Salad Anatomy 101.

20160831_195731 I know it’s sort of late in the season to be writing about salads, but we’ve been eating a ton of them lately in an effort to be budget friendly. So I thought I’d share some tips for making a salad worth being a main course.

Mix greens.
I buy a head each of organic red leaf lettuce, green leaf lettuce, and romaine. I take them home, rinse them off, chop them up, and mix them well in a large bowl. This usually lasts me for a week and a half or more, depending on hubby’s work schedule. But, how do you keep your lettuce from browning? you ask. Storing chopped lettuce in a mason jar with a standard canning lid set (not a plastic lid) and a paper towel on the bottom really works. The lettuce will stay fresh for as long as 2 weeks.

I don’t recommend adding spinach greens to your salad raw because of their high oxalate content which prevents absorption of calcium. Beet greens are a bit problematic as well. If you have a yard that you don’t treat with chemicals, you can grab some dandelion greens for your salad. I wouldn’t recommend buying them: they cost almost $3 for a small bunch where I am, and that seems like a ridiculous price to pay for something that grows everywhere. Just be sure to pick leaves from plants that haven’t bolted yet (started growing a flower) so you’re greens aren’t overly bitter.

20160903_124044Multiple sources of protein.
I try to have meat of some form on my salads if I’m making one for dinner. I’ll put less meat or no meat at all on lunchtime salads because I usually want a lighter meal for lunch.
Other than meat I like to add different kinds of sprouted beans. You can use whatever kind of beans you like; they don’t necessarily need to be sprouted. I sprout mine for better nutrient absorption, and I like the way they taste, but it’s totally optional. A bonus with using cooked and cooled beans is that you get some resistant starch with your salad, which helps your digestion.
Soaked and dried nuts are also a great addition to salads because they add a delightful crunch.

Something raw other than the greens.
Think sliced tomatoes, shredded carrots, avocados, etc. If you’re struggling with thyroid issues, avoid eating raw cruciferous veggies.

Fermented veggies or pickled veggies.
I like to top my salads with some purple cabbage cortido, because it’s delicious (even though I hate sauerkraut) and crunchy. It also adds a delightful tang to your salad. If I don’t have any on hand I like to chop up some pickles, pickled okra is good as well, or artichoke hearts. Olives are also delicious.

Sprouted seeds.
I love putting sprouted and dried sunflower seeds on top of my salad. This is something I picked up from my awesome mother-in-law. She makes incredible salads.

Dressing.
I find that sometimes I don’t even need dressing if I’ve put enough stuff on the salad, but my go-to dressing recipe is below (this is a good dressing if you’re fighting a candida overgrowth):

Lemon Salad Dressing

  • Servings: 2 cups
  • Time: 15 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup filtered water
1 cup olive oil
1 tsp ground mustard
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper

  1. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Shake well. Serve.

Really, the possibilities are endless. These are just some suggestions based on things that I have found to take a salad from good to great.

What do you usually put on your salads?

Paleo Carrot Cake.

084The first thing you need for this recipe is homemade almond milk. Specifically the almond meal left from making the milk. To make the almond milk, soak 2 cups of almonds overnight. Strain and rinse the almonds then put them into a blender, one cup at a time with 2 cups of warm water. Blend for at least 1 minute. Strain through a muslin cloth. Dry the pulp for 12 hours in a warm oven. Once dry, run the pulp through a food processor until it is the consistency of flour. This should give you enough to make the cake.

When you use the leftover almond meal form making almond milk you get the bonus of having soaked almond flour. This will give you a better flavor and more nutrients.

This cake is worth the extra effort, but you could also use regular almond meal or flour.

There are no eggs in this, so if you switch the sweetener it would be vegan.

Paleo Carrot Cake

  • Servings: 8
  • Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
  • Difficulty: medium
  • Print
1 1/2 cups almond flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup shredded coconut
3 flax eggs
1/4 cup coconut butter
3 tablespoons coconut oil
1/4 cup honey
1 1/2 cups grated carrots
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

  1. Preheat the oven to 325° F. Oil an 8×8 cake pan.
  2. Combine the ingredients for the flax eggs and allow to sit.
  3. Combine dry ingredients.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the flax eggs and combine well.
  5. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients. Fold in the carrots.
  6. Bake for 45 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
  7. Allow to cool in the pan.

You can top this with a slice of Kerrygold butter and some honey for an extra amazing treat!

