When I received The Best Grain-Free Family Meals on the Planet, the first thing I did was leaf through it and look at all the gorgeous, full color pictures of the recipes. This is a beautiful book and the pages are sturdy enough to hold up to being moved around and used in a kitchen where they might get spilled or splattered on. My kids also thought the pictures were fabulous and asked to eat some of their favorite looking dishes. The saying goes, “You eat with your eyes first”.
I did something with this book I have not done with many cookbooks before. I read it cover to cover. Part of that was so I could give it a thorough review, but part of it was because Laura Fuentes did include a small story or description about each recipe, along with possible modifications for dealing with specific food needs. She is very open in discussing her personal food allergies as well as those of her family. She doesn’t try to sugar coat the difficulty of coming to terms with finding out you or your children have a major food allergy, though she does talk about the massive benefits of finally figuring it out and being able to eat foods her body can digest. She is also forthcoming about the shifts her family has made in their cooking and eating habits and how it was a huge undertaking at first but has become second nature over time.
While every recipe in this book is grain-free, many of them are also dairy -free, nut-free, and/or egg-free. These designations are listed right under the recipe name and if there are further modifications that can easily be made they are listed after the recipe. This book was made with substitutions for certain ingredients in mind and it is very easy to swap most things out. If something is not a simple switch Laura indicates that in the notes. Mostly this has to do with different types of grain-free flours and the amounts of liquid they absorb. Something else that is nice is if you are NOT grain-free you can still make these recipes with no issues and just put your grains in instead of using the substitutes.
Laura includes a few short but incredibly helpful sections about what kind of kitchen appliances she uses the most and pantry essentials for a grain-free kitchen. As a personal chef, I have cooked for clients who are grain-free and I can attest that Laura’s list is comprehensive while not terribly overwhelming. She also gives suggestions on where to get your grain-free staples, including some things that are just easier to make at home. Her lists are quite helpful, especially if you are going to start modifying your diet any time soon.
My family made a couple of the recipes out of this book and they were a success. Well, OK, my Husband, Mother-in-Law, and I loved them. My children liked components of them. The first things I made were the Roasted Beet Salad with Walnuts and Goat Cheese and the Greek Pan-Roasted Asparagus. We also ran across a few recipes that are staples in our house. The two that spring to mind are the grilled pineapple and the apple nachos. We’ve been making both of those for years and I don’t have pictures of them because they get consumed almost immediately. My photos of the salad and the asparagus, though, are included in this review. They were delicious and my Mother-in-Law used the leftover ingredients to make the salad for her sewing group again a few days later. There are still quite a few recipes I’m excited to try, especially the Homemade Hazelnut Spread (think Nutella, but homemade) and Almond Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies. We’re big on desserts in my family. I look forward to many years of use and fun kitchen experiences with this cookbook.
Sarah is a wife, Mom, personal chef, avid reader, sometimes writer, all around smart ass, and lover of life. She maintains her sanity in the hectic life of raising two special needs kids by drinking vast amounts of coffee, small amounts of wine, laughing often, telling lots of jokes (occasionally poorly timed, often thoroughly inappropriate), and appreciating her husband because he’s a rock star Dad and partner.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Fair Winds Press. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.