Saturday, July 14, 2012

Cookbook Review: Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking

by Sarah Charnes Paisner

I was thrilled when Lauren asked me to review Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking, a new cookbook by Kimberly Mayone and Kitty Broihier, MS, RD.  I eat a largely gluten-free diet to help manage migraines, but struggle to find recipes that are both simple and creative - and I LOVE my slow cooker.

When I first went gluten-free about two years ago, I was overwhelmed by the amount of information -- and misinformation – that’s out there.  Fortunately, I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful medical professional who was able to help me sort through the good and the bad – but many others don’t have that option.  What drew me to Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking is the fact that Kitty Broihier is a registered dietician.  That, combined with Broihier's and Mayone's writing experience and skill, makes for a great read.

Before diving into their 140 recipes, Mayone and Broihier begin by putting the gluten-free lifestyle into layman's terms, explaining the importance of reading food labels and how to do it properly; what gluten is and how it can adversely affect one's body; and, how to stock a basic gluten-free pantry.  This is obviously helpful for someone who is trying to eat gluten-free, but also helpful for anyone who might have a gluten-free significant other, friend, child, or family member.  The authors explain the gluten-free lifestyle so effectively that I wish that I had been able to read this when I first became gluten-free, as it would have saved me a lot of time and confusion.

After establishing the basics of a gluten-free lifestyle, the authors move on to their "Slow Cooking 101" chapter, which is informative even for someone like me who has had an obsession with slow cookers for six years and counting.  I learned a few things I didn't know:  apparently you're not supposed to put frozen meat in a slow cooker, or refrigerate the crock with the prepped ingredients inside overnight.

Finally, the authors wrap up the first section of the book by providing tips for cooking gluten-free foods in a slow cooker, and suggestions for those attempting to modify a stovetop recipe for a slow cooker.

I found myself salivating at all of the recipes, and dog-earing almost every page of the book (I suppose I should upgrade to sticky tabs).  The "Breakfast and Brunch" chapter has several granola recipes -- have you ever tried to make granola in the oven?  It can go really wrong, really fast.  It turns out that using a slow cooker is a great way to ensure that your homemade granola stays crispy without burning.  The Tex-Mex Egg Bake (a.k.a. Migas Casserole) was so appealing that I immediately ran to the store to buy the ingredients.  It was fantastic, especially with a splash of Frank's buffalo wing sauce on top.  I'm waiting until autumn to bust out the Pumpkin Butter recipe.  I think it would pair nicely with Lauren's Pumpkin Gooey Butter Cake…

"Appetizers and Snacks" exceeded my expectations -- rather than only offering recipes for dips (which are good, don't get me wrong), the authors also offered a few recipes for nuts as well as a "party mix" recipe.  This, if not much else, makes me excited for football season.

Most slow cooking aficionados are used to cooking soups/chilis, and probably think they've seen it all.  Well, the "Soups, Stews, and Chili" chapter was full of new takes on all three.  I'm looking forward to trying the Cincinnati Chili, a strange/delicious dish I was introduced to by an Ohio native out here in DC.

The cookbook then moves on into chapters on vegetarian dishes, seafood, poultry, pork, and beef.  I really loved the Shrimp and Scallop Thai Curry, which I'll be adding into my cooking rotation.  The cookbook moves on to cook once, eat twice recipes; sweets; and, side dishes – and wraps up with a list of resources for gluten-free eating.

What I liked most about the recipes is that they're intended to be simple.  I also appreciated the fact that the authors provide tips for making many of the recipes dairy-free, as many people who are sensitive to gluten are also sensitive to the proteins found in dairy products.

I would have liked for the cookbook to contain photos.  Except for the photo on the front cover, there were none.  The descriptions of the recipes made my mouth water, but photos would have been a great addition.

All in all, Everyday Gluten-Free Slow Cooking is a wonderful cookbook for anyone who is trying to avoid gluten and/or is cooking for someone else who is.  I’m so glad to have this cookbook as part of my collection.


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