Tuesday 3 June 2014

Review: The Deliciously Conscious Cookbook

I once had the dinner party from hell. The problem was, I discovered after I had invited my friends around for a evening meal, none of the guests could eat the same things.

There were vegetarians, a diabetic who avoided all carbohydrates, someone with a nut allergy, someone who didn’t eat wheat, someone who was lactose intolerant, someone on a low-fat and low-salt diet and someone who couldn’t eat spicy food. I scoured my recipe books but couldn’t find anything to cook that they could all have. They ended up with a boring salad buffet.

That was a few years ago. Now there is more awareness of dietary issues and more recipe books offering alternatives for those with restrictions on what they can or will eat. But finding really tasty recipes suitable for those who have to avoid common ingredients is still hard, so I was really intrigued by The Deliciously Conscious Cookbook.

Its subtitle is Over 100 Vegetarian Recipes with Gluten-free, Vegan and Dairy-free Options and it is written by Belinda Connolly, who now runs a wholefood stall in Devon, but has in the past worked as a chef for the rich and famous - and even royalty.

The book starts with a section called Why Free-From? that explains what different dietary requirements mean - something that can be confusing to those not used to catering for them. It also explains the differences between the various alternatives to ordinary flour, sugar, oils and fats, thickeners and so on. Throughout the book, the processes are explained clearly as well - such as how to make perfect pastry.

The recipes themselves all look really appealing and are things I'd be happy to try out. Some of them could be a bit complicated, but would be worth the effort for a special occasion. Other dishes are easy enough to be a regular feature for main meals. In terms of savoury dishes there are sections on soups; snacks and starters; cooked salads; savoury slices; curries, stews and noodle dishes; and tarts and quiches. There are almost as many recipes for desserts, cakes and sweet snacks.

A table at the front indicates which recipes are dairy free, low sugar, vegan, gluten-free or whatever, and many also come with optional alternatives for some of the ingredients.

Publisher Hay House says on its website: "The Deliciously Conscious Cookbook is bursting with exciting recipes that offer clever combinations and options for those wishing to eliminate common ingredients from their diet - without in any way compromising on flavour! Featuring delicious gluten-free creations, many of which can be made low in sugar, dairy-free or with all-vegan ingredients, it provides a treat for the senses that absolutely anyone can enjoy - no matter what their dietary requirements."

Owning this book will certainly make catering for parties easier, no matter how fussy my friends are about what they eat. In fact, I'm feeling quite inspired to go ahead and plan some entertaining.  I think a menu of butternut squash and garlic soup, millet burgers with salsa and beetroot and potato salad followed by spiced apple and Seville marmalade cheesecake or Lucia's chocolate vegan cake sounds rather scrummy. 

Who fancies coming to dinner?

Links and previous related posts
The Deliciously Conscious Cookbook: Over 100 Vegetarian Recipes with Gluten-free, Vegan and Dairy-free Options


slothgoth said...

Your timing is amazing. I want to cook something nice for a dairy-free friend in a couple of weeks and was just thinking 'mm, I should try to find a good cookbook'. Thank you!

Dawn said...

Belinda makes the most beautiful food. It is both wholesome and tasty. I,m lucky enough to have a stall near her's on Totnes market and get to taste and see many of her fine masterpieces. Her cakes have an angels touch rich but light also! Yumm!! I've just been bought the book for my birthday! Will enjoy baking some wonderful delights!