10 best gluten-free cookbooks to kick coeliac disease in the gut
Coeliac disease can make life difficult but it certainly doesn’t mean that sufferers can’t make and enjoy delicious food
It affects one in 100 people, is a lifelong autoimmune condition with no cure, and can cause anything from gastrointestinal symptoms and anaemia to neurological problems and repeated miscarriages.
Yet coeliac disease remains widely misunderstood and grossly underestimated. It is not a food allergy or intolerance but instead a disorder where the body’s immune system attacks its own tissues when gluten is eaten. This causes damage to the lining of the gut and prevents vital nutrients from food being absorbed. Coeliac disease really can be a kick in the gut.
More worrying still is the fact that about half a million people in the UK are living with the condition without even knowing it. Emily Hampton, head of food policy at Coeliac UK, says: “Only 30 per cent of people with coeliac disease are currently diagnosed. It is often misdiagnosed because its symptoms are very similar to a number of other gut problems, including irritable bowel syndrome. It is important that people are screened for coeliac disease with a blood test before a diagnosis of other gut problems in order to rule it out first.”
The charity is working towards a future where the scale of underdiagnosis can be tackled and reduced. The hope is that Coeliac Awareness Week, which runs from 13 to 19 May, will make more people alert to how their body feels and lead them to seek clinical advice to find out whether their symptoms could be undiagnosed coeliac disease.
Ultimately, though, the misery that can be caused by coeliac disease can largely be avoided by following a strict gluten-free diet, meaning foods containing the protein – including wheat, rye, barley and oats – are out. One in 10 people (and that is likely to also include those with non-coeliac gluten sensitivity, which can trigger equally unpleasant symptoms) in the UK now avoid gluten. The market is listening and there are many pre-made gluten-free products available in mainstream supermarkets.
But too much can never be said of the benefits of eating as many unprocessed foods as possible, especially as free-from alternatives are often far more expensive than the conventional product. “On a gluten-free diet there are many foods that are naturally gluten free, including meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, rice and potatoes,” Hampton adds.
The cookbooks selected here allow those with coeliac disease and non-coeliac gluten sensitivity to enjoy the pleasure of cooking delicious food from scratch. The list includes a wide variety of both sweet and savoury dishes, and many also give excellent advice, which can be particularly useful for those who are newly diagnosed, on transitioning to a new way of eating.
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‘Hassle Free, Gluten Free’ by Jane Devonshire, published by Bloomsbury: £15.17, Amazon
Jane Devonshire flew the flag for gluten-free gastronomy on national TV when her culinary flair saw her become the winner of MasterChef 2016. We all know how tough that competition can be, but with 14 years’ experience of cooking without gluten – after her youngest child was diagnosed with coeliac disease when he was two years old – she had the talent to take her all the way to the top.
With this new cookbook she shares her ideas for dishes for every occasion, including simple yet posh nibbles, comforting breads, welcoming family suppers and fancy dinner party fare. The dessert recipes are also exquisite. Peanut butter cheesecake anyone? You get the picture.
Straightforward advice on avoiding gluten cross-contamination during food preparation is a helpful addition to this book too.
‘Vegan Treats’ by Emma Hollingsworth, published by Octopus Publishing: £11.17, Wodery
There was a time when the mere mention of baked goods would send those with coeliac disease running for the hills. Now there is a world of coeliac-friendly baking substitutes that make indulgent goodies totally accessible and easy to create, as can be seen in Emma Hollingsworth’s delightful book.
Do not let the title deceive you, the recipes within will appeal to vegans, vegetarians and meat eaters alike. And it made perfect sense to include it here because all the recipes are gluten free, as well as dairy free and refined-sugar free.
The book is the ultimate guide to creating all things sweet, from breakfast bars, brownies and biscuits to doughnuts, tarts and a cookie pizza pie. There is even a handy list of free-from alternatives to traditional products.
‘How to be Gluten Free and Keep Your Friends’ by Anna Barnett, published by Hardie Grant: £7.81, Wordery
As this book rightly declares: “This lifestyle doesn’t need to be an obstacle or a punishment.” Indeed, with the right vision it can be a joy. This book can give its readers just that.
The dishes are inspired by cuisines and flavours from across the globe, with Thai, Korean and Mexican recipes among the mix. There are breads and loafs far more exciting than your usual sliced white, and ideas for condiments, including infused oils and a truly delicious sticky chilli jam. Desserts and cakes are also given due attention – think macaroons, a Dutch baby pancake, and gin and pink tonic ice pops.
Dotted between the recipes are nuggets of inspiration, including recommendations for apps to download, guidance on free-from flours and even words of encouragement – a nice touch.
‘Mindful Chef’ by Myles Hopper and Giles Humphries, published by Penguin Random House: £13.18, Amazon
Cooking coeliac-friendly food can sometimes feel like a complex task that requires a lot of time, but this book shatters that notion because every meal can be made in 30 minutes. The recipes are fresh, nutritious and deliver powerful flavours with easy to source, straightforward ingredients.
It is rare to come across a person who does not lead a hectic life nowadays, but even the busiest among us can rustle up tasty dishes, including beef and mustard burger, peanut satay pork, and salted caramel raw chocolates – with the help of this book. All the creations look and taste like a great deal more time and effort have gone into them.
