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Book Review: Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook by Leslie Cerier

Reviewed by Karen Miles

If you're adhering to a gluten-free diet because you have celiac disease or other health conditions that benefit from avoiding gluten, this is one cookbook you'll want on your cookbook shelf. But be sure to take a look at it if you're interested in exploring a variety of whole grains, too — regardless of what else you eat!

This isn't Leslie Cerier's first cookbook; she's also the author of Going Wild in the Kitchen, Taste Life! Organic Recipes, and The Quick & Easy Organic Gourmet. In Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook, Leslie builds on her strong foundation in local, seasonal, and organic foods to explore gluten-free cooking.

Leslie tells us all we need to know about this dietary choice, even if we're new to the topic. She explains what gluten is, she looks at the health issues that prompt people to adopt a gluten-free diet, and she introduces us to ancient and exotic gluten-free grains: amaranth, buckwheat, corn, millet, oats, quinoa, rice, sorghum, teff, and wild rice. A chapter is devoted to basic grain cookery, including everything from cookware to modifications to change texture or enhance flavor (such as including seasonings and toasting grains before adding the cooking liquid).

The Bountiful Breakfast chapter includes directions for making nut and seed milks, smoothies and shakes, granola (Vanilla Hazelnut Granola, no less!), porridges, muffins, scrambled tofu, pancakes, and waffles. There's even a breakfast soup!

You'll find a handful of savory stews in the chapter on Main course sensations, along with loaves, pasta dishes, a quinoa casserole, and much more. You've come to the right book to dispel any lingering doubts about gluten-free recipes being boring. In this chapter alone you'll find Shiitake and Kale Lasagna with Marinated Dried Tomatoes and Chevre as well as Red Lentil and Teff Loaf with Red Wine and Porcini Sauce.

There's a chapter devoted to Sushi, and another on Savory Sauces and Tempting Toppings. For readers who want to experiment a bit without committing to an entire gluten-free meal, the Super Sides chapter is a great place to start. How about a Lemony Quinoa Salad with Toasted Sunflower Seeds or Spiced Yams with Pecans? Sweet indulgences include an array of cookies, puddings, pies, crisps, and bars. (I've put Mocha Coconut Rice Pudding and Cashew Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies on my dessert menus for next week!)

This unassuming paperback includes over 100 intriguing recipes, with straightforward directions that put most of them in the easy-to-prepare category. A glossary of ingredients and a section of resources are helpful, too.

Leslie encourages the reader to cook "like an artist designing a meal, composing with gluten-free whole grains, flours, and pastas complemented by a rainbow of local, seasonal fruits and vegetables." To get you started right away, we're happy to be able to include on our recipe site three recipes from Gluten-Free Recipes for the Conscious Cook for you to try. (You'll also find some recipes from a couple of Leslie's other cookbooks.) Let us know what you think!

Teff Loaf with Red Bell Peppers and African Spices

Ethiopian Sunshine Stew

Basmati Soup with Indian Spices

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