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The Complete Guide to Naturally Gluten-Free Foods: Your Starter Manual to Going G-Free the Easy, No-Fuss Way

Reviewed by Margaret Shugart, Fri., Dec. 6, 2013

Santa's Big Cookbook Bag

by Olivia Dupin
Fair Winds Press, 224 pp., $21.99

This is a celiac success story. A Culinary Institute of the Americas-trained chef with a successful career cooking for high-end, big-money clients in New York City, Olivia Dupin was diagnosed with celiac disease after 10 years of suffering from the extreme, seemingly unrelated symptoms. She wrote this book to share the recipes developed after her diagnosis and to help others make a successful, delicious change to a gluten-free diet.

Dupin is neither preachy nor demanding. She makes her arguments through educating the reader on the difference between a wheat allergy, gluten sensitivity, and autoimmune disorders like celiac disease and gluten ataxia, then states the blunt facts for each. Just that portion of the book, filled with charts of gluten-related symptoms, how to be tested for each type of intolerance, and stages of treatment, empower the reader to face a new lifestyle with courage. Her subtle plea not to cheat and her descriptions of how even small amounts of gluten can affect you changed the way I handle asking questions about food preparation in restaurants and how many french fries I get to eat from shared fryers (none!). The wealth of knowledge doesn't make life easier, but it does make it better.

And that's just the first chapter. The rest of the book follows with step-by-step advice on building a gluten-free kitchen, reading labels (including in medications), what alcoholic beverages are safe, and a whole slew of useful resources for further research. Then, in good chef style, she helps even the beginning cook understand the basics of kitchen equipment, recipe jargon, and tips on proper preparation techniques. Her recipes don't rely on using flour replacements, but are, as the title suggests, gluten-free by nature. This is a useful gift to anyone newly (or not-so-newly) following a gluten-free diet, giving them the tools to be healthy and well-fed.

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