The Gluten-Free Vegan by Susan O’Brien

Note: I recently adopted a gluten-free diet because my ear, nose, and throat doctor suggested it as part of my treatment for tinnitus, a disturbing ailment that causes hissing in my ears. I am trying various homeopathic remedies and even plan to revisit my biological dentist, who claims that my jaw misalignment may have something to do with my problem.

Of course, now that  I am on a gluten-free diet, (wheat, rye, and barley are glutinous grains, and oats are sometimes included because they are processed in a facility with gluten) I notice how many people are on one, so when this book, The Gluten-Free Vegan was recommended to me by my nutrition-friend Barb Schiltz, who I profiled on August 31, 2009. I immediately obtained a copy, since I am already a vegetarian who also limits dairy. (Dairy has also been implicated in aggravating or even causing a gluten problem.)  Below is my review:



In Susan O’Brien’s Introduction, she readily admits: “I know how challenging it can be to eliminate gluten from your diet. I also know how fantastic it can be to finally feel well, to wake up without the ‘foggy brain’ or to be able to remember something as simple as a name.” Spoken like a person who has first-hand knowledge of the health issues that gluten can cause, which she has. For eight years Susan has been on a gluten-free diet and her recipes show that she is up for the challenge of making tasty dishes that not only say, “I don’t miss the meat,” but also, “OK, I can enjoy recipes without dairy or gluten in order to feel better.”

So this book is about the health aspects of being gluten and dairy free, as well as meat free. She also notes in her Introduction that she feels great on this diet and NOT deprived. This is the key, I think, to her success as a cookbook writer. (This is her fourth cookbook.) Healthy recipes need to stand alone as being tasty and enjoyable, or they won’t make the grade in your kitchen.  I think these recipes will definitely help you stay on this diet if your health demands it.

The cookbook is divided into three basic sections: Section One deals with such questions as Why Vegan? the importance of organic foods, foods that have not been genetically modified (GMO), raw foods, dairy alternatives, sugar alternatives, egg and gluten substitutes, a list of foods to avoid for a gluten-free diet, and several other topics.  This section alone is worth the price of the book.

Section two consists of all the recipes, of which there are 150, starting with appetizers, soups, salads, vegetable & main dishes, and moving on to breakfast foods, baked items without gluten, desserts, beverages, and sauces & condiments.
(Sample recipe below.)

The final section contains Resources to find the ingredients that may not be readily available where you live, metric conversions, an index, and of course, acknowledgments, since publishing a cookbook requires many heads and hands in and out of the kitchen.

Since I love rice pudding, I chose this as my sample. But I checked of 35 recipes to try.  Of course, since my eyes are figuratively bigger than my belly, I am not sure how many I will get to, but the rice pudding is definitely one I hope to try! Gluten and dairy free has never been so easy and tasty.


Ginger Rice Pudding

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Ginger is so good for our digestion.  It also has a very nice flavor, so I added it to this recipe and it was a hit. I think the combination of the coconut milk and ginger really works well.

2 cups light coconut milk
1/2 cup water
1 cup uncooked arborio rice
Pinch of sea salt
1 tablespoon finely chopped candied or fresh ginger
2-3 small Medjool dates, pitted and chopped
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

Place the coconut milk and water in a pot and bring to a boil. Add the rice and the salt, and bring back to a boil. Turn down the heat, add the ginger and dates, and simmer over low heat for 40-45 minutes, or until rice is cooked but not dried out. Rice pudding should be very moist. Add the cinnamon and serve.

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Here’s another recipe that I cannot try yet, because I am avoiding nuts to see if it helps my tinnitus. But it looks really good!

Fresh Uncooked Piecrust (p. 126)

4 cups walnuts or raw macadamia nuts
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Pinch of freshly grated nutmeg
Pinch of ground cardamom
1/4 teaspoon salt

Place all the nuts into a food processor or, if necessary, a blender and process until fine. (If you are using a blender, be sure to chop all the nuts and dates before putting them into the machine. Blenders are not the best food for this job, because you want the mixture to be fine, and unless you do very small batches, it will be challenging to achieve this using a blender.)

Add the dates and continue to process until the mixture is well blended, and no large particles remain. Add the spices and the salt, and blend to mix together.

Lightly grease a pie dish with vegetable oil nonstick spray and press the mixture into the dish, using your hands, pressing the dough evenly onto the bottom of the dish and up the sides.

Susan’s Note: If you want to vary your crust, try using 2 cups walnuts and 2 cups pecans or macadamia buts. I also use pecans in this crust with great results.

My Note: Susan has several recipes in this book to use as fillings, such as tropical pudding or pie filling. You can also cut up fresh fruit and place it in the pie crust…no cooking needed!

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The Gluten-Free Vegan is available wherever cookbooks are sold, such as Barnes & Noble, Borders, etc. and also online from Amazon.com. Click on the icon to go right to Amazon.


 

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