Food porn: it’s a crude phrase and much overused but I must admit it’s the first thing that popped into my head when I first got my hands on a copy of Allyson Kramer’s Great Gluten-Free Vegan Eats.
Now I know what you’re thinking; how is that possible? No meat, no dairy, no eggs and now no wheat or gluten. You’re kidding right?
How can such a restricted diet provide anything even approaching ‘food porn’?
‘I actually tried to make the book as accessible as I could to people unfamiliar with vegan/gluten-free ingredients, but also not boring for vegans or gluten-free people who already knew the basics. Aside from a learning curve of having to stock your pantry full of a few different flours rather than AP flour (the all purpose flour), there are many recipes that use common ingredients—especially in the soups, salads, and main courses sections. A fan favourite is the Cinnamon Roasted Cauliflower recipe, which has only five very common ingredients and will knock your socks off with its unique taste and surprising texture!’
Indeed, with a little help from Allyson, it would seem that no dish is out of bounds. Using a variety of flours (from almond meal to teff flour), she delivers a vast array of pastas, pizzas, cakes and cookies. And whether you’re new to veganism, gluten free eating or both, fear not. The author has helpfully included a fairly comprehensive guide to the ingredients featured in her recipes.
Now Allyson herself, having been diagnosed with celiac disease, has a pretty compelling reason to stick to a gluten free diet. Is there any reason though for the rest of us to bother with the book?
Personally, I find my body gets a bit fed up with wheat laden products. If I’ve been overdoing the bread and pasta I start to feel sluggish and bloated so I’m more than happy to give some gluten free alternatives a try. I’m also a total foodie, so I find new ingredients and methods of cooking and baking quite fascinating.
Allyson agrees. She describes her inability to eat gluten as one of the ‘biggest blessings of her life’. She says, ‘I relied so heavily on AP flour for cooking and baking. By using that type of flour as my main baking ammo, I was missing out on so many other flours and grains that I didn’t even know existed as flours: such as teff, millett, sorghum and quinoa.’
It seems like it’s time to give up on the notion that a vegan diet, a gluten free diet or a combination of the two is restrictive.
‘I can still have my cupcakes and eat them too–but now they contain the added benefits of foods like chia, pure dark chocolate, almond milk, flaxseeds and even flours made from grains like teff and quinoa—without an ounce of flavour or texture being compromised. I’d say if anything, you end up with a much more diverse diet than restrictive!’
Cupcakes huh? Now you’re talking!
Check out page 162 for a gorgeous looking Pina Colada Cupcake. If chocolate’s more your thing, then try the Double-Chocolate Muffins in the breakfast chapter.
My sweet-toothed husband positively drooled over the picture of the Chocolate Hazelnut Brownie Cheesecake while the recipes for Black Bean, Potato and Cheese Enchiladas, Drenched Pad Thai Salad and Pizza Firenze are all on my list of ‘must try’s. But what would Allyson herself recommend for those occasions where you just want something completely decadent?
‘Oh, the Walnut Ravioli with Vodka Sauce is one of my absolute favourite recipes–definitely indulgent and worth every single calorie (see recipe below). Also, the Spinach Artichoke Dip (eaten with Pizza Crackers) is one of my most coveted treats!’
This is clearly not a cookbook for vegans, or for those with celiac disease or wheat intolerance. This is a cookbook for food lovers!
We are happy to award Gluten-Free Vegan Eats with The Vegan Woman’s recommendation label.
Here is Allyson’s Walnut Ravioli with Vodka Sauce. Try and fall in love…
This meal is very hearty and takes a bit of prep work, so it’s best reserved for a special occasion or an at-home date night.
Place about 2 teaspoons of filling evenly onto the dough, leaving a 1-inch (2.5 cm) radius around the filling mounds. You should have around 15 mounds evenly spaced on one layer of dough. Gently cover with the second piece of rolled-out dough. I use the plastic wrap to help flip one layer of dough evenly on top of the filling mounds. Use a pizza cutter or ravioli wheel to cut out individual ravioli. Seal the outside of the dough with a little water and crimp the edges with a fork so that the ravioli are watertight.
Boil a few ravioli at a time for exactly 2 minutes. Strain out with a slotted spoon and place in a bowl. Then add the cooked ravioli to the sauce and simmer for about 5 minutes. Serve hot.