No-Bake Vegan Mini “Cheesecake”

IMG_0726I’m generally not a fan of vegan things because, in my opinion, the vegan diet is unsustainable health wise. I think it’s an awesome reset diet, but not something that should be practiced long-term, and certainly not something you should be doing while pregnant. But that’s just my opinion. The reason I made these this Christmas is there are people in my family who have a hard time with dairy and eggs. I wanted to make a cheesecake, but I wanted everyone to be able to eat it. I had made a cashew-based “cheesecake” before with decent results, so I found a different recipe and modified it a bit.

These desserts are pretty amazing, because even vegan food can be amazing if you know what you’re doing. To top that off, they’re also really easy to make. All you need is a food processor and a little time.

Vegan Mini Cheesecake

  • Servings: 12-18
  • Time: 30 minutes active 4-24 hours passive
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print
Crust:
1 cup pitted dates, soaked in warm water for 10 minutes and drained
1 cup soaked and dried almonds
1/4-1/2 teaspoon cinnamon (or to taste)
Filling:
1 1/2 cups “raw” cashew pieces
Juice of 1 medium-sized lemon
Generous 1/2 cup coconut cream
1/3 cup melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
Ganache:
Equal parts coconut cream and semi-sweet chocolate chips.

  1. Soak almonds in salt water overnight. Drain and dry in a 170 °F oven until crispy (about 8 hours).
  2. Pour boiling water over the cashew pieces and let soak for 1 hour.
  3. Process almonds and cinnamon in food processor until you have a very coarse meal and add the drained dates. Process until a loose dough forms. Add dates or almonds as needed to adjust the consistency. As a general rule, start with more almonds/less dates and add dates if the dough is too dry.
  4. Grease a muffin pan (and a half, there will be extra batter) or line with paper liners. The paper liners are easier to remove, but greasing works reasonably well, just make sure your muffin pans fit in your freezer.
  5. Pack about 1/2 tablespoon of the crust into the bottom of the muffin cups. A spoon works really well for this.
  6. Rinse the food processor bowl and add the drained cashew pieces. Process until they start to form a dough.
  7. Add the lemon juice and process until smooth. Repeat with each ingredient, one at a time. This helps the texture of the final product. If you add everything at once you have a greater chance that the cheesecakes will be mealy rather than smooth.
  8. Pour into muffin cups, leaving some room on top.
  9. In a small saucepan add the coconut cream and heat until barely hot. Turn off the heat and add the chocolate chips. Stir until smooth. Using a small spoon (I used a sugar spoon, or a baby food spoon works as well) portion the ganache onto the cakes. Swirl with a toothpick.
  10. Cover with plastic wrap and chill for a minimum of 4 hours in the freezer (8 in the fridge, overnight is even better). If you just greased your muffin tins (no paper liners) you need to freeze these for removal. To remove the frozen cakes, just slide a butter knife in the edge and pop them out. If some of the crust stays behind, scrape it out and re-squish it to the bottom of the cake.
  11. Enjoy!

I used what was left of my coconut cream from the can I bought for the ganache: the solid contents of the can were slightly more than what I needed for the filling. I just weighed it on my kitchen scale. If I remember correctly I had about 1.6 ounces of cream. That was the perfect amount for all of the cakes and a little extra for me to enjoy after I was finished making them.

For this recipe, do not mix the coconut cream with the water in the can. Only use the solid part. If you shake your can and it sounds like the entire thing is liquid, pop it in the fridge while the almonds are soaking/drying (at least overnight) and it will separate nicely.

IMG_0722

This recipe is adapted from here.

Breakfast.

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so they say. I find this is especially true when I’m pregnant. One thing about breakfast is that you can’t skip it. Even if you wait until lunch time, you are still breaking your fast when you eat whatever it is you decide to eat. Breakfast is the first meal of the day, regardless of time.

There’s a lot of advice about what is best to eat for breakfast. Out of all of it there seems to be at least one consensus: protein is important.

Having a sugar-laden breakfast cereal is a bad idea -even if it’s organic- because the processing techniques used to produce the cereals render them pretty much nutritionally deficient. Not to mention that most cereals ignore proper grain preparation (although I’m starting to see sprouted cereals in the grocery store, which makes me happy). Making your own is a good option, but it’s usually labor intensive unless you’re making granola. Homemade granola is really easy and super delicious, but should be considered a treat because there’s no way to soak or ferment the oats, that I’ve found anyway.

