This review was updated in May 2008 because the cookbook formerly known as The Gak’s Snacks Allergy Cookbook received a face lift! Now going by the name of Allergen Free Baking, Jill Robbins’ collection still includes the same great recipes, but in a more neatly arranged package. I highly recommended it for dairy-free, wheat-free, nut-free, and egg-free baking.
Jill Robbins is the mother of a food allergic child and the founder of HomeFree Treats (formerly known as Gak’s Snacks). Her product line has recently expanded to offer an array of cookies. HomeFree Treats is now a gluten-free company, but this cookbook does include barley and spelt in some of the recipes.
Jill shares her many baking secrets in this collection of cakes, cookies, breads, muffins, pancakes, and other sweet treats. In total, there are roughly 100 recipes including a few variations. You will find numerous classics, such as Chocolate Birthday Cake, Blueberry Muffins, Zucchini Bread, Vanilla Ice Cream, and Gingerbread People. I also liked the selection of unique, but kid-friendly recipes, like Banana Chip Cookies and Tee Hee Hee Cake. I’m pretty sure that last recipe title is a true original.
Allergen Free Baking for Who?
Before I discuss what ingredients are not found in this cookbook, I should note that EVERYONE seems to enjoy these baked goodies, food allergies or not. For those who are on a special diets, Allergen Free Baking addresses the following:
- Food Allergies: Each recipe is completely free of dairy, eggs, peanuts, and tree nuts. This is a surprisingly common group of troublemakers for children who suffer with multiple allergies.
- Wheat & Gluten: This is a no-wheat cookbook. Though many of the recipes do use spelt (a relative of wheat) or oats, there are also many recipes using other grains. Jill has noted what grains will be needed for each recipe, and if they are gluten-free.
- Soy: Soy lecithin is the only soy ingredient used in this cookbook. Luckily, soy lecithin is not a problem for most individuals with a soy allergy or intolerance.
- Vegan: I only spotted a few recipes with honey; most use maple syrup, molasses, or another sweetener. So I would not hesitate to recommend this cookbook to vegans.
The recipes are all one-of-a-kind, from scratch creations with no convenience foods utilized. Jill Robbins goes to extra lengths to use healthy ingredients, even calling for oil rather than specialty shortening or butter. Yet, as to be expected, some of the ingredients are a bit less common. You will need ingredients like xanthan gum, spelt flour, tapioca starch, and soy lecithin powder.
Nevertheless, for anyone who entertains or lives with food allergic little ones, throws birthday parties, or sends treats off to school to share with the class, this cookbook should be at hand. Trust me, the whole gang will gobble these goodies up.