Demos Health has recently published two revised editions of books of interest to the gluten-free community and sent me two review copies to look over. The first book I examined is Kim Koeller and Robert La France's "Let's Eat Out Around the World: Gluten Free and Allergy Free" (4th edition, 2014).
I think that this book will be most useful to folks who travel a great deal for work or who frequently dine in restaurants AND for restaurant professionals who want to understand how to prepare meals for the increasing number of guests who require safe meals. The book not only provides information about gluten-free dining, but offers extensive data about other common allergens, like peanuts, tree nuts, shellfish, dairy and others. The 45 pages of introductory material about the author's experiences and backgrounds seemed overly long, but the rest of the book is a great resource about how to make traveling abroad and eating out much easier for those on restricted diets. The information about how to pack healthy, emergency snacks is detailed and there are a number of other travel tips, and nice lists of online and mobile applications.
I found the chapters on how certain dishes are prepared in various types of restaurants (steak and seafood, Mexican, Thai, Italian, French, Indian, Chinese) the most interesting and helpful. The authors break down what types of ingredients are used in standard recipes for these mainstay dishes and where the pitfalls in contamination with unwanted ingredients or preparation techniques might occur, so that diners can easily communicate their requests to their servers. They describe typical menus in these different restaurants and it is enormously heartening to see that it is possible, if equipped with knowledge about what might be offered at these venues, to eat both adventurously and well on a gluten-free, allergy-free diet.
The book is written in a very matter-of-fact tone, reading much like a business book, and is well-illustrated with many color photos. Koeller has posted a number of video posts back at the Demos Health website, including gluten-free snack ideas, gluten-free alcoholic beverages, and tips on how to effectively communicate your dining needs to restaurant staff.
The second book out from Demos Health is Marlisa Brown's "Gluten-Free, Hassle-Free: A Simple, Sane, Dietitian-Approved Program for Eating Your Way Back to Health" (2nd edition, 2014).
This book is a great choice for anyone who has just been diagnosed with a gluten-free condition, as it provides easy-to-follow, comforting advice on everything from how to restock one's kitchen, how to read food labels, a 30-day gluten-free meal plan, entertaining tips and sample menus, and many other topics. The focus is on ease and simplicity: whether it's switching out certain ingredients or favorite brands, or choosing from a long list of menus and recipes for dishes that are naturally gluten-free. Brown provides constant encouragements and has a friendly, reassuring writing style, certainly most welcome when one is first confronted by a diagnosis of celiac disease or gluten-intolerance, but equally valued by this reader who is now cooking and eating gluten-free with her family after seven years.
There were many nuggets of information I gleaned from reading the pages and many unusual recipes to try, not just the old standards. How about Arepas stuffed with cheese and roasted red pepper and baked until golden and gooey? (p. 98) Or Quofte (Albanian Meatballs)? (p. 263) Or Spinach and Feta Pie? (p. 306) If you would like to test drive one of Brown's recipes, this recipe for carrot cake or this recipe for Turkey-Avocado Melt might do the trick. I tried a batch of Brown's hamburger buns, which use mashed potatoes, were very chewy and had a great taste and texture.
As with Koeller and LaFrance's book above, Brown devotes many pages to advice on how to dine out without glutening or stress, and even includes translated text on dining out cards in fourteen different languages to provide to restaurant servers. From Polish to Greek to Mandarin, this is a wonderful bonus.
Demos Health has also launched a revised publisher's website that is a good resource for health information of all kinds, with blog posts (written and video formats), on everything from celiac issues to elder care for loved ones with Alzheimer's disease, so be sure to check this out as well.
And now for the giveaways! Demos Health has graciously offered a complimentary copy of each of the above titles. To enter the giveaway, leave a comment below by March 5, 2014, midnight Eastern Standard Time, about which book you would be interested in receiving and why and I'll pick a randomly generated winner from them. Giveaway limited to United States residents.
*Note: I received complimentary copies of the above titles from the publisher, but as always, I was not obligated to post a review of them and my comments about them are completely my own.