I’m not going to lie, I miss cereal. I do eat it occasionally and it’s one of the things that hubby really loves, so I try to keep some for him to snack on. What I really miss is cream of wheat. I love cream of wheat so much, but I can’t eat it any more. I’m on a quest to find a gluten-free substitute but I haven’t been successful (and I probably won’t be, but I can dream). Hot cereals are easier to fudge because you can ferment them and, if the grains are large enough, rinse them before cooking. This is how I prepare oats and I honestly think they taste better that way.

So here are some suggestions for breakfast:

Fried eggs and…
…sautéed squash. This is one of my very favorite breakfasts! I love a mix of zucchini and yellow squash, sometimes with onions. This is great with fried or poached eggs. One thing to note is that both zucchini and yellow crookneck are genetically engineered (virus resistant) if that’s something you prefer to avoid.
…potatoes. Whether you like country potatoes or hash browns be sure to blanch the potatoes first to prevent the production of acrylamide….bacon! This is a classic, but bacon is so expensive that we don’t enjoy it very often.

Scrambled eggs with bone broth and raw milk cheese mixed in. I add a dash of bone broth to the eggs before I cook them and toss in some cubed cheese when I put the egg mixture in the pan. Super delicious. Top them with some homemade green chili and you’re set!

Sourdough pancakes/waffles. These recipes are fantastic and very filling. I use einkorn flour for mine, but you can use any kind of wheat. I do have to add an egg to mine while I’m pregnant for the extra protein though.

Sourdough English muffin egg sandwiches. The recipe for the muffins is on the same page as the pancakes/waffles.

Banana muffins with cream cheese. Recipe to come.

Fermented oats with coconut oil, gelatin and cream. Maple syrup makes them extra tasty as well as adding some soaked almonds (or other nuts) on top. To ferment the oats, stick the desired amount in a glass jar and cover with water. Make sure the water is at least 1.5 inches above the oats. Cover with a cloth and wait about a week. You’ll know they’re ready when little bubbles start to form in the oats. I give mine a head start with either water kefir or kombucha (about a 50/50 mix with water). Rinse the oats and cook as normal, less 1/2 cup of water.

Yogurt with soaked nuts/seeds/ whatever you like.

 

So there you have it. I try to cycle through these, but I’m not terribly creative, so we end up eating the same things a lot.

Soaked Gluten Free Chocolate Cake.

IMG_0690

Please pardon the baking tray in the background, we frosted the cake during the party so the meatball trays were still out.

When the wee one told me he wanted to have a train party for his birthday I got a crazy idea about making a 3-D train cake. So, I took to the interwebs to see if this was something I could do on my own and of course Pinterest was the place I found the answer. I found these instructions there and decided I’d give it a whirl.

When it came time to bake a test cake I realized my original plan to bake in a coffee can was foiled because the coffee can we had on hand was not actually metal, but cardboard. So I tried using a quart mason jar. That worked just fine, so I’ll include the directions with the recipe.

For the actual cake recipe I knew I’d need to make adjustments, but I’ve never done a sculpted (if you can call this sculpted) cake before so I wasn’t sure what kind of adjustments to make to the batter. I’d read to reduce the oil, but that was for regular cake batter, not gluten-free. Gluten-free cake is a whole other beast. So I talked with my sister-in-law and she suggested adding eggs. I combined the two adjustments for the practice cake and hoped for the best.

What I ended up with was a chocolate cake that was slightly more dense than usual making it very similar to a cake brownie. This cake was like a compromise between chocolate cake-dom and brownie-hood. It held together very well and it tasted great, so I ditched my back-up plan of buying a train shaped cake pan and decided to make the 3-D train for the party.

To bake a cake in a mason jar you’ll need to thoroughly oil the inside of the jar and cut out some parchment paper to line the bottom. Then oil the parchment for good measure. I filled the jar to the 1 cup line and set it in a water bath (a loaf pan works really well for this) and baked at the normal temperature. The water bath makes it take a bit longer, so start checking on the jar cake 5 minutes past the normal baking time.
To remove the cake from the jar, slice a little piece off of the bottom, taking it out with the knife. Shake the rest of the cake out.

