To embark on this gluten-free journey, I think it is important to reconcile with the fact that gluten-free food will taste different from its gluten version. One cannot expect a chewy white gluten-free bread. It's the gluten that makes it chewy and the bleached flour that makes it white, so in essence, it's impossible to create an exact gluten-free version.
That doesn't mean that gluten-free foods have to be tasteless, dry, bland and unappetising. In fact, it's quite the opposite. I've stopped labeling my food as a gluten-free version of this and that. Instead, I embrace my new cooking challenge and make delicious meals with K based on all the healthy ingredients we should eat. I don't even tell people that it is gluten-free. Perhaps only when they exclaim how delicious it is, then I may reveal that it's healthy. Most of the time, people are surprised that it's sugar-free, flourless, and no weird seasoning of any kind, but just simple wholesome food.
My first foray into gluten-free baking and cooking was based on recipes by Elana Amsterdam on Elana's Pantry. Elana is a popular food blogger who tried and tested (sometimes up to more than ten times on one recipe) gluten-free recipes, mainly with almond flour as the chief ingredient. Her website is a rich resource for starters. I like how dynamic and evolving her cooking style and recipes are as her experiments and research develops.
As vast information is already available on her blog, I was hesitant at first to purchase the first book that she published - The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook. What more could I gain out of her book if her website is constantly updated anyway, right?
I've a weakness in pretty pictures in cookbooks though, and there were quite a few recipes in the book that were not available on her website. So after searching near and far in several bookshops (before I discovered Bookdepository and Fishpond), I finally got my hands on a copy of her first book, which is also incidentally, my first gluten-free cookbook.
|The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook by Elana Amsterdam|
This cookbook covers breakfasts, entrees, main meals and desserts. At 136 pages, it is a very manageable size for a cookbook that I need to constantly flip, tag and dogear. I appreciate Elana's introduction of almond flour and its health benefits, as well as a section on stocking up a Almond Flour Pantry with basic items you may need to work with this flour.
|Benefits of almond flour versus others, P4|
|Other complementary ingredients, P11|
My absolute favourite of this book is the heart of it - the recipes. The signature of Elana's recipes is the short list of ingredients. Most of them require less than ten ingredients, averaging about 7 to 8. There are no strange ingredients that are difficult to get, but all just simple whole foods most likely already in your pantry today. That itself scores high points in my review.
|Savory Vegetable Quiche, one of my favourite recipes.|
Another plus point of Elana's recipes is her method of cooking. She uses very simple methods, mostly, combine in a bowl, bake/cook. That's it! No complicated processing or handling of any one ingredient. That means you can whip up a delicious healthy meal very quickly. No more cook's fatigue*! That's important to all of us, whether you are a FTWM, WAHM, PTWM, SAHM, or just someone who wants to eat well without too much hassle.
I like the sweetness index under the baked goods section. That helps me to choose a recipe that's for a special treat or one that we can afford to eat more often. The only issue is that Elana uses agave nectar, which I'm not a fan of. This becomes a non-issue when I just simply substitute with honey by 1:1.
The photos in the book are beautifully taken. The only downside is the lack of photos for every recipe, so sometimes I don't know if what I've made turned out right. Then again, as long as it tastes good, eh?
|Pancakes made with almond flour, P23|
So, whether you're starting on a healthy cooking journey, or looking to experiment with alternative ingredients, The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook is a good place to start.
*Cook's Fatigue - a syndrome, whereby the cook usually loses his/her appetite after spending hours cooking in the kitchen.
Disclaimer: This is purely a personal review.