Book Review: Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food

It’s not easy removing beloved food items from one’s menu. I had both wheat and dairy intolerances as an infant, and while I did outgrow both, I have adjusted my diet to accommodate, at least in part, the wheat intolerance part of those childhood allergies. Allergies do return as one grows older, so it seemed wise. Reducing or removing gluten is not really a huge challenge. There are gluten-free items on the grocery shelves right next to their wheat counterparts. But vegan, too?

I’ve had conversations with my friend Myscha, who has embraced a more vegan diet, about combining vegan with gluten-free. We both agreed that was more than we could either envision. I wasn’t ready to give up meat and dairy, and she wasn’t ready to remove gluten. Then, Susan O’Brien’s latest cookbook Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food came onto my radar. Amazingly, combining gluten-free and vegan is not so complicated. There are 125 recipes in this book, and I can see myself using many of them.

The ah-ha moments for me come in the form of dairy/meat alternatives. One must know about the alternatives before one can use them, right? I use some of them already, but haven’t figured out how to cook with them, e.g. coconut milk and almond milk. Some recipes in this book I’ve known and loved, but it never occurred to me to call them either vegan or gluten-free. They are though. Take for example Felafel, Spoon Bread, and Buckwheat Pancakes. Who knew?

The dietary info included before the recipes is highly useful, too. There’s a list of what cannot be in a gluten-free diet. I knew many of these, but a little reinforcement and expansion is a good thing. Also, a list and explanation of ingredients (e.g., xantham gum, chia seeds, agave nectar, gluten-free flour) and suggestions for a gluten-free vegan larder are so handy. Very nice to have to the work done already!

I was thrilled to see several of my favorite food items converted to vegan gluten-free. Mac and cheese? Got it covered. Banana cream pie? It’s in there. Lasagna and pizza? Covered! Cupcakes? Yup. Them, too.

Thanks to Susan O’Brien’s Gluten-Free Vegan Comfort Food, I may just incorporate some vegan in with my gluten free. It’s a great book for anyone thinking of looking into one or both of the dietary changes.

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