Gluten Free Chocolate Cake (for “sculpting”)

1/4 cup coconut oil
6 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 ounces (2/3 cup )unsweetened cocoa powder
7 ounces (1 1/3 cups plus 1/4 cup) GF flour blend
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon xanthan gum
1 teaspoon salt
5 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
5 1/4 ounces (3/4 cup) sucanat
1 cup whole milk
1 Tablespoon whey or other acid
4 cups frosting

  1. Combine the flour, cocoa powder, milk and whey/acid in a glass bowl. Mix well, cover and let sit on the counter overnight.
  2. In the morning, melt the chocolate in the oil and set aside to cool. In a separate bowl, mix baking powder, baking soda, xanthan gum and salt together. Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat to 350°F.
  3. Oil two loaf pans (and a mason jar) and line the bottoms with parchment, oiling the top of the parchment as well.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk eggs and vanilla. Whisk in sucanat until well combined (it won’t be smooth). Whisk in cooled chocolate mixture until combined. Mix in the dry ingredients then add the flour/cocoa/milk mixture and whisk until the batter is smooth.
  5. Divide batter evenly between the loaf pans, leaving enough to fill the mason jar to the 1 cup (or higher) line. Put the mason jar in a water bath. Bake until a toothpick comes out clean, 30-32 minutes, rotating pans halfway. Check the mason jar and add extra time as needed (about 10 minutes).
  6. Let cakes cool in pans on a wire rack for 10 minutes. Run a knife along the edges and remove the cakes from the pans, allowing them to cool completely on the rack before frosting or storing in an airtight container on the counter (DO NOT refrigerate).
  7. Frost the cake before serving.

You can make this cake dairy-free by using water kefir instead of milk. Or water with lemon/vinegar instead of whey. The acid you use doesn’t particularly matter because the chocolate masks the acidic flavor really well. No one will ever know.
The cupcakes in the picture are made with water kefir, and they turned out awesomely!

Party Prep When Preggo.

IMG_0277I have a limited amount of energy to draw from on a daily basis and being pregnant just exacerbates that. When I want to host something, I try to give myself plenty of time to work so that I won’t be running around like an angry chicken the day of the event. My goal is to make the hour or two before the first guest arrives as stress-free as possible.

We also had guests stay from Saturday to Sunday, which added extra prep so I was more diligent about my cleaning schedule and it really paid off: we thoroughly enjoyed their visit because I didn’t have to stress about party food prep.

It helped that my parents came to town for the wee one’s birthday and my mom cleaned the kitchen/breakfast bar for me, but with this schedule I think I could have pulled it off. I would have been a little more stressed, but I think getting the kitchen done would have been possible.

Here’s what I did for the little one’s birthday:

Monday. Clean the upstairs and downstairs bathrooms. This includes toilets, sinks and sweeping. The upstairs bath tub was clean from the week before, and if it hadn’t been clean, that’s what the shower curtain is for.

Tuesday. Laundry. This meant sheets in the guest room and clothes. Also tidying the bedrooms in general. I also added the T.V. room to the day because there were toys scattered all over.

Wednesday. Living room and errands. We have a giant fur factory of a dog, so cleaning the living room means spraying down the rug under our piano with vinegar water and actually brushing the fur out of it with one of those plastic bristle brushes because vacuuming doesn’t touch the hair. I started sprouting chickpeas for hummus in the morning, we also swept, tidied the toys and other surfaces like the piano and roll-top desk. I picked up all the party foodstuffs and general grocery needs. Then we went to dinner with an old friend of hubby’s, which was a nice break.

Thursday. Kitchen time! This is the day I did all of the food prep I could do ahead of time: I made the deviled eggs without filling them, mixed up 4 pounds of bacon meatball goodness and made 6 cups of coconut milk for tapioca pudding. I also cleaned the kitchen a little, but you really couldn’t tell by the end of the day. Part of the reason the kitchen didn’t get cleaned that day was that I discovered our wonderful cat had revenge peed on the wall in our craft room, so we spent a good portion of Thursday cleaning out the craft room.

Friday. On Friday I made the tapioca pudding, cooked the chickpeas and generally sat around after revisiting some places for cleaning. That evening we went out to dinner with my parents for the little one’s actual birthday. After dinner I started the cake batter (for soaking) and fed the sourdough starter for Sunday pancakes.

Saturday. I baked the cake (recipe next week!) while my mom cleaned the kitchen the rest of the way and I made hummus. Our company arrived around 5, so I spent the rest of the day visiting. In the evening I started the pancake batter.

