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Vegan for the Holidays

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Vegetarians in Paradise

Vegetarian Books

Each issue the VIP birds endeavor to soar to the highest literary peak to peck out the most unique, informative, and accomplished book or books that contribute to vegetarian enlightenment.

This month we review a book that offers guidance to those who want to enjoy gluten-free baking.

The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread:
Gluten-Free, Dairy-Free, Egg-Free

By Laurie Sadowski

Book Publishing Company, 2011
Paperback, $14.95

Cookbook author and food writer Laurie Sadowski grew up thinking her constant digestive discomforts and lack of energy were normal. They weren't. After many challenging years she was diagnosed with celiac disease. With determination she overcame health struggles, devised methods to conquer her malady, and turned to the kitchen to create The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread, a cookbook of unique recipes to help others avoid similar health problems.

Allergiy-Free Cook Bakes Bread When Laurie learned she must give up products containing wheat, rye, and barley and adopt a gluten-free diet, she was disappointed at the thought of avoiding some of her favorite foods: baked goods like quick breads and yeast breads. Wheat contains high levels of gluten, a protein that causes havoc in the intestinal tract of those with celiac disease. Dairy products, also health villains, were eliminated from her diet.

For conventional bakers, gluten is the magic that binds baked items and gives them elasticity, chewy texture, and moistness. This author eventually became a savvy baker, learning how to create delicious items like Chocolate Chip Banana Bread, Apple Cider Buckwheat Bread, and even New York Style Bagels using alternative flours: amaranth, buckwheat, chickpeas, millet, quinoa, sorghum, chestnut, coconut, cornmeal, and teff.

The book is a storehouse of information that covers allergens, discusses the importance of avoiding cross contamination from gluten, and emphasizes reading food labels with extreme care. Veganism 101 covers allergen alerts, health benefits of adopting a vegan diet, and easing greenhouse emissions to heal the environment

Gluten-Free Ingredients and Tips for Success is a highly informative chapter that includes a detailed glossary of the many flours used in the recipes and a mind-boggling number of tips and substitutions. Equate this section to a valuable toolkit for success in creating gluten-free baked items.

Sweet Quick Breads introduces exceptional recipes like Cinnamon-Swirled Sweet Potato Bread that could easily make brunch guests reach for seconds. No worry about shunning favorites like Old Fashioned Gingerbread. Laurie uses a combination of sorghum, teff, and millet flours in addition to familiar spices that give this treat its delicious character.

Savory Quick Breads covers favorite comfort items like Hearty Beer Bread, and Simple Soda Bread and offers some delightful surprises with four enticing cracker recipes. Crisp and crunchy Cheezy Animal Crackers made from garfava flour (a blend of garbanzo and fava bean) and sorghum flour are ideal for floating in a bowl of steaming soup. Even recipes for biscuits, scones, tortillas, and cornbread stuffing fill these pages.

Laurie Sadowski A brief primer introduces the section on Yeast Breads both sweet and savory. Sweet Yeast Breads can take readers on a trip down memory lane with delights like Grandma's Polish Babka. Those who favor Savory Yeast Breads may fall in love with Laurie's unique recipe for Mexican Mole Bread made from sorghum, teff, and tapioca flours as well as arrowroot starch. So delightfully inclusive, the book provides recipes for savory flatbreads like Sun-Dried Tomato Focaccia with Shallots and Herbs.

The final chapter, The Extras, is a handy glossary that discusses equipment, ingredients, food terms, techniques, suppliers, and resources. The only thing missing is having the author in the kitchen while baking these tantalizing recipes. Because the focus is on baking bread products, there are no cake or cookie recipes.

Unique features that add to the book's appeal are the attractive section breaks. Photographed in black and white are storefront bakery signs of an older era with famous quotes at the bottom of the page. Attractive cover design and the creative use of black, white, and gray throughout the book create visual appeal and make the recipes easy to read. Examining the nutritional analysis for each recipe, readers will be pleased to notice high levels of protein and dietary fiber.

The Allergy-Free Cook Bakes Bread is an invaluable gift not only to those with gluten intolerance or sensitivity but also to anyone who loves home-baked bread products. The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow, but the best part is that they've been tested to assure they will be successful. Author Laurie Sadowski loves to bake breads, muffins, scones, and buns, and now she can now share her talent with this outstanding book. One can almost imagine walking into her kitchen and finding a loaf of freshly baked bread ready for slicing.

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