Thursday, January 6, 2011

Gluten Free Conscious Cook

Before Christmas I received a copy of Gluten Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook in my mailbox. I always welcome a new cookbook into my arsenal, especially one that takes a different stance than most. Years ago the problem with the gluten free market, and the biggest challenge for people when they first converted to a gluten free diet, seemed to be the sweets. We all want our favorite cookie or snack, and there sure are dozens of gluten free cookies available. Now the market is evolving. There's gluten free bread, and has been, but as of late companies are working on developing ones with healthier grains, high fiber options, etc. The same goes for cereals and crackers.

Leslie Cerier, the author of Gluten Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook, encourages the gluten free community to break free of what probably has become their comfort zone- rice flour, rice pasta, and introduce them to some of those alternative grains they had been seeing on the shelf, but apprehensive about trying: amaranth, teff, millet.

Since it is winter time I thought I would start out with a soup recipe: Quick Miso Soup with Nettles and Spicy Thai Noodles. Not even sure what a nettle is or don't like them? The author has variation suggestions for most recipes. Here she suggested substituting spinach for nettles, and that's exactly what I did, as I already had that in my fridge. All the other ingredients sound very clean, very healthy: vermicelli, broccoli, tofu, chives, garlic, miso, tamari.

Simple to make, did I find this recipe satisfying? The taste was nice, almost refreshing. I debated about crisping the outside of the tofu before I dropped it in the soup, as I like tofu that way, but I stuck to the recipe and just dropped it in. The longer you let the soup simmer the more the tofu absorbed the other flavors. I ate a whole bowl of the soup, which says something because I don't like soup; try as I might, I just don't find it a complete meal. I don't feel that way because it had tofu and not chicken in it, but I think because I'm just not a soup person. If I did like soup more, I would really like this, although my husband thought it could have used more salt.

Then I moved on to an area I'm more comfortable with- desserts. The cookbook using maple sugar, dates, coconut oil, and millet as some alternative ingredients from what I'm used to. The Millet Apple Raisin Cake sounded easy with only 3 ingredients: millet, apple juice, and raisin, so I gave it a whirl. It didn't really sound like cake, but I tried my best to stay open minded. This mixture was a lot better as a hot breakfast dish than a cake. I also tried the mocha rice pudding rice and it was a nice change in the dessert department, although I did add a little more sugar than the recipe called for. Overall, I like the variety this cookbook offers. It challenges me to try new things, and offers a nice assortment of dishes for every meal. The only thing I wish it had was nutritional information.

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