Sunday. The day of the event! Pancake breakfast and then church. My mom got balloons and cleared off the breakfast bar while we were at mass, which was super helpful. When we got home we had an hour and a half to put everything together and we almost made it. The second round of meatballs were baking by the time the second round of guests arrived. My sister-in-law made frosting, so we frosted the cake when she arrived.

Overall everything went very smoothly. I had help which reduced the stress level by a lot, but the largest factor in stress reduction was definitely splitting up the chores throughout the week beforehand. I definitely recommend doing that for any event you’re planning!

Almond Butter.

IMG_0677I will never buy almond butter from the store again, or any kind of nut butter for that matter. Nut butters are so easy to make in a food processor and making your own saves you a fairly significant amount of money. Especially if you buy your nuts on sale in bulk.

I picked up almonds while at Natural Grocers and I noticed that they have raw Spanish almonds. They were nearly $14 a pound so I didn’t buy them, but it’s nice to know that I can buy raw almonds that are actually raw.

Almond Butter

4 cups raw almonds
Non-iodized sea salt
Water to soak
.5-1 ounce cocoa butter, melted (roughly 1-2 Tablespoons)
1 Tablespoon coconut oil
pinch of salt

  1. Place the almonds in a bowl and shake a moderate amount of non-iodized salt on top. Cover the almonds with water, making sure there is at least an inch of extra water on top. Let sit for 12 hours.
  2. Drain the almonds, place on a jellyroll pan (or other dish with sides) and dry in the oven on the lowest temperature setting for 12-24 hours, until they are no longer soggy when you bite them. You’ll be able to tell.
  3. Put the dry almonds in a food processor with an S blade and turn it on. Process for 15-20 minutes.
  4. Depending on the consistency of the resulting almond butter add in the .5-1 ounce of cocoa butter and coconut oil while the food processor is running.
  5. Enjoy.

Gluten Free Blondies

IMG_0671 I mentioned that I over-soaked two pounds of almonds two posts ago. They sat on the kitchen counter, still in the jellyroll pan I roasted them in because I’m such a cheapskate I was having a really hard time throwing them out. My husband was munching on them the whole time and I asked him (somewhat incredulously) if they were actually edible. He answered me by eating another one. Then I asked my awesome sister-in-law the same thing and she said she thought they were fine. So I made some almond butter out of them. I only got about 1/2 cup of almond butter because by the time I had the energy to do it, hubby had eaten more than 3/4 of the entire two pounds!

The almond butter turned out a bit earthy tasting, but it was still good. I’m going to post my recipe for almond butter next week so that everyone can enjoy the awesomeness. I was inspired by Justin’s Nut Butters to try adding cocoa butter into my nut butters. It is so good! So look out for that recipe next week!

I made my own quinoa flour for this in my blender. I have a retro blender, and I’m not kidding. This is my blender:

blender

You should know that less than half of those buttons actually work because this is a blender from (probably) the 70s. So if my blender can do it, your blender can do it too.

I sprouted the quinoa for this and dried it in the oven. A word of caution about sprouting quinoa: quinoa sprouts really fast. You should only sprout a little at a time, or separate a large batch into smaller containers for the actual sprouting process, because when you over-sprout quinoa you get a really earthy batch of quinoa that smells like weed when you dry it. I did end up burying the last batch I over-sprouted as I mentioned two posts ago, but I very slightly over-sprouted this batch too simply because there was so much of it sprouting at once. It was salvageable, but take note from my mistake: sprout quinoa in small batches.

I made half of a batch because I didn’t have enough almond butter, but I am posting the recipe for a full batch.

Almond Quinoa Blondies

1/4 cup coconut oil (or butter)IMG_0673
3/4 cup almond butter
2 eggs
1/4 + 1/8 cup sucanat (or other sugar)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment so that the paper hangs over the edge of the pan.
  2. Beat the oil and almond butter until smooth. Add in eggs, sucanat, and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Whisk together all of the dry ingredients in a small bowl. Add them to the almond butter mixture and stir until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
  4. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs on it, 25 to 35 minutes. Do not over bake.
  5. Let it cool in the pan on a wire rack for 45 minutes.
  6. Pull it out of the pan using the parchment, cut it into pieces and allow to cool completely before storing.

These will last in the fridge for 5 or 6 days if you’d rather make-ahead. Since they don’t use the standard gluten free flours refrigerating them is ok.

 

Can You Soak Something too Long?

