Gluten-Free On A Shoestring

Book Reviews | By on Sep 12th, 2011

Author: Nicole Hunn
Publisher: Lifelong Books
Genre: Cooking
Pages: 260
Buy On Amazon.com

Gluten-free cooking can certainly be expensive, especially if your diet or allergies necessitate alternatives to those omnipresent “vegetables proteins” and “cereal grains”- wheat, barley, some oats, and rye. (Flour – that superstar of breads, cakes, and most other baked goods – is made usually from powdered wheat.)

The first few pages of this book give some obvious suggestions for saving money on gluten-free cooking, such as clipping coupons, shopping on cheap online sites (e.g. Amazon), and freezing bases (dough, stocks, etc.) for future use. Thanks, mom.

I was mixed about the rest of the book, which is comprised of just over 100 recipes. Some don’t require gluten at all (hummus, spinach dip, glazed carrots, pot roast??). Much of others are basic flour-common recipes that call for gluten-free flour and xantham gum (a binding agent) in place of flour. These are essentially the same recipes for dinner rolls, cupcakes, tortillas, and focaccia that are already out there on the web, only with those replacements. And gluten-free flour can be pretty expensive, by the way. (I was actually quite surprised at the reliance on gluten-free flour over cornmeal and potato alternatives.)

I think the point of the book is to teach how to make gluten-necessary base recipes with flour-free alternative ingredients. These recipes for bagels, rolls, breads, pasta, and crusts are certainly sufficient. What you do with them are more up to you. There are some basic suggestions, but no mind-blowing, ultra-fancy dishes here – this isn’t a gourmet book to impress guests. Sure, the point is to save money, but sidebars for tasty variations would be welcome.

The book succeeds at its point – to teach celiac sufferers how to make some simple carby staples without gluten, and with the intent of making these staples in bulk to save money. The tone of the book is friendly and supportive, and the recipes are very clear and simple to follow.

This is a good book considering its intentions, but, all said and done, I’d rather just pay the extra buck for my favorite store-bought, tried-and-true gluten-free cupcake.

Bottom Line: Well-written recipes for very basic gluten-free staples.
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