Monday, 14 October 2013

Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free by Ricki Heller - A Review

I don't remember how I came across Ricki's web site a couple of years or so ago but I've followed her blog ever since. Her deep knowledge of nutrition and extremely witty personality both strongly shine through in her writing. Ricki's gift for designing innovative and tasty recipes ensures that her new cook book will be loved by all and I was delighted to be asked to write a review for Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free. This is my very honest opinion.

Please don't be put off by the words "vegan" and "allergy-friendly", Ricki's "low in refined sugar" delightful and luscious dessert creations in Naturally Sweet & Gluten Free are not just suitable for vegan and gluten free diets but for everyone, regardless of their dietary preferences. They're not just the healthier option but a delectable one too! And if you're new to gluten free baking, don't worry because the first part of the book is devoted entirely to explaining all about the ingredients, equipment and techniques necessary to start creating naturally sweet and allergy-friendly baked goods and the "At-A-Glance Pantry List" is a huge help too and not just for beginners!

The book's glossy full page photography of the recipes by Celine Saki are stunning works of art. Just looking at these pictures makes you want to get out of your chair and start baking! The Multi-Seed Muffins and Chocolate-Flecked Pumpkin Seed Cookies above are amongst my favourite recipes in the book and though I haven't yet made them, they're sitting on the very top of my to-do list.

Butter Tarts by Ricki Heller

I've tried to consider some of the questions which might be proposed when making the decision to buy a recipe book. In my opinion, not only should it look good and feel good, there should also be a great choice of recipes for both everyday and for special occasions but most of all they should be easy to read and understand.

What types of sweet baked goods can I find in the book? There are five glorious chapters full of a wide range of recipes suitable for daily or occasional dining:

  • Breakfast Bakes
  • Cookies, Squares and Bars
  • Cakes, Cupcakes, Topping & Frostings
  • Cheesecakes, Pies, Tarts & Puddings
  • Raw & No-Bake Treats

The Butter Tarts above instantly caught my eye when I was flicking through the pages! I'd never even heard of them until I visited a well-known vegan and gluten free bakery in Toronto a couple of years ago. I'm really going to enjoy making these little Canadian treats!

How easy are the recipes to follow? The recipes are well laid out and the instructions are very easy to follow. The measurements are in grams as well as Canadian cups which I find particularly useful since I measure my ingredients on scales. They range from easy to moderately difficult only because some are quick to make and some take a little longer. Certainly, not one of the recipes is beyond the skills of most people. Also, it's almost guaranteed that the recipes will work well because they have been extensively and reliably tested by people from all over the world. So I felt very confident when I chose my first couple of recipes to make after I received the book and just look how well the cookies and cake turned out!

Pecan Coconut Chews

The Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake now has a new fan - my Mother, she loved it! I made the Pecan Coconut Chews in minutes, they were the perfect breakfast that day!

Cinnamon Crumb Coffee Cake

Where can you buy the ingredients? There is a very useful resource guide at the back of the book which gives advice on where to buy the ingredients if you live in the US, Canada or the UK. A few years ago, many of the ingredients would have been extremely difficult to buy in the UK but now most are available in health food shops or supermarkets and any "hard to find" ones are very easy to find on-line.

Naturally Sweet and Gluten Free has so many brilliant recipes in it, the only problem facing you is choosing what to make! Congratulations Ricki, this is a beautiful and inspiring book!