Monday, February 17, 2014

Book Nook - The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking

The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking: 80 low-carb recipes that offer solutions for celiac disease, diabetes, and weight loss by Peter Reinhart and Denene Wallace:

Earlier tonight, the Bachsters and I picked up subs on our way home from running a few errands.  Since I've been trying to eat low-carb, I didn't get a sub, but had a big plate of broccoli gratin for supper instead (recipe to come soon on Sunday Brunch, if I don't eat it all first, before I can get a picture).  I was doing so well and quite proud of myself, and then I went and ate a bunch of homemade chocolate ice cream after the Bachsters went to bed.  I am trying, but eating low-carb is so hard for me because so many of the foods I love (breads, pastas, anything sweet) are full of carbs.

Enter The Joy of Gluten-Free, Sugar-Free Baking.  This book is coming to my rescue!  I love pancakes - yep, there's a recipe in here for low-carb pancakes (a couple of different ones, actually).  Pizza....yes, low-carbers can now enjoy pizza.  Cake.....bread.....cookies.....there are low-carb versions of just about every baked good!  And these recipes are good for you in two ways.  First, they cut out the sugar, then they cut out the flour (and use nut and seed flours instead).  This is what really sets this book apart, because most other "healthy baking" cookbooks are either one or the other.

Of course, I could not recommend a cookbook without trying the recipes first!  My favorite recipe from the book is double-cheese focaccia with tomato sauce.  It has a wonderful flavor, and the sauce and cheese make it seem almost like eating pizza - but somehow, even better.  The focaccia was moist, which I didn't think I'd like, but the flavor was so amazing that I wasn't bothered by it.  The outer edges got a bit drier, so next time, I might spread out the dough a little more.  I'm definitely making this again:

Since I loved the focaccia so much, I really wanted to try one of the pizza recipes.  I tried the cheesy herbed pizza crust, which I liked, but not quite as much as the focaccia.  I used garbanzo bean flour, and it gave the pizza a very distinct flavor.  Our 8-year-old tried a little and exclaimed it too spicy; I think it was the garbanzo bean flour she was tasting.  I did love that it looks and feels just like regular pizza (some low-carb pizzas require a fork).  This is also a very good recipe, and great to make if you know you'll be in close proximity to traditional pizza.  It's just about impossible to turn down pizza once you smell it!

I make pancakes for the Bachsters often, and I usually don't allow myself any.  So, I was very happy to see a few pancake recipes.  I tried the blueberry pancakes, and they cooked and fluffed up like regular pancakes.  These were easy to make, and great with sugar-free syrup.  Our 8-year-old tried one and she ate it and said she liked it - so, it passed the test!

The downside to these recipes is that you have to get uncommon (and expensive) flours, and the sweetener I want to use is hard to find and pricy.  You also have to be careful to treat these recipes as treats.  While they are much healthier for you, there is not much nutrition, just like their carb-counterparts.  The recipes do not include nutritional information, which is a glaring omission - just about everyone watching their carb intake wants to see the carb count for the foods they're eating.  Hopefully, they'll include this information on future editions.

The other downside is that not all the recipes are keepers.  I also tried the pumpkin pie with the almond-coconut piecrust, and we didn't even eat it (but part of that could have been my doing, not knowing how much of my sweetener to add - I wasn't using one of their recommended brands on this recipe).  So, it's definitely worth trying it again and following the recipe to a "T."

Overall, there are lots of great recipes (and many tempting photos) using healthier ingredients.  With this book, it's possible to have your low-carb cake and eat it too!


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