I’m always excited to find new cookbooks that focus on gluten-free and vegan foods, as usually they are one or the other. The author, Susan O’Brien, has written four cookbooks and is a health and wellness coach and cooking instructor. Her wellness story is very similar to mine and she seems like a lovely person. Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food ‘includes 125 simple and satisfying recipes, from “mac and cheese” to chocolate cupcakes.’
I have to admit, when reading through this book (I always read through every book, some in more detail than others, but always in their entirety), I was confused. When I saw the title “Comfort Food” I was expecting mac ‘n cheese, mashed potatoes and gravy, soups and stews.
So a book starting with breakfast ideas including granola, smoothies, and applesauce was not what I was expecting. Other chapters include Snacks and Party Favorites, Kids’ Favorites, All-American Sides, Soups and Salads, Family Classics, Ethnic Favorites, and Delightful Desserts. The recipes range from salsa to nori to apple pie. From my perspective, perhaps the book should have had a different title. Another way of organizing the recipes would have helped it make more sense, as they seem all over the map, and I could never remember which chapter was which. The first dish I made was this chocolate tapioca pudding. It was very rich, creamy, and a little too sweet for my taste. It did make that chocolate pudding “skin” that I remember from childhood, so in that case it definitely was nostalgic comfort food. Unfortunately, the tapioca didn’t cook all the way through, despite me boiling the mixture for quite a long time. My tapioca package said to soak it overnight in water, then drain it before making pudding. So if you make this recipe and you don’t have quick-cooking tapioca, I would do that. The flavor was great.The raw cinnamon rolls intrigued me, as I have made a number of raw dessert recipes and like how much they rely on whole foods ingredients like nuts, dates, and seeds. These were relatively easy to make (be sure you have very fresh dates) and rolled up easily using waxed paper. They were still fairly soft even after an hour, and softened up quickly once out of the fridge, so I would recommend cutting them and then replacing what you don’t eat in the fridge for storage. We both liked the flavor of the rolls, the sweetness, and the amount of cinnamon. I don’t love recipes with unground flax seeds, as they stick to your teeth, so that’s my only critique.Finally I made her pizza crust, topped with my smoky white pizza sauce, caramelized onions, and sauteed cremini mushrooms. This recipe took many steps, four separate bowls, and over an hour to prepare (not including baking). And, sadly, it wasn’t a great result. It was too starchy (I think because the tapioca starch, at two cups, is too much in the ratio of the flours).
What I liked about this book:
It’s a nice variety of recipes, and would be a good addition to a cookbook shelf for gluten-free and vegan families.
I wasn’t so keen on:
The organization of the book didn’t make sense to me, and the way the recipes are written could be clearer. The recipe layout could be more user-friendly. The six photographs in the center of the book are a bit over-exposed and overly close-up. (As they are taken by professional food photogapher Lara Ferroni, I wonder if there was a printing problem, as her work is usually stunning). They’re also bound right in the center of an eggplant parmesan recipe, yet that recipe is not one of the photographs. The three recipes I tried were fine, but not ones I would make again.
Families eating gluten-free and vegan looking for new recipes.
Today’s post is part of our mission to help you rebuild your health through food and lifestyle choices. Look for posts on Mondays featuring gluten-free, sugar-free recipes made with healthy plant-based ingredients, Tuesday reviews, Wednesday essays, Thursday how-to’s, and Flashback Fridays recipe posts plus monthly giveaways on the last Friday of the month. We support Meatless Monday. Check out our new Meatless Monday blog hop.