Nourishing Meals - for all

I really should have enough cookbooks by now. But when a friend of mine posted a picture of her successful attempt at a gluten free pie crust (after many failed ones apparently) and declared the source her favorite cookbook, I couldn't resist.

Now, we aren't gluten free right now although I have been in the past. And, crossing my fingers, we don't have any other food restrictions right now. I'm not convinced that going grain free or dairy free is, in general, a beneficial health thing. But we do know a lot of people that do have food allergies and specific issues they are trying to resolve with dietary changes. And I'm glad they are finding things that work for them. I wish gluten free helped my thyroid issues.

I was still happy to give lots of the recipes in Nourishing Meals a try. It's a big cookbook and has a wide variety of foods - breakfast, snacks, lunches, soups, dinner, desserts and even some preserving/fermentation recipes. Pretty much everything. I tried to attempt something from most of the categories to really test it out and overall, they were good. Nothing was disliked by everyone which is saying something in a family of five!

It also has a big section with general information about healthy eating in the Nourishing Traditions/Paleo type fashion. As I said, I don't agree with everything they said but still some good info to be found there. Despite the wide variety of recipes and basic information to be found, I wouldn't necessarily consider this a good cookbook for something trying to do an initial transition from the SAD (Standard American Diet). Too many different ingredients and unusual textures, it would be a bit hard on your family and pocketbook. I was even gluten-free for almost a year and I don't even know what Teff is. So if you and your kids are used to fish sticks and peas and you try to make them winter Curried Lime bean soup or Eggplant and White Bean Ragout, you might have some trouble winning them over. The slow and steady approach with increasing fruits and veggies and beans, decreasing sugar, switching out white for wheat flour and trying to source grass-fed meat and dairy is probably going to be easier to stick with long term.

BUT if you are already familiar with the basics and just need a whole lot more options in recipes that seem to be fairly reliable, it has a ton. Even the recipes that are kinda standard in the world of healthy eating (smoothies, date balls, etc),  had some new ideas and combinations that I didn't think of. You'll be busy for a while trying to test them all out. I think it would also be awesome for someone who suddenly finds themselves having to go anything free. Everything in this cookbook is gluten free as well as being clearly marked with an allergy key which is great. So if you have found yourself trying to find replacements for all the things you used to love, check it out. There's pumpkin pie and gluten free pie crusts, pizza crust, bbq sauce, you name it. Allergy foodies rejoice!

And then there is me and why I wanted this cookbook. But first, I'm gonna get on a little soapbox. I've seen several articles/blog posts about food restrictions and holidays and they all seem to be addressed to the people with the allergy/sensitivity and how to try to lessen their impact on others and avoid conflicts. I don't have a problem with these articles themselves because they are trying to be helpful. But so often the comments become so self-centered - in terms of the non-allergy people thinking people with food allergies are out to ruin their fun and be a buzzkill. What?!

Right now, I'm in the group that can eat whatever I want. It's, frankly, a nice easy place to be, but my goodness, why wouldn't I WANT to try to go out of my way to be kind to someone else if I can be. I like baking and blessing others with food. I like doing so even more when I know their options are limited. I am really excited that this cookbook has given me a way to make reliably tasty food for those around me. We have close friends that we fellowship and eat with regularly that have a combination of gluten-free, dairy-free, egg-free, peanut-free and kosher restrictions. And since I don't eat that way on a regular basis, I don't have tried and true recipes that meet those needs and I don't want to scour the internet and hope a recipe doesn't end up like cardboard.

I made the (gluten-free, nut-free and dairy-free) Sweet Potato Custard as one of my tester recipes and it was good so I'm really excited to be able to take it to our church potluck this weekend and share it. The three people I know that need gf and/or df are certainly not demanding special accommodations or really even expecting anything to be safe other than what they bring, but I'm glad I can. (And I also won't be offended if they choose not to eat it. Maybe they don't like sweet potatos, maybe they are nervous about trusting me because if I wasn't experienced with gf they might end up feeling like crap for a few days if I cross-contaminated something. That's fine too. No expectations.) If you don't have the ability to make something allergy-free, then don't. But don't dismiss the idea off hand because you are assuming it's the other person's responsibility to figure out their own issues.  Off my soap box.

Now, there are so many recipes in here I didn't even try a quarter of them yet. But this is what I did try:

Orange Creamsicles Smoothie - Reminded me of an orange julius. Different from my typical go-to smoothies and quite tasty.

Coconut Banana Breakfast Cake - Boys didn't like it, Norah and I thought it was okay. Good flavor but I'm just not a huge fan of coconut flour (although I love coconut - its a texture thing). Lucy really liked this. I think she ate 1/4 of it.

Rutabaga Fries - Yum. I made a mix of these and regular oven potato fries and kids selectively picked potatoes until they were gone but ate rutaba. I liked both equally and when I don't give them a choice next time, I'm sure they'll eat them up. I always needs help getting variety of veggies in. We eat a lot but I tend to fall back on the same old ones.

Lean, Mean and Green Rice Salad. - Awesome. Kids gave me a side glance at the kale but ate it anyway. It makes a bunch but I kept leftovers for me.

Apricot Glazed Chicken - This is going in our regular rotation. Everyone had seconds, even the baby and she doesn't normally like chicken (I know, who doesn't like chicken. Norah!). And it is super easy and quick!

Chocolate Walnut Brownies - These taste like a cooked brownie date ball. Which to me is a compliment. Craig said he likes my bean brownies better but these didn't last very long either way!

Homemade Coconut Milk - I've made my own coconut milk for years now but her technique was slightly different and gave better results.

Sweet Potato Custard - Well, you know its good if I'm willing to take it to a potluck! I will increase the sweetener in it though. We're used to low sugar baking and liked it okay as is but a Christmas potluck deserves a full level of sugar, imho.

So the TL/DR - It's a niche cookbook but if you are the target audience, I think it a great choice.

"I received this book from Blogging for Books for this review.

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