The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook: Over 350 natural food recipes free of All common food allergens
By Marjorie Hurt Jones, R.N.
This is a good cookbook, with many excellent ideas and some very interesting information. Unfortunately, Marjorie’s desire to help every special dieter creates a book without a specific focus. She attempts to cover all types of food allergies (milk, egg, soy), intolerances (gluten, milk), sensitivities (including a rotary diet plan with food families chart and alternatives for things as obscure as black pepper), and even addresses issues on environmental allergens and toxins. No easy feat I must admit.
If your primary concern is food ‘sensitivities’, this cookbook appears to be an excellent resource for rotary / rotation diets. I would recommend it for this. Yet, the subtitle declares “free of ALL common food allergens.” This is a big promise, and regrettably not one that it kept. Here are the author’s claims:
- Gluten-Free – There are many gluten-free recipes (breads, cookies, etc.) included and even a great section that explains all of the different flours and how they can be used. However, several of the recipes call for spelt, kamut, or oat products, which all contain gluten.
- Wheat-Free – I did not view any recipes that contained wheat specifically, but I believe spelt and kamut are in the wheat family and a problem for many who have an allergy to wheat.
- Yeast-Free – Of course, the quick breads, cookies, and other common dishes are yeast-free, but the few ‘yeast’ bread recipes that are included did call for yeast.
- Milk-Free – Many of the recipes call for goat milk, goat cheese, sheep milk, soy cheese (not specifying that most soy cheeses contain milk protein), and/or feta cheese (from a cow). The author fails to point out that most people who have a cow’s milk allergy will also have a problem with goat milk, and some may even be more allergic.
- Sugar Free – This book is not suitable for someone who has sugar-free needs. Agave nectar, maple syrup, date sugar, and honey are required in many of the recipes. She does include a nice section explaining these natural sweeteners.
- Soy-Free – I spotted soymilk, tofu, miso, and tamari sauce throughout this book.
- Egg-Free – The quick breads are made with a natural alternative, and the author offers many great suggestions for replacing eggs in recipes. Nonetheless, a few egg-filled recipes did sneak in, including Macaroons and Eggs Florentine!
- Corn-Free – I did not spot corn anywhere, though I am not sure if this is a very common allergen.
Other Diet Comments:
- Vegan – One reviewer on Amazon said this book is great for vegans, but I highly disagree. I don’t think any vegan would want a cookbook loaded with recipes for turkey, chicken, pork, fish, venison, lamb, and even rabbit, simply because it has some good vegan recipes in it. Most cookbooks do.
- Nuts – Marjorie does not claim that this book is nut-free, but she does state ‘free of all common allergens.’ Tree nuts are one of the top 8 food allergens, but this book is loaded with nut-filled recipes. It did appear to be peanut-free though.
- Fish & Shellfish – This is also a top 8 offender. As it is easy to prepare bread, dessert, rice, and other dishes without these ingredients, the book is mostly fish free, but there are specific fish recipes.
For those who have multiple allergies (such as the dreaded milk, egg, nut combo), picking and choosing recipes from this cookbook, could be a chore. I have had this cookbook for a couple of years now, but have only trialed a few of the recipes (with decent results). I would like to sample more, but I have found it too time-consuming to locate recipes that are suitable to my diet, that sound good at the moment, and that I have the ingredients on hand for.
The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook offers many great concepts and what sound to be some delicious recipes. If the author could either break this rather large collection (yes, I think there are 350!) into smaller focused cookbooks, create an index for the book that tells which recipes are specifically gluten-free, soy-free, milk-free, etc., or simply include allergy information after the title for each recipe (so that you didn’t need to scan all of the ingredients), it would be a huge improvement.
The Allergy Self-Help Cookbook is available from: