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How to Select the right Gluten-free or Allergen Free Cookbook

Posted Apr 06 2012 10:07pm

This is another important topic to me as a gluten-free and allergen free cookbook author and it is an area that consumers struggle with as evidenced by the multiple e-mails in any given week. So, how does a consumer decide which gluten-free or allergen free cookbook to purchase? There are several things someone looking to purchase either a gluten-free or allergen free cookbook needs to know! The first important fact, which may be hard to believe is that not all gluten-free cookbooks are actually gluten-free! When I say that not all gluten-free cookbooks are gluten-free, I mean that some cookbooks that say "gluten-free" on the cover and in their promotional materials actually contain wheat, barley, spelt and other gluten containing grains! From my research and personal experience this has been the case since at least 1985 if not before. The same fact is true about "allergen free" cookbooks. Some cookbooks marketed as dairy-free, egg-free, peanut free and tree nut free actually contain all of these ingredients.

You may wonder - how do the authors get away with that? I really don't know, but they do. What is a consumer to do? Well, the first step - whether you are purchasing a gluten-free or allergen free cookbook is to decide what you need specifically. One potential customer wrote to me in 2007 to ask about my cookbook. I thought she was only in need of a gluten-free cookbook, so I wrote back via e-mail letting her know that if she only needed a gluten-free cookbook she would do well to get a different book...that mine was also dairy-free, egg-free and other allergen free. She thought this was funny and wrote back that while her primary need was a gluten-free cookbook, she also wanted to be able to make appetizers, main dishes and desserts to take to pot luck dinners. It turns out that her neighbor's grandson was egg-free, a relative was allergic to dairy, and someone at her church had allergies to tree nuts. Decide what is important to you before you start shopping.

I would then recommend that you read the reviews. The one cookbook that I am thinking of (marketed as both gluten-free and allergen free from the 1980's) has reviews that specifically state that the cookbook is NOT gluten-free or allergen free. Are some of the reviews "put ons"? Probably so. I definitely had two that made me very suspicious that they were actually reviewing another cookbook based on the content and therefore I posted factual information in response to the two comments.

The second step is to look at the author's website for additional information.

If doing both of these things do not make it implicitly clear, then look at the author's website for recipes to try. I would believe that most gluten-free and allergen-free cookbook authors websites have free recipes on them. Take a few of the recipes and give it a whirl. If they work out, then you should be in good shape. If you still have questions, e-mail or call the author. Someone who is accessible should be able to help you sort this out without any difficulty.

The worst thing in the world is to spend money and have a product that does not meet your needs! I hope this has been helpful to those of you trying to sort out what specialty cookbook to purchase! Happy Baking!




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