I know that many of you are already fans of Amy, the blogger behind the wildly popular Simply Sugar and Gluten Free (which recently got a facelift–check out the new look!). A few months ago, Amy published her first cookbook, Simply Sugar and Gluten Free, and her publisher kindly sent me a copy for review.
For someone like me (on an anti-candida diet), the combination of sugar-free and gluten-free was incrediby enticing. Unlike many other gluten-free cookbooks, this one already fit my “no-sugar” requirement! I couldn’t wait to see the book.
The cookbook is filled with recipes and lots of useful information written in Amy’s clean, approachable style. She begins with a personal story explaining why she eats sugar- and gluten-free. The book wraps up with a comprehensive chapter called “The Simply Sugar and Gluten-Free Kitchen Guide,” in which she offers tips on flour blends, kitchen essentials (all the products you’ll need to reproduce the recipes), and even a list of her favorite kitchen tools. The chapter is also peppered with tip boxes containing info on how to succeed at GF baking, conversions, kitchen organization, and more. The book is capped off with a list of resources, including books, blogs, and where to purchase products.
The book’s full title is Simply Sugar and Gluten Free; 180 Easy and Delicious Recipes You Can Make in 20 Minutes or Less, and given how time-strapped so many of us are these days, this is a very appealing promise. I decided to dig in.
Before I talk about what I cooked up, however, I should mention that the book is not a vegan cookbook–though it does contain some vegan recipes or options. Obviously, I didn’t try out any of the dishes with meat, chicken, fish, eggs, dairy, etc. Having said that, though, I was pleasantly surprised at how many of the recipes I could easily adapt. Occasionally, Amy offers vegan variations, and even when she didn’t, I had no trouble finding many recipes to try. And so, on to those I sampled!
First up, I made some very quick and simple Carob Nut Cups. Resembling peanut butter cups without the peanut butter filling (or the chocolate!), these snacks were dense, caroby treats that provided a great afternoon pick-me-up. Made with unsweetened carob chips, they were just sweet enough; I added a bit of stevia for a slightly sweeter version. I really enjoyed these (since I am, as you know, a fan of carob), as did the HH (who is not always a fan of carob).
Next, I turned to the Apple Carrot Breakfast Cake, which I baked up as muffins. For several years now, I’ve been sending the HH off to work in the morning with a homemade muffin (since, when I don’t, he opts for the far less healthy–and more hydrogenated–Tim Horton’s variety). These were quick and easy to put together, moist and sweet without any added oil or sweetener at all. And I had no problem substituting flax “eggs” for the original recipe’s eggs. The original recipe called for a whipped topping, but I found these didn’t even need it. And the HH enjoyed many days of healthy breakfasts courtesy of Amy!
Another dessert I couldn’t resist were the Carob Chip Cookies. Believe it or not, the finished product was actually a bit too sweet for my current ACD-accustomed taste buds (they contain a cup of coconut sugar); this was also another recipe very easily adapted to a vegan version, and the HH raved about them. “These taste just like real cookies!” he enthused as he grabbed a second (and later, a third) cookie. (I chose not to ask what that compliment would imply about my cookies). As Amy tells us in the preamble to the recipe, “No one ever mentions that they don’t taste the chocolate, and the plate is always empty in no time” when she serves these to friends. I can believe it.
Finally, I couldn’t resist making the Black Bean Soup (a simple switch from chicken to vegetable stock rendered the recipe 100% vegan). The final product wasn’t exactly photogenic (it looked kind of like those kids’ watercolor paintings in which they mix all the colors together. . . swampy and mudlike), but boy-oh-boy, did it taste fantastic! The HH raved over this one, too. And the soup was incredibly simple to make (though I should point out that it’s one of the few recipes in the book that’s not actually ready “in 20 minutes or less”–you have to soak the beans overnight, then simmer for 1-1/2 hours; you could, however, cut the prep time by using canned beans). We cleaned up the entire pot in two days–it was that good. 🙂
If you’re looking for a general-purpose cookbook that covers a variety of courses from appetizer to dessert, all in easy-to-follow recipes that work as promised, this book would make a perfect addition to your kitchen. From the basics like Herbed White Bean Dip and Simple Sautéd Swiss Chard to more exotic combinations like Olive Oil-Zucchini Muffins, Blueberry Quinoa Crumble Bars or Chocolate Teff Cake, you’re sure to find something that suits your fancy.
Amy’s publisher has granted permission for me to reprint a recipe–I hope you’ll enjoy these quick and easy Carob Nut Cups!
Amy’s Carob Nut Cups (reprinted with permission from Simply Sugar and Gluten Free)
1 cup unsweetened carob chips (I used vegan chips)
2 tsp non-hydrogenated vegetable shortening (I used coconut oil)
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp roasted salted sunflower seeds
1/4 cup plus 2 Tbsp unsweetened shredded coconut, plus extra for topping
Line 10 cups in a mini-muffin pan with mini-cupcake papers.
Place the carob chips and coconut oil in a heatproof bowl that will fit snugly on top of a saucepan. Bring 1 inch of water to a gentle simmer in the saucepan. Place the bowl on top of the pan and turn off the heat. Let the carob and coconut oil sit for a few minutes.
Meanwhile, place the sunflower seeds in the bowl of a mini food chopper fitted with the steel blade. Pulse until the seeds are chopped. Add the measured coconut and poulse several more times until combined.
Stir the carob and coconut oil until melted. Add the sunfloer and coconut mixutre to the carob and stir until combined. The mixture will be thick. Using two small spoons, evenly distribute the carob mixture among the cupcake papers, being careful to keep the tops of the papers clean. Tap the muffin tin several times on the countertop to level the melted carob. Sprinkle the tops with the extra coconut and press lightly into the carob. Let sit at room temperature until firm, or refrigerate to speed up the process. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for several weeks. Let the nut cups sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving.
Makes 10 coconutty snacks.
NOTE: I added 10-15 drops vanilla stevia to the melted chips/coconut oil before stirring in the remaining ingredients.
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TIME FOR THE GIVEAWAY!
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
I’m delighted to report that the kind folks at Ulysses Press have offered to provide a copy of the book for one of you!
To enter the giveaway, simply leave a comment on this post telling me why you’d like the book.
As always, you may acquire additional entries by doing any (or all) of the following:
- Subscribe to Amy’s blog, “like” her on Facebook, or follow her on twitter (then come back and leave a separate comment for each one);
- Subscribe to this blog, “like” the DDD page on Facebook, or follow me on twitter (then come back and leave a separate comment for each);
- Go to the Ulysses Press cookbook page and browse through their other cookbooks (then come back and mention one you found interesting).
The contest will remain open for a week (until midnight on Sunday, June 26th), at which time I’ll randomly choose a winner. The giveaway is open to US and Canadian residents (with apologies to my international readers!).
Good luck, everyone! 😀
THIS GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED. THANKS TO EVERYONE WHO ENTERED!
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