Deliciously G-Free, by Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Deliciously G-Free, by Elisabeth Hasselbeck
Deliciously G-Free, by Elisabeth Hasselbeck. © Elisabeth Hasselbeck

Deliciously G-Free, by talk show host Elisabeth Hasselbeck, bills itself as a gluten-free cookbook with recipes that would suit a family, from grandparents right on down to young kids. Indeed, Hasselbeck recounts in the introduction how difficult it was for her to give up her old, gluten-filled family favorites when she was diagnosed (a feeling I think many of us can relate to).

Hasselbeck's recipes involve more family fare than haute cuisine, definitely.

In addition, many of them are merely new looks at the dishes that others have re-created gluten-free — over the years, I've seen many great recipes for gluten-free macaroni and cheese and gluten-free fish and chips, two dishes Hasselbeck includes in her book.

However, for someone who's brand-new to the gluten-free diet and who feels the need for a basic gluten-free cookbook, Deliciously G-Free isn't a bad place to start. It offers some good basic recipes, some interesting takes on gluten-free breakfasts and gluten-free entrées, plus some reasonable advice on avoiding gluten cross-contamination if you have a shared kitchen.

Deliciously G-Free Focuses on Family Cuisine

Hasselbeck's introduction to Deliciously G-Free focuses on how big a role food played in her family life growing up, and how she was determined not to let the gluten-free diet prevent her from giving food a central role in her family's life now (she and her husband, Tim Hasselbeck, have three children).

To that end, she focuses on recipes that will please kids and potentially serve a crowd, regardless of the meal.

For breakfast, she offers recipes like blueberry waffles and pancakes with homemade berry syrup (a nice touch), frittata and French toast with caramel rum bananas. Appetizers in the cookbook include crab cakes, potato skins, chili cheese fries and Buffalo chicken tenders.

Much of Deliciously G-Free is devoted to main courses, which range from chicken fingers (two different versions) and chicken marsala to lasagna and veggie pad thai. And desserts include some basic gluten-free recipes — classic yellow cupcakes and chocolate pudding, for example — along with blueberry-raspberry cobbler and cheesecake with berry topping.

Basic Gluten-Free Recipes Suit Beginners

As I said, this cookbook is best-suited to someone who's just learning how to cook gluten-free. Many of the recipes are pretty basic — for example, most people who cook (gluten-free or not) already know how to roast a chicken or make homemade chicken broth (and both almost always are prepared without gluten ingredients, anyway).

Hasselbeck does save you the experimentation of figuring out how to make meals like meatloaf, baked macaroni and cheese, and lasagna gluten-free; her recipes work well for those classics, and they're not difficult to pull together — a benefit for busy cooks.

Many of her recipes seem to rely heavily on eggs, which might represent a problem if you can't have eggs.

In addition, she repeatedly tells readers to use such ingredients as "gluten-free tomato paste," "gluten-free barbeque sauce" or "gluten-free mustard," but leaves it up to the readers themselves to find those items in their gluten-free form ... a potential problem for people brand-new to the gluten-free diet.

All in all, I liked Deliciously G-Free, but I didn't love it. It's got a large handful of decent recipes and a few really good ideas, but there's nothing in here I couldn't find elsewhere. Still, you might consider this gluten-free cookbook if you're new to the diet and want to learn how to cook traditional family favorites like beef stroganoff or spaghetti and meatballs gluten-free.

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