Today I have a sweet something to share: a review of Sweet Debbie’s Organic Treats: Allergy-Free and Vegan Recipes from the Famous Los Angeles Bakery, and a chance to win a copy for yourself!
Debbie Adler runs Sweet Debbie’s Organic Cupcakes, a sugar- and allergen-free bakery in LA, which boasts clientele such as Gwyneth Paltrow. All of her recipes are free of gluten, nuts, high-glycemic sweeteners, eggs, and dairy, and last fall she released this cookbook to share them with the world.
And as I polish off the last of my batch of blondies, I’m sure thankful for that. Here’s a rundown of what you’ll find in the book:
- A guide to the different ingredients that Debbie uses and what their purpose is, as well as a resource section for the best places to buy them.
- Basics that are used in later recipes, including Debbie’s all-purpose gluten-free flour blend (which is made with whole grain flours including quinoa, millet and teff).
- Muffin recipes, such as mango buckwheat pancake muffins and sunflower butter and jelly muffins
- Brownies, blondies, and bars – including the two that I made!
- Cookie recipes including basil lemonade cookies
- Every flavor of cupcakes that you could desire, including vanilla, chocolate, red velvet, coconut, and more
- Energy bars and energy bites (acai truffles, anyone?)
- An entire chapter on donut holes (yes, heaven is a place on earth)
- A chapter on gluten-free breads
Almost every recipe includes a beautiful full-color photograph and a fun introduction from Debbie. As you can imagine from reading the list above, it was seriously difficult for me to decide what to make first (and I bought myself some time by starting with the AP flour blend). I settled on the blondies with roots.
These were a veritable crowd pleaser, and we finished off the batch in approximately 1 day. I wouldn’t describe them as chewy, but they had a great dense-ness to them without being gummy. The batter is lightly spiced with coriander and cardamom, which pairs beautifully with the chocolate chips. I used store-bought chocolate chips, but the cookbook also includes a recipe to make your own sugar-free version of those.
I wasn’t planning to make two different blondies, but I had a bunch of cooked parsnip in my fridge (#veganproblems), so I couldn’t say no to the lemon parsnippanies, a blondie made with fresh lemon flavor and parsnip puree. There’s also a recipe for lemon icing to go on top, which I omitted this time around. The parsnips added a really nice silkiness to these blondies, and the pinch of nutmeg in the batter complements the warm flavor that parsnips have. Though they tasted great, these weren’t very attractive =P.
As for the sorts of ingredients that Debbie uses in her recipes, you’ll want to stock up on a couple of things that make repeat appearances:
- Fats: Grapeseed oil and coconut oil – I tend to usually cook with as little oil as I can get away with, so these recipes were slightly out of my comfort zone in that regard. I think 1/4 c. of oil for a batch of blondies is reasonable, though. With gluten-free baking it’s important to achieve the proper fat content so that they don’t get gummy. Grapeseed and coconut are among the healthiest choices for oils, and most recipes use one or the other.
- Flours: Buckwheat and amaranth flours, & guar gum – In addition to the gluten-free all-purpose blend – which consists of millet, quinoa, teff, sorghum, and tapioca – buckwheat and amaranth also pop up a lot (though there are plenty of recipes that only require the blend). I actually substituted xanthan gum for the guar gum, but that shows up in most of the recipes too. It’s intimidating to stock your pantry with so many flours if you aren’t already making a lot of gluten-free baked goods. To buy a bag of each one of these flours will definitely set you back a few bucks, but on the other hand, stocking a pantry is inherently filled with up-front costs.
- Sweeteners: If you’ve followed my blog for a while you know that I already try to avoid refined sugar, so I was really happy with the choices in this cookbook. Coconut nectar and stevia are Debbie’s sweeteners of choice, as they don’t have an effect on blood sugar levels. This was my first time working with coconut nectar and it’s actually stinkin’ delicious. It tastes a lot like maple syrup and it’s pretty reasonably priced if you shop around a little. Usually stevia powder is called for but I was able to successfully substitute stevia extract as well.
Overall, I am definitely a fan of this book. The pictures are beautiful, the recipes that I’ve tried so far are delicious, and it’s just a great thing to have a collection of allergen-free recipes at your disposal. I have several family members who live with serious food allergies and I’m excited to make some treats for them. Plus, even if you do eat wheat and/or nuts, it’s good to break out of the mold sometimes and incorporate different grains and seeds into your diet.
Debbie and her publisher provided a review copy to me and are graciously offering a giveaway copy to 1 reader (US only, please). To enter, you can mix and match the options on the Rafflecopter below (it may take a few seconds to load).
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