Nobody likes to be told they cannot eat something, and those with coeliac disease are no different. But for the hundreds of thousands of people with the autoimmune condition, eating foods containing gluten could prove dangerous.
If gluten is eaten, the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues and causes damage to the lining of the gut, meaning the body is unable to properly absorb nutrients from food.
Fortunately, there is a wealth of gluten-free alternatives to foods traditionally made with the protein available to buy in most supermarkets – cake, bread, pasta and pastry are all well and truly on the menu.
When it comes to cooking at home, creativity can be required to create both naturally gluten-free dishes and finding alternatives to products such as flour and pasta, and a little inspiration can help either way.
To unlock your inner gluten-free chef potential, we sourced some of the best gluten-free cookbooks out there and tested the recipes inside, ranging from the complex and adventurous to the super simple and quick.
One thing we can confidently say is that they are all sure to help broaden your coeliac-friendly culinary repertoire, with endless options to keep your tummy and those of your fellow diners happy.
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‘Vegetarian Hassle Free Gluten Free’ by Jane Devonshire, published by Bloomsbury Absolute
Jane Devonshire has flown the flag for gluten-free eating ever since she won MasterChef in 2016. The Coeliac UK ambassador’s recipes have consistently shown that a gluten free diet should mean eating incredible food, and that it need not be difficult to make.
Devonshire’s first book, Hassle Free, Gluten Free, is one of our previous best buys, and her latest title for gluten-free veggies is equally worthy of the best buy crown. Vegetarian Hassle Free Gluten Free is one of the few books to carry the Coeliac UK stamp of approval and we can see why.
Recipes for family favourites, such as twice-cooked cheese soufflé, black bean burgers and very chocolatey creme egg cheesecake are accompanied by straightforward instructions and beautiful photography. We love that the dishes require only simple ingredients that can be picked up in most supermarkets. This book makes navigating the world – and kitchen – as a gluten-free vegetarian an exciting and enjoyable experience.
‘Cook Once, Eat All Week’ by Cassy Joy Garcia, published by Victory Belt Publishing
For the uber-organised among us, meal prepping is a genius approach to eating. Spend a day cooking a week’s worth of meals, and they are ready to take from the fridge and heat in the microwave when it’s time to eat. But if the thought of spending your entire Sunday cooking does not appeal, this book will change your life.
Instead of cooking the entire week’s meals in advance, you prepare the components ahead of time – this can include cooking meats and chopping and washing vegetables – so they are ready to put together in a flash on the day of eating. This approach means fresher meals, money savings and reduced food waste, author Cassy Joy Garcia says.
Every delicious dinner in the book comprises three key components; a protein, veg and a starch. Recipes range from beef stroganoff, chicken parmesan bake, and roasted tomato soup with grilled turkey and cheese sandwiches so there’s plenty to choose from. All the recipes are gluten-free and offer switches to support those following other diets, such as paleo, egg-free and low-FODMAP (fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols).
The book also contains easy-to-understand tables to help families of different sizes figure out how much to cook each week, advice on safe meal storage and reheating and shopping lists with ingredients that can be found in most supermarkets. If you thought preparing tasty, wholesome food was costly and required the time needed to do a full-time job, this book will make you think again.
‘The Flexible Family Cookbook’ by Jo Pratt, published by Frances Lincoln
We often find ourselves having to cook variations on the same recipe or sometimes even multiple meals to keep everyone in the house happy and suitably fed at dinnertime.The Flexible Family Cookbook takes out any guesswork and provides the vision for simple switches, ensuring everyone has the meal they can and want to eat.
Recipes in each of the sections – breakfast and brunch, soups and broths, small plates and snacks, main meals, sides, and baking and desserts – are easily adapted for non-gluten-eating folk, as well as those with other dietary requirements or food allergies. We loved testing the recipes for fruity oat pancakes at breakfast, quick pan pizza for a mid-week fakeaway and the dreamy salted caramel kisses.
A dietary index at the back of the book is useful for identifying the recipes that are suitable for people who avoid gluten, but also those who are vegan, pescatarian, egg- or dairy-free or allergic to nuts and sesame. But remember, be sure to use different utensils, knives and chopping boards from those that have been used with gluten-containing ingredients to avoid cross-contamination when cooking for someone with coeliac disease – just as you would keep nuts away from food destined to be eaten by someone with a nut allergy.
‘The Genius Gluten-Free Cookbook’ by Lucinda Bruce-Gardyne, published by Vermilion
Anyone who has been gluten-free for a while is sure to be familiar with Genius’s scrummy range of bread, cakes and pastries. This book, by the founder of the brand, shows you how to make food at home that is just as good. Leiths-trained Bruce-Gardyne takes you through 120 recipes, crafting such delights as panzanella, cookies, brownies and biscuits, and the ultimate comfort food, macaroni cheese. This title is likely to become one you will turn to time and time again.
‘Baked to Perfection’ by Katarina Cermelj, published by Bloomsbury Absolute
Science, humour and recipes for scrumptious gluten-free baked goods – this book has them all. Yes, it is a cookbook, but it could also be considered an educational textbook, with a comprehensive gluten-free baking basics section covering fascinating facts about how flours behave, along with science in each chapter for learning how to achieve a superior bake every time.
Recipes range from kitchen essentials, such as perfect crusty baguettes, to divine sweet treats – think triple chocolate cupcakes with an oozy chocolate fudge filling, and savoury crowd-pleasers like a pizza any trattoria would be proud to serve.
Baked to Perfection is also a feast for the eyes. Beautiful illustrations dotted throughout make some of the more scientific content super accessible and fun, while step-by-step photos for some recipes give you confidence that you’re on the right track.
‘Mindful Chef cookbook’ by Myles Hopper and Giles Humphries, published by Century
After a busy day, speed and simplicity reign in the kitchen. For those who find they have more busy days than not, but also want nutritious, healthy food, this book is a must. All recipes take 30 minutes to make with a maximum of 10 ingredients, are naturally gluten-free and contain no refined carbs.
Yet this title is so much more than just a cookbook. Alongside fantastic recipes are helpful tips and features on energy and productivity, stress, gut health, exercise and sleep, and cheering inspirational quotes. “People who love to eat are always the best people,” sums it up nicely.
‘Celiac Disease Cookbook for the Newly Diagnosed’ by Rebecca Toutant, published by Rockridge Press
Receiving a diagnosis of coeliac disease can come as an explanation for some, who have experienced symptoms for years, but that does not make it any easier. Many people have to embark on a journey to understand what they can and cannot eat to ensure they avoid gluten, and it can be a learning curve. This book makes the road a little less bumpy, offering guidance on coeliac disease and a gluten-free diet in a simple, friendly and informative way.
It provides information on forming new eating habits, preparing your kitchen for making gluten-free dishes and tells you what to look for when eating out to keep yourself safe. There are also dozens of recipes to make your new way of eating incredibly tasty. Chapters cover everything from breakfasts and smoothies to snacks and sides, seafood and meat to vegetarian and vegan dishes. Honey pork tenderloin with mashed potatoes was a favourite in our home, and the divine no-bake raw vegan chocolate cheesecake was surprisingly easy to make for people who avoid animal products as well as gluten.
‘How to be Gluten-Free and Keep Your Friends’ by Anna Barnett, published by Hardie Grant
We’ve all been there. Seeing noses turn up at the very mention of a gluten-free pizza or cake or feeling embarrassed about having to tell waiting staff at a restaurant that your food must not contain or touch gluten. Living gluten-free can feel like a massive life obstacle, as Barnett says. This book puts a new spin on what it means to avoid gluten, and opens up a world of food ideas that are perfect for enjoying alone or with company.
The delectable recipes are inspired by global cuisines – the tuna sambal broth with vermicelli noodles and the dutch baby with caramelised bananas and fresh orange have to be eaten to be believed – and all look gorgeous with a bit of care during making.
‘The 30-Minute Gluten-Free Cookbook’ by Jan Withington, published by Rockridge Press
Living gluten-free should never have to mean spending hours in the kitchen concocting complex, time-consuming meals – unless you want it to be, of course. If commitments and life in general mean you are frequently left needing to rustle up supper in a flash, this book and the more than 100 quick and flavoursome recipes inside will certainly be of use.
The dishes themselves are mostly made from no-nonsense, whole-food ingredients. There are classics such as Belgian waffles, pork chops and garlic chicken thighs, as well as those with fusion flavours like Asian chicken lettuce wraps and kielbasa, potato and pepper supper. There are also chapters dedicated to vegetarian and vegan options, seafood, poultry and meat for easy reference. Plus, the sample menus are genius for when planning themed dinner parties or entertaining guests on a plant-based diet.
‘How to Make Anything Gluten Free’ by Becky Excell, published by Hardie Grant
When Excell says ‘anything’, she is not kidding. This book is a tome of gluten-free creativity with more than 100 recipes, including satisfyingly crunchy yet light beer-battered fish and chips, classic coffee and walnut cake and super easy to make arepas ready for the stuffing. You don’t just have to take our word for it on this book – Nigella Lawson herself is a fan. The kitchen goddess describes Excell’s three-ingredient Yorkshire puddings recipe as a ‘game-changer’ and we are inclined to agree.
The verdict: Gluten-free cookbooks
We have long been fans of Jane Devonshire’s work, so we were thrilled to get our hands on her latest book. Vegetarian Hassle Free Gluten Free meets our high expectations of the MasterChef winner and, as we try to eat more consciously with the future of the planet in mind, the recipes inside gave us bags of inspiration and expanded our vegetarian gluten-free meals repertoire.
The Mindful Chef cookbook also deserves a mention for its motivating content and health-focused recipes, as does How to Make Anything Gluten Free for that stunning Yorkshire pudding recipe and abundance of other excellent dishes to make.
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