By Susan O'Brien, author Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Cooking
Susan O'Brien has been gluten free for some time, but unlike most vegan cookbook authors, she went vegan in the process of writing this book.
It probably helped that she was already gluten free AND a good cook.
In spite of challenges on several levels, Susan worked hard to give her very best to this book.
She has succeeded admirably in a straightforward, helpful cookbook with practical information and easy healthy delicious gluten free recipes.
As a bonus, on a vegan diet her cholesterol levels improved and her energy went up.
The first section of the book talks about ingredients, explaining organic, gmo and raw foods, what's behind a gluten free diet, sugar alternatives, oils, gluten free flours, grains and other ingredients, foods to avoid and more information to help you cook gluten free.
The resource guide in the back of the book tells you where to buy gluten free ingredients that you might not be able to find locally.
I was thrilled by the section on gluten free flours, as I haven't been able to find much useful info about them anywhere else. That has really helped in deciding what flours to use for whatever I make. I feel much more expert now.
The nice thing about Susan's recipes is that they're mostly ordinary foods you'd want to eat regularly, but nice enough for company. That's the kind of cookbook you turn to again and again.
Many of the appetizers, salads, and side dishes looked yummy, but most had ingredients I don't eat - onions, garlic, the nightshade family (tomatoes, potatoes, peppers, eggplant) - all the things everybody else eats!
Usually I just leave those out those forbidden ingredients, or substitute other veggies, but I decided to just skip ahead to the breads and desserts. That's where my gluten free focus is right now anyway, and that's where Susan O'Brien really shines - in my opinion.
First I made Currant Scones, and they were fantastic! My husband ate most of them, so I had to make a second batch for the other tasters. They all loved them - taste and texture were just right.
The only change I made with the second batch of currant scones was to brush the top of the scones with some of the liquid for better browning.
Plus I didn't yank them out of the oven right after I put them in, to mix in the currents. Needless to say, the second batch rose better when I didn't do that!
Next I tried the Chocolate Pudding (no tofu) - and ate the whole thing myself (my guilty secret). It was nice and chocolaty, although I might add a touch of coconut oil and more sweetener the next time. Sorry Susan - I just can't help tinkering with recipes!
The last recipe I tried was Quinoa Coffee Cake. It was yummy, the texture was soft and fine - very cakey - and the nut topping was scrumptious. The gf quinoa fans loved the taste, while the un-quinoa un-gf people were iffy about the quinoa taste. That didn't stop them from gobbling it up though.
I'll try using a different gf flour, maybe sorghum, next time I make the cake - soon! Of course then it won't be quinoa coffee cake. Sorghum coffee cake doesn't sound as good. Oh well!
I marked so many recipes to try in The Gluten Free Vegan that it will be a while before I work my way through them. I want to make Spring Rolls, Raspberry Vinaigrette, Coconut Rice Pudding, Blueberry Buckwheat Pancakes, Pad Thai - etc.
I highly recommend Susan O'Brien's The Gluten Free Vegan, but I hope she comes out with a revision that has double the recipes and lots of beautiful pictures to showcase them.
Susan O'Brien is an author, baker, gourmet cook, food management consultant, cooking instructor, product development consultant, guest speaker, and the owner of two businesses, O'Brien's Kitchen and O/Brien's Consulting, LLC. She lives in Gig Harbor, Washington.