour, butter, milk, cream, oil, aminos, water, sugar… coconut really does have it all. No wonder this versatile drupe has become a darling of the allergen-free community and the latest focus in Camilla Saulsbury’s cookbook collection. Her polar passions – cooking competitions and endurance racing – come together in this health-minded publication that is free of dairy, eggs, meat, peanuts, tree nuts, gluten, grains, corn, fish and refined sugars.

Saulsbury begins with a thorough look at coconut, from its health effects to its many facets as an ingredient, before continuing on with 200 neatly organized recipes. Interspersed with a smattering of polished photos, the recipes have a wholesome and simplistic appeal, with shakes, vegetables, and baked goods aplenty. And coconut doesn’t merely make a cameo; in most cases, it’s the star of the show. Don’t be surprised to find yourself counting the coconut when you come across recipes like Essential Coconut Pancakes, Dark Chocolate Muffins, Potato Masala, and Butterscotch Blondies, where it pops up at least four times in the ingredients. –Alisa Fleming


Let us all eat cake resizedLet Us All Eat Cake
By Catherine Ruehle
Ten Speed Press, $24.99

As a professional pastry chef and accommodating bakery owner, Catherine Ruehle began championing allergy-friendly recipes long before her own needs emerged. It was during her fourth appearance on the Food Network Challenge when she experienced hand paralysis that kept her from further competing. The diagnosis was rheumatoid arthritis, and her solution for symptom relief: living gluten and dairy-free.

Unwilling to concede to celebrations without a forkful of tender pastry and frosting, Ruehle whipped up her new cookbook, Let Us All Eat Cake. Paired with vivid photography, the recipes cover nearly every cake imaginable. The Boston Cream Pie balances light sponge cake layers with rich dairy-free custard while the Pink Princess Cake shows just how delicate gluten-free can be.

Though several of the recipes use egg and a few contain other top allergens, all are gluten- and soy-free and Ruehle provides a food allergy index to identify which recipes are also vegan, dairy- or nut-free. –Alisa Fleming

AF pantry resizedThe Allergy-Free Pantry
By Collette Martin
The Experiment, $19.95

Have you considered making your own pancake mix, mayonnaise or fresh pasta, only to find the task too daunting without gluten, dairy, eggs, nuts and soy? if so, then The Allergy Free Pantry could become your favorite cooking companion.

This do-it-yourself handbook offers from-scratch essentials, like dairy alternatives and everyday condiments, before advancing to meal, snack and dessert recipes that are laid out like a bible for allergen-free families.

The ample tips and photography are straight from the kitchen of author Colette Martin – to help ensure that the Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Muffins emerge perfectly tender, the Animal Crackers have that audible crunch, and the Pot Pie becomes a new family favorite. –Alisa Fleming


Decadent GF vegan baking resizedDecadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking 
By Cara Reed
Page Street Publishing, $19.99

You might think donuts and cupcakes without wheat, eggs and dairy would be enough, but it’s the unique opening and closing recipe chapters that make this cookbook rise above the rest. Cara Reed sets the stage for her comforting style with a collage of homespun photography and the first section title: Childhood Favorites. She immediately draws us in with the Girl Scout cookie favorites, followed by churros, cheez-its and “pop tarts” aplenty.

The chapters move on to recipes for highly approachable cookies, bars, pastries and breads before topping it all off with the simplistic, yet dazzling finale of from-scratch recipes for flavored whip “creams”, dessert sauces, homemade food dyes and sprinkles, in rainbow or chocolate.

Nuts dot just a handful of recipes in Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking, and can often be omitted. Savvy soy-free bakers can enjoy most of the goodies with easy ingredient swaps for oil, margarine and the occasional dairy substitute. –Alisa Fleming 


Blender GirlThe Blender Girl
By Tess Masters
Ten Speed Press, $19.99 paperback

An actress and voice-over artist, Tess Masters uses vivid photography and her natural vitality to glamorize eating green in this best-selling cookbook. Like a health spa handbook for home, the reader is briskly introduced to sprouting, superfoods and essentials on digestive health, before being whisked into a stunning display of nutrient-dense vegan, gluten-free and peanut-free recipes. Ranging from detoxifying drinks to comforting meals and creamy desserts, all have easy preparation thanks to the use of (you guessed it) a blender.

Recipes like the Green Queen and Mango Fire and Ice showcase Masters’ sassy side and display her devotion to a high-raw lifestyle. But for drizzly days, the cookbook still beckons with earthy pastas, egg-free crepes and rich dairy-free sauces. –Alisa Fleming


FODMAP-Diet-CookbookThe Low-FODMAP Diet Cookbook
By Sue Shepherd, PhD
The Experiment, $19.95 paperback

From IBS to gluten sensitivity, FODMAPs (an array of difficult-to-digest carbs) have been singled out as potential culprits in digestive disorders. FODMAPs are found in milk, beans, soy, nuts, and some fruits and vegetables. Wheat, barley and rye also contain FODMAPs, and research is striving to determine whether those with gluten sensitivity on a gluten-free diet may actually be benefiting from reduced FODMAP intake.

