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Book Review: The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook

Posted Feb 22 2012 10:30am

Now, this isn’t my normal subject to review/discuss on this site.  But when I was contacted and asked if I was interested, part of the pitch was how a gluten-free diet can help athletics.  They said the book had a section about that specifically, so I decided to take a look.

I have heard stories in the news about pro-athletes switching to gluten-free diets and how it “helps their training season so much” and how they “feel so much better”.  But I have also heard that some of those same athletes have a free-for-all once their season was over, gorging themselves on gluten-filled products.  That whole philosophy seems counter-intuitive to me.  If you truly do feel that much better without it, then just go without.

For example, I am lactose-intolerant .  As much as the thought of having an ice cream cone sounds like it would be awesome… I’m not going to do it because I know the aftermath is no way near as worth it as the temporary taste of the ice cream.

And a lot of people seem to jump on the gluten-free bandwagon and eliminate it from their diet on their own, which means they can’t get tested for celiac or gluten-intolerance because they’ve already removed it from their diet.  If someone truly suspects the NEED to go off gluten, perhaps they should work with their medical professional to get their diagnosis.
ARTICLE: Gluten-free diet may be a waste of money for some, new research suggests.

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With all that ranting aside… the first chapter is full of good information about inflammation and how diet affects our health.  Some of the things that I found particularly noteworthy:

  • Early humans ate a diet that was 65% animal/fish-based, 35% plant-based with no refined wheat or sugar
  • Modern humans eat a diet that is 35% animal/fish-based, 65% plant-based with lots of refined wheat and sugar
  • Early humans ate about 104 grams of fiber a day, while most modern humans eat only about 15 grams a day!
  • A diet high in wheat, sugar, meat and oil but low in fruits/veggies creates an imbalance in pH levels, making us more acidic.
  • A more acidic body has more inflammation, which opens the door for disease.
  • Acidity robs the body of calcium, magnesium and potassium.
  • Citrus is NOT acidic in the body, it’s actually alkaline or neutralizing. (Thus the reason drinking warm lemon water each morning before breakfast is so good.)

The science is pretty interesting!

The book has a chapter on how to start the lifestyle with advice on portion sizes, testing your pH and a sample neutralizing meal plan.  Another chapter focuses on some cooking basics, teaching the reader the differences in different cooking methods, temperatures and food safety, plus an appendix on gluten-free baking principles.

As for the actual cookbook?
The Gluten-Free Good Health Cookbook: The Delicious Way to Strengthen Your Immune System and Neutralize Inflammation

The recipes are pretty straightforward.  They don’t contain a lot of “weird” gluten-free ingredients that would be hard to find.  Even in the dessert chapter, they have souffles and mousses that are built off a tofu base.

The chapters for recipes are:

  • Sauces and Gravies
  • Soups, Chowders and Chilis
  • Vegetables and Side Dishes
  • Grains
  • Fish and Seafood
  • Chicken and Turkey
  • Meat
  • Desserts

It covers it all!

One of my favorite recipes in the book is for mixed roasted vegetables.  It allows for a lot of flexibility depending on what veggies you have available and isn’t hard.  It calls for a little bit of maple syrup, which I wouldn’t have thought of on my own but it really helps to bring out the vegetables natural sweetness during the carmelization process in roasting.

The book is a simple paperback and doesn’t contain pictures.  I do think the science and health information at the beginning is important.  They point out one of my biggest pet peeves with the medical field and that is the way doctors seem to treat problems instead of a patient as a whole.  I want doctors to figure out WHY something occurred, not just prescribe a pill and send you on your way.

I do think this book would provide those who already know they have Celiac or gluten-intolerance with a wide range of recipes and I think the book would help educate those who are newly diagnosed with some of the info how their diet affects them.  But like I mentioned at the beginning… if someone is really convinced they have issues and want to be certain, don’t cut gluten out before talking with and getting tested by a doctor.  We do have to take our health into our own hands so often, but sometimes playing armchair -(or Google-) physician isn’t the best practice either!

BTW – there wasn’t a chapter specifically on gluten and athletic performance, but a lot of the info in Chapter 1 on inflammation can definitely be applicable to some athletes woes.

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