Mindful Chef also offers holistic advice on living well, with chapters on energy and productivity, managing stress, exercise tips and how to make sure you are getting enough good-quality sleep.
‘Honeybuns All Day Cook Book’ by Emma Goss-Custard: £14.99, Honeybee Books
Anyone who has tasted Honeybuns’ range of pre-packaged treats will know the recipes in this book will be delicious. Much like their slices and brownies, the dishes here do not scrimp on flavour or indulgence.
The recipes are organised by meal type, and there are charming extras, such as crackers and dips and festival favourites. The weekend brunch bake was a winner, as were the toad in the hole and the chocolate, prune and avocado tart. This book is equally good for those following other diets – there are 69 diary-free and 35 vegan recipes.
A wealth of tips to make coeliac-friendly living easy are included too, as well as a section outlining trusted suppliers of those harder to find in the supermarket gluten- and allergen-free products.
‘Deliciously Ella The Plant-Based Cookbook’ by Ella Mills, published by Yellow Kite: £15, WHSmith
If healthy yet scrumptious food that avoids animal products is what you’re after then this books is one for you. Ella Mills turned a horrible situation, where she was suffering from a rare illness, to a positive one with a radical lifestyle transformation. She has established a hugely successful brand, which has garnered an enormous following, and this latest book serves up more than 100 recipes alongside an insight into her personal journey.
It features the most popular dishes from her London deli café, including breakfasts, salads, burgers, stews and curries. The gatherings and supper clubs section is excellent if you are planning a dinner party or special occasion because these recipes are tried and tested at events including Wilderness Festival and a Help Refugees charity evening.
‘Gluten is my Bitch’ by April Peveteaux, published by Stewart, Tabori and Chang: £7.91, WHSmith
First and foremost, this book is hilarious. It says it how it is – no sugarcoating of coeliac disease here – and is as much a therapy session as a cookbook.
The recipes are easy to find because the pages are blue to contrast against the white pages of all the other content. On those blues pages you will find breakfasts, snacks, sides, mains, desserts and even cocktails. We were most excited about the Italian cream cake and German cream cheese brownies.
On top of the recipes, there are useful chapters on making sure your diet is safe while travelling, including the airlines you can trust, how to help a child with coeliac disease and what to go for when dining out.
‘The Fodmap Friendly Kitchen Cookbook’ by Emma Hatcher, published by Yellow Kite: £13.72, Wordery
Go to a doctor with digestion issues and you are likely to be advised to try a low-Fodmap diet (although do push for a blood test to rule out coeliac disease if you suspect you might have it). Avoiding fermentable oligosaccharides, disaccharides, monosaccharides and polyols (Fodmaps) is a proven way to relieve the symptoms of conditions including IBS and crohn’s disease, and it could help people with coeliac disease too.
In this book, Emma Hatcher shares 100 recipes, including yummy brunch ideas, soups, pizza and pastas and some really beautiful desserts. The “something special” chapter is especially good for those days when you have a bit more time on your hands, are entertaining or are cooking for date night.
The in-depth and extensive information in this book will guide anyone through embarking on a low-Fodmap diet with ease.
‘My Kids Can’t Eat That!’ by Christine Bailey, published by Nourish: £10.49, WHSmith
This book provides far more than what you would expect to find in a regular cookbook – to call it an education would not be excessive. Nutritionist and chef Christine Bailey has coeliac disease herself, and her three children have autoimmune conditions so she knows the value of safe, tasty and nutritious food.
Beyond the comprehensive information about identifying and dealing with symptoms of coeliac disease and food allergies, Bailey shares 60 allergy-free recipes that all the family will love. The smoky bean burgers were a hit when we tried them, as too were the ginger oaty cookies.
What makes this book stand out is the inclusion of advice on how to emotionally support a child through an allergy diagnosis that will help them take control of their diet. The sensible guidance on eating out, and how to deal with schools and other parents, is equally excellent. Meanwhile, the shopping lists and meal plans are brilliant, and extra helpful if you are stuck for ideas and like to plan ahead.
‘The Ultimate Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Collection’ by Grace Cheetham, published by Nourish: £13.86, Wordery
Having coeliac disease as well as a dairy allergy sounds like a hell of a nightmare, but this tome of more than 200 recipes means you will be hard-pushed to run out of fresh ideas in the kitchen.
From the simple to the adventurous, there is something for any time of the day and for every day of the week. Among them are comfort foods such as lasagne, fancier dishes with seafood, and sweet treats including a gorgeous upside-down nectarine and ginger cake. There is even a pork pie recipe.
Handy quick reference symbols on each recipe make it easy to identify if the dish is safe for you.
The verdict: Gluten-free cookbooks
If Jane Devonshire’s recipes are good enough for John and Gregg, they are good enough for us. Hassle Free, Gluten Free delivers family-friendly recipes that everyone will love, regardless of their dietary requirements. A close second is Mindful Chef for its quick and simple yet extremely tasty dishes. The Ultimate Gluten-Free, Dairy Free Collection also deserves a mention for its excellent value for money, as much as for anything else.
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