Tuesday, August 26, 2008
GF Cookbook Review: You Won't Believe It's Gluten-Free by Robin Ryberg
I am hesitant to give a low review to anyone's GF cookbook, if for no other reason than there just aren't enough GF cookbooks out there and any cookbook is a good addition to the GF lexicon.
However, I recently perused a copy of You Won't Believe It's Gluten-Free by Robin Ryberg. There are some problems with it.
There are no major errors or dangerous problems with Ryberg's cookbook. Several years ago, one "GF" cookbook that I bought included recipes with spelt, an ancestral wheat, which is absolutely verboten to us celiacs. Ryberg's book is safe, as far as I read. I admit that I didn't extensively delve into the book, but she seems knowledgeable.
However, there are some problems.
First, in many recipes, the author/chef uses one or two, maximum, of our funny flours. It's like she's knocked us back to those terrible old pre-Hagman monoflour days of crumbly breads and hard-baked paste. This is the largest shortcoming of the book. Most of the recipes look like they'll be bland and crumbly.
Next, the cover states that it has 500 recipes in it. Well, sort of. For many recipes, probably most, the author remakes the recipe four times with four different flours, and most recipes utilize just one flour.
For example, a biscuit recipe might have a "rice-based" biscuit, made from just rice flour, a "corn-based" biscuit, made from just cornstarch, a "potato-based" biscuit, made with just potato starch, and one biscuit recipe from one other starch.
That's four recipes down, only 496 to go!
Last, most of the recipes are quite nutrition-free. Granted, I'm a bit of a health nut. Before my diagnosis, I ate 15 grain bread. Once, I found 18-grain bread and was in multi-grain Heaven. The bread that I make is whole-grain and has lots of fiber and protein.
Most of Ryberg's recipes make Wonder Bread look like a loofah sponge. They are based on starches like cornstarch or potato starch instead of whole grains or legume flours. If I ate the stuff in this book, I would never poop again.
I'm sure that Ryberg worked hard in writing this book, and I'm sure that she was meticulous in testing the recipes. This is not a personal attack on her. Indeed, if you are allergic to several grains or other funny flours, this might be a good book for you, due to its alternate versions of each recipe.
Unfortunately, if you're planning to buy a new GF cookbook, skip this one.