Gluten-free lovers unite with “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook” review & giveaway!
posted by: Guest Blogger
**CONTEST CLOSED. CONGRATULATIONS TO WINNERS JOYCE DORNEY & GINA ST. AUBIN!**
I have been gluten-free for the last two and a half years or so, and while it has gotten considerably easier in that time to find gluten-free products, I’m still always on the lookout for new foods, recipes, and cookbooks. The gluten-free market is growing, but I still have yet to find a suitable replacement for tiny little cheese crackers for my Chex mix. Once I do, you’ll find me bloated and bleary on the couch, with salty crumbs tumbling down my shirt.
But I digress.
In the meantime, I cook. Now, here’s the thing. I really, really don’t like cooking when I’m hungry. Or when my boys are writhing on the floor, begging for food. I apparently never, EVER feed them. But I do enjoy baking, and preparing dinners that need a minimum of fuss.
I recently had the pleasure of reviewing “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook” by Boulder author Elana Amsterdam, and scored on both those fronts. Elana is also the author of the popular gluten-free blog, Elana’s Pantry, where she shares recipes, menu plans, and products for living a gluten-free life. I was thrilled to get my hands on this book because I’m rather tired of mixing up several different flours to make cookies. Or bread. Or pancakes. Wait, husband makes the pancakes, scratch that. The main ingredient in this cookbook is almond flour made from blanched (skins removed) almonds. Now, if I had been a wee bit more observant and read the intro more carefully instead of jumping right into the baking, I would have noticed that Elena recommends not using Bob’s Red Mill almond flour. She calls it too coarse for baking, and I completely agree. I used Bob’s Red Mill for my taste-testings and while the end results were still tasty, I suspect I’d like them a lot more if I’d used a better quality almond flour. Bob’s is also Holy Heck Expensive at the store, and almond flour purchased online is nearly half the cost. Let’s call it user error and move on, shall we?
For the review, I prepared a variety of goodies from the book and fed them to the animals I call my sons. Oh, and my husband too. Of the four recipes I prepared, the hands-down favorite was the Chocolate Chip Scones (recipe below). This isn’t so much a dense scone as it is just one heck of a killer chocolate chip cookie. But because it’s called a scone, you can have it for breakfast, guilt free. Win win. With only seven ingredients (hard to find in a gluten-free recipe that doesn’t state “add oil and egg to mix”), these were rich and chewy with great flavor from the almond flour. My other fave from the cookbook is the Double Chocolate Cherry Cookies. Why so well-received, you may ask? Double chocolate, dried cherries, and no egg in the recipe means that you can eat these directly from the bowl, forget the oven. Heh…not that I’ve done that, of course. But if you choose to do so, consider the uncooked dough the best PMS cure in your kitchen. Beyond that, my family scarfed down everything I made from this cookbook.
A few other items of note. Elena uses grapeseed oil and agave nectar exclusively in the recipes here. Both can be found at local health food stores; I, like the author, recommend buying the largest amount you can stash in your pantry. They end up being cheaper that way, and if you think you’ll rarely use them outside of this cookbook, think again. I put agave nectar in my coffee every morning, and cook with grapeseed oil nearly every night. Why are they preferred here? Simply because they’re healthier than other options. Agave nectar is a low-glycemic index sweetener (it doesn’t spike your blood sugar), and grapeseed oil is low in cholesterol. Those of us with celiac disease and gluten sensitivity tend to be pretty aware of the connection of food and health, and make dietary changes so that other diseases don’t come knocking later.
I recommend this cookbook. It provided me with some great recipes and the opportunity to cook with a flour I would have otherwise overlooked. I do plan to order some higher-quality almond flour (online sources are noted in the back of the book) so I can continue trying out these meals and baked goods. I love that almond flour is a “superfood,” packed with protein and fiber while remaining low-carb. NOTE: Something I ran into while baking these recipes was school-allowability (I declare that to be a word). My oldest son is gluten and dairy free, but must bring a snack that is also nut-free. Because almond flour is from the nut family, please be aware of your school’s policies on nuts before sending anything made with almond flour to school.
Guest blogger Jen may not be a Colorado native, but has given birth to two native sons. She writes about the insecurities and absurdities of raising gifted kids…and a bunch of other stuff…at Laughing at Chaos.
Makes 16 scones Sweetness: Medium
2 1/2 cups blanched almond flour
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 large eggs
1 cup coarsely chopped dark chocolate (73% cacao)
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. LIne 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a large bowl, combine the almond flour, salt, and baking soda. In a medium bowl, whisk together the grapeseed oil, agave nectar, and eggs. Stir the wet ingredients into the almond flour mixture until thoroughly combined, then fold in the chocolate. Drop the batter, in scant 1/4 cups 2 inches apart, onto the prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 12 to 17 minutes, until golden brown or a toothpick inserted into the center of a scone comes out clean. Let the scones cool for 30 minutes on the baking sheets, then serve.
Reprinted with permission from The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook: Breakfasts, Entrées, and More. Copyright © 2009 by Elana Amsterdam, Celestial Arts, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, Berkeley, CA. Photo credit: Annabelle Breakey.
Mile-High Mamas is giving away two copies of Elana Amsterdam’s “The Gluten-Free Almond Flour Cookbook.” Please go here to enter. Contest deadline is October 1, 2010.