The Food Allergy Cookbook: A Guide to Living with Allergies and Entertaining with Healthy, Delicious Meals – Carmel Nelson and Amra Ibrisimovic (2011, Skyhorse Publishing, New York)
Although I do have several food allergies, mine are not life-threatening, nor are they common. I’m not allergic to the usual suspects: shellfish, peanuts, dairy, gluten, soy, and corn – the multiple allergens that this particular cookbook deals with. I happened upon this book while researching gluten-free yeast breads for a story I was working on, and I was impressed with its beauty (it has a splendid, easy-to-use layout and wonderful photographs) as well as the recipes, which seem completely manageable. Even the complicated ones. (They do a complete allergen-free Thanksgiving dinner in here, I’m not kidding).
This book is all about clarity – giving direct, empathetic advice and methods to cook like a gourmet despite avoiding a few ingredients. (Both authors suffer from severe adult-onset food allergies, so they know of what they write). They offer tips about how to travel allergen-free, and outline the ingredients found in packaged, processed food – so that you know what to leave behind on the grocery store shelf. Unlike other allergy cookbooks I’ve seen, Nelson and Ibrisimovic take space to explore the social cost of having allergies: after all, how can you participate in potlucks and other food gatherings if you can’t eat most of what has been contributed? Or if the food you bring is so bland and unappetizing that it turns off your non-allergic friends and family? With the recipes in this book, that’s no longer an issue: you can rustle up a sweet potato pie or a pan of potato ravioli or a tin full of chocolate chip cookies, and not sacrifice a single bit of flavour and appeal.
This is a great cookbook for everyone – not just those with food allergies. Many of the recipes fall within the guidelines of the vegan diet, and most are low-fat and very healthful. (But, yes, there is a dessert section – and I’m not going to deny that it’s my favourite part of the book). The accessibility of this book is its greatest virtue.