the first book I am trying out is titled "Gluten-free, Sugar-free Cooking" by Susan O'Brien. what interested me about this book, is the sugar-free part. last summer, after reading the book "Spent: End Exhaustion and Feel Great Again" by Dr. Frank Lipman, I realized why sugar is unhealthy, and I went the through process of eliminating it, and it was really difficult! I eventually broke through the withdrawl period, and felt great! after a few months I eventually slipped back into my sugar eating comas with a cookie here and a soda there, and before I knew it I was craving sugar once again. in my own defense, I don't drink coffee, or caffeinated soft drinks, so sugar is my 3pm pick-me-up.
recently, after consuming sugary foods, like ice cream, sodas (even natural ones), cookies, and brownies, I don't feel well. so it dawned on me that even though I am craving these sweet foods, they are making me feel terrible. I get stomachaches and headaches, I feel tired, lethargic, and then of course I feel guilty! not to mention the baby weight on my belly that keeps me looking like I am four months pregnant. I need to stop eating sugar, and start eating more balanced whole foods! it also doesn't help that Robyn and I have been meeting so many fabulous boutique bakers here in Vancouver, but fortunately they are all aware of sugar's bad reputation and have great sugar free options too.
through an elimination diet, the author, Susan O'Brien, discovered that she is wheat/ gluten sensitive, and embarked on finding foods she could enjoy and that would be easy to make. O'Brien's book, which was published in 2006, contains over two hundred recipes geared to helping you live "a healthier, allergy-free life".
the recipes are all gluten free, sugar free, and some are dairy free. O'Brien, who wrote this book in order to help "millions of people suffering from food allergies, obesity, and generally less-than-perfect health," feels that the connection between what we eat and how we feel has never been more obvious. O'Brien notes that the gluten free sugar free diet can be beneficial to people suffering not only from Celiac Disease, but also Candida, Fibromylagia, Crohn's Disease, Diabetes, Autism, ADHD, and chemical sensitivity. O'Brien is a gourmet cook, baker, cooking instructor, guest speaker, and a food management consultant.
in the beginning of the book O'Brien discusses what the alternatives to sugar and gluten are, and she explains how they are used in cooking. what follows is a section on where to find gluten, dairy, and sugar free products, mainly in the United States, followed by a section on alternative ingredients. the recipes are broken down into the following categories:
breakfast dishes • breads and muffins • appetizers • soups, stews, and casseroles • main courses • pasta, rice, and beans • salads and vegetables • sauces • drinks • dessertsthe only thing missing from O'Brien's cookbook are photos of the dishes, however her recipes are easy to follow and O'Brien offers the nutritional analysis for each recipe (yay!), and offers many substitutions and variations of the recipes.
the first recipe I tried is O'Brien's brown rice pudding on page 208. I chose this recipe because I love rice pudding, and I prefer brown rice for its nutritional value, but I have never seen brown rice pudding sold commercially. O'Brien notes that you can make this dish suitable for breakfast (I know, yum!) by adding more protein, such as nuts, dates, or raisins.
this is the recipe that I adapted from O'Brien's book based on what I had at home at the time.
2-1/2 cups almond milk (you can use rice milk, coconut milk, hemp milk, or soy milk)
1 small can of coconut milk
1 cup brown rice
3 tablespoons agave nectar (you can use brown rice syrup or fruit sweetener)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract (use natural, and avoid artificial)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
place the milk, rice, and agave nectar in a saucepan and bring to a boil. when it begins to boil, lower the heat to medium/ low and cover. simmer for 50 to 60 minutes, or until the rice is cooked through, but not dry. remove from the heat and add the vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon.
garnish per serving:
1 tablespoon of unsweetened shredded coconut (I used Bob's Red Mill)
2 to 3 tablespoons of raisins
2 to 3 tablespoons of crushed almonds
when cooking O'Brien also suggests adding mangoes or bananas! I cooked mine the night before for our next morning's breakfast, and put it in the fridge overnight. the rice pudding lost some of its creaminess, so I simply put individual portions into bowls, and warmed the rice pudding for 30 seconds in the microwave. I then added some almond milk to get the pudding creamy again, and put in the microwave for another 30 seconds. you can add as much non-dairy milk as you like to achieve the consistency that you prefer. give it a try, and I hope you like it!
I will be posting more recipes over the coming weeks from O'Brien's book, and in the meantime look for this book at your local library, or purchase online. look for her other book titled "The Gluten Free Vegan". Andrea.