If you’re looking for another allergen-free cookbook that’s gluten-free and vegan, this one might fit the bill. Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free and Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery by Debbie Adler is packed with recipes for healthy organic treats.
The book contains more than 50 recipes, tested and loved at her Los Angeles bakery: Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes. Debbie wasn’t trained as a baker, but a personal health crisis and then a highly allergic child sent her on the path to create sweet recipes free of the top allergens, full of whole foods, and, of course, delicious.
Layout and design:
The book begins with two chapters on ingredients, equipment, and techniques, and Adler’s expertise shines through here. She includes some base recipes for hemp seed and sunflower seed butters and well as dark chocolate chips (a first that I have seen) that are free of soy lecithin. Recipe chapters include Power Muffins, Brownie Points, A Cookie in the Hand Is Worth Two in La Bouche, Cupcake Love, Raising the Bar, Baked Donut Holes, and Our Daily Bread. The book ends with an excellent Resources section (including some I had never heard of but will investigate) and an Index.
The design gives the feel of a pretty bakery, with pink and blue type face and decorative elements. I found some aspects of the design, specifically the pale inks, made the book harder to read, while still being very cute.
Most recipes feature a full-color photograph, shot by Los Angeles food photographer Carl Kravats, offering insight to each organic treat.
Adler’s fun personality truly comes through in the recipe titles, with names like Cran Ban Thank You Bran Muffins, Lemon Parsnipannies (brownies), and Fudgy Fig-a-Mama-Jig Bars. There are a few recipes I could still make on the migraine diet, and I appreciate that the recipe analysis is available for each recipe, so I can see what the sodium content is. Adler uses sodium-free baking powder in her recipes, which greatly helps with the sodium count. (However, most do not qualify as “low-sodium”, providing more than 140 grams of sodium per serving.)
What I liked about the book:
If I had reviewed this book last year before my diet restrictions, I guarantee you I would have made six recipes out of this book. I love the creativity of using vegetable purees in muffins, cranberries to make red velvet cupcakes, and some of her other inventions. The recipes are all kid-friendly; part of Adler’s mission is to provide treats for her son and other highly allergic kids.
I wasn’t so keen on:
Aspects of the design that make the book harder to read. Some of the photographs are extreme close-ups, making the food less appealing than it likely is.
Allergic families, vegans, vegetarians, celiacs, gluten-free eaters. The recipes that are trigger-free are suitable for the migraine diet, I’d guess about 1/3 of the book. Recipes do include coconut nectar, stevia, and erythritol as sweeteners.
Not recommended for:
Traditional bakers (unless you’re looking for an allergen free baking book and plan to invest in all the ingredients necessary)
A note about my cookbook reviews: In the past, I tested at least three recipes from each book, took photos, and described my experience. Due to my dietary limitations (extremely-low-sodium for my Meniere’s Disease and trigger-free foods for migraine relief), it is no longer possible for me to test the recipes and do them justice.