In her second cookbook, dietitian Sue Shepherd, inventor of the low-FODMAP diet, brings to the table 150 appetizing, low-FODMAP (and gluten-free) recipes, covering all bases from breakfast to dessert. –Patrick Bennett 


GF-Family-Favorites-CookbookGluten-Free Family Favorites
By Kelli and Peter Bronski
The Experiment, $19.95 paperback

The husband-and-wife team behind the popular Artisanal Gluten-Free Cooking are back with a cookbook for the busy family. Their 75 new gluten-free recipes include kid favorites such as Blueberry Mini Muffins, Chicken Fingers and Fish Sticks. But there are plenty of easy options for more refined palates, like the Pumpkin Gnocchi Nuggets and Asian Quinoa Salad. Recipes include modifications for those avoiding dairy, nuts or eggs.

The book also includes a wealth of helpful tips: from keeping a gluten-free kitchen to label reading and a section on reducing those gluten-free grocery bills. This is an excellent addition to the family cookbook collection. –Patrick Bennett



The Whole Life Nutrition Cookbook
By Alissa Segersten and Tom Malterre, MS, CN
Grand Central Life & Style, $26 paperback

Mastery of the culinary arts meets nutritional science in this behemoth third edition. It’s been expanded to include over 300 recipes that are gluten-free, and now also dairy-free. New chapters address whole food diets, digestive health, and the use of cultured foods with beneficial bacteria.

Simplicity, health and natural flavor are essential to Segersten, a cooking instructor. She dishes up the basics on cooking whole, gluten-free grains and making homemade milk alternatives, but even her more elaborate cuisine can be made with ease and farm-to-fork ingredients. Many of the recipes are free of top allergens or offer alternatives, and the baking shuns refined sweeteners and gums. –Alisa Fleming


By Laura B. Russell
Ten Speed Press, $23 hardcover

Lauded as nutritional stars, yet frowned upon by picky eaters, the Brassicaceae family is finally getting its day in the sun with this 80-recipe collection. Laura Russell first addresses flavor profiles, preparation and cooking techniques to work with the sometimes strong presence of this powerhouse clan. She then puts her recommendations to work: mild brassicas are gently seasoned in the Mizuna Salad with Cumin-Roasted Cauliflower while a peppery vegetal is paired with natural sweetness in the Turnip and Apple Salsa, and a bolder botanical is set ablaze in the Spicy Kale Fried Rice.

Russell cooks exclusively gluten-free and addresses multiple food allergies. Brassicas has a special diet table to note at a glance which recipes contain dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, coconut or sesame. –Alisa Fleming

See Also: Allergy, Gluten-Free Resource Book Reviews

By Alexa Croft
Kulia Media, $24.95 paperback

Lexie Croft, author of Lexie’s Kitchen, is back with an impressive ‘everyday’ recipe book. Each of her 68 recipes, presented with beautiful color photographs and typography, are free of gluten, dairy, eggs and soy. Some recipes are free of nuts and other key allergens too; a handy chart guides the reader on suitability.

Croft covers the full spectrum: from Breakfast Smoothies in fun flavors such as Cheery Cherry and Lemon-Aid, to restaurant-worthy Stroganoff and Chicken Milanese. Treats aren’t forgotten: there are classics like Vanilla Cupcakes, plus items you won’t see every day, like homemade Graham Crackers and Marshmallows (make your own S’mores!).

Whatever your diet needs, these recipes will add excitement, taste and health to your kitchen. –Patrick Bennett

Sweet Debbies - high res coverSweet Debbie`s Organic Treats
By Debbie Adler
Harlequin Nonfiction, $19.95 paperback

Sassy Debbie Adler (aka Sweet Debbie) reveals the secrets behind her L.A. bakery’s delectable Top 8- and gluten-free desserts. Inspired by her son with allergies, Adler takes allergy-friendly baking to new and healthier heights, shunning sugar for fruit purees and stevia, without sacrificing any goodness.

Her recipes include muffins, brownies, cookies, cupcakes, donuts and breads. For a real treat, try the Girl Scout Brownies – with a combination of caramel and chocolate sauces. And for a holiday party, the Mocha Italian Espresso Cupcakes are bound to vanish quickly. –Patrick Bennett

coverCooking For Your Gluten-Free Teen
By Carlyn Berghoff & Sarah Berghoff McClure
Andrews McMeel Publishing, $19.99 paperback

Carlyn Berghoff’s family has been in the restaurant business in Chicago for more than 100 years, but this chef ’s world turned upside-down when her daughter was diagnosed with celiac disease. Now Berghoff and her daughter, Sarah, have collaborated to write a wonderful cookbook aimed squarely at gluten-free teens. It’s one that puts forbidden favorites back on the menu.

Teen staples like pizza, grilled cheese, chicken nuggets and fish sticks are sure to please, but every recipe in this book sounds and looks delicious. The book is not free of other allergens, but nut-containing recipes are few. All are easy to make, so budding cooks will enjoy experimenting along with Berghoff’s thoughtful advice for living healthy and gluten-free. –Patrick Bennett

Next page: More Cookbook Reviews!