Well, I had a post all lined up for today about making sprouted almond butter. What I had forgotten is that almonds sourced from the U.S. are not raw regardless of what the packaging says. They linked a salmonella case back to raw almonds -which is something that happens far far less than salmonella being linked back to contaminated meat- and they said, “thou shalt pasteurize your almonds!” And almond farmers complied. You can still source truly raw almonds directly from the farmers, or overseas, but anything on your store shelf is treated in some way and cannot sprout. Not to mention the ridiculous price difference. I can’t afford to buy truly raw almonds.

Ho hum.

So I spent a bunch of effort trying to sprout the almonds before I remembered this. I sat there, staring at my almonds (which had started smelling a bit like weed) wondering what I was doing wrong. It wasn’t until I googled it to see if I had messed it up somehow that I realized what had gone wrong.

I had effectively ruined two pounds of almonds. Almonds are not cheap, so I was determined to see if I could salvage them. I washed them all very thoroughly and popped them in my dehydrator. They dehydrated for a little more than 24 hours. Then I roasted them. They still taste weird, so I don’t think I’ll be using them for almond butter. I might just bury them in the garden.

I did this to quinoa two days prior as well. I made the mistake of leaving the successfully sprouted quinoa in a bowl on the counter overnight. When I dumped it out on the tray for drying I noticed that the bottom of the bowl was bubbly and some of the sprouts were really long. Not only that, but it smelled like I had just lit up a joint. I’m totally serious. I have no idea why, but soaking things too long makes them smell like weed. If I had to guess at it, I would say that there’s some kind of mold or something to blame. However, you can’t wash it off.

So if you find that your nuts or seeds smell like cannabis, you’ll have to toss them. I haven’t found a way to successfully salvage them. I tried drying the quinoa but my house just smelled like I was a pothead.

How Can it be Gluten Free?

GFreeToday I’m writing about the America’s test Kitchen book How Can it be Gluten Free?. If you’re thinking about going gluten free, or you already are, this book is a must. There are bread recipes, biscuits, cake, all kinds of cookies and sweetbreads, different cereals and tips on how to cook the best pilaf, quinoa or otherwise.

I find a lot of the content online for free, but I still recommend grabbing a physical copy because it’s super handy to have it in your kitchen for reference.

I do have a few bones to pick with it though.

First, many of the recipes call for vegetable oil. I’m not 100% but I think some of them call for canola oil specifically. Vegetable oil is terrible. I’ll write a more comprehensive post explaining why in the future. I actually have a bottle of canola oil in my pantry that I only use for polishing wood furniture and oiling my oven door hinges. I do not consider it food. This is only a minor setback though, because it’s pretty easy to substitute coconut oil or olive oil depending on whether what you’re making is savory or sweet. Sometimes I even just use butter. Because butter is better.

Second, these recipes do not take proper grain preparation (soaking/sprouting) into account. I have had some success in soaking the cakes and the chocolate chip cookies, but some of the recipes, like bread, don’t lend themselves to soaking. You could get around this by sprouting your own brown rice and then grinding it into flour, but you can’t sprout white rice and the majority of the flour mix is white rice.

Otherwise the recipes in this book are fantastic. I was making bread for a while using the basic bread recipe and even hubby liked it. I even had success making a sourdough starter with the flour blend and I got a good number of sourdough loaves out of it that were good by gluten free standards, but hubby asked me to just make regular bread after a while so I stopped that. But know it is possible.

One of my favorite things about this book is that there is an explanation of all the things they tried before landing on a really successful recipe. They explain why certain things didn’t work and why others did. You could use this book to help create your own gluten free recipes for this reason. There are also really helpful tips and tricks that would never have occurred to me otherwise. Like using psyllium husk powder – something found in the supplement section of your health food store – for structure.

Be forewarned: if you have a nut allergy there are a handful of recipes that call for almond flour (the pizza crust being one of them) for texture reasons. However, you might be able to get away with oat flour or some other flour that has more protein than rice flour.

Overall this book is amazing. My husband, who loves bread and cookies, approves of the majority of the things I make from this book. The chocolate chip cookies are my new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the sugar cookie recipe is to die for. Not to mention the chocolate cake recipe. The book is worth the money just for the desserts alone. That being said, I never knew I could like quinoa as much as I do until I followed the pilaf and porridge directions in this book. The main point I’m trying to make here is that I highly recommend it despite my misgivings. If you’re determined you can get around the two things I listed, and most of the stuff in this book is meant to be a treat anyway, so